A Pair of Muktakas II

This week’s verse, another of Dr Shankar’s muktakas or free standing verses, describes Śiva, in the process of getting decked out for his evening dance performance, trying to find a suitable costume to wear. To enable those of our readers who are not so familiar with the mythology and poetic conventions to appreciate the humour here, there is a note below the stanza.


दग्धाग्नेयी किमैन्द्र्या सपदि विकलया वायवी न स्थिरसौ

वारुण्यार्द्रा न याम्यामभिलषति मनोऽमङ्गला नैर्ऋतीयम् ।

कौबेर्याढ्यानुरूपा न वहति नवतामेष योऽत्रावशेषः

सन्ध्यानृत्तार्हवासश्चयन इति वदंस्त्र्यम्बकोऽव्याद्धताशः ॥ स्रग्धरा

“Agni’s direction is charred.

Indra’s is no use now that it has lost its sheen,

and Vāyu’s keeps slipping off.

Varuṇa’s direction is soaking wet.

I have no desire for Yama’s,

and Nirṛti’s will bring me bad luck.

Kubera’s is fit for the rich alone.

And this one here, my direction, is hardly new.”

Thus muses Śiva as he tries to pick a robe for his evening dance,

ending up direction-less.

May he bless you.


Śiva is known as digambara, he who wears a direction (diś) for a robe (ambara).  The eight directions are presided over by eight deities. Agni, Fire, is in the South-East; and Indra the East. Vāyu, Wind, is in North-West; and Varuṇa, lord of the ocean, is in the West.  Yama, Śiva’s enemy, dwells in the South; while Naiṛtī is an asura who lives in the South-West.  Kubera, god of wealth, is in the North; and Śiva himself presides over the North-East.

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