1. Who is Dakshinamurty ?
There are many etymological derivations of the name ‘Dakshinamurthy’ which derive many great meanings of his name. Let’s begin this article with the meaning stated in Shruti. Upanishad says, Dakshina means buddhi (knowledge) through which Siva (who is Brahman)can be known.
“shemushhii dakshiNaa proktaa saa yasyaabhiikshaNe mukham.h | dakshiNaabhimukhaH proktaH shivo.asau brahmavaadibhiH |” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 19)
“The word ‘Dakshinâ’ means Buddhi. Because Buddhi is the eye by which Siva can be directly seen, He is called Dakshinabhimtikha by the Brahma-vâdins”.
Therefore Dakshinamurthy is verily the Shivagyanam / brahmagyanam which assumes a form as our preceptor, to gift himself to us. Therefore there is no difference between the lord and the divine knowledge! Lord Shiva is the parabrahman of Vedas and is essentially nirguNa. However he is the only one who assumes many names or forms and sports in this world.
Each name of that Maheshwara is accompanied with some purpose. Dakshinamurthy form is the Guru (preceptor) form of lord Shiva. It is an indisputable truth propounded in every scripture that lord Shiva is the foremost and supreme Guru from whom all the Vidya-s issue forth.
It is that Dakshinamurthy whose grace of wisdom works silently in the background of every action that takes place in this world. For instance, when you were born, who taught you to cry for milk when you felt hungry? Who taught you to stop crying as soon as your hunger is satiated with the mother’s milk? At least for humans a careful mother feeds her baby at regular intervals on her own, but in the case of a new born calf, who teaches the calf that there is his food stored between the hind legs of the cow and that could be obtained by suckling? Those are the teachings which are unheard by ears, untaught by speech, but only and only experienced through some silent teaching emanating from within. That’s my lord Dakshinamurthy in action!
What is that power which teaches your eyes to see, ears to hear, tongue to taste, skin to feel the touch, and nose to smell? Don’t tell me that these organs are accompanied with their corresponding actions and they receive the commands from Brain! If that is the case, then why can’t a dead body see, hear, feel, smell and taste despite having all its organs intact, and having its brain undamaged within its skull? The reason is, there is another power which transcends this physical body and this brain, and that power operates this body (machine) by pervading within it. That external power is called as Chaitanya (Consciousness) which is nothing but the Atman (Self). This Atman is verily the Dakshinamurthy alone who doesn’t verbally tell your organs to act. It is he as Atman-Chaitanya remains silent within yourself and mere his silent presence makes your organs act. So, tell me now, who on this planet can live or remain functional without the grace or presence of this great preceptor? That’s the glorious nature of Mahadeva! Whether Shiva appears as a Guru visible externally or guides us through our conscience operating from within, the fact remains a fact that there is no life without Guru (Shiva.) Whether someone likes or dislikes, there is no escape from that illustrious Kapardin, the lord of Uma!
When in his subtlest mode he is our teacher right from our birth till death, then it is not a matter of astonishment if he is seen as the foremost preceptor of all the Vidyas. Let’s analyze the secrets of the iconography, and other matters in detail.
2. Dakshinamurty as the Guru of Lord Brahma
As discussed above when a newborn infant himself requires an internal preceptor to cry for milk when hunger is felt, then we can understand it fairly well that to create this gigantic macrocosm even lord Brahma would have required some knowledge, and hence someone to pass on that knowledge (whom we call guru).
The very first appearance of Dakshinamurthy is visible in Upanishads itself. At the beginning of this creation, the first entity that sprang into existence was Hiranyagrabha (where Brahma appeared). Svetaswatara Upanishad states that Rudra created Brahma and passed on Vedas to him as follows.
“yo devaanaaM prabhavashchodbhavashcha vishvaadhipo rudro maharshhiH | hiraNyagarbha.n janayaamaasa puurva.n sa no buddhyaa shubhayaa sa.nyunaktu ||” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:04)
“He, the omniscient Rudra, the creator of the gods and the bestower of their powers, the support of the universe, He who, in the beginning, gave birth to Hiranyagarbha—may He endow us with clear intellect!”
