Just as having the right direction to succeed in life, it is also equal to follow the way of doing things in the right method and direction too for success and happiness to fill one’s life. Be it a good start of a new venture in life, be it an offering to God, be it a custom, ritual or a celebration, our Sanatana Dharma stresses upon the fact that there is a correct method of doing it, by invoking the rulers of the eight directions who are the Astadikpalas. The Ashtadikpalas or the guardians of the Eight Directions are offered salutations and invoked before any rituals and worshipped according to their importance in various rituals and customs.
Indra – The King of the celestials is the guardian of the East. He is the God of Rain and thunder and is depicted seated on his white elephant Iravat. He holds his weapon Vajra, the thunderbolt which strikes thunder and gives us rain needed for sustenance of mankind.
Varun – The Water god represents the West direction. He is seen on a crocodile going in the seas. He is the King of Seas. He holds the Paasa (noose) as his weapon and punishes those who do not repentance of their sins.
Kuber- The god of Wealth is the ruler of the North direction. He is the giver of wealth and riches. He is picturised as an overweight celestial being carried by man, symbolising that man always has the burden of unwanted weight of materialistic wealth.
Yama – The life taker, Yama rules the Southern direction. He is the representation of fire and all rituals associated with him are done positioned in the Southern area. Hence, it is advised never to put our head in the South direction while sleeping. He is depicted tiding a bull, with a Paasha in his hand.
Agni – The South Eastern direction is guarded over by Agni, the fire God. Agni is the means of all our rituals reaching God though the sacrificial fire in which we offer our ablutions. He rides a Ram and is represented with a pot shaped stomach.
Nairitti – The Goddess Niaritti rules the South Western Direction. She is a goddess of poverty and black in colour. Hence we avoid wearing black clothers, especially during auspicious and festive occasions. She is always to be kept far away and any ritual which is not done with hygiene and proper care gets attracted to her.
Vayu – The Wind God, guards the North West direction. He rides a stag and holds a waving flag which is the representation of breath and life in the mortal world. Eesany is the North East direction and is ruled by Bhagwan Shiv. The direction represents Knowledge and prosperity and is considered the most auspicious direction of all. Riding Nandi and holding a trishul in his hand, Bhagwan Shiv bestows all happiness when the rituals are done in accordance with this direction.
Directions represented by Brahma and Vishnu – The other two additional directions are the upward and the downward directions. The upward direction is represented by Brahma Ji symbolising creation of Life and the downward direction is protected by Bhagwan Vishnu who sustains the balance and preserves the universe.
Initiating the Astadikpalas for the right direction and inviting their favour and blessings in life is indeed a right direction which favours health, happiness and prosperity in life.