Guru Dakshina for Dance Teacher: A Token of Gratitude and Respect

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Are you passionate about Bharatanatyam and have been learning this beautiful dance form at Kalakendira, the renowned Bharatanatyam dance school in Malaysia? If so, you must be familiar with the dedication and expertise of your dance teacher, who has been nurturing your talent from young and guiding you on your artistic journey. As a student, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable contribution of your dance teacher through Guru Dakshina. In this article, we will explore the significance of Guru Dakshina, its cultural roots, and how you can express your gratitude to your dance teacher.

Introduction: The Essence of Guru Dakshina

Guru Dakshina, a Sanskrit term, holds deep significance in Indian culture. It is a token of respect, gratitude, and devotion offered by a student to their teacher. In the context of Bharatanatyam, Guru Dakshina represents the acknowledgment of the immense knowledge, effort, and guidance provided by the dance teacher. It goes beyond material offerings and encompasses the heartfelt appreciation for the teacher’s invaluable contribution.

The Historical Significance of Guru Dakshina

The tradition of Guru Dakshina dates back to ancient times when disciples would offer Guru Dakshina to their masters as a gesture of gratitude. It symbolized the completion of the learning journey and the disciple’s readiness to embark on their own path. This age-old tradition exemplifies the importance of maintaining a strong student-teacher relationship and upholding the Guru-Shishya Parampara (the lineage of learning from a teacher).

Understanding the Role of a Dance Teacher

A dance teacher plays a pivotal role in a student’s Bharatanatyam journey. They are not just instructors but also mentors, guiding students in mastering the intricate dance techniques, understanding the nuances of expressions, and imbibing the rich cultural heritage associated with Bharatanatyam. Their dedication, expertise, and encouragement shape the students into proficient dancers.

Importance of Guru Dakshina in Bharatanatyam

Guru Dakshina holds great significance in the realm of Bharatanatyam. It is a tangible way for students to express their gratitude towards their dance teacher. By offering Guru Dakshina, students acknowledge the teacher’s efforts in imparting knowledge, refining their skills, and nurturing their passion for Bharatanatyam. It creates a symbiotic relationship where both the student and the teacher feel a sense of fulfillment and appreciation.

Modern Expressions of Gratitude

With changing times, the expressions of Guru Dakshina have evolved. Students now have the flexibility to choose personalized gestures of gratitude that resonate with their teacher’s preferences and interests. These gestures can include handmade gifts, artwork, or organizing a surprise event to honor the teacher’s contribution. It is the thoughtfulness behind the gesture that matters the most.

Personalized Tokens of Appreciation

When expressing gratitude through Guru Dakshina, personalized tokens of appreciation can leave a lasting impact. Students can create a scrapbook highlighting memorable moments during their learning journey, write a heartfelt letter expressing their gratitude, or compile a video montage showcasing their progress under the guidance of their dance teacher. These gestures convey not only gratitude but also the emotional bond between the student and the teacher.

Supporting the Dance School: A Collective Gesture

Guru Dakshina doesn’t have to be limited to individual offerings. As a collective gesture, students can come together and contribute to the growth and development of the dance school itself. This can be done by organizing fundraising events, volunteering for promotional activities, or even assisting in social media management. Such collective efforts not only show appreciation for the teacher but also contribute to the overall well-being of the dance school and the Bharatanatyam community.

The Spiritual Aspect of Guru Dakshina

In addition to its materialistic and emotional aspects, Guru Dakshina also holds a spiritual significance. It is believed that by offering Guru Dakshina with a pure heart, students not only express their gratitude but also receive blessings and divine guidance from their teacher. This spiritual connection strengthens the bond between the student and the teacher, creating an enriching learning experience.


Guru Dakshina is a timeless tradition that embodies the essence of respect, gratitude, and devotion towards a dance teacher. In the context of Bharatanatyam, it symbolizes the acknowledgment of the teacher’s guidance and expertise. Whether through traditional offerings or personalized gestures, Guru Dakshina serves as a bridge between the student and the teacher, fostering a deep bond and a sense of shared purpose. Remember, the most valuable Guru Dakshina is the one offered with sincerity and appreciation for the priceless knowledge and inspiration imparted by your dance teacher.

List of things for Guru Dakshina

      • Fruits: Offerings of fresh fruits symbolize abundance, nourishment, and good health. Common fruits offered include bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, and coconuts.

      • Coconut: Coconuts hold great significance in Indian rituals and traditions. They are often offered as a symbol of purity, prosperity, and divine blessings. The coconut can be offered whole or in a cracked form.

      • Flowers: Fresh flowers are a beautiful and fragrant offering in Guru Dakshina. They symbolize beauty, devotion, and the transient nature of life. Popular choices include marigolds, jasmine, roses, and lotus flowers.

      • Incense: Offering incense sticks or cones adds a fragrant element to Guru Dakshina. Incense is believed to purify the surroundings and create a serene atmosphere for spiritual practices. Sandalwood, rose, and jasmine are commonly used fragrances.

      • Camphor: Camphor is often used in religious ceremonies. It is burned as an offering, symbolizing the burning of the ego and the awakening of the divine within oneself. Offering camphor signifies the desire for spiritual transformation and enlightenment.

