Q: Gurudev, what is the meaning of Dakshinamurthy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Amurtha means that which has no form and cannot be expressed; that which cannot be seen. Lord Shiva, the formless manifestation of infinite space, cannot take a form. It is nearly impossible.
Murthy(literally meaning an idol) is that which has a form and can be seen, and Daksha means to be skilful and capable.
So when the Divinity which cannot be expressed, is expressed in a very skilful manner, then that is known as Dakshina.
See, we cannot express all the emotions that we have inside us. So many times, we express our emotions by offering a flower. Through the act offering a flower, we attempt to express our feeling, isn’t it? There is nothing we can give to entirely express what is deep within us, but we still make an effort to give something. That is known as Dakshina.
Dakshinamurthy is that which cannot be seen, yet it is being expressed. That which is beyond expression, yet is still being expressed through form. It is not visible, yet it is seen, and everything is made up of that only.
When that which is infinite and cannot be expressed or manifest, is expressed so skilfully through a form, then that is called Dakshinamurthy.
The Sun is so large and so many miles away from us, but if you see the Sun using a small mirror, you will see the reflection of the sun on the small piece of glass. Though in reality, the Sun is so big, even then you are skilfully able to capture the full reflection of the Sun on a mirror and bring inside your house. This is called Dakshata (skilfulness of intelligence), and that is what it is known as Dakshinamurthy.
Lord Shiva is called the Adi Guru (The Guru present from the beginning of time, and who is beyond time.) He is everything and everywhere, yet He comes in the form of a Guru. So when the infinite comes in the form of a Guru, He is known as Dakshinamurthy.
From ancient times, the main form of the Guru Tattva (divine element or principle) is called Dakshinamurthy. See, the Guru is not a person. It is an energy that is present in the body of a Guru; that energy is called Dakshinamurthy. It is the Divine, omnipresent, infinite, guiding wisdom, which is un-manifest and yet manifests.
So Lord Shiva is called Dakshinamurthy, the Adi Guru. This is how the story goes. Lord Shiva sat silently. He is portrayed as a young boy, with elderly disciples sitting before Him seeking knowledge. As soon as they sat before Him, in silence, they all received the knowledge, and all their questions disappeared. His discourse was in silence. That means their energy got uplifted. That is the Guru principle. The original Guru, from where all knowledge and wisdom began, is called Dakshinamurthy.
So, in a very skilful way, the inexpressible divinity is expressed. That is the whole essence of Dakshinamurthy.