Shiva Dakshinamurti

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Shiva Dakshinamurti is, for the Indians, in iswara – a facet of the one Supreme Being – God

Understood as guru – spiritual teacher.

He is considered to be the personification of ultimate or ultimate awareness, understanding, and knowledge.

Dakshinamurti represents Shiva as the supreme yoga master. music and wisdom,

providing exposure to Shastres or legendary sacred texts.

He is worshipped as the source of wisdom and spiritual realization through yoga and meditation.

Dakshinamurti literally means

He who faces south (Dakṣiṇa)” in Sanskrit.

According to another yoga school, “Dakshinya”

means Karuna in Sanskrit or kindness (benevolence).

So this manifestation of Shiva is a benevolent master who grants knowledge to those who seek salvation.

Ramana Maharshi said in one of his letters that

a sense of Dakshina is “effective”!;

Another meaning is

“in the heart on the right side of the body”;

Amurti “means formlessness”.


In his appearance as Jnana Dakshinamurti,

Shiva is generally shown with four arms.

He is depicted sitting under a banyan, facing south.

Shiva is seated on a throne and surrounded by sages

who receive his instructions.

He is shown sitting with his right foot on Apasmara – the demon of ignorance and his left leg is bent on his lap.

Sometimes even wild animals are depicted attending the meeting with Shiva Dakshinamurti.

In his arms, he holds in one hand a serpent or a rosary or both, and a flame in the other;

Sometimes his lower right hand is shown in Vyakhyana Mudra.

It is a mudra of teacher attitude, in which the index finger of the right hand is brought to the right index finger of the left hand, thus creating a circle around them. The other fingers of both hands remain naturally straightened or slightly relaxed.

This mudra expresses the idea that it is Dakshinamurti who gives direct and clear teaching (vyakhyana) on the true nature of reality, bringing spiritual light to seekers. It is, therefore, a symbolic representation of the state of supreme consciousness that transcends words and the limits of intellect.

His lower left hand holds a bundle of kusha grass or scriptures, and another left hand can offer the fire of liberating spiritual knowledge.

The left hand performs Jnana Mudra – the mudra of knowledge and wisdom.

Sometimes the right hand is in Abhaya Mudra – the mudra of permanent lack of fear.

Dakshinamurti is depicted as being in an ecstatic state while achieving transcendence through meditation.

Variations of this iconic representation include the Veenadhara Dakshinamurti (holding the Veena instrument)

and Rishabharooda Dakshinamurti (Shiva is on his vehicle Rishabha – the bull).

Indian tradition accords special veneration to the guru or spiritual teacher. In fact, all authentic traditions accord special respect and respect to masters of any kind and to spiritual or biological fathers – who are, in fact, our first masters.

Dakshinamurti is regarded as the guru or supreme spiritual master,

the embodiment of knowledge and the destroyer of ignorance (as represented with the demon of ignorance defeated under his feet).

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