Guru Poornima (A day of reverence to the Guru)

Guru Poornima
(A day of reverence to the Guru)

The full moon day of the month of Ashadha (July-August) is traditionally celebrated as Guru Poornima. Guru means teacher and Poornima means the full moon day of the month. This day is also known as Vyasa Poornima. The great sage Vyasa classified the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Vedas under four heads – Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. He also composed the authentic treatise of Brahma-sootras to explain the background of Vedas. In addition, he wrote the eighteen puranas and upa-puranas, the stories of our great heroes and saints, to carry the spiritual and moral teachings contained therein to the common masses. Therefore he is the Adi-Guru for all.

How does Samskrit word (Guru) come from? ‘Gu’ stands for Gunatheeta (attributeless) and ‘Ru’ signifies Rupavarjita (formless). Thus, the one, who is formless and attributeless, is the true Guru. God!! The Guru helps us to give up the ignorance, light the lamp of wisdom and ultimately merge in the Divine. It is very well expressed in the one of the verses of Hindu scriptures.

Gurubrahma Guruvishnu Gururdevo Maheshwaraha |
Guruhu sakshaat Parambrahma tasmai Shrigurave namaha ||
(Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Mahesh (Shiva).
The Guru is Parambrahma (The Almighty). Thus respect Guru)

There is also another interpretation of Guru. The “Gu” means darkness or ignorance. “Ru” denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore one who removes darkness of our ignorance is a Guru. A Guru also inspires and guides us on to the path of God-realization. In other words, Guru is the one who gives us knowledge. Thus mother is considered as the first Guru (teacher). But, we acquire knowledge from others too such as a school teacher, a baseball coach or even the shikshak at our balagokulam. They all can be referred as Guru. One should always be thankful to whom he or she gains knowledge.

In Hindu tradition, the Guru is looked upon as an embodiment of God himself. It is through his grace and guidance that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss. The Guru or teacher also guides us into the right path when we lose track. Guru also boosts our energy when we run out of steam. On this auspicious day of Guru Poornima, many disciples perform a puja of their respective spiritual preceptor (Guru). One may even celebrate in silence, reading the religious scriptures. The best form of worshiping Guru is to follow his teachings, remember/implement them and propagate them.

In our Balagokulams, we have considered sacred Bhagava Dhwaj (saffron flag) as the true Guru. Why is that? Why don’t we consider an individual as a Guru? There have been various sages (saints), teachers and spiritual leaders who have been teaching countless individuals. But, is there anyone who can be looked upon as the preceptor for the entire Hindus – for all their past, present and future generations? Obviously, no individual can play that role. A human being is after all mortal and, however great, has own limitations and flaws. Therefore, any human being cannot be a permanent guide for all time to come. However, there is one who can be a permanent guide to all for all the time! Sacred Bhagava Dhwaj (saffron flag)! The sacred Bhagava Dhwaj that represents all the Gurus is worshipped as the Guru of the entire Hindu society. That is why we consider Bhagava Dhwaj as a Guru in our Balagokulams.

Bhagava Dhwaj is as ancient as the Hindu Dharma itself. It has flown over the hermitages of the seers and sanyaasins and also over the celestial palaces of emperors. It has flown triumphantly over the battlefields of freedom struggle and has symbolized the immortal spirit of freedom in the Hindu mind. It is the one supreme symbol held in universal reverence by all sects and castes, and all creeds and faiths of the Hindus. It is in fact the greatest unifying symbol of the entire Hindu world. The color of the Bhagava Dhwaj – the saffron, depicts sacrifice and service. The flames rising from the yajna are saffron in color and indeed reflect this spirit.

The annual function of Sri Guru Poornima in our Balagokulams presents a moment of introspection for us to check up how far we have progressed in this path of renunciation and selfless service to the society over the last one year, and take lessons from it and resolve to march faster in the current year.

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