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The Guru Tradition

Updated: August 11, 2012 2:00 pm

We have grown up, listening in school to the chanting of the mantra,

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara,

Guru Sakshaat Parbrahma, Tasmai shree Gurwe Namah”.

Guru Poornima celebrated this year on July holds deep significance to me, as it reminds me of the powerful connect between a Guru and shishya and the holistic role that a Guru or teacher plays in shaping one’s personality. The meaning of the above mantra is that a Guru is Brahma—he creates an ideal mental ambience for the student ready to grasp knowledge and skills from the Guru to face life. The Guru is Vishnu—he preserves the student’s identity, his soul even while infusing infusing into him outword and inward knowledge. The Guru is Maheshwar—he destroys the ego and ignorance in the student by purifying him through wisdom. The last line of the mantra says, “My salutations to Him who is Supreme Soul Himself.

Spiritual Gurus like Shankaracharya are called Jagadguru, the word Jagadguru means teacher of the world. Some are called Sadguru meaning good teacher. Guru Poornima falls on a full-moon day in the month of Ashadh (June-July) of the Hindu calendar, while Hindus observe the day as a mark of respect and pay homage towards the great sage Ved Vyas who composed Mahabharata, Buddhists celebrate the day to mark the first sermon of Lord Buddha, post enlightenment. The Swami Narayan sect defines Vyasa as the first Guru of the Hindus. On this day the disciple expresses his gratitude to his Guru and makes some offerings. I remember offering roses to my teachers on Guru Poornima Day.

In Hindu culture a Guru is considered equivalent to a mother, father and God which is why a Guru is placed in this esteemed order as Mata Pita, Guru and Devam. In one of his beautiful dohas (poems) Saint Kabir writes: “Guru and God both appeared before me. To whom should I prostrate? I bow before Guru who introduced God to me.” In some mystical circles it is believed that the Guru would awaken the dormant spiritual knowledge within the pupil called Shaktipat through spiritual energy which is transmitted from the Master to his student.

There are many gurus who played influential roles in people’s lives and they have left their mark in history. Dronacharya was one of the most respected of the Gurus of India. He was royal Guru to both Kauravas and Pandavas. He was the master of religion and advanced military arts including the Devastras. Drona was considered to be a partial incarnation of Brihaspati (Teacher of Gods). It is said that Drona favoured Arjun more than Duryodhana because Arjun was humble and Duryodhana arrogant. It is believed that the city of Gurgaon literally means, “The village of Gurus’ and it was initially founded as a Guru Gram by Drona on the land given to him by Dhritarashtra, the King of Hastinapur in recognition of his teachings of martial arts to the princes.

Prince Rama and his brothers were trained in martial arts and the scriptures by Guru Vishwamitra. It is said that Guru Vishwamitra was pleased with the princes and gave them two powerful mantras Bala and Atibala by which they were forever freed from thirst, and hunger. It is said that Guru Vishwamitra empowered Lord Rama for his life’s mission. Guru Vishwamitra has given the world the most powerful and scared of the Hindu mantras. The Gayatri Mantra also known as the Guru Mantra.

Every year Guru Poornima is celebrated with great devotion in Shirdi. Thousands of devotees who arrive in Shirdi participate in mass reading of Shri Saibaba’s Sai Sachcharitra, pilgrims recite bhajans and perform aarti. Many have accepted Sadguru Shri Sai Baba as their personal Guru as Sai Baba enacts the role of a father. It is said that you don’t have to go in search of a Guru. A Guru will find you when you are ready for his teachings. The Guru Mantra of Shri Shridi Sai Baba is, “Shradha and Saburi” faith and patience to attain peace and fulfilment in life. At the time of distress chant the following,

Om Sai Namo Namaha;

Shri Sai Namo Namaha;

Jai Jai Sai Namo Namaha;

Sad Guru Sai Namo Namaha”.

And Sai Baba will be there to relieve your stress. Such is the power of a Guru.

By Indira Satyanarayan

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