Sri Dakshinamurthy is an aspect of Lord Shiva as a teacher of all types of knowledge and bestower of jnana.
”Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the physical body and the knower of the body, and can also understand the process of complete liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal.” – Krishna
He is also the Adhidevata, the ruling Deity of Jupiter, the heaviest among all the nine planets of Vedic Astrology. To receive the best benefits from Jupiter, daily worship of Lord Dakshinamurti, the first Guru, is prescribed.
It is considered that when the practitioner is ”ripe enough”, God himself takes human form to teach him. In addition, this aspect of Shiva is his personification as the supreme, understanding intellect, spirituality, yoga, and intelligence. The Naths call him “Adi Nath” and the Yogis call him “Adi Yogi.”
The Sanskrit word ”Dakshinamurti” literally translates as ”one who is facing south”. South is the direction of death, which represents change. Perhaps, of all Hindu Gods, He is the only one sitting facing south.
The first important historical record about Dakshinamoorthy is in Suta Samhita of Skanda Puranam (the largest Mahapuraṇa, a group of eighteen Hindu sacred texts). It is considered that Sankara studied this Suta Samhita eighteen times before composing his Brahma Sutra Bhashyam (systematic commentary on the Upanishads).
He is usually depicted as being in the yogic state of abstract meditation – and as a potent form brimming with supreme joy and ever-flowing bliss. Occasionally, He is depicted in standing position (sthanaka) as in his Veena-dhara variation (holding a veena).
In his aspect as Jnana Dakshinamurti, Lord Shiva is commonly illustrated with four arms, very serene, a beautiful smile on his face, seated under a banyan tree, facing south. In his upper arms, he holds a rosary or a snake, or both in one hand and a flame in the other. His lower right hand is shown in Prajnalinganabhinaya (or Vyakhyana mudra), his lower left-hand holds the scriptures or a bundle of kusha grass. The index finger of His right hand is bent and touching the tip of his thumb. The other 3 fingers are stretched apart. This symbolic hand gesture is the Jnana Mudra, a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. He is also shown wearing a waistband around his waist.
He is surrounded by many animals, especially the deer and the Nandi bull (also known in a wholly anthropomorphic form, called variously Adhikaranandin or Nandikeshvara). The rishis eager to absorb the Guru’s spiritual teaching are at his feet. Their names and numbers are mentioned differently in different texts.
Mantra lyrics in Sanskrit:
”Om Dakshinamurthy Vidmahe
Tanno Dhishaha Prachodayat.”
Chanting Sri Medha Dakshinamurthy Gayatri mantra benefits:
These healing vibrations of the mantra have an immense power, greater than we can imagine. Chanting this mantra with sincere devotion is particularly useful for students, and confers knowledge, wisdom, memory power, and intelligence. Additionally, practicing the mantra daily gives the practitioner the capacity to attain fulfillment in life with the guidance of a proper Guru.
This powerful Sanskrit mantra can also be recited to overcome hindrances in the accumulation of wealth, education, and marriage. Furthermore, miraculous as it may seem, reciting this healing mantra with a sincere heart can be a compelling method to overcome depression (according to the World Health Organization, 350 million individuals worldwide suffer from depression), even in patients who are on chemical medication.
Dakshinamurthy Stotram by Adi Shankaracharya:
”Om namah pranavarthaya shuddhajnanaikamurtaye
Nirmalaya prashantaya dakshinamurtaye namaha
Chidghanaya maheshaya vatamulanivasine
Omkaravachyarupaya dakshinamurtaye namaha
Nidhaye sarvavidyanam bhishaje bhavaroginam
Gurave sarvalokanaam dakshinamurtaye namaha.”