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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

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