Brahma didn’t know what for he emerged. He didn’t have the knowledge of what to create and how to create. Then he took the refuge of his own creator viz. Mahadeva, and worshiped him. Being pleased by his devotion, Rudra, bestowed Brahma, with the knowledge of creation as stated below.
“sargaadikaale bhagavaanviri~nchirupaasyaina.n sargasaamarthyamaapya | ” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 1:20)
“At the beginning of creation, Brahmâ the Lord, having worshipped S’iva, attained power to create and was delighted at heart”.
How did he bestow that knowledge of creation? The answer is Rudra gave him Vedas as stated below.
“yo brahmaaNa.n vidadhaati puurva.n | yo vai vedaa.nshcha prahiNoti tasmai .ta.n ha devaM aatmabuddhiprakaashaM | mumuxurvai sharaNamahaM prapadye |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 6:18)
“Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self-Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him”.
Shiva bestowed Brahma with Vedas and made him capable of creating the world. We may have a question, – how can Vedas make someone capable of creating the world? The answer is, Vedas contain the blue-print of entire creation coded in secret format. In Mahabharata Shanti Parva chapter CCXXXII the illustrious sage Vyasa states the following. This entire creation takes its form and shape from the blue print /seed which are hidden in Vedas. All the great Rishis also have their origin from Vedas.
“At the outset the Self-born caused those excellent Vedic sounds, that are embodiments of knowledge and that have neither beginning nor end to (spring up and) flow on (from preceptor to disciple). From those sounds have sprung all kinds of actions. The names of the Rishis, all things that have been created, the varieties of form seen in existent things, and the course of actions, have their origin in the Vedas. Indeed, the Supreme Master of all beings, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas. Upon the expiration of his night (i.e., at the dawn of his day), the uncreate Brahman creates, from prototypes that existed before, all things which are, of course, well-made by Him. In the Vedas hath been indicated the topic of the Soul’s Emancipation, along with the ten means constituted by study of the Vedas, adoption of the domestic mode of life, penances, observance of duties common to all the modes of life, sacrifices, performance of all such acts as lead to pure fame, meditation which is of three kinds, and that kind of emancipation which is called success (Siddhi) attainable in this life”. (MBH Shanti Parva chapter CCXXXII)
Does it mean Brahma got some published books printed and bounded nicely? Do we have any scriptural reference where Brahma is shown to be creating universes referring to some page no. of Vedas? No! Vedas mean “knowledge”. The word ‘Veda’ is derived from the Sanskrit root word ‘vid’ which means knowledge. So, Vedas are nothing but knowledge itself. So, when Upanishad says Shiva gave Vedas to Brahma, it implies that Shiva bestowed him with the knowledge required for his creation. And how does shiva bestow knowledge? The answer is – as Dakshinamurthy! Therefore it is Brahma who was the first person to witness and realize the grace of Dakshinamurthy.
This is the reason why the Svetaswatara Upanishad further prays to Dakkshina form of lord Rudra as follows. With divine knowledge the cycle of transmigration ceases to exist, and that knowledge can be gained only by the grace of Sri Dakshinamurthy.
“ajaata ityeva.n kashchidbhiiruH prapadyate | rudra yatte daxiNaM mukha.n tena maaM paahi nityam.h |”(Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:21)
“It is because Thou, O Lord, art birthless, that some rare souls, frightened by birth and death, take refuge in Thee. O Rudra, may Thy benign face (dakshinam mukha) protect me forever!”
In the above verse, Dakshinam Mukha is translated as benign face. What does it mean? Benign face is termed as ‘Aghora’ (not terrible) among the five faces of lord Shiva, and it is this Aghora face which remains turned southwards. Therefore Dakshinamurty is nothing but Aghora face of Lord Shiva. Therefore the above verse is again a prayer to Dakshinamurty the birthless lord whose refuge the righteous people take in order to get transported from this frightful cycle of births and deaths to the every pleasant state of kaivalya.
On a side note, Aghora face of lord Shiva which remains peaceful and south facing designates Dakshinamurty and confers knowledge and liberates the jIvas, however the same face when turned Ghora (terrible) becomes the world destroying form. This is why due to dual aspect of this face, YajurvEda Taittiriya Aranyaka sings its glory in both the aspects as follows.
