Sri Dakshinamurty Jnana Prabodhini


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O my dear brothers vighneshwara and skanda, please accept my humble prostrations on your lotus feet and kindly remove all the obstacles coming in the way of this article.
O Lord Dakshinamurthy! Please grant me enough wisdom to understand your symbolism and kindly use me as your equipment to explain yourself through this article.
Sri Dakshinamurthy

Sri Dakshinamurthy – the supreme guru

Sri Dakshinamurty Jnana Prabodhini

|| shivAya guravE namaH ||

1. Who is Dakshinamurty ?

There are many etymological derivations of the name ‘Dakshinamurthy’ which derive many great meanings of his name. Let’s begin this article with the meaning stated in Shruti. Upanishad says, Dakshina means buddhi (knowledge) through which Siva (who is Brahman)can be known.

“shemushhii dakshiNaa proktaa saa yasyaabhiikshaNe mukham.h | dakshiNaabhimukhaH proktaH shivo.asau brahmavaadibhiH |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 19)
“The word ‘Dakshinâ’ means Buddhi. Because Buddhi is the eye by which Siva can be directly seen, He is called Dakshinabhimtikha by the Brahma-vâdins”.

Therefore Dakshinamurthy is verily the Shivagyanam / brahmagyanam which assumes a form as our preceptor, to gift himself to us. Therefore there is no difference between the lord and the divine knowledge! Lord Shiva is the parabrahman of Vedas and is essentially nirguNa. However he is the only one who assumes many names or forms and sports in this world.
Each name of that Maheshwara is accompanied with some purpose. Dakshinamurthy form is the Guru (preceptor) form of lord Shiva. It is an indisputable truth propounded in every scripture that lord Shiva is the foremost and supreme Guru from whom all the Vidya-s issue forth.
It is that Dakshinamurthy whose grace of wisdom works silently in the background of every action that takes place in this world. For instance, when you were born, who taught you to cry for milk when you felt hungry? Who taught you to stop crying as soon as your hunger is satiated with the mother’s milk? At least for humans a careful mother feeds her baby at regular intervals on her own, but in the case of a new born calf, who teaches the calf that there is his food stored between the hind legs of the cow and that could be obtained by suckling? Those are the teachings which are unheard by ears, untaught by speech, but only and only experienced through some silent teaching emanating from within. That’s my lord Dakshinamurthy in action!
What is that power which teaches your eyes to see, ears to hear, tongue to taste, skin to feel the touch, and nose to smell? Don’t tell me that these organs are accompanied with their corresponding actions and they receive the commands from Brain! If that is the case, then why can’t a dead body see, hear, feel, smell and taste despite having all its organs intact, and having its brain undamaged within its skull? The reason is, there is another power which transcends this physical body and this brain, and that power operates this body (machine) by pervading within it. That external power is called as Chaitanya (Consciousness) which is nothing but the Atman (Self). This Atman is verily the Dakshinamurthy alone who doesn’t verbally tell your organs to act. It is he as Atman-Chaitanya remains silent within yourself and mere his silent presence makes your organs act. So, tell me now, who on this planet can live or remain functional without the grace or presence of this great preceptor? That’s the glorious nature of Mahadeva! Whether Shiva appears as a Guru visible externally or guides us through our conscience operating from within, the fact remains a fact that there is no life without Guru (Shiva.) Whether someone likes or dislikes, there is no escape from that illustrious Kapardin, the lord of Uma!
When in his subtlest mode he is our teacher right from our birth till death, then it is not a matter of astonishment if he is seen as the foremost preceptor of all the Vidyas. Let’s analyze the secrets of the iconography, and other matters in detail.

2. Dakshinamurty as the Guru of Lord Brahma

As discussed above when a newborn infant himself requires an internal preceptor to cry for milk when hunger is felt, then we can understand it fairly well that to create this gigantic macrocosm even lord Brahma would have required some knowledge, and hence someone to pass on that knowledge (whom we call guru).
The very first appearance of Dakshinamurthy is visible in Upanishads itself. At the beginning of this creation, the first entity that sprang into existence was Hiranyagrabha (where Brahma appeared). Svetaswatara Upanishad states that Rudra created Brahma and passed on Vedas to him as follows.

“yo devaanaaM prabhavashchodbhavashcha vishvaadhipo rudro maharshhiH | hiraNyagarbha.n janayaamaasa puurva.n sa no buddhyaa shubhayaa sa.nyunaktu ||” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:04)
“He, the omniscient Rudra, the creator of the gods and the bestower of their powers, the support of the universe, He who, in the beginning, gave birth to Hiranyagarbha—may He endow us with clear intellect!”

Brahma didn’t know what for he emerged. He didn’t have the knowledge of what to create and how to create. Then he took the refuge of his own creator viz. Mahadeva, and worshiped him. Being pleased by his devotion, Rudra, bestowed Brahma, with the knowledge of creation as stated below.

“sargaadikaale bhagavaanviri~nchirupaasyaina.n sargasaamarthyamaapya | ” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 1:20)
“At the beginning of creation, Brahmâ the Lord, having worshipped S’iva, attained power to create and was delighted at heart”.
How did he bestow that knowledge of creation? The answer is Rudra gave him Vedas as stated below.

“yo brahmaaNa.n vidadhaati puurva.n | yo vai vedaa.nshcha prahiNoti tasmai .ta.n ha devaM aatmabuddhiprakaashaM | mumuxurvai sharaNamahaM prapadye |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 6:18)
“Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self-Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him”.

Shiva bestowed Brahma with Vedas and made him capable of creating the world. We may have a question, – how can Vedas make someone capable of creating the world? The answer is, Vedas contain the blue-print of entire creation coded in secret format. In Mahabharata Shanti Parva chapter CCXXXII the illustrious sage Vyasa states the following. This entire creation takes its form and shape from the blue print /seed which are hidden in Vedas. All the great Rishis also have their origin from Vedas.
“At the outset the Self-born caused those excellent Vedic sounds, that are embodiments of knowledge and that have neither beginning nor end to (spring up and) flow on (from preceptor to disciple). From those sounds have sprung all kinds of actions. The names of the Rishis, all things that have been created, the varieties of form seen in existent things, and the course of actions, have their origin in the Vedas. Indeed, the Supreme Master of all beings, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas. Upon the expiration of his night (i.e., at the dawn of his day), the uncreate Brahman creates, from prototypes that existed before, all things which are, of course, well-made by Him. In the Vedas hath been indicated the topic of the Soul’s Emancipation, along with the ten means constituted by study of the Vedas, adoption of the domestic mode of life, penances, observance of duties common to all the modes of life, sacrifices, performance of all such acts as lead to pure fame, meditation which is of three kinds, and that kind of emancipation which is called success (Siddhi) attainable in this life”. (MBH Shanti Parva chapter CCXXXII)

Does it mean Brahma got some published books printed and bounded nicely? Do we have any scriptural reference where Brahma is shown to be creating universes referring to some page no. of Vedas? No! Vedas mean “knowledge”. The word ‘Veda’ is derived from the Sanskrit root word ‘vid’ which means knowledge. So, Vedas are nothing but knowledge itself. So, when Upanishad says Shiva gave Vedas to Brahma, it implies that Shiva bestowed him with the knowledge required for his creation. And how does shiva bestow knowledge? The answer is – as Dakshinamurthy! Therefore it is Brahma who was the first person to witness and realize the grace of Dakshinamurthy.
This is the reason why the Svetaswatara Upanishad further prays to Dakkshina form of lord Rudra as follows. With divine knowledge the cycle of transmigration ceases to exist, and that knowledge can be gained only by the grace of Sri Dakshinamurthy.

“ajaata ityeva.n kashchidbhiiruH prapadyate | rudra yatte daxiNaM mukha.n tena maaM paahi nityam.h |”(Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:21)
“It is because Thou, O Lord, art birthless, that some rare souls, frightened by birth and death, take refuge in Thee. O Rudra, may Thy benign face (dakshinam mukha) protect me forever!”

In the above verse, Dakshinam Mukha is translated as benign face. What does it mean? Benign face is termed as ‘Aghora’ (not terrible) among the five faces of lord Shiva, and it is this Aghora face which remains turned southwards. Therefore Dakshinamurty is nothing but Aghora face of Lord Shiva. Therefore the above verse is again a prayer to Dakshinamurty the birthless lord whose refuge the righteous people take in order to get transported from this frightful cycle of births and deaths to the every pleasant state of kaivalya.

On a side note, Aghora face of lord Shiva which remains peaceful and south facing designates Dakshinamurty and confers knowledge and liberates the jIvas, however the same face when turned Ghora (terrible) becomes the world destroying form. This is why due to dual aspect of this face, YajurvEda Taittiriya Aranyaka sings its glory in both the aspects as follows.

“aghorebhyo.atha ghorebhyo ghoraghoratarebhyaH | sarvataH sharva sarvebhyo namaste astu rudraruupebhyaH |” (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.19.1)
“Now, O Sarva, my salutations be at all times and all places to Thy Rudra forms, benign, terrific, more terrific and destructive”.

3. Meaning of Dakshinamurty’s ‘Silence’

There is a legend which states that when the four brahma-rishis Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara who are collectively called as ‘kumaras’, emerged from Brahma as his mind born sons; they didn’t show interest in becoming prajapati and helping Brahma in further creating by procreating offsprings. They were constantly in search of brahma-gyanam. They were looking for a preceptor capable of dispelling their all doubts. While being on lookout for such a preceptor they were wandering from pillar to post when suddenly in one secluded place they saw a huge banyan tree (vata vruksham) and under that tree they found a sixteen years old young lad ‘Dakshinamurty’ sitting surrounded by octogenarian sages. The names and number of these sages vary in various agamas. These four kumaras gravitated to the serene looking face of that Dakshinamurty and sat surrounding him. Soon they got absorbed into the supreme silence of Dakshinamurty and all their queries related to Brahman got resolved. It should be noted that Shiva didn’t appear there as Dakshinamurty, rather Shiva is always there as Dakshinamurty bestowing knowledge for all the seekers, but a man realizes his presence only when he starts consciously seeking knowledge. Otherwise Dakshinamurty remains within us guiding us in a subconscious manner.

This is a story in a nutshell, the primary intention of discussing this is not for the sake of storytelling; but to discuss and analyze an important point what this legend teaches i.e., ‘teaching through silence’.

We may get a doubt – how can silence answer all the spiritual enquiries? It’s a valid one. What does silence indicate? Silence is that state where speech culminates, where disturbances of mind cease to exist. It is that state which can only be experienced and cannot be stated through speech or through thoughts. That supreme state of thoughtlessness, where speech exists in her parA state of silence is the state of Brahman. The state of Brahman is inexpressible through words, or thoughts; it can only be experienced!

How silence is a state of Brahman? It is answered in shruti as follows.

“kaa.nsyaghaNTaaninaadastu yathaa liiyati shaantaye | o~Nkaarastu tathaa yojyaH shaantaye sarvamichchhataa | yasminviliiyate shabdastatparaM brahma giiyate | dhiya.n hi liiyate brahma so.amR^itatvaaya kalpate |” (Brahmavidya Upanishad 12-13)
“And just as the sound of a metal utensil – or of a gong dies in silence – so he, who seeks the All lets the OM sound fade away in silence. For that wherein the sound fades away is the Brahman, the higher. Yea, the whole sound is Brahman and conduces to immortality”.
That supreme state of silence i.e., Brahman is nothing but same as Dakshinamurty himself, since it is he the Maheshwara who is the Brahman described in Vedas and Vedanta. It is only Lord Shiva who transcends everything and is the highest Brahman, it is he again as Dakashinamurty the highest Guru who teaches brahmavidya to us which reveals about himself alone. There is nothing superior to Shiva. In this connection Taittiriya Aranyaka of Yajurveda states as follows.

