Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

Guru Purnima...Celebration of the Guru

India is a country of Gurus. The Guru in the Hindu tradition is looked upon as an embodiment of God himself, for it is through his grace and guidance that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss. "My salutations to the Guru who is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. The Guru is Parabrahma incarnate"
Gururbrahmaa gururvishnuh gururdevo Maheswarah |
Guruh-saakshaat parabrahma tasmai shrigurave namah ||



The Sanskrit root "Gu" denotes darkness or ignorance. "Ru" denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, the one from whom we seek the light is called the Guru. 

Of course, the light is already within us, but this inner light is only a small flame which needs fuel to increase its luminosity. We, therefore, need initiation from the outer light, which we call Guru. His light removes the darkness. When this Avidya is removed, the pure knowledge of the self is illumined in all its splendour. Only then will the disciple be able to realize the real self. Therefore one who removes darkness of our ignorance and who inspires and guides us on to the path of God realization is the true Guru. The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima. This year it was on Sunday, the 25th of July.

The Guru Purnima day is also known as “Vyas Purnima”. Sage Vyasa (an incarnation of the Lord Himself) who edited the four Vedas (Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda and Sama Veda) wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. 



We are really indebted to sage Vyasa. Having brought such an immeasurable treasure chest of wisdom to the world, Vyasji is worshipped as the Guru of Gurus. It is he, who has brought forth this ocean of divine light to dispel the darkness of humanity. We can attempt to repay this deep debt of gratitude we owe him only by constant study of his works and practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in the Iron Age or Kali Yuga. Vyasa even taught Dattatreyaya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.

The Guru of Gurus, Avadhuta Dattatreyaya is the son of Saptrishi Atri Muni and Ansuya Mata, the embodiment of perfect womanhood. He is worshipped as Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh in One. Regarding Nature as his Guru, He spoke of his 24 Gurus, from each of whom He received knowledge. 

In transcending the Panch Tattwas or elements, from the earth he learnt patience and forbearance, from the waters he learnt purity, from fire he learnt tapas (austerity) and self-knowledge, from the air he learnt to move without attachment and from the sky he learnt that the self is all-pervading. From the moon he learnt that the Self is eternal and unchanging, and it is only the mind that moves. From the Sun, he learnt the Nature of Brahman and the Nature of Duality. Pranama (prostration) to Bhagwan Dattatreyaya.

THE GREAT SAGE SRI VYASA BHAGAVAN OR SRI KRISHNA DWAIPAYANA

Our mythology speaks of many Vyasas. There had been twenty-eight Vyasas before the present Vyasa-Krishna Dwaipayana-took his birth at the end of Dvapara Yuga. Krishna Dwaipayana was the son of Parasara Rishi and a Matsya-Kanya (fisherwoman) Satyavati, and the grandson of the renowned sage Vasishta. Brahma Rishi Vasishta was kul Guru of Maharaja Dasharatha of Ramayana. Sage Vashishta had 100 sons. All of them were killed by a Rakshasa (devils) influenced by Sage Vishwamitra. Sage Vashshita could not retaliate as he was a Brahma Rishi who had conquered anger. In grief he tried to commit suicide. After failing to end his life by many methods, he came back home sadly. He heard a small voice chanting the Vedas. 

There he found his eldest son Shakti-muni’s wife Adrisyanti (His daughter-in-law) who was pregnant and the small child inside her was chanting the Vedas. Parasara was born to Shakti posthumously. Shakti, one of the hundred sons of sage Vasishtha was killed in one of the visits of sage Viswamitra. The word Parasara means the vivifier of the dead. Parasara was a great Jnani and one of the supreme authorities on astrology and his book ‘Parasara Hora’ is still a textbook on astrology. He has also written a Smriti known as Parasara Smriti which is held in such high esteem that it is quoted by our present-day writers on sociology and ethics. Parāśara was the father of Vyasa.

BIRTH STORY OF SAGE VYASA

Once Sage Parasara was trying to cross the river Yamuna and he found one boat, but instead of a boatman, a beautiful young girl was in the boat. She offered her respects to the sage and offered to take him across the river. As the boat reached an island in the middle of the wide river, due to Divine Will, desire arose in the mind of the sage and he asked her to fulfill his desire. 

She objected politely saying that it was broad day light, people are there around and are watching, she is the daughter of a fisherman and is not desirable and she is still a virgin and if she accedes to his request, no one else will marry her. The sage explained to her that such desire will not normally arise in his mind and that it has arisen is due to Divine will and he will take care of all her objections. By his power acquired due to great penance, he made the whole place dark. He created smoke or fog that made visibility zero, he gave her a boon that a beautiful perfume will be wafting from her body for a distance of one Yojana (8 miles) thus making her very special and desirable, and that her virginity will remain unaffected and she will in fact marry a king. This girl was none other than Satyavati, who was later married to King Shantanu. 