“aghorebhyo.atha ghorebhyo ghoraghoratarebhyaH | sarvataH sharva sarvebhyo namaste astu rudraruupebhyaH |” (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.19.1)
“Now, O Sarva, my salutations be at all times and all places to Thy Rudra forms, benign, terrific, more terrific and destructive”.
3. Meaning of Dakshinamurty’s ‘Silence’
There is a legend which states that when the four brahma-rishis Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara who are collectively called as ‘kumaras’, emerged from Brahma as his mind born sons; they didn’t show interest in becoming prajapati and helping Brahma in further creating by procreating offsprings. They were constantly in search of brahma-gyanam. They were looking for a preceptor capable of dispelling their all doubts. While being on lookout for such a preceptor they were wandering from pillar to post when suddenly in one secluded place they saw a huge banyan tree (vata vruksham) and under that tree they found a sixteen years old young lad ‘Dakshinamurty’ sitting surrounded by octogenarian sages. The names and number of these sages vary in various agamas. These four kumaras gravitated to the serene looking face of that Dakshinamurty and sat surrounding him. Soon they got absorbed into the supreme silence of Dakshinamurty and all their queries related to Brahman got resolved. It should be noted that Shiva didn’t appear there as Dakshinamurty, rather Shiva is always there as Dakshinamurty bestowing knowledge for all the seekers, but a man realizes his presence only when he starts consciously seeking knowledge. Otherwise Dakshinamurty remains within us guiding us in a subconscious manner.
This is a story in a nutshell, the primary intention of discussing this is not for the sake of storytelling; but to discuss and analyze an important point what this legend teaches i.e., ‘teaching through silence’.
We may get a doubt – how can silence answer all the spiritual enquiries? It’s a valid one. What does silence indicate? Silence is that state where speech culminates, where disturbances of mind cease to exist. It is that state which can only be experienced and cannot be stated through speech or through thoughts. That supreme state of thoughtlessness, where speech exists in her parA state of silence is the state of Brahman. The state of Brahman is inexpressible through words, or thoughts; it can only be experienced!
How silence is a state of Brahman? It is answered in shruti as follows.
“kaa.nsyaghaNTaaninaadastu yathaa liiyati shaantaye | o~Nkaarastu tathaa yojyaH shaantaye sarvamichchhataa | yasminviliiyate shabdastatparaM brahma giiyate | dhiya.n hi liiyate brahma so.amR^itatvaaya kalpate |” (Brahmavidya Upanishad 12-13)
“And just as the sound of a metal utensil – or of a gong dies in silence – so he, who seeks the All lets the OM sound fade away in silence. For that wherein the sound fades away is the Brahman, the higher. Yea, the whole sound is Brahman and conduces to immortality”.
That supreme state of silence i.e., Brahman is nothing but same as Dakshinamurty himself, since it is he the Maheshwara who is the Brahman described in Vedas and Vedanta. It is only Lord Shiva who transcends everything and is the highest Brahman, it is he again as Dakashinamurty the highest Guru who teaches brahmavidya to us which reveals about himself alone. There is nothing superior to Shiva. In this connection Taittiriya Aranyaka of Yajurveda states as follows.
“yo vedaadau svaraH prokto vedaante cha pratishhThitaH | tasya prakR^itiliinasya yaH paraH sa maheshvaraH ” (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.12.3.17)
“It is Lord Maheshwara who transcends the syllable Om which is uttered at the commencement of the recital of the Vedas, which is well established in the vEdAnta (Upanishads) and which is dissolved in the primal cause during contemplation”.
