^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



If none of the Deities [Different Forms of God] appeals to you, then you  can meditate on the Supreme Being as the light within your being and repeat 'Om' which is the Universal name of God. Please you follow other common procedures.

Sri Ramakrishna explains about Formless Meditation: 
“There are two kinds of meditation, one on the formless God and the other on God with form. But meditation on the formless God is extremely difficult. In that meditation you must wipe out all that you see or hear. You contemplate only on the nature of your inner self. While practicing this form of meditation one directs one’s look to the forehead. It is meditation on the nature of one’s one inner self after negating the world, following the Vedantic method of Neti, Neti- Not I, Not I. When I meditated during my Sadhana, I used to think of the unflickering flame of a lamp set in a windless place.

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The aspirant can imagine himself or herself as a –
1.Fish swimming in one indivisible ocean of Existence- Knowledge- Bliss:
i.Visiting Sri Ramkrishna, oneday a Brahma Devotee asked, "Sir, how do you feel in samadhi?" He replied, "I feel like a fish released from a pot into water of the Ganga." 
[Source: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna]

ii.Once Sri Ramakrishna took Mahendra Nath Gupta [M.], the author of 'the Gospel of Sri Ramakrisha' to a lake to teach him how to meditate on the formless Brahman. Fearlessly fish swam  in the water and joyfully sported there as nobody  was allowed to catch them. He told M.: "Look at the fish. Meditating on the formless God is like swimming joyfully like these fish in the ocean of Bliss and Consciousness."
[Source: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna]

2. Pitcher fully immersed in water- water inside and outside:
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Sometimes I considered my self to be a pitcher immersed in the water of that indivisible Satchidhanada which pervaded me through and through." 
Source: Sri Ramakrishna and his Divine Play

3. Bird flying in the infinite sky:
"Every soul is a young eagle soaring higher ad higher, gathering more and more strength, till it reaches the Glorious Sun (God) [Source: Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda]

4. Point of self- conscious light immersed in one indivisible ocean of Light.

a) Sri Ramakrishna's  Spiritual Experience: 
Once Sri Ramakrishna visited Devendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore said him, " This universe is like a chandelier and each living being is a light in it. Sri Ramakrishna also told his spiritual experience: "Once meditating in the Panchavati, I too had a vision like that."
SOURCE"The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna"

b) Swami Vivekananda in Practiacl Spirituality told about individual self:
"Man is an infinite circle whose circumference is nowhere, but the centre is located in one spot; and God is an infinite circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is everywhereIt is important that the aspirant has to take formless meditation by following the below steps. Sri Ramakrishna used to insist that a shooter should aim at a fixed target before attempting to shoot a flying object. [ C.W  of Swami Vivekanada]

1. With form and with attributes;
2. Without form and with attributes;
3. Without form and without attributes





It was Sunday afternoon when M. came on his third visit to the Master.  He had been profoundly impressed by his first two visits to this wonderful man.  He had been thinking of the Master constantly, and of the utterly simple way he explained the deep truths of the spiritual life.  Never before had he met such a man.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch.  The room was filled with devotees,3  who had taken advantage of the holiday to come to see the Master.  M. had not yet become acquainted with any of them; so he took his seat in a corner.  The Master smiled as he talked with the devotees.


He addressed his words particularly to a young man of nineteen, named Narendranath, who was a college student and frequented the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.  His eyes were bright, his words were full of spirit, and he had the look of a lover of God.

How the spiritually minded should look upon the worldly

M. guessed that the conversation was about worldly men, who look down on those who aspire to spiritual things.  The Master was talking about the great number of such people in the world, and about how to deal with them.

MASTER (to Narendra): "How do you feel about it? Worldly people say all kinds of things about the spiritually minded.  But look here! When an elephant moves along the street, any number of curs and other small animals may bark and cry after it; but the elephant doesn't even look back at them.  If people speak ill of you, what will you think of them?"

NARENDRA: "I shall think that dogs are barking at me."

God in every being

MASTER (Smiling): "Oh, no! You mustn't go that far, my child! (Laughter).  God dwells in all beings.  But you may be intimate only with good people; you must keep away from the evil-minded.  God is even in the tiger; but you cannot embrace the tiger on that account.  (Laughter).  You may say, 'Why run away from a tiger, which is also a manifestation of God?' The answer to that is: 'Those who tell you to run away are also manifestations of God - and why shouldn't you listen to them?'

