Guru Purnima (Sanskrit: गुरु पूर्णिमा) is an Indian festival dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers. This festival is traditionally celebrated by Indians to pay respect to teachers and express their gratitude. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Ashadh (June–July) of the Shaka Samvat, which is the Indian National Calendar and the Hindu Calendar.
The word Guru is derived from two Sanskrit roots, gu and ru. The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru stands for the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of our ignorance. Gurus are the most necessary part of our life.
On this day, disciples offer Puja (worship) or pay respect to their Guru (spiritual guide). In addition to having religious importance, this festival is of great significance for Indian academicians and scholars.
Hindus attach supreme importance to Spiritual Gurus. Gurus are equated with God and are always considered as a bridge between the individual and the Immortal. The moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun and glorifies it – similarly, all disciples dazzle by gaining from their Gurus.
Several Hindus celebrate this day in honour of the great sage Vyasa, who is considered to be one of the greatest gurus in ancient Hindu philosophy and a symbol of the Guru-shishya tradition. Vyasa was believed to have been born on this day, and also to have started writing the Brahma Sutras on Ashadha sudha padyami, which ends on this day. Their recitation organized on this day, is dedicated to him. This day is also known as Vyasa Purnima.
Veda Vyasa did yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies. He compiled all the Vedic hymns existing during his time, divided them into four parts based on their use in the sacrificial rites, and taught them to his four main shishyas (disciples). It was this dividing and editing that earned him the title ‘Vyasa’ (vyas = to edit, to divide). He divided the Veda into four parts: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa
“The Guru's form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation”.
In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a God, he is seen as the Adiyogi or the first yogi. Guru Purnima is that full moon day when the first Yogi transformed himself into the Adi Guru – the first Guru. Over 15,000 years ago, when the solstice had shifted from the summer solstice to the winter – i.e when the Sun’s run with relation to this planet shifted from the northern run to the southern run, known as Uttarayana and Dakshinayana; on that day, Adiyogi looked at the Saptarishis and saw that they had become shining receptacles of knowing. He observed them closely and when the next full moon rose, he decided to become a Guru. That full moon day is known as Guru Purnima. He turned south and the transmission of yogic science to the seven disciples began.
Adi Guru made himself a bridge between a simple piece of creation and the source of creation. He said, “If you walk this, there will be no distinction between you and that which you refer to as the creator.” The journey is from creation to the creator. When Adiyogi spoke, he was not speaking philosophy, religion, or dogma. He was speaking about a science, a scientific method through which we go beyond the boundaries that nature has set upon human life. Every boundary that we impose has initially the purpose of protection. We build an enclosure around our house for protection. However, once we become unaware as to the reason for setting up these boundaries, these boundaries of self-preservation also become boundaries of self-imprisonment. These limitations are not of any one form. They have taken on so many complex forms. The moment we feel confinement, our sufferings are innumerable.
Shiva’s work was to make us aware by some means that would allow us to transcend these boundaries – tools that would permit us to keep the barriers to the degree that they serve their purpose and make them disappear when we do not want them.
It is on this day, for the very first time in humanity’s history, that human beings were reminded they do not have a fixed life. If they are willing to make every effort, every door in the existence is open. Hence, this day is the most significant day for humankind. Guru Purnima is one of the most important festivals in our Country.
Adiyogi gave the idea that a human being can progress beyond his present scope of existence; and he provided the tools to make it a reality. Thus, the most valued idea that has entered the human mind is that man can advance beyond his present restrictions and transcend into a completely different facet of experience and existence in reality.
To emphasize the deeper significance of the Sanskrit term Guru, Kabir said: “If all the land were turned to paper and all the seas turned to ink, and all the forests into pens to write with, they would still not suffice to describe the greatness of the Guru”.
Till recently, people celebrated Guru Purnima irrespective of caste or creed because in this country, the most important aspect was not wealth or money. Knowledge or knowing was considered the highest value. A Teacher or Guru was considered the highest entity in Society because knowing is the most important aspect. But then for some reason, we have chosen to celebrate ignorance instead of knowing. Guru Purnima has lost its significance, although it is celebrated in several parts of India with traditional fervour.
Anup Y. Attavar
B.E. Mech. [COEP], P.G.D. – International Trade [IIFT, New Delhi]
Alma Ma’ter - St. Joseph High School, Pashan, Pune, India [Estd 1962]
Alumnus – Loyola High School, Pune, India [Estd 1961]
Alumnus – Fergusson College, Pune, India [Estd 1885]
Alumnus – College of Engineering (COEP) Pune [Estd 1854]
Alumnus – Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi [IIFT – founded by
Govt. of India (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) Estd 1963]
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