The full moon day in the month of Ashada, July, is the extremely auspicious and holy day of Guru Poornima. On this day, sacred to the memory of the great sage Sri Vyasa Bhagavan or Sri Krishna, sannyasins settle at some place to study, do vedantic vichara, enquiry, and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharishi Vyasa. Sage Veda Vyasa did unforgettable service to all humanity for all times by editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas and the Mahabharata.
We can attempt to repay the deep debt of gratitude we owe him only by constant study of his works and practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in the Iron Age or Kali yuga. In honour of this divine personage, all sadhakas and devotees perform Vyasa Pooja on this day, and aspirants worship their guru. Mahatmas and sadhus are honoured and entertained, and acts of charity are done by all householders with deep faith and sincerity.
The moon shines by reflecting the dazzling light of the sun. It is the full moon on the poornima day that reflects in full splendour the glorious light of the sun. It glorifies the sun. By purifying oneself through the fire of selfless service and sadhana, one can become like the full moon and reflect the glorious light of the Self. This is the deep significance of this great day.
For sannyasins, Chaturmas begins from this day. They stay in one place during the rainy season for four months, study the Brahma Sutras, and practise meditation.
Guru Poornima heralds the setting in of the eagerly awaited rains. The water, drawn up and stored as clouds in the hot summer, now manifests in plentiful showers that usher in the advent of fresh life everywhere. Even so, do you all begin seriously to put into actual working all the theory and philosophy that you have stored up in you through patient study.
Commence practical spiritual sadhana right from this day and generate fresh waves of spirituality. Let all that you have read, heard, seen and learnt become, through sadhana, transformed into a continuous outpouring of universal love, ceaseless loving service and continuous prayer and worship of the Lord. Live on milk and fruits on this day and practise rigorous japa and dhyana.
As the day of guru pooja, or worship of one’s preceptor, this is a day of pure joy to the sincere aspirant. Thrilled by the expectation of offering his reverent homage to the beloved guru, the aspirant awaits this occasion with eagerness and devotion. It is the guru alone who breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence. Guru is Brahman or Ishwara Himself. He guides and inspires you from the innermost core of your being. He is everywhere.
The guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death. It is a delusive notion that to submit to the guru, to obey him and to carry out his instructions, is slavish mentality. Only the ignorant person thinks that it is beneath his dignity and against his freedom to submit to another person’s command. This is a grave blunder. If one reflects carefully, one sees that individual freedom is in reality an absolute abject slavery to one’s ego and vanity. The person who attains victory over the mind and ego is the real free man.
To strengthen and affirm the faith of the wavering mind and to guarantee the attitude that is necessary for the fruition of one’s worship, the ancients have deified the personality of the guru. To adore the guru is indeed to adore the Supreme. In this world of mortality, the Guru is like an ambassador in an alien court. Just as an ambassador represents the nation to which he belongs, so the guru is one who is the representative of the sublime transcendental state which he has attained. Just as to honour the ambassador is to honour the nation that he hails from, so to worship and adoration of the visible guru is the direct worship and adoration of the Supreme Reality.
The best form of worship of the guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and message.