The above verse states that Lord Shiva is beyond the Omkara that is recited before studying Vedas and also is established in the knowledge of Upanishads. But the above verse from Yajurveda is not as easy in meaning as it looks like, so I would like to elaborate its real meaning here. Yajurveda (IV:5:8:h) states about Lord Shiva as, “nama stArAya cha”, which means, “Salutations to Lord Rudra who is the Pranava Mantra – OM”. And same Yajurveda’s Taittiriya Aranyaka quoted above states that Rudra transcends Omkara. Do these two verses contradict? Definitely not! Omkara has two aspects, it is ‘nAda-brahma’ when it is seen in its ‘Ahata’ aspect; and when it is realized in its ‘anAhata’ aspect it is one with the supreme Brahman. Sound has two forms, ‘Ahata (which is audible)’ and ‘anAhata (which transcends the attribute of sound)’. Omkara in Ahata form when culminates in silence it becomes Omkara in Anahata. Silence is Brahman. Chanting (Japa) in silence mode (Anahata) is termed, “Ajapa”. This concept of Ajapa and Anahata is explained in Yoga Chudamani Upanishad also.
When Sri Rudram says Rudra is Taraka mantram OM and when same Yajurveda mentions Rudra as transcending OM then there is no contradiction since both of these statements are referring Rudra as beings ame as the anAhata omkara (omkara in silence) which means they mean to imply that Rudra is verily the Brahman.
But that doesn’t mean Ahata nAda (Omkara) is not the form of Rudra. Ahata-omkAra takes its birth from anAhata-Omkara alone. Both are lord Rudra’s forms one is parA form (silent one) and another is apara form (loud one). In fact, when Rudra imparts the Taraka Mantram (OM) in the ears of dying people in Varanasi, he spells the Ahata-Omkara in the ears of the people, and merges the Jiva within himself (the Atman which is Moksham). This means, the Ahata-nAdam of Omkara takes one towards the anAhata-nAdam which is Omkara in silence which is identical to Brahman and has nothing superior than that stage. In other words, sabda-brahman leads you towards shuddha-brahman, and both these forms are the forms of Maheshwara alone. Therefore he is the one without a second; he is the supreme Brahman in nirguna aspect as well as the saguna Brahman also.
Therefore we can understand from above analysis that Silence is the state of Brahman and that Brahman is Shiva alone, and it is again Shiva who is the Guru Dakshinamurty who teaches about himself, through the mode of supreme Silence which is again the state of Brahman. Isn’t it so beautiful that words find themselves insufficient to describe? That’s the essence of Dakshinamurty!
In normal circumstances here I am expected to end this analysis of Silence. However, I fully understand that there would be some people who would be inquisitive to know how silence (speechlessness) can produce sound (speech or vAk)? How vAk terminated in silence becomes Brahman? How speech is produced? On what foundation does speech (vAk) stand? Is vAk an independent entity or it is supported by some other entity?
To clarify all such questions I would like to extend this analysis on “vAk (speech) and silence” to some more pages. Silence being same as Brahman is a very vast concept and hence let me analyze it in detail. This analysis is a bit complex hence one need to pay utmost attention while reading the logical correlations.
3.1 chatvArI vAk and lord Shiva
Rig Veda while talking about ‘chatvAri vAk’, states that vAk (Speech) has four parts of which only a quarter is all what we hear and speak. Three fourths are still non-entity to the human ear. Only learned seers and Yogis who have internalized their vision can see and grasp the unmanifest portion of sound.
“catvāri vāk parimitā padāni tāni vidurbrāhmaṇā ye manīṣiṇaḥ |
ghuhā trīṇi nihitā neṅghayanti turīyaṃ vāco manuṣyā vadanti |” (Rig Veda 1:164:45)
“Speech hath been measured out in four divisions; the Brahmans who have understanding know them. Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division”.
The Ahata-shabdam (struck note or heard sound) is inferior, while the anAhata-shabdam (un-struck note or unheard sound) is limitless. The heard sound manifests in the visible universe which is limited, whereas the unheard or unmanifest sound indicates the infinite, limitless state of Brahman. This concept has been nicely presented in Shukla Yajurveda as quoted below.
“pratiśrútkāyā artanáṃ gʰóṣāya bʰaṣám ántāya bahuvādínam anantā́ya mū́kam̐ |” (Shukla Yajurveda-Vajasaneyi-Samhita: 30:19)
“For Echo a reviler; for Noise a snarler; for End a very talkative man; for Endless a mute;”
What are the four categories of vAk termed as? Answer is given in Shruti itself saying that the gross form of speech (viz. vaikharI) blossoms after passing through three stages as follows.