“yo vedaadau svaraH prokto vedaante cha pratishhThitaH | tasya prakR^itiliinasya yaH paraH sa maheshvaraH ” (Taittiriya Aranyaka
“It is Lord Maheshwara who transcends the syllable Om which is uttered at the commencement of the recital of the Vedas, which is well established in the vEdAnta (Upanishads) and which is dissolved in the primal cause during contemplation”.
The above verse states that Lord Shiva is beyond the Omkara that is recited before studying Vedas and also is established in the knowledge of Upanishads. But the above verse from Yajurveda is not as easy in meaning as it looks like, so I would like to elaborate its real meaning here. Yajurveda (IV:5:8:h) states about Lord Shiva as, “nama stArAya cha”, which means, “Salutations to Lord Rudra who is the Pranava Mantra – OM”. And same Yajurveda’s Taittiriya Aranyaka quoted above states that Rudra transcends Omkara. Do these two verses contradict? Definitely not! Omkara has two aspects, it is ‘nAda-brahma’ when it is seen in its ‘Ahata’ aspect; and when it is realized in its ‘anAhata’ aspect it is one with the supreme Brahman. Sound has two forms, ‘Ahata (which is audible)’ and ‘anAhata (which transcends the attribute of sound)’. Omkara in Ahata form when culminates in silence it becomes Omkara in Anahata. Silence is Brahman. Chanting (Japa) in silence mode (Anahata) is termed, “Ajapa”. This concept of Ajapa and Anahata is explained in Yoga Chudamani Upanishad also.
When Sri Rudram says Rudra is Taraka mantram OM and when same Yajurveda mentions Rudra as transcending OM then there is no contradiction since both of these statements are referring Rudra as beings ame as the anAhata omkara (omkara in silence) which means they mean to imply that Rudra is verily the Brahman.
But that doesn’t mean Ahata nAda (Omkara) is not the form of Rudra. Ahata-omkAra takes its birth from anAhata-Omkara alone. Both are lord Rudra’s forms one is parA form (silent one) and another is apara form (loud one). In fact, when Rudra imparts the Taraka Mantram (OM) in the ears of dying people in Varanasi, he spells the Ahata-Omkara in the ears of the people, and merges the Jiva within himself (the Atman which is Moksham). This means, the Ahata-nAdam of Omkara takes one towards the anAhata-nAdam which is Omkara in silence which is identical to Brahman and has nothing superior than that stage. In other words, sabda-brahman leads you towards shuddha-brahman, and both these forms are the forms of Maheshwara alone. Therefore he is the one without a second; he is the supreme Brahman in nirguna aspect as well as the saguna Brahman also.
Therefore we can understand from above analysis that Silence is the state of Brahman and that Brahman is Shiva alone, and it is again Shiva who is the Guru Dakshinamurty who teaches about himself, through the mode of supreme Silence which is again the state of Brahman. Isn’t it so beautiful that words find themselves insufficient to describe? That’s the essence of Dakshinamurty!

In normal circumstances here I am expected to end this analysis of Silence. However, I fully understand that there would be some people who would be inquisitive to know how silence (speechlessness) can produce sound (speech or vAk)? How vAk terminated in silence becomes Brahman? How speech is produced? On what foundation does speech (vAk) stand? Is vAk an independent entity or it is supported by some other entity?

To clarify all such questions I would like to extend this analysis on “vAk (speech) and silence” to some more pages. Silence being same as Brahman is a very vast concept and hence let me analyze it in detail. This analysis is a bit complex hence one need to pay utmost attention while reading the logical correlations.

3.1 chatvArI vAk and lord Shiva

Rig Veda while talking about ‘chatvAri vAk’, states that vAk (Speech) has four parts of which only a quarter is all what we hear and speak. Three fourths are still non-entity to the human ear. Only learned seers and Yogis who have internalized their vision can see and grasp the unmanifest portion of sound.

“catvāri vāk parimitā padāni tāni vidurbrāhmaṇā ye manīṣiṇaḥ |
ghuhā trīṇi nihitā neṅghayanti turīyaṃ vāco manuṣyā vadanti |” (Rig Veda 1:164:45)
“Speech hath been measured out in four divisions; the Brahmans who have understanding know them. Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division”.

The Ahata-shabdam (struck note or heard sound) is inferior, while the anAhata-shabdam (un-struck note or unheard sound) is limitless. The heard sound manifests in the visible universe which is limited, whereas the unheard or unmanifest sound indicates the infinite, limitless state of Brahman. This concept has been nicely presented in Shukla Yajurveda as quoted below.

“pratiśrútkāyā artanáṃ gʰóṣāya bʰaṣám ántāya bahuvādínam anantā́ya mū́kam̐ |” (Shukla Yajurveda-Vajasaneyi-Samhita: 30:19)
“For Echo a reviler; for Noise a snarler; for End a very talkative man; for Endless a mute;”

What are the four categories of vAk termed as? Answer is given in Shruti itself saying that the gross form of speech (viz. vaikharI) blossoms after passing through three stages as follows.

“paraayaama~Nkuriibhuuya pashyantaa.n dvidaliikR^itaa | madhyamaayaaM mukulitaa vaikharyaa.n vikasiikR^itaa | puurva.n yathoditaa yaa vaagvilomenaastagaa bhavet.h |” (Yoga Kundalini Upanishad 18(b)-19)
“That Vak (power of speech) which sprouts in Para, gives forth two leaves in Pashyanti; buds forth in Madhyama and blossoms in Vaikhari – that Vak which has before been described, reaches the stage of the absorption of sound, reversing the above order (viz., beginning with Vaikhari, etc.,)”.

In Lalita Sahasranama Stotram which is a hymn to goddess Tripurasundari and is present in Brahmanda Purana the verse no. 81 describes her presence in the fourfold form of speech as “parApratyak chitIrUpA pashyantI paradEvatA | madHyamA vaikHarIrUpA bHakta mAnasa hamsikA”.
The great seer Acharya bhAskararAyA in his commentary on Lalita Sahasranama Stotram elaborates these attributes of vAk. The below extract has been taken from his commentary ‘Soubhagyabhaskara’ [translated by A. K. Sastri, page 202] where Bhaskararaya explains the 306th name of Lalita which is “parA as follows.


“In the mUlAdhAra in the body the air (prANa) first appears; that prANa accompanied by the effort of a person desirous to speak, produces the all pervading shabdabrahman which is the kArANAbindu, when it is manifested, remaining motionless (nispanda) in its own place, is called parA speech.


Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “The same sabdabrahman, produced by the same prANa proceeding as far as the navel (near svAdhishthAna chakra), joined with the reasoning, intellect (manas) possessing the nature of the manifested kAryabindu with simple motion (sAmAnyaspanda) is named pasHyantI speech”.


Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “Next the same shabdabrahman, produced by the same air proceeding as far as the heart (anAhata chakra), joined with the determining understanding (buddhi) in the manifested nAdA, endowed with special (visHesHaspanda) is called madHyamA speech”.


Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “Next the same shabdabrahman produced by the same air proceeding as far as the mouth, developed in the throat (vishuddhi chakra), possessing the nature of the manifested bIja with the universal motion (spasHtatara) is called vaikHarI speech”.

Sri Sayanacharya in his commentary on chatvArI vAk from Rig Veda (1:164:45), states the following which is given in Sri T V Kapali Sastri’s book “Light on the Ancients”.

“tEsHu madnyE trINi parAdinI guha nihitAni hrdayatarvartittvat | turIyaM tu padam vaikHarIsanjanakaM manusHyah sarvE vadantI”
“Of these, the three steps viz. Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama are placed in the secrecy because of their being inside the heart, but the fourth step, viz. Vaikhari, is the one all men speak”.

Sri Swami Sivananda in the article titled “The Power of Thought” states about the chatvAri vAk as follows:
“Language is different, but thought is one. Mental image is the same in all. Sound has got four forms, viz., Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Vaikhari is the ordinary speech. It differs in different countries. But Para, Pasyanti and Madhyama are one and the same. Para is undifferentiated sound that lies dormant in Brahman”.

So, from all these details we can draw the following understanding of the fourfold speech. Speech originates from mUlAdhAra chakra but remains unheard till it issues out of the throat (Vishuddha chakra). The speech which is heard viz. Vaikhari may differ from language to language and country to country; however the thoughts which take birth within us before they are put into speech, those thoughts remain always same for every human being. For instance, when I see water, I would call it in Telugu as “neeLLu / neeru”; a Hindi speaking friend of mine would call it as “paani / jal”, a Sanskrit scholar would call it as “jalam / aapah”, an English man would call it as “water”, and an Arabic man would call it as “aab”. The Vaikhari aspect differs from one language to another, but the mental images what we all people would have about water in our mind and conscience would remain same without any differentiation.  Therefore the three internal states of speech viz. parA, pashyantI, and madhyamA are one and the same and are differentiated only based on their location within our body and their association with the attributes of mind; where the purest form viz. parA is unassociated with any attributes of mind and hence it is identical with Brahman.
Therefore, finally we can consider only two pure states of speech. parA which is identical with Brahman or Kundalini Shakti in mUlAdharA, and the vaikharI which is the final transformed gross audible form.  Of course we have analyzed the forms of vAk (speech), and again we have reached a point where we can put an end to this discussion. However, I am not ready to end it here since it would lead us to end this analysis in duality. I would end this analysis at that juncture where one would be able to clearly see the non-duality (Advaitam) between vAk and its forms and Rudra. So, let’s continue it further.
Let us focus only on parA (silence implying Brahman) and vaikHarI (audible sound). Let’s ignore the intermediary transformations / states for now. Let’s analyze how speech gets produced. Let me ask you to do a practical exercise to understand this concept what I’m going to explain. Exhale all your breath out to that extent where you feel there is no scope of further emptying your lungs with air. At that juncture, try to call your name aloud. Can you hear your voice? Can you utter your name out? Answer is No, not at all! Now, take very minimum amount of breath in, and try to call out your name. What do you observe? Even with the slightest amount of air you are able to pronounce your name out. This means, it is the breaths (prANa-s) that are the foundation for speech (vAk) to survive. Whatever conclusion we have drawn with this exercise, same has been theoretically explained in the following Upanishad verses.
Upanishad states the superiority of Prana (life breaths) over vAk (Speech) and other senses in a story kind of narration. It says there was a competition among the senses on the matter of superiority. Prajapati put them to Test and as per the rules first vAk (speech) left the body and went out and returned back to ask whether the other senses were able to survive, they all survived. But when at last Prana (life-breath) was about to depart, all other senses started getting uprooted and then all senses including vAk accepted Prana as their lord.

“te ha prANAH prajApatiM pitarametyochurbhagavanko naH | shreShTha iti tAnhovAcha yasminva utkrAnte sharIraM | pApiShThataramiva dR^ishyeta sa vaH shreShTha iti |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-7)
“Those senses approached the father Prajapati and said to him, ‘Revered sir, who is the best amongst us?’ He replied, ‘He amongst you is the best on whose departure the body would appear its worst, as it were’.”

“sA ha vAguchchakrAma sA saMvatsaraM proShya paryetyovAcha | kathamashakatarte majjIvitumiti yathA kalA avadantaH | prANantaH prANena pashyantashchakShuShA shR^iNvantaH shrotreNa | dhyAyanto manasaivamiti pravivesha ha vAk.h |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-8)
“Speech departed. Staying a year out, it came back and asked, ‘How have you been able to live without me?’ (The others replied,) ‘Just like the dumb, though not speaking, yet living with the breath, seeing with the eyes, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind.’ (At this) speech entered (the body)”.

