Lord Dakshinamurti is Lord Shiva manifest as the first teacher. It is said in the Puranas that Lord Brahma, the creator, in the beginning of creation created out of his mind four progeny known as the Sanatkumaras: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara. It is said that Lord Brahma asked them to join him in the task of creation. However, they were renunciates by nature, and even at that age, possessed a keen desire to know the truth. So, they set out in the northern direction in search of truth and then performed penance. Pleased with them, Lord Shiva appeared before them as a teacher, seated under a banyan tree, facing the south, and imparted Brahma-vidya (knowledge of Brahman) to the Sanatkumaras.

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