Guru Purnima is the day of immense religious significance. This is the occasion meant for the worship of Gurus, the teachers, and great masters. This occasion is closely connected with the great sage Maharishi Veda Vyasa and is regarded as the day this noble soul took birth in our land. As this multi-faceted saint was also considered to be a renowned Guru, his day of advent became a special day dedicated to all the Gurus of our land.
It is the Ashada Purnima, the full Moon day that falls in the Hindu month of Ashada (June–July) that is observed as Guru Purnima.
Vyasa, the Saintly Soul
Vyasa occupies a pride of place in the ancient Indian history and its psyche. He was a great sage, considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. However, his greatness doesn’t end there. Vedas are a treasure trove of ancient wisdom and the credit for compiling them together, classifying them into four distinct parts and presenting to humanity for their benefit and use, goes entirely to him. Hence, he is called very rightly as Veda Vyasa, the Vyasa of the Vedic fame. He was also a divine litterateur of immense merit. It was he who composed the stupendous epic Mahabharata and also wrote as many as 18 Puranas, which include Bhagavata Purana, regarded as extremely sacred. Guru Purnima remains as an occasion for remembering this great son of our soil and offering our respects to him. Performing Vyasa Pooja, the worship of this saint-poet becomes a significant activity of the day.
Other Facets of Guru Purnima
This day of reverence to the Guru extends further to include in its fold, other aspects of importance too. Guru Purnima sounds the beginning of the rainy season, raising hopes for the lands wilting under the scorching heat of a long summer, to get the first taste of the soothing rains. The process of the clouds pouring down copious water on earth in the form of rains is also often compared to the Gurus, who keep on collecting invaluable knowledge and profound wisdom from all available sources and bestow them without restraint to the disciples when the right time comes. Guru Purnima is thus a day eagerly looked forward to, by the farming community too.
Chaturmasa, the holy period of four months, also begins on Guru Purnima, when Sanyasis, the ascetics, saints and the heads of mutts and monastic orders stay put at a place and devote their time entirely in religious activities. In-depth studies of philosophical works are undertaken, discussions on spiritual matters held, meditations performed, and austerities are observed. Even for others, this is considered an ideal day for the starting of all endeavors of spiritual importance.
Guru Purnima Observances
Guru is an embodiment of God himself, and hence, he is the one who can break the chains of attachment, clear illusions and relieve a person of the eternal bondage of life and death. In fact, every object around, animate and inanimate, remains a teacher and people can start developing the maturity on the sacred Guru Purnima day to see the universe itself as a great Guru.
On that day, people can live on limited diets like fruits and milk, do meditation, sacred chanting and reading of scriptures, perform Vyasa Pooja and do Mantra chanting for any number of times. They can also show their respects and honor to the teachers, spiritual masters, and respected elders, and do generous charities.