Dakṣiṇāmurti Upaniṣad

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Daksinamurti Upanisad, DakSiNAmurti UpaniSad, Dakshinaamurti Upanishad


Dakṣiṇāmurti Upaniṣad is a minor, 33 verse Upaniṣad that is found in the Krṣna Yajurveda. It deals mainly with the meditation on Dakṣiṇāmurti, an aspect of Śiva representing a teacher of divine wisdom.

Gist of Dakṣiṇāmurti Upaniṣad

Once, a group of sages under the leadership of Śaunaka, approached the deathless sage Mārkaṇḍeya with due respect and asked him how he had attained the cirajīvatva or the deathless state(eternal bliss). He replied, ‘By the esoteric knowledge of the principle of Śiva.’ Then they put forth nine questions to him to understand it in detail. This is the whole content of Dakṣiṇāmurti Upaniṣad.

The Upaniṣad ends with the eulogy that one who learns this esoteric wisdom is freed from all sins and attains liberation from transmigration.

Nine Questions and their Answers

Then the sages put forth nine questions before him. He answered all the questions to the detail. They are:

What is that esoteric knowledge of the principle of Śiva?

The esoteric knowledge of Śiva is the realization of him in his aspect as Dakṣiṇāmurti. Śiva is called Dakṣiṇāmurti since he can silently give the gift (= dakṣiṇā) of Self-knowledge to anyone that is seen by him.

Who is the deity in it?

He himself is the deity (= deva) residing in it, since he shines (deva = one who shines) in his own glory and joy at the time of dissolution of the world.

Which are the mantras?
  1. Om namo bhagavate dakṣināmurtaye mahyam medhām prajñām prayaccha svāhā II
  2. Om dakṣināmurtir-atarom II
  3. Om blum namo hrīm aim dakṣiṇāmurtaye jñānam dehi svāhā II
  4. Om hrim śrim sāmbaśivāya tubhyam svāhā II
  5. Om namo bhagavate tubhyam vatamulanivāsine I vāgiśāya mahājñāna- dāyine māyine namah II
What is the steadfast devotion needed? 

The steadfast devotion needed is the conviction that one is Brahman ; which should last till the death of the body.

What is the means of attaining that knowledge? 

The means of attaining that knowledge is the repetition of the mantra (one of the five already given) with the conscious thinking that one is identical with the deity denoted by the mantra.

What is it's instrument? 

The instrument is singular devotion to the mantra.

What is the offering?

Offering is the oblation of the movement of one’s limbs as worship to the deity of the mantra.

What is it's final state? 

The final state is the attainment of the perfect equanimity of the three guṇas.

What is the final abode? 

The final abode is the heart or the sahasrāra (thousand-petalled lotus in the crown of the head) which are the places for the realization of the Self.

References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore