Guru Purnima: Importance and Significance Prakasarao V Velagapudi, PhD

13 Jul 2022 430 Views

“The Sadguru makes a study of the mind of 'His' disciple and comes to know the nature of his thoughts.  'He' allows 'His' disciple to keep in his mind all his noble thoughts and helps him eradicate his impure thoughts by transmitting necessary energy to him to do intense Sadhana (Spiritual Practice).  Noble thoughts overcome the impure ones.  Love overcomes hatred and purity overcomes lust.” Sri Swamiji
What is Guru Purnima?
The Purnima or full moon day in the month of Ashada (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima. This day is considered sacred as we recognize the contribution of to the great sage Maharishi Veda Vyasa. He is remembered, respected and revered on this Ashada Purnima day. All Hindus are thankful, grateful and appreciative of this ancient saint who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, Mahabharata,     the Srimad Bhagavatam and Brahma Sutras. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.
Veda Vyasa is also called as “Krishna Dwaipayana,’ “Vasishta Krishna”, “Badarayana”, “Satyavathi Sutha” and “Parashara putra.” He was called as Krishna Dwaipayana.  When he was born, Veda Vyasa’s complexion was dark and therefore he was referred as Krishna. Since he was born on one of the islands (Dweepas) of Yamuna River, he was referred as Dwaipayana. Hence, he is known as Krishna Dwaipayana. He is known as Badarayana since the island where he was born was covered with Badara (Indian jujube) trees. Because of his unsurpassing effort to compile the Vedas into four – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvanaveda, he is referred as Veda Vyasa. It is said in Srimad Bhagavatam (1.3.21), “Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Sri Vyas deva appeared in the womb of Satyavathi through Parashara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and sub-branches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.”  His contribution is acknowledged in many scriptures. Gita Dhyana recognized his role to our cultural heritage: “Salutations unto thee, O Vyasa, whose intellect is vast, whose eyes are as large as the petals of a full-blown lotus, by whom was lighted the lamp of wisdom, full of the Mahabharata oil (essence).”
Vyasa is being described as Chiranjeevi, an immortal being still alive only to safeguard the humanity. He decided to remain on earth only for the welfare of the mankind till the end of Kaliyuga. He is providing guidance to the most highly elevated spiritual leaders.

Significance of Guru Purnima
On this day, all spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and all disciples perform a 'puja' for their respective spiritual preceptor or Gurus. Hence, as per the tradition, we are participating in the worship of our Sadguru Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s holy feet, remembering the Guru Parampara starting with Lord Dattatreya, Dakshinamurthy, Jayalakshmi Mata and Sri Swamiji. We are all fortunate to participate in Guru Purnima celebrations of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji and witness the pratyaksha Pada puja, listen to the chanting of the Ashtoattara Nama, and have darshan of His illumination and magnetic personality.
Since Hindus attach so much importance for the self-development, self -improvement and self-realization, spiritual Gurus play a dominant role in shaping and channeling the devotees to the path of spirituality. In fact, Gurus are often equated with God and always described as a link between the mortal individual and the Immortal God.  In some cases, the Gurus are placed at even higher level than Gods. 
The day of Guru Purnima is the day when all express our gratitude to our Sadguru, Sri Swamiji, recommit our faith, rededicate our commitment to progress spiritually, do our part of seva, and receive his blessings. Guru Purnima is also considered an especially beneficial day to practice yogic Sadhana and meditation. The next six months following Guru Purnima in Ashada masa are considered the best time to study, evolve and experience the innate divine quality in a human being.  These months are considered more suitable to receive the cosmic energy. During these celebrations, let us remember the most important verse in Guru Gita:
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih; Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam; Moksha moolam guror kripa.
"The Guru's form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation". It is a known fact that many Indians believe that the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.

Celebrate the Glory of a Guru

    The concept of Guru is one of the pillars of Sanatana Dharma that preserved and protected the very essence of human existence. The Sanskrit root "Gu" means darkness or ignorance, "Ru" denotes removal or dispelling darkness. Therefore, one who removes our ignorance is considered a Guru. A Sadguru is the one who teaches the TRUTH to dispel darkness. Truth hurts. Truth may be harsh and painful. But we devotees of Sri Swamiji know that we get the complete knowledge, it is not tainted to be palatable. Hence Sri Swamiji’s speeches may contain harsh words, but we learn that the road to liberation is covered with many thorns. We have to take full responsibility to burn our karmas. If we take one step toward him, he will take nine steps toward us. That is Sri Swamiji. That is our Sadguru. 

    A spiritual aspirant can never attain valuable knowledge by his own endeavor without approaching a Guru, no matter how intelligent he may be. Jadbharat revealed this message in Srimad Bhagavatam to king Rahugan: 

"O Rahugan! One cannot attain knowledge of Atma and Paramatma by performing penance, sacrifices, renunciation, Vedic study or worshipping deities of water, fire or the sun. But when the dust from the feet of a Satpurush (God-realized Guru) sprinkles on our heads, then we can surely attain this knowledge."

    Being a self-realized soul, Sri Swamiji can delve deep into the relevant scriptures and pull out the most appropriate subject, throw light on the profound meanings of the human existence. Mundaka Upanishad calls such a Guru "Shrotriya" - knower of the true meanings of the scriptures. Adi Shankar Acharya forbids an aspirant in endeavoring to decipher the meanings without a Guru. In his commentary on a Mantra of the Mundaka Upanishad, he says: "Even if one possesses knowledge of the scriptures, he should not attempt to delve into their meanings by himself. He should obtain the knowledge of Brahman only through the Guru."

    According to Adi Shankara, two most important qualifications of a guru are Shrotriya, meaning well versed in scriptures and Brahmanishta meaning focused on Brahma. The combination of these two qualifications enable a guru to guide his disciples, clear their doubts even without explanation, infuse confidence and conviction, and provide much needed shield for the devotees. Adi Shankara explains more vividly the nature of Guru as thus:

                  “The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions and remembering them, who possesses tranquility, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed in the scriptures and unattached to enjoyment both seen and unseen, who has renounced the means to all kinds of actions, is a knower of brahman, and established in brahman, is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct, who is devoid of shortcomings such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, fraud, jealousy, falsehood, egoism and attachment. He has the sole aim of helping others and a desire to impart the knowledge of Brahman only.” (Upadesa Sahasri of Sri Sankaracharya: A Thousand Teachings in Two Parts: Prose and Poetry; translated by Swami Jagadananda). 

Pratyaksha Pada Puja to Sri Swamiji
    As we all know that today’s Guru Purnima program starts with Pratyaksha Pada Puja – doing the puja to the feet of our Sadguru. Why do we do puja to Padas (feet)?  
Manduka Upanishad says: "The Guru's feet are like the foundation on which a building stands.... The Guru's feet are the two elements in the mantra So'Ham which means 'I am that.” According to Sant Jnaneswar, Guru’s feet will enable one to attain all the purusharadhas:
May I be worthy of the Guru’s feet; through them I may attain all the goals of human life, and through them I will gain that pure knowledge that leads to rest in God.”
As we all know that on this day, the devotees perform Pada puja by washing his feet or his padukas, smearing them with gandham (sandalwood paste) and chanting ashtottaranama by offering flowers followed by abharana seva. Finally, all the devotees get the opportunity to offer guru Dakshina. 
Full faith is paramount in receiving the bounty of blessings. Sant Tukaram says:
    If you have faith in the Guru’s feet,
    If you have deep feeling for Guru’s feet,
If you imbibe the state of the Guru,
Then you don’t have to look for God.
God will come looking for you.
Guru Purnima is the day when all His devotees and disciples honor, respect and eulogize Sadguru Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji. In addition to having Sri Swamiji’s darshan, we should participate in all pujas and perform Pada Puja to symbolize the glory of our Sadguru. God manifests through Him.  Let us remember his guidance and speeches that extol the virtues of dharma; reflect on the miracles bestowed on countless devotees; reminisce his love, compassion, dynamism and magnetism; recollect as to how he is transforming his devotees to be spiritual; and recall his tireless efforts to rekindle the light of knowledge. Remember that Gods manifest as Gurus. Sri Swamiji is Datta Avatara who travels across the globe to guide all his devotees who have been associated with him in his previous numerous Avataras. Jai Guru Datta.

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