Tuesday, March 17, 2009


From darkness to light, July 24, the full moon day in the month of Ashada, is celebrated as Guru Purnima. On this day disciples come together to express their gratitude to their beloved guru, venerated as the embodiment of sage Veda Vyasa as an apostle of truth and wisdom, for having systematized the divine utterances in the form of the four Vedas, the eighteen puranas and the Mahabharata. Guru Purnima is a special occasion to commemorate Vyasa's service to humanity, and to resolve to follow the path of learning and knowledge.

Indian tradition believes in the importance of establishing a strong guru-shishya relationship; only then can the seeker attain truth and divine wisdom. Wisdom is their meeting point. The teachings and discourses of the guru constitute the link. The guru-shishya tradition goes beyond mere pedantic learning. Swami Kuvalayananda said: "Very often philosophic gymnastics is mistaken for spiritual knowledge... no intellectual conviction or philosophical training will take an individual even a bit nearer the Lord; practical experiences in the sublime regions of adhyatma alone count."

The term guru should not be confused with acharya or upadhyaya. An acharya is one who performs rityal ceremonies and practical arts. They could be called shiksha gurus.

Osho, while explaining the role of a guru says: "The role of a guru is to give you a glimpse of the real not a teaching but an awakening. The guru is not a teacher, the guru is awakener."

The one who takes us from darkness to light is said to be a guru. Disciples live together at the ashram of a guru, where they learn the importance of austerity and devotion by serving the guru. All great masters have had their gurus.

Even Lord Krishna, who is regarded as jagatguru, sat at the feet of Guru sandipani. The guru shares his being with his students. He initiates the disciple into a path of learning that suits the seeker's temperament and capability. A worthy shishya remains loyal to his diksha guru.

The absence of a guru, though, does not preclude learning and wisdom. Indian tradition regards whatever is visible in nature, the diverse objects of the universe, as replicas of the supreme guru. The lessons of Truth are learnt.

The allegorical lesson being that the guru, the embodiment of divine wisdom, is all pervasive. We thus need to conduct ourselves virtuously, learn to appreciate the beauty of natural phenomena and live simply before we can expect to find a satguru.

A guru can only guide us along the path of learning, the effort and the toil has to be the disciple's. In a way, one is one's own guru. Only when you learn to seek divinity within your self, live a disciplined life and follow the advice of your guru, will you find the light within. The guru's presence is enough, his silence does the rest. Lasting cheerfulness accurse to the recipient.

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