“atha ha prANa ucchikramiShansa yathA suhayaH | aDvIshasha~NkUnsaMkhidedevamitarAnprANAnsamakhidattamhAbhisametyochurbhagavannedhi tvaM naH shreShTho.asi motkramIriti |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-12)
“Then, as the Prana was about to depart, it uprooted the other senses just as a horse of mettle would uproot the pegs to which it is tethered. They all then came to it and said, ‘O revered sir, be our lord, you are the best amongst us; do not depart from the body’”.

Therefore it is clear from above analogy and the practical what we have done, that vAk (Speech) is NOT an independent power, it depends solely on Prana to function. In fact it is the life force (breath or prANa) which emerges as speech (vAk) from the throat. So, the states parA, pasHyantI, madhyamA and vaikharI are in reality the four states of prANa alone! Now, let us see who this prANa is!
Here praNa is just a name to Atman (Bhagawan Rudra). In reality there is only one prANa (Atman) which divides itself into various prANas. Hence Atman is the prANa of all prANas. prANas are born out of Atman and hence they are called rudrAs (maruts) because Atman is verily Rudra. This is why the maruts (Rudras) are termed as the children of Rudra (Atman). The number of prANas varies based on the categorization adopted in scriptures. This is why Mundaka Upanishad says seven pranas, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says eight pranas, again in another verse same brihadaranyaka Upanishad calls them as eleven and twelve also and likewise there are variations in numbers based on the method of grouping adopted.  However the fact is, it is only one prANa which assumes so many names within our body based on the function. Therefore when Upanishad mentions prANa in singular term it actually refers to Atman by that name since Atman is the prANa of prANas.
Now, this prANa (Atman) is verily Brahman as stated below.

“sa yadavochaM prANaM prapadya iti prANo vA idam sarvaM | bhUtaM yadidaM kiMcha tameva tatprApatsi |” (Chandogya Upanishad III-xv-4)
“When I said, ‘I take refuge in Prana’, (it was because) all these beings, whatsoever exist, are indeed Prana. So it was in this alone that I took refuge”.

“katama eko deva iti | prANa iti sa brahma tyadityAchakshate |” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III:9:9)
“‘Which is the one god?’ ‘The Prana (here it implies Atman which is Prana of all Pranas) is the one god; it is Brahman, which is called Tyat (that).’

Here the duality of Gods ceased to exist. All gods are the manifestations of one true god viz. prANa (Atman). The same has been expounded in Svetaswatara Upanishad as follows:

“eko hi rudro na dvitiiyaaya tasthurya imaa.nllokaaniishata iishaniibhiH | pratyaN^ janaastishhThati saJNchukochaantakaale sa.nsR^ijya vishvaa bhuvanaani gopaaH |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:02)
“Rudra is truly one; for the knowers of Brahman do not admit the existence of a second, He alone rules all the worlds by His powers. He dwells as the inner Self (Atman) of every living being. After having created all the worlds, He, their Protector, takes them back into Himself at the end of time.”

So, in the light of the above verse the below verse when read, it is clearly about lord Shiva alone.

“sarvANi ha vA imAni bhUtAni prANamevAbhisaMvishanti prANamabhyujjihate saiShA devatA prastAvamanvAyattA |” (Chandogya Upanishad I-xi-4)
“For all the beings merge in Prana (Rudra) alone and from Prana (Rudra) they arise. This is the deity belonging to the Prastava”

Now, from the above analysis we have understood that vAk (Speech) is also one of the pranas (senses) which cannot survive without prANa and it is a manifestation of the prANa (Rudra) and at the end of time like every other sense this vAk also would merge back in prANa (Rudra). Also we have understood that vAk (Speech) which has four parts is in reality the prANa which is Rudra. This Rudra who is called as prANa (Atman) is the ONLY god (Brahman) which manifests himself into the four forms of vAk (speech).
Out of the four states of vAk (speech), the parA form is verily Brahman and is represented as total silence. Therefore this is the form of Rudra who is the parA i.e., Brahman which is represented in terms of “Silence” when translated in terms of speech.

Here is a direct reference from Upanishad where Bhagawan Rudra himself states about himself being Brahman. The following verses are from Atharvashira Upanishad.

“AUM devA ha vai svarga.n lokamAya.nste rudramapR^ichChanko bhavAniti |” (Atharvasiras Upa 1)
“Om! Once upon a time the Devas resorted to the world of Bliss (Kailasa); and the Devas addressed Rudra thus, ‘who are you?’”.

“so.abravIdahamekaH prathamamAsa.n vartAmi cha | bhavishyAmi cha nAnyaH kashchinmatto vyatirikta iti |” (Atharvasiras Upa 2)
“He replied: ‘I alone was in the beginning; I am now; and will be in the future. There is none but me’.”

“so.antarAdantaraM prAvishat.h dishashchAntaraM prAvishat.h |” (Atharvasiras Upa 3)
“He spread out himself and pervaded all the quarters”.

“so.aha.n nityAnityo.aha.n vyaktAvyakto brahmAbrahmAhaM |” (Atharvasiras Upa 4)
“(He said): “I am eternal and non-eternal, I am Brahma”.

“mA.n veda sa sarvAndevAnveda sarvA.nshcha |” (Atharvasiras Upa 5)
“He who knows me knows all the Devas”.

This proves that Dakshinamurty himself is the Guru who teaches the disciples about himself alone (since he is the Brahman) through silence because Silence is the state of Brahman when measured in terms of vAk (Speech).

4. Iconography of Dakshinamurty and corresponding symbolism

Sri Dakshinamurthy

Sri Dakshinamurty Jnana Prabodhini – महापाशुपतास्त्र

Sri Dakshinamurty is depicted as a young sixteen years old god sitting at the root of a huge banyan tree on a rock or an elevated place, having four hands. He is depicted as sitting surrounded by grey haired sages. Dakshinamurty’s appearance remains very serene with a beautiful smile on his face. He is depicted wearing a crown or a hair-band on his nicely braided locks of hair. His right leg is shown crushing (not killing) an infant with a demon face who is called ‘apasmara-purusha’, and his left leg rests on his right thigh. His lower right hand is shown usually postured in ‘chinmudra’ (index and thumb finger joined and other fingers standing erect); and otherwise it is also shown in ‘abhava-mudra’ sometimes. In his upper right hand he is shown holding a handheld drum (‘damarukam’) which remains coiled with a serpent; and also in the same hand he is shown holding an ‘akshamala’ (rosary). In his upper left hand he is shown holding a torch of flames, and with his lower left hand he holds ‘kusa grass’ or ‘vEdas’. He is also shown wearing a waist bank around his waist. His braided hair holds Ganga and on his lefta dn right sides of his head sun and moon are shown. In some iconographies behind or nearby his vehicle Nandi the bull is also seen.

Let’s see few dhyAna shlOkas from shruti which describe the appearance of lord Sri Dakshinamurty.

“sphaTikarajatavarNaM mauktikiimakshamaalaa-
mamR^itakalashavidyaa.n j~naanamudraa.n karaagre |
dadhatamuragakakshya.n chandrachuuDa.n trinetraM
vidhR^itavividhabhuushha.n dakshiNaamuurtimiiDe |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 3)
“I adore the three-eyed, moon-crested Dakshinâmûrti who is of pebble and silver colour, holding in the hands a rosary of pearls, a vessel of nectar, a book and the symbol of wisdom; having a serpent for his girdle, and putting on various ornaments”.

“aadau vedaadimuchchaarya svaraadya.n savisargakam.h |
pa~nchaarNa.n tata uddhR^itya antara.n savisargakam.h |
ante samuddharettaaraM manureshha navaaksharaH |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 4)
“May the milk-white three-eyed Primal Being (Bhava) grant us purity of thought, He who, seated at the foot of a fig tree, surrounded by Suka and other sages, holding in the hands the symbol of the blessed wisdom, with axe and deer,—one of the hands resting on the knees, the loins girdled round by a mighty serpent, a digit of the moon enclosed in His clotted hair!”

The crystal color of Dakshinamurty has a great significance. Having a color means it is an Upadhi with which the object is associated with, hence it has a Guna. However, crystal symbolizes no color. Hence it represents the nirguNa-Brahman. White color also signifies Shuddha-Satvika tatwam, which also depicts the purity of the lord.

Depiction of the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty in various temple statues or idols slightly differs based on the Agama being followed. Now, let us understand what all these icons symbolize.

4.1 Dakshinamurty is Everything in this Universe

Ashtamurty form of lord Shiva are nothing but the Pancha-bhuta-s (five divine elements) and Manas, Buddhi, and Ahamkara. These eight elements are the framework required for any cosmic creation.

The pancha-bhutas are viz. Agni (fire), Jalam (water), Bhumi (Earth), Vayu (Air) and Akasa (sky); and the remaining three elements are mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and Ego (ahamkara). The entire universe is composed of these elements of prakriti (nature) alone. Each element among the pancha bhutas are aoompanied by its corresponding sense of perception which are collectively called as ‘tanmAtrAs’, they are Shabda (Sound), Sparsha (touch), Roopa (sight), Rasa (taste), gandha (smell). These tanmAtrAs are tightly coupled with their corresponding five elements. Without these tanmAtrAs this world cannot be experienced by any living being. SO, they are very essential for us.

Let’s study all of them one by one.

4.1.1 The Upper Right Hand :: Represents Creation (srushti) :: Manifestation of Ether

The handheld drum which is called Damarukam, symbolizes the primordial sound Omkara and it represents Creation (srushthi). It implies that it is lord Rudra alone who creates everything as also evident from the below shruti vAkya.

“Namo bhavaya cha |” (Yajurveda iv:5:5:a)
“Salutations to Him who is the source of all things (Bhava)”.

It is again the Bhagawan Rudra alone who assumed the form of Brahma to continue the task of creation as confirmed in the below shruti-vAkya.

“namo midhushhtamaya ” (Yajurveda iv:5:5:g)
“Salutations to Lord Rudra in the form of hiranyagarbHA; the creator of the universe”.
Among the pancha-bhutas it represents Akasa. Among the tanmAtrAs it is the sound (shabda). It is lord Rudra alone who manifested himself as the Sky as evident from the below verse of Satapatha Brahmana of Yajurveda. This also implies that it is Rudra alone who is in the form of shabda (sound) property of Akasa (sky) as well.

Parjanya (the cloud which represents Sky) became such like because of Lord Bhava:

“tamabravīdbhavo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarotparjanyastadrūpamabhavatparjanyo
vai bhavaḥ parjanyāddhīdaṃ sarvam bhavati so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me
nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:15)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Bhava.’ And because he gave him that name, ‘Parganya’ became suchlike; for Bhava is Parganya, since everything here comes (bhavati) from the cloud (read ‘Sky’). He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

The akshamAlA (rosary) is ‘akshara-mAlA’ or ‘varNamAlA’ – a rosary composed of alphabets. This circular rosary represents the cyclic process of creation which remains in seed form in Vedas. In this connection Mahabharata says that entire creation remains in seed form in Vedas and from the blue-print coded in Vedas in next cycle the creator god creates this universe again, as stated below.

“The names of the Rishis, all things that have been created, the varieties of form seen in existent things, and the course of actions, have their origin in the Vedas. Indeed, the Supreme Master of all beings, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas”. (MBH book 12:CCXXXII)

Rig Veda also supports this cyclic nature of creation as follows.

“sūryācandramasau dhātā yathāpūrvamakalpayat | divaṃ capṛthivīṃ cāntarikṣamatho svaḥ |” (Rig Veda 10:190:03)
“Dhātar, the great Creator, then formed in due order of previous cycle of creation (yathāpūrvamakalpayat) Sun and Moon. He formed in order of previous cycle of creation, Heaven and Earth, the regions of the air, and light”.

