One of the most popular forms of Shiva worshipped in South India is the sage Dakshinamurthi, whose name literally means "the South-facing form". Dakshinamurthi is the subject of the famous Dakshinamurthu Stotram, a hymn commonly attributed to Adi Shankarcharya (although this is disputed) which says this:

It is strange to see the very old disciples and the very young teacher, who sit under a banyan tree, with the teacher always observing silence, and the students getting all the doubts cleared.

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The story as I understand it is that Shiva incarnated as a young sage named Dakahinamurthi, who sat under a banyan tree and silently imparted wisdom to the Sanatkumaras, four sages who are mind-born sons of Brahma.

My question is, what scriptures mention the sage Dakshinamurthi? I assume he's mentioned in various Shaiva Agamas, but it's very hard to date Agamic texts. And he is discussed in the Dakshinamurthi Upanishad, but that's believed by many to be a late text.

Is he discussed in the Puranas? All I've found is a passing reference in this excerpt from the Narada Purana, which says that a hymn to Shiva called the Shiva Nyasa was heard from the gods by Dakshinamurthi:

The deity of this (nyasa) is Ardhanarisha, the sage Dakshinamurti and the metre is Gayatri. The application of this mantra is for attaining everything.

I suppose it's akin to how the sage Narayana, an incarnation of Vishnu, was the seer of mantras to Vishnu like the Purusha Sukta of the Rig Veda, which I discuss here.

Also, this forum post claims that Dakshinamurthi is discussed in the "Suta Samhita" of the Skanda Purana, but the Motilal Banarsidass translation of the Skanda Purana is divided into Khandas, not Samhitas, so I'm not sure what part of the text constitutes the Suta Samhita.

Does anyone know any other scriptures which discuss Dakshinamurthi?

  • @RaviJ I know about Mahavtar Babaji, although I don't believe in him as I'm not an Advaitin. In any case, I'm looking for scriptural references to the original Dakshinamurthi incarnation who is said to have taught the Sanatkumaras, Even followers of Mahavtar Babaji say that he was born in the Kali Yuga. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 20:43
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Did you see this thekandhapuranam.blogspot.in/2013/08/…
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 14:44
  • 1
    @RaviJ No many people have a wrong impression that Balak Nath was incarnation of Kartikeya/Murugan but in reality he is not. By the way, Babaji is no ordinary yogi, he is Lord Shiva. Sri M, a yogi who lives in Madanapalle is disciple of Maheswarnath Babaji who in turn was a disciple of Mahavatar Babaji. In 2011, Sri M went to Kailash, he wrote in his autobiography "Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master", that he saw Mahavatar Babaji's form changing to Shiva. Now of course, siddhas can change their form but the interesting thing was there were various great yogis present at that place.
    – Pinakin
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 6:00
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    @RaviJ The yogis present there were Gorakshnath, Guru Rinpoche, Guru Nanak, Christ etc.. They all said Mahavatar Babaji is none other than Lord Shiva. Now of course, 99.99% people of India will not believe this because they think Christ, Guru Nanak, Guru Rinpoche, Gorakshnath are not alive today. It is true that these people left the body but this incident didn't happen on earth. In fact, Sri M also met Sai Baba in Shirdi. Again as I said, 99.99% people will reject all these incidents as mere stories.
    – Pinakin
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 6:03
  • 1
    @RaviJ If you read various yogis autobiography, for example, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda and Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master by Sri M, you will find various such things which normal people would straightaway reject. It is up to us if we want to believe it or not. I personally believe it and the fact that Babaji is none other than Lord Shiva.
    – Pinakin
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 6:06

3 Answers 3


Dakshinamurty form of Lord Shiva is described in Suta Samhita of Skanda Purana in Mochak Kathanam of Mukti Khanda. Here is the description of form:

