‘Guru’ is the word for a teacher in Sanskrit. He can be a teacher of worldly knowledge or spiritual wisdom. In India, Gurus have always been regarded with great reverence. Guru, father, and mother are equal to God in Indian culture.
The word ‘Guru’ means ‘one who removes darkness’. Ignorance is darkness, and the Guru is one who illuminates the darkness so that we can achieve worldly as well as spiritual success.
Guru Purnima is a festival that is dedicated to all Gurus. It is on the full moon day in Ashadha month (July-August). On this day, Hindus honor their Gurus and pay their respects to them. Various rituals are performed by people to express their gratitude to Gurus on this day. They may give them gifts and also ask them for their blessings.
Indian mythology contains many stories about Gurus and their shishyas (disciples). One of the most famous stories is of Ekalavya. Ekalavya wanted to learn archery under Drona, the Guru of the Pandava and Kaurava princes. But as he was a low-born, Drona refused to teach him. Ekalavya then made an image of Drona and took him as his Guru. He practiced archery on his own and became very good at it. One day, while out hunting in the forest, Drona witnessed Ekalavya’s mastery over the bow and arrow. He realized that Ekalavya was better than his favorite student, Arjuna.
Drona wanted Arjuna to be the best archer. So he asked Ekalavya to sever his thumb and give it to him as Dakshina. After all, Ekalavya considered Drona as his Guru, though he had not taught him anything. Without hesitation, Ekalavya complied with his Guru’s request.
This story may not present Drona in a positive light, but it highlights the respect which was given to Gurus in ancient times.
Guru Purnima 2023
Guru Purnima is also called Vyasa Purnima. Veda Vyasa was one of the most renowned Gurus in India. Hindus worship him on Guru Purnima. The festival is also important for Buddhists and Jains. The Buddha delivered his first sermon on this day.
Significance of Guru Purnima
There are many legends about Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima is said to be the full moon day on which Shiva, the Adi (first) Yogi, became Adi Guru by imparting wisdom to the Saptarishis. The rishis had performed Sadhana for 84 years so that Shiva would teach them.
The Saptarishis gained fame and acquired a lot of knowledge and wisdom that they later shared with the rest of the world.
The Buddhists believe that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment on this day and delivered his first sermon at Sarnath. Hence, they call it Buddha Purnima.
In Jainism, Indrabhuti Gautam became Indrabhuti Swami’s first disciple on this day in Ashadha month and became the 24th Tirthankara. The day was called Treenok Guha Purnima.
Guru Purnima 2023 Date And Time
Guru Purnima 2023 is on July 3.
∙ Purnima Tithi Begins: On Jul 02, 2023, at 20:21
∙ Purnima Tithi Ends: On Jul 03, 2023, at 17:08
Vyasa and Guru Purnima
Maharshi Veda Vyasa was the creator of many important texts like the Brahma Sutra, the Mahabharata, the Shrimad Bhagvata, and the 18 Puranas. He was born on Ashadha Purnima.
Vyasa’s father was Sage Parashara. Veda Vyas had knowledge of all Kaals or times (past, present, and future). He foresaw that people would lose interest in religion in the future, avoid responsibility for their deeds, and live shorter lives.
Vyasa divided the Vedas into four parts so that even people who had less intelligence or poor memory power might still gain knowledge from them.
He named the four sections Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. He also taught his pupils Vaishampayana, Sumantumuni, Pail, and Jaimin, the knowledge contained in the four Vedas.
He also wrote the Puranas, which became the fifth Veda. The Puranas contain interesting tales, and they are rich repositories of Vedic wisdom. He taught one of his disciples, Roma Harshan, the knowledge of the Puranas. Vyasa’s pupils divided the Vedas further into many branches and subbranches based on their understanding.
Thus, Maharshi Vyasa is acknowledged as the first Guru, and his birthday is celebrated as Guru Purnima. Family elders like parents, siblings, etc., should also be regarded as being on par with the Guru. The guidance of the Guru is essential to acquire knowledge. The Guru’s blessings are also important for success in life. By serving our Gurus on this day, we can get their blessings.
Guru Purnima Rituals
∙ It is the custom to worship and express gratitude to our teachers on Guru Purnima. You can pray for your Gurus in monasteries and ashrams. You can also commit to following the Guru’s doctrine and teachings and practicing them in your life.
∙ If your Guru is not alive, you can worship a picture or portrait of him. You can recite Mantras during the worship.
∙ There will be Guru Purnima Pooja and Yajna in temples and at homes to invoke the Gurus’ blessings. You can also observe a fast, do yogic sadhana, and meditate on Guru Purnima.
∙ Buddhists honor Buddha and visit his shrines on this day. They perform the “Uposatha” rite and hear the Buddha’s eight precepts. It is also a good day for monks to start their ascetic practice and meditation.
∙ On Guru Purnima, people worship Vishnu, too. You can recite Vishnu Sahasranama on this day.
Guru Purnima Pooja Vidhi
- Wake up early, take a shower, and perform Pooja. Ensure that you are appropriately dressed.
- Get blessings from the Guru after offering flowers and putting a fragrant garland on Sage Vyasa’s image.
- Garland your Guru after making them sit on a chair.
- Offer your Guru new clothes, food, flowers, a garland, and Dakshina (cash). Then accept their blessings.
Benefits of Observing Guru Purnima
Keeping a fast on this day brings many spiritual benefits. It boosts your bonds with the divine as well as your inner self.
Here are some of the spiritual benefits of fasting on Guru Purnima:
- Fasting aids mind and body purification. The digestive system gets rest while we fast. This enables the body to detoxify. It brings calmness and clarity by removing negative thoughts and feelings.
- Spiritual practices, like prayer, meditation, and chanting, are more intense when we fast. We will be more aware of our emotional and physical states.
- It boosts concentration.
- It helps us connect more deeply with our higher selves and develop our spiritual awareness.
- By developing self-control, we will be more attuned to our spiritual goals.
- Fasting is a good way to express gratitude to one’s Guru and invoke their blessings.