Parable of the "elephant God"

"Let me tell you a story.  In a forest there lived a holy man who had many disciples.  One day he taught them to see God in all beings and, knowing this, to bow low before them all.  A disciple went to the forest to gather wood for the sacrificial fire.  Suddenly he heard an outcry: 'Get out of the way! A mad elephant is coming!' All but the disciple of the holy man took to their heels.  He reasoned that the elephant was also God in another form.  Then why should he run away from it? He stood still, bowed before the animal, and began to sing its praises.  The mahut of the elephant was shouting: 'Run away! Run away!' But the disciple didn't move.  The animal seized him with its trunk, cast him to one side, and went on its way.  Hurt and bruised, the disciple lay unconscious on the ground.  Hearing what had happened, his teacher and his brother disciples came to him and carried him to the hermitage.  With the help of some medicine he soon regained consciousness.  Someone asked him, 'You knew the elephant was coming - why didn't you leave the place?' 'But', he said, 'our teacher has told us that God Himself has taken all these forms, of animals as well as men.  Therefore, thinking it was only the elephant God that was coming, I didn't run away.' At this the teacher said: 'Yes, my child, it is true that the elephant God was coming; but the mahut God forbade you to stay there.  Since all are manifestations of God, why didn't you trust the mahut's words? You should have heeded the words of the mahut God.' (Laughter)

"It is said in the scriptures that water is a form of God.  But some water is fit to be used for worship, some water for washing the face, and some only for washing plates or dirty linen.  This last sort cannot be used for drinking or for a holy purpose.  In like manner, God undoubtedly dwells in the hearts of all - holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous; but a man should not have dealings with the unholy, the wicked, the impure.  He must not be intimate with them.  With some of them he may exchange words, but with others he shouldn't go even that far.  He should keep aloof from such people."

How to deal with the wicked

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, if a wicked man is about to do harm, or actually does so, should we keep quiet then?"

MASTER: "A man living in society should make a show of tamas to protect himself from evil-minded people.  But he should not harm anybody in anticipation of harm likely to be done him.

Parable of the snake

"Listen to a story.  Some cowherd boys used to tend their cows in a meadow where a terrible poisonous snake lived.  Everyone was on the alert for fear of it.  One day a brahmachari was going along the meadow.  The boys ran to him and said: 'Revered sir, please don't go that way.  A venomous snake lives over there.' 'What of it, my good children?' said the brahmachari.  'I am not afraid of the snake.  I know some mantras.' So saying, he continued on his way along the meadow.  But the cowherd boys, being afraid, did not accompany him.  In the mean time the snake moved swiftly toward him with upraised hood.  As soon as it came near, he recited a mantra, and the snake lay at his feet like an earthworm.  The brahmachari said: 'Look here.  Why do you go about doing harm? Come, I will give you a holy word.  By repeating it you will learn to love God.  Ultimately you will realize Him and so get rid of your violent nature.' Saying this, he taught the snake a holy word and initiated him into spiritual life.  The snake bowed before the teacher and said, 'Revered sir, how shall I practise spiritual discipline?' 'Repeat that sacred word', said the teacher, 'and do no harm to anybody'.  As he was about to depart, the brahmachari said, 'I shall see you again.'

"Some days passed and the cowherd boys noticed that the snake would not bite.  They threw stones at it.  Still it showed no anger; it behaved as if it were an earthworm.  One day one of the boys came close to it, caught it by the tail, and, whirling it round and round, dashed it again and again on the ground and threw it away.  The snake vomited blood and became unconscious.  It was stunned.  It could not move.  So, thinking it dead, the boys went their way.

"Late at night the snake regained consciousness.  Slowly and with great difficulty it dragged itself into its hole; its bones were broken and it could scarcely move.  Many days passed.  The snake became a mere skeleton covered with a skin.  Now and then, at night, it would come out in search of food.  For fear of the boys it would not leave its hole during the day-time.  Since receiving the sacred word from the teacher, it had given up doing harm to others.  It maintained its life on dirt, leaves, or the fruit that dropped from the trees.

"About a year later the brahmachari came that way again and asked after the snake.  The cowherd boys told him that it was dead.  But he couldn't believe them.  He knew that the snake would not die before attaining the fruit of the holy word with which it had been initiated.  He found his way to the place and, searching here and there, called it by the name he had given it.  Hearing the teacher's voice, it came out of its hole and bowed before him with great reverence.  'How are you?' asked the brahmachari.  'I am well, sir', replied the snake.  'But', the teacher asked, 'why are you so thin?' The snake replied: 'Revered sir, you ordered me not to harm any body.  So I have been living only on leaves and fruit.  Perhaps that has made me thinner.'

