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Dakshinamurthy: The Pinnacle of Jnana

Dakshinamurthy is a revered form of Lord Shiva, depicted as the ultimate teacher or Guru. The name "Dakshinamurthy" means "one who faces south," symbolizing the direction traditionally associated with knowledge and wisdom in Hindu culture. This divine form of Shiva is worshipped as the supreme Guru who imparts spiritual knowledge and enlightenment to his disciples. In this essay, we will explore the significance, symbolism, and teachings associated with Dakshinamurthy.

Dakshinamurthy is often depicted as a tranquil and youthful figure seated in a meditative posture under a banyan tree, with his right foot resting on his left thigh (in the posture of a yogi). He is adorned with minimal ornaments, signifying simplicity and renunciation. In his four hands, he holds various symbolic objects: a small drum (damaru), representing creation; a flame of fire (agni), symbolizing destruction; a rosary (akshamala), representing the cycle of time and the continuous flow of knowledge; and a gesture known as chin mudra, symbolizing the supreme state of consciousness and imparting knowledge to his disciples through silence.


The banyan tree under which Dakshinamurthy is often depicted sitting symbolizes the universe and the cycle of birth and rebirth. It represents the idea that all knowledge is contained within the cosmos, and the Guru's role is to reveal this knowledge to sincere seekers.


He has the Apasmara Purusha under his feet. Apasmara Purusha, also known as Muyalaka or Muyalagan, is a significant figure in Hindu mythology, particularly within the Shaivite tradition. The term "Apasmara" roughly translates to "forgetfulness" or "ignorance," and "Purusha" refers to a male person or being. Together, Apasmara Purusha symbolizes ignorance or the forces of darkness and illusion that obstruct spiritual progress. Apasmara also represents Epilepsy in Ayurveda. Apasmara Purusha is often depicted as a dwarf or demon lying on the ground, with his head resting on one hand and his legs crossed. He is portrayed as feeble and helpless, representing ignorance's vulnerable nature in the face of divine knowledge and enlightenment. In some depictions, Apasmara Purusha is shown being subdued or trampled upon by a deity, symbolizing the triumph of wisdom over ignorance. Apasmara Purusha symbolizes the obstacles and challenges that individuals face on the spiritual path. He represents ignorance, delusion, and forgetfulness of one's true nature as divine beings. Just as darkness conceals light, Apasmara Purusha obscures the realization of one's inherent divinity and perpetuates the cycle of suffering and bondage in the material world.


As the supreme Guru, Dakshinamurthy embodies the essence of Advaita Vedanta, a philosophical school within Hinduism that emphasizes the non-dual nature of reality. Through his silent presence and enigmatic smile, Dakshinamurthy communicates profound truths beyond words or scriptures. His teachings revolve around the concept of self-realization (atma jnana) and the recognition of the indivisible unity of the individual soul (atman) with the universal consciousness (Brahman).


Dakshinamurthy's teachings are not confined to intellectual discourse but encompass direct experiential knowledge attained through meditation, introspection, and self-inquiry. He guides seekers on the path of spiritual awakening, helping them transcend the limitations of the ego (ahamkara) and the dualities of the world. Through his grace, disciples attain liberation (moksha) and realize their true nature as eternal, blissful beings beyond the realm of time and space.


Dakshinamurthy holds a significant place in Hinduism as the embodiment of divine wisdom and enlightenment. He is worshipped by seekers and scholars alike, seeking guidance on the path of self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. His presence is believed to bestow blessings of clarity, understanding, and inner peace upon his devotees.

The Dakshinamurthy Stotram, a hymn composed by Adi Shankaracharya, pays homage to Dakshinamurthy as the supreme Guru and invokes his grace for spiritual illumination. Devotees chant this hymn with devotion to seek the Guru's blessings and guidance on their spiritual journey.


May the divine form of Dakshinamurthy inspire and guide all sincere seekers on their quest for spiritual awakening and ultimate union with the divine.


Dakshinamurthy Stotram

viśvaṁ darpaṇadr̥śyamānanagarītulyaṁ nijāntargataṁ

paśyannātmani māyayā bahirivōdbhūtaṁ yathā nidrayā

yaḥ sākṣātkurutē prabōdhasamayē svātmānamēvādvayaṁ

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 1 ||


bījasyāntarivāṅkurō jagadidaṁ prāṅnirvikalpaṁ punaḥ

māyākalpitadēśakālakalanāvaicitryacitrīkr̥tam

māyāvīva vijr̥mbhayatyapi mahāyōgīva yaḥ svēcchayā

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 2 ||


yasyaiva sphuraṇaṁ sadātmakamasatkalpārthagaṁ bhāsatē

sākṣāttattvamasīti vēdavacasā yō bōdhayatyāśritān

yatsākṣātkaraṇādbhavēnna punarāvr̥ttirbhavāmbhōnidhau

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 3 ||


nānācchidraghaṭōdarasthitamahādīpaprabhābhāsvaraṁ

jñānaṁ yasya tu cakṣurādikaraṇadvārā bahiḥ spandatē

jānāmīti tamēva bhāntamanubhātyētatsamastaṁ jagat

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 4 ||


dēhaṁ prāṇamapīndriyāṇyapi calāṁ buddhiṁ ca śūnyaṁ viduḥ

strībālāndhajaḍōpamāstvahamiti bhrāntā bhr̥śaṁ vādinaḥ

māyāśaktivilāsakalpitamahāvyāmōhasaṁhāriṇē

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 5 ||


rāhugrastadivākarēndusadr̥śō māyāsamācchādanāt

sanmātraḥ karaṇōpasaṁharaṇatō yō:’bhūtsuṣuptaḥ pumān

prāgasvāpsamiti prabōdhasamayē yaḥ pratyabhijñāyatē

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 6 ||


bālyādiṣvapi jāgradādiṣu tathā sarvāsvavasthāsvapi

vyāvr̥ttāsvanuvartamānamahamityantaḥ sphurantaṁ sadā

svātmānaṁ prakaṭīkarōti bhajatāṁ yō mudrayā bhadrayā

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 7 ||


viśvaṁ paśyati kāryakāraṇatayā svasvāmisambandhataḥ

śiṣyācāryatayā tathaiva pitr̥putrādyātmanā bhēdataḥ

svapnē jāgrati vā ya ēṣa puruṣō māyāparibhrāmitaḥ

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 8 ||


bhūrambhāṁsyanalō:’nilō:’mbaramaharnāthō himāṁśuḥ pumān

ityābhāti carācarātmakamidaṁ yasyaiva mūrtyaṣṭakam

nānyatkiñcana vidyatē vimr̥śatāṁ yasmātparasmādvibhōḥ

tasmai śrīgurumūrtayē nama idaṁ śrīdakṣiṇāmūrtayē || 9 ||


sarvātmatvamiti sphuṭīkr̥tamidaṁ yasmādamuṣmiṁstavē

tēnāsya śravaṇāttadarthamananāddhyānācca saṅkīrtanāt

sarvātmatvamahāvibhūtisahitaṁ syādīśvaratvaṁ svataḥ

siddhyēttatpunaraṣṭadhā pariṇataṁ caiśvaryamavyāhatam || 10 ||


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