What is dakshina?
Dakshina is a core Siddha Yoga practice in which Siddha Yogis make monetary offerings to the Guru. Dakshina is offered without specifying its use or expecting personal gain. The word dakshina also refers to the offering itself.
The practice of dakshina is grounded in the ancient wisdom of the Indian scriptures. According to the scriptures, it is a student’s dharma to honor the Guru, who imparts the highest knowledge, by giving something the student values.
As Siddha Yoga students practice dakshina with discipline and regularity, they expand their capacity to receive the Guru’s grace and teachings and become established in the knowledge imparted by the Guru.
I understand that dakshina is an offering to the Guru. In practical terms how is this managed?
The SYDA Foundation, whose core purpose is to preserve, protect, and facilitate the dissemination of the Siddha Yoga teachings, is responsible for receiving and administering dakshina offered globally by Siddha Yogis outside of India.
The charitable trust of Gurudev Siddha Peeth is responsible for receiving and administering dakshina offered by Siddha Yogis within India.
When offering dakshina, why do we specifically offer money?
When offering dakshina, a student gives something that he or she values highly. In ancient times the items of value offered as dakshina took different forms, such as grain, cattle, and silk. Today, money is a standard measure of value. It is also the form in which the SYDA Foundation and the charitable trust of Gurudev Siddha Peeth are able to receive offerings of dakshina on behalf of the Guru.
What is the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice, and how can I participate?
The purpose of the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice is to help students engage in the practice of dakshina with regularity and discipline by committing to a monthly offering. You can determine an amount to offer each month through automatic bank transfer, credit card, or by check.
If you reside outside of India, you can begin or update a Monthly Dakshina Practice in the following ways:
- Via the Siddha Yoga path website: On the homepage, click on “Giving to the Mission” in the top navigation bar. Then click on “Begin or Update a Monthly Dakshina Practice” on the left sidebar.
- By filling out a card for Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice and offering it in darshan or mailing it to the SYDA Foundation. The card is available at Siddha Yoga Ashrams, meditation centers, and chanting and meditation groups.
- By calling (+1) 845-434-2000, extension 2390, or sending a fax to the Dakshina Office of the SYDA Foundation at (+1) 845-436-2197.
If you reside in India, you can begin or update a Monthly Dakshina Practice in the following ways:
- By filling out a card for Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice and offering it in darshan or mailing it to Gurudev Siddha Peeth. You can also download a pdf file of this card from the Siddha Yoga path in India website.
- By calling Gurudev Siddha Peeth at (+91) 02522-302658 or (+91) 02522-302634, or sending a fax at (+91) 02522-302635.
When can I offer dakshina?
Dakshina can be practiced at any time. In addition to participating in the Monthly Dakshina Practice, many Siddha Yogis make offerings in honor of Siddha Yoga holidays and teaching and learning events, and during darshan in a Siddha Yoga Ashram, meditation center, or chanting and meditation group.
Many Siddha Yogis also like to offer dakshina on occasions of personal importance, such as the day they received shaktipat-diksha or a birthday. You may also choose to honor such an occasion by increasing your monthly offering of dakshina.
As someone who offers dakshina regularly, how can I deepen my experience of this practice?
You can deepen your experience of offering dakshina by cultivating your understanding of the practice, preparing for the practice, invoking grace, reflecting on your experience of the practice, and aligning the amount you offer with your priorities and means. Below are specific suggestions for ways to do this.
You can study more about the significance of this practice by reading the two expositions about the practice on the Siddha Yoga path website: An Exposition on the Siddha Yoga Practice of Dakshina and The Transformative Cycle of Giving and Receiving .
Just as you may prepare to practice meditation in a satsang by bringing your asana, you can prepare your dakshina offering before the satsang. This supports you in honoring the sacredness of your offering and giving your full attention to the practice.
When practicing dakshina, you can hold the awareness that you are making a sacred offering to the Guru.
If you are sending dakshina from home, you can honor and connect with your offering by singing one of the Siddha Yoga hymns such as Jyota se Jyota Jagao or the Shri Mahalakshmi Stotram, both of which you can find in The Nectar of Chanting book. If you use an automatic transfer for your Monthly Dakshina Practice, you can sing a hymn or offer a prayer on the day your offering is received.
After making an offering of dakshina, sit quietly to relish the effects of this practice, just as you would after chanting or meditating. This will support you to assimilate your experience. You can regularly reflect on your practice of dakshina by recalling your experiences and insights and writing about them in your journal.
Periodically revisit the amount that you offer to ensure it aligns with your current priorities and means. For example, you may be inspired to do this after receiving a raise at work or on an annual basis, such as on the occasion of Gurupurnima, or at the beginning of a new year.
I have often heard people share that they offer dakshina out of love and gratitude. If I am not experiencing these feelings, is it still okay to make the offering?