"The snake had developed the quality of sattva; it could not be angry with anyone.  It had totally forgotten that the cowherd boys had almost killed it.

"The brahmachari said: 'It can't be mere want of food that has reduced you to this state.  There must be some other reason.  Think a little.' Then the snake remembered that the boys had dashed it against the ground.  It said: 'Yes, revered sir, now I remember.  The boys one day dashed me violently against the ground.  They are ignorant, after all.  They didn't realize what a great change had come over my mind.  How could they know I wouldn't bite or harm anyone?' The brahmachari exclaimed: 'What a shame! You are such a fool! You don't know how to protect yourself.  I asked you not to bite, but I didn't forbid you to hiss.  Why didn't you scare them by hissing?'

"So you must hiss at wicked people.  You must frighten them lest they should do you harm.  But never inject your venom into them.  One must not injure others.

"In this creation of God there is a variety of things: men, animals, trees, plants.  Among the animals some are good, some bad.  There are ferocious animals like the tiger.  Some trees bear fruit sweet as nectar, and others bear fruit that is poisonous.  Likewise, among human beings, there are the good and the wicked, the holy and the unholy.  There are some who are devoted to God, and others who are attached to the world.

Four Classes of Men:

"Men may be divided into four classes: those bound by the fetters of the world, the seekers after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free.

"Among the ever-free we may count sages like Narada.  They live in the world for the good of others, to teach men spiritual truth.

"Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God.  Not even by mistake do they think of God.

"The seekers after liberation want to free themselves from attachment to the world.  Some of them succeed and others do not.

"The liberated souls, such as the sadhus and mahatmas, are not entangled in the world, in 'woman and gold'.  Their minds are free from worldliness.  Besides, they always meditate on the Lotus Feet of God.

"Suppose a net has been cast into a lake to catch fish.  Some fish are so clever that they are never caught in the net.  They are like the ever-free.  But most of the fish are entangled in the net.  Some of them try to free themselves from it, and they are like those who seek liberation.  But not all the fish that struggle succeed.  A very few do jump out of the net, making a big splash in the water.  Then the fishermen shout, 'Look! There goes a big one!' But most of the fish caught in the net cannot escape, nor do they make any effort to get out.  On the contrary, they burrow into the mud with the net in their mouths and lie there quietly, thinking, 'We need not fear any more; we are quite safe here.' But the poor things do not know that the fishermen will drag them out with the net.  These are like the men bound to the world.

"The bound souls are tied to the world by the fetters of 'woman and gold'.  They are bound hand and foot.  Thinking that 'woman and gold' will make them happy and give them security, they do not realize that it will lead them to annihilation.  When a man thus bound to the world is about to die, his wife asks, 'You are about to go; but what have you done for me?' Again, such is his attachment to the things of the world that, when he sees the lamp burning brightly, he says: 'Dim the light.  Too much oil is being used.' And he is on his death-bed!

"The bound souls never think of God.  If they get any leisure they indulge in idle gossip and foolish talk, or they engage in fruitless work.  If you ask one of them the reason, he answers, 'Oh, I cannot keep still; so I am making a hedge.' When time hangs heavy on their hands they perhaps start playing cards."

There was deep silence in the room.

Redeeming power of faith

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, is there no help, then, for such a worldly person?"

MASTER: "Certainly there is.  From time to time he should live in the company of holy men, and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God.  Furthermore, he should practise discrimination and pray to God, 'Give me faith and devotion.' Once a person has faith he has achieved everything.  There is nothing greater than faith.

(To Kedar) "You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith.  It is said in the purana that Rāma, who was God Himself - the embodiment of Absolute Brahman - had to build a bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon.  But Hanuman, trusting in Rama's name, cleared the sea in one jump and reached the other side.  He had no need of a bridge.  (All laugh)

"Once a man was about to cross the sea.  Bibhishana wrote Rama's name on a leaf, tied it in a corner of the man's wearing-cloth, and said to him: 'Don't be afraid.  Have faith and walk on the water.  But look here - the moment you lose faith you will be drowned.'

The man was walking easily on the water.  Suddenly he had an intense desire to see what was tied in his cloth.  He opened it and found only a leaf with the name of Rāma written on it.  'What is this?' he thought.  'Just the name of Rāma!' As soon as doubt entered his mind he sank under the water. 

    "If a man has faith in God, then even if he has committed the most heinous sins - such as killing a cow, a brahmin, or a woman - he will certainly be saved through his faith.  Let him only say to God, 'O Lord, I Will not repeat such an action', and he need not be afraid of anything."

