Guru Purnima or Vyasa Purnima Festival

What is Purnima?

Purnima is the full moon day, which occurs once in a Hindu month. The Purnima is considered very auspicious to the moon worshippers and many Vratas and fasting are also observed during specific Purnimas. There are certain Purnima Tithis, which are celebrated for special reason and they are- Guru Purnima, Dol Purnima, Buddha Purnima, Rakhi Purnima etc.

The term Guru is split as ‘Gu’ and ‘Ru’. Gu denotes ignorance and Ru means that which helps one to over come ignorance. According to the established traditions, the parents are instrumental in giving birth to a child in this material world but it is the Guru who enlightens one and helps one to overcome the material bondage and become liberated from this trans-migratory existence of birth, death, old age and disease.Who is Guru?

Guru Purnima or Vyasa Purnima

Celebrations on Guru Purnima:

The Day of full moon or Purnima in the Month of Ashadh(June-July) is traditionally celebrated by Hindus as Guru Purnima. This day is also known as Vyasa Purnima as the day is celebrated in remembrance and veneration to sage Ved Vyasa. Vyasa was the Adi or original Guru, the ancient saint who started writing the Brahma Sutras, Mahabharata, 18 Puranas, Srimad Bhagavatam and classified the Vedas into four, namely Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. On this day the spiritual Gurus are worshipped and remembered by their disciples. Maharshi Ved Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.When Lord Brahma decided to create our universe, he created seven sages out of his thoughts they were called as Saptha Rishi or Manasa Putra (created out of mental thoughts). They completely dedicated themselves to the pursuit of inner bless & divine light. They are known as "seers" as they are said to possess perfect knowledge about the past, present & future of humanity.

It was on this day that Hindu God Shiva(Eswara) first taught yogic techniques to his seven students (Sapta Rishi) and considered to be the first Guru (teacher). Thus Guru Purnima is another festival celebrated for Lord Shiva after Maha Shivarathri as he was the first Guru to the Saptarishis. In the Yogic culture, Shiva is known as the first Guru or the Adi Guru. He is the Adi Yogi.

 
Gods Worshipped on Guru Purnima

The first part of Shiva’s teaching was to Parvathi, his wife. Shiva expounded the ways of yoga to Devi in detail and in very gentle ways. The yoga sutras taught by Shiva to Devi, represents her in all mudras as the resplendent one, the gracious one, the beautiful one.

The second set of yogic teaching was expounded to the Sapta Rishis, or the first seven sages. This teaching happened on the banks of Kanti Sarovar, near Kedarnath. This is when the world’s first yoga programme happened and formed many postures as there are living creatures; and Shiva knows their distinguishing features. Siddha, bhadra, simha and padma are the four (chief) postures.

Lord Maheshwara,Lord Dattatreya,Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramanuja Acharya,Sri Raghavendra Swamy,Shirdi Sai Baba,Sri Madhvacharya,Maharshi Valmiki,Mahrashi Ved Vyas,and Gautham Buddha, etc are some of the noteworthy Gurus of Hindu Religion.

First Gurus of Hindu Religion worshipped on Guru Purnima

It is the day when devotees offer pujas (worship) to their beloved Gurus. Sage Vyasa is known to be the Adi (original) Guru of the Hindu religion. The auspicious day of Vyasa Purnima has a great significance as it is known to everyone that the role of a Guru in ones life is very much important to attain spiritual path and tells the Guru Shishya bond.The greatest gift on planet Earth is the rare event of an enlightened Master happening in one’s life. He is the ultimate luxury. Blessed are those who find a Guru to follow, imbibe his teachings and find true enlightenment in their life.

Even parents are the gurus as they are the best preacher to the child. But it is said that a Guru is the one who acts as the link between the god and the human soul, its a must have thing in each and every individual. Guru is the one who guides the person on the way of peace and knowledge and finally to the god.

Significance of Guru Purnima:

The word "Guru" in Sanskrit is translated as "Dispeller of Darkness." Hence the Guru dispels the darkness of ignorance and leads the aspirants on the path to enlightenment.Thanksgiving is known as Guru Purnima in Hindi as a day to express gratitude to teachers and gurus. All gurus are revered on this day, not just those who impart knowledge but also spiritual gurus.Guru Purnima means honoring and celebrating the source of wisdom.

The Guru Purnima or Vyas Purnima or Ashada Purnima has great significance for spiritual sadhaks and farmers. All spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and all disciples perform 'puja' of their respective spiritual preceptor or 'Gurudevas'. They offer flowers and sweets to their spiritual gurus. It is also good time to begin spiritual lessons from a guru. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual 'sadhana' from this day.

