Guru - Dispeller of Darkness Print E-mail

On Guru Purnima day we pay obeisance to the lifeline of the great, unbroken civilization of India - the guru-sisya-parampara or mentor-protégé lineage.


India achieved excellence in every field of endeavour through the Science of Self Management kept alive by the unbroken teacher-student chain. The guru removes ignorance and gives us the light of knowledge. Knowledge of who we are, how to relate with the world and transcend it.


On this day we re-dedicate ourselves to human Perfection. To study, assimilate and live Vedanta so that we may pass it on to future generations. Vedanta makes us rajarishis – kingly without, sagely within. Minus the rishihood even material success eludes us.


The combination of the teacher’s wisdom and the student’s commitment go towards making a vibrant, progressive society. The guru is essential in every walk of life. A sportsperson’s natural gift is fine-tuned by the coach. A musician’s talent is honed by the mentor. In the spiritual path the guru shows the way to Enlightenment.


The teacher-student relationship is accorded paramount importance in the Indian culture. The guru is accorded the pedestal given to God. Spiritual growth is impossible without the help of a guru who is Brahmavit and Brahmajna – established in the state of God Realisation and has the teaching skills to impart subtle spiritual concepts. India has been blessed with outstanding sages who have appeared in every generation to keep this unique tradition alive. It is to this singular endowment that we pay our respects. And as a mark of gratitude we pledge to continue the tradition for generations to come.


For this pranipata or total surrender to the guru is one of the foremost qualifications of a student. This does not imply blind following. The seeker must question, prasna, so as to understand and absorb the truths. And finally an attitude of service or seva is the hallmark of an outstanding student.


Guru Purnima is also referred to as Vyasa Purnima in recognition of the vital role played by Vyasa in the preservation of Vedanta. The seat from which any spiritual teaching is imparted is referred to as Vyasapeetha in acknowledgement of Vyasa’s immense contribution to Vedanta. All teachers bow to Vyasa before taking the seat. He is revered as the first guru.


Vyasa was the son of the sage Parasara and a fisherwoman Satyavati. He personified the combination of sagely wisdom and a practical approach. It is essential to cultivate both to excel in life. Vyasa was born on the full moon day (Purnima) of Asadh (a month of the Hindu Calendar). 'Purnima' denotes illumination and Vyasa Purnima points to spiritual Enlightenment.


Vyasa is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Visnu. There were supposed to be 28 such Veda Vyasas of which he was the last. The 29th Vyasa is yet to come! Apart from codifying the Vedas Vyasa wrote the epic Mahabharata consisting of almost one lakh verses. It is referred to as the fifth Veda. He also composed the Puranas and Brahma sutras.


Lord Ganesha wrote the Mahabharata as Vyasa composed it. Ganesha had stipulated that the composition had to be continuous, without a break. Vyasa accepted the challenge but put down his own condition that Ganesha had to understand every word. So whenever Vyasa wanted a break he would dictate a verse that was very difficult to understand. This gave him the much-needed respite!


The Mahabharata is not only a work of art, poetic excellence and entertainment but has inspired generations of Indians through the ages with its useful instructions on life and the immortal message of the Bhagavad Gita.


Oliver Goldsmith's saying

" And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew

That one small head could carry all he knew."

is an apt description of the great sage Vyasa to whom we offer our respects on the day of Guru Purnima.