Importance and Meaning of Guru Purnima

  • Purnima is the Full Moon, which also refers to the Full Moon day. Guru is the teacher, and the word often stands for the spiritual guide, too. Guru Purnima thus remains the Full Moon day meant for the Gurus and their veneration.

    Full Moon days, in general, are all said to be attuned for spiritual advancement, so prayers and meditations done on those occasions are believed to be highly efficacious. And the Purnima falling in the month of Ashada (June – July) is regarded of particular spiritual significance and is earmarked for the honor and worship of the Gurus and saintly beings.

    The great sage, composer, and Guru Vyasa is believed to have been born on this occasion, and so, Ashada Purnima is hailed as Guru Purnima, the Full Moon of the Gurus.

    The Greatness of the Gurus

    All ancient civilizations and tradition-valuing societies have held preceptors, the Gurus, in high esteem. They are often equated to Gods or divine beings, as borne out by the famous saying ‘Acharya Devo Bhava.’ True to this claim, many saints revered as divine incarnations are all regarded and worshiped as Gurus or Sadgurus. The great saint Dattatreya hailed as the combined incarnation of the supreme Trinity of Gods, is revered and worshipped as Adi Guru, the primordial teacher.

    A Guru remains the repository of knowledge and wisdom. He is looked upon as a mentor who can guide people through the turbulence of this worldly existence by taking them along the path of righteousness and compassion through his own example. At the same time, he also remains the spiritual beckon light that leads them towards higher knowledge, enlightenment, and ultimate liberation.   

    Such is the importance attached to a Guru, and it is no surprise that a sacred day is set aside as Guru Purnima to acknowledge the great role that he plays in anyone’s life in this world and the other.           

    Sage Vyasa

    Vyasa can be called a versatile genius. A great sage, he also remained a celebrated poet-composer who contributed to as many as 18 Puranas, including the sacred Bhagavata Purana. He is also the author of the monumental epic Mahabharata. Moreover, he is the one who compiled the sacred Vedas, the storehouse of ancient wisdom, and classified them. In recognition of his stupendous efforts in this regard, he is reverentially referred to as Veda Vyasa. He is also believed to be a divine incarnation and worshipped as an Avatar of Lord Vishnu himself.  

    Vyasa also remained a great Guru, and it is the day of the advent of this saintly being on earth that is observed with reverence as Guru Purnima.  

    Other Importance

    Guru Purnima also marks the beginning of the monsoon season. This generally lasts for 4 months, and so is known as Chaturmas. Many of the saints and ascetics will normally be traveling from place to place and thus, be always on the move. But due to the incessant rains during the monsoons, traveling becomes a problem for them, and so they used to stay at one place during this period and devote their time to studying scriptures, discussing spiritual matters, observing austerities, and performing religious activities. In other words, they will be observing Chaturmas Vrat during this 4-month period.

    Guru Purnima marks the beginning of this holy period, and hence this sacred occasion is regarded as the highly opportune moment for anyone to start religious studies and spiritual pursuits. Accordingly, Guru Purnima is held as a day of illumination, when people can start the acquisition of divine knowledge and begin their journey towards spiritual advancement and self-realization.             

    Besides its immense religious significance, Guru Purnima has other importance, too. After months of a terrible summer, rains start falling on the parched earth again in the Guru Purnima time, bringing it back to life, and making it fertile. Hence, the farmers who are eagerly awaiting the rains for months rejoice the first glimpse of the monsoon and start their farming activities on the auspicious Guru Purnima day.    

    Celebration      

    Lord Dakshinamurthy is the Guru aspect of Shiva, while planet Jupiter, also known as Guru, is considered Deva Guru, the preceptor of the celestials. People worship Dakshinamurthy, planet Guru and Lord Dattatreya, the Adi Guru, and the combined Trinity-incarnation on the occasion of Guru Purnima, along with other saints. They also illuminate their homes with traditional lamps to mark Guru Purnima as the day of enlightenment.