Guru Purnima

गुरु ब्रम्हा गुरु विष्णू
गुरुः देवो महेश्वरा
गुरु शाक्षात परब्रम्हा
तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नमः

Gurur Brahmaa Gurur Vishnu
Gurur Devo Maheshwarah
Guru Saakshaata Parabrahma
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah

Guru Purnima, also known as Vyasa Purnima is a festival commemorating the goodness of spiritual gurus and teachers. Celebrated each year on the full moon day of the month of Ashadha of the Shakha Samavat in the Hindu calendar by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains, the festival sees devotees worshipping and thanking their gurus for enlightenment. This year the festival falls on July 9, Sunday.

Guru Purnima

History and significance
Rooted in Sanskrit, the word Guru is derived from ‘gu’ which means darkness and ‘ru’ which denotes the removal of darkness. Hence, a guru or a teacher is believed to be the one who removes all darkness from our lives. On this day, people take special care to pay respect to their gurus. In fact, in Nepal, Guru Purnima is celebrated as Teachers Day.

It is believed that Lord Buddha gave his first sermon on this day. After five weeks of achieving enlightment under the Bodhi tree, Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh where he gave the sermon on the full moon day. The followers of Buddha thus celebrate this day to worship him.

Even Lord Shiva is known to have transmitted the learning of yoga to his disciples the ‘Saptarishis’ or seven sages on this day.

According to another legend, this day is commemorated as the day when Ved Vyasa — the author of Mahabharata was born. Guru Purnima is therefore also known as Vyasa Purnima. He is known to be the creator of the whole guru-shishya tradition.

Guru Purnima
When is it celebrated?
The first full moon after the summer solstice in the month of Ashadha (July-August), is known as Guru Purnima. This sacred day marks the first transmission of the yogic sciences from Shiva – the Adiyogi or first yogi – to his first disciples, the Saptarishis, the seven celebrated sages. Thus, the Adiyogi became the Adi Guru or first Guru on this day. The Saptarishis carried this knowing throughout the world. Even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws from the spine of knowing created by Adiyogi.

How is it celebrated?
People celebrate Guru Purnima in different ways. Some worshippers begin their day by offering specific prayers to their spiritual gurus and teachers and conclude by offering Mangal Aarti. On this day, it is considered auspicious to fast and not consume rice, cereal-based dishes and salt.

People also observe the Satya Narayan Vrat on the full moon day and worship Lord Vishnu. They decorate the entrances to their houses with mango leaves, tulsi hangings, and garlands. Dry fruits, fruits, rice dishes, betel leaves and milk porridge are the main dishes offered to the gods on this day.

Many others emphasise on beginning their day with meditation and self-introspection. Since it’s a full moon day, people meditate under the full moon and soak the positive energy in. In Nepal, students celebrate by gifting their teachers garlands, sweets and delicacies and other gifts.

“In Indian culture, Guru Purnima was always recognized and celebrated as the day when new possibilities opened up for the human race. For a spiritual seeker, this day is like a boon from nature. Guru Purnima is seen as the best time to receive the Grace of the Guru and make yourself receptive to the process. This is a good time to earn that attention from the Grace. Grace is like manure for growth, that a human being can catapult himself to another dimension of existence, capability and possibility.” – Sadhguru