      • Sweets: Offering traditional Indian sweets (mithai) is a common practice in Guru Dakshina. It represents the sweetness and joy that the dance teacher brings into the student’s life. Popular sweets include laddoos, jalebis, barfis, and pedas.

      • Betel Leaves and Betel Nuts: Betel leaves (paan) and betel nuts (supari) are often offered together as a traditional gesture of respect and hospitality. They symbolize auspiciousness, good fortune, and the coming together of different elements.

      • Traditional Clothing: Presenting the teacher with traditional clothing, such as a saree or dhoti, is a way of showing respect and appreciation for their role as a mentor and guardian of tradition.

      • Any amount of money (Guru Dakshana)

    Extra Information

    It is a common practice in ancient times to offer Guru Dakshina in multiples of 11. The number 11 holds special significance in various spiritual and cultural beliefs. Here is an explanation of why the number 11 is often used:

      1. Symbolic Meaning: The number 11 is believed to represent auspiciousness, divine blessings, and spiritual growth. It is considered a sacred number that signifies alignment with higher energies and the universe.
      2. Numerological Significance: In numerology, the number 11 is considered a master number associated with intuition, spiritual awakening, and enlightenment. It is believed to carry heightened spiritual vibrations and symbolizes a deeper connection with the divine.
      3. Mythological References: In Hindu mythology, the number 11 is associated with the 11 Rudras, who are considered aspects of Lord Shiva. Offering Guru Dakshina in multiples of 11 is seen as a way of invoking the blessings and protection of these divine beings.
      4. Ritual Practices: Offering items in multiples of 11 is part of a symbolic ritual practice. It is believed that the repetition of the offering enhances the sincerity and intensity of the gesture, amplifying its spiritual significance.
      5. Traditional Customs: Some cultural customs and traditions have been passed down through generations, where the number 11 has been designated as a sacred number for Guru Dakshina. Following these customs is a way of honoring and preserving the cultural heritage associated with the practice.

      It is important to note that while offering Guru Dakshina in multiples of 11 is a traditional practice in some contexts, it may not be universally followed or mandatory. The specific customs and traditions may vary based on regional practices and individual preferences. The most important aspect of Guru Dakshina is the sincerity, gratitude, and respect with which it is offered, regardless of the numerical quantity.

      Multiples of 11

      In Hindu mythology, the 11 Rudras are considered manifestations or aspects of Lord Shiva, who is revered as one of the principal deities in Hinduism. These 11 Rudras represent different facets and forms of Lord Shiva’s divine power. While the specific names and attributes of the 11 Rudras can vary across different texts and traditions, there are common associations and characteristics attributed to them. Here are some of the commonly mentioned Rudras:

        • Aja: Aja is associated with the energy of creation and is often depicted as the unborn or the timeless one.
        • Ekapada: Ekapada represents Lord Shiva’s form with a single foot and is associated with cosmic unity and transformation.
        • Ahirbudhnya: Ahirbudhnya is connected to the serpent energy and represents the mystical and primordial aspects of Lord Shiva.
        • Aghora: Aghora is associated with fearlessness and represents the non-dual and transcendental nature of Lord Shiva.
        • Ishana: Ishana is the form of Lord Shiva associated with divine rulership, guardianship, and the direction of the northeast.
        • Bhava: Bhava represents the divine emotions and is associated with the nurturing and compassionate aspects of Lord Shiva.
        • Sarva: Sarva is connected to the all-encompassing nature of Lord Shiva and signifies his omnipresence and omnipotence.
        • Kapali: Kapali is depicted with a skull cup and represents Lord Shiva as the conqueror of death and destroyer of ignorance.
        • Pingala: Pingala represents the radiant energy of Lord Shiva and signifies his transformative and creative power.
        • Shambhu: Shambhu is associated with tranquility, peace, and harmony, representing Lord Shiva’s aspect as the source of divine bliss.
        • Trayambaka: Trayambaka is the three-eyed form of Lord Shiva, symbolizing his ability to see past, present, and future. It represents his omniscience and wisdom.

        These are some of the commonly mentioned Rudras associated with Lord Shiva. It is important to note that interpretations and variations exist within different Hindu traditions and texts. Exploring specific scriptures and religious texts dedicated to Lord Shiva can provide more detailed insights into the 11 Rudras and their significance in relation to Lord Shiva.

        The best time to offer Guru Dakshina to your dance teacher is during special occasions such as 10th Day of Navratri (Vijayadashami) or Guru Purnima. However, you can also express your gratitude through Guru Dakshina at any time when you feel inspired to do so.

        Absolutely! Guru Dakshina can take various forms, including non-monetary offerings. Handmade gifts, personalized artwork, or even volunteering your time and skills to assist your dance teacher are all meaningful expressions of gratitude.

        Guru Dakshina is  mandatory  as a gesture of gratitude and respect towards your dance teacher. It is an opportunity to express your appreciation for their guidance and the knowledge they have shared with you.

        When choosing a personalized token of appreciation, consider your dance teacher’s interests, preferences, and personality. Think about what would resonate with them the most