Guru Purnima is one of the most important festivals celebrated in India. This is the day when people worship a guru or a teacher who teaches us to follow the right path. A guru is said to dispel the darkness of ignorance and leads the individual to the path of virtues and enlightenment. We all have someone in our life who guides and motivates us, supports our dreams and ambitions and helps us determine right from wrong. This person, irrespective of their relationship with you, is a guru.
As a child, you may have read stories of Guru Dronacharya who taught the Kauravas and Pandavas, the tale of Eklavya and Guru Dronacharya or Ramakrishna Paramhansa and his disciple, Swami Vivekananda. All these and many more such stories showcase the importance of a guru in one’s life.
Guru Purnima: History & Origin
Guru Purnima is celebrated in the honor of the great sage Ved Vyasa, one of the greatest Gurus in ancient Hindu transitions. He is regarded as a symbol of the guru-shishya tradition.
According to the Hindu legend, this is the day Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman’s daughter Satyavati. Ved Vyasa did service for the cause of Vedic studies by gathering all the Vedic hymns extant during his times. He divided them into four parts based on their use in the rites, and characteristics.
He taught them to his four chief disciples and it was this dividing and editing that earned him the honorific Vyasa, meaning to edit, to divide. The Holy Veda was divided into four parts, namely, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. It is believed that he was the expansion of Lord Vishnu, who came in Dwapara Yuga to make all the Vedic knowledge from oral tradition available in written form. And Hindus believe that Guru Purnima is the day when Lord Shiva became the Adi Guru or the first guru to impart yogic knowledge to seven disciples, who are known as Saptarishis.
This day is also said to be the day when Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. Buddhists celebrate Guru Purnima by conducting a ritual called ‘Uposatha’. They honour the eight teachings of the Buddha on this day. Many Buddhist monks use this day to start their journey of meditation. They also start other ascetic practices on this day.
Guru Purnima history is vast and filled with stories of great gurus and their shishyas.
Guru Purnima 2021: Date Of The Auspicious Festival
On Guru Purnima, there is a certain alliance between the Moon and the planets, which creates a receptivity in people to that dimension which we refer to as the guru.
In 2021, the festival of Guru Purnima will be celebrated on 24th July on a Saturday.
Guru Purnima: A Celebration Of Knowledge & Learning
On Guru Purnima, Indian academics celebrate by giving thanks to their teachers, and many schools, colleges and universities hold events for their teachers. In India, a teacher is always held in high esteem, and even parents consider them to be gurus of their children.
Here is how Indians celebrate Guru Purnima:
- Get up early in the morning, in Brahmamuhurta, at 3.30 or 4 am in the morning.
- Mediate in the early hours.
- After a bath, you should worship the feet of your Guru or worship his image offering fruits, flowers, incense and camphor.
- Some prefer observing fast the whole day while some just keep silent the entire day which is called ‘Maun Vrat’. Some take only milk and fruits that day.
- Study or listen to the teachings of your Guru.
- Offer food to Sadhus and Sanyasis and seek their blessings.
- You can also arrange Satsang at your house or in your society so that you can sing and spread the glory of Guru and his messages.
- Devotes spend the entire day in prayer and take fresh resolutions for spiritual progress.
- You can send Guru Purnima wishes to your loved ones.
A mantra that is specifically enchanted during the prayer session of this day is:
Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma
Tasmai Shri Guruvey Namah!
Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He creates, sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance. I bow down to such a Guru.
Real Life Gurus – Shishya Stories
The Guru Purnima festival is special and unique in its own way. And the all-encompassing guru can be anyone in your life – a parent, sibling, relative, teacher, friend. To know the importance of such guru-shishya relations, TC46 gathered real life stories of real life people.
1. My Father, The Guru – Avantika Bahuguna, Business Strategist, Influencer, Mom and Head-Alliances at Momspresso
We learn a lot through reading books, literature and magazines in school and later on as we grow up, the real valuable lessons in life are the ones that come with experience and I have been fortunate enough to have imbibed some precious teachings from my Father- my Guru and my biggest teacher of life. Some key lessons that I picked up from him while growing up are that dedication, honesty and hard work are key to achieving any goal in life- doesn’t matter how big and small it may be. Another big lesson that I have learned from him is that life comes with all sorts of experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly but keeping your cool, being patient and laughing your woes away can help you achieve a zen state even in the midst of chaos. And if you are able to understand this, the biggest of your worries would become the easiest to tackle.
Staying true to your word, following your heart and speaking up for yourself during challenging times is what I saw him doing and I try to follow the same in my life as well. On a lighter note, being a doctor my father was always very particular about hand hygiene and I saw him using a hand sanitizer years before it became a must-have commodity in every Indian household. I often watched him washing hands, using proper handwashing technique and for at least 20 seconds, while coming home after work- a lesson that became even more relevant in today’s times.
2. The Umbrella Over My Head – Srushti Pathak, Content Manager at The Channel 46
Sant Kabirdas said, “Guru Govind Dou Khade, Kake Lagu Paay, Balihari Guru Aapno, Govind Diyo Milaye”. This stands true for me in a way. Being an atheist Kathak student was not easy. But my guru, Dr Vrushali Shashank Dabke, guided me through the journey of not just dance, but life. The Gurukul style of learning is a revered method that was a common practise during ancient times when shishyas would live at the guru’s house to gain precious vidya. With this, I learnt everything from Kathak to life lessons. As my guru’s assistant, the responsibility of managing 120+ students from ages 3 to 63, gave me the ability to teach the same thing in a variety of ways.
For students practising any Indian art, Guru Purnima holds a lot of value. It is a day to clean up the dance studio, decorate it, set up the auspicious Lord Natraj idol, get everything ready for the pooja and then offer your art to Lord Natraj and your guru. It is a day all art students look forward to with utmost enthusiasm. I still remember how the excitement would set in a month in advance, deciding which shishya would take up which chore, choreographing a secret performance for our guru as a gift and so much more. Having had the privilege of experiencing true Gurukul style teachings, I am forever grateful to my guru and Shree Mudra Kala Niketan.
Watch this fun video about things all desi teachers say and get all nostalgic on Guru Purnima!
This Guru Purnima, take a few moments to wish and express gratitude towards all those who have fulfilled the role of a guru in your life. The best way to honour your guru is to continue to abide by their teachings and pass on those valuable lessons. Make the most of this festival and let us know in the comments below who your guru is.