Therefore the akshamAlA symbolizes the cyclic nature of creation and the beads in that mAlA symbolize the seeds of creation contained in the code-words of Vedas. This is why this rosary is not any ordinary form of rosary, rather it is made of aksharas (alphabets), hence also called as ‘varNamAlA’.

Thirdly, in the same hand he holds a snake which actually coils around the damarukaM. This snake is symbolic to ‘kunDalinI shakti’ and ‘kunDalinI yOga’ which is the supreme path which makes a jIvA transcend this material creation and become one with the Brahman! It is Rudra alone who is the ‘kunDalinI yOga’ as well as the serpent power ‘kunDalinI shaktI’ also, as evident from the below verse from Mahabharata.

“Thou art he that unites Jiva with Supreme Brahman through Yoga. Thou art identifiable with that Yoga which causes such a union between Jiva and Supreme Brahman”.(MBH Book14: XVII)

4.1.2 The Head :: Represents Preservation (sthiti) :: Manifestation of Water

The head of lord Dakshinamurty is beautifully adorned with crown or a golden hair-band, his hair is also matted and locked properly. The nicely organized hair and a beautiful crown made of gold studded with gems represents the preservation aspect (sthiti). Apart from that the Ganga decked inside his hair also symbolizes the sustenance aspect because Ganga represents fertility of land, and sustenance of life on the planet as water is the primary element which sustains life. Life originates in water, and sustains in water. There is no life without water! Therefore it means it is lord Rudra alone who protects everything in this universe as evident from the below shruti-vAkya.

sa.nsR^ijya vishvA bhuvanAni goptA | (Atharvasiras Upanishad 5.2)
“He(Rudra) is the one who creates all beings and upkeeps them”.

It is again the Bhagawan Rudra alone who assumed the form of Vishnu to continue the task of protection as confirmed in the below shruti-vAkya.

“namo girishaya cha shipivishhtaya cha” (Yajurveda iv:5:5:f)
“Salutations to Lord Rudra, who dwells on Kailasha Mountain and who is present in the form of Vishnu”.
Water corresponds to ‘rasA’ (taste) property among the tanmAtrAs. Hence it is again lord Rudra who exists in the rasA (taste) property also.Now, it is again lord Rudra who exists in the form of water. jalaM (water) is one of the eight forms of Rudra as evident from the below verse.
Waters became such like because of Lord Sarva:

“tamabravītsarvo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodāpastadrūpamabhavannāpo vai sarvo ‘dbhyo hīdaṃ sarvaṃ jāyate so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:11)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Sarva.’ And because he gave him that name, the waters became suchlike, for Sarva is the waters, inasmuch as from the water everything (sarva) here is produced. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

4.1.3 The Left Upper Hand :: Represents Destruction (samhAra) :: Manifestation of Agni

In his upper left hand, Sri Dakshinamurty holds a torch of fire. It symbolizes the destruction (SamhArA) aspect among panchakrutyaM-s. This means it is again lord Shiva who dissolves entire creation into himself at the end of the time as evident from below shruti vAkya.

namah sharvaya cha |” (Yajurveda iv:5:5:b)
“Salutations to the destroyer of everything (sharva) at the end of the time”.

This torch of flame also represents the divine internal fire of consciousness known as jAtAvEda-agni which pervades as the consciousness within us which is again lord Rudra alone.
Among the pancha-bhUta-s Agni is one of the prime element. It is again lord Rudra who manifested himself as the Agni element for the benefit of this world. This is evident from the below shruti vAkya.
Agni became such like because of Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdrudro ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodagnistadrūpamabhavadagniva rudro yadarodīttasmādrudraḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:10)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Rudra.’ And because he gave him that name, Agni became suchlike (or, that form), for Rudra is Agni: because he cried (rud) therefore he is Rudra. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Among the tanmAtras which correspond to the Agni element, roopa (sight) is a property of Agni hence it is again lord Rudra who exists in that property also.

4.1.4 The Lower Left Hand :: Represents Tool for Sailing across the SamsArA (gyAnam) :: Manifestation of Vedas

If we notice carefully, the lower left hand of the lord is placed on that knee of that leg, which remains folded and kept on the right thigh. The inner meaning is – the left leg what he keeps folded is untouched by Samsaara. Hence the lower left hand which carries vEdas, symbolizes that divine knowledge which when obtained by the grace of Dakshinamurty, makes the receiver, attain the supreme wisdom whereby he becomes untouched by Samsaara even if he lives amidst this world.

Vedas manifested from Rudra alone:

It is Bhagawan Rudra who created Vedas from himself as evident from the below verse which is from a hymn to Mahakala form of lord Shiva.

“kāló ha bhūtáṃ bhávyaṃ ca putró ajanayat purā́ | kālā́d ŕ̥caḥ sám abhavan yájuḥ kālā́d ajāyata |” (Atharva Veda XIX:54:3)
“In Kala erst the text produced what is and what is yet to be. The Riks arose from Kala, the Yagus was born from Kala;”

Same is testified in Svetavatara Upanishad (4:09) also about Rudra projecting Vedas. Here one shouldn’t consider Vedas as just some created items, which are different from Mahadeva. Nothing is different from the Supreme Being Rudra. Even these Vedas which symbolize the divine knowledge are identical with the giver of knowledge viz. Dakshinamurty. Taittirya Aranyaka (10:24:1) of Yajurveda says “purusho vai rudrah”, which means “Lord Rudra is Veda Purusha”. And Rig Veda (10:90:2) says “puruṣa evedaṃ sarvaṃ yad bhūtaṃ yacca bhavyam” which means, “all that was (existed once upon a time) and all that is (manifested in present) and will be (in future), everything is verily the Veda Purusha Rudra alone”.

It is again Mahadeva alone who is the supreme ruler of all knowledge, and protector of Vedas as evident from Taittariya Aranyaka of Yajurveda  as follows:

“ishanah sarvavidyanamishvarah sarvabhutanam | brahmadhipatirbrahmano’dhipatirbrahma shivo me astu sadashivom |” (Yajurveda Taittariya Aranyaka 10:21:1 )
“May the Supreme who is the ruler of all knowledge, IshANa, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas and the one overlord of Hiranyagarbha, be benign to me. That Sadasiva described thus and denoted by Pranava (OM).”

That is the benevolence of lord Shiva! Who on this earth can attain knowledge by moving away from Lord Shiva? It’s all the foolishness of those who attempt to deny themselves from worshiping this greatest benevolent Lord. He himself is the destination (Moksha), he himself is the lord, he himself is the means to attain him (knowledge), it is he who is the preceptor (as Dakshinamurty) who confers the knowledge, it is he who protects the knowledge and it is again he himself who is in the form of the source of knowledge (as Vedas). Such is my divine father, my lord, my self – the illustrious Mahadeva!

4.1.5 The Left Leg :: Represents the Supreme state beyond Samsaara (Aja-EkapAda)

The goal of attaining knowledge is to raise ourselves from the level of ignorance to the realization of ‘tat twam asi’ principle as expounded in the Upanishads. This leg of Sri Dakshinamurty symbolizes the supreme state of Kaivalya which is untouched by Samsaara. This foot is the object which one needs to long for.
This is a superficial understanding. There is a deeper meaning surrounding this raised up leg of Bhagawan Shiva. Not only in the iconography of Dakshinamurty, but in every form of Shiva, the lord mostly sits or stands with one leg raised upwards. Take for instance Nataraja form. This form of Shiva where he stands or sits supporting one leg on ground and one leg on thigh or raised upwards teaches us about the “Aja-EkapAda” principle. Lord Shiva is Aja-EkapAda, where “Aja” means “unborn”, and “EkapAda” means “one footed”.
Lord Shiva is the unborn supreme god as evident from below shruti verse.“ajaata ityeva.n kashchidbhiiruH prapadyate |
rudra yatte daxiNaM mukha.n tena maaM paahi nityam.h |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:21)
“‘Thou art unborn (Aja),’ with these words some one comes near to thee, trembling. O Rudra, let thy southward facing face protect me for ever!”
Lord Shiva who created this universe from one portion of his infinite form called Skambha (linga) and his rest of the form is still beyond all this universe. Therefore he stands on one foot as Skambha and pervades with one portion (pAda) into the universe while keeping his rest of the portion as un-manifest to the universe. This is evident from the below shruti verse.


“ékacakraṃ vartata ékanemi sahásrākṣaraṃ prá puró ní paścā
ardhéna víśvaṃ bhúvanaṃ jajā́na yád asyārdháṃ kvà tád babhūva |” (Atharva Veda X:8:7)
“Up, eastward downward in the west, ‘it rolleth, with countless elements, one-wheeled, single-fellied. With half it hath begotten all creation. Where hath the other half become unnoticed?”

This is the reason, why lord Shiva always rests one foot on the ground or on ApasmAra demon which all represent the mundane world, and keeps one of his foot above all the mundane existence. This teaches us the infinite nature of Lord Rudra who with a portion of his pillar of fire of consciousness (skhambha / linga) engendered this world and he although pervades within this world, still extends beyond this world and is higher than the highest supreme brahman.
Therefore the left and right leg posture of Dakshinamurty teaches us about his “Aja-EkapAda” principle.

4.1.6 The Right Leg :: Tirodhana Krutyam

In the iconography of Sri Dakashinamurty, lord is shown to be pressing an infant under his right foot. That infant looks an infant by his body, but his face resembles a grown up male demon and has full moustache. This demon is called ‘apasmAra purusha’ (demon of ignorance or Avidya), and also called as ‘apasmriti purusha’ (demon of forgetfulness).
What does the ‘apasmriti purusha’ make us forget? He makes us forget about our true identify – the identity of a Jiva being same as the very Brahman. He symbolizes the ignorance that makes us lose our control on indriyas (senses) and consciousness and run after sensuous things.
It should be noted that the lord simply crushes that demon but doesn’t kill. This is because that demon is not a demon but rather an instrument of Mahadeva alone. That demon is a symbolic representation of Maya (Illusion) under which all creatures remain blanketed. It is this blanket of Avidya which makes us see this entire jGat but hides the Brahman (Shiva) from our eyes. This is called ‘TirodhAna’ which means, ‘Curtaining or veiling’. It is again Lord Shiva who curtains us under his Maya. Therefore, till the moment we remain happy with our sense gratification, enjoying the worldly pastimes, and take no interest in liberation; within us the ‘apasmAra-puruha / apasmriti-purusha’ remains fully alive or un-subjugated.
However, those few righteous souls who take the refuge of Mahadeva (Dakshinamurty) with the intent of sailing across the ocean of transmigration (Samsaara), and resort to his uplifted foot, and accept the gift of knowledge (Vedas) bestowed by his lower left hand; for such people it is again the great Dakshinamurty who suppresses the ‘apasmAra-puruha / apasmriti-purusha’ by his right foot and subjugates him under our control. This is called ‘un-veiling’ or ‘un-curtaining’ and is technically termed as ‘Anugraha’ (grace). Once the lord’s grace is conferred, the Jiva finds only the presence of Brahman (Shiva) in every iota of this universe, and most importantly within his own self. He becomes capable of seeing himself within all others, and seeing everything within his self. This is ‘brAhmI-sthiti’ (state of oneness with Brahman).
Now, let’s see some more internal secrets related to this. We have ‘dashEndriyAs’ (ten sense organs), viz. five sense organs, and five motor organs. Each of these sense organs are associated with their corresponding power. We experience and enjoy this universe with the help of these senses alone whose interpreter is ‘manas’ (mind). Eye sees, but it is the mind which makes the sight interesting or repulsive to see. It is not fault of eyes to look at a beautiful woman; the sight becomes faulty only due to the interpretation made by the mind which attaches lust with the picture under the vision. Therefore subjugation of senses is highly important for one’s upliftment in spiritual journey. 
Indra is the lord of ‘indriyas’ (senses), all indriyas belong to his dominion. It is he who makes the Indriyas unrestrained for a person who desires enjoyments; and also it is he again who keeps them subjugated for the sake of a seeker of liberation. Rig Veda gives a beautiful verse related to this context.

