Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guru Poornima

Today we celebrate Guru Poornima 

Guru Poornima is celebrated on Aashadha Poornima-Poornima means Full Moon and Aashadha is the name of the month in Hindu Calender. It is the fourth month. 

Guru Poornima was the day when Shiva-the Adi Yogi(first Yogi) who attained full enlightenment and the bliss/ecastacy transformed into Adi Guru( first Guru) to teach Yogic knowledge to the human race through the Sapta Rishis or the seven sages. Each of the Sapta Rishis were  taught one different aspect of the the Yogic knowledge by Lord Shiva. Thus Shiva is also known as Dakhshina Murthy or Gyana Dakshina Murthy, 

Guru Poornima also known as Vyasa Poornima is celebrated in the honour of the great Sage or Maharishi Vyasa. 

Maharishi Vyasa:

Vyasa's original name was Krishna Dwaipayana. Krishna (means black) Dwaipayana (means born in an island [in River Yamuna]). He was born on this day to Satyavathi who was popularly known as Matsyagandhi (matsya means fish and Gandhi means smell-one who is smelling of fishes-she was daughter of a fisher man) and Sage Parasara. He is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is also known as Baadarayana (Badara means Ber trees (Zaziphus Zuzuba -a berry sweet and sour in taste) -the island where he was born was covered with those trees). He is one of the 7 Chiranjeevis (immortal men) who are believed to be still live. 

At a very tender age he sought permission from his mother for performing intense Tapsya (penance). His mother reluctantly agreed on one condition that he should appear before her when ever she wanted him to. He always obliged her. He was student of many prominent sages like Sanaka Sananda etc and gained immense knowledge about Hindu scriptures. 

He wrote down the Vedas (which were in one single form) till then being transmitted in sound form that is orally from generation to generation from teacher(Guru) to student (Shishya). He codified or divided them into four parts-RIG, YAJUR, SAMA and ATHARVANA Vedas. By editing or dividing the Vedas he got the honorary title of Vyasa   (meaning splitter or divider or editor). From then onwards he was known as Vyasa or Veda Vyasa. This division made it easy for any one studying the Vedas to understand it easily.

Actually Vyasa is a title and it is believed that the universe is cyclical in nature -created and destroyed and again created. Each time Lord vishnu appears for dividing these Vedas. So far the Vedas have been divided 28 times by 28 different people- all referred to as Vyasaa. Krishna Dwaipayana was one of them born at the end of Dwapara Yuga.

He was also the author of 18 Puranas and Mahabharatha (through lord Ganesha), Bramha Sutras.He established the system of teaching these through Upakhyanas or discourses. He also established the three paths of Karma, Upasana and Gyana. 

His mother Satyavathi later married King Santanu and gave birth to two sons-Chitrangada and Vichitravirya . Both died issue less. So at his mother's request, Vyasa fathered DhrutharastraPandu and Vidura to the widows of his brothers and a maid. Thus he was the grand father of Kauravas and Pandavas -the main characters of Mahabharatha.

Now coming to the celebration of Guru Poornima-GURU or the teacher is revered and respected. He occupies a position after Mother and Father and remembered even before God. 

Gu means Darkness Ru means destroyer. Guru means he who destroys or removes the darkness called ignorance/illiteracy and gives us Gyana or knowledge/wisdom and shows us the right spiritual path to attain the Moksha(salvation). Here knowledge refers to spiritual knowledge. Indians-Hindus since ancient times gave more importance to this knowledge.

That is why we Hindus recite (Sanskrit Verse) every day:

Gurur Bramha Gurur Vishnu 
Guru Devo Maheswaraha
Guru sakshaath Param Bramham 
Tasmaye Sri Guruve Namaha.

गुरुर् ब्रम्ह गुरुर् विषणु गुरु देवो महेश्वर​: ।
गुरुर् साक्षात् परम् ब्रम्ह तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नम: ॥

Meaning Guru is the Bramaha, Vishnu and Shiva -the Holy Trinity-He is the ultimate God so we should respect him and bow to him. 

Without Guru there is no knowledge. A person may get away even displeasing God but not Guru. Even if God is displeased but if Guru is worshipped and respected and is pleased, with his help we can attain God. One should have immense faith in Guru.  Such is the reverence given to Gurus. Guru lights the lamp of Gyana in us and dispels all the darkness called ignorance.

There are many stories associated with how Gurus tested their students before imparting the knowledge suitable to each of the student. In those days, children at a very young age were sent to Gurukulas (schools) which were residential and they would leave the school after completion of their studies.

Guru and Gurupathni(wife of Guru), treated the students like their own children. But a student had to follow strict discipline so that his entire concentration was on studies and evolving himself into a good human as well as a good citizen. 

The children had to learn various things, like doing the chores-gathering fire wood, cleaning, washing, helping gurus wife in her chores as well as serving Guru, along with their education. 

Once they were literate, depending on the interest of the child, his ability, skills and his background the Guru used to test him whether the child was capable of learning a particular field of knowledge and whether he would use it selflessly for the betterment of the society. Then only he was imparted with that knowledge.

Children from royalty were taught, warfare, various laws, politics etc. If Guru was not satisfied that the student would not be able to use his knowledge positively or for good deeds, he refused to teach the student certain things.

So many great Gurus have taken birth on Indian soil and have enlightened us with their spiritual knowledge. Some of the popular ones were Dattatreya, Adi Sankaraacharya and his successors, Shirdi Sai Baba, Ramana Maharishi and so many others, the list is a long one.

So is it any wonder we should remember and pay our respects to our Gurus. Even though today the knowledge is more towards earning a living, but still we do get gurus guiding us towards right spiritual path. I for one had been fortunate and was initiated into spiritual path at a very young age. 

I feel that while remembering our Gurus, we should also remember our mother(whos is our first guru), our father, grandparents, teachers who taught us to read and write, teachers who gave us the mantra or showed us the spiritual path.

On Guru Poornima day it is very auspicious to get up early in the morning, and meditate in the Bramha Muhurtha Kalaa. I remember all my Gurus daily in my prayers for helping me and shaping my journey on the spiritual path. Some have passed away but I feel they still guide me. So I pray to them.

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