When he had said this, the Master sang:

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name,
How canst Thou then, O Blessed One,
Withhold from me deliverance,
Wretched though I may be?
1 may have stolen a drink of wine, or killed a child unborn,
Or slain a woman or a cow,
Or even caused a brahmin's death;
But, though it all be true,
Nothing of this can make me feel the least uneasiness;
For through the power of Thy sweet name
My wretched soul may still aspire 
Even to Brahmanhood.

Parable of the Homa Bird:
Pointing to Narendra, the Master said: "You all see this boy.  He behaves that way here.  A naughty boy seems very gentle when with his father.  But he is quite another person when he plays in the chandni.  Narendra and people of his type belong to the class of the ever-free.  They are never entangled in the world.  When they grow a little older they feel the awakening of inner consciousness and go directly toward God.  They come to the world only to teach others.  They never care for anything of the world.  They are never attached to 'woman and gold'.

"The Vedas speak of the homa bird.  It lives high up in the sky and there it lays its egg.  As soon as the egg is laid it begins to fall; but it is so high up that it continues to fall for many days.  As it falls it hatches, and the chick falls.  As the chick falls its eyes open; it grows wings.  As soon as its eyes open, it realizes that it is falling and will be dashed to pieces on touching the earth.  Then it at once shoots up toward the mother bird high in the sky."

At this point Narendra left the room.  Kedar, Prankrishna, M., and many others remained.

Master praises Narendra
MASTER: "You see, Narendra excels in singing, playing on instruments, study, and everything.  The other day he had a discussion with Kedar and tore his arguments to shreds.  (All laugh.)

(To M.) "Is there any book in English on reasoning?"

M: "Yes, sir, there is.  It is called Logic."

MASTER: "Tell me what it says."

M. was a little embarrassed.  He said: "One part of the book deals with deduction from the general to the particular.  For example: All men are mortal.  Scholars are men.  Therefore scholars are mortal.  Another part deals with the method of reasoning from the particular to the general.  For example: This crow is black.  That crow is black.  The crows we see everywhere are black.  Therefore all crows are black.  But there may be a fallacy in a conclusion arrived at in this way; for on inquiry one may find a white crow in some country.  There is another illustration: If there is rain, there is, or has been, a cloud.  Therefore rain comes from a cloud.  Still another example: This man has thirty-two teeth.  That man has thirty-two teeth.  All the men we see have thirty-two teeth.  Therefore men have thirty-two teeth.  English logic deals with such inductions and deductions."

Sri Ramakrishna barely heard these words.  While listening he became absent-minded.  So the conversation did not proceed far.  

When the meeting broke up, the devotees sauntered in the temple garden.  M. went in the direction of the Panchavati.  It was about five o'clock in the afternoon.  After a while he returned to the Master's room.  There, on the small north verandah, he witnessed an amazing sight.

Sri Ramakrishna was standing still, surrounded by a few devotees, and Narendra was singing.  M. had never heard anyone except the Master sing so sweetly.  When he looked at Sri Ramakrishna he was struck with wonder; for the Master stood motionless, with eyes transfixed.  He seemed not even to breathe.  A devotee told M. that the Master was in samadhi.  M. had never before seen or heard of such a thing.  Silent with wonder, he thought: "Is it possible for a man to be so oblivious of the outer world in the consciousness of God? How deep his faith and devotion must be to bring about such a state!"

Narendra was singing:

Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through. 
How peerless is the Light that in Him shines!
How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form!
How dear is He to all His devotees!

Ever more beauteous in fresh-blossoming love
That shames the splendour of a million moons,
Like lightning gleams the glory of His form,
Raising erect the hair for very joy.

The Master shuddered when this last line was sung.  His hair stood on end, and tears of joy streamed down his cheeks.  Now and then his lips parted in a smile.  Was he seeing the peerless beauty of God, "that shames the splendour of a million moons"? Was this the vision of God, the Essence of Spirit? How much austerity and discipline, how much faith and devotion, must be necessary for such a vision!

The song went on:

Worship His feet in the lotus of your heart;
With mind serene and eyes made radiant
With heavenly love, behold that matchless sight.

Again that bewitching smile.  The body motionless as before, the eyes half Shut, as if beholding a strange inner vision.

The song drew to a close.  Narendra sang the last lines:

Caught in the spell of His love's ecstasy,
Immerse yourself for evermore, O mind"
In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss.

