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Guru Purnima: What you must know

July 22, 2013 09:52 IST

Guru Purnima: What you must know


Today is Guru Purnima. Here is everything you should know about the Hindu festival.

Much before India marked September 5 as Teachers’ Day to commemorate the birthday of India’s President, Dr S Radhakrishnan, we celebrated Guru Purnima.

Guru Purnima falls on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Ashadh (typically in June or July) is celebrated across the country with much gusto.

While the Buddhists celebrate the day in the honour of the lord Buddha who is believed to have given his first sermon on this day at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, the Hindus do so to honour the sage Vyasa.

Sage Vyasa is believed to have been born on this day and also said to have started the Brahma Sutras. Therefore the day is also alternatively known as Vyasa Purnima.

The day is also the beginning of the Chaturmas -- a four-month period when wandering ascetics and their disciples would settle down to study and give discourses. Celebration of this festival is most prominent in the fields of classical Indian music and dance as well as yoga among others wherein students pay homage to their teachers, thanking them for sharing their knowledge; however it is also observed, often informally, in schools and colleges across the country.

In several temples, Vyasa Puja is held and symbolic gifts are given away in this honour. While practices may differ from place to place, they include recitations of the Bhagwad Gita (one of the many books Vyasa authored), singing of hymns and feasting.

At various seats of power, devotees worship their respective guru’s sandals as well as recommit their faith and loyalty toward their teacher.

Besides Vyasa, Hindu mythology is peppered with various gurus of great repute.

Lord Bramha: who mentored Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning and is believed to have created the world.

Rishi Vashista: who is believed to be one of the saptarishis (or the seven rishis) and the guru of Lord Rama.

Guru Vishwamitra: who taught Lord Rama and Laxmana the knowledge and use of celestial weapons in war.

Lord Krishna: who guided the archer-prince Arjuna through the bloody battle of Kurukshetra.

Guru Valmiki: who is the author of the Ramayana and the guru to the sons of Rama -- Luv and Kush.

Image: Guru Vyasa in whose honour the Hindus celebrate Guru Purnima