On Sunday next, on the day of the full moon, Hindus all over the world will be celebrating “Guru Purnima” in remembrance of all “Gurus” – spiritual teachers/preceptors – and specially in memory of the first and greatest Guru, Ved Vyasa. Hindus revere the Guru before God himself because it is he who initiates the disciple into the love of God. Guru is composed of two words, “gu” meaning darkness and “ru” meaning light. So, a real guru is one who removes the darkness of ignorance and replaces it by the light of knowledge and wisdom.
A guru must be somebody who is a real model, well-versed in spiritual matters and devoid of all negative qualities like lust, anger and greed and he should also have the necessary skills to light the path of his disciples and show them the way to liberation which should be the ultimate goal of every living being. Like Brahma, the Creator, the Guru creates his disciple’s character; like Vishnu, the Preserver, he protects his good qualities; and like Shiva, the Destroyer, he destroys his bad habits and qualities.
Who was Ved Vyasa? Ved Vyasa, born some 3500 years before Christ; he was the grandson of Vashista and the father of the famous sage, Sukdeva Goswami popularly known as Suka who helped king Parikshit to get his liberation. The author of the Mahabharata that includes the celestial song, the Bhagavad Gita is known as Ved Vyasa because he collected the four Vedas and classified the spiritual knowledge they contained into four different parts viz Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Ved Vyasa is also the author of the 18 Puranas that contain the stories of great saints and heroes. They are meant to instil spiritual and moral precepts in devotees.
A disciple who wants to win the grace of his guru must have complete faith in him and should acquire positive qualities like love, truth and righteousness. One cannot learn anything without a teacher. Whatever subject you want to study be it Art, Science, Music, Dance, Yoga, etc., you need a good teacher who can guide you and teach you the right skills for mastering those subjects.
Guru Purnima is a day on which we should revere our teachers and thank them for their guidance and the knowledge imparted to us. The Guru, like the sculptor who with his chisel and hammer turns a rough, worthless stone into something of beauty, moulds the character of his students so that it blossoms and spreads its fragrance all round. However a Guru has got to be tough at times. He may be compared to the dhobi who beats the dirty cloth on a rough surface to remove its dirt while ensuring that it does not get torn in the process.
Lights (Artee) are waved before the Guru and devotional songs sung in his praise. It’s only in the Hindu culture that a special day is set apart to honour the Guru. Hindus also consider as Guru anyone or anything that teaches them something beautiful, something that can be beneficial to society. Our parents are our first gurus but the tree that give shades ad provides fruits to others, the river whose water is used to quench thirst and water our garden, the laborious ant, the busy bee, the sun that never fails to rise everyday and provides us warmth are all teachers in their own ways.
Sai Baba whom many consider as their Guru has chosen the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima to hold a World Youth Conference and over 5000 young men and women from over hundred countries that include USA and Latin America, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, Japan, China, etc., are at this moment at Prashanti Nilayam, his ashram in Puttaparthi, to participate in this conference. Swami refers to the youth as lions and He believes that the young have the power to change the world. That is why he showers great love on them and has opened many institutions — primary, secondary and tertiary — to impart to them the right type of education that will help shape their character. Mauritius has sent a 100-strong delegation to India to participate in this conference.
I would like to conclude this article with a very interesting story told by Sai Baba that has been sent to me by a friend from Souillac, Adiraj Pentiah. Once upon at time there was a hermit living in a forest. He had some disciples who were always quarrelling among themselves. Wishing to teach them how to live like friends and to love one another, he found no better way than to leave his hermitage for some time. Before leaving, he called all the disciples and told them that he would be absent for some time doing penance. He further told them that during his absence it would be their duty to look after the hermitage.
His meditation over, the hermit returned to a warm welcome by the disciples who wanted to know whether he had seen God. He answered in the positive and also told them that though God had blessed the ashram he was not at all pleased with the behaviour of the disciples. “However,” he told the group, “God has promised to come and stay with us for some time but he will be in disguise and will, each day, take the form of a different disciple so that each one gets the chance of representing him. He also informed me that he would be here some time before my arrival.”
Though they would not recognise him, the disciples were extremely glad to hear this piece of news and decided to be wary at all times and to practise their spiritual disciplines with greater fervour. One day, a disciple found that another one had taken his usual place. He was about to start a quarrel as was his habit but then controlled himself because he entertained some doubts about the true identity of his friend. “It may be that it is God in that disguise. I can’t ask him to move.” So saying, he went and sat silently at another place.
Thus, each time a disciple felt like quarrelling with another one, he thought that instead of his mate it could be God in disguise. So after some time all quarrelling stopped and the hermitage became a calm and peaceful place. This story teaches us that being children of the same God there is a spark of the divine in each of us. Once this truth is realised we will start loving and respecting everybody and will have no problem living in peace with all the citizens of the world.
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