Significance of Guru Purnima

P C Sharma
Guru Bina gat nei Te shah bina pat nei
This happens to be widely famous and popular maxim, a kind of a moral saying amongst the common folks of our Duggar Land elucidating a significant message that the entity of Guru, a teacher, a guide, a counsellor is indispensable for salvation from not only the constantly ongoing cycle of birth and death passing through arduous process of transposition into 84 millions of living species which is painful beyond imagination and exceedingly tormenting for the mortal man, but also for successfully handling his worldly pursuits and multifarious activities , domestic chores, managing multiple relationships and the related duties. The prominent adage also mentions” Shah Bina Pat Nei” meaning thereby that Shah, the wealthiest person in the village, locality, city or in the society as a whole and his monetary possessions are enough and to spare to fulfil the barest minimum needs of the poor and downtrodden in times of adversity.
PAT signifies esteem, prestige, reverence, honour and credibility in the estimation of the society. At times any odd member of the society may come across an extremely difficult situation on account of some natural calamity or prolonged terminal disease which shoves him into debt from toe to head and the hapless person is all poised to lose his self pride and the prestige in the estimation of the society. Then in those unsavoury circumstances wherein his general reputation and prestige is at stake or PAT is on the brink of extinction, Shah as narrated above comes forward to save his honour. This time when I made up my mind to pen this write up on occasion of Guru Purnima, a great cultural festival of ancient India, this adage just struck my mind and I thought it appropriate to reduce it to writing as prelude to the principal topic of Guru Purnima which falls on Sunday. At this point of time although it is observed as localized event wherein people worship and honour their individual Gurus by offering donations in cash and kind by visiting their Ashrams yet the festival of Guru Purnima enjoys a special place and status in the National life of our country which need be specifically highlighted on this occasion for understanding its national significance.
Turning focus on Guru Purnima we find that Purnima of aashad Maas as per Bhartiya calendar which occurs on 5th July this year is observed as Guru Purnima or Vyas Purnima. It epitomizes the holy tradition of Guru Shisya (Teacher- Student) relationship which dates back to the early Vedic period. Guru was considered to be the guide and philosopher for the whole of the society. His words were final. Even the chakarvarti kings had no authority to ignore and disobey their advice. In the ancient times and the vedic period the Gurus, Rishis, Monks were living a secluded life in the forests as ascetics fully engrossed in the patriotic work of National and societal development, however, in the month of Aashad e.i. June-July every year it is a period of persistent rains which is obviously not favourable and conducive to have a smooth life in the dense forests in their make shift hermitages, therefore, they meticulously planned to earmark and utilize this period of constant rains for moving out of their Ashrams and walk down to the common folks for interaction and understanding the complicacies and intricacies of their lives and provide them spiritual guidance and blessings at their door step. Certainly the common folks were immensely benefitted not only in their family life but also in their social, national and spiritual life.
The sages and Gurus were making the best use of this opportunity to have interaction with the countrymen, Rural folks, peasants, women folks and the growing progeny through house to house contact, organizing religious ceremonies such as conducting Shodas sanskars (16 cultural values) for general benefit of the masses:-.
1. Garvadhan 2. Punsvan 3.Seemantonayan,these three sanskars are performed prior to delivery of the child followed by 13 sanskars are postnatal and solemnized after birth of the child such as 4.Jaatkaram 5. Naamkaran 6. Nishkraman 7. Annprashan 8. Choul. 9. Karanbedh 10. Vidyarambh 11.Upnayan 12.Vedarambh 13. Keshaant 14. Samavartan 15. Vivah16. Anteshti together with emphasis on inculcating basic cultural values to lay foundation of an enlightened society. In fact it was a natural system of establishing rules, norms and conventions for guidance and strict adherence by the society to lead purposeful life. Similarly these Gurus assiduously founded a perfect and phenomenal Gurukul system of education for all segments of society irrespective of their economic status. It was a widely acclaimed and a highly productive system of education. Every child poor or rich had to proceed to a Gurukul for receiving comprehensive education in all faculties for holistic development of his personality including various types of weaponry and warfare techniques for self defence and protecting the Nation as well from the external invasions.
Having a glance through the historical accounts of ancient India we stumble over startling but very encouraging facts which fully confirm the existence of Gurukul Parampara in our country since the dawn of civilization. All our Gods had a Guru namely Briaspati, Bhagwan Ram chander ji had the blessings of a Guru namely Guru Vashisth and Guru Vshwamittar. Chhattarpati Shiva ji had a Guru famously known as Samarath Guru Ram Dass. In the modern Indian history we find that Guru or a Teacher at primary or middle level transformed the life of great APJ Abdul Kalam and the author of our constitution Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. In view of this I conclude the article on Guru Purnima with a genuine feeling of blissfulness and conviction that yearly celebration of Guru Purnima indicates high degree of deference and reverence for the Guru or Teacher across the national spectrum. It is still relevant and efficacious to facilitate sweeping reforms in the present system of education. We need to launch a nationwide hunt for talented and committed teachers and there is no dearth of this treasure in our country. There is a burning need to connect the system of imparting education in the country to our cultural roots. Guru Purnima can be instrumental in strengthening the student- teacher relationship which can further restore the dignity and pride of our Gurukul pattern of education. It will equally give a fillip to overall National development and progress as well.
(The author is Vice President Bhartiya Yog Sansthan, JKUT)