Guru Purnima is a major religious occasion for those who follow guru sishya tradition. It is the special occasion for the Hindus and Buddhists. Guru Purnima, 2017 Date is July, 9. Sunday. It is otherwise known as Vyasa Purnima and Buddha Purnima.
Let us explore the significance of Guru Purnima and find out why it is named as Vyasa Purnima and Buddha 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 Maharshi Veda Vyasa.
· Guru Purnima is the day when a sishya pays homage to his guru in the context of spirituality.
· It is also reckoned special in academic circles and students pay respects to their present and past teachers.
· Classical arts like music and dance have guru sishya tradition and learners of these art forms deem the day special and venerate their gurus in a special manner.
A guru is a teacher and religious preacher who drives away the ignorance of his disciples and illumines their spirituality. ‘Gu’ in Sanskrit means darkness and ‘ru’ means removing that darkness. A guru is the spiritual leader who removes the darkness of ignorance in his disciples. He guides his disciples in the path of life and helps them seek moksha at the end.
It is the duty of a disciple to offer his respects and veneration at the feet of the guru who is the guiding star of his spiritual life. Guru Purnima is the day for the disciple to show his reverence for the guru and salute him with his whole heart.
Maharishi Veda Vyasa is the great composer of Vedas and it is he who divided the Vedas into four (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharv Vedas) as per their purpose in rites and mantras. The great epic Mahabharata is his composition and also, he bears the credit of being one of its characters. He is the writer of Srimad Bhagavatam and all 18 puranas.
This great rishi was born on the Purnima of Ashada month and thus his birthday is celebrated as Vyasa Purnima. It is also said that Veda Vyasa who wrote Brahma Sutra completed this work on Guru Purnima. Reciting the verses of Brahma Sutra and doing pooja to Veda Vyasa is the way the Hindus celebrate Vyasa Purnima.
Sadhus and sanyasis who observe Chaturmas Vrata (four months vrata) commemorate Vyasa Purnima with special prayers and pooja. They observe vrata and penance during the time of Chaturmas and consider Vyasa Purnima as a special occasion in this context.
Guru Purnima is celebrated as Buddha Purnima by the Buddhists. It was the day Gautama Buddha went to Sarnath and delivered his first sermon to his followers. So, the day is considered special by the Buddhists and special poojas are conducted in the temples where Buddha is adored as a god. Buddha is a supreme Guru whose preaching and teachings will take man to the world of spirituality by helping him shun worldly desires.
It is said Lord Shiva is the first teacher of Yoga to Saptharishis (7 sages) in ancient times. Shiva appeared as a yogi in the Himalayas long back and was in an ecstatic mood for a long time. People thronged to take a darshan of His holy appearance but they could not disturb His deep meditation. Only Saptharishis waited for Him to come out of his meditation and when He did so, they pleaded with Him to show the path to such a state of spiritual bliss.
Shiva did not budge at first. Unable to evade the persistence and commitment of the Saptharishis, he started teaching them the seven yogic ways which are still followed in yoga tradition. The day Lord Shiva started His teaching was a Full Moon Day and the Lord Himself has been adored as the First Guru in yogic tradition.
· People worship their gurus on this day and pay special puja to them.
· They read and chant the words of their guru.
· They do puja to the lotus feet of their guru and meditate upon the preachings of the Guru.
· Wandering monks and sages settle in a place to observe Chaturmas (four months) vrat during this time.
· Spiritual aspirants who wish to take sannyasa deem it as the right day to relinquish this worldly life and embrace an ascetic life.
· An ardent spiritual aspirant takes resolutions to achieve targeted spiritual goals in the ongoing days.
· Disciples fast throughout the day and spend the time meditating upon the greatness of their guru.
· Followers of any guru sishya parampara as in the case of classical dance and music learners revere their gurus with prayers, pooja and offerings.
Guru Purnima is very significant from the spiritual angle and that of the relationship of guru and sishya. Since a spiritual guru is the connector between the disciple and Immortality, the spiritual aspirants consider this day very special in their lives and spend the day in the most sacred manner.