‘Gu’ means ignorance and the word ‘Ru’ denotes the one who removes said ignorance. ‘Guru’ refers to the one who removes ignorance, or the one who shares wisdom. Guru Purnima is the day that we acknowledge our Guru’s.
When is Guru Purnima?
The Full Moon in July is known as Ashadha Purnima (June/July). Also known as Guru Purnima (also spelt Poornima). It is the day when all Gurus are honoured.
This stotram or hymn describes the role of the Guru. The Guru is one who removes the blindness of ignorance caused by ego, through the use of correct knowledge shared at the correct time.
There has always been a oral tradition in Vedic, Indian wisdom practices. Very few are able to gain complete wisdom just by reading books. One needs a guide – the Guru. While knowledge can be transferred in written form, there are differences in pronunciation, translation and interpretation.
Therefore the best way to understand any subject; is to find a person who has understood the subject well and is willing to transmit it to you in a pure form. Therefore a true Guru is one who has taken time to understand the subject and is able to share the wisdom without their ego’s getting the way.
The Guru-Sishya Relationship
The Guri is the one who gives upadesam (instruction), the one who receives the knowledge (Siksha) is the disciple (Sishya); they are mutually related to one another.
The greatness of the Guru lies in her/his ability to share wisdom with the next generation of disciples. This wisdom is shared through the Guru-Sishya Parampara (spiritual lineage) for the welfare of humankind. On fully experiencing the wisdom, the student may eventually also assume the role of the Guru. Hence this cycle of wisdom transfer is eternal yet always relevant.
Vyasa, the First Guru & Guru Purnima
Sage Vyasa was the one who compiled the Vedas. He wanted to ensure that every person could receive the knowledge of the Supreme Self. He organised the Vedas into 4 part and various sub chapter to simplify the sharing & understanding of this huge body of wisdom. Sage Vyasa is therefore considered as the first Guru aGuru Purnima is dedicated to him.
Guru Purnima & The Full Moon
Guru Purnima is celebrated on the Full Moon because we are most receptive at this time. On the Full Moon, one’s mental faculties are at their peak, making a disciple fully eligible to receive knowledge. It is believed that on this day, the Guru can remove the biggest obstacle on the spiritual path – the disciple’s ego.
This famous mantra is of greatest significance to me. It acknowledges all the forces in this cosmos, but alludes to the fact that the real Guru lies within you, always. ‘Tat vam asi’ – Thou are that. And on Guru Purnima, I acknowledge my supreme Guru. However I also acknowledge all my teachers whom have guided me to my realisation and experience of my Inner Guru.
Jai Guru Deva
Glory to the one who removes ignorance.