Sanaka, Sananda, Sanathana and Sanatkumara, also called as 'Kumaras', were born from the mind of Lord Brahma. When Brahma ordered them to procreate, they rejected the orders of Brahma. They were very dispassionate and not interested in material things. They began to think about the reason for existence of something called "Creation", and also the reason for their very own existence. Several questions sprang from their minds but there was none competent enough to answer their questions. They wandered for about one hundred years. The young Kumaras began to look old with grey hair as their quest for Truth intensified during the period.
The almighty and all merciful Lord Shiva who is the indweller of all beings decided to enlighten four Kumaras. He himself appeared as a sixteen year old youth under the Banyan tree. When the four elderly Sanakadi rishis first beheld the sixteen-year-old Sri Dakshinamurti sitting under the banyan tree, they were at once attracted by Him, and understood that He was the real Guru.
They approached Him, did three pradakshinas(circumambulation) around Him, prostrated before Him, sat at His Feet and began to ask shrewd and pertinent questions about the nature of reality and the means of attaining it. Because of the great compassion and fatherly love (vatsalya) which He felt for His aged disciples, the young Sri Dakshinamurti was overjoyed to see their earnestness, wisdom and maturity, and gave apt replies to each of their questions. But as He answered each consecutive question, further doubts arose in their minds and they asked further questions. Thus they continued to question Sri Dakshinamurti for a whole year, and He continued to clear their doubts through His compassionate answers. Finally, however, Sri Dakshinamurti understood that if He continued answering their questions, more doubts would arise in their minds and their ignorance (ajnana)would never end.
Therefore, suppressing even the feeling of compassion and fatherly love which was welling up within Him,He merged Himself into the Supreme Silence. Because of their great maturity (which had ripened to perfection through their year-long association with the Sadguru), as soon as Sri Dakshinamurti assumed Silence, they too automatically merged into Supreme Silence, the true state of the Self.”
By the grace of Lord Dakshinamurthy, the indweller of all, Kumaras have become free from all kinds of doubts. They have become Jnanis(enlightened). They realised that they are 'Atman' ('Self') alone. Having realized Atman(Shiva) the Kumaras freed themselves from all fetters. They said :
Om nama pranavarthaya,
Suddha jnanaika moorthaye nama,
Sri Dakshinamurthaye nama.
Gurave sara lokaanam,
Bishaje bhava roginaam,
Nidhaye sarva vidhyanam,
Sri Dakshinamurthaye nama.
"Salutations to that Dakshinamurthy, Who is the meaning of the pranava, “om”, Who is the personification of unalloyed wisdom(Jnana), Who is always Pure And who is the epitome of peace. Salutations to that Dakshinamurthy, Who is the teacher of the entire world, Who is the doctor to those afflicted by the disease of birth and death, And who is the treasure house of all knowledge."