गड़्गाधरं शिवं शान्तं लसत्केयूरमण्डितम् ।
सर्वाभरणसंयुक्तं सर्वलक्षणसंयुक्तम् ।।
वीरासने समासीनं वेदयज्ञोपवीतिनम् ।
भस्माधाराभिरामं तं नागाभरणभूषितम् ।।
व्याघ्रचर्माम्बरं शुद्धं योगपट्टावृतं शुभम् ।
सर्वेषां प्राणिनामात्माज्ञानापस्मारपृष्ठत ।।
विन्यस्तचरणं सम्यज्ञानमुद्राधरंहरम् ।
सर्वविज्ञानरत्नानां कोशभूतं सुपुस्तकम् ।।
दधानं सर्वतत्वाक्षमालिकां कुण्डिकामपि ।
स्वात्मभूत परानन्द पराशक्त्यर्धविग्रहम् ।।
धर्मरुप वृषोपेतं धार्मिक वेदपारगै ।
मुनिभि: संवृतं मायावटमूलाश्रितं शुभम् ।।
इशानं सर्वविद्यानामीश्वेरश्वरमव्ययम् ।
उत्पत्त्यादितिनिर्मुक्तमोंकारकमलासनम् ।।
स्वातमविद्याप्रदानेन सदा संसारमोचकम् ।
रुद्रं परमकारुण्यात्सर्वप्राणिहितेरतम् ।।
उपासकानां सर्वेषामभीष्टसकलप्रदम् ।
दक्षिणामूर्तिदेवाख्यं जगत्सर्गादिकारणम् ।।
समागत्य महाभक्त्या दण्डवत्पृथिवीतले ।
प्रणम्य बहुशोदेवं समाराध्य यथाबलम् ।।
रुद्र यत्ते मुखं तेन दक्षिणंपाहि मामिति ।
उक्त्वा पुनः पुनर्देवं पूजयामास भक्तितः ।।
पुनर्देवो महादेवो दक्षिणामूर्तिरीश्वर:
प्रदत्त्वा स्वात्मविज्ञान तस्मै विप्रायसुव्रता ।।
तस्य संसारविच्छेदमकरोदम्बिकापति।
बहवो दक्षिणामूर्ति प्रसादादेव जन्ततः ।।

The one bearing Ganga in his head, Shiva; is silent, with his hairs tied. He can give anything to anyone and he is full of all attributes. He is sitting in Virasana Position and wearing a Vedic Yajnopavita. He is covered by the ashes and his ornaments are snakes. He is sitting in tigerskin made for sitting in Yogic position. He is giving AtmaJnana to all creatures through silence. His left foot is in right thigh and his hand is on JnanaMudra. He is the embodiment of all jewels of knowledge. He is giving all tatwa just through his eyes. He himself is in fully trancsendental blissful state, transcending even Shakti. Sages which are like embodiment of Dharma tree and who have transcended even Vedas, they are sitting around that Banayan tree. Ishana himself is the all knowledge, he is the Lord and also unmanifested, He manifests just by the sound Om, the one who is sitting in Lotus. Providing knowledge of Self he is always the liberator of self. Such is Rudra and his compassion who always wants good for creatures. The one who do Austerity for him is sure to have fulfilled his desires, He is that Dakshinamurty divine and is the cause of this whole world. The great devotees salute him by keeping head on earth. I salute him and adore him with my limited abilities. Rudra I surrender to your form which is facing south. I worship again and again through my devotion. Oh Lord Mahadeva in the form of Dakshinamurti, you provide knowledge of self, thus intelligent worship you. Thus for liberating creatures from this cycle of Samsara, oh Lord of Ambika, you take the form of Dakshninamurti being like a fruit for all.

Lord Dakshinmurty is also described briefly in Lalita Sahasranama of Brahmanda Purana. There Shakti is called Dakshinmurty Rupini as Shakti is Shiva herself and Shiva just remains in unmanifested state without Shakti; (it is actually through Shakti Shiva assumes forns:)

स्वतन्त्रा सर्वतन्त्रेशी दक्षिणामूर्ति रुपिणी
सनकादि समाराध्या शिवज्ञान प्रदायीनि ।।140।।

You are independent. You are the presiding deity over all Tantras. You are the who takes form of Dakshinamurty who is adored by Sanaka and other sages and who provides knowledge of Supreme.