“ud yat sahaḥ sahasa ājaniṣṭa dediṣṭa indra indriyāṇi viśvā | prācodayat sudughā vavre antar vi jyotiṣā saṃvavṛtvat tamo ‘vaḥ |” (Rig Veda 5:31:3)
“When out of strength arose the strength that conquers, Indra exposed all the cosmic senses (indriyāṇi viśvā) that he possesses. Forth from the cave he drove the milky mothers, and with the light (jyotiṣ) laid bare empowering darkness (tamas)”.
The above verse when interpreted in terms of Yoga or Vedanta it reveals us a great truth. When a sadhaka is determined to attain liberation, out of that strength of determination arises the strength which conquers the lowly sensual pleasures associated with the lower senses which are barriers in the path of realization. For such a sadhaka, Indra the lord of senses, helps in subjugation of lower senses and exposes (reveals) the supreme senses (e.g., dispassion as opposed to passion etc.), and then releases the nectar of immortality from the cave of the crown, and with the divine effulgence of brahma-jnAnam destroys the empowering darkness of avidya.
This phenomenon of removal of darkness (avidya) is achieved when one resorts to Mahadeva in the form of Dakshinamurty. For a devotee who aspires for realization and resorts to Bhava, he as the lord of Indriyas subjugates them like the ‘apasmAra-purusha’ who remains subjugated under his feet; and reveals knowledge and confers liberation.
This auspicious Indra who does such a great benefit to the spiritual aspirant is again none other than Mahadeva as evident from the below shruti.
Rudra manifested as Indra:

“sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.aśanir.eva.iti yad.aśanir.indras.tena |” (Kaushitaki Brahmana 6:3:41)
“Prajapathi said to Rudra ‘Thou art Asani’ ; for Asani is Indra”.

4.1.7 The Lower Right Hand :: Anugraha Krutyam :: jIva-brahma-Aikyam

The lower right hand of Sri Dakshinamurty remains positioned in a blessing posture with its fingers showing ‘chinmudra’ (Index and thumb fingers remain joined and other fingers stand erect). This ‘chinmudra’ is symbolic of oneness of jIva with the eshwara.  This hand also symbolizes the ‘anugraham’ task which means grace. Anugraham is the final task which succeeds the task of ‘tirodhAna’. This task of grace is nothing but the conferring of liberation to the Jiva.
This final stage of liberation depends on the preceding stages viz. acquiring the brahma-jnana by following Vedas (as bestowed by his lower left hand), desire to transcend the material world as symbolized by the raised left leg which remains untouched with the world, then one needs to seek Dakshinamurty’s help to overcome his power of illusion (tirodhana) and for self-restraint. Finally one gets uplifted to a stage where he identifies himself as one with the supreme Brahman (anugraha).

4.1.8 The Sun on the head :: Symbolizes Intelligence

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty there is always a picture of sun (sUrya) shown attached to his crown. Sun is symbolic to intelligence. Among the eightfold forms of Bhagawan Rudra, Aditya is one of them as evident from the below shruti.

Sun (Intellect) became such like because of Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdīśāno ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodādityastadrūpamabhavadādityo vā
īśāna ādityo hyasya sarvasyeṣṭe so ‘bravīdetāvānvā asmi mā metaḥ paro nāma dhā iti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:17)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Îsâna (the Ruler).’ And because he gave him that name, the Sun (Aditya) became suchlike, for Îsâna is the Sun, since the Sun rules over this All. He said, ‘So great indeed I am: give me no other name after that!’”

4.1.9 The Moon on the head :: Symbolizes manas (mind)

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty there is always a picture of Crescent Moon (chandrama) shown attached to his crown. Moon is symbolic to ‘manas’ (mind). Among the eightfold forms of Bhagawan Rudra, Chandrama is one of them as evident from the below shruti.

Moon (manas or Mind) became such like because of Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīnmahāndevo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākaroccandramāstadrūpamabhavatprajāpatirvai candramāḥ prajāpatirvai mahāndevaḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:16)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Mahân Devah (the Great God).’ And because he gave him that name, the moon became suchlike, for the moon is Pragâpati, and Pragâpati is the Great God. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

4.1.10 The vAyu (Air) present around :: Is again Rudra alone

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty explicitly we cannot find out any symbol for Vayu (air) because Air is an invisible element. However, as per the Advaita Vedanta followers of the school of Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (Not of Arya Samaj), the ‘bandhanam’ (waistband) which girdles around the waist of lord Dakshinamurty symbolizes the wind element. Whatever it may be, the fact is, air is always present around but not visible to the eyes. And this Air which is one among the pancha-bhUtas (five divine elements) is again a manifestation of Rudra alone as evident from below shruti.

Vayu (Air) became such like because of Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdugro ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodvāyustadrūpambhavadvāyurvā ugrastasmādyadā balavadvāyugro vātotyāhuḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:13)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Ugra.’ And because he gave him that name, Vâyu (the wind) became suchlike, for Ugra is Vâyu: hence when it blows strongly, they say ‘Ugra is blowing.’ He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Vayu corresponds to ‘smell’ among the pancha-tanmAtrAs; therefore it is again lord Dakshinamurty who is present within our power (knowledge) of smelling.

4.1.11 The Rock Seat (Earth) and plants :: Manifestations of the lord

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty, the lord is shown seated on a high seat made of rock under the banyan tree. Below the rock on the ground the disciple sages remain seated. Surrounding the seat on the ground are shown various plants with fully blossomed flowers. Earth along with her entire vegetation is again a manifestation of Rudra and one fo the aspect among the eightfold forms of Mahadeva as evident from below verse.

Plants (represents Earth and entire creation sustained on earth) became such like because of Lord Rudra:

“tamabravītpaśupatirasīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodoṣadhayastadrūpamabhavannoṣadhayo vai paśupatistasmādyadā paśava oṣadhīrlabhante ‘tha patīyanti so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:12)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Pasupati.’ And because he gave him that name, the plants became suchlike, for Pasupati is the plants: hence when cattle (pasu) get plants, then they play the master (patîy). He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Among the tanmAtras associated with the Earth element, the lord Dakshinamurty is present in the form of knowledge of sensation of touch ‘sparsha (touch)’.

4.1.12 The Banyan Tree :: SamsAra Vruksham :: Root Symbolizes Brahman (Shiva)

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty, the lord is shown seated underneath a huge ‘Vatavruksha’ (banyan tree) and the same ahs been stated in Dakshinamurty Upanishad as follows.

“viiNaa.n karaiH pustakamakshamaalaaM bibhraaNamabhraabhagala.n varaaDhyam.h | phaNiindrakakshyaM munibhiH shukaadyaiH sevya.n vaTaadhaH kR^itaniiDamiiDe |”  (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 1:10)
“I adore Him who in His hands holds a veena, a book and a rosary, with a cloudlike throat, who is rich in gifts, girdled by a mighty serpent, resorted to by Suka and other sages; who has made the foot of a fig tree His abode”.

A doubt may arise in the minds of the readers – Why does Dakshinamurty sit under a banyan tree, why not a mango tree or a coconut tree? Well, it is neither related to the vast space this tree covers nor is related to the amount of shade what it gives. Let’s me explain the internal meaning of this tree.

This banyan tree is not any ordinary tree. Banyan tree has a great Vedantic and Yogic significance. Banyan tree has a special quality of having secondary roots hanging from the branches. These secondary roots grow downwards and on touching the ground they give birth to another of their kind. This represents an eternal cycle of creation. This tree is called ‘samsAra vruksham’ (the world tree) as depicted in Bhagawad Gita and is stated to be present vertically inverted. It is further stated that the roots of this tree remains hidden and originates from Brahman. Dakshinamurty who sits at the feet of the banyan tree is the Brahman from whom the tree of samsaara originates.

This tree in reality doesn’t exist anywhere outward in this universe. It is an internal phenomenon, a tree which exists within the microcosm (our body). The various nerves (nAdIs) of our body are the branches, and the one central nerve which passes through the spine and is called ‘sushumna’ is the stem of that tree. Its roots are in Sahasrara and originate from Brahman. This is clarified in below verses from Uttara Gita.

“nAnAnADIprasavakaM sarvabhUtAntarAtmani | UrdhvamUlamadhaH shAkhaM vAyumArgeNa sarvagam.h |” (Uttara Gita 18)
“As various Nãdis have sprung up from the Susumnã, the receptacle of the Inner soul of all Jîvas – and are stretched out in all directions of the physical body, therefore it is considered like a huge tree reversed. The Tattva-Jnãnins alone are able to walk on every branch of this tree by the help of Prãna-Vãyu”.

“dvisaptatisahasrANi nADyaH syurvAyugocharAH | karmamArgeNa suShirAstirya~nchaH suShirAtmakAH |” (Uttara Gita 19)
“In this human body there exist seventy-two thousand Nãdis which admit of sufficient space for entrance into them through Vãyu; the Yogins alone become acquainted with the true nature of these Nãdis by the virtue of their Yoga-Karma”.

So, the Dakshinamurty sitting at the bottom of the vatavruksha (banyan tree) teaches us that it is he (Shiva) who is the parabrahman, knowing or reaching whom one never comes back to this world again.

4.1.13 The Sages seated below :: Also symbolize Rudra alone

In the iconography of Sri Dakshinamurty, divine sages like Kumaras, Suka, and Saptarishis are shown seated as disciples on the ground and Shiva as the leader of that spiritual conference. This entire arrangement is a ‘sabhA’ (conference or group) for spiritual discourses where the speaker (sabhA-pati) speaks through silence and the audience grasps the supreme knowledge of divine through that silence which is the mode employed by the speaker to discourse his teachings.
But in any case the listeners are not different from the speaker, because everything is Rudra alone. It is he alone who remains as the host (sabhApati) of all conferences and again he himself remains in the form of the audience (sabhA). This is clearly evident from Yajurveda as stated below.

“namah sabhabhyah sabhapatibhyashcha vo namo |” (Yajurveda IV:5:3:p)
“To you Rudra, who remain in the form of those who sit as members (audience) of assemblies and those who preside over them (host), salutations!”
Therefore the giver of knowledge and the receiver of knowledge both are Dakshinamurty alone. Duality exists only at the relative level, not at the absolute level.

4.1.14 makarakunDalaM and tATankaM :: Ear rings – which reveal great secrets

Sri Dakshinamurty is always shown wearing non-matching ear-rings on both ears. On his right ear he wears an ornament called as ‘makara-kundala’ (crocodile shaped ear ring), whereas on his left ear he wears ‘tATanka’ (circular ear ring). Strange is it? Well, in this world no god or no human ever decorates himself or herself with uneven or un-matching ornaments. It is only Mahadeva who does all strange things. Wait! There is nothing strange here. He is Bhagawan Ishana, the supreme preceptor who has his own unique copyrighted style of teaching. So, in this apparently strange way of decorading himself he has a great secret to preach us which we’ll discuss now.
‘makarakunDala’ is an ear ring which is always worn by males, whereas ‘tATanka’ is the ear ring worn by females. DakshinaMurty wears both because he and his consort Bhavani are never different. He teaches us the Ardhanarishwara principle of his form. It is he who is the father and it is again he who is the mother (as Uma). His left side being female he wears ‘tATanka’ on the left ear ring.
However this is not the end of the secret teaching what he passes on to us. This form of him preaches us that he himself is the parabrahman of Vedas and Vedanta. Ardhanarishwara is the Brahman of Vedas as described clearly in Taittiriya Aranyaka of Yajurveda as follows.

