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On this day of Guru Purnima, I just sit and contemplate on the glory of the Guru. Our great seers chose this day of Purnima (Full Moon) in the month of Asada, for salutations to the Guru. Like the blissful light of the full moon lights up the sky, the revered Guru brings the radiance of ‘atmagyan’ (knowledge of the self) to the pupil to brighten up his life. On this auspicious day when Moon is in Dhanu (Sagittarius) rashi, which is the rashi of Dev Guru Jupiter; Moon is aspected by Sun which is the ninth lord when seen from Moon. With the ninth lord signifying father, preceptors, Gurus or the respected ones who have guided us through; the combination makes this a perfect day for worshipping our preceptors. In ‘Guru Vandana’ also, we read:

Agyan Timir-andhasya, Gyananjana Shalakaya |

Chakshurun Militum yena, tasmai Shri Gurve Namah ||

Meaning: I bow to the Sadguru who opens the eyes blinded by darkness of ignorance with the collyrium stick of knowledge

Guru Purnima is also dedicated to Rishi Vyasa. Often referred to as Vyasa Purnima, it is believed to be the day of birth of Rishi Vyas. Moreover it is considered to be the day of rearrangement of Vedas by the great seer Vyasa; whereby he arranged the four kinds of mantras into four Samhitas (collections). 

Who is a Guru? He is the one who draws our attention away from the dross and towards the sublime. He helps the disciple see the bigger picture, of which the physical plane is just a little part. Even when he is not changing anything materially, he gives us the wisdom of acceptability on the physical plane. And he is doing it not for one but so many of his disciples who come to him. 

He is connected to the cosmos and inspires you to do the same. He teaches you to be ‘Unasakt’ (Non-attached) like him, which is a very difficult lesson per se. He connects you not to himself but to the Supreme. He teaches the silent lesson – Join yourself with the Lord. Do your duties, but stay in this world like ‘Kamalpatra’ (Lotus leaves), where you can rise above the mud of pettiness, jealousies and greed and stay sparkling clean inside. 

Brahmani aadhaya karmaani sangam tyaktava karoti yeh|

Lipyate na sa paapen padmapatra ev  ambhasa||

Meaning: In adhyaya 5 of Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjun that - A person who puts asunder all attachment and surrenders all his karma to the Almighty, that person even though born in the mud (of crass worldliness), stays away from the mud (sins of the world); just like the lotus flower, which is born in the mud, but stays above the mud.   

He explains to the pupil how to live in the world like a ‘Tortoise’ as described in the Gita, which says – Do your worldly duties, but do not cling to them forever, once your duties are done, withdraw within yourself by controlling your ‘indriyan’ (senses)  like a tortoise withdraws its limbs; and focus on self-contemplation.

The Guru is the one who recognises his disciple and it is never the other way round.  Through the aura of the person, a Sadguru can see who comes to him with what intention and you don’t have to actually speak to relate yourself to the Guru. Each individual is guided differently as per his or her capability, situation or requirement; it is like a personalised advice for each individual. 

Blessed are the ones who have an enlightened Guru, as Guru is the one who lets you stumble and fall, eventually teaching you to learn to walk on your own on the precious road of self realisation, the road which is not smooth and is so full of pebbles, stones and some very big rocks. ‘Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki’ we hear, meaning the track of self realisation is not a bed of flowers, it is a challenge to walk on it. 

He is the one who shapes the disciple by taking him/her through a hoard of tough experiences, at times preparing the disciple for some great future endeavours; like Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa prepared Vivekananda. There is a beautiful saying by famous poet Kabir:

Guru kumhaar shishya kumbha hai; garhi garhi kadhe khot|

Antar haath sahar de; bahar bahe chot||

Kabir compares the Guru with the potter; potter who shapes the pot by striking at it in various measures, still keeping his hand inside for support for the pot may not break; similarly, by taking the disciple through various difficult paths, the Guru shapes the persona of the disciple and removes the defects in him; but he always keeps the required support for his disciple so he may not break down completely and is shaped well. 

When you go on the track of ‘tapasya’ (penance), it is like walking on the Razor’s edge (‘Shoorasya dhaara’), say the learned ones in Kathopanishad. It is only the Guru who can make the path easier for you. When one is facing the fires of life, Guru is the one who stands like a rock. Even without uttering a single word he may guide you, a look is enough to guide you, a glance is enough to warm you.