Guru Purnima also coincides with the onset of monsoon in the Indian subcontinent. Hence assuming great significance for farmers and agriculturists who start ploughing from this day as the water, drawn up and stored as clouds in the hot summer, now manifests in plentiful showers(rains) that brings fresh life everywhere and greenery in the fields. Special pujas are performed to appease the rain gods and ensure fertile lands, a rich harvest and abundance.

The period 'Chaturmas' ("four months") begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.

In Nepal,people celebrate this day as "Teachers Day" to pay tribute to their Guru's.

Jain traditions attach great importance to this day since Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankara) acquired his first disciple on Guru Purnima and it was also on this day that Lord Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath.

Celebration of Buddha Purnima by Buddhists on Full Moon Day

Sloka on Guru in Skanda Purana:

 

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः ।
गुरुरेव परंब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

 

 

Gururbrahmaa gururvishnuh gururdevo Maheswarah |
Guruh-saakshaat parambrahma tasmai shrigurave namah ||

 

Meaning: “Guru is creator Brahma; Guru is preserver Vishnu; Guru is also the destroyer Maheswara and Guru is the personification of supreme brahman therefore I adore him."

Salutation to the noble Guru, by washing whose feet, the ocean of transmigration, endless sorrows is completely dried up and the Supreme wealth is revealed.

The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6/23) tells :

 

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

 

Meaning: 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!

Celebrations on Guru Purnima:

On this day Hindus all over the world show great respect to their gurus. Gurus are often regarded as God.This is a day for spiritual seekers who remain extremely open to their gurus to receive divine power, and for this reason holy people choose this day to shower everyone with their most auspicious divine blessings.

On this day Hindus opt to conduct the "Satyanarayana Puja" at their residence or temple as various temples in groups which organises puja of Satyanarayana, who is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is performed on Full moon day and is dedicated to Lord Satnarayana. This puja can be done on full moon day by anyone in their houses, temples and side of the rivers,which comes every month. The best day for Satyanarayan pooja is Guru Purnima as it is celebrated for Guru’s in India. Performing this puja one improves their Happiness and peace at home. When done this puja grants success in our field and by this we can improve our status than others.

Satyanarayana Puja on Guru Purnima

The famous Sai Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi, also celebrates this day with great spiritual aspect and conducts the Satyanarayana puja in their temple too. This day is also marked to start good events and the recitation of "Guru Charithra" and "Sai Leelamrutham" of Shirdi Sai Baba.

Shirdi Sai Baba Samadhi Mandir on Guru Purnima
Guru Purnima in Shirdi Sai Baba Samsthan

On this day several programes and cultural performances are organized by spiritual organizations. Divine discourse and bhajan samarohas are also organized to make the day more special and get the grace of God and their Guru.

Various ashrams in India, especially the Sivananda Ashram, at Rishikesh celebrates Guru Purnima with much grandeur as devotees come and attend this ashram from various parts of the country. At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Guru Purnima is celebrated every year on a grand scale.

Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh
Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh celebrating Guru Purnima

Advice by Swami Sivananda as a Guru on Guru Purnima:

1)"Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor.
2)Mentally pray to him for his Grace, which is the only way to attain Self-realisation by doing vigorous Japa and meditation in the early morning hours.
3)Keep Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day.
4)Sadhus and Sannyasins are then worshipped and fed at noon.
5)In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.
6)"At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru.
7)One can also observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day for spiritual progress.
8)The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message."
9)There is continuous Satsang during which discourses are held on the glory of devotion to the Guru in particular, and on spiritual topics in general.
10)Deserving aspirants are initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyas, as this is a highly auspicious occasion.

As said in Guru Gita:

 

Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa

 

Meaning:"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".

Satya Sai Baba at Puttaparthy, Ashram in Amritapuri,Ashrams in the Himalayas and few other places also celebrate this day as spiritual importance. Guru Purnima is also celebrated in places wherever the Guru is remembered.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Maha Samadhi Mandir on Guru Purnima
Guru Purnima in Prasanthi Nilayam Puttaparthi

The Art of Living is a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization founded in 1981 by the world-renowned philanthropist and spiritual leader, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,which Operates in 155 countries engaged in stress-management and service initiatives.Guru Purnima means honoring and celebrating the source of wisdom.For the details of this organisation please visit the below provided links:

ART OF LIVING AT BANGALORE
The Art of Living

 

The Art of Living Foundation by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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