Guru Purnima is the festival of reverence, dedication, and respect towards the Guru (teacher). In the word Guru, ‘gu’ means ignorance and ‘ru’ means person who destroys. The word Guru means the person who destroys the ignorance of the heart. There is a belief that Krishnadvaipayan Vyas was born in Ashada Shukla Purnima in Uttarashada Nakshatra. Hence, Ashadh Shukla Purnima is famous as Guru Purnima or Vyas Purnima. The Ashadh season marks the arrival of the monsoon season. On this occasion, Guru takes the disciple out of darkness with the light of his knowledge.
Importance of Guru
This festival is ideal for the upcoming generations to explain the importance of teachers and educators in life. In ancient times, students used to live in the ashram and get education from their guru and the guru used to give this education for free. History has also been a witness to the fact that the disciples used to take every word of their Guru’s as orders. Everyone considered themselves grateful for going under Guru sharan (shelter).
The Guru were adept in Shaastra (scriptures) and Shastra (using weapons). The knowledge imparted by guru not only replete the disciple with the art of living daily Life but also guides the disciple towards the ultimate goal of this life at the same time.
What does Lord Krishna say in Bhagavad Gita regarding Guru?
According to Srimad-Bhagavatam,
tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ
brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam (ŚB 11.3.21)
The one who is inquisitive to gain knowledge about the ultimate goal of life needs to take Guru Sharan.
How to take Guru Sharan?
In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna has explained the method of gaining knowledge from Guru by taking his shelter-
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ (Bg. 4.34)
If one wants to gain divine knowledge, he has to follow the principle of tad viddhi pranipatena which means one should try to understand the truth by approaching a spiritual master. The one who is not humble cannot take shelter under anyone. So, it is crucial to take shelter to understand that supreme knowledge by pranipata (by approaching a spiritual master). So, here the question occurs: where will I find such an authoritative person whose shelter I should take. It’s vital to do a little test before taking shelter. Or else, there have been incidents where people have suffered with ill effects because of surrendering to someone out of superstition even in the present.
How to find a Guru?
Never take shelter of the worthless being. Now how will you find whether he is wise or worthless? This is also mentioned in the scriptures. It has been described in the Mundaka Upanishad as follows-
tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet srotriyam brahma- nistham (MU 1.2.12)
This śrotriyam means one who is coming in the Guru-Shishya Parampara (disciplic succession). But the question arises what is the proof that he is coming in the disciplic succession? Brahma nistham. Brahma nistham implies that he is completely convinced about the absolute truth.
What is the method of taking shelter – pranipata? Pranipata means clear, with no doubt. If you find such a person, surrender yourself to him. Only such a person can illuminate the path of our ultimate goal. Serve him, ask questions to him and clear your doubts. Surrendering to Guru means surrendering to God because Guru is the representative of the Supreme Lord. You can question Guru for understanding but not for arguments or debates. This is called pariprasna. And if we do not adopt this process and keep wasting our time only in speculation and meaningless matters, then it will never be possible.
What Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says about the Guru?
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tells about who is the Guru. Guru means yei Krishna tattva -vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya, that is, anyone who knows Krishna is a guru.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), represents one such Brahma-nishtha disciplic succession, which means, an unaltered form of transcendental knowledge passed by a line of spiritual teachers starting from Lord Krishna and in present, it has been passed on to us by Srila Prabhupada through Vyasadeva, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
On this auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima, let all pay honour to our respective teachers.
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