The sight of the samadhi, and the divine bliss he had witnessed, left an indelible impression on M.'s mind.  He returned home deeply moved.  Now and then he could hear within himself the echo of those soul-intoxicating lines:

Immerse yourself for evermore, O mind, 
In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss. 

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Salutations to THE LORD AS Guru:
Gurur brahmaa gurur vishnuh gururdevo Maheswarah |
Guruh-saakshaat parambrahma tasmai shri gurave namah ||

Meaning: Guru is Brahma (the Creator); Guru is Vishnu (the Preserver); Guru is also Lord Mahesvara (the Destroyer) and Guru is the Supreme Brahman, the Absolute. To Him, the Supreme Guru my salutations.

Guru Purnima (गुरु पूर्णिमा) is a festival traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists and also Jains. On this day, disciples offer puja (worship) or pay respect to their Guru (Spiritual Guide).

The full moon day in July, the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) of the Shaka Samvat, Indian national calendar and Hindu calendar is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima. It is celebrated by worshipping our Guru, the spiritual Teacher, who taught us divine love, by performing pujas performed in prostration to him.

1. Hindu Tradition:

Devotional worship of the Guru, is one of the most touching and elevating features of the Hindu Tradition. The Guru in the Hindu tradition is looked upon as an embodiment of God himself because it is through his grace and guidance that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss.


Seekers try to get as much opportunity to do Satseva of the Guru as possible during this period. As the Guru principle is 1000 times more active during this period, when compared to any other day during this year, the satseva done on Guru Purnima fetches substantial grace of the Guru for their spiritual progress.

The relationship between the Guru and the Disciple is considered very sacred. This relationship is purely spiritual in nature and is independent of age of the two. It is based on maturity of Gyan (Spiritual Knowledge) and Shrada (Spiritual Practice). The only awareness that a Disciple should foster is, ‘I should be uplifted spiritually’. The Guru too harbours only one thought, ‘May this Disciple be uplifted’. Relationships other than Guru-Disciple are bound by worldly restrictions wherein the ego constantly manifests itself while Gyan and other Shrada have no value. Since these worldly relationships presuppose ego for their sustenance, at the spiritual level they are rendered false.

Who is Guru?

The Sanskrit root "Gu" means darkness or ignorance. "Ru" denotes the remover of that darkness.Therefore one who removes darkness of our ignorance is a Guru. Only he who removes our ultimate darkness, known as Maya, and who inspires and guides us on to the path of God-realization is the true Guru (Gukaaro Andhakaarasya, Rukarasthan nirodhakaha). Again 'Gu' stands for Gunatheeta (attributeless). 'Ru' signifies Rupavarjita (formless). So, God, who is attributeless and formless, is the true Guru.

At the time of deeksha (initiation), the Guru absorbs the past sins and karmas of his disciples and reveals true spiritual knowledge. The disciple develops strong love for the Guru who delivers him from the bondage of birth and death.

Gurus are often regarded as God. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.23) says:

“Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
Tasyaite kathitaa hi arthaaha prakashante mahatmanaha”

This means, Guru to be worshipped in the same manner as the Deity - God, to attain all there is to attain on the path of God-realization. When this Self is within you where is the need to search for someone to teach you!

Hindus celebrate it in the honour of the great sage Vyasa. This was the day when Krishna DwaipayanaVyasa, author of the Mahabharatha was born to a fisherwoman called Satyavathi.  "Vyasa" means "to edit" or "to divide"). "He divided the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Vedas under four heads - Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. Vyasa was not only believed to be been born on this day, but also to have started writing the Brahma Sutras on ashadha sudha padyami and ended on this day, hence their recitations as a dedication to him, are organised on this day. He also wrote the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata, the stories of our great heroes and saints, to carry the spiritual and moral precepts contained therein to the common masses. He completed the codification of the four Vedas and writing of the eighteen puranas on this day. The histories and the Puranas are said to be the fifth Veda."

Owing to the passage of time, Vyasa Purnima came to be called Guru Purnima. All Hindus are indebted to this ancient saint. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus. It is in the fitness of things that Vyasa should be looked upon as the supreme preceptor of mankind. Offering of worship to him signifies the worship of all the preceptors of all times.

The festival is common to all spiritual traditions in Hinduism, where it is dedicated to the expression of gratitude towards the teacher by his/her disciple. Hindu ascetics and wandering monks (sanyasis), observe this day by offering puja to the Guru, during the Chaturmas, a four month period during the rainy season, when they choose seclusion, and halt at one selected place; some also give discourses to the local public.