On Guru Purnima, besides the Guru, remember to bow to all who have contributed in shaping you into what you are today- bow to the mother, she is the first guru, adiguru for the child; she is the one to bring you in this world and groom you with love and samskaras.

Guru mahima (glory) can’t be confined to a few words. No way can we praise the Guru enough. Our scriptures reserve the highest place for the Guru.  

Guru Govind dono khade, kake lagoon paye|

Balihaari Guru aapke, Govind diyo milaaye ||

This means that when you have your Guru and the Lord in front of you, to whom should we pay our respects first! It is the Guru who is to be revered first, as he is the one who removes our aberrations, big and small and paves the way to the Lord. 

Guru is the personification of the divine. What he says, should be followed with unflinching faith, he is your beautiful guide to the divine. It is only a Guru who can help you when you have one foot firmly planted in the physical world and the other foot is trying to find a place in the spiritual realm. It is only a Guru who can make you do this double walk. It is a double edged sword which one has to walk on; who else has the calibre, the strength to guide you, but the Guru. I have seen how a Guru guides house-holders towards a spiritual path, without actually leaving home and becoming a sanyasi (ascetic); keeping intact the home and family; converting the sincere spiritual aspirants into ‘Grahasth Sanyasis’ (becoming an ascetic while continuing your household chores). Guru is Supreme and no one can be superior to a Guru. How beautifully is a Guru described in the following lines from Guru vandana:

Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara|

Guru sakshat ParaBrahma, Tasmai Shree Gurve Namah||

Meaning: Guru is Lord Brahma, he is Lord Vishnu and he is Lord Shiva. Guru is an embodiment of everything divine, Supreme Absolute and to such a Guru, I bow with respect. 

Story of Dattatreya

The deity whose worship is a must on the day of Guru Purnima is Dattatreya. He is the avatar of Trimurty (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), who is worshipped on Guru Purnima. He is an exceptional sage with extra ordinary insights who helps the devotees in their sadhna (penance). The mythology gives us an account of Datttreya’s birth, the legend goes as below:

Once Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Parvati got high on ego and each one claimed to be the most chaste (satitva ka ahamkar). To settle the argument as to who is the most chaste amongst them, they went to Narad Muni. Devi Anasuya, wife of Rishi Atri is the greatest pativrata (most chaste woman) in the entire universe, said Narad Muni. Anasuya in itself means free from jealousy and envy. The three went to Anasuya to test her. Anasuya welcomed them, told them about Pativrat dharma (chastity), how the ego has to be put aside in marital relations and how the husband has to be served with complete dedication; but the ladies were not convinced. They wanted further proof of her satitva(devotion to her husband).

The three Goddesses asked their husbands – Brahma ji, Vishnu ji and Shankar ji to help them test Anasuya. The Tridev were reluctant but on insistence of their wives, they agreed to participate in the test. The three went to Devi Anasuya’s house as saints and asked for food. The lady let them in her house. Rishi Atri was not there, so she attended to them. The saints told her that they were observing a different kind of austerity and would eat only when she would serve them food, without wearing any clothes, completely naked. The lady was in a fix, she didn’t want to send away the saints without food but how to serve them food with this condition. She prayed from her heart that the three saints be converted to small babies, if her ‘pati dharma’ (devotion towards husband) is true; Her tapa shakti(power of her penance) was such that her desire was fulfilled. Then the pious lady served the Trimurty of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh like a mother. 

When the husbands did not return, the three wives went in search of them; they found their husbands in the form of babies, in the house of Devi Anasuya. The Goddesses realised their mistake, they requested Anasuya to restore their husbands to their original form. Anasuya obliged.

The three Gods offered a boon to the pious lady. Anasuya said that she wanted to have a child with the gunas (traits) of all three of them. She was granted the boon and Dattatreya was born to her; Dattatreya with three heads, each representing one of the trinities. 

Dattatreya is considered to be the monk of the highest order who comes to correct the mistakes of the sadhaks (devotees) who have reached a very high stage in their sadhana (penance) but still minor aberrations are left. The onus of correcting those minor mistakes, lies with Lord Dattatreya. Hence, it is a day of worship of Lord Dattatreya. 

All the aspects I discussed above have been related by my revered Guruji Shri K.N. Rao Sir, at some time or the other. On this auspicious day, with my hands folded, I bow down to the feet of my revered Guruji, who has always kept me in his perpetual protection, to whom I shall be forever grateful for showing me the way to the Divine through the study of divine science astrology. 

Guru Purnima 

13 July 2022

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