What is Dakshina?

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Dakshina Definition

The Sanskrit terminology for the word Dakshina refers to a gift or an offering that is most often given to a guru or priest. This tradition has been a part of Hindu culture for many years. All living things must give Dakshina as it is part of the universal cycle of giving and receiving.

Throughout the years, many Buddhist teachings about Dakshina are also referred to as a donation to your spiritual guide or teacher.

In many Hindu traditions, Dakshina also represents the goddess of giving who has the power to bestow blessings upon those who have been charitable. This goddess is sometimes referred to as Lakshmi, who is a representation of wealth and good fortune. 

cows with ornamental hindu dress, prepared as an offering of dakshina

Dakshina Deep Dive:

Many centuries ago, Dakshina was typically the reserved payment to present to priests for services of spiritual growth and teachings. A cow was usually offered as payment to the priest or guru as payment at the end of your spiritual schooling.

Now, it is acceptable to provide priests with gifts in the forms of food, cash, or other services for Dakshina. This altruistic process is a way to recognize the priest or guru as you show respect and express your gratitude for their teachings.

Fast forward to today, some places still participate in the formal expression of Dakshina towards your spiritual teacher. In other areas, Dakshina is remembered through the celebration of International Yoga day and by the acknowledgment of their yoga teachers and guides. 

Since Dakshina can also be translated to mean down or south, it stands to represent the time of year when the sun begins its southern journey, known as the summer solstice. Dakshina is mainly about showing gratitude to others, but especially to those who have helped guide you in your spiritual growth or journey.

a man in an orange robe with his palms together and his eyes closed

Dakshina In Your Life

Expressing Dakshina in your life daily can be a simple practice that can offer a variety of benefits to your physical and mental well-being. It has been proven that showing thankfulness can not only cause overall satisfaction in your life but can also fight against depression and stress. 

You can incorporate Dakshina into your daily yoga practice through focused intention and meditation. Upper body opening asanas are a powerful physical vessel through which you can meditate on Dakshina.

Any asanas or poses that work to open your throat and heart chakras can help you to express Dakshina. Examples are Cobra, Camel, Seal, Upward Boat, and Garland Pose.

Some yogis will supercharge their Dakshina by focusing on their gratitude meditation or mantra while holding one of the mentioned asanas. The next time you are on your mat, consider the mantra, “To the people in my life who make me smile, support me, and bring me joy. A big thank you.” Using extra focus while you visualize who and what you are grateful for will increase the power of your gratitude Dakshina practice.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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John McDonald is a writer and creative. He enjoys spending his time out in nature, staying active, learning about the unknown, and laughing.

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