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Celebrating Guru Purnima: Understanding its meaning and significance in Hinduism

According to Hinduism, Guru Purnima is also the day they remember the great sage Maharishi Veda Vyasa

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Lord Shiva and his followers (Representational Pic) Image source: isha.sadhguru.org
  • Guru Purnima is a festival which is celebrated nation-wide to pay homage and to show love for their Gurus irrespective of which religion they belong too
  • The festival of Guru Purnima holds a matter of great importance to Hindus, Buddhists and other religions in our country and internationally
  • The way it is celebrated is changed with course of time from doing Pujas (prayers) to giving gifts and doing fasts

In Sanskrit, Guru means ‘teacher’, one who dispels the ‘darkness of Ignorance’ and brings wisdom. Therefore, to mark the importance of Gurus, Guru Purnima is celebrated in India every year. Needless to say, for thousands of years, the festival of Guru Purnima has held a great significance for Hindus in particular and also in Jainism, Buddhism, and other communities. Celebrated on Purnima (full moon) in the month of Ashadha (July-August), in accordance with the Hindu calendar, Shaka Samvat; this year in 2016, it is celebrated on July 19.

In Indian culture, the ‘gurus’ are given much respect and are often compared to God. Their wisdom and teachings help guide the devotees to the path of righteousness. And on this auspicious day, the blessing by the guru is believed to be equal to that of a blessing from the God himself.

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Guru Purnima (Representation Image). Image source: www.mapsofindia.com
Guru Purnima (Representation Image). Image source: www.mapsofindia.com

According to Hinduism, Guru Purnima is also the day they remember the great sage Maharishi Veda Vyasa. Vyasa was the individual, to which all Hindus owe their gratitude for the 18 Puranas, Mahabharata, and the Srimad Bhagavatam. He was the one who separated the Veda and divided them into four parts, namely, Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva. Therefore, this day is also known as the Vyasa Purnima.

Guru Purnima has a strong spiritual significance. As stated in the yogic lore, on this day, 15000 years ago, Lord Shiva who was the Adiyogi became the first Guru or the Adi Guru of the Hindu religion. He inculcated his wisdom and understanding of life to the seven disciples. These disciples then became Saptarishis and carried on this knowledge with the to spread all across the world.

Guru Purnima (Representational Image). Image source: frenchopen2016schedule.com
Guru Purnima (Representational Image). Image source: frenchopen2016schedule.com

Guru Purnima holds a great significance in the Buddhist religion too. As the story goes, Buddha after attaining enlightenment in Uruvela left for Sarnath to teach his five former companions so that they can also attain enlightenment.

On reaching Sarnath, Buddha taught them the ways of Dharma and they too attained enlightenment. The day on which he first gave his sermon was on a Purnima (full-moon day) of the Ashadha.

For the farmers, Guru Purnima marks the beginning of the four months of the rainy season known as Chaturmas, which brings about new life to the dry fields and according to the spiritual Gurus, it is a great time for a devotee to begin his spiritual journey.

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According to the Jains, Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, made Indrabhuti Gautam, a Ganadhara, as his disciple and became a guru. Hence, it is known as Guru Purnima.

Guru Purnima celebrations across India. Image source: www.ibtimes.co.in
Guru Purnima celebrations across India. Image source: www.ibtimes.co.in

The way Guru Purnima is celebrated has changed with the passage of time. Earlier, the celebration was marked by doing a ritualistic Guru Puja (prayer). In these prayers, the disciples used to pay their respects to the guru and worship them.

Nowadays, the festival of Guru Purnima is largely celebrated in ashrams and in schools, colleges, and universities to thank and remember past teachers/gurus.

In ashrams, the disciples sometimes hold fast for the whole day and break it only when they meet their gurus, whereas, in schools and colleges, students bring gifts for them and touch their feet to show their respect. The way to pay respect to Gurus might have changed, but the spirit of the festival has remained the same.

– prepared by NewsGram Team

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  • G P Selvam Mudaliar

    ” Teachers Day ” is celebrated on 5th September every year ( Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday ) ” Guru Purnima ” is celebrated on ‘ Aashadha Poornima ‘ . Which has more significance & relevance for 21st Century ‘ Teaching fraternity ‘ ?

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)