An Exposition on the Siddha Yoga Practice of Dakshiṇa
The cultural and spiritual traditions of India are many thousands of years old. One facet of this ancient wisdom is the deep respect and value accorded to all branches of knowledge. A student seeking instruction in any subject—such as music, art, philosophy, science, mathematics, or any craft or trade—always makes offerings to the teacher to honor the source of knowledge. This is the dharma, the duty, of any student, and is part of the natural cycle of giving and receiving that sustains the universe. This offering is known as dakshiṇa.
The Sanskrit syllable da in the word dakshiṇa means “offering and giving.” The syllable kshi means “to abide or dwell in,” and the syllable na indicates “knowledge.” Dakshiṇa, then, is an offering made by a student to the teacher, through which the student becomes established in the knowledge that has been imparted.
This dharma naturally extends to the field of spiritual knowledge. The Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, the oldest among the philosophical scriptures belonging to the Vedas, convey teachings about the disciple’s sacred duty to make offerings to the spiritual Master, the Sadguru, who imparts the highest knowledge—the knowledge of the Self. The scriptures describe how these offerings were made in many forms, such as gold, silver, cattle, grains, clothing, a plot of land, or other material goods. Each disciple offered according to their means. Many scriptural stories recount how, through a disciple’s offerings of dakshiṇa to the Guru, a divine alchemy took place: the disciple became increasingly established in the Guru’s teachings. This practice of dakshiṇa continues to the present day.
On the Siddha Yoga path, a Siddha Yogi performs many spiritual practices. Each practice has its own benefits and liberating power. One of these beautiful practices is the offering of dakshiṇa. A Siddha Yogi gives dakshiṇa to honor Shri Guru, the bestower of shaktipat initiation and the source of wisdom, guidance, grace, and blessings. Siddha Yogis recognize that by following the Siddha Yoga path, they have the good fortune to attain the four goals of life:
- dharma, right action performed for the highest purpose
- artha, material prosperity gained through dharmic means
- kama, enjoyment of the pleasures in life
- moksha, the state of liberation, union with the Divine
Therefore, Siddha Yogis offer dakshiṇa with discipline and regularity as part of their sadhana.
Dakshiṇa offered to Shri Guru is received by the SYDA Foundation, whose core purpose is to protect, preserve, and facilitate the dissemination of the Siddha Yoga teachings, and by Gurudev Siddha Peeth Trust in India. The SYDA Foundation has made it possible to offer dakshiṇa via the Siddha Yoga path website at any time, including through the Monthly Dakshiṇa Practice.
I first began my Monthly Dakshina Practice long ago, right after reading the Siddha Yoga Mission Statement: "To constantly impart the knowledge of the Self." I knew I wanted to support this mission, so my next question was, "How can I help to fulfill this mission?"
I realized that I could help by regularly donating money, or dakshina
. I filled out a Dakshina Card, and put it in the dakshina
basket at the local Center.
Later I realized I needed to contemplate this practice to make it true worship. I then began to contemplate the meaning of each of my offering before and after each donation. In time, my understanding of the spiritual significance of dakshina
has grown in my heart, and my donations have also increased. Every time I give, I feel that I go deeper inside.
Thank you, Gurumayi, for this practice of dakshina.
a Siddha Yogi from Virginia, USA
When I reread the exposition “The Siddha Yoga Practice of Dakshina
,” I focused on the etymology of the Sanskrit word dakshina.
Until now, I had not paid enough attention to the syllable kshi
, which means "to abide or dwell in." For me, that evokes the idea of abiding permanently in the same place, of belonging to a certain place. It makes me think of the idea of living in the same house, sleeping in the same place, and belonging to the same family.
When I apply these ideas to the practice of dakshina,
I connect them to the Guru’s infinite grace in holding us on the spiritual path, so that the path becomes the place where we belong and where we abide. And my spiritual practice of dakshina
is what connects me with Gurumayi’s grace—that unbounded grace which has been holding me on the Siddha Yoga path for almost twenty-five years!
a Siddha Yogi from Bologna, Italy
The practice of dakshina
not only supports me in honoring the teachings I receive from Shri Guru, but also inspires me to surrender all my actions to God. In this way, I engage myself in a graceful, nourishing cycle of selfless offering.
I no longer take the kindness and generosity that I receive for granted. I can now perceive the ever-present touch of grace in the myriad of small blessings I receive every day: a young neighbor carrying my groceries home on a rainy day, my husband placing a steaming cup of coffee next to my computer, my younger son showing up with a bunch of flowers, for no reason at all. I once wondered, "How could I repay an act of kindness?" I have found the answer in giving—
generously and unconditionally.
As a result, I truly enjoy the experience of dakshina
, a practice that has given me the opportunity to tangibly express my gratitude to the Guru for her blessings, and also opened my heart to the graceful path of giving.
a Siddha Yogi from Buenos Aires, Argentina
I am touched by the words “deep respect” at the beginning of the exposition. It gives me a new understanding of the divine alchemy that takes place with the practice of dakshina
To feel this deep respect I have to go deep within, into the silence of my heart. Acknowledging the immense value of the teachings that I receive every day brings my awareness to that place, the core of my being. There, my experience of the teachings consolidates and deepens, and then gratitude flourishes and the wish to give back arises. Knowledge flows in, gratitude flows out. In this sense, to me, the practice of dakshina
is a sacred path toward liberation. It purifies my being through recognition of the true value of the teachings.
a sevite in Shree Muktananda Ashram
I have been following the Siddha Yoga path my whole life. Because of the amazing Siddha Yoga teachings, I have learned how to get through difficult times that come up in my life and to celebrate how great my life is and how great I am.