“paraayaama~Nkuriibhuuya pashyantaa.n dvidaliikR^itaa | madhyamaayaaM mukulitaa vaikharyaa.n vikasiikR^itaa | puurva.n yathoditaa yaa vaagvilomenaastagaa bhavet.h |” (Yoga Kundalini Upanishad 18(b)-19)
“That Vak (power of speech) which sprouts in Para, gives forth two leaves in Pashyanti; buds forth in Madhyama and blossoms in Vaikhari – that Vak which has before been described, reaches the stage of the absorption of sound, reversing the above order (viz., beginning with Vaikhari, etc.,)”.
In Lalita Sahasranama Stotram which is a hymn to goddess Tripurasundari and is present in Brahmanda Purana the verse no. 81 describes her presence in the fourfold form of speech as “parApratyak chitIrUpA pashyantI paradEvatA | madHyamA vaikHarIrUpA bHakta mAnasa hamsikA”.
The great seer Acharya bhAskararAyA in his commentary on Lalita Sahasranama Stotram elaborates these attributes of vAk. The below extract has been taken from his commentary ‘Soubhagyabhaskara’ [translated by A. K. Sastri, page 202] where Bhaskararaya explains the 306th name of Lalita which is “parA“ as follows.
“In the mUlAdhAra in the body the air (prANa) first appears; that prANa accompanied by the effort of a person desirous to speak, produces the all pervading shabdabrahman which is the kArANAbindu, when it is manifested, remaining motionless (nispanda) in its own place, is called parA speech“.
Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “The same sabdabrahman, produced by the same prANa proceeding as far as the navel (near svAdhishthAna chakra), joined with the reasoning, intellect (manas) possessing the nature of the manifested kAryabindu with simple motion (sAmAnyaspanda) is named pasHyantI speech”.
Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “Next the same shabdabrahman, produced by the same air proceeding as far as the heart (anAhata chakra), joined with the determining understanding (buddhi) in the manifested nAdA, endowed with special (visHesHaspanda) is called madHyamA speech”.
Sri bhAskararAyA explains, “Next the same shabdabrahman produced by the same air proceeding as far as the mouth, developed in the throat (vishuddhi chakra), possessing the nature of the manifested bIja with the universal motion (spasHtatara) is called vaikHarI speech”.
Sri Sayanacharya in his commentary on chatvArI vAk from Rig Veda (1:164:45), states the following which is given in Sri T V Kapali Sastri’s book “Light on the Ancients”.
“tEsHu madnyE trINi parAdinI guha nihitAni hrdayatarvartittvat | turIyaM tu padam vaikHarIsanjanakaM manusHyah sarvE vadantI”
“Of these, the three steps viz. Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama are placed in the secrecy because of their being inside the heart, but the fourth step, viz. Vaikhari, is the one all men speak”.
Sri Swami Sivananda in the article titled “The Power of Thought” states about the chatvAri vAk as follows:
“Language is different, but thought is one. Mental image is the same in all. Sound has got four forms, viz., Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Vaikhari is the ordinary speech. It differs in different countries. But Para, Pasyanti and Madhyama are one and the same. Para is undifferentiated sound that lies dormant in Brahman”.
So, from all these details we can draw the following understanding of the fourfold speech. Speech originates from mUlAdhAra chakra but remains unheard till it issues out of the throat (Vishuddha chakra). The speech which is heard viz. Vaikhari may differ from language to language and country to country; however the thoughts which take birth within us before they are put into speech, those thoughts remain always same for every human being. For instance, when I see water, I would call it in Telugu as “neeLLu / neeru”; a Hindi speaking friend of mine would call it as “paani / jal”, a Sanskrit scholar would call it as “jalam / aapah”, an English man would call it as “water”, and an Arabic man would call it as “aab”. The Vaikhari aspect differs from one language to another, but the mental images what we all people would have about water in our mind and conscience would remain same without any differentiation. Therefore the three internal states of speech viz. parA, pashyantI, and madhyamA are one and the same and are differentiated only based on their location within our body and their association with the attributes of mind; where the purest form viz. parA is unassociated with any attributes of mind and hence it is identical with Brahman.
