Guru Purnima is also known as Vyasa Purnima and marks the birthday of sage Ved Vyasa. This full moon day is celebrated by Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist disciples to express gratitude towards their spiritual teachers and everyone else who has acted as a guide and teacher in their life journey. One pays obeisance to the Guru or teacher on this day, thanking for all the knowledge and life-lessons.
Irrespective of their religions, Indian students celebrate this day by thanking their teachers. Students honor their teachers by offering delicacies, garlands, and sweets. Students often organize functions and fanfares in schools to appreciate the hard work done by teachers. This day is taken as an excellent opportunity to express gratitude and consolidate the bond of teacher-student relationships
The festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadha (June–July). The word Guru is derived from two words, gu and ru. The Sanskrit word gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of our ignorance.
Traditionally the festival is celebrated by Buddhists in honor of the Lord Buddha, who gave His first sermon on this day at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India. In the yogic tradition, the day is celebrated as when Shiva became the first Guru, as he began the revelation and transmission of yoga to the Saptarishis. Many Hindus celebrate the day in honor of the great sage Ved Vyasa, who is accepted as one of the greatest Gurus in ancient Hindu traditions and a symbol of the Guru-Shishya tradition.
Guru Purnima festival is common to all spiritual traditions in Hinduism, where it is an expression of gratitude towards the teacher by his/her disciple or student. Hindu ascetics and wandering sanyasis or monks, observe this day by offering puja to their Guru. This day also marks the beginning of Chaturmas, four months period, during the rainy season, when these ascetics choose seclusion and stay at one chosen place.
According to the Puranas and in yogic lore, it is said that Guru Purnima was the day that saw Shiva become the Adi Guru or the first Guru. On the full moon day, Shiva sat as a Guru to seven men. Shiva, the Adiyogi, or the first yogi thus became the Adi Guru. Adiyogi expounded the working and secret of life to the seven disciples, who became celebrated as the Saptarishis and took this knowledge across the world. Guru Purnima is held sacred in the yogic tradition because the Adiyogi opened up the knowledge and possibility for a human being to evolve consciously. The seven different aspects of yoga revealed to these seven men became the foundation for the seven primary forms of yoga, something that has still endured until now.
Buddhists observe Vipassana meditation practice on this day under the guidance of their teachers. Rainy season or Varsha also starts with this day. During the rainy season lasting for about three months from July to October, Buddhist monks remain in a single place, generally in their temples. In some monasteries, monks dedicate this time to intensive meditation.
Guru Purnima or Vyas Purnima was the day when Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the Mahabharata – was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman's daughter Satyavati. Vyasa Puja is held at various temples on this day, and floral offerings and gifts are given away in his honor. Disciples also commit themselves on this day, towards following their teacher's guidance and teachings.
The Auspicious Guru Mantra
Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Gurur Devo Maheshwarah
Guru Saakshaata Parabrahma
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah
"Guru is the creator, Guru is the protector, and Guru is solely the destroyer of evil.
Guru is the supreme God, and therefore, I bow upon Him and pay my respects."