Guru Purnima is an extremely auspicious day which is celebrated in commemoration to the spiritual Gurus that we have and remember and be grateful for the contribution of them towards mentoring our lives.

Gurus are often considered to be as important as the omnipotent and are also looked upon as the bridge between the mortal and the immortal. This day of hailing our spiritual Gurus is generally celebrated by the Hindus, Buddhists and the Jains. It is a day of reflection as to what one has been able to achieve with the teachings of the Gurus.

Guru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Ashad according to the traditional Hindu calendar and in July August as per the Gregorian calendar. This day is also intrinsically associated with Guru Veda Vyasa and his incredible contribution towards Hindu religion.

 

Dates of Guru Purnima in the next five years according to the modern day calendar:

  • In 2014, the Guru Purnima date is on Saturday, July 12.
  • In 2015, the Guru Purnima date is on Friday, July 31.
  • In 2016, the Guru Purnima date is on Tuesday, July 19.
  • In 2017, the Guru Purnima date is on Sunday, July 9.
  • In 2018, the Guru Purnima date is on Friday, July 27.

Who was Veda Vyasa?

Vyasa was born to Parashar Rishi and Matsyagandha Satyvati. Veda Vyasa compiled and edited the four Vedas; he composed the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam. It was Vyasa who divided the Vedas into four parts of – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.  It was he who taught Dattatreya, who is considered to be the Guru of Gurus.

 

The Yogic legend of Guru Purnima

According to the Yogic legend, around 15,000 years ago there appeared, in the Himalayan mountain region a sage and a yogi. Nobody knew anything about his origin. People gathered to observe him; however he would show little sign than an occasional tear drop from his eyes. Most of the crowds dispersed, but 7 enthusiasts stayed on. When the Yogi opened his eyes, they pleaded to him to explain what emotions he was experiencing. He dismissed them, but these 7 men stayed on and then again the Yogi opened his eyes and seeing the perseverance of these 7 men gave them a simple task to perform and again closed his eyes.

After 84 years of meditation, in between these 7 men had stayed on and performed the task assigned to them; the Yogi opened his eyes. It was the day of the summer solstice, the day the sun began its Dakshinayana journey. On the next full moon day the Yogi sat turned to south with these 7 men and gave discourses and expounded to them about life and its ways. These 7 men came to be known as saptarishis and the Yogi is the Adi Yogi. It is he who showed the possibility of human being evolving with the help of consciousness.

 

The Buddhist legend behind Guru Purnima

Gautama Buddha after his enlightenment went to Sarnath. He wanted to seek his 5 former companions out and teach them about the life lessons he had gained from enlightenment. The sermon and the discourse that Buddha gave to his 5 companion is known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. This was the start of the Buddhist Sangha. This was done on the day of the full moon or Purnima in the month of Ashada. He also spent the rainy monsoon season that is known as Varsha Vassa at Sarnath.

 

Observance of Guru Purnima

This auspicious day is observed by the Buddhists by observing the 8 percepts of life. The devotees practice intense meditation on this day under the guidance of their teachers. During this period many common Buddhist devotees refrain from the consumption of meat, alcohol or give up on smoking.

The Hindus remember and commemorate their Gurus by having special pujas on this day. Vyasa is revered and worshipped in many temples with flowers and prasads. A symbolic washing of the Guru’s feet is done and the water distributed as the Charanamrita, or literally nectar derived from the washing of holy feet to the disciples and devotees. The Guru Gita, a 216 verse ode which was written by Vyasa himself is chanted the whole day and other bhajns and kirtans are performed. This is a day when the commitment to follow on the path laid down by the Guru is reconfirmed and the Guru’s contribution is revered. A mantra chanted on this day is as follows –‘Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Parabrahmah Tasmai Shree Guru Veh Namah’, which literally means that Guru is the Brahma , Guru is the Vishnu and Guru is the Maheshwara to me. And to me Guru is the epitome of the ultimate Brahma and I lay in humble submission to my Guru.

In Jainism too this day is observed with deep respect as the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira after attaining Kaivalya Gyan made Indrabhuti Gautam his first disciple on this auspicious day. Thus on this day Mahavira became a Guru and Gautam who later came to be known as Gautam Swami his first disciple.

Irrespective of any religion this day marks the deep respect shown by the devotees and the disciples towards their Gurus, their teachers and their mentors. It is a day of self realization and the day to acknowledge the contribution of the teachers and mentors in lives.


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