Guru Purnima is known as one of the greatest festivals originating from India. It is a day to honour all our Gurus, whether it be spiritual teachers imparting paravidya or those imparting other types of knowledge (para vidya). Without anyone teaching us something, what would be be?
The day of Guru Purnima falls on the day of the full moon (Purnima) during the month of Ashada (which falls in June/July in Western calendar). There must be something very auspicious on this day as in the rich spiritual history on India many events took place on this day.
Guru Purnima is the birthday of Krishna Dvaipayana better known as Vedavyasa, who is known to have channeled the knowledge of many Puranas. Gautam the Buddha gave his first sermon on this day. The great Jain’s saint Mahavir initiated his first disciple on this day. Also among Jains this day is an important day as Saint Mahavira gave initiation to his first disciple Gautam Swami.
It is said that Lord Shiva, the first Guru or the original teacher, start his transmission of knowledge to the Sapta rishis. Clearly, similar to the great night of Shiva, Shiva Ratri, also on Guru Purnima there must be some very rich energetic field, and here for us to connect to the Gurus.
Lord Shiva giving his first transmission
Shiva became Adi Guru, the first Guru on Guru Purnima. More than 15,000 years ago, a yogi appeared in the Himalayas. His presence was impressive and people gathered around him. He gave no signs of life, except for occasional tears of ecstasy that rolled down his cheeks. Most people did not wait and left, but seven men stayed on and persisted.
Eventually the yogi opened his eyes. The seven men wanted to understand and have the same experience as that was happening to him. First he dismissed them, but as the men persevered, he gave them some instructions and closed his eyes again. The seven men began to prepare.
Days became into weeks, weeks months and months years, but the yogi did not open his eyes again. After 84 years of practice, Adi yogi looked at them again. The seven men had become receptive enough, so he could not ignore them anymore.
On the following full moon day, the yogi sat looking southwards and the seven men joined him. With this Shiva had become a Guru for them. The seven disciples became known as the Saptarishis and took His knowledge across the world.
It is said that since then the seven basic forms of yoga were shared with human kind. This night of Guru Purnima is still celebrated as the moment to receive the secret knowledge from our Gurus, provided we are receptive enough of course.
Vedavyasa is the greatest of Gurus for this era. He is the one whole compiled the Vedas in four parts, “authored” various Puranas and the Brahma Sutras. Vedavyasa is actually a tittle for the one who guards the Vedic knowledge during an era. His birth name was Krishna Dvaipayana. The name Krishna refers to his dark complexion of skin. Dvaipayana is the