We meet many people in our lives and some of them leave a lasting impact. During our lifetime, we also get the opportunity to learn new things from people around us. Anyone who enriches our lives with their knowledge and awakens our senses can be considered gurus. For that matter, parents, friends, teachers, and even nature can be considered gurus. A guru is a mentor, a guide, an expert, or a master. In Indian traditions, a guru holds a special place in the life of their students. They are considered more than a teacher and are responsible for the holistic development and success of their pupils. Gurus are a source of inspiration for their students and help them on their path to success. To mark the importance of gurus and their contributions, we celebrate Guru Purnima every year. Guru Purnima 2022 is going to be celebrated on the 13th of July and is a spiritual tradition that is celebrated in various parts of the world, including India, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Why do we Celebrate Guru Purnima?
Guru Purnima is a spiritual tradition that emerged out of the Dharmic ethos of ancient India, and it celebrates the importance of gurus or teachers in our lives. Every culture or tradition has a certain way to pay tribute to teachers or mentors. In India, this day is commemorated as Guru Purnima. It is also observed by almost all religions that were born in India like Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism and they are all celebrated as a day to express their gratitude to their mentors.
Facts About Guru Purnima
There are a lot of significant developments that took place during this day that makes Guru Purnima such a prominent day for the cultural ethos of India. They are as discussed below:
- The festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Ashadh. It is also the first full moon after the summer solstice. According to the Hindu calendar, this is the fourth month of the year.
- According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva, considered the first Yogi, or Adiyogi, started the transmission of yoga to the Saptarishis on this day, making him the first Guru or Adiguru.
- The day is celebrated as Vyasa Purnima in Hindu tradition to honor the great sage Ved Vyasa who is most famous for his contribution to India as the author of the world’s longest epic, the Mahabharata.
- Mahatma Gandhi paid tribute to his teacher Shrimad Rajchandra on this day which is said to have played a role in the resurgence of observation of Guru Purnima in India.
- Most people visit temples, take a holy dip, and pay homage to their gurus or mentors on this day.
- Being the only other Hindu majority country in the world after India, Nepal celebrates Guru Purnima as their teachers day.
A guru not only helps their students in academic progress but pays an equal contribution to their personality development and spiritual awakening.
Importance of Gurus
The Sanskrit word guru literally translates to ‘dispeller of darkness’. Even though the word guru is now being used as a synonym for teacher, it is not exactly how it originated. A real guru is one who helps their students make their way through the darkness to the light and helps get rid of our weaknesses and faults. They are the ones who motivate us to learn new things and focus on self-development. Having a guru is a blessing in anyone’s life.
In Hindu tradition, it is believed that the blessing of a guru helps to remove all obstacles. However, to attain the grace of a guru, maintaining humility and sincerity towards them is vital. Throughout history, there are several examples of people who have achieved success with the guidance of their gurus. Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Arjun and Dronacharya, and Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya are a few famous mentor-mentee prominently showcased in history.
#GuruSeBaneGuru- Learnings from the Mentors
We spoke to a few Teachmint teachers and asked them to share the best lessons that they learned from their teachers. Let us take a look at what they had to say:
“Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru, none can cross over to the other shore.”- Guru Nanak
It is said that a child’s first teacher is their mother, and that is what Nishi Goyal had to say when asked about the prominent figures in her life that led her to take up the path of teaching.
“My mother was, is, and always will be my greatest guru. She always motivated me to move in the right direction and take conscious steps toward handling everyday stress and unpredictable situations. Many of us get anxious and overwhelmed when taking care of such situations, but seeing how my mother used to take care of all of us and handle every situation with patience and courage gave me the ability to do the same, not just as a teacher but also as a woman. My mother is the reason for my independence and self-esteem. She gave me the strength, confidence, and courage to push forward in life, one calculated step at a time.” -Nishi Goyal, Private Educator.
To a student, the world is a scary dark place, filled with uncertainty and instability. It is the responsibility of the teacher to guide them through this dark path and show them the way to the light, eventually aiding them in their way to bear their own torches and shine the light in their own way towards the direction they want to go.
“As a kid, I was always eager to learn. I am extremely inquisitive in that way. Excelling in academics and scoring good marks was my aim. I thought all this will help me secure a good job title in the future. However, one of my teachers encouraged me to run after excellence and knowledge; instead of running behind marks and job titles. He always mentioned that getting knowledge builds your character and personality. Rest everything will follow you. Wherever I stand today and whatever I have achieved, it is because of the life lesson from my teachers." -Ajeet Vishwakarma, Civil Services Educator.
Significance of Guru Purnima in Different Traditions
The term guru and its cultural significance have their roots in ancient Dharmic traditions that slowly branched out into other religions due to various reasons, but the roots remain strong and grounded within the Indian pantheon of beliefs. Given below are some of the ways in which the different sects of India celebrate this auspicious event:
Buddhists believe that Gautam Buddha, the spiritual guru considered to be the founding father of the religion of Buddhism, gave his first sermon on this day to his disciples. He is said to have done so in what is now known as the state of Uttar Pradesh to his first five disciples or sangha. To mark this day, Buddhists conduct a ritual known as Uposatha. Buddha gave eight teachings to the world and his followers honor his teachings on this day. Many Buddhist monks also start their meditation practice on the day of Guru Purnima when they take the oath to follow the teachings of Gautam Buddha.
Hindus celebrate Guru Purnima as Vyasa Puja or Vyasa Jayanti. They chant mantras, devotional songs, and hymns to honor the Maha Guru. It is a day when many people seek the blessings of their spiritual leaders as well. At various sacred places, Guru Gita, a holy text is also recited in the memory of Ved Vyasa. However, that is not all. Guru Purnima holds significance in the Hindu pantheon as the day on which Lord Shiva became the first guru and gave the world the Yogic sciences and in doing so, began the tradition of imparting knowledge. The full moon also bears significance in Hindu tradition. The full moon is also considered an auspicious occasion in Hindusim, representing plenitude, abundance, and blessings from Chandra, the Moon God. Full moon nights are considered to be auspicious with the exception of the Holi Purnima which occurs after Mahashivaratri, and the day that follows it. These days are avoided for new beginnings.
According to Jainism, this day is celebrated to venerate Lord Mahavira, the spiritual guru of the Jain community. He gave life lessons and became the Guru to Gautam Swami on this day. Lord Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara in Jainism.
The prominence of gurus in Sikhism cannot be understated because their entire religious sect is built on the teachings of their ten gurus. Sikhs understand the significance of their Gurus quite well and they celebrate Guru Purnima as a day of reverence to their great Gurus.
Other Ancient Folklore
According to ancient folklore, farmers celebrated Guru Purnima to honor the divine. The day was celebrated as a thanksgiving for providing good rainfall.
Different cultures celebrate this day in different ways. However, the essence of this festival remains the same-to pay homage to gurus who bring light to our lives and encourage and guide us to follow the right path.