The form resembling Dakshinamurty form is also described in Srimad Bhagvatam from here although the name Dakshinmurty is not used:

S.B.4.6.31,32 (Banayana tree); S.B.4.6.33 (Lord Shiva sitting under that tree); S.B.4.6.34 (Surrounded by Sanata Kumaras and other Saints and Silent), S.B.4.6.35 (Lord Shiva in full perfection); S.B.4.6.36 (Virasana and hand in Tarka mudra)

A mantra adressing Lord Dakshinamurty is also in the Narada Purana (III.91) and Dakshinamurty is also described there:

Dakshinamurtaye should be uttered first, then homage unto you who reside at the root of the banayan tree, obeisance unto him who is deeply engrossed in meditation, then to Rudra and Sambhu. Tãra (Om) and Hrim should enclose the mantra. The mantra consists of thirty six syllables. It is the bestower of all desired gods. Suka is the sage and Anushtup is the metre. The deity is Sambhu Dakshinãmurti. There is a lofty banyan tree on the ridge of the Himãlayas frequented by Siddhas and Kinnaras. The tree has fruits shining like rubies. It has shadowed sunlight by its far extending branches. The full-blown trees are embraced by the clusters of creepers in full bloom. The place has been rendered cool by the winds blowing over the mountain streams Howing out of the rock crevasses. Groups of cdestial damels sing while the flocks of peacocks dance. Different quarters are resonant by the cooing of cuckoos. The region is frequented by the animals which have eschewed their mutual animosity. It is beautified by fragrant flowers of both aquatic and terrestrial origin. lt is conti- nuously and happily resorted to by the sages, Suka and others. It is frequently supervised by the gods, chief of whom is Indra and who are accompanied by their womenfolk and others. The banyan tree is beautilied by the thickly grown emerald-like leaves. It is embellished as though with hanging ornaments made of the nine precious gems. It is a wonderful tree the shade of which is capable of dispelling worldly distress. Shiva is seated at its root in an auspicious throne set beautifully, studded with jewels. His embellishments are immeasurable. His face resembles the autumnal moon. He resembles the mountain Kailasa, has three eyes and the crescent moon decorating his matted hair. He is seated in the heroic posture. He holds the posture of the hatchet, deer and has placed the delicate hand on the knee. He has kept a serpent firmly fixed under his arm pit. He should meditate on Siva in his pleasant mood.

  • You finally got Skanda Purana in Samhitas. Where did you get it?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 5:05
  • @The Destroyer I have only Suta Samhita... not other samhitas...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 5:09
  • Thanks! Where did you get the Suta Samhita in English? Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 9:27
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I don't have in english.. I have in Sanskrit with commentary of Vidyarana also...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 10:16
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    @Keshav Srinivasan maybe sages looking old part is mentioned in Dakshinmurty Upanishad... I consider Dakshinmurty Upanishad authentic because Adi Shankara composed 2 Stotras one you have quoted above and another Dakshinamurty Varnamala stotram... the first letter of the latter Stotra corresponds with the letters present in Dakshinamurty Upanishad... If it is not mentioned in Daks. U. Then it may be in other part of Suta Samhita... but I can't search it as it is not scannable... or AdiShankara wrote it by self speculation... I will update answer if I find more details...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 15:48

Besides several other texts, the references to Shiva's form of Dakshinamurti are also found in the Sharda-Tilaka Tantra compendium.

I'm self translating the Hindi translation by Sudhakar Malaviya into English.

Ekonaviṃśaḥ paṭalaḥ

एकोनविंशः पटलः

हेमाचलतटे रम्ये सिद्धकिन्नरसेविते । विविधगुमशाखाभिः सर्वतो वारितातपे॥१०॥ सुपुष्पितैलताजालैराश्लिष्टकुसुमद्रुमैः । शिलाविवरनिर्गच्छन्निर्झरानिलसेविते ॥११॥ गायभृङ्गाङ्गनासो नृत्यबर्हिकदम्बके। कूजत्कोकिलसङ्घन मुखरीकृतदिङ्मुखे॥१२॥ परस्परविनिर्मुक्तमात्सर्यमृगसेविते । आद्यैः शुकाद्यैर्मुनिभिरजस्रं समुपस्थिते ॥ १३ ॥ पुरन्दरमुखैर्देवैः सेवायातैर्विलोकितम् । वटवृक्षं महोच्छायं पद्मरागफलोज्ज्वलम्॥१४॥ गारुत्मतमयैः पत्रैर्निविडैरुपशोभितम् । नवरत्नमयाकल्पैर्लम्बमानैरलङ्कृतम् ॥१५॥ जलजैः स्थलजैः पुष्पैरामोदिभिरलङ्कृतम् । शृण्वद्भिर्वेदशास्त्राणि शुकवृन्दैनिषेवितम्॥ १६ ॥ संसारतामविच्छेदकुशलच्छायमद्भुतम् । विचिन्त्य तस्य मूलस्थे रत्नसिंहासने शुभे ॥ १७ ॥ आसीनममिताकल्पं शरच्चन्द्रनिभाननम्। स्तूयमानं मुनिगणैर्दिव्यज्ञानाभिलाषिभिः । संस्मरेज्जगतामाद्यं दक्षिणामूर्तिमव्ययम्॥ १८ ॥

