By: Keyur Seta
This year (2016), Guru Purnima falls on July 19. The day celebrates the spiritual and sacred bond between a guru (teacher) and shishya (student or disciple). It is mostly celebrated in India and Nepal. The festival falls on the full moon day (purnima) in the month of Ashadha. Students pay tribute or gratitude towards their teachers on this auspicious day.
The word ‘guru’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘gu,’ which means darkness and ‘ru,’ which means remover of the darkness. Hence, guru is someone who illuminates the path of knowledge for his or her students.
Guru Purnima was the day sage Vyasa was born to sage Parashara and Satyavati. Vyasa went on to write the grand epic, Mahabharata and compile the Vedas into four parts – Rig, Yajur, Sam and Atharva. He is considered a guru since he has been teaching the precious ancient wisdom through these texts till today and shall continue to do so forever.
This was also the day when Lord Shiva appeared as Adi Guru (first guru) in the Himalayas. He taught the art of Yoga to Saptarishis (seven rishis), who went on to teach the same to others and the exercise is still going on. This day is also celebrated by Buddhists since Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh.
Ancient and modern Indian history consist quite a few classic examples of Guru-Shishya.
Let’s have a look at them:-
Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda is known as India’s first patriot monk, who positively inspired people with his teachings on spirituality not just in India but around the world. His biggest contribution lies in motivating people to be fearless. But it was Ramakrishna Paramhansa, earlier known as a crazy Kali Mata bhakt, who brought a confused Narendra (his original name) on the path of wisdom and spirituality.
Chanakya and Chandragupta Maurya: Chanakya was a rebel teacher, who noticed a spark of political championship in Chandragupta Maurya when the latter was just a kid. Chanakya took it upon himself to train Chandragupta in warfare, administration and politics and even went through a lot of hardships for the same. Today, Chandragupta is known as one of the greatest emperors of India only because of the efforts of the Kingmaker, Chanakya.
Krishna and Arjun: Lord Krishna preached not only the topics touched by the above teachers but every aspect of human life through his sermon to Arjun in the form of the Bhagavad Gita. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjun surrendered to Krishna, his charioteer, for guidance after succumbing to mental weakness in finishing off the Kauravas, which included his own family, grandfather Bheeshma and teacher, Drona. What followed from the mouth of Krishna remains the greatest lesson ever given in human history. The Gita continues to be the driving force of inspiration and guidance for humans irrespective of nationality, religion, age or gender.