“R^itam satyaM paraM brahma purushha.n kR^ishhNapi~Ngalam.h | uurdhvareta.n viruupaaksha.n vishvaruupaaya vai namo namaH |” (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.23.1)
“Supreme Brahman, the Absolute Righteousness (rita) and Truth (satyam), is the androgynous purusha the Ardhanareeshwara, dark blue and reddish brown in hue, absolutely chaste (having semen raised up) and possessing uneven eyes (three eyed) . Salutations to Him alone whose has this universe for his form”.

The same fact has been stated in Sri Vidya tradition in Lalita-Sahasranama Stotram which is present in Brahmanda Purana, where Lalita (Uma) who is stated to be the Brahman is stated to be of the androgynous form (half-male-half-female) because Shiva and Shakti are always one and the same.
“shrishiva shivashaktyaikya rupini lalitambika |” (LS verse 183)
“Who is the blessed shivA (who is identical with shiva). Who is the unity of Shiva and Shakti; Is Lalitambika”.
So, whether you are a Shakta and call Lalita as Brahman or you are a Shaiva and call Shiva as Brahman, both mean one and the same; difference is only in the direction of your vision; where, leftists are Shaktas and rightists are Shaivas.We have seen the oneness of Dakshinamurty and Lalitambika. Let’s see the oneness of their doctrines as well. Dakshinamurty is the foremost preceptor of Atma-Vidya (Advaita Vedanta) which is the doctrine for realization fo the ‘self’. Interestingly, it is the same Dakshinamurty who happens to be the foremost preceptor and origin of Shri-Vidya tradition also. How can one god preach two different traditions? Answer is – those two traditions are not two, they are one and the same. Shri-Vidya is verily the Atma-Vidya alone as also detailed in teh below verse from Lalita Sahasranama Stotram.

“Atmavidya mahavidya shrividya kamasevita | Shrishoda shakshari vidya |” (LS verse 118)

Atmavidya: Who is Atma – vidya, the doctrine of the Self.
Mahavidya: Who is Maha – vidya, the great doctrine (also a deity).
Shrividya: Who is Srhi – vidya (the fifteen lettered Mantra of the Devi).
Kamasevita: Who is meditated upon by Kamadeva, the god of love.
Shrishoda shakshari vidya: Who is the Shodashakshari – vidya, the sixteen lettered Mantra of the Devi.

This is why the great Adi Shankaracharya who re-established Advaita Vedanta in this country, he has also established the Samayachara / Dakshinachara path of Shri-Vidya as well. Both these paths lead to the realization of the self and are identical. On one path one goes uttering “nEti nEti nEti”, in another path one goes uttering “mAtA mAtA mAtA”, and outwardly even if these paths appear different, in reality they are identical and lead to the same destination. This is because Lalitambika is Dakshinamurty alone as confirmed in the below verses from Lalita Sahasranama Stotram.
”Svatantra sarvatantreshi dakshinamurti rupini | Sanakadi samaradhya shivagyana pradayini |” (LS verse 140)

Svatantra: Who is the only Independent Being OR whose Tantra (Sri Vidya) is the independenta dn supreme doctrine
Sarvatantreshi: Who is the presiding deity of all the Tantras.
Dakshinamurti rupini: Who is one with the form of Dakshinamurti.
Sanakadi samaradhya: Who is worshipped by Sanaka and other great ascetics.
Shivagyana pradayini: Who imparts the knowledge of the Supreme Being (Shiva).

In above verse we see that Lalita is called as Dakshinamurty whom Sanaka and otehr sages worshipped and she (as Dakshinamurty) conferred Atma-Gyanam to them. Isn’t this enough to understand that Lalita and Dakshinamurty are one and the same and their doctrines viz. Sri-Vidya and Atma-Vidya are one and the same.

5. Lord Dakshinamurty the lord of Kashi (Varanasi)


Lord Shiva in Kashi is known as ‘Vishwanatha’ or ‘Vishweswara’ and that linga is a ‘jyotirlinga’. It is not popularly known by any other name. However if we study the Linga carefully we would understand a divine secret.
A linga has its faces turned in all directions because Lord Shiva is ‘sarvatomukha’ (one whose face is turned in all directions). However, every Shiva temple has its linga installed in some particular direction. It is difficult to identify which direction a Linga looks at by looking at the linga itself. There is a simplest way to know that which is – look at the direction the bull Nandi is turned towards. Then the very opposite direction Lord Shiva is supposed to be looking at because nandi always remains facing the lord.
With this logic if we study the Vishwanatha Linga, the bull Nandi remains turned towards the Northern direction. What does it imply? It reveals us the greatest ecret that Lord Vishwanatha’s Linga in Kashi is turned towards South. This means, Kashi-Vishwanatha Linga is Dakshinamurty linga alone because, Dakshinamurty is the lord whose face is turned southwards.
This is probably the reason why Kashi is called ‘Moksha-Bhoomi’ and it is said that one who dies at Kashi never returns to this world again. When Dakshinamurty himself, who is the lord who confers Brahmagyanam on the devotees and puts an end to his cycle of births and rebirths; pronounces the Pranava (OM) as the taraka in the ears of the dying people in kasha, where does the question of his birth arise?
That’s the grandeur of my lord Dakshinamurty who is the Vishwanatha in Kashi. Therefore, Kashi can be considered as the biggest shrine / temple of Sri Dakshinamurty.

6. Dakshinamurty or Sharada – Whom should you worship?


Well, some scriptures say resort to Dakshinamurty for gaining knowledge; and many other scriptures portray goddess Saraswati as the goddess of learning. Why two deities for same purpose? Whom should we approach? These kinds of questions are not uncommon in the minds of the amateur spiritual seekers. Let’s see what they are.
The dhyAna shlOka from shruti which describe the appearance of lord Sri Dakshinamurty states the following about him. He holds a book, a vessel of nectar, a rosary of letters (akshamala), and chinmudra. His appearance is pure white / crystal color, and adorns a crescent moon on his head.

“sphaTikarajatavarNaM mauktikiimakshamaalaa- mamR^itakalashavidyaa.n j~naanamudraa.n karaagre |
dadhatamuragakakshya.n chandrachuuDa.n trinetraM vidhR^itavividhabhuushha.n dakshiNaamuurtimiiDe |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 3)
“I adore the three-eyed, moon-crested Dakshinâmûrti who is of pebble and silver colour, holding in the hands a rosary of pearls, a vessel of nectar, a book and the symbol of wisdom; having a serpent for his girdle, and putting on various ornaments”.

Now, this is what is exactly depicted in the form of Sharadamba of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, where the Sharadambika holds a rosary, a book, a vessel of nectar, and displays chinmudra. She has crystal / white complexion and wears a crescent moon on her crown.

In another depiction of Saraswati also, she is shown holding a Veena in place of chinmudra and vessel of nectar; rest other things remain same. So, what, even Dakshinamurty has a form ‘Medha Dakshinamurty’ who holds exactly the same Veena and has an identical form.

This should erase all dualities from the minds of the readers. The same lord Dakshinamurty when visualized as a goddess, he is portrayed as Sharadamba. It is up to the devotion and inclination of the devotee to choose either of the forms for seeking knowledge. Means are two, but destination is same.

The best evidence is Vedas itself to understand that all forms are the forms of Bhagawan Rudra alone.

“tvamaghne aditirdeva dāśuṣe tvaṃ hotrā bhāratī vardhaseghirā | tvamiḷā ṣatahimāsi dakṣase tvaṃ vṛtrahā vasupate sarasvatī |” (Rig Veda 2:1:11)
“Thou, God [Agni], art Aditi to him who offers gifts: thou, Hotrā, Bhāratī, art strengthened by the song. Thou art the hundred-wintered Iḷā to give strength, Lord of Wealth! Vṛtra-slayer and Sarasvatī”.

The above verse proves that Saraswati is a form of Agni. Never mind! There is no need to get confused, because Agni is verily the name of Rudra in Vedas as attested by Yajurveda (V:5:7) which says, “rudro vA esHa yad agnis |”, meaning, “He who is called as Agni is verily Rudra”. This makes all duality to cease; hence Saraswati is Lord Rudra alone in the form of a mother.

7. The three in one God


The form of Dakshinamurty of bhagawan Rudra is a three in one form. He is the father being a male god. He is the mother also because his left side is reserved for goddess Uma who is our mother, due to which he wears a tATankaM (ear ring worn by femals) on his left ear. He is a Guru being the the god who bestows us knowledge.

Therefore he is one god who singly receives the prostrations offered while uttering the following mantras.

“mAtrudEvO bhava” (Mother is verily the god
“pitru dEvO bhava” (Father is verily the god)
“AchArya dEvO bhava” (Guru is verily the god)

8. Sri Dakshinamurty Varnamala Stotram


The great Adi Shankaracharya who was a master in poetry, composed numerous hymns on Lord Shiva; out of which there is a great hymn on Dakshinamurty called as “Sri Dakshinamurty Varnamala Stotram”. The specialty if this hymn is that, when we join the initials of each paragraph, it forms the Dakshinamurty mantra which is described in the below verse from Upanishad.

“AUM aadau nama uchchaarya tato bhagavate padam.h | dakshiNeti padaM pashchaanmuurtaye padamuddharet.h | asmachchhabda.n chaturthyantaM medhaaM praj~naaM pada.n vadet.h | samuchchaarya tato vaayubiija.n chchha.n cha tataH paThet.h | agnijaayaa.n tatastveshha chaturvi.nshaaksharo manuH |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 2)
“First Mantra of 24 letters: After telling “om”, tell “Namo” and then “Bhagavathe Dakshinamurthaye”, then the fourth form of “asmad” viz “Mahyam”, then “medham Pragnam”, then the root of wind “ya”, added with “chcha”, followed by the name of wife of fire God “swaha”. This is the mantra with 24 letters. That is “Om Namo Bhagwathe Dakshinamurthaye Mahyam, Medham Pragnam Prayacha Swaha!”
One who receives the above mantra from his Guru and chants the same, and who reads the below hymn composed by Adi Shankara; both these men become the receiver of equal merit.

