Guru Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwaraha
Guru Saakshaat Para Brahma Tasmay Shree Guruve Namaha.
Today on Guru Purnima, when the Guru or the teacher is venerated, this Guru mantra is fully realized. It says the Guru is the very embodiment of the three Gods of the Universe, Lord Vishnu (sustainer), Lord Brahma (creator) and Maheshwara or Lord Shiva (destroyer). He is the Absolute and we pay homage to him.
Guru formed of two words ‘Gu’ meaning darkness or ignorance and ‘Ru’ meaning remover of this darkness or ignorance. Hence One who is the remover of ignorance, in other words the teacher, through his spiritual insights dispels or removes the doubts and clouds of ignorance by his teachings. The Bhagavad Gita describes a Guru as one who is qualified, has attained self-realization, is able to impart the knowledge to others as he has seen the truth so that his disciples can raise their consciousness beyond material and physical barriers. The Guru imparts the true knowledge and teaches how to attain real peace of mind, self-knowledge, eternal happiness, liberation from the karmas (path to salvation) and devotion to God. The one who submits to the Guru without question and seeks to gain the true knowledge alone can benefit from whatever the Guru imparts and be on the path of salvation. Sage Ved Vyasa of Mahabharata fame, was born to Sage Parashara and Satyavati on this day. He is considered the ultimate Guru for his having written the four Vedas, Rig, Yajur, Sam and Atharva, the giant epic Mahabharata and the Holy Puranas or the scriptures.
As a tradition on this day Hindus choose to make offerings in his name at temples, where offerings and gifts are given as a token of respect to various Gurus or teachers respectfully and their blessings sought. There are special bhajans and kirtans and recitals from the scriptures as a mark of respect to the universal teacher. In some cases people even wash the feet of their teachers as a token of respect and gratitude for what they achieved through them. There are special programmes conducted in academic institutions wherein teachers are bestowed some sort of honor and felicitated for their contributions in the institutions that they serve in. In colleges and institutions of art and culture, there are special recitals and dance programmes in respect of the teachers who taught over the years and there are special compositions made to display what all they had learnt from them.
Buddhists also observe this day as special when Lord Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, India after having received enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. It is on this day that the eight precepts as learnt from their teachers, are demonstrated by students through meditation under their guidance as a mark of respect for what they had learnt from them. In Nepal, especially school students undertake to honour their teachers by offerings of delicacies and special hats called Topi made out of a special fabric. They garland the teachers and distribute sweetmeats in recognition of their valuable presence in their lives. Alumni students attend to offer them special gifts and presents to mark their gratitude.
Let us then on this auspicious day remember the teachers in whatever form they have come in our lives and influenced for our betterment and spiritual uplift. As parents who have carried us as toddlers and young ones to tell us the simple facts of life and which initially took root to make us able to distinguish the good from the bad. As school teachers who replaced our parents in the formative years and gave us the subjective knowledge to stand on our feet later on in life, simultaneously influencing our morals, to become good citizens of the country. As professors, who gave us that training and honed our skills to make us able professionals who would one day uphold the name of our nation. And as well wishers, senior members of society, well-meaning elders who at some point or the other had a brief interaction with us, leaving lasting, unforgettable impressions that remain in some corner of our hearts to make us the strong, willed and forceful individuals of character that we chance to become.