Shankaracharya’s Hymn to Dakshinamurti
(Translated from Sri Bhagavan’s Tamil rendering)
According to Hindu legends, Dakshinamurti (which means ‘southward-facing’) is God or Siva manifested as a youth who is the divine Guru and guides disciples older than himself through silent influence on their Heart. The name is also divided as Dakshina-amurti and taken to mean ‘formless power’.
The Maharshi was Siva manifested, the divine Guru who taught through silence and was therefore identified with Dakshinamurti.
That Shankara who appeared as Dakshinamurti to grant peace to the great ascetics (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata), who revealed his real state of silence, and who has expressed the nature of the Self in this hymn, abides in me.
He who teaches through silence the nature of the Supreme Brahman, who is a youth, who is the most eminent Guru surrounded by the most competent disciples that remain steadfast in Brahman, who has the hand pose indicating illumination,2 who is of the nature of bliss, who revels in himself, who has a benign countenance – that Father who has a south-facing form,3 we adore.
2 There are many traditional mudras or postures of the hands which are used in Indian dancing and iconography, each of which has its own meaning.
3 The supreme Guru is the spiritual north pole and therefore traditionally faces southwards.
To him who by maya, as by dream, sees within himself the universe which is inside him, like a city that appears in a mirror, (but) which is manifested as if externally to him who apprehends, at the time of awakening, his own single Self, to him, the primal Guru, Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him who like a magician or even like a great yogi displays, by his own power, this universe which at the beginning is undifferentiated like the sprout in the seed, but which is made differentiated under the varied conditions of space, time, and karma and posited by maya to him, the Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him whose luminosity alone, which is of the nature of existence, shines forth, entering the objective world which is like the nonexistent; to him who instructs those who resort to him through the text ‘That thou art’; to him by realizing whom there will be no more falling into the ocean of birth; to him who is the refuge of the ascetics, the Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him who is luminous like the light of a lamp set in a pot with many holes; to him whose knowledge moves outward through the eye and other sense organs; to him who is effulgent as ‘I know’, and the entire universe shines after him; to him, the unmoving Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
They who know the ‘I’ as body, breath, senses, intellect, or the void, are deluded like women and children, and the blind and the stupid, and talk much. To him who destroys the great delusion produced by ignorance; to him who removes the obstacles to knowledge, the Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him, who sleeps when the manifested mind gets resolved, on account of the veiling by maya, like the sun or the moon in eclipse, and on waking recognizes self-existence in the form ‘I have slept till now’; to him the Guru of all that moves and moves not, Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him who, by means of the hand-pose indicating illumination, manifests to his devotees his own Self that forever shines within as ‘I’, constantly, in all the inconstant states such as infancy, etc., and waking, etc. – to him whose eye is of the form of the fire of knowledge, the Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To the self who, deluded by maya, sees, in dreaming and waking, the universe in its distinctions such as cause and effect, master and servant, disciple and teacher, and father and son, to him, the Guru of the world, Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
To him whose eightfold form is all this moving and unmoving universe, appearing as earth, water, fire, air, ether, the sun, the moon, and soul; beyond whom, supreme and all-pervading, there exists naught else for those who enquire – to him the gracious Guru Dakshinamurti, may this obeisance be!
Since, in this hymn, the all-self-hood has thus been explained, by listening to it, by reflecting on its meaning, by meditating on it, and by reciting it, there will come about lordship together with the supreme splendour consisting in all-self-hood; thence will be achieved, again, the unimpeded supernormal power presenting itself in eight forms.