Contemplation on the god Dakshinamurti –

On the beautiful edges of the Himanchal (Suvarna Parvata) where Siddhas & Kinnaras dwell, bereft of any sunlight due to the shadows from the branches of myriad types of trees which are engulfed by various creepers bearing multitudes of flowers, where the waterfall issues from the mountainous rocks causing calming winds to flow, where bees buzz and the flocks of peacocks are dancing gracefully, the music from cuckoos is beautifying all directions, where the wild animals have forsaken their natural wild instincts, and Aadya, Shukra, etc, are living, ever-devoted. In this manner, all the great sages like Shukra, etc, coming to serve Sri Dakshinamurti are looking up to that great Banyan tree with great contemplation, decorated with beautiful red fruits similar to the gArutman-MaNi, the tree looks exquisite as if its branches were decorated and shining from the splendor of the nava-ratnas. The Banyan tree is capable of ameliorating the tapa-traya, and is surrounded by colorful fragrant flowers, and saints who are learned in the Vedas. In the middle of this place under the great Banyan tree is located in a jewel-decorated lion’s skin bed.

On this jewel-adorned bed, one must contemplate the god Dakshinamurti, the primordial cause of the Universe, who’s decorated with limitless opulence, with a face similar to the captivating full moon of the sharada-purNimA and who’s being paid obsequious by different sages who are eager to gain the divine knowledge.

कैलासाद्रिनिभं शशाङ्कशकलस्फूर्जज्जटामण्डित
नसालोकनतत्परं त्रिनयनयनं वीरासनाध्यासितम् ।
मुद्राटङ्ककुरङ्गजानुविलसत्पाणिं प्रसन्नाननं
कक्षाबद्धभुजङ्गमं मुनिवृतं वन्दे महेशं परम् ॥ १९ ॥

The one who’s ever-glorious and shining like the Kailasha, whose Hair-tresses are brightened from the rays of the moon, the one who’s ever meditating and contemplating, adorned with the three eyes, sitting in the VirAsana posture. Holding the mudra, Parshu, and HariNa in his three hands, while the fourth rests on his thigh. And surrounded by sages and saints, I pay my homage and salutations to such a form of the Para-brahman Mahesvara, who’s wearing a beautiful smile on his face, with a snake adorning his neck,


दक्षिणामूर्तिध्यानम् स्फटिकरजतवर्ण मोक्तिकोमक्षमालाममृत कलशविद्याज्ञानमुद्राः कराग्रैः ।
दधतमुरगकक्षं चन्द्रचूडं त्रिनेत्र विधृतविविधभूषं दक्षिणामूर्तिमीडे ॥ ३९ ॥

The one whose bodily complexion resembles the sphatika-maNi (quartz-crystal), and glows like silver, and, who’s holding a pearl-rosary, a sacred scripture, and keeping the Jnana-mudra with another hand, the one who has adorned his neck with snakes, and kept the moon as his crown, and body being adorned with myriad types of ornaments, I worship such a magnanimous form of Sri Dakshinamurti.


The Mahabharata itself has a mention of Rudra(Shiva) as Dakshinamurty.

Mahabharata, Ashvamedhika Parva Chapter 93 [ Gitapress Edition ]

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English Translation:-

Whoever on the Chaturdashī, gives himself up in devotion to My (Vishnu’s) form or to the form of Rudra-Dakshināmūrti, will be worshiped by the siddha-s, brahmaṛṣi-s and the devaloka-s and praised by the gandharva-s and the bhūta-groups, he, such a devotee is Mahātapāḥ. Such a devotee endowed with great Tejas will be united with Me or Shankara; he will be freed from rebirth. No doubt need to be had in this, O Yudhishtira!

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