Scriptural tradition perceives the origin and accomplishment of dance, music, entire knowledge, rhetoric, Yoga, aesthetics and various other disciplines in Shiva alone. Hence, Dakshinamurti is an epithet used exclusively for Shiva. In immensely diversified Shaivite iconography the term Dakshinamurti denotes one of the Shiva’s many forms, that is, the form that represents him as the master of one skill or discipline, or of the other. Obviously, Dakshinamurti form has many manifestations related to various skills and disciplines that Lord Shiva commanded : 'Vinadhara Dakshinamurti' – expressing dance and music, 'Pushkara Dakshinamurti' – the expression of aestheticism and beauty, 'Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti' – master of rhetoric and the supreme teacher, 'Jnana Dakshinamurti' – possessed of all knowledge, 'Yoga Dakshinamurti' – one capable of controlling body and mind for the realisation of one's pure self, and the like.
This form of Shiva combines attributes of four major Dakshinamurti forms. He has been represented as holding his usual drum in his right upper hand, and a lotus, in his left, both symbolical of his Pushkara Dakshinamurti form. Shiva as drummer reveals gaiety, and the lotus represents aesthetic beauty, both the aspects of Pushkara Dakshinamurti. Shiva’s mount, Nandi, is delightfully couched on a basket-like moulded lotus – a further extension of the Pushkara Dakshinamurti iconography. The scripture held in his lower left hand denotes knowledge and hence his Jnana Dakshinamurti form, and the ‘vyakhyana-mudra’ – interpretive gesture of his lower right hand, his Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti form. Installed on a pedestal symbolic of a mountain and with one leg positioned as in meditation the image is in semi-yogic posture. More significantly, four of his disciples engaged in yogic practices around his seat suggest that Shiva is their Yoga-guru and master Yogi. One of the disciples on his right has horn on his head. This iconography suggests Shiva’s tribal and pre-Vedic links. The Apasmarapurusha is characteristic feature of Shiva’s Nataraja iconography. Here it suggests Shiva’s accomplishment as Yogic master who having subdued inertness symbolised by Apasmarapurusha in this representation has kindled his inherent spiritual energy by Yoga.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.