Therefore, finally we can consider only two pure states of speech. parA which is identical with Brahman or Kundalini Shakti in mUlAdharA, and the vaikharI which is the final transformed gross audible form. Of course we have analyzed the forms of vAk (speech), and again we have reached a point where we can put an end to this discussion. However, I am not ready to end it here since it would lead us to end this analysis in duality. I would end this analysis at that juncture where one would be able to clearly see the non-duality (Advaitam) between vAk and its forms and Rudra. So, let’s continue it further.
Let us focus only on parA (silence implying Brahman) and vaikHarI (audible sound). Let’s ignore the intermediary transformations / states for now. Let’s analyze how speech gets produced. Let me ask you to do a practical exercise to understand this concept what I’m going to explain. Exhale all your breath out to that extent where you feel there is no scope of further emptying your lungs with air. At that juncture, try to call your name aloud. Can you hear your voice? Can you utter your name out? Answer is No, not at all! Now, take very minimum amount of breath in, and try to call out your name. What do you observe? Even with the slightest amount of air you are able to pronounce your name out. This means, it is the breaths (prANa-s) that are the foundation for speech (vAk) to survive. Whatever conclusion we have drawn with this exercise, same has been theoretically explained in the following Upanishad verses.
Upanishad states the superiority of Prana (life breaths) over vAk (Speech) and other senses in a story kind of narration. It says there was a competition among the senses on the matter of superiority. Prajapati put them to Test and as per the rules first vAk (speech) left the body and went out and returned back to ask whether the other senses were able to survive, they all survived. But when at last Prana (life-breath) was about to depart, all other senses started getting uprooted and then all senses including vAk accepted Prana as their lord.
“te ha prANAH prajApatiM pitarametyochurbhagavanko naH | shreShTha iti tAnhovAcha yasminva utkrAnte sharIraM | pApiShThataramiva dR^ishyeta sa vaH shreShTha iti |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-7)
“Those senses approached the father Prajapati and said to him, ‘Revered sir, who is the best amongst us?’ He replied, ‘He amongst you is the best on whose departure the body would appear its worst, as it were’.”
“sA ha vAguchchakrAma sA saMvatsaraM proShya paryetyovAcha | kathamashakatarte majjIvitumiti yathA kalA avadantaH | prANantaH prANena pashyantashchakShuShA shR^iNvantaH shrotreNa | dhyAyanto manasaivamiti pravivesha ha vAk.h |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-8)
“Speech departed. Staying a year out, it came back and asked, ‘How have you been able to live without me?’ (The others replied,) ‘Just like the dumb, though not speaking, yet living with the breath, seeing with the eyes, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind.’ (At this) speech entered (the body)”.
“atha ha prANa ucchikramiShansa yathA suhayaH | aDvIshasha~NkUnsaMkhidedevamitarAnprANAnsamakhidattamhAbhisametyochurbhagavannedhi tvaM naH shreShTho.asi motkramIriti |” (Chandogya Upanishad V-i-12)
“Then, as the Prana was about to depart, it uprooted the other senses just as a horse of mettle would uproot the pegs to which it is tethered. They all then came to it and said, ‘O revered sir, be our lord, you are the best amongst us; do not depart from the body’”.
Therefore it is clear from above analogy and the practical what we have done, that vAk (Speech) is NOT an independent power, it depends solely on Prana to function. In fact it is the life force (breath or prANa) which emerges as speech (vAk) from the throat. So, the states parA, pasHyantI, madhyamA and vaikharI are in reality the four states of prANa alone! Now, let us see who this prANa is!
Here praNa is just a name to Atman (Bhagawan Rudra). In reality there is only one prANa (Atman) which divides itself into various prANas. Hence Atman is the prANa of all prANas. prANas are born out of Atman and hence they are called rudrAs (maruts) because Atman is verily Rudra. This is why the maruts (Rudras) are termed as the children of Rudra (Atman). The number of prANas varies based on the categorization adopted in scriptures. This is why Mundaka Upanishad says seven pranas, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says eight pranas, again in another verse same brihadaranyaka Upanishad calls them as eleven and twelve also and likewise there are variations in numbers based on the method of grouping adopted. However the fact is, it is only one prANa which assumes so many names within our body based on the function. Therefore when Upanishad mentions prANa in singular term it actually refers to Atman by that name since Atman is the prANa of prANas.
