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Guru Poornimaa

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Guru Poornimaa
Aashaadh Poornimaa

Guru Poornimaa falls on Aashaadh Poornimaa. It is called Vyaas Poornimaa also, as Vyaas means Guru also. Wherever a Guru sits upon, that is called Vyaas Peeth. It is an honorable place. One should not abuse it. On this day Guru is worshipped - Ved Vyaas Jee, Dattaatreya Jee, and Guru Brihaspati Jee.

Devotional worship of the Guru - the preceptor - is one of the most touching and elevating features of the Hindu cultural tradition. The auspicious moment of Vyaas Poornimaa, chosen for observing this annual festival, is no less significant. It was the great sage Vyaas, son of a fisherwoman (Satyavatee), who classified the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Ved under four heads - Rig, Yajur, Saam and Atharv. To him goes the credit of composing the authentic treatise of Brahm Sootra to explain the background of Ved. He also wrote the eighteen Puraan, the stories of our great heroes and saints, to carry the spiritual and moral precepts contained therein to the common masses.

The greatest of epics of all times and of all climes - Mahaabhaarat - embodying the immortal song of God the Bhagvad Geetaa also in it, is also the priceless gift of Vyaas. The Bhaagvat, the thrilling and devotional story of Shree Krishn, was also his contribution. It is in the fitness of these works that Vyaas should be looked upon as the supreme preceptor of mankind. Offering of worship to him signifies the worship of all the preceptors of all times.

The Guru in the Hindu tradition is looked upon as an embodiment of God himself. For, it is through his grace and guidance that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss. "My salutations to the Guru who is Brahmaa, Vishnu and Maheshwar. The Guru is Par-Brahm incarnate -

Gururbrahmaa gururvishnu gururdevo Maheshwarah |
Guruh-saakshaat parabrahm tasmai shree gurave namah ||

Various have been the great sages and saints who have been the spiritual and religious preceptors to countless individuals down the centuries. But is there any one who can be looked upon as the preceptor for the entire Hindu people - for all their past, present and future generations? Obviously, no individual can play that role. A human being is after all mortal and, however great, has his own limitations. He cannot be a permanent guide for the entire nation for all time to come. The preceptor for a whole society should be able to act as a perennial source of inspiration to the people, embodying the highest and the noblest national values and ethos.

To the Hindu people, such a Guru can be no other than the sacred Bhagavaa Dhwaj. No one knows when and how this flag came into being. It is as ancient as the Hindu people themselves. It has flown over the hermitages of the seers and Sanyaasee and also over the celestial palaces of emperors. It has flown triumphantly over the battlefields of freedom struggle and has symbolized the immortal spirit of freedom in the Hindu mind. It is the one supreme symbol held in universal reverence by all sects and castes, and all creeds and faiths of the Hindu people. It is in fact the greatest unifying symbol of the entire Hindu world.

The color of the Bhagavaa Dhwaj - the saffron, depicting renunciation and service, epitomizes the culture of Bharat. The flames rising from the Yagya are saffron in color and indeed reflect this spirit. The concept of Yagya is extraordinarily unique to Hindu culture and tradition. Yagya is not merely a physical ritual. That is in fact only symbolic. The Bhagavad Geetaa describes the concept of Yagya as the sacrificial offering of one's self to the good of all beings. "Not mine, but thine" is the true message of Yagya. Whatever one achieves in this life in terms of physical prosperity and knowledge, one has to offer them back to the society. The Eeshaavaasya Upanishad states:

Ishaa Vaasyamidam sarvam, yatkincha jagatyaam jagat |
Tena tyaktena bhunjeetaah maa gridhah kasya swiddhanam ||

"God is the Lord of all creation. After offering to Him, enjoy only that which is left over by Him. Do not rob what belongs to others."

