“Guru brahma, guru vishnu, guru devo, maheshwara, guru sakshat, parabrahma, tasmai shree gurave namaha”
A mantra most of us would have chanted during our morning prayers at school, it is an ode to gurus who have the power to create, preserve, and destroy. Gurus hold a significant position in Indian culture right from the folklore we heard growing up, to our school and college days. However, a guru can be anyone really - even outside of the standard school system that we are in.
For all those gurus that we have and choose in our life, Guru Purnima is the celebration to show respect to all of them - may they be spiritual or academic. These gurus can be anyone who has wisdom and has been sharing it, without expecting anything in return.
The festival is popularly celebrated in the Indian subcontinent; mostly by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains on the first full moon day of the month, Ashadha in the Hindu calendar.
In Hinduism, this day marks the first exchange of knowledge that happened between Shiva, the adiyogi (first yogi) to his Saptarishis who are said to have carried the knowledge with them across the world. This also makes Shiva the first Guru. Alternatively, Guru Purnima also honours the birth of ancient sage Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata. There are various ways in which festivities take place too. Traditionally, on the day of Guru Purnima, a feast is prepared in the name of Vyasa and rituals like the padpooja are observed where shishyas bow to the sandals of the Trrenok Guha and recommit to their learning journey.
In Buddhism, Guru Purnima is celebrated in honour of Buddha who gave his first teaching on this day in Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, India. In Jainism, this day marks the beginning of the Chaturmaas and also the day on which Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara became a guru after appointing his first disciple.
Going beyond religious practices, Guru Purnima has become a cultural tradition. Guru Purnima has become an event to honour knowledge itself as well as the one who shares it - the guru who is also known as the “dispeller of darkness” - someone who removes the darkness of ignorance from our world. Gurus are offered gratitude and shishyas seek blessings from them on this auspicious day. It is also an important day in Indian academia as it commemorates past teachers and scholars. In fields where the guru-shishya parampara is still alive, like Indian classical music and dance, Guru Purnima is enthusiastically celebrated among the teachers and students.
Knowledge and its sharing is one of the most sacred things in the whole world and this festival celebrates the people who make that process possible for all of us. All our gurus, especially the ones we choose, are crucial in directing us to a lifepath that is right for us and this is to acknowledge the role they play in helping us achieve happiness and success.
Hetal's Homemade extends warm wishes to all the Gurus and Shishyas a very happy Guru Purnima. Keep learning, keep growing.