The birth anniversary of Krishna Dwaipayana Ved Vyas is celebrated as Guru Purnima or Vyasa Purnima. Bhagwan Ved Vyasa was an amsa-avatar of Bhagwan Sri Hari Vishnu and hence the full moon day of the month of Asadha is celebrated as Guru Purnima in his honor. On this day students pay obeisance to their teachers. The Guru-Shishya parampara of Bharat is an ancient one and Hindu shastras talk about it enlightening us on the importance of acquiring knowledge from the Guru.
Guru is said to be the guiding light who takes a student from darkness to light. The ancient Bharatiya gurukul system of education aimed at the all-round personality development of students. A Guru and his wife known as Gurumata also acted as the parents of the students who resided in the ashram and imparted life lessons to them.
In the Hindu tradition, the role of the Guru isn’t restricted to imparting knowledge but he is said to be the one who leads his students towards brahman – realization of the ultimate truth that would deliver one from the samsara chakra (the repeated cycles of birth and death). In other words, he/she is one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.
Bhagwan Shiva as Dakshinamurthy is Adi Guru (very first Guru) who is knowledge personified. He is said to be the teacher of yoga and music in addition to that of the shastras. Vedic, Tantric, and Agama sampradayas trace their origins to Bhagwan Dakshinamurthy.
He is depicted as a young teacher being seated under a banyan tree, facing south, and imparting knowledge to aged rishis through silence. Hindu tradition considers Bhagwan Dakshinamurthy as not just Adi Guru but also as one who manifests in human form from time to time to impart knowledge as numerous human gurus.
In his Dakshinamurthy stotram, Bhagwan Adi Shankaracharya pays glowing tributes to Bhagwan Dakshinamurthy and presents a moving depiction of the latter in the minds of the readers. Adi Shankara says “Salutations to Sri Dakshinamurthy whose exposition through profound silence is awakening the knowledge of the supreme brahman in the hearts of His disciples”.
The importance of a Guru can be understood from the fact that when Bhagwan Sri Hari Vishnu, who is all-knowing, incarnated as a human in the form of Prabhu Sri Ram and Bhagwan Krishna, He acquired knowledge from Maharishi Vasishta and Rishi Sandipani respectively.
Sri Krishna’s transition to Arjuna’s Guru on the battlefield of Kurukshetra helped the latter overcome his doubts and undertake his duty with renewed zest. When Bhagwan Krishna became a Guru, the world received the nectar of Bhagvat Gita.
The role of a Guru in Hindu traditions transcends the usual definitions of a teacher. Guru is derived from a combination of Gu (darkness) and Ru (remover). Hence, Guru is said to be a dispelled of darkness. Just as a lighthouse that guides ships through rough seas and helps them to reach the shore, a Guru guides his shishya through the samsara sagara (ocean of life). It is the duty of the shishya to ensure that his/her conduct upholds the reputation of the Guru and earns the latter a place of pride and esteem.
As the famous Hindu Guru Vandana shloka says:
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु र्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः
गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः
Guru is regarded as a form of the Hindu trinity – Bhagwans Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. He is like the creator Brahma as he creates or inculcates knowledge in the minds of the students. Guru is regarded as Vishnu since he maintains or preserves the knowledge of the students. And just like the destroyer Shiva, a Guru removes the darkness of ignorance from the students’ minds. Hence, Guru is said to be the manifestation of the supreme being known as Para Brahma.
- Bhagwan Dakshinamurthy (Source)
- Indic Today (Source)
- Sri Dakshinamurthy Stotram – Adi Shankaracharya (Source)
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