vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
samsara halahala mohasantyai
sahasra sirasam svetam
I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed
Beyond better, acting like the Jungle physician
Pacifying delusion, the poison of Sansara
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword
One thousand heads white
To Pantanjali, I salute.
Today is one of the most auspicious days for all spiritual aspirants – Guru Purnima.
In India there is an old and widely spread guru- disciple tradition. Within the ashtanga system, we, as well, follow parampara. Meaning that the knowledge of ashtanga yoga is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations, from Krishnamacharya and his teachers to Patthabhi Jois, Sharat and all the teachers following this specific lineage.
Guru Purnima is a Hindu festival dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers. This festival is traditionally celebrated by Hindu and Buddhist devotees as a celebration, and of gratitude to their teachers. The Guru Principle is a thousand times more active on the day of Gurupournima than on any other day. The word Guru is derived from two words, ‘Gu’ and ‘Ru’. The Sanskrit root “Gu” means darkness or ignorance. “Ru” denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore one who removes darkness of our ignorance is a Guru. Gurus are believed by many to be the most necessary part of our lives ( here we are not talking about yoga only) . This day gives us, all disciples, an opportunity to offer a puja ( ritual prayer), and say thank you to the teacher we have now, and have had in this life and other lifetimes. This is also a very important day for all academics, which during Guru Purnima thank their present teachers and all the teachers that have been important to them throughout their work and studies.
Guru Purnima is celebrated as a memory of the birth of the great sage Vyasa, who wrote mainly the Mahabharata, the 18 Puranas and the Srimad Bhagavata. It is always celebrated on the day of the full moon in July- August.
This is the routine for Guru Purnima, Swami Sivananda recommends ( from about.com/hindu) :
“Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realization. Do vigorous Japa and meditate in the early morning hours.
“After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor. Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day.
In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.
“Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru.
“At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru. The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message.”
Perhaps you will decide to wake up early tomorrow in the hours of Brahmamuhurta, before sunrise when the world is still silent and asleep. And perform your own little Guru puja…lighting an incense and candle, in gratitude to all the teacher you have had, which have helped you find clarity and light in moments of confusion and darkness.
Also it is said that this specific day, is a very good day to intensify ones sadhana, ones spiritual practice. It might be a good opportunity to start that sitting practice or pranayama which you have been planning to do for such a long time.
Not forgetting all the farmers on this day – we also celebrate the life giving monsoon rain, which makes it easier to accept the fact that it has been raining in Goa, nonstop for the past 4 days… 🙂