India holds a rich culture and takes pride in celebrating every moment/event and relation as a way of showcasing gratitude. Since ancient times, there were teachers who educated the masses by imparting knowledge and teaching them how to lead life. These teachers were known as Guru’s. Even today we refer or address our teachers as the Guru. The word Guru is a Sanskrit word which is made by joining two words; here the word ‘Gu’ signifies darkness and ‘Ru’ means eliminating the darkenss. Thus, the word Guru means one who eliminates the darkness of knowledge by enlightening our soul and mind with valuable information and knowledge which helps us shape our lives.
Guru Purnima holds a rich history to it. Celebrating this occasion is like celebrating life by paying respect and showing gratitude to the ones who have shaped your life and invested their time and efforts for making you the person you are today. Without them our lives would be filled with darkness. Let us understand the history of Guru Purnima and the legends associated with it.
In Hinduism, according to one legend it was on this day (Guru Purnima) when Lord Shiva imparted the knowledge of yoga to His seven disciples who are very well known as the “Saptarishis”. Since then, this day is celebrated by the Hindus as the Guru Purnima.
Guru Purnima is also known as the Vyasa Purnima in Hinduism, as on this day, the sage Ved Vyasa, was born. The great sage Ved Vyasa is one of the most influential and highly revered gurus in Hindu traditions. He is believed to lay the foundation of the guru-shishya relationship. It is also believed that on this day Sage Ved Vyasa completed writing the Brahma Sutra which is one of his divine collections. Hence on this day, the disciples of the Sage recite the sutras mentioned in the book and thus pay respect to the sage. Similarly, in Buddhism, Guru Purnima is celebrated to pay respect to Lord Buddha, who laid the foundation of Buddhism. It is believed that on a full moon day (Purnima) Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. This was the day he got enlightened and delivered His first sermon at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. Thus, from then on this day is revered and celebrated in memory of Lord Buddha as a Guru.
As per Jainism, Guru purnima is the day when Mahavira got his first follower named Gautam Swami after which Lord Mahavira became a Treenok Guha. Thus, the Jains celebrate this day as the Guru Purnima in reverence of Lord Mahavira.
How Guru Purnima is Celebrated:
Guru Purnima is the festival that is celebrated all over India by the Hindus, Buddhists and the Jains. This festival is observed in order to pay respect to our teachers for shaping our lives and making us a better person. This festival typically falls on the full moon day every year of the Shaka Samvat according to the Hindu Panchang (calendar). This year the Guru Purnima festival is expected to fall on July 16, 2019.
Apart from Hindus, Jains and Buddhists people of diverse religions too celebrate this festival with vigour and zeal. Some people perform pujas at home or conduct a puja at the temple in the remembrance of their gurus. In educational institutions, like the colleges, schools, art academy, or any other educational institute all the students get together and thank their teachers and gurus by taking blessings from them by touching the teacher’s feet (a gesture to show respect to elders) and by gifting flowers, pen, books, and artefacts in order to show respect and gratitude they have for their gurus.
Significance of Guru Purnima:
In absence of knowledge a person’s life is filled with darkness. In order to enlighten us and to remove all the darkness we need a Guru. Our learning begins right after we are born. Our first Guru is our own mother who teaches us how the basics of life. From helping us to feed our hunger to teaching us how to talk and walk, a mother instils moral values in the child and makes sure that her children are safe and growing to be a good individual. Later, we are introduced to teachers in schools who also are our gurus. Thus, in our life span we come across many people who teach us something and enhance our experience and outlook towards life. So in order to celebrate the contribution they have made in our life by shaping us to be a better individual we celebrate Guru Purnima by honouring our gurus.