(89) THE INCARNATION OF SRI DAKSHINAMURTHY
7th February, 1947
While translating “Dakshinamurthy Stotram” into Tamil verse with commentary, Bhagavan summarised the original story about the reason for Dakshinamurthy’s incarnation and wrote it in the preface. Besides that he divided nine slokas therein into three groups dealing with the world, the seer and the seen respectively.
The first three:(1) Viswam Darpanam, (2) Bijasyanthariva, (3) Yasyaiva sphuranum, deal with the origin of the world.
The next three: (1) Nanachhidra, (2) Rahugrastha, (3) Deham Pranam, deal with the seer; and the last three: (1) Balyadishwapi (2) Viswam Pasyathi (3) Bhurambhamsi, deal with the light by which things are seen. The last sloka, Sarvathmatvam, means that the whole universe is merged in Brahman.
Recently I translated the preface into Telugu. Bhagavan went through the translation, and said with a smile, “I mentioned briefly in the preface, only as much of the life story as related to the stotra, but the real story is much more interesting. It goes like this: Brahma asked Sanaka, Sanatkumara, Sanandana and Sanatsujata, who are the creations of his mind, to assist him in the task of creation, but they were not interested in that task and so declined to assist. They were surrounded by the heavenly gods, saints and other attendants, and were staying in Nandana Vana and so they were considering who would impart to them jnana, the supreme Wisdom. Narada appeared, and said, ‘Who can impart the Brahma Jnana, the Supreme Wisdom, except Brahma himself? Come on, we shall go to him.’ They all agreed and proceeded to Satya Loka, the abode of Brahma, and found Saraswathi playing the veena, with Brahma seated in front of her, enjoying the music and beating time to the tune. They all beheld the scene and wondered how a person who is engrossed in the appreciation of his wife’s music could teach them adhyatma tattva (the essence of spirituality). Narada said to them, ‘Come! let us go to Vaikunta, the abode of Vishnu’. They all proceeded thither.
The Lord was in the interior of his residence. Narada is however a privileged person and so he went directly into the Lord’s abode, saying he would see and come back. Soon he came out and, when asked, told them, ‘There Brahma was seated a little away from his wife who was playing the veena for him. But here, the Goddess Lakshmi is seated on the God’s couch and is massaging his feet. This is much worse. How can this family man who is spellbound by the intimate glances of his consort, render us any help (in learning adhyatma vidya)? Look at the splendour of this palace and this city! This is no good. Let us seek the help of Lord Siva.’ “They all proceeded towards Himachala and seeing Mount Kailas, they ascended it with great hopes.
But there, in the midst of a vast gathering of his fellows, was Siva performing his celestial dance with his wife sharing half of his body. Vishnu was playing on the Drum, and Brahma was keeping time with the bells as an accompaniment for the dance. They who came eagerly seeking spiritual guidance, were aghast at the sight, and thought, ‘Oh! He too is after women! Brahma was no doubt having his wife sitting very close to, but was not in physical contact with her, while Vishnu was in physical contact with his wife, but she was merely massaging His legs, but Siva is actually keeping Parvati as part of His body. This is much worse. Enough of this.’ And they all departed.
Siva understood and was sorry for them. He said, ‘What delusion on their part! They regard the three Godheads as devoid of spiritual wisdom merely because they were being served by their respective wives at the time the devotees saw them! Who else can impart spiritual knowledge to these earnest seekers of Truth?’ Thus thinking, Siva sent away Parvati on the plea of himself doing tapas and the kind-hearted Lord seated Himself in the guise of a youth with Chinmudra, as Dakshinamurthy, under a banyan tree on the northern side of lake Mansarovar, just on the way by which these disappointed devotees were returning to their respective homes. I read this story somewhere,” said Bhagavan.
“How interesting is the story! Why did not Bhagavan include it in the Introduction?” I said.
“I cannot say! I thought it unnecessary for me to record all these incidents of Dakshinamurthy’s life in the Introduction. I included only as much as was required for the Ashtaka (8 slokas),” replied Bhagavan.
On further enquiry, it was found that this story was narrated in Siva Rahasya, tenth canto, second chapter, under the heading, “The Incarnation of Sri Dakshinamurthy.” A devotee who heard this asked, “Does incarnation mean birth of Sri Dakshinamurthy?” “Where is the question of a birth for him? It is one of the five Murthys (forms) of Siva. It means that he is seated facing south in mouna mudra (silent posture).
It is the want of Form, Formlessness, that is indicated in its inner meaning. Is it the Murthy, the Form, that is described in the “Dakshinamurthy Ashtaka”? Is it not the want of Form, Formlessness? ‘Sri Dakshinamurthy’ --- ‘Sri’ means Maya Sakti (illusory force); one meaning of ‘Dakshina’ is efficient; another meaning is ‘in the heart on the right side of the body’ ‘Amurthy’ means ‘Formlessness’. A lot of commentary on this is possible, isn’t it?” said Bhagavan.
The same devotee asked, “Sanaka and the others are described in the Bhagavata Purana as young boys of five years of age for all time; but this stotra says ‘vriddha sishya gurur yuva’ (old disciples and young Guru). How is that?” “Jnanis (the wise) always remain young. There is no youth, and no old age for them. The description ‘vriddha’ and ‘sishya’, ‘old’ and ‘disciple’ means that Sanaka and the others were old in actual age. Though they are old in years they remain everlastingly young in appearance,” said Bhagavan.
I give below my translation of the introduction written by Bhagavan: “Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata who are the four sons born from the mind of Brahma, learnt that they were brought into existence to further the creation of the world, but they were not interested in the task, and sought only Truth and Knowledge and wandered in search of a Guru. Lord Siva sympathised with those earnest seekers of Truth and Himself sat under a banyan tree in the silent state as Dakshinamurthy with chinmudra. Sanaka and the others observed Him and were at once attracted by Him like iron by a magnet, and attained Self-realisation in His presence in no time. To those who are not able to know the real significance of the silent and original form (of Dakshinamurthy), Sankara summarised the universal truth in this stotra and explained to Utamadhikaris (highly developed souls) that the Sakti (force) which dissolves the three obstacles for realisation of the Truth, that is the world, the seer and the seen, is not different from one’s own self and that everything gets ultimately merged in one’s own self.”
Related: Collected Works - Hymn to Dakshinamurthi, Talk 569.