Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

Guru Purnima

Chinmay Prasun Biswas

Literally, guru means teacher and purnina means the full moon. According to Bengali vocabulary, Guru Purnina means the day of/for teachers. The word guru consists of two Sanskrit words gu meaning darkness or ignorance and ru meaning something that removes darkness. So, the word guru refers to a person who removes the darkness of ignorance from the minds of others. According to Hindu scripture, on this day, Parameshwar (the ultimate god) Shiv assumed the form of Dakshinamurti and imparted ultimate knowledge of the Vedas to four Manasputras (mental child) of Brahma. Besides, Sage Vedvas, the author of Mahabharat, was believed to be born on this day. His parents were Sage Parashar and Satyavati. As a result, this day is also called Vyas Purnima.

Guru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Asharh. The day is fixed, but as Bengali almanac is followed the date changes every year. For this year, the date was 29 th Asharh, 1429/13th July, 2022. Guru removes doubts and darkness of mind and shows the direction of the new way towards enlightenment. So, this day is considered extremely auspicious and significant. It is a Vedic practice through which disciples pay homage to their gurus.

It is said that this sub-continent is a land of sages where they are considered to be godlike. Gurus have been given a respectable place here since ancient times. Following the path shown by the Guru one can attain peace, joy and salvation. It is believed that if, by any reason, God becomes angry with his devotees then guru can show the way to protection. Since Vedic age Guru Purnima has been celebrated to pay homage to the Guru.

On this day homage is paid to the guru mainly in a Sanskrit hymn which means that the gurus in life are Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar. They give us the ultimate theology of creation, nourishment and destruction. Worshiping the guru on this full moon day brings eternal blessings. Not only from the point of view of religion, but it has a practical application also. Even today we can pay homage to our gurus from whom we learnt to read and write at childhood and others who gave us lessons in different stages of academic life and beyond.

To observe this occasion properly some rituals need to be followed. The purnima tithi (lunar day) must prevail through the first three moments after sunrise.

If it lasts for less than three moments after sunrise then celebrations will take place on the previous day. On this day, the devotees have to wake up early, make themselves clear of all their dirt, take a bath and wear neat clothes. After that flowers and garlands of good fragrance are to be offered on the image on Vyasdev (because he is the main guru) and then anyone can meet his own teachers to pay homage to them. Make your guru sit on a chair or something a bit high and then offer him/her a garland, clothes, fruits, flowers and dakshina (fee or reward to the priest or someone like him) in the form of some money, touch his feet and then pray for blessings.

According to Hindu belief, Vyasdev, an eminent ancient personality who was born on this day, was the author of immortal texts like Brahma Sutra, Mahabharat, Shrimad Bhagvat and 18 Purans. He was believed to be aware of all the Kaals (times - past, present, future). With divine eyes he foresaw that people would lose interest in religion and belief in God in future. They will avoid responsibilities and will have lesser age. Such persons cannot easily go through the entire Vedas. Hence, he divided the Vedas into four volumes namely Rigved, Yajurved, Samaved and Atharvaved so that people with lesser intelligence and memory can acquire Vedic knowledge. For this reason, he became famous with the name Vedvyas.

As knowledge of the Vedas was quite mysterious and difficult to understand, he compiled Puran as the 5 th Veda. In these Purans, he explained the knowledge of the Vedas through interesting stories. He provided the knowledge of Purans to his students who further divided these Vedas into many branches and sub-branches according to their level of knowledge and necessity of time. On this day, not only the guru, but elders of the family like parents, uncles, aunts and also siblings should be considered equivalent to guru.

Students gather knowledge with the blessings of guru and get rid of all the blockades of mind. Blessings of guru are certainly required for the welfare of anyone. A person experiences enhancement of knowledge and prosperity in life. All the learnings of the world can be achieved by the grace of guru. This day is also auspicious to get mantra (hymn) from the guru. This day is to be celebrated with pure heart and full faith. This occasion has a special significance in Buddhism also.

According to Buddhist belief, Gautam Buddha advised his first disciples in Sarnath on this day after attaining Bodhi (perfect wisdom). According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiv or Mahadev was transformed into Adiguru (the original teacher) on this day and. imparted great knowledge to the seven sages of Saptarshi (Ursa Major) who were his first disciples – Atri, Basishta, Pulah, Angira, Pulasthya, Marichi and Ketu. However, there is dispute over these names, but it does not dwarf the solemnity and importance of this day.


The writer is a former Commissioner of Taxes