Students of the Indian classical music, which also follows the Guru shishya parampara, celebrate this festival, around the world.

Students also refer to their school teacher or college lecturer as guru. The connotation of the word guru in this case is one who imparts temporal knowledge (Apara Vidya) and is thus accordingly offered respect. So worshipping a guru is like worshipping truth, knowledge and invaluable experiences. On this day one has to visit their elders, teachers and guides in order to show respect to them with gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets. These gifts are called 'Gurudakshina'

Observances by Hindus:

The Hindu spiritual Gurus are revered on this day by remembering their life and teachings. Vyasa Puja is held at various temples, where floral offerings and symbolic gifts are given away in his honour and that of the cosmic satguru. The festivities are usually followed by feast for the disciples, shishya, where the prasad and charnamrita literally nectar of the feet, the symbolic wash of Guru's feet, which represents his grace, kripa is distributed.

As a day of remembrance towards all gurus, through whom God grants the grace of knowledge (Jnana) to the disciples, special recitations of the Hindu scriptures especially, the Guru Gita authored by the sage, Vyasa himself, are held all day; apart from singing of bhajans, religious hymns and organising of special kirtan session and havan at many places, where devotees from all over gather at the ashrams, matha or place where the seat of Guru, Guru Gaddi exists. This day also sees the ritual of pada puja, the worships of Guru's sandals, which represent his holy feet and is seen a way of rededicating to all that a Guru stands for. Disciples also recommit themselves on this day, towards following their teacher's guidance and teachings, for the coming years.

This day is also seen as an occasion when fellow devotees, Guru Bhai (disciple-brother), express their solidarity to one another in their spiritual journey.

2.Buddhist History:

The Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath about 5 weeks after his enlightenment. Before Gautama (the Buddha-to-be) attained enlightenment, he gave up his austere penances and his friends, the Pañcavaggiya monks, left him and went to Isipatana.

After attaining Enlightenment the Buddha, leaving Uruvela, travelled to the Isipatana to join and teach them. He went to them because, using his spiritual powers, he had seen that his five former companions would be able to understand Dharma quickly. While travelling to Sarnath, Gautama Buddha had to cross the Ganges. Having no money with which to pay the ferryman, he crossed the Ganges through the air. When King Bimbisāra heard of this, he abolished the toll for ascetics. When Gautama Buddha found his five former companions, he taught them, they understood and as a result they also became enlightened. At that time the Sangha, the community of the enlightened ones, was founded. The sermon Buddha gave to the five monks was his first sermon, called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. It was given on the full-moon day of Asalha. Buddha subsequently also spent his first rainy season i.e. Varsha vassa at Sarnath at the Mulagandhakuti. The Sangha had grown to 60 in number (after Yasa and his friends had become monks), and Buddha sent them out in all directions to travel alone and teach the Dharma. All 60 monks were Arahants.

Observances by Buddhists:

Traditionally the festival is celebrated by Buddhists in the honor the lord Buddha who gave His first sermon on this day at Saranath, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Buddhists observe on this day uposatha i.e. to observe eight precepts. Vipassana meditators practice meditation on this day under the guidance of their teachers. Rainy season i.e. varsha vassa also starts with this day. The rainy season lasts for three lunar months from July to October. During this time Buddhist monks remain in a single place, generally in their temples. In some monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation. During Vassa, many Buddhist lay people reinvigorate their spiritual training and adopt more ascetic practices, such as giving up meat, alcohol, or smoking.

Observances by Jains:

According to Jain traditions, it was on this day, falling at the beginning of chaturmas, the four month rainy season retreat, Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, after attaining Kaivalya, made Indrabhuti Gautam, later known as Gautam Swami, a Ganadhara, his first disciple, thus becoming a Guru himself, therefore it is observed in Jainism as Guru Purnima, and is marked special veneration to one's Gurus and teachers.

Courtesy: wikipedia.org & www.festivalsofindia.in



 M.'s second visit to Sri Ramakrishna took place on the southeast verandah at eight o'clock in the morning.  The Master was about to be shaved, the barber having just arrived.  As the cold season still lingered he had put on a moleskin shawl bordered with red.  Seeing M., the Master said: "So you have come.  That's good.  Sit down here." He was smiling.  He stammered a little when he spoke.
SRI RAMAKRISHNA (to M.): "Where do you live?"

M: "In Calcutta, sir."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Where are you staying here?"

M: "I am at Baranagore at my older sister's-Ishan Kaviraj's house."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Oh, at Ishan's? Well, how is Keshab now? He was very ill."

