The Significance of a Guru
‘Acharya Devo Bhava’ — this one saying demonstrates in no uncertain terms, the exalted position that a Guru holds in the rich Indian civilization and culture. This assertion raises the Guru to the level of God. This is no surprise, as that was how they were regarded as, in our tradition.
A Guru is a teacher, preceptor or a guide. He is held as the one who removes the darkness of ignorance and illuminates a mind with the light of knowledge. The name itself represents the vital role that he plays in our ethos.
The word ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘Ru’ denotes the one, who removes it. Guru is thus the remover of darkness that is born out of ignorance and misery, and the provider of light, through the imparting of knowledge and wisdom. This position of his in our social framework is underlined by the earmarking of a day, exclusively in his honor. That day is Guru Purnima.
This occasion is observed in recognition of the significant role that a Guru plays in shaping the life of an individual and is celebrated on the Purnima, full-Moon day of the month of Ashaad (July–August). This occasion is said to mark the day of the advent of the great sage Veda Vyasa, who also turns out to be an eminent Guru, apart from being the creator of many scriptures of incredible merit.
Shiva’s Praise for Guru
It is none other Lord Shiva himself who has spoken about the Guru and his significant role. Here, let us get to know about this, in detail.
Shiva explains the greatness of a Guru to Goddess Parvati and highlights his role and importance. This sacred text is spread across 182 slokas and is known as Guru Gita. These hymns are found in the Uttara Khand section of the well-known scripture Skanda Purana. Listed below are a few very important slokas from the text along with their meaning:
‘Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwarah
Guru Saakshath Para Brahma Tasmai Shree Gurave Namaha’
This hymn is a humble prayer to the Guru. It holds him as the Almighty himself, as a combined form of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the supreme Gods of creation, protection, and destruction, respectively. Like these ultimate divinities, the Guru is believed to create and sustain knowledge, by destroying ignorance. This prayer offers humble salutations to such a great entity.
‘Akhanda Mandalakaram Vyaaptam Yenam Charaacharam
Tatpadam Darshitam Yena Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha’
Guru can lead us to the supreme knowledge of the universal source, which permeates all the animate and inanimate objects of the whole universe, which also remains as Brahman, the ultimate reality. We offer our grateful salutations to such a great being.
‘Agnyaana Timiraandhasya Gnyaana Anjana Shalaakayaa
Chakshuhu Unmee litam Yenam Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha’
Ignorance is a terrible scourge which can kill the very spirit of a being. It is a darkness that can blind a person and cause immeasurable harm on many fronts. It can only be a Guru who can save a person from such an enormous affliction by imparting knowledge and wisdom and kindling the awareness about the supreme reality. Salutations to Guru, who is such a divine being in the human form!