By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Gurudaksina, GurudaksiNA, Gurudaksinaa
Gurudaksiṇā literally means ‘honorarium paid to the guru’.
Ancient and medieval era considered education as too sacred an act to demand or accept any fee. However, if a disciple wanted to give something to his guru, at the time of his departure from the gurukula, as a mark of his gratitude, the guru could accept it. This could take two forms:
- Accepting whatever the disciple gave
- Asking for something which one really wanted
Benefaction of money, cows or land was very common. Sometimes uncommon or even odd things were asked for as gurudakṣiṇā. Droṇācārya wanted the Pāṇḍavas to capture the king Drupada and bring to him in gurudakṣiṇā. Udaṅka, a sage, had to take a lot of trouble to bring the ear-rings of queen Madavatī to Ahalyā, the wife of his guru, Gautama. However, the idea behind this concept is that the debt to one’s guru can never be repaid.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore