Which direction should a prostrated body face while doing sashtanga pranam to a diety/guru?

My understanding was that the deity is in front of a devotee and while doing sashtanga pranam, the prostrated devotees hands are pointing towards the deity. However, I have noticed in the Shiva temples in Tiruvannamalai, devotees prostrate sideways. The position is such that the diety is looking at the prostrated devotees left side of the torso. I cannot provide a photo as photography was prohibited. What could be the significance of prostrating sideways?

1 Answer 1


From the Narayani tantram as found in Sarvollāsatantram, 37-th Ulhassa:

नारायणीतंत्रे-- स्ववामे प्रणमेद्विष्णुं दक्षिणे गौरीशङ्करम्‌ । गुरुं नमेत्‌ सम्मुखतो नान्यथा निष्फलं भवेत्‌॥ १९ ॥

Perform the Namaskarm from your left to the Vishnu; from the right to Gauri and Shiva. From the front to a Guru, otherwise the Namaskar becomes fruit-less.

So as per this verse, if its vishnu one must perform namaskar from the left, for Shiva and Gauri from the right and guru from the front.

So in a Shiva Temple, if you are performing the Namaskarm (pranam) from your right side, the deity looks towards the left side of your body.

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