Thus satisfied, she accepted his request and immediately as a result of their union, Vyaasa was born on the island in the river. Since this was a divine birth, the child grew to adulthood in minutes with full knowledge of the Vedas and other Shastras within no time and took leave of his mother with a promise to her that he will manifest himself before her whenever she remembers him, left to study the scriptures with his father. Since Vyaasa was dark and born in an island, he is known as Krishna (dark)-Dwaipayana (born on an island).

Puranas say that Vyasa took initiation at the hands of his twenty-first Guru, sage Vasudeva. He studied the Shastras under the Sages Sanaka, Sanandana and others. He arranged the Vedas for the good of mankind, and wrote the Brahma Sutras for the quick and easy understanding of the Srutis; He also wrote the Mahabharata to enable women, Sudras, and other people of lesser intellect to understand the highest knowledge in the easiest way. 

He wrote the eighteen Puranas and established the system of teaching them through Upakhyanas or discourses. In this way, he established the three paths, viz., Karma, Upasana and Jnana. To him is also attributed the fact that he continued the line of his mother, and that Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were his progenies. His last work was the Bhagavata which he undertook at the instigation of Devarshi Narada who once came to him and advised him to write it, as without it, his goal in life would not be reached.

Vyasa is considered by all Hindus as a Chiranjivi, one who is still living and roaming throughout the world for the well-being of his devotees and appears to the true and the faithful. Jagadguru Sankaracharya had his Darsana in the house of sage Mandanamisra, and that he appeared to many others as well. Thus, in short, he lives for the welfare of the world. Let us pray for his blessings on us all and on the whole world.

HOW TO OBSERVE GURU PURNIMA

On Guru Purnima, spiritual aspirants and devotees perform Vyasa Puja and disciples worship their Guru or spiritual preceptor. Saints are honoured with Dakshina (offerings) offered with faith and respect. A restricted diet of milk and fruit is recommended for the day. Traditionally, the day begins at Brahmamuhurta (before 4 a.m.) with Japa and meditation. Vyasa Puja or worship of the Guru is performed. All Sanyasins are honoured by Daan or acts of charity. The day is spent in meditation, study of the Scriptures and Satsanga with spiritual discourses, Bhajans, etc. The practices of meditation, Japa or Mantra recitation, Seva or selfless service and Dakshina or offerings performed on this day are extremely auspicious in connecting us with the power bestowed through grace and blessings.

SWAMI SIVANANDA RECOMMENDS

• Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realisation. Do vigorous 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. Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day. In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.

• Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru.

• At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your 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.

SIGNIFICANCE OF GURU PURNIMA

Guru Purnima is a day when all the disciples pay their deepest reverence to their Guru. It is the day to review and see as to how much one has progressed in life in the last one year. All the aspirants make a fresh resolve to intensify their spiritual practices. Traditionally, it is a day when we, as disciples, join together to receive fresh inspiration, to renew and strengthen our faith in the Guru and re-dedicate ourselves to spiritual Sadhana and spiritual stock-taking. 

This creates an auspicious and favourable opportunity to strengthen the link with the spirit of Guru. On this special day, all over the world, the energies of millions of people and the masters of all traditions are pouring into these channels of grace to guide and uplift us. Spiritual masters and their disciples engage themselves at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and in Vedantic discussions. In the Uttara Mimamsa of the Sutras, Veda Vyasa writes: Athatho Brahma Jijnasaa indicating the importance of the search for knowledge of Brahman.

WHAT SHOULD BE THE GURU DAKSHINA (OFFERINGS) TO THE GURU

• From this day of Guru Purnima, make your hearts sacred.
• Try to reduce your attachment to the world to the extent possible.
• Do not hurt anybody.
• Be happy and make others happy. Do not be depressed by sorrow nor be elated by happiness.
• Develop love. Only love can eradicate the evil qualities in you.
• Consider difficulties as passing clouds. Just as you wave away the mosquitoes that bite you, brush aside any difficulties that assail you.
• Develop equanimity and strive to attain Divinity.
• Give up ignorance, light the lamp of wisdom in you and ultimately merge in the Divine.

CONCLUSION

A Guru is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. The Grace of the Guru is indispensable for the spiritual progress of the aspirants. It is the Guru alone that breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence. The Sruti says, "To that high-souled aspirant whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his Guru is as great as that to the Lord, these secrets explained become illuminated."

Adi Shankaracharya echoes a similar injunction: "If a person, despite possessing: a handsome, disease-free body, fame, a mountain of wealth, and even if he has studied the Vedas and all other scriptures, and has himself composed many scriptures, but has not surrendered himself at the feet of a Guru, then he has achieved nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing."

May Guru’s blessings always shower on you,
Wish you a very Happy Guru Purnima !

AUM SHANTI