Guru is referred to a teacher, who is considered akin to God Almighty, in the Hindu culture. From anyone whom you learn important lessons or anyone who teaches you any skill is considered as a Guru. Revered very much, Gurus are considered the ones who free us from ignorance.
On Guru Purnima, a full moon night, we offer our gratitude and celebrate the Gurus who have enriched our lives. The full moon day in Shukla Paksha in the month of Ashad is celebrated as Guru Purnima. In 2021, this day falls on July 24. Guru is someone who eliminates or removes the darkness from our lives, making us more knowledgeable, ushering in positivity in life.
Traditionally, on this day, we worship our spiritual guides. Guru Purnima is also called Vyasa Purnima as this day is commemorated as the birth date of Guru Veda Vyasa.
Since this day celebrates the birth of Muni Rishi Veda Vyasa, let’s know a little bit about him. Guru Vyasa is a very famous sage, who is said to have edited the Vedas and divided it and structured it into four parts. He also wrote the epic Mahabharata. He also wrote the ancient text Puranas and laid the foundation of spirituality. And since then, a special day to recognize the contributions of Gurus in our society has been celebrated as Guru Purnima.
In Hindu scripts, Guru Purnima represents the date on which Lord Shiva as the Adi Guru or original guru taught the seven rishis who were the seers of the Vedas. In Buddhism, it is believed that Lord Buddha was said to have delivered his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, reflecting the power of this sacred time.
Guru Purnima is celebrated to honour our teachers, in various fields, who show us the right path. Gurus have a special place in the hearts of their students, since time immemorial.
The importance of the bond between a Guru and his student – Guru-Shishya has been avidly and fondly talked about. All the holy scriptures describe this extraordinary bond between Guru and his Shishya, beautifully. An age-old Sanskrit phrase 'Mata Pitah Guru Daivam', reads that for any person, priority wise, the first place is reserved for the mother, second for the father, third for Guru and fourth for God. Thus, teachers/mentors have been given a higher place than Gods in Hindu tradition.
Guru Purnima is dedicated to the great teachers and mentors who build up our future. A guru is someone who pushes us towards the path of light, eliminating darkness and directing us to the correct path for spiritual growth and betterment. As a way of paying homage, this day is equally important to focus on the serene relationship between a Guru and his disciple.
Earlier, children were sent to Ashram/Pathshalas, where they were taught different subject and often about life, by the revered Gurus. The students would wear a sacred thread. It was assumed that a Guru would help them find the right direction in life.
Parents are the first teachers in our life, and thus in the Indian culture, parents are considered as Gurus. In the traditional Guru-Shishya culture, when a child finished his education and left the Ashram, they offered something valuable (Guru- Dakshina), as a token of gratitude to his/ her Guru. It was only after that, when the Guru was satisfied that the child was ready, could the disciples then start a new chapter in their life in the real world.
This day is celebrated and dedicated for those Gurus who act as a guiding light in our lives.