Guru Poornima – Honoring the Guru

The full-moon day (purnima) in July is the auspicious (Poornima) day when Guru Poornima is celebrated by worshipping our Guru, our spiritual leader and inspiration, who taught us divine love. The festival is usually celebrated as an occasion for initiation of new disciples by their Gurus. In ancient tradition, this is one of the most auspicious days on which the Guru accepts the disciple as a student. It is a day of great harmony when the disciples show great willingness to learn, and the Guru shows them the path, the light to freedom and liberation. 

What is the need for a Guru?

“Understand this (above all); By surrender (of self-will) to the Guru, by (sensitive inward and outward) questioning (of the Guru), and by service (to the Guru), those (sages and Gurus) who have realized the truth will (be able to) convey their wisdom to you” Bhagavad Gita, 4:34

tadviddhi praNipAten pariprashnen sevayaa.
upadekshayanti te GYAn.n GYAninastattvadarshinH..

तद्विद्धि प्राणिपातें परिप्रषनें सेवया 

उपदेक्षयंती ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिं अस्तत्तव दर्शिं:

A qualified spiritual master is essential to learn self-realization. Bhagavadgita (Ch.4.34) asks one to learn the truth through a Guru or spiritual master, inquire from him/her submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul imparts knowledge as he/she has seen the truth. A real Guru imparts gynana (true knowledge) and teaches how to raise one’s consciousness beyond material physical boundaries. He/She teaches meditation to attain real peace of mind, true self-knowledge, eternal happiness, liberation from karmas, develop true love for God.

Achieving spiritual perfection by oneself through yoga (meditation) is impractical. One must learn spiritual practices under the guidance of a genuine spiritual master. We repose our faith in a Guru whose feet are roots of worship and the root of liberation. He/She opens our eyes blinded by ignorance and darkness and guides us to our goals.

Gautama Buddha with disciples Gautama Buddha, one of the greatest spiritual teachers, with disciples

Qualities of a Guru

How is a guru identified from the array of Gurus and spiritual teachers? Bhagavadgita gives guidelines and qualities of a genuine Guru.

  • A true Guru has credentials to impart true knowledge free from speculation and never claims he/she is God.
  • He/She knows the truth and lives it, is free from lust, anger, and greed.
  • He/She exemplifies wisdom, peacefulness, self-control, austerity, piety , tolerance and strong faith in God.
  • He/She must be from a succession (eg.Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Shankaracharya).

At the time of deeksha (initiation), the Guru absorbs the past sins and karmas of his/her disciples and reveals true spiritual knowledge. The disciple develops strong love for the Guru who delivers him from the bondage of birth and death. Bhagavadgita shows that when Arjuna was confused about his duties, put his faith in Krishna, regarded him as his Guru – then Krishna showed him the right path.

The Guru is a person of profound intellectual and spiritual sensitivity and compassion. The scriptures state that initiation must be taken from a Guru. On Guru Poornima day, we pray “Oh Guru, you are father, mother, brother, friend, knowledge and wealth. You are to me everything and god of all gods.

The Guru Mantra

guru mantra in sanskritThe Guru Mantra

Guru Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devoh Maheswaraha
Guru Saakshaat Para Brahma, Tasmai Shree Guruve Namaha

Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Shiva
Guru is the Absolute Brahman incarnate, Obeisance to the Guru

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