We have received a query from one of the reader ‘Why Sanatana Dharma called every direction by such name as पूर्व (East), पश्चिम (West), दक्षिण (South) and उत्तर (North).’ ‘Is there any specific reason for the such name or just it was called so from ancient without any reason?’
First of all, We would appreciate our reader who made us little uncomfortable and given us chance to research over it from the beginning. BTW, we have ten Directions in Sanatana Dharma called – पूर्व (East), पश्चिम (West), दक्षिण (South) and उत्तर (North), ईशान (North-East), नैऋत्य (South-West), वायव्य (North-West), आग्नेय (South-East), आकाश or उर्ध्व (Skywards), and पाताल or अधो (Downwards) and every direction is associated with one of the Dikpala (lord/master/administrator of Direction) and we have ten Dikapalas (Lord of Direction) with their Gunas (qualities) for our guidance (will discuss it later).
We don’t have so much knowledge about the all Direction yet, however, Garuda who is the lord of Birds (or King of Birds) and brother of Aruna (charioteer of Lord Surya aka Sun) and Garuda who was charioteer of Vishnu himself, the preserver of universe, had the knowledge about the four Directions with its beginning.
So, let us now post only about the four Directions and will later find out for other directions (six remaining).
(Ref- Mahabharata – Udyaga Parva – Bhagwat Yana Parva)
The discussion is between Rishi (Sage) Galawa and The Garuda, who was born in Kasyapa’s line and enhancing the glory of Vinata’s race (mother Vinata), many winged creatures, the foremost of their species, have by begetting children founded and increased a thousand dynasties of birds, all endued with nobility of blood. By his (and his lineage) acts Garuda was called as Kshatriya, while being son of a Brahmana (Kashypa).
Garuda and their lineage were worshiper of Vishnu, and Vishnu was their protector. Vishnu always dwelleth in their hearts, and Vishnu was their great refuge.
Garuda said; “O Galawa! I have received instructions from the god who is the source of all knowledge (Vishnu). Tell me. Towards which direction do you wish to go first—east, south, the western direction or the north? O foremost among brahmanas! O Galawa! Where will I go?
This is east direction where the Sun rises and illuminates all the worlds. When it is dawn, the austerities of the Sadhyas take place there. Intelligence (Buddhi) was first born in the east and from there, permeated the entire universe. Dharma’s two eyes are established there (Surya aka Sun and Chandra aka Moon).
Offerings are rendered through the mouth there and the oblations spread to all the directions. This is the gate through which the day begins its journey. It is in the east that Daksha’s Daughters gave birth to subjects. It is the direction where Kashyapa’s offspring were prospered.
यतोमूला सुराणां श्रीर्यत्र शक्रोऽभ्यषिच्यत |
सुरराज्येन विप्रर्षे देवैश्चात्र तपश्चितम् ||७||
एतस्मात्कारणाद्ब्रह्मन्पूर्वेत्येषा दिगुच्यते |
यस्मात्पूर्वतरे काले पूर्वमेषावृता सुरैः ||८||
This is the root of the prosperity of the gods and Shakra aka Indra was anointed as the king of the celestial. It was there, O regenerate Rishi, that both Indra and the gods underwent their ascetic penances. It is because of these reasons that this direction is known as Poorva (पूर्व aka the first aka beginning). And because in the earliest of times this quarter was overspread by the Suras (Gods), it is for this that it is called Poorva (East).
अत एव च पूर्वेषां पूर्वामाशामवेक्षताम् |
पूर्वकार्याणि कार्याणि दैवानि सुखमीप्सता ||९||
The entire ancient ones (aka Gods) gaze upon the eastern direction. One, who craves happiness, should perform all the divine tasks in the eastern (पूर्व) direction.
Brahma, who gives birth to the worlds, first chanted the Vedas there. To those who know about the brahman, the sun (surya) god first recited the Savitri here. The sun god bestowed the hymns of the Yajur Veda here. It was here that those gods, who had obtained the required boon, earlier drank soma at sacrifices.
The flame that bears oblations was satisfied here through objects that have the same origin as itself. It is here that Varuna descended to Patala and obtained his prosperity. It is here that the ancient Vasishtha’s birth, rise to eminence and death took place.
The first sound of “Om (ॐ)” was created here, one thousand times.
The sages who drink soma drank it near the altar here. It is here that Shakra (Indra) kills many boars and forest-dwelling beasts, as shares in the sacrifice for minor gods.
The sun rises here and in his rage, kills all ungrateful men and asuras. This is the gate to the three worlds and to heaven and happiness.
This is the eastern quarter. If you so wish, let us go there, the gate of heaven and the Indra’s adobe!!