What is Guru Purnima?
Guru Poornima is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Veda Vyas, the sage who authored Mahabharat.
It is celebrated in Ashadha (June-July) Poornima. It is a festival celebrated widely in India, Nepal and Bhutan among the Hindus, Buddhists and the Jains.
The revival of this festival in India was done by Mahatma Gandhi. He wanted to remember his spiritual leader, Shrimad Rajchandra on this occasion.
General Legend behind the celebrations of Guru Poornima
According to the local legends, the story of Guru Purnima marks the birth date of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa who was born to King Shantanu and a fisherman’s daughter Satyavati. He is credited to have extended the Vedas dividing them into four neat orders- Rig, Atharva, Sam and Yajur Vedas, and taught it to his four primary disciples known by the names of Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu. The histories and Puranas came to be known as the fifth Veda since his time.
Legend according the Yogic School of Hinduism
According to the Yogic school of Hinduism, the story of Guru Purnima marks that day when Lord Shiva turned from an Adi Yogi to Adi- Guru.
It is believed that almost 15000 years ago a Yogi appeared in the upper parts of the Himalayas. His presence was enough to draw people to him, but this Yogi did not show any signs of life except a few tears that ran down his eyes every now and then. These tears turned into a tree variety known to be the Rudraksh later.
He dismissed those who had gathered around him when they began requesting him the reason behind his appearance. However, they held onto him. He opened his eyes and seeing the disciples were still begging in front of him, told them a simple ritual and fell silent. The disciples prepared themselves, but the Yogi took no notice of them for the next 84 years.
On Dakshinayan, he turned his eyes towards the seven men again. By then these men had turned into jewels, shining and all bloomed. So, the Yogi turned South and on the next day, which was the Guru Poornima, turned towards these men and gave them the secrets of life and living.
It was during this phase that Adi Yogi became Adi Guru. The seven disciples learned the secrets of life and its mechanics for a long time and came to be known as the Saptarishis. They brought this knowledge to Earth and its people.
Guru Poornima is an extremely sacred day for the Hindus since it was on this day that Adi Guru opened the possibilities of conscious evolution for men and women alike. The seven forms of Yogic traditions namely Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yog, Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga were put into these seven men endured the tests of time and are present in the world even till date.
Also See: Guru Purnima Quotes and Massages
Legend according the Buddhist School
According to Buddhist beliefs, the story of Guru Purnima is based on Buddha’s life and living. After almost five weeks, Buddha reached Sarnath from Bodhgaya where his former companions were and taught them the Dhamma. He could understand with the help of his diving understanding that those five men were capable of understanding what he had learnt.
Now, to reach Sarnath he had to cross the Ganges. When he was on the Ganges shoreline, he was unable to cross it, due to a toll on Ganges put forth by King Bimbisara. Hearing that an enlightened man was penniless, King Bimbisara abolished the toll for ascetics.
Buddha crossed the Ganges and went over to Sarnath where he preached the sermon to his five previous disciples thus bringing forth the Dharmachakra Pravartana Sutra. They understood it very well and thus lay the foundations of Buddhism in the country. The Sangha was mendicant on Guru Purnima.
The Bhikshus soon grew to a school of 60 members and that is how Buddhists prefer remembering this day apart from remembering Lord Shiva. The monks who preached Dhamma were arahats by nature and Buddhists observe this day remembering the eight precepts of Buddhism.
People in Hinduism usually perform the Vyas Pooja and in Nepal people celebrate this day as Teacher’s day.
The story of Guru Purnima amongst the Jains revolves around the Jain guru, Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of the order who attained Kaivalya on this day and ordained Indrabhuti Gautam, a Gandhara as his first disciple also on this day. This process converted Mahavir into a Treenok Guha and thus Guru Poornima is observed as Treenok Guha Poornima.
These are the various stories that have materialised on this day and tell you what Guru Purnima is.
Each day is blessed by a certain force or energy. On this day, you can seek the blessings of the stars in the sky, only if you wish to learn from them the secrets of this life and the entire Universe.