Acquiring of wealth is no sin but utilizing all of it for one's own self and one's own family is very much so. In the Bhagvad Geetaa Krishn warns - "He who eats all by himself without first offering to others eats only sin". However much one may earn, only the minimum things necessary for one's physical sustenance have to be utilized and the rest offered in service to the society. This is the Hindu way of tackling the challenge of harmonizing economic progress with social justice. This attitude, even while giving full scope to individual initiative, effectively neutralizes the evils of individual capitalism. Also, while it ensures social justice for the lowliest in society, the tragedy of state capitalism of the communist type is obviated and the sanctity of individual freedom upheld.

The Upanishads have declared - Na karmanaa, na pragyaa dhanena tyaagenaike amritatwa maanashuh.
It is not through actions, or progeny or wealth but through renunciation alone that immortality is attained. Needless to say, it is not the physical abandonment of these aspects of human life that is advocated here. It is the mental detachment and a spirit of considering his family life, his wealth and all his actions as so many means of worshipping God in the form of society that is set forth as the ideal. It is this unique philosophical trait of renunciation and service which can form the basis for the highest evolution of the individual combined with the happiness, harmony and progress of the society as a whole.

The Bhagavaa Dhwaj is the most resplendent emblem of this sublime philosophy. And, worship of this holy flag on this Guru Poornimaa Day is intended to instill in us this positive Hindu attitude towards life. The ceremonial worship of the flag through flowers accompanied by monetary offering is just an external expression of this attitude of surrender to the ideal. Real worship, for a Hindu, lies in becoming an image of the idea himself. "Shivo bhootwa shivam yajet" - one has to become Shiv Himself if one has to worship Shiv.

The annual function of Shree Guru Poojaa presents a moment of introspection for us to check up how far we have progressed in this path over the last one year, and take lessons from it and resolve to march faster in the current.

The Full Moon day of Aashaadh, is celebrated as Guru Poornimaa, in honor of the birth of Maharshi Ved Vyaas Jee. Vyaas has compiled and codified the four Ved - Rig Ved, Yajur Ved, Atharv Ved and Saam Ved. He authored the Brahma Sootra, which contain the essence of Vedaant, 18 Puraan and the great epic Mahaabhaarat. In every Chatur-yug a Ved Vyaas is born to do all this. (the list of Ved Vyaas born in previous Chatur-yug) In this Chatur-yug, he is Krishn Dwaipaqyan, born to Sage Paraashar and Satyavatee. To the same Veda Vyaas, we offer our Pranaam on this day. We offer our respects to all those enlightened beings whose blessings we seek on the path of Self Knowledge, the path of Divine Wisdom.

The four months of Chaatur-maas also begins with Guru Poornimaa, when aspirants make a fresh resolve to intensify their spiritual practices. For those who have dedicated themselves to spiritual life, the monsoon months are essentially a period of retreat marked by the study of the sacred texts, especially the Prasthaan Traya (triple foundation) - Brahm Sootra, Upanishad and Geetaa. In the Uttar Meemaansaa of the Sootra, Ved Vyaas writes: "Atatho Brahm Jigyasaa" indicating the importance of the search for knowledge of Brahm. Accordingly, this time is devoted with renewed vigor, to Saadhanaa or spiritual practice, Jap and meditation.

On Guru Poornimaa, spiritual aspirants and devotees perform Vyaass Poojaa and disciples worship their Guru or spiritual preceptor. Saints are honored with Dakshinaa (offerings) offered with faith and respect. A restricted diet of milk and fruit is recommended for the day. Traditionally, the day begins at Brahm Muhoort (before 4 am) with Jap and meditation and Vyaas Poojaa and worship of the Guru is performed. All Sanyaasee are honored by Daan or acts of charity. The day is spent in meditation, study of the Scriptures and Satsang with spiritual discourses, Bhajan, etc. It is believed that practices of meditation, Jap or Mantra recitation, Sevaa or selfless service and Dakshinaa or offerings, performed on this day are extremely auspicious in connecting us with the power bestowed through grace and blessings. To be a worthy seeker of Brahm Vidyaa or the Highest Knowledge, one must be an Adhikaaree (deserving), denoted by the right attributes and qualities for spiritual knowledge which are considered imperative. Spiritual aspirants are expected to have the following qualities:

