Hindus attach paramount importance to spiritual gurus. Gurus are often equated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. Just as the moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun, and glorifies it, all disciples can dazzle like the moon by gaining from their Gurus.
What is Guru Purnima?
The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa. All Hindus are indebted to this ancient saint who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.
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’ of their respective spiritual preceptor or ‘Gurudevs’.
This day is of deep significance to the farmers, for it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, as the advent of cool showers usher in fresh life in the fields. It is a good time to begin one’s spiritual lessons. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual ‘sadhana’ from this day.
The period ‘Chaturmas’ (“four months”) begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.
The Role of the Guru
There is a sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man. It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.”
How to observe Guru Purnima
One must wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of the Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone one can attain Self-realisation. Do Japa and meditate in the early morning hours.
“After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor. Many disciples fast or just partake milk and fruits.
One can sit with other devotees and discuss with them the glories and teachings of one’s Guru.
“Alternatively, one may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of their Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. One can take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of their Guru.
“In the evening, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of one’s Guru. 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.”