Guru Purnima 2021 – Remembering Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji

23 Jul 2021 1652 Views


Prakasarao V Velagapudi, PhD

Datta Yoga Center USA

Guru Purnima is an auspicious sacred and spiritual day to celebrate the significance of a Sadguru who is unique to the Hindu way of life. This is an occasion for all the disciples to clean their minds and purify their hearts. It is celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Ashada Masa (July-August). Guru Purnima is also known as Vyasa Purnima. It is to celebrate the contribution of Veda Vyasa and express our gratitude to him as a Guru who codified the knowledge. Veda Vyasa was born on this full moon day in the month of Ashada Masa. Vyasa is the one who completed the codification of Vedas into four distinct parts – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharvana Veda and Sama Veda. He wrote Puranas which reveal the essence and spiritual meaning of Vedas in a story form for common people. He is also credited with the writing of Bhahmasutras – the quintessence of Vedas for learned people to grapple with higher-level knowledge. He not only wrote the classic Mahabharata, but he played a crucial role.

On this day, let us remember his divine personality, time-tested wisdom, boundless compassion, and his ever-watchful eye over his devotees. We are most fortunate to have our Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji as a Sadguru manifested as a Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara in a physical form so that we can perform Guru Pada Puja to His Divine Personality. It is indeed a rare occasion for many disciples who can be with Guru on this Guru Purnima day. Devotees who are not fortunate enough to be with Sri Swamiji, in his utmost compassion, made all the arrangements for all of us to watch Him conduct Guru Purnima celebrations in Mysuru (Mysore). Sri Swamiji who is the Avatara of Lord Dattatreya himself is present in our hearts to emulate, cherish and learn the essence of the meaning of life. He is a Sadguru only to remove the darkness, light the wick of ignorance, guide us to the right path, impart the meaning of light, bring happiness to our lives, pour the amrita (ambrosia) into the hearts of all his disciples, kindle spirituality and impart knowledge to follow the path of self-knowledge.

Why do we need a Guru?

Sadguru is the One who has seen what He has to see, learned what He has to learn, heard what He has to hear, acquired what He has to acquire, and realized what He has to realize. He is here in this physical world in front of all of us at His will only to help, guide, console, comfort and to remove the darkness among all of us. His love for His devotees is unconditional, His concerns unequal, His compassion unparalleled, His attention undivided and His interest unsurpassed.

Guru is absolute, supreme, and an embodiment of God. His existence is beyond the limits of time, form, and gunas (attributes). Tulasidas observes in Ramayana: “Sadguru infuses the power in the disciple to distinguish between the eternal and the perishable. He makes such arrangements that the disciple is able to feel the insignificance of the sensual experiences. As when properly instigated, a piece of coal turns radiant and hot, the human soul in the disciple can also unite with the absolute when the Sadguru destroys the indomitable self.”

It is exceedingly difficult to come close to a Sadguru. It is the only the Punya karmas (virtuous deeds) of so many previous lives that can bring one to be with a Sadguru. He is Purna (Full) Being who possesses everything that envelopes the universe. Sadguru gives a new life to his disciples who are ready to open their hearts to receive the secrets of life. He has the capacity to know the dormant forces that lie within a disciple, and he will awaken these forces at an appropriate time. He is comforting, soothing, assuring, reassuring, and illuminating like a full moon showering countless blessings on his disciples.

            Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji says that a devotee should be careful in selecting a Guru. Devotees must make every effort to learn the qualities of a Guru, his knowledge in scriptures, and his passion to transform the devotees to ward spiritual path. He says, “Guru is the beacon of light of the suffering humanity. He occupies a venerable post, but he does not have ego. He voluntarily comes down to the level of the disciple and guides him. A true Guru loves his disciple and guides him. A true Guru loves his disciple as parents love their children.”

            Gurus are worshipped as embodiments of Gods. Guru is the one who enlightens you and guides you to cross the ocean of samsara. Human birth is riddled with troubles, ailments, and uncertainties. We become directionless, despondent, and desperate for proper advice at certain times in our lives. Hence Guru is imminent in one’s life to lift us from the material world to the spiritual path. Hinduism Today states in the April/May/June 2020 issue that “it is the guru’s task to lead aspirants to God. He sets souls on the spiritual path, corrects those strays, softens karmas, inspires lifelong practice, and through initiations, awakens the seekers superconscious knowing. He helps us become aware of our shortcomings and strengthens and gives us tools to overcome weaknesses and refine ourselves.” (P:27)

On this Guru Purnima day, let us resolve ourselves to know the importance of a Guru in one’s life, how to glorify the greatness of a Guru, how to reminisce the rindless blessings of a guru and how to pay our gratitude for his limitless love to his devotees. Thus, Bhagawan Krishna said that we need to sit at the holy feet of a Sadguru and admonishes us to learn in Bhagavad Gita: “Learn the Truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him with reverence and render service unto him. Such an enlightened Saint can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the Truth. (4:34)

As per Hindu scriptures, knowledge learned from a Guru is infused with energy and power enabling the devotees to follow the spiritual path,  face the problems with ease and achieve remarkable success in one’s life. Shiva Samhita says:

Only the knowledge imparted by a Guru, through his lips, is powerful and useful; otherwise, it becomes fruitless, weak, and very painful.