--Vivek - discrimination between the Real and the Unreal, the transient, changing and the unchanging Eternal
--Vairaagya - dispassion, detachment, renunciation that arises from Vivek
--Satsampat or six fold virtues of:
----1. Sham - restraint of mind, equanimity
----2. Dam - control of senses
----3. Upparati - contentment and state of desirelessness that is a result of Vivek, Vairaagya, Sham and Dam
----4. Titikshaa - forbearance, tolerance, equanimity in the face of the pairs of opposites of pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc.
----5. Shraddhaa - perfection of faith
----6. Samaadhaan - focused concentration and ability to focus on Brahman with total poise, indifference to all states, neither attraction nor repulsion
--Mumukshatwa - intense desire for liberation. A Saadhak or spiritual aspirant should continuously be in higher states of contemplation, reflection and meditation. Through Shravan or hearing of the Scriptures, Manan or contemplating and reflecting on them, Nidhi-dhyaasan or constant and profound meditation, the aspirant is graced with Aatm-Saakshaatkaar or direct experience of the Truth.

The Sun (Soorya) is the only visible symbol of the Supreme (Naaraayan) and is therefore known as Soorya Naaraayan. The Full Moon reflects perfectly the light of the illuminating Sun. The Moon is also symbolic of the mind. When the mind is purified it reflects the Aatmaa. Purification is attained through selfless service and through spiritual Saadhanaa. On the Full Moon of Guru Poornimaa, aspirants seek and pledge to purify their mind to reflect the glory of the Sun in all its splendor.

Dhyaan moolam guroor moortih;  Poojaa moolam guroor padm;
Mantra moolam guroor vaakyam;  Moksh moolam guroor Kripaa ~ Guru Vandanaa The form of the Guru is worthy of meditation
Offer worship at the feet of the Guru
The words of the guru are mantras indeed
Liberation is only by the grace of the Guru.

The Guru of Gurus, Avadhoot Dattaatreya is the son of Muni Atri and Anasooyaa. Although he is the Avataar of Vishnu, still he is worshipped as Brahmaa-Vishnu-Mahesh in One. Regarding Nature as his Guru, he spoke of his 24 Gurus, from each of whom he received knowledge. In transcending the Panch Tattwa or elements, from the Earth he learnt patience and forbearance, from the Water he learnt purity, from Fire he learnt Tapas (austerity) and self-knowledge, from the Air he learnt to move without attachment, from the Sky he learnt that the self is all-pervading. From the Moon he learnt that the Self is eternal and unchanging, and it is only the mind that moves. From the Sun he learnt the Nature of Brahm and the nature of Duality. Pranaam to Bhagvaan Dattaatreya. The Siddh are enlightened beings, the embodiment of perfection. The Pauranik and philosophical background about Siddh is as old as the Ved themselves, which are regarded as given by Naaraayan to Brahmaa and later narrated by Ved Vyaas. Shiv is the fountainhead of Siddh and the 9 Naath and 84 Siddh are immortal forms or Maayik manifestations of Shiv himself. Naath denotes both the Creator and the all-Knower. Naath has been referred to in the Atharv Ved as the Eternal. Naath Tattwa refers to the Supreme and brings Moksh or liberation, dispels darkness as the Sad-Guru, brings freedom from ignorance and is an indication of Brahm. Pranaam to the Nine Naath and 84 Siddh.

On Guru Poornimaa, we affirm our belief in the Eternal Truth, and our faith in the scriptures and teachings that have been brought to humanity through the great immortal seers who guide the evolution of consciousness. May we be blessed to seek Brahm Vidyaa (Supreme Knowledge). May our minds be purified and our hearts open so that we may be Adhikaaree or deserving of spiritual knowledge and may the sanctity of the sacred teachings be preserved by us. May we recognize, revere and serve the Sa-guru by whose grace this knowledge is revealed to us.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/29/13