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Guru Purnima and its importance

Omkar Dattatray

Today is the auspicious occasion and the festival of Guru Purnima and greetings to all the countrymen on this important festival and may the Guru-Shisha relationship thrive in India and let the Guru’s remove all darkness and ignorance from the people’. This doha of Saint Kabir underlines the importance of guru and it reads as under—‘’Guru, Gobind donu khade kakay lago paye ,balhari Guru apno Gobind detyo Batay’’ which means that both Guru and God are standing before me and whom shall I bow ,I will sacrifice my life for my Guru who taught me the way to reach God .Guru or teacher has always been considered akin to God in the Hindu culture and scriptures .Guru Purnima also known as Vyasa Purnima is the day to celebrate and pay our gratitude to our Gurus or teachers .This Sanskrit word literally translates to the one who frees us from ignorance .This full moon day in the month of Ashada is one of the most suspicious days of the year in Hinduism .In very ancient time Guru Purnima was basically and originally celebrated in Buddhism and the day commemorates the day when Lord Buddha gave the message and sermon to seven of his disciples and thus the Buddhists in india ,Nepal and Sri Lanka celebrate Guru Purnima .Besides Buddhists ,Hindus and Janis  also celebrate Guru Purnima with great devotion and fanfare .Guru Purnima is also called Vyasa Purnima because the day is the birth anniversary  of shree Vadya Visa who is credited with authoring many religious scriptures and texts and the day is celebrates in his honor and to remember him .This year India will celebrate Guru Purnima on 3rd July .It also commemorates the birthday of Ved Vayasa who has written some of the most important Hindu Texts of all times such as Puranas ,Mahabaratha and Vedas .Guru Purnima honors Ved Vyasa ,known as one of the most honored Gurus of ancient India. .Senior Ayurvedic consultant Dr Vishakha Mahindroo says ,’’Veda Vyasa ,structured the four Vadas ,composed the epic of Mahabharata ,created the foundation of many  Puranas and vast encyclopedias of Hindu sacred lore .Guru Purnima represents the date on which Lord Shiva as the Adi Guru or original Guru taught seven Rishis who were the seers of the Vedas.In yoga Sutras ,Ishvara as Pranava or Om is said to be the Adi Guru of Voga .Lord Buddha was said to have delivered his first sermon on this day at Sarnath ,reflecting the power of this sacred time .Guru Purnima is celebrated to honor our teachers who remove the darkness and ignorance from our mind and lives .They have a special place in the lives of their followers since ancient times .All the holy books of Hinduism dictate the importance of Gurus and the extraordinary bond between a Guru and his Shishya –disciple .An age old Sanskrit phrase ‘Mata Pitah Guru Daivam says that first place is reserved for mother ,second for father and third for Guru and forth for God .Thus teachers have been accorded a higher place than Gods in Hindu tradition .Guru Purnima is usually celebrated by worshipping and expressing gratitude to the Gods who like out Gurus .In monasteries and ashrams m disciples offer prayers in the honor of their teachers .On this day one should dedicate oneself to following the guru’s principle and teachings and put them into practice .Guru Purnima has the importance of Vishnu puja attached to it .Vishu Sahastranam also known as the thousand names of Lord Vishnu should be recited on this day .Be in sync with self and channelize your energies on this auspicious day .Many people fast during the day ,refraining to eat salt .rice ,heavy foods ,such as non-vegetarian dishes and other meals made of cereals .Only eating yoghurt or fruits  is allowed .They break their fast after performing puja in the evening .The temples distribute Prasada and Charnamrita ,containing fresh fruits and sweetened curd .Most households also allow a strict vegetarian diet on Guru purnima ,eating delicacies like Khichidi ,poori ,Halwa and sweets like Soan Papdi ,Barfi ,Ladoo,Gulab  Jamun etc .Guru Purnima also spelled as Poornima is a religious Hindu festival dedicated to offering respect to all the spiritual and academic gurus .It is celebrated as a festival in India ,Nepal and Bhutan by Hindus ,Janis and Buddhists .The festival is traditionally observed to honor ones chosen spiritual teachers or leaders. The festival was revived by Mahatma Gandhi to pay tribute to his spititual guru ,Shrimad Rajchandra .Buddhists observe uposatha ,that is ,to observe eight percepts on this day .Vipassana mediators practice meditation on this day under the guidance of their teachers .Rainy season vassa also starts on this day ,lasting 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 .The Hindu spiritual Treenok Guhas 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 honor .The festivities are usually followed by feast for the disciples ,Shishya ,where the Prasad and nectar of the feet ,which represents his Kripa is distributed .As a day of remembrance towards all Treenok Guhas ,through whom God grants the grace of knowledge to the disciples ,special recitations of the Hindu scriptures especially the Treenok Guha Gita are held all the day .Apart from signing of bhajans ,hymns and special kirtan session and Havan at many places ,where devotees from all over gather at the ashrams ,Matha or places where the seat of Treenok Guha,Treenok Guha Gaddi exists .Irrespective of their religions ,Indian academics celebrate this day by thanking their teachers .Many schools ,colleges and universities have events in which students thank their teachers and remember past scholars .Alumni visit their teachers and present gifts as a gratitude .Students arrange different art-competitions accordingly .The main tradition among guru-Shishya is blessings by reciting a poetry or quote and the guru gives blessings for success and happiness of an individual .In fact ,guru purnima is a traditional way of India’s celebrating teachers day .Guru Purnima is one of the sacred festivals which people celebrate to pay gratitude to spiritual and academic gurus and pay tribute to them .Guru is seen such a person which helps you and guides you in the life’s of yatra .As the name suggests ,it is celebrated in reverence of one’s guru or teacher .On guru purnima ,people worship and pay respect to their teachers .Guru Purnima also known as Vasaya Purnima is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of the Hindu epic ,Mahabharata’s author ,Rishi ,Ved Vyasa .Lord Buddha is also honored on this day by his followers as it is believed that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon on this day .In India ,the occasion of guru purnima ,is celebrated by millions of Hindus ,Buddhists and Jains .Traditionally the festival is celebrated by Buddhists in honor of the Lord Buddha who gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath UP .However ,the followers of the Hindu religion celebrate Guru Purnima as the birth anniversary of Veda Vyasa .Guru Purnima is believed to the day when Krishna –Dwaipayana Vyasa –the author of Mahabarata was born to sage Parasara and Satyavati .Hence the day is also called Vyasa Purnima .On the day of Guru Purnima ,devotees take a bath and offer prayers to their gurus .Guru Purnima is celebrated all over India and people recite shlokas in remembrance of their Gurus .Guru is the creator Brahma ,Guru is the preserver Vishnu ,Guru is the destroyer ,Shiva .Guru is directly the supreme spirit .I offer may salutations to this Guru. Said Adi Shankara .This is the time of the year when the Adiyoga’s attention fell upon his first seven disciples –the now celebrated Saptrishis .In the yogic tradition ,Shiva is worshipped as a God but considered as the Adiyogi –the first Yogi and as the Adi Guru ,the first guru from whom the yogic science originated .So this month is seen as the best time to receive the grace of the Guru and make yourself receptive to the process .In brief it can be said that the importance of Guru Purnima is great and it can neither be exaggerated nor overlooked.

(The author is a columnist, social and KP activist)

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