M: "Indeed, I have heard so too, but I believe he is well now."
Master's love for Keshab
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "I made a vow to worship the Mother with green coconut and sugar on Keshab's recovery.  Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would wake up and cry before Her: 'Mother, please make Keshab well again.  If Keshab doesn't live, whom shall I talk with when I go to Calcutta?' And so it was that I resolved to offer Her the green coconut and sugar. 
"Tell me, do you know of a certain Mr.  Cook who has come to Calcutta? Is it true that he is giving lectures? Once Keshab took me on a steamer, and this Mr.  Cook, too  was in the party."

M: "Yes, sir, I have heard something like that; but I have never been to his lectures.  I don't know much about him."
Sri Ramakrishna on M.'s marriage
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Pratap's brother came here.  He stayed a few days.  He had nothing to do and said he wanted to live here.  I came to know that he had left his wife and children with his father-in-law.  He has a whole brood of them! So I took him to task.  Just fancy! He is the father of so many children! Will people from the neighbourhood feed them and bring them up? He isn't even ashamed that someone else is feeding his wife and children, and that they have been left at his father-in-law's house.  I scolded him very hard and asked him to look for a job.  Then he was willing to leave here. 
"Are you married?"

M: "Yes, sir."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA (with a shudder): "Oh, Ramlal! Alas, he is married!"
Like one guilty of a terrible offence, M. sat motionless, his eyes fixed on the ground.  He thought, "Is it such a wicked thing to get married?"
The Master continued, "Have you any children?"

M. this time could hear the beating of his own heart.  He whispered in a trembling voice, "Yes, sir, I have children."

Very sadly Sri Ramakrishna said, "Ah me! He even has children!"

Thus rebuked M. sat speechless.  His pride had received a blow.  After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna looked at him kindly and said affectionately: "You see, you have certain good signs.  I know them by looking at a person's forehead, his eyes, and so on.  Tell me, now, what kind of person is your wife? Has she spiritual attributes, or is she under the power of avidya?"

M: "She is all right.  But I am afraid she is ignorant."

MASTER (with evident displeasure): "And you are a man of knowledge!"

M. had yet to learn the distinction between knowledge and ignorance.  Up to this time his conception had been that one got knowledge from books and schools.  Later on he gave up this false conception.  He was taught that to know God is knowledge, and not to know Him, ignorance.  When Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, "And you are a man of knowledge!", M.'s ego was again badly shocked.
God with and without form
MASTER: "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?"

M., rather surprised, said to himself: "How can one believe in God without form when one believes in God with form? And if one believes in God without form, how can one believe that God has a form? Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time? Can a white liquid like milk be black?"

M: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless."

MASTER: "Very good.  It is enough to have faith in either aspect.  You believe in God without form; that is quite all right.  But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false.  Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form.  But hold fast to your own conviction."

The assertion that both are equally true amazed M.; he had never learnt this from his books.  Thus his ego received a third blow; but since it was not yet completely crushed, he came forward to argue with the Master a little more.   
God and the clay image
M: "Sir, suppose one believes in God with form.  Certainly He is not the clay image!"

MASTER (interrupting): "But why clay? It is an image of Spirit."

M. could not quite understand the significance of this "image of Spirit".  "But, sir," he said to the Master, "one should explain to those who worship the clay image that it is not God, and that, while worshipping it, they should have God in view and not the clay image.  One should not worship clay."
God the only real teacher
MASTER (sharply): "That's the one hobby of you Calcutta people - giving lectures and bringing others to the light! Nobody ever stops to consider how to get the light himself.  Who are you to teach others?
"He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone.  He alone teaches us, who has created this universe; who has made the sun and moon, men and beasts, and all other beings; who has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with love to bring them up.  The Lord has done so many things - will He not show people the way to worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher.  He is our Inner Guide.
"Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn't God know that through it He alone is being invoked? He will he pleased with that very worship.  Why should you get a headache over it? You had better try for knowledge and devotion yourself."

This time M. felt that his ego was completely crushed.  He now said to himself: "Yes, he has spoken the truth.  What need is there for me to teach others? Have I known God? Do I really love Him? 'I haven't room enough for myself in my bed, and I am inviting my friend to share it with me!' I know nothing about God, yet I am trying to teach others.  What a shame! How foolish I am! This is not mathematics or history or literature, that one can teach it to others.  No, this is the deep mystery of God.  What he says appeals to me."

