According to the Hindu calendar, 18 July 2008 tomorrow will be the GURU POORNIMA Day. During the last one-week thousands of Hindu institutions in the field of education, culture and religion in India and abroad have been celebrating the Guru Poornima Day.
|Maharishi Veda Vyasa|
What is the significance of Guru Poornima Day? The full-moon day in the month of AASHADA is the most auspicious and holy day of Guru-Poornima. From very ancient times, on this Aashada Poornima Day, sacred to the memory of the great sage SRI VYASA BHAGAVAN or Sri Krishna Dvaipayana, it has been the established tradition for Sannyasins (Saints, Sages and Rishis) to settle at some place to study, to do Vedantic Vichara, and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharshi Vyasa. What is the greatness of Shri Veda-Vyasa? Shri Veda-Vyasa has rendered everlasting service to all humanity by editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata. We can repay our deep debt of gratitude to him only by devoted and constant study of his works and assiduous practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in this Kali Yuga. In honour of this divine Maharishi, all Sadhakas and devotees perform VYASA PUJA on this Guru Poornima Day. On this sacred day, aspirants worship their Guru. On this holy day, Mahatmas and Sadhus are honoured and entertained, and all Grihastas with deep faith, devotion and sincerity undertake acts of charity. Chaturmasa for Sannyasins begins from this Guru Poornima Day. Sannyasins stay in one place during this period (the rainy season) for four months, study the Brahma Sutras, and practice meditation. This tradition has been going on in India for countless centuries.
Sankaram SankaracharyamKesavam Baadarayanam;Sutra-Kaarya-Kritau Vande
Bhagavantau Punah Punah
The meaning of the above age-old Sanskrit verse of Guru Vandana is as follows: ‘I adore Lord Siva, Lord Vishnu, Bhagavan Vyasa and Sri Sankaracharya. I again and again prostrate to Sri Vyasa who wrote the Vedanta Sutras, and to Sri Sankaracharya who wrote the commentaries thereon (Guru Vandanam)’.
The Guru’s duty in Vedic India was not only to teach the student a specific subject, but also to develop the overall personality of the student. The Guru tried to develop the student’s character, versatility, confidence, strength and overall vision of life. The ideal Guru was supposed to be the best friend of the student. He was supposed to be a friend, philosopher and guide! Ideally in the Guru-Shishya parampara, the relationship was unconditional: nothing was asked for in return as a pre-condition other than the acceptance of the Shishya as a student! Acquisition of knowledge was helped in a value-rich environment with focus on the development of the entire self.
The Guru’s mission appears to have been two-fold. The first and most important concern of the Guru was to awaken, elevate and transform the Sishya (seeker). The second and final purpose of the Guru was paradoxically to help the Sishya to transcend this state of complete dependence on the Guru, which dependence the Guru himself had taken such pains to foster. The final leap of realizing his true identity with God was exclusively the Sishya’s job and sacred mission.
Thus our great SANATHANA DHARMA tradition has been enriched by the GURU-SISHYA relationship. Bhagwan Rama’s greatness lay in His relationship with His most loyal disciple HANUMAN who taught the essence of RAMANAMAMRITIM. Bhagwan Krishna gave us the Bhagavad Gita, thanks to his devoted and most trusted disciple Arjuna. Saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gave to the world Swami Vivekananda who in turn gave to the world the Ramakrishna Mission, embodying the soul of India. Saint Thyagaraja, an avatar of Sage Valmiki, composed hundreds of soulful Krithis in praise of God. Two Krithis, in particular, refer to the GURU’S role in guiding the seeker on the right path. Guru leka in ‘Gowrimanohari’ raga is a Krithi in which the Saint of Thiruvaiyar sings how one who is trapped in the jungle of desire, can come out of it with help of the right GURU. Saint Thyagaraja says however learned and good a person might be, life would be meaningless without the guidance of a Satguru. In another Krithi, Sri Naradamuni Gururaya ganti in ‘Bhairavi’ raga, Thyagaraja explains how Satguru Smaranam helps one in getting rid of ignorance. The GURU is both light and fire. He shows the way out of darkness and is himself the fire that destroys ignorance and falsehood. GURU is God and God is GURU. They are one and the same person with this difference that GURU is pratyaksha God in flesh and blood and God is the product of self-realization to which a disciple attains by the help of the human GOD, namely GURU.
Let us draw our inspiration from the soaring words of Swamy Vivekananda who painted the relationship between the GURU and his SISHYA in words of transcendental beauty and wisdom: ‘The GURU must be worshiped as GOD. He is God, nothing less than that. The GURU is the bright mask, which God wears in order to come to us. As we look steadily on, gradually the mask falls off and God is revealed. He is the embodiment of the BLISS DIVINE, the personification of the highest knowledge and the giver of the greatest beatitude, who is pure, perfect, one without a second, eternal beyond pleasure and pain, beyond all thought and all qualifications, transcendental. Such is in reality the Guru. No wonder the disciple looks upon him as God himself and trusts him, reveres him, obeys him, follows him unquestioningly. This is the relation between the Guru and the disciple’.
Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale
What is the historical significance of Guru-Sishya Parampara? The greatest Empires of India, which once were the greatest seats of power, wealth and culture in the world, were all founded on GURUKRIPA. It will not be too much to say that there could not have been a Mauryan Empire without Chanakya, a Maratha Empire without Samarth Ramadas, a Vijayanagar Empire without Vidyaranya, and a Tanjore Kingdom without Govinda Deekshathar. It is only on account of our inert complacency towards Sanathana Dharma that many of the time-honoured Hindu Societal Institutions are getting destroyed today.
Tomorrow SANATAN SANSTHA, Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, is organizing Guru poornima celebrations at Sri Adi Sankara Auditorium, Sri Ayyappa Seva Samajam, at Anna Nagar, Chennai at 5.00 p.m. The founder of Sanatan Sanstha is His Holiness Dr.Jayant Balaji Athavale. Sanatan Sanstha was founded by Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale in 1990, with the blessings of his Sadguru, Saint Bhaktaraj. Dr. Athavale was by profession a Consultant Clinical Hypnotherapist from Bombay. He undertook extensive research on Clinical Hypnosis both in India and overseas. He worked for seven years as a Clinical Hypnotherapist in Great Britain from 1971 to 1978. Returning to India in 1978, he started his own practice in Bombay and continued his work of research in the field of Hypnotherapy. In 1982, He founded the ‘Indian Society of Clinical Hypnosis and Research’ and commenced the publication of an annual journal on the subject.
However, after practicing as a hypnotherapist for twenty years, he realized that nearly 30% of his patients did not recover with the usual treatment regimens. On the contrary, many of those patients recovered fully after having gone on a pilgrimage, or having followed the spiritual advice of a Saint. Thus Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale came to the inescapable conclusion that there is another science far superior to physical and psychological medicine, and that was the science of Spirituality. This was because medical science only dealt with physical and to some extent psychological aspects of a patient, but completely left out the entire spiritual aspects of the person.
Realizing the inadequacy of lop-sided conventional medical diagnosis, Dr.Jayant Balaji Athavale started advising his patients to follow some spiritual practice. To his great joy and satisfaction, he found that the cure rate among his patients increased substantially by following this new path of guided spirituality. Ploughing deeper and deeper into the field of Theory and Practice of Spirituality, he wrote 21 volumes on this subject with the objective of educating and guiding the humanity at large about their need to take to the sublime path and field of spirituality rooted in Sanatana Dharma. In 1988, Dr. Athavale started conducting free of charge workshops on Spirituality in the city of Mumbai. In 1990, with the blessings of his Sadguru, Saint Bhaktaraj of Indore, he founded the ‘Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sanstha’ so as to facilitate the spread of Spirituality. Taking note of its immediate tremendous growth, keeping the larger aspect of the smooth running of the organization in view, it was renamed as ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ by H.H Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale on 24th March 1999. The main aim of the organization is to present Spirituality in a scientific language for the curious (jidnyasu) and to guide the seekers of God. Dr. Athavale has worked tirelessly in the field of Spirituality to share with humanity the findings of his research into the deeper understanding of the Spiritual dimension using a scientific approach. In order to achieve this end, he has published more than 1.6 million copies of spiritual books in 11 languages like Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, English and other languages during the last 7 years. His work has been recognized by Hindu Saints and Sages belonging to all denominations.
Under Dr.Jayant Balaji Athavale’s inspiring leadership, Sanatan Sanstha has created a mass awareness among the Hindus of India, through the following focussed activities conducted in an organised manner in several parts of India:
Discourses on various topics in Spirituality
Weekly Spiritual Meetings (satsangs)
Child Guidance Classes (Balsankarvarg)
Workshops on Spirituality
Workshops on Stress Management
Training in Self-Defence
Relief Measures in Calamities, Training in First Aid and Fire Fighting
Appropriate Campaigns to Create Awareness of Righteousness (Dharma)
No aspirant, seeker, or jijnaasi can gain his Atmasamrajya without the Guru’s compassionate blessings. Let us all offer our reverential and affectionate salutations to Guru Maharaj Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale on this Guru Poornima Day in the everlasting words of Adi Sankara from his Bhaja Govindam Song:
Trust yourself wholly to the lotus feet of the Guru,Freed from the shackles of samsara,With your senses and mind controlled in this manner,
You will see God residing in your heart
(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
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