Now, this prANa (Atman) is verily Brahman as stated below.
“sa yadavochaM prANaM prapadya iti prANo vA idam sarvaM | bhUtaM yadidaM kiMcha tameva tatprApatsi |” (Chandogya Upanishad III-xv-4)
“When I said, ‘I take refuge in Prana’, (it was because) all these beings, whatsoever exist, are indeed Prana. So it was in this alone that I took refuge”.
“katama eko deva iti | prANa iti sa brahma tyadityAchakshate |” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III:9:9)
“‘Which is the one god?’ ‘The Prana (here it implies Atman which is Prana of all Pranas) is the one god; it is Brahman, which is called Tyat (that).’
Here the duality of Gods ceased to exist. All gods are the manifestations of one true god viz. prANa (Atman). The same has been expounded in Svetaswatara Upanishad as follows:
“eko hi rudro na dvitiiyaaya tasthurya imaa.nllokaaniishata iishaniibhiH | pratyaN^ janaastishhThati saJNchukochaantakaale sa.nsR^ijya vishvaa bhuvanaani gopaaH |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:02)
“Rudra is truly one; for the knowers of Brahman do not admit the existence of a second, He alone rules all the worlds by His powers. He dwells as the inner Self (Atman) of every living being. After having created all the worlds, He, their Protector, takes them back into Himself at the end of time.”
So, in the light of the above verse the below verse when read, it is clearly about lord Shiva alone.
“sarvANi ha vA imAni bhUtAni prANamevAbhisaMvishanti prANamabhyujjihate saiShA devatA prastAvamanvAyattA |” (Chandogya Upanishad I-xi-4)
“For all the beings merge in Prana (Rudra) alone and from Prana (Rudra) they arise. This is the deity belonging to the Prastava”
Now, from the above analysis we have understood that vAk (Speech) is also one of the pranas (senses) which cannot survive without prANa and it is a manifestation of the prANa (Rudra) and at the end of time like every other sense this vAk also would merge back in prANa (Rudra). Also we have understood that vAk (Speech) which has four parts is in reality the prANa which is Rudra. This Rudra who is called as prANa (Atman) is the ONLY god (Brahman) which manifests himself into the four forms of vAk (speech).
Out of the four states of vAk (speech), the parA form is verily Brahman and is represented as total silence. Therefore this is the form of Rudra who is the parA i.e., Brahman which is represented in terms of “Silence” when translated in terms of speech.
Here is a direct reference from Upanishad where Bhagawan Rudra himself states about himself being Brahman. The following verses are from Atharvashira Upanishad.
“AUM devA ha vai svarga.n lokamAya.nste rudramapR^ichChanko bhavAniti |” (Atharvasiras Upa 1)
“Om! Once upon a time the Devas resorted to the world of Bliss (Kailasa); and the Devas addressed Rudra thus, ‘who are you?’”.
“so.abravIdahamekaH prathamamAsa.n vartAmi cha | bhavishyAmi cha nAnyaH kashchinmatto vyatirikta iti |” (Atharvasiras Upa 2)
“He replied: ‘I alone was in the beginning; I am now; and will be in the future. There is none but me’.”
“so.antarAdantaraM prAvishat.h dishashchAntaraM prAvishat.h |” (Atharvasiras Upa 3)
“He spread out himself and pervaded all the quarters”.
“so.aha.n nityAnityo.aha.n vyaktAvyakto brahmAbrahmAhaM |” (Atharvasiras Upa 4)
“(He said): “I am eternal and non-eternal, I am Brahma”.
“mA.n veda sa sarvAndevAnveda sarvA.nshcha |” (Atharvasiras Upa 5)
“He who knows me knows all the Devas”.
This proves that Dakshinamurty himself is the Guru who teaches the disciples about himself alone (since he is the Brahman) through silence because Silence is the state of Brahman when measured in terms of vAk (Speech).
To be continued…
The article has been republished from author’s blog with permission.
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(This article was published by IndiaFacts in 2018)
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