The Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam symbolises the breaking of our ego. We are offering our entire selves, not just the body, to the feet of Bhagwan or HH Acharya Maharajshree or Santos.
Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam is way of showing that we have surrendered our everything to Bhagwan or the respected person. We have no pride or ego and that we are a daas (servant) to the Lord.
Bhagwan has given us this body to use for pious purposes. This body is not ours- it belongs to Bhagwan who has lent it to us. We show this by ‘falling’ to the feet of Bhagwan in the form of Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam.
Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam should not be seen as an opportunity to rest on the floor. It should be done with a rapid momentum: up-down, up-down, up-down etc. The body should be kept as straight as possible (like a stick) and all the angas (body parts) should be directed to Bhagwan. The eyes should be visualising Bhagwan; the mouth should be chanting the praarthna such as Bhaktachintaamani Fagva, Vishvesh Cho or the mantra Swaminarayan. There should be no conversation or talking going on whilst performing Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam.
It is also very important to keep the mind focussed on Shree Hari. Although the body may be engaged in Pranaam, often the mind is involved in thoughts about something else. Because the mind constitutes one of the eight body parts, it should be concentrating only on the murti of Bhagwan. Whilst doing Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam, make sure the hands are crossed so that the left hand is touching in the direction of Bhagwan’s left foot and the right hand is touching in the direction of His right foot.
Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam was liked by Shreeji Maharaj because it showed the surrendering of one’s pride and ego.
When performing Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam, at least eleven should be done- never any less. When coming to the mandir, doing Pranaam at the end of Pooja or during the praarthnas, at least eleven Dandvats should be done and more should be done until the body is exhausted.
When doing Saashtaang Dandvat Pranaam to a Mahaa Purush such as HH Acharya Maharajshree or Great Santos, the Pranaams should be continued until the Mahaa Purush requests you to stop. Only then should the Pranaams cease.