Dakshinamurthy Swaroopa of Lord Shiva


There are many secrets of Shiv Ji, Lord Shiva sitting under a banyan tree facing south is called Dakshinamurthy. Many temples in South India have idols of Lord Shiva facing south under a banyan tree. It is common to find This form of Shiva called Dakshinamurthy. Sri Dakshinamurthy is the depiction of Lord Shiva which illustrates Him as the supreme cosmic teacher (Adi Guru) and is a facet of the Lord as the guru who enlightens one with jnana that elevates and enriches. The Dakshinamurthy form of Lord Shiva extols Him as the Supreme Teacher of yoga, knowledge, and even music.

Dakshinamurthy Shiva

Dakshinamurthy Shiva sits on top of Mount Kailash and below Dhruva Tara. It is in the north direction and till now this place is considered to be the center of this round earth. He sits under the shade of a banyan tree. The banyan tree is associated with the sage traditions of India and these ascetics impart knowledge to the householders of the materialistic world.

Dakshina kali is famous in the South Center, considered the fiercest form of the Goddess. Here the south direction represents death and change. The Vaitarani river flows here. This river separates the land of the living from the land of the dead. This format tells three levels.


The first is the masculine and feminine form, the second is mind and materiality and the third is the unknown and formless world with the world of names and forms. The left hand of Dakshinamurthy shows Varada Mudra which is the mudra of charity. In the posture of his right hand, his index finger is shown touching the thumb which shows knowledge or erudition. This mudra also shows him as a guru who gives knowledge.

Dakshinamurthy Swaroopa of Lord Shiva

ॐ नमः शिवाय सिद्धम नमः
शिवाय गुरवे नमः


ॐ मौनव्याख्या प्रकटितपरब्रह्मतत्वंयुवानं |
वर्शिष्ठान्तेवसदृषिगणैरावृतं ब्रह्मनिष्ठैः |
आचार्येन्द्रं करकलित चिन्मुद्रमानन्दमूर्तिं
स्वात्मरामं मुदितवदनं दक्षिणामूर्तिमीडे ‖

(Dakshinamurthy Stotra of Adi Shankaracharya)

Translation: I salute Sri Dakṣiṇamurthy, the Young Guru, who teaches the knowledge of Brahman through silence, who is surrounded by disciples, who are themselves Rishis and scholars in the Vedas. I worship Sri Dakṣiṇamurthy, who is the teacher of teachers, whose hand is held in the sign of knowledge (Chin-mudra), whose nature is fullness, who reveals in himself, and who is ever silent.

Interpretation of the Name:

Dakshinamurti literally means ‘one who is facing South (Dakshina) in Samskrita.
Another deeper meaning is, ‘Dakshinya’ means Karuna in Sanskrit or kindness (benevolence). So this manifestation of Maheshwara ( Lord Shiva) is a benevolent teacher who accords wisdom to seekers of salvation.

The Iconography of Sri Dakshinamurthy:

In his aspect, Jnana Dakshinamurti, Lord Maheshvara is shown as Chaturbhuja (four arms). He is depicted seated under a banyan tree (Vata Vriksha), facing the south.

Maheshvara ( Lord Shiva) is seated upon a deer throne and surrounded by sages who are receiving his instruction. He is shown as seated with his right foot on Apasmara (a Rakshasa in Shastras, who is the personification of ignorance) and his left foot lies folded on his lap.

In his upper arms, he holds a snake or rosary or both in one hand and a flame in the other; while in his lower right hand is shown in Vyakhyanamudra, his lower left-hand holds the Shastras. The index finger of his right hand is bent and touching the tip of his thumb. The other three fingers are stretched apart.

This symbolic hand gesture of the right hand is Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra, a symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

Meaning of Iconography:

Sri Dakshinamurthy is regarded as the ultimate guru, the embodiment of knowledge, and the destroyer of ignorance (the demon being crushed under the feet of the deity).

The Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra is interpreted in this way:- The thumb denotes the Brahman and the index finger denotes the Jeeva. The other three fingers stand for Trigunas. When man detaches himself from these Gunas, he reaches God.

Another interpretation is that the other three fingers denote the three states of life:

Jagruthi (Fully awake through senses and mind),

Swapna (Sleep state – When the mind is awake) and

Sushupti (True-self – When the senses and mind go into the soul – Atman).

Japa mala signifies Brahma Vidya .The fire represents illumination, removing the darkness of ignorance, or Fire signifies Jnana Agni.

सर्वं श्री उमा महेश्वर स्वामी परब्रह्मार्पणमस्तु ||

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