:: Sri Dakshinamurty Stotram ::

[Composed by: Sri Adi SHankaracharya]
[Translated into English by: Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula]
ommityetadyasya budhairnāma gṛhītaṁ
yadbhāsedaṁ bhāti samastaṁ viyadādi |
yasyājñātaḥ svasvapadasthā vidhimukhyā-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 1||
“It is OM” – this is how [the wise seers] have strived and understood [him]
By whose effulgence everything else shines
By whose command Brahma and other main gods stand in their respective posts
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to.

namrāṅgāṇāṁ bhaktimatāṁ yaḥ puruṣārthā-
ndatvā kṣipraṁ hanti ca tatsarvavipattīḥ |
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 2||
Whosoever prostrates [before him] and attaches himself with devotion for the human pursuits
Having fulfilled [the desired fruitition, He] immediately destroys every misfortune or calamity [of the devotee’s life]
He the Lord, who [presses] the demon Apasmriti (forgetfulness) under his lotus like foot
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

mohadhvastyai vaiṇikavaiyāsikimukhyāḥ
saṁvinmudrāpustakavīṇākṣaguṇānyam |
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 3||
For the destruction of delusion the Veena player (Narada), the son of Vyasa (Suka) and other primary ones worship [him]
Who displays the gesture of knowledge [with his fingers], and supports the Book (Vedas), the Veena, and the Akshamala, By his lotus like hands
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

bhadrārūḍhaṁ bhadradamārādhayitṛṇāṁ
bhaktiśraddhāpūrvakamīśaṁ praṇamanti |
ādityā yaṁ vāñchitasiddhyai karuṇābdhiṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 4||
The lord who is graciously seated who grants auspiciousness
To whom they pay obeisances  with devotion and belief
He who is an ocean of compassion and who readily fulfills the cherished desires of progeny of Aditi (Aditya)
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

garbhāntaḥsthāḥ prāṇina ete bhavapāśa-
cchede dakṣaṁ niścitavantaḥ śaraṇaṁ yam |
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 5||
Staying within the womb [cycle of births and deaths], those creatures who,
After having fully ascertained, take refuge of that lord who is the expert in shattering the noose of the worldly existence
And worship the glittering lotus like pair of feet
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

vaktraṁ dhanyāḥ saṁsṛtivārdheratimātrā-
dbhītāḥ santaḥ pūrṇaśaśāṅkadyuti yasya |
sevente’dhyāsīnamanantaṁ vaṭamūlaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 6||
The ascetics, afraid of excessive increase in passage through successive states of re-births, worship whose blessed face
Which shines with the radiance of a full moon
The infinite lord who is seated at the foot of the banyan tree
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

nmāṇikyotthairbhāsitaviśvo rucirairyaḥ |
tejomūrtiṁ khānilatejaḥpramukhābdhiṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 7||
He from whose body emanates the mass of brilliance which assembles and shines
As like as the radiance arising from rubies and whose pleasant light shines the universe
That same embodiment of light which remains under the great ocean as the house breaking fire (world destroying badavAgni)
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

tyaktvā kāṅkṣā karmaphaleṣvatra karoti |
yajjijñāsāṁ rūpaphalārthī kṣitideva-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 8||
Abandoning all the karmas with curd and other ingredients
And also discarding all the karma-phalas (fruits of karma) here
The wisdom seekers (sages) resort to that god who is the lord of all abodes (or that lord who dissolves all the abodes)
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

kṣipraṁ loke yaṁ bhajamānaḥ pṛthupuṇyaḥ
pradhvastādhiḥ projjhitasaṁsṛtyakhilārtiḥ |
pratyagbhūtaṁ brahma paraṁ sanramate ya-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 9||
By worshipping whom in the world one with abundant virtues, speedily
Finds all his [worldly] pains or the pain of transmigration getting disappeared
That lord of mountains, the Supreme Brahman who pervades every creature as the indwelling Atman and enjoys being present as their self
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

ṇānetyevaṁ yanmanumadhyasthitavarṇā-
nbhaktāḥ kāle varṇagṛhītyai prajapantaḥ |
modante saṁprāptasamastaśrutitantrā-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 10||
Reciting na-na etc., syllables which are established in the middle [of the Dakshinamurty mantra?] whichever type of
Devotees [chant] in time grasping the same
Attain happiness obtaining [the knowledge hidden in] all Vedas and Tantra scriptures
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

prāleyāmbhorāśisudhābhūtisurebhā |
yasyābhrābhā hāsavidhau dakṣaśirodhi-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 11||
That lord whose complexion vanquishes the [beauty of ] river Ganga, jasmine flower,
snow, ocean, nectar, ashes and celestial elephant (Airavata)
Whose aura is skillful in overcoming [anything else] in a laughing manner
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

prodyadvīcīvallivirājatsurasindhum |
nityaṁ sūkṣmaṁ nityanirastākhiladoṣaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 12||
[That lord] whose mound of matted locks shines with the resplendence of gold
[Resembling] the shining tides of waves of the celestial river Ganga
Who is eternal, subtle and is devoid of all faults
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

yena jñātenaiva samastaṁ viditaṁ syā-
dyasmādanyadvastu jagatyāṁ śaśaśṛṅgam |
yaṁ prāptānāṁ nāsti paraṁ prāpyamanādiṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 13||
By knowing whom indeed everything becomes known
Other than whom anything [if assumed to exist in this universe] is like [believing the existence] of rabbit’s horns
For them who obtained him, who has no origin for himself, there exist nothing superior to be obtained
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

matto māro yasya lalāṭākṣibhavāgni-
sphūrjatkīlaproṣitabhasmīkṛtadehaḥ |
tadbhasmāsīdyasya sujātaḥ paṭavāsa-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 14||
The fire of the third eye which exists on the forehead,
burst forth into a lambent flame and destroyed him [god of love] who was excited [with passion and pride] by incinerating his body into ashes
And thus those ashes became a garment of excellent kind for the Lord
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

hyambhorāśau saṁsṛtirūpe luṭhatāṁ ta-
tpāraṁ gantuṁ yatpadabhaktirdṛḍhanaukā |
sarvārādhyaṁ sarvagamānandapayonidhiṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 15||
People [drowning] in the ocean of transmigration (samsaara) lowing with pain
In order to reach the other side of the shore (which denotes liberation) [mount] with devotion, on that rigid boat
Who is the all pervading lord, who is an ocean of bliss, who is worthy of being worshipped by all
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

medhāvī syādinduvataṁsaṁ dhṛtavīṇaṁ
karpūrābhaṁ pustakahastaṁ kamalākṣam |
citte dhyāyanyasya vapurdrāṅnimiṣārdhaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 16||
One would become erudite man who, on that lord who wears a ring shaped moon as ornament, who holds a Veena
Who is resplendant like camphor, who holds a book, and is lotus eyed God
Meditates in the mind even for half the time which is taken in twinkling one’s eye
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

dhāmnāṁ dhāma prauḍharucīnāṁ paramaṁ ya-
tsūryādīnāṁ yasya sa heturjagadādeḥ |
etāvānyo yasya na sarveśvaramīḍyaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 17||
The abode of abodes (or radiance of all radiances or glory of all glories), who has a full grown splendor, who is Supreme
Who is the cause of Sun and others (gods), who is the cause of the universe and others (creatures) in the beginning,
There doesn’t exist another one who is so great (as great as) as this  lord of all
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

rbhaktairdāntaiḥ saṁyatacittairyatamānaiḥ |
svātmatvena jñāyata eva tvarayā ya-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 18||
For yogis who are capable of withdrawal of their senses, control of the breath
For devotees who are of restrained senses, and controlled mind with the purpose of [knowing the lord]
Who reveals himself to them swiftly, as being their very own self
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

jñāṁśībhūtānprāṇina etānphaladātā
cittāntaḥsthaḥ prerayati sve sakale’pi |
kṛtye devaḥ prāktanakarmānusaraḥ saṁ-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 19||
For living beings having knowledge, he is the giver of frutition of their deeds
Again it is he, the Lord, who residing in the heart of all beings, stimulates them [from within] to all actions
Following the past deeds (karmas)
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

prajñāmātraṁ prāpitasaṁbinnijabhaktaṁ
prāṇākṣādeḥ prerayitāraṁ praṇavārtham |
prāhuḥ prājñā viditānuśravatattvā-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 20||
He who is the supreme knowledge alone, who causes his own devotees to attain the supreme realization,
Who approaches them (or draws them near) and stimulates them by [teaching] the meaning of prANava (OM)
Those seers of divine knowledge, having known him [to be so], have declared him as the essence (or truth) of the Vedas
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

yasyāṁjñānādeva nṛṇāṁ saṁsṛtibodho
yasya jñānādeva vimokṣo bhavatīti |
spaṣṭaṁ brūte vedaśiro deśikamādyaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 21||
By not knowing whom, indeed, there exists the experience of repeated births and deaths
By the knowledge of whom, indeed, one becomes liberated
This clearly proclaimed by the crest of the Vedas, about this foremost spiritual preceptor
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

channe’vidyārūpapaṭenaiva ca viśvaṁ
yatrādhyastaṁ jīvapareśatvamapīdam |
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 22||
And, indeed, as if the universe is blanketed secretly by a cloth of ignorance (avidya)
Where an individual looks [apparantly] placed different from the state of the supreme lord
Like the Sun and its own reflections in waters, differences cease to exist [after knowing him]
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

svāpasvapnau jāgradavasthāpi na yatra
prāṇaśvetaḥ sarvagato yaḥ sakalātmā |
kūṭastho yaḥ kevalasaccitsukharūpa-
staṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 23||
Where the states of, sleep (sushupti), dream (swapna) and wakeful (jagrut) also do not exist
Who pervades all the prAna and mind, who is the self (Atman) of all
That Supreme Soul, who alone is of the nature of being, conciousness and bliss
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

hetyevaṁ vismayamīyurmunimukhyā
jñāte yasminsvātmatayānātmavimohaḥ |
pratyagbhūte brahmaṇi yātaḥ kathamitthaṁ
taṁ pratyañcaṁ dakṣiṇavaktraṁ kalayāmi || 24||
Oh! Oh! Thus, indeed, the best of the sages spoke in wonder
On knowing whom as their own self, they got disillusioned about the non-self
How is that Brahman entered into every being? [They thought about that lord who is such]
That lord whose face is turned southwards I resort to

yaiṣā ramyairmattamayūrābhidhavṛttai-
rādau klṛptā yanmanuvarṇairmunibhaṅgī |
tāmevaitāṁ dakṣiṇavaktraḥ kṛpayāsā-
vūrīkuryāddeśikasamrāṭ paramātmā || 25||
Who by his enchanting meter ‘matta-mayura (intoxicated peacock)’,
Produced all these in the beginning, with the alphabets (varNa), in the form of a sage
Let indeed all these, be bestowed, by his grace, by the southward facing God
Who is the crown or sovereign God, the supreme preceptor, the supreme self!

[Here ends the hymn composed by Adi Shankara on Dakshinamurty]

|| Om Etat sarvam srI umA mahEshwara parabrahmArpaNamastu ||

Copyright © 2012, by Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula. All Rights Reserved.
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Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (षण्मातुरः)
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Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (षण्मातुरः)

Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula, is 'षण्मातुरः' or 'षण्णां मातृणां पुत्रः' in detail, which means 'The son of six (divine) mothers' as he considers the six great goddesses viz. Parvati, Ganga, Lakshmi, Bhudevi, Saraswati, and Gayatri, as his own mothers, and sees himself as an infant in their laps. Together with their respective consorts he considers them as his own parents. He considers their children such as Ganesha, Skanda, Sanatkumara, Narada, Pradyumna etc., as his own siblings; in fact, not different from himself. He loves these six mothers very dearly, and equally loves the divine fathers; however, he has offered his 'devotion' only to Mahadeva! Hence he stands for lord Shiva safeguarding him from his haters. One would know him better from his writings.
Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (षण्मातुरः)
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  1. arun subbe

    I was reading the rants to your posts by some fanatics the other day. Given that you have been attacked by Vamacharis and fanatic Vaishnavas I can surely say that you are on the right path. Shambu's style of working is always to test his devotee as you will find by reading the life history of Nayanmars.

    What astonished me is the fact that objections were raised in support of the portion of Ramayana that shows Parameshwara in poor light. I guess the foundation of some cults is not devton but only supremacy and superiority.

    Narayana Suktam is only a descrption of the Self within us. I had misconceptions but the last line of the Suktam got me thinking. I was listining to a talk on Lalitha Sahasranamam and it perfectly matched with what was put in the blog. The Divine Mother's worship has a lot of sookshamam as you had pointed out.

    Satarudriyam is indeed about Lord Shiva. How can you explain away the word ShithiKanta? With great sadness I tell you that there is no difference between Wahabi Islamists and Vaishnanvas with respect to being fanatic and running down other streams of thought within their respective religions. Narrowness of mind and heart dominate both.

