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Parshvanatha Temple, Khajuraho, the southeast corner, with guardians Indra (E) and Agni (SE).

The Guardians of the Directions (Sanskrit: दिक्पाल, IAST: Dikpāla) are the deities who rule the specific directions of space according to Hinduism, Jainism and Vajrayāna Buddhism—especially Kālacakra. As a group of eight deities, they are called Aṣṭa-Dikpāla (अष्ट-दिक्पाल), literally meaning guardians of eight directions. They are often augmented with two extra deities for the ten directions (the two extra directions being zenith and nadir), when they are known as the Daśa-Dikpāla. In Hinduism it is traditional to represent their images on the walls and ceilings of Hindu temples. They are also often portrayed in Jain temples, with the exception that Nāga usually takes the place of Vishnu[1] in the nadir. Ancient Java and Bali Hinduism recognize Nava-Dikpāla, literally meaning guardians of nine directions, that consist of eight directions with one addition in the center. The nine guardian gods of directions is called Dewata Nawa Sanga (Nine guardian devata). The diagram of these guardian gods of directions is featured in Surya Majapahit, the emblem of Majapahit empire.

There are strong similarities between the concept of the guardians of the directions and the lore surrounding the Chinese four symbols, four ancestral spirits who are responsible for four of the cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West).[citation needed]

Directions in Hindu tradition

Brahma, Lord of the Zenith (center) with (from left) Varuna, Kubera, Yama and Indra.

Directions in Hindu tradition are called as Diśā, or Dik. There are four cardinal directions, six orthogonal directions and a total of ten directions, however infinite combinations are possible.

English Sanskrit
North Uttara, Udīcī
South Dakṣiṇa, Avācī
East Pūrva, Prācī, Prāk, Aruna
West Paścima, Pratīcī, Aparā
Northeast Īśāna
Southeast Agni
Northwest Vāyu
Southwest Nirṛta
Zenith Ūrdhva
Nadir AdhaH


In Hinduism, the guardians of the cardinal directions are called the Lokapālas (लोकपाल), or Dikpalaka.[2] Three main distinctions of Dikpalaka are recognized, being:

The Ashta-Dikpala with Brahma in the centre denoting Zenith

Aṣṭa-Dikpāla ("Guardians of Eight Directions")

Name Direction
Kubera The God of Fortune North
Yama The God of Justice and Death South
Indra The Lord of Heaven and God of the Weather, Sky, Rain, and Storms East
Varuna, God of the Seas, Oceans, and Rain West
Ishana, God of Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Time Northeast
Agni God of Fire Southeast (In the image incorrectly shown on southwest)
Vayu God of the Winds and Air Northwest
Nirṛta God of Death, Sorrow, and Decay[3][4] Southwest (In the image incorrectly shown on southeast)

Daśa-Dikpāla ("Guardians of Ten Directions")

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Besides the eight guardians, the following are added:[5][6]

Nava-Dikpāla ("Guardians of Nine Directions")

The diagram of Surya Majapahit shows the arrangements of Hindu deities each resided in main cardinal points.

(Called Dewata Nawa Sanga in ancient Java and Bali Hinduism)

See also


  1. ^ Kumar (2001), p. 17.
  2. ^ "The Lokapāla: Guardians of the Directions". Medium. September 12, 2019.Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  3. ^ Gopal (1990), p. 71.
  4. ^ Mani (1975), p. 62.
  5. ^ "About Guardians of the directions". 5 May 2020.Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  6. ^ "Guardians of The Directions".Retrieved 2023-02-20.


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