Virtues such as love and gratitude are important to cultivate in sadhana.
At the same time, it is important to perform the spiritual practices with discipline and regularity, and not to make your practice contingent upon a particular feeling or experience. A Siddha Yoga student does not chant or sit for meditation only when he or she is feeling devotion; in the same way, a student does not practice dakshina only when experiencing love and gratitude.
How can I determine the amount of my monthly offering?
You can review your finances in light of your priorities and commitment to offer dakshina. Consider your expenses and financial obligations to determine a monthly offering that is in alignment with your priorities and within your means.
For example, you might be a young adult who is graduating from school or starting your first job. You can determine an amount that is in accordance with your current budget.
Many Siddha Yogis determine the amount by offering a percentage of their income as monthly dakshina.
Reflecting on the amount to offer that is right for you is a part of establishing and strengthening a regular practice of dakshina.
What does it mean to practice dakshina with discipline and regularity?
To fully integrate the practice of dakshina into your sadhana, discipline and regularity are necessary.
Discipline in practicing dakshina means putting forth the steady self-effort to strengthen your practice. One way to do this is to study and apply the Siddha Yoga teachings about dakshina. For example, you might read the expositions on dakshina and take notes in your journal of any key insights you have for your own practice. You may wish to jot down words and phrases that stand out for you and teachings that you wish to explore further.
Discipline also includes taking the time after you practice to reflect on your experience. Reflection supports you in noticing and appreciating the benefits of your practice.
Regularity is a key part of discipline. To practice dakshina with regularity means to engage in your practice with constancy. For example, you engage regularly in the practice by committing to a monthly offering through the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice. A regular practice may also include planning and making offerings in honor of Siddha Yoga celebrations, teaching and learning events, and events of personal significance throughout the year.
As with meditation, chanting, and offering seva, when you practice dakshina with regularity and discipline, you make space for the transformative power of the practice to reveal itself and become part of the fabric of your daily life.
What is the distinction between practicing dakshina and making donations?
Dakshina is a core practice on the Siddha Yoga path and a part of Siddha Yoga sadhana and studentship. Dakshina is an offering to the Guru, and as such is given without stipulation for its use.
A donation is a financial contribution given with stipulation for a particular use within the Siddha Yoga mission. For example, Siddha Yogis and friends of the Siddha Yoga path make donations to support the specific activities and projects of the SYDA Foundation. They might also donate to support the operations of a Siddha Yoga Ashram, meditation center, or national organization.
Is practicing dakshina better than making donations?
Practicing dakshina and making donations cannot be compared, just as we don’t compare our meditation practice to helping a neighbor. Both are important, and each has its place in our lives.
What are some ways I can speak about the practice of dakshina with my children?
When you speak with your children about dakshina, you can explain the following:
- Dakshina is an offering of money to the Guru.
- In offering dakshina, Siddha Yogis honor the Guru’s grace and teachings.
- Dakshina is a spiritual practice, like chanting, meditation, and seva.
- In the practice of dakshina, we open to the presence of the Guru in our hearts through giving.
You can also share your experience of offering dakshina and what it means to you to participate in the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice.
What are some ways I can include my children in the practice of dakshina?
Children learn best from our example. They learn about dakshina when they experience the practice as a regular part of their family’s life.
Children love to give and to express their love through giving. When you practice dakshina with commitment and enthusiasm, and share this with your children, they will naturally learn about and be drawn to the practice of dakshina.
Children can be included in the practice according to their age and stage of development. Below you will find several suggestions for including your children in the practice:
- Keep an envelope on the puja at home in which the family can place dakshina offerings.
- Children may enjoy decorating the envelopes the family uses for their offerings.
- After offering dakshina at the puja at home, you can sit quietly together and share about your experiences of the practice.
- If you attend satsang in the local Siddha Yoga Ashram, meditation center, or chanting and meditation group, your child can place the envelope in the container for dakshina offerings.
- If you mail a check, they can help to prepare the envelope and put it into the mailbox.
- Young children are hands-on learners.
- A young child can learn about the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice by putting the golden heart stickers (which are sent annually by the SYDA Foundation to monthly dakshina practitioners) on a calendar and then watching for the day each month that the family’s monthly offering is sent or received.
- When offering dakshina through the Siddha Yoga path website, you may wish to include your children as you fill out the online form and click the button to make your offering.
- When you sing Jyota se Jyota Jagao or the Shri Mahalakshmi Stotram in honor of your monthly offering, your children can listen and participate.
- As a family, you can read and reflect on the story of Satyakama Jabala in The Transformative Cycle of Giving and Receiving: An Exposition on the Siddha Yoga Practice of Dakshina.
- With older children, you can read and discuss the Expositions on Dakshina and the Shares about Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice on the Siddha Yoga path website.
- Talk about dakshina, share experiences, and gather ideas with other families.