Guru Purnima 2016 Date
Tuesday 19 July 2016
Hindu culture gives great importance to Guru or Teacher. This is manifested in the celebrations of Guru Purnima– the festival which is meant to pay respect to all the teachers in one’s life. Vyasa, popular by the name of Ved Vyas, has been considered the guru of gurus by the Hindus and thus his birthday which falls on Aashadh Purnima is celebrated as Guru Purnima every year. It is the full moon day of Hindu Ashadh month which coincides with July-August of Gregorian calender. It is believed that on this auspicious day, not only Vyasa was born but he also divided Vedas into four parts. Vedas are the ancient Indian sacred writings which were divided by Vyasa into four parts.
Ved Vyasa Purnima – Birthaday of Vyasa
Many ancient scholars believe that Vyasa was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. As such, he was called Krishna in his childhood. Perhaps this is the reason why people in India worship Lord Krishna too on the day of Guru Purnima. Vyasa was the son of Sage Parashara and a fisherwoman called Kali. He was born on the day of Aashadh Poornima. Thus, Guru Purnima is sometimes referred to as Vyasa Purnima too. It is said that Vyasa divided the single Veda into four parts- Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda. Therefore, he got the name Ved Vyas. It is also believed that the division of Vedas was done by Vyasa on the day of Aashad Purnima only. The division of Vedas into four parts made it simpler for people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda and thus Vyasa became the great Guru or Teacher who taught people how to live the right way. Ved Vyasa is also the great personality who wrote Mahabharata, the Great Hindu epic of all times.
Guru Purnima Significance
Hindu religion believes that the Hindu Trinity of Gods- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara- is responsible for running the whole universe. Lord Brahma is the creator of the universe, Lord Vishnu is the preserver and Lord Maheshwara or Shiva is the destroyer. Universe can only be there when all the three aspects of life- creation, preserving and destruction- go hand in hand. Such is the importance of the Hindu Trinity! Guru is said to have a combination of all the three values which is beautifully depicted in the below Shloka or Hymn.
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरा।
गुरुर्साक्षात परब्रह्म, तस्मै श्रीगुरुवै नमः॥
Gururbrahmaa Gururvishnuh Gurudevo Maheswara|
Gurursaakshaat Parambrahma, Tasmai Sreegurave Namah||
meaning Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Maheshwara. Guru is the Supreme Soul in visible form, I pay utmost respect to You my Guru!
Each Hindu is made to learn this by heart along with other teachings since his/her childhood. As such, the significance of a teacher in a life of a Hindu can not be exaggerated. Teacher here is not the only person who grants worldly wisdom to a person but one who makes him learn any and each art of living be it culture, education or spiritual learning! The significance of Guru Purnima lies in the age old tradition of paying respect to the Guru of one’s life.
Guru Purnima Celebration
Traditionally, Guru Purnima is a festival day on which respect is paid to the Spiritual Guru. However, the modern version of Guru Purnima has come to recognize the importance of teacher in every walk of life. As such, people pay respect not only to their revered spiritual teachers but also to others who have taught anything to them which they feel is valuable for their being. As such, the occasion of Guru Purnima in India, and abroad too, witnesses elaborate celebrations in form of worship, spiritual discourse and paying regards in form of offerings like flowers, garlands, fruits etc. to the Guru in ashrams, math, and temples. Along with this, the students pay respect to their teachers by visiting them and touching their feet for blessings. They also offer gifts to teachers as per their capacity which might include sweets, cloths, fruits, flowers or simple greeting cards! Many youngsters now send Guru Purnima SMS greetings and wishes to their teachers. Teachers here do not mean only the academic teachers but others who in any form impart knowledge to anyone. They may be dance teachers, music teachers, drawing teachers or any other Guru who teach arts and crafts to them! However, traditionally Guru Purnima till today remains the day when disciples offer worship to their Spiritual Guides- the Guru!