Ajnana TimirAndhasya JnanaAnjana Shalaakaaya
Chakshurunmilitam Yena Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha
He who removes darkness of ignorance of the blinded (un-enlightened) by applying the ointment (medicine) of (Spiritual) knowledge
He Who opens the eyes, salutations unto that holy Guru
Guru Poornima, also known as Vyasa Poornima is an auspicious Hindu festival that is dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers. It is celebrated on poornima (full moon day) in the month of Ashadha (June-July), the first full moon after the summer solstice. Much like world teacher’s day, celebrated on the 5th of September, Guru Poornima too is celebrated to pay gratitude to our teachers.
This festival is traditionally observed by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains to revere their chosen spiritual teachers or leaders. During Guru Poornima, pujas were offered to the Gods in the name of the Gurus, thanking them and often reciting their greatness and the impact they have had on the disciple’s life. Today, people still hold pujas, offering gratitude and praying for the goodness of one and all. Many people even fast the whole day, only eating fresh fruits and curd, and ending the fast only after the evening puja.
During ancient times, the Guru held a very important place in the lives of the disciples. So much so that there are many tales in The Mahabharata and other holy books narrating the special bond between the Guru and the disciple, known as Guru Shishya Parampara or a disciple’s devotion towards his Guru. The word Guru means ‘One who removes ignorance or darkness’ in sanskrit. ‘Gu’ means darkness or ignorance and ‘Ru’ means remover. In fact, there is a saying that is popular in sanskrit which emphasises on the importance of a Guru in our lives - ‘Mata Pitah Guru Daivam’. Sadguru, the founder of Isha Foundation translates this as ‘Mother, Father, Guru and the Divine”. He explains that this saying is making a statement of the natural process of life that an individual goes through from the moment they are born.
This sacred day marks the first transmission of the yogic sciences from Shiva (Adiyogi) to his first disciples, the Saptharishis, the seven celebrated sages.The Saptharishis carried this knowledge throughout the world and even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws from the spine of knowing created by Adiyogi.
Guru Poornima is also known as Vyasa Poornima because this was the day that the author of the Mahabharata, Veda Vyasa, was born. Along with writing the Epic Mahabharata, he had gathered all the Vedic hymns and divided them into four parts called Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda.
As many of us can’t see our Gurus and teachers during this lockdown period, we can’t pay our respects and do pooja in their presence, but instead we can focus the day on thinking about all our Gurus and thank them for their knowledge and encouragement with this sloka:
Puujaa-Muulam Gurur-Padam |
Mokssa-Muulam Guruur-Krpaa ||
The Root of Meditation is the Form of the Guru,
The Root of Worship is the Feet of the Guru,
The Root of Mantra is the Word of the Guru,
The Root of Liberation is the Grace of the Guru.
By: Anjali Sivanandakumar