Significance and legend of Guru Purnima

The day of full moon (Purnima) in the Hindu month of Ashadh is traditionally marked and celebrated as Guru Purnima. On this day, the Guru is worshipped by the disciples.

Also known as Vyas Purnima, the occasion is devoted to sage Ved Vyas, and is celebrated in his veneration. The auspicious occasion of Vyas Purnima chosen for paying respect to the teacher is no less significant, since Vyas is considered the Adi (original) Guru, who classified the Vedas, penned the Puranas, the mythological tales, and the epic saga of Mahabharata. He is credited with the composition of the authentic treatise of Brahma-sootras that explain the background of holy Vedas.

The Guru in the Hindu tradition is perceived as an embodiment of God. For, it is through his guidance and grace that an individual attains the highest state of bliss and wisdom. Devotional worship of the teacher – the preceptor – is one of the most elevating features of the Hindu culture.

The Swaminarayan Sanstha, a socio-spiritual body with its roots in the Vedas scriptures, elaborates on the Need of a Guru in the following words: “The Sanskrit root ‘Gu’ means darkness or ignorance. ‘Ru’ denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore one who removes darkness of our ignorance is a Guru. Only he who removes our ultimate darkness, known as Maya, and who inspires and guides us on to the path of God-realization is the true Guru. Students also refer to their school teacher or college lecturer as Guru. The connotation of the word Guru in this case is one who imparts temporal knowledge (Apara Vidya) and is thus accordingly offered respect.”

Even a genuine spiritual aspirant, no matter how intelligent or brilliant, can never attain complete knowledge by his own endeavor. One can only attain salvation by respecting and serving the true Guru who plays a key role in guiding the aspirant.

Those who understand the teacher’s glory only will be able to achieve enlightenment and knowledge. We acknowledge the contribution of a teacher in our life on Guru Purnima. A gift will serve as a genuine gesture of our gratefulness toward our teachers.

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