Guru Purnima is observed on the full moon day in the month of Ashadh (June-July) every year. The birth anniversary of Maharishi Ved Vyas, the author of Mahabharata, is celebrated as Guru Purnima. The day is also known as Vyas Jayanti.
The word guru refers to perfection. Gu signifies concealed and ru signifies revealed. Thus, a guru is one who removes ignorance and paves way for enlightenment. Earnestly religious people begin their day by chanting a prayer to their guru: Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnuh Gurur Devo Maheswarah, Guruh Sakshat Param Brahmah, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah. In other words, Guru is the creator, preserver and also the destroyer.
India stands with pride for the contributions made by the great gurus in the ancient times. This is a day when we remember all the gurus who have worked for the propagation of knowledge. Ved Vyas composed the great epic Mahabharata which remains immortal till date. Valmiki composed the epic Ramayana which is read worldwide even today. Vasistha was the kulguru of Raghuvansa lineage where Sri Ram was born. Vishwamitra initiated the Gayatri Mantra. Bharat did research in performing arts and made India unique. Dhanvantari is known for his work in medical science. Patanjali made his contribution in the field of yoga. Vatsyayana wrote Kamasutra which serves as a guide for a happy married life. Thus, the gurus offered knowledge for the development of Indian culture.
Ved Vyas also made efforts in preserving the great store of Vedic knowledge. At first, when he doubted that the Vedas might get extinct, he protected them by compilation and organised them into four parts. Secondly, he laid stress on handing over the knowledge from one generation to the other. This was done by a guru to his disciple and by a father to his son. Third, he allotted the various branches of knowledge to several communities. The different branches were Ayurveda (medicine including surgery), Sthapatya Veda (sculpture related to metals, stones, mortars and wood), Gandharva Veda (vocal and instrumental music, dance etc.) and Dhanur Veda (skills of military warfare). Lastly, he composed Puranas so that the commoners could understand all about the Vedic principles and sincerely follow them in their lives. Hence, due to all these work of surviving knowledge and preserving the Vedas, the birth tithi of Ved Vyas is celebrated as Guru Purnima.
The Gurukul system of education came into being from the Guru-Shishya tradition established by Ved Vyas. Sons of both kings and common people lived together with their guru in his ashram. They served their guru and respected him as a deity. The disciples learned not only what he taught but also learnt how to live with humility and dignity. They glorified their guru, respected him and expressed gratitude for being guided in life towards attaining the highest goal.
From time immemorial, the guru was offered an exalted place in India. The kings stood up from their thrones when the kulguru entered the hall. He was always given a seat near the monarch. Our country is gifted with sincere disciples and benevolent gurus. Chandra Gupta Maurya and his guru Chanakya, Maharaj Shivaji and his guru Samartha Ramdas, Swami Vivekananda and his guru Sri Ramakrishna etc. are some of the well-known examples.
Thus, on the day of Guru Purnima, let us pay reverence to our gurus. Our accomplishments would be worthless if we fail to remember them for their dedication towards moulding our lives.
[Published in ‘Articles Base’ on 20 May 2013]