He who devoted to any knowledge, while pleasing his Guru with every attention, readily obtains the fruit of that knowledge.

There is not the least doubt that Guru is the father. Guru is mother, and Guru is God even; and as such, he should be served by all with their thought, word, and deed.

By Guru's favor everything good relating to one's self is obtained. So, the Guru ought to be daily served; else there can be nothing auspicious.

Let him salute his Guru after walking three times around him and touching with his right hand his lotus-feet. (Chapter 3:11-15)

Swami Vivekananda composed a hymn in praise of  his Guru Sri Ramakrishna. The following two stanzas are very touching (Universal Prayers, p. 213):

“I take refuge in the Guru, who is like a wave rising out of the ocean of cosmic energy, who enacts His manifold divine play out of pure love, who is the great arrow to destroy the demon of doubt, who is the divine healer of the disease of worldliness.”

“I take refuge in the Guru, who is well-established in the knowledge of the Truth of Non-duality, whose life is wrapped in the glowing garment of bhakti, or loving devotion to God, whose body is ever active in the wonderful work (of doing good to mankind) and Who is the divine Healer of the disease of worldliness.”

The great poet Kabir, who was born near Benares around 1440 in a Muslim family, is one of the interesting personalities of Indian mysticism. Early in his life, he became a disciple of Swami Ramananda. Although Kabir's philosophical tones were contradictory at times, his poems captured the imagination of many people during that time. However, his admiration for the word of Guru was resolute and undaunted.

Receive that Word from which the Universe Springeth!

The word is the Guru; I have heard it and became the disciple.

How many are there who know the meaning of that word”

Oh, Sadhu! Practice that Word!

The Vedas and the Puranas proclaim it,

The world is established in it,

The Rishis and devotees speak of it,

But none knows the mystery of the Word.

The householder leaves his house when he hears it,

The six Philosophies expound it,

The Spirit of Renunciation points to that Word,

From that Word, the world-form has sprung,

The Word reveals all.”

Kabir says” “But who knows whence the Word cometh?”  He also says: “Touch His Feet, who is one and indivisible, Immutable and peaceful, who fills all vessels to the brim with joy, and whose form is love.”

Bhagawan Swaminarayan described the qualities of a Sadhu (Guru) in Vachanamruta Gadhada: “The attributes of the Sant – being free of lust, avarice, egotism, taste, attachment, etc. – are also described in the scriptures. The Sant who possesses these attributes has a direct relationship with God.”(III:27)

"Satguru is an embodiment of pure love. It is love that sustains life on this earth. It is love that sustains all the things and beings. The love of a mother for her child is the most purest form of love that human mind could imagine. But remember, the greatest form of love is the one between a Guru and the disciple" Amma of Amritapuri.

Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji emphasized the need for Guru in his speech on Guru Purnima on July 21, 2005;  “It is very difficult to get to Guru. For so many years you have struggled with your karma, then you get Sadguru. But it only takes one second to lose Him! One second is enough! It’s not only difficult to get to Guru but also to maintain that relationship. If you get to Guru, it is good luck—your good merit from a previous birth. The journey is exceedingly difficult, I know. In this big ocean of life, called samsara, there are no directions, no compass, and we cannot swim. At that time, you must chant Guru’s name. “

What should a devote do on Guru Purnima Day

            On this day it is the responsibility of a devotee to connect with his Guru whether you are in his presence or away from him physically. The best way to follow him is to listen to his discourses, read his books, listen to his music, sing his bhajans, practice meditation taught by his guru, visit the nearby Temples, and work toward preserving Hindu dharma. Swami Sivananda says, "The best form of worship of the guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message." Further he says that a devotee “may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your guru.

The Guru’s Love

Guru's love is unchanging. He never forgets his devotees. He never abandons them. He receives them with an open heart. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji is an embodiment of love, compassion, kindness, benevolence, and sympathy. We have seen some devotees who have left Sri Swamiji for a number of years, criticizing him, and abusing him for not fulfilling their desires. They never realized Sri Swami always knows our needs, knows our past, and knows what we deserve. He blesses us with what we deserve rather than what we desire.

Following is the essence of His love to the devotees as described in various scriptures:

“You may come to him for a few seconds, then go away and do whatever you will. His love is unchanging. You may deny Him to Himself and to yourself, then curse him to any who will listen. His love is unchanging. You may become the most despised of creatures, then return to him. His love is unchanging. You may become the enemy of God Himself, then return to him. His love is unchanging. Go where you will; do what you will; stay however long you will, and come back to him. His love is unchanging. Abuse others; abuse yourself; abuse Him, and come back to him. His love is unchanging. He will never criticize you; He will never minimize you; He will never desert you. Because, to him, you are everything and He Himself is nothing. He will never deceive you; He will never ridicule you; He will never fail you. Because, to Him, you are God-nature to be served and He is your servant. No matter what befalls, no matter what you become, He awaits you always. He knows you. He serves you. He loves you. His love for you, in the changing world, is unchanging.”

Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji never forsakes the disciples even if they disappear for years or abuse him or criticize him. His love is divine love, no ordinary love. Hence, it is unconditional, and it has no boundaries. Guru keeps an eye on his devotees all the time and watches over them. Babaji to Lahiri Mahasaya: “Though you lost sight of me… never did I lose sight of you… I followed you like a mother following her young.”

Guru Pada Puja

It is customary to perform Pada Puja to the Lotus Feet of a living Sadguru on Guru Purnima. It is indeed a rare opportunity for a disciple to participate in that kind of Pada Puja. Why is it so important to perform Pada Puja? The Guru’s Feet are worshiped because Guru’s Shakti dwells in the Feet. The vibrations of the inner self constantly flow out through the Feet. The nerves that come from the Sahasrara reach right down to the Feet. The Feet serve as the support for the whole body. This is the reason the Feet are given so much importance. More Shakti flows from the Feet than any other part of the body. Kularnava Tantra says: “Remember the Guru’s Sandals …They provide protection against great diseases, great disturbances, great evils, great fears, great calamities and great sins.”

According to all the scriptures, the Foot of Guru are no ordinary Foot. Gurupaddangre paadodakam Ganga. All holy waters, including Mother Ganga, live in the Guru’s Feet. This is what you should think in your heart when worshiping the Guru. All holy waters, all Devatas, or angels, and all sacred hills abide in the Guru’s Feet. One should have firm Sankalpa (intention, determination) to behold all gods in Guru’s Feet. The Trimurthis – Brahma, Vishnu, Siva – live in Guru’s Feet. These three Divine Forms symbolize the removal of the three qualities of nature that keeps the soul in bondage. The three qualities are tamas (sense of ego), rajas (passion, desire), and sattva (goodness and purity). When these three qualities are removed, then the soul becomes free, pure, and Chinmaya (full of light). So, after Guru Pada Puja, it is especially important to surrender the three qualities to the Divine Trinity along with all the unhealthy habits and selfish ego. This is the significance of self-surrender to the Guru’s Feet. Especially on Guru Purnima day, Pada Puja assumes even greater significance since it bestows countless blessings, peace of mind, and mental satisfaction.

            Guru’s shakti (energy) dwells in the feet. The holy feet serve as anchor for the whole body. The energy constantly flows from the Sahasrara chakra to the holy feet. Bhakta Tukaram says, “If you have faith in the Guru’s Holy feet, if you have deep feeling for the Guru’s Holy feet, if you imbibe the state of the Guru, then you don’t have to look for God, God will come looking for you.”

Adi Shankaracharya composed a song on the importance of Padukas during his first meeting with his Guru, Sri Govind Bhagavadpada. We will list three of the eight verses to know how prostrations at the lotus feet of a Sadguru would fetch benefits to his devotees.

Those who prostrate to the blessed sandals of their Guru
become possessors of great wealth
and overcome the curse of their poverty very quickly.
To such sandals my infinite prostrations.

Attracting us to the Lotus-like feet of our Guru,
removing all kinds of desires borne out of ignorance,
fulfilling all the desires of the disciple who bows humbly
To such sandals, I humbly offer my obeisance.

They are like an eagle for all the serpents of desires,
Blessing us with the valuable treasure of discrimination and renunciation,
Granting us the knowledge to get instant liberation from the shackles of life,
My prostrations to those holy sandals of my Guru.

Requesting Sadguru to Pardon our Mistakes

            On this Guru Purnima, let us request Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji to forgive all our mistakes, remove all our egos, help us to grow spiritually, assist in treading toward vairagya and instill devotion to your Lotus Feet. Either knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, we may have committed many blunders. Let us remember three verses from the Shiva Aparadha Kshamapana Stotram and request him to pardon our mistakes.

When I was passing through the period of youth,
I was bitten by the five snakes of senses,
In vulnerable spots,
And hence lost I, my wisdom,
And began concentrating on pleasures
Of son, riches, and ladies,
And so did not think of thee Parameswara,
And so Shambho, be pleased to pardon.
My sins, Oh Mahadeva.

Unable I am to observe the complex rules of Dharma daily,
Unable I am to follow the rules of Veda as told by Brahmins,
Unable I am to know Dharma by listening to Vedas and meditating,
And so what is the use of daily learning all these.
And so Shambho, be pleased to pardon.
My sins, Oh Mahadeva.

Hey please hear, 
Daily span of life decreases,
The youth daily disappears,
The days that are past do never return,
Time eats down the earth,
And Life and wealth are not permanent,
For they are like the tide and lightning,
And so my god Parameswara,
Forever protect this devotee of thine.

On this auspicious Guru Purnima day, may we request Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji to protect his devotees,  bless them profusely, remove the evil deeds of arishadvargas (six enemies), direct them to follow the dharmic path, sow the seeds of service to humanity, and encourage them to follow and preserve Hindu dharma.


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