This was M.'s first argument with the Master, and happily his last.
MASTER: "You were talking of worshipping the clay image.  Even if the image is made of clay, there is need for that sort of worship.  God Himself has provided different forms of worship.  He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge.
"The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children.  Suppose she has five children.  If there is a fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it - pilau, pickled fish, fried fish, and so on - to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion.

"Do you understand me?"

Need of holy company & Meditation in solitude

M. (humbly): "Yes, sir.  How, sir, may we fix our minds on God?"

MASTER: "Repeat God's name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God's devotees and holy men.  The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God.  To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practises meditation in solitude.  When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle.
"To meditate, you should withdraw within yourself or retire to a secluded corner or to the forest.  And you should always discriminate between the Real and the unreal.  God alone is real, the Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, that is, impermanent.  By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind."
God and worldly duties
M. (humbly):"How ought we to live in the world?"

MASTER: "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God.  Live with all - with wife and children, father and mother - and serve them.  Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.
"A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village.  She brings up her Master's children as if they were her own.  She even speaks of them as 'my Rāma' or 'my Hari'.  But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all.
"The tortoise moves about in the water.  But can you guess where her thoughts are? There on the bank, where her eggs are lying.  Do all your duties in the world, but keep your mind on God.
"If you enter the world without first cultivating love for God, you will be entangled more and more.  You will be overwhelmed with its danger, its grief, its sorrows.  And the more you think of worldly things, the more you will be attached to them.
"First rub your hands with oil and then break open the jack-fruit; otherwise they will be smeared with its sticky milk.  First secure the oil of divine love, and then set your hands to the duties of the world.
"But one must go into solitude to attain this divine love.  To get butter from milk you must let it set into curd in a secluded spot; if it is too much disturbed, milk won't turn into curd.  Next, you must put aside all other duties, sit in a quiet spot, and churn the curd.  Only then do you get butter.

"Further, by meditating on God in solitude the mind acquires knowledge, dispassion, and devotion.  But the very same mind goes downward if it dwells in the world.  In the world there is only one thought: 'woman and gold'.

"The world is water and the mind milk.  If you pour milk into water they become one; you cannot find the pure milk any more.  But turn the milk into curd and churn it into butter.  Then, when that butter is placed in water, it will float.  So, practise spiritual discipline in solitude and obtain the butter of knowledge and love.  Even if you keep that butter in the water of the world the two will not mix.  The butter will float. 
Practice of discrimination
"Together with this, you must practise discrimination.  'Woman and gold' is impermanent.  God is the only Eternal Substance.  What does a man get with money? Food, clothes, and a dwelling-place - nothing more.  You cannot realize God with its help.  Therefore money can never be the goal of life.  That is the process of discrimination.  Do you understand?"

M: "Yes, sir.  I recently read a Sanskrit play called Prabodha Chandrodaya.  It deals with discrimination."

MASTER: "Yes, discrimination about objects.  Consider - what is there in money or in a beautiful body? Discriminate and you will find that even the body of a beautiful woman consists of bones, flesh, fat, and other disagreeable things.  Why should a man give up God and direct his attention to such things? Why should a man forget God for their sake?"
How to see God
M: "Is it possible to see God?"

MASTER: "Yes, certainly.  Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal - these are the means to employ to see Him."
Longing and yearning
M: "Under what conditions does one see God?"

MASTER: "Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him.  People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children.  They swim in tears for money.  But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry."

The Master sang:
Cry to your Mother Syama , with a real cry, O mind! 
        And how can She hold Herself from you? 
        How can Syama stay away?    
        How can your Mother Kali hold Herself away?
O mind, if you are in earnest, bring Her an offering 
        Of bel-leaves and hibiscus flowers; 
        Lay at Her feet your offering 
        And with it mingle the fragrant sandal-paste of Love.

Continuing, he said: "Longing is like the rosy dawn.  After the dawn out comes the sun.  Longing is followed by the vision of God.
"God reveals Himself to a devotee who feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions: the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man, the child's attraction for its mother, and the husband's attraction for the chaste wife.  If one feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions, then through it one can attain Him.
"The point is, to love God even as the mother loves her child, the chaste wife her husband, and the worldly man his wealth.  Add together these three forces of love, these three powers of attraction, and give it all to God.  Then you will certainly see Him.
"It is necessary to pray to Him with a longing heart.  The kitten knows only how to call its mother, crying, 'Mew, mew!' It remains satisfied wherever its mother puts it.  And the mother cat puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on the bed.  When it suffers it cries only, 'Mew, mew!' That's all it knows.  But as soon as the mother hears this cry, wherever she may be; she comes to the kitten."

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