Just as a seed needs water and sun to grow into a tree or flower and be there for years to come, I recognize it is my dharma
to care for and protect the Siddha Yoga teachings so the world can flourish under the light of these gems.
I am so happy that I know about the practice of offering dakshina
, so I can express my gratitude to Gurumayi for the amazing tools which the Siddha Yoga teachings bring to my life.
Thank you, Gurumayi!
a fourteen-year-old Siddha Yogi from Melbourne, Australia
through the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice has had a powerful effect on my life. I have learned that wealth is a gift from God and that I need to use money wisely and generously. I’ve realized that the world is supported by a blissful cycle of giving and receiving, and that when I act selfishly, I interrupt this cycle. I’ve also felt that offering dakshina
is a precious gift to myself—it supports me to connect with the bliss that is always bubbling inside.
I offer my deep and sincere thanks to Gurumayi for the wonderful changes I’ve experienced in my understanding and in my life through this practice.
a Siddha Yogi from Burnaby, Canada
As I offered dakshina
this morning, I imagined I was standing in front of the awesome statue of the Goddess Durga in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. During my prayers, I saw a beautiful flame inside me—just like the fire I remember burning next to the statue.
I am in awe and deeply grateful for the benevolent grace we are receiving on this divine path of Siddha Yoga.
a Siddha Yogi from Cologne, Germany
From the very beginning of offering monthly dakshina
more than 25 years ago, I felt I was part of a sacred circle of giving and receiving that joined me and Gurumayi. This circle has established me in an unbreakable bond of gratitude. Offering dakshina
is one of the ways I thank Gurumayi for being my Guru and for the unfathomable gift of shaktipat
a Siddha Yogi from Massachusetts, USA
I have come to experience dakshina
as offering and receiving love—an exchange between me and the Guru. The practice makes me conscious of the bounty of my blessings.
a Siddha Yogi from Florida, USA
I began a monthly dakshina
practice shortly after beginning to attend a Siddha Yoga meditation center 20 years ago. Over the years of practicing dakshina
, I have observed that my sense of self-worth has become increasingly grounded in my inner value, rather than based on my actions or possessions.
a Siddha Yogi from Colorado, USA
In my thirty years of sadhana
, the sacredness of the Guru has become ever more alive in my daily life. My Monthly Dakshina Practice has been steadily building the capacity to hold this sacredness in my heart.
The practice of dakshina
heightens my awareness of the value of Gurupurnima as a profound time, a time when my gratitude for the Sadguru unites with the gratitude of Siddha Yogis around the globe.
Thank you, Gurumayi, with all my heart!
a Siddha Yogi from Hawaii, USA
is my favorite spiritual practice.
I met Baba in 1979 at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland. During the program, we chanted Hare Rama, Hare Krishna
, led by Baba, playing the tambourine. I was swept into a deep sense of belonging, a feeling that, for the first time in my life, my heart had found a home. At that moment, everything changed: I saw before me a life of meaning and purpose, a life full of light and the potential for endless peace.
And so, I love dakshina
. This beautiful practice gives me a way to tangibly offer my gratitude for this amazing path, for its blessings and the transformations I experience every day. I am thrilled to my core every time I offer—at the Guru's chair after reciting Shri Guru Gita
, in my monthly offering, to celebrate my Gurus’ birthdays, at Gurupurnima…. The opportunities to offer are as endless as the grace I receive.
Thank you, Baba. Thank you, Bade Baba. Thank you, Gurumayi!
a Siddha Yogi from Georgia, USA
What a beautiful gift the practice of dakshina
has been for me. Through the practice of dakshina
, I have discovered the power of giving. Through giving, I have learned to open my heart and be open to receiving. Since the beginning of my practice of dakshina
, I have become more generous, compassionate, and more comfortable with myself and my interaction with the world around me.
When I think of dakshina,
I remember the prana
—the life force. Breathing in, breathing out, the most natural thing in the world, the natural exchange of receiving and giving that perpetuates life. When I offer dakshina
, I feel that I am in tune with the natural process of life.
a Siddha Yogi from Bangkok, Thailand
As I have practiced dakshina
over the years, I have always felt such gratitude for what the Guru has given me. I now find that as I practice dakshina
, I feel not only gratitude, but also so much more joy. I am more fully immersed in each moment of my life, experiencing love and enjoying the abundance and good fortune that have been given to me.
a Siddha Yogi from Texas, USA
Shortly after I participated in my first Shaktipat Intensive, the dakshina
coordinator from the local Siddha Yoga meditation center invited me to start a practice of offering dakshina
. I felt contraction in my heart as she spoke because I didn't think I had enough to offer. She encouraged me to simply begin offering, even a small amount, and I agreed to do so. Gradually over the years, I became more courageous and generous and offered more.
A few years later, while at the bank machine one day, I noticed that the familiar fear in my heart about money had disappeared. It was quite remarkable! In that moment, I understood that it was my regular practice of dakshina
that had gradually and imperceptibly removed layers of fear from my heart, making space for ease and neutrality about money. This transformation has been an unexpected and most welcome boon in my sadhana
for which I am very grateful!
a Siddha Yogi from Burnaby, Canada
Years ago, after listening to a talk about dakshina,
I realized that I had been viewing the domain of money as separate from my spiritual life. While I had always behaved practically in attending to financial matters, that practicality did not always keep me from worrying about my finances. What I learned from the talk was that the best approach for me would be to combine that practicality with a deep trust in the Guru's grace and protection.
Since then, I have practiced dakshina
steadily—as a key component of my spiritual life. I now experience dakshina
as a sacred vehicle through which I can express, day in and day out, my profound gratitude to the Guru for all of her blessings.
a Siddha Yogi from Oregon, USA