    Why Adi Shankara used the used the word Narayana in his commentaries? Kanchi Paramacharya gives a beautiful expalnation. One that makes you fall at the feet of the Jagadguru.It speaks volumes about his humility and detachment.

    I was reading an interesting analysis about Valmiki Ramayana. A good majority of the scholars hold the first and the last chapters to be interpolations. They feel that there are lots of contradictions between the style and content with respect to the main body.

    I frankly don't understand the classifications of Puranas based on Gunas. Kanchi Mahaswamigal says that all Purnas are comlimentary and form a chain.

    Lastly I would like to conclude by saying that Adi Shankara was indeed a non sectarian person. It is the practice of Smarthas to this day to apply Yagna Bhasma. Soundarya Lahiri is indeed a geniune composition. For the first 41 verses were written by Parameshwara himself. We must have deep gratitude to the Jagadguru for saving our Dharma from the brink of extinction.
    As a small tid bit Vijayendra Tirtha was defeated in a debate in Kumbakonam Mutt and embraced Shaiva path. I am still following up on this.
    The nonsense written by those fanatics about Apayya Dikshatar need no attention.

    Satyam Advaitham! Satyam Advaitham! Satyam Advaitham!


  2. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula

    Dear brother,

    Golden words! Can't agree more!

    The Islamists and Christians are external threats to Hinduism, which can be dealt with little proper effort. These Vaishnavas are internal terrorists who are hell bent on demolishing the religion. These being internal enemies, are far difficult to get tracked and erased.
    I pity the present condition of our Sanatana dharma.

    All my tensions and irritation caused by these fanatics got removed by your soothing statement “Given that you have been attacked by Vamacharis and fanatic Vaishnavas I can surely say that you are on the right path. Shambu's style of working is always to test his devotee”.

    Thank you so much for your devotion to Mahadeva!

    May mahadeva and Bhavani bless your entire family and tribe!


    1. Srikanth

      Defeat to real devotee of Parabrahma Shiva ?????? Never, never happens….. You & your work will win…Shiva

      1. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (Post author)

        Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Sridharan

    Dear Arun Subbe,
    Thank you for your information on the defeat of Vijayendra Tirtha. Can you please give more details on the victory of Sri Appaya Dikshithar ?

  4. Sridharan

    Dear Santosh,
    Lord Shiva is “Thyaga Raja”. He willingly sacrifices everything for the sake of his children, including those who do not like him. Probably this could be the reason for Vaishnava extremists taking away Sri Rudram from Shiva and claiming it to be a prayer for vishnu.

    with regards,

  5. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula

    Very true, sridharan ji,

    Infact Mahabharata mentions that all the vaibhavam, aishwaryam etc what is seen in other gods actually belongs to Lord Shiva. But he prefers to look very simple.
    Simple living and high thinking is his style and is the best style.

  6. Ajatshatru Aj


    While I am non-religious follower of Sanatan Dharm, as a scholar I agree with validity of your interpretations. I have no problems in believing that Lord Vishnu is the same eshwara as Uma pati Maheshwara, but I cannot stand the lies that Vaishnavas write to convince Non-Vaishnavas that three eyed moksha giver of Veda, the one for whom sanatanis chant Maha Mritunjay mantra is actually Lord Vishnu. I have encountered many vaishnavas who falsely create beings like minor vishnu, major vishnu etc etc to prove their lunatic beliefs. This blog is an eye opener and a perfect reply for tatvavadis and srivaishnava who use cunning and deception to promote their school.

  7. marc boyd

    Dear Brothers/Sisters,

    Please note that we all are children of the same God and we should not to be ignorant to this important fact !

    Please understand that we all are under his Maya so you are wasting your valuable time on debating who is great. Both Vishnu and Siva are one and the same God, and people worship the God in the form they like(thats the reason why Vishnu puran says Vishnu is great and Shiva Puran says Shiva is great. Ultimately all the puranas are talking about the same God so they say that the form which is being discussed in that particuar Puran is great) Thats the secret, so no one form is greater than other form as it is the same God.

    Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti—”that which exists is One: sages call it by various names”.

    Even the God himself clarified the same in Bhagavad Geetha.

    So, We should salute to Lord Vishnu who is in the form of Lord Shiva
    and we should salute to Lord Shiva who is in the form of Lord Vishnu

    Om Nama Shivaya:
    Om Namo Narayanaya:

    If you are still under 'maya', I will suggest you to try to do the following:

    Chant the name of Siva whenever you see vaishnava forms of God
    Chant the name of Vishnu whwnever you see Shaiva forms of God

    We are God's children so we should not insult any of the forms.

    May God bless us all to overcome his maya and give us Mukthi in the end!

    your brother

  8. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula

    Dear Marc,

    Those are a gentleman's words! Thanks for those golden words and advise. It's not that I am unaware of these – I salute Shiva before going to bed and salute Hari as soon as wake up. My alarm tone on my phone is also “narayana narayana jai govinda hare…” song from “Narayanaashtakam” composed by Adi Shankara.

    Therefore, let it happen whatever is happening. Whatever happens happens due to some divine play, and hence my role is just of an actor.

    Thanks again for stopping by this blog and putting your valuable two cents.


  9. marc boyd

    Dear Brother Santhosh:

    May be I am also part of the same divine play, thats why i happened to see your blog, may be Siva wanted me to convey his message through me.

    Now here is my honest opinion:

    You may be offering your prayers to God as both Hara and Hari on a personal level but your articles in this blog are clearly trying to prove Siva's supremacy over Vishnu, which is wrong(when both are actually one and the same then there is no question of supremacy here).

    If you want to teach the truth to the guys who try to establish Vishnu's supremacy over Siva, let them know straight that both are one and the same(just like Jagadguru Adi Shankara did). And explain those poor souls if they still fail to understand. Thats it !

    Already western culture is targetting our sanathan dharma so we should not fight among ourselves for wrong reasons. Otherwise our Adi shankara's effort to revive sanathan dharma will be failed if we(hindus) continue to quarell for no reason on who is supreme(as both Siva and vishnu are one and the same).

    Already the oldest organised dharma known to the mankind(now known as Hindu religion) is in the 3rd place now after Christianity and Islam(which are very younger religions when compared to hinduism) which dont reasonably explain why we are born and what would be our fate when we die(unlike hinduism which explains the concept of 'Karma' very well)

    So, all my brothers and sisters:

    We have to understand that not many are blessed souls to really understand that both Siva and Vishnu are the attributes of the one and the same God. For those who fail to understand this truth, it may be because of current dark age(Kaliyuga) which is really a threat to Sanathan Dharma(Hindu Dharma).

    Please refer to the link (to know about Kaliyuga in a nutshell)

    Under the influence of Kali, many people are thinking that they are having enough knowledge to define God and are framing their own opinions/religions/philosophy and also started claiming that their own opinions/religions/philosophy are great.

    Now coming back to the point, for those people who still see the difference between various forms of God especially Siva vs Vishnu, lets take a brief look at what our great guru's have teached us:

    Adi Sankaracharya as part of educating us about the attributes of God mentioned as All-Pervading One(Vishnu) and All-Auspicious One(Shiva).

    When the Jagadguru(Adi Shankaracharya) himself clarified that Siva and Vishnu are the attributes of one and the same God, it is nothing but utter foolishness for others to claim that one form of God is superior over other.

    Infact it is the same person(Veda Vyasa) who authored all the purana's and named them after the attributes of the same God(please note this point, thats the reason why Vishnu puran says Vishnu is great and Shiva Puran says Shiva is great. Ultimately all the puranas are talking about the same God so they say that the form which is being discussed in that particuar Puran is great)

    Finally God himself clarified(in Vibuthi Yoga of Bhagavad Gita) that his divine manifestations are endless and no one can define him.

    Let me also give you a simple example:

    For example I am tall and fat. When talking about me some people may identify me as a fat guy and some people may call me as a tall guy. But how silly it would be for them to argue that the taller guy that they know is stronger than the(same) fat guy that other people recognise the same person as?

    If someone is still not getting the point then I pray to Maa Saraswathi to please give them knowledge so that they would not become a threat to Sanathan Dharma under the influence of Kali.

    Om nama Shivaya!

  10. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula

    Dear Bro Marc,

    Firstly, are you really “Marc Boyd”? From your message I get a feeling that you are probably someone closely associated with me. Anyway, if your choice is to give feedback indirectly, then also I am fine. 🙂

    Well, things are easier said than done. Anyways, I understand your message, and I too have aim of taking myself and my articles towards oneness slowly. I haven't reached the end of writing yet, hence good and pleasant works have not yet come. So ranking me with current progress is to be known as the intermediate rank based on the sampling on current works only and shouldn't be extrapolated to future.

    I agree with your points and accept your first impression framed about me/my write-ups. Based on my present status what you found me is what I am, and I accept that without hesitation.

    However, at present I can only say that – currently yes (for some reason) I am showing differences, I'm doing comparisons, … but I wish to stitch one piece of this Hinduism puzzle with another and take my articles towards oneness at the end solving the complete puzzle. I just need time which I'm not getting. I am currently occupied with too many tasks – job, higher studies, responsibilities at home. Hence I am not at all getting time for blogging.

    At present if i look like an antagonist, let it be, ignore me for some years, after that when you revisit, hopefully, you would not get dissapointed 🙂 You would see some pleasant content coming from my pen [If all things go fine by god's grace].

    Beyond this I cannot say anything more here. I thank for your feedback and empathize with your thoughts. You are most likely a learned Advaitin – I am yet living in duality, and would someday rise upwards. 🙂

    I firmly believe that – whatever happens happens for a reason, and hence whatever has been written also would surely be due to some reason hence what I learnt is, be it applauds or be it criticism, I need to accept that all with 'prasAda buddhi'. I am trying to develop myself towards positive change. Rest all I leave upto the lord's wish!

    Thanks again and may God bless you!

  11. Srikanth

    Who can praise that Gururguru Sri Dakshinamurthy parabrahma, except mounam-silence.

  12. Light

    Dakshinmurty is described in Suta Samhita Skanda Purana 3.4.31 ie… in Mochak kathanam of Mukti Khanda… please translate it soon and keep it in the post.. It is also a Sabda Pramana…

    1. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (Post author)

      Thank you! When I had written this article, then I wasn’t familiar with Suta Samhita. I’ll have to update this article with the suggested sections. In fact couple of other older articles too need to be updated. I’m hard pressed on time nowadays. But have these tasks in mind.

  13. anand

    Good attempt but bit lengthy unnecessarily.
    And the tree that was mentioned in bhagavadgita was not banyan tree but pipal tree!
    Thank you

    1. Santosh Kumar Ayalasomayajula (षण्मातुरः) (Post author)


      Regarding length, I need to add much more content to it actually, those days I didn’t touch many more points which i learnt later, so you shouldn’t feel surprised to see more content explaining many more angles in my next update (which I don’t have any plan or date as of now). 🙂 If you see, i love writing lengthy posts. 😉

      “if it is short it’s proverbial, only if long, it’s literature” (- By my friend)

      Tree names do not matter. probably you didn’t glance the sanskrit verses, hence this question. The same Acharya krishna who used word “ashwattha (peepal)” in Bhagawad Gita for that inverted tree, uses the word “vatavruksha (banyan)” in uttara gita for the same inverted tree. The comparison of the samsara-vriksha (and nadi mandala) with a large inverted tree is what is the central message. Even if tomorrow some sage or god passes same message calling an example of an inverted mango tree, you shouldn’t be surprised. 🙂

      Same backbone is called as – meru danda, veena danda, mandara, maha-meru etc., We cannot dispute the ‘reality’ with the ‘names’ used. If the hidden teaching is understood, that serves the purpose. Cheers! 🙂


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