Guru Purnima is an auspicious occasion to pay remembrance to our gurus and seek their blessings. The word “Guru’ is ironic in meaning as ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ signifies the elimination of darkness. So, together they make a true sense and depict guru as the one who enlightens our mind and soul, and removes all the darkness from our lives. This festival is predominantly, observed by the Hindus, Jains, and the Buddhists on a full moon day of the Shaka Samvat every year in accordance with Panchanga or the Hindu calendar. On this day, the devotees commemorate and worship their gurus and teachers, and also thank them for their wisdom and teachings. This year, the big day is being celebrated all over India on July 16, 2019, while in 2020, it is expected to be celebrated on July 5. Incidentally, in 2019, the day also coincides with a partial lunar eclipse.
Significance of Guru Purnima
Human beings are just flesh and bones without an enlightened mind and soul. It is the guru who imbibes good qualities and his teachings to make a human being a sophisticated individual. The first guru or teacher of a person is the mother, who makes him understand the true value of life and guide him on how to differentiate between the right and the wrong. She instills in him the moral values in the childhood which later gets taken over by the bonafide gurus in the form of teachers. So the celebration of this day by honoring our gurus becomes essential. Only the proper teachings and blessings of our gurus-parents, teachers, and our well-wishers can make us a cultured and refined individual.
History behind the celebration of Guru Purnima
There is a rich history behind the celebration of Guru Purnima in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Buddhism: This day is celebrated to pay respect to Lord Buddha, who laid the foundation of this religion. The Buddhist believe that on this full moon day, Lord Buddha delivered his very first sermon at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh after attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. From then onwards, this festival was dedicated to worship him.
Hinduism: According to the Hindu mythology, it is believed that on this day Lord Shiva became a Guru by transmitting the knowledge of yoga to seven followers or the “Saptarishis”. Since then, the Hindu devotees celebrate this day as Guru Purnima.
In Hinduism, Guru Purnima is also called Vyasa Purnima as on this day, Ved Vyasa, the great sage was born. He is known as the most influential gurus in Hindu traditions and an epitome of guru-shishya custom. There is also a belief that he finished the writing of his famous work, Brahma Sutra, on this day. His disciples recite these sutras on this day marking their dedication and respect towards his work.
Jainism: Guru Purnima is celebrated as Treenok Guha Purnima to honor Mahavira, the famous 24th Tirthankara in Jainism. The Jainism followers believe that on this day, Mahavira got his first follower, Gautam Swami, after which he became a Treenok Guha.
Celebrations of Guru Purnima
Guru Purnima is celebrated with joy and vigor all over the country. This day is not restricted to the three religions i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, but people of other religions can join in the celebrations of this festival. The day begins with the religious activities performed by the disciples in remembrance of their gurus. People conduct Guru Pooja in their homes or at the temple in the name of their guru(s).
In educational institutions, like the schools and colleges, Guru Purnima is celebrated by being grateful to the teachers as well as thanking them for their teachings and support. There are events being hosted by many educational institutions on this day. The alumni also pay a visit to meet their teachers and offer gifts to them.
The Hindu monks or sanyasis also celebrate this day by performing puja in honor of their gurus in the event of Chaturmas. Some undergo isolation and confine themselves to one place, while some others deliver sermons to the public.
This festival also has a prominence among the students who are learning Indian classical forms of music and dance.