Guru Purnima or the day when homage is paid to one’s spiritual Gurus is also known as Vyasa Puja. The Guru Purnima is a festival mostly celebrated amongst the Hindus and the Nepalese to commemorate their teachers, pay respect to them and acknowledge their contribution.
This is mostly celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. This unique day is celebrated in the month of Ashada, according to traditional Hindu calendar on the full moon day.
According to Gregorian calendar this falls in the month of June July. This day marks the beautiful surrender of the devotee and the follower to their Gurus unconditionally and respecting their contribution towards their lives. It may not be done elaborately, but recognition of the fact makes the occasion important.
Observance of Guru Puja
It is believed that on the day of the Guru Purnima, the Guru principle is the most active. The word Guru is derived from Sanskrit. It can be traced back to two words- Gu in Sanskrit means darkness or ignorance and the word Ru means the one who removes that darkness of ignorance. On this auspicious day disciples and devotees pay respect to their guides and mentors who have brought them out of the spiritual darkness.
Lord Buddha on this day had given his first sermon at Sarnath.in the Hindu tradition and in the Yogic tradition it is believed that Shiva became the first Guru as he began to transfer his yogic knowledge on this day to the Saptarshis. There are many Hindus who observe and celebrate this day in the name of the great sage Vyasa. It is believed that Vyasa started composing his elaborate Brahma Sutras on this day. The Hindu ascetics as well as the Jain monks also observe this day devoutly and offer puja to their spiritual leader. During the period of Chaturmas, a four month period during the monsoon; when they choose a place and stay on that particular place to immerse themselves in meditation. Some of these ascetics give discourses too during this period.
Yogic legend of Guru Purnima
It is said that about 15,000 years ago a yogi arrived at the Himalayas, who neither moved, nor spoke. Sometimes from his eyes tears would fall, and this was the only reaction ever seen from him. Onlookers came and went away but seven men stayed on. When he would open his eyes, the 7 men would request him to share their experiences with them, but the yogi did not relent. However the 7 men stayed on. Seeing their perseverance the Yogi asked them to do a simple step and then closed his eyes again.
84 years went before the Yogi finally opened his eyes again. It was the summer solstice and the advent of the Dakshinayana of the sun. The Adi Yogi turned south and sat with these 7 men and started explaining to them the intricacies and mechanics of life. These 7 disciples became the Saptarshis and the Yogi is the Adi Guru.
Celebration of Vyasa Puja
The life and teaching of the Hindu spiritual teachers are celebrated on this auspicious day. Vyasa Puja is held at many temples, where Vyasa is worshipped symbolically for all the Satgurus or true Gurus. The Guru is offered worship with flowers and symbolic gifts, following which Prasad is offered, Charanamrita or water gathered from washing the feet of Guru is symbolic nectar which is served to the disciples. A special chanting of the Guru Gita composed by Vyasa himself is done in all the temples. Bhajan kirtan etc are also conducted on this day. A mantra chanted many-a-times on this day is ‘Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Parabrahmah Tasmai Shree Guru Veh Namah’, meaning the Guru is Bramha, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is equivalent to Dev Maheshwara and Guru is the epitome of Param Bramha and I worship at the feet of the Guru. This is also a day when Guru Bhai or brethren of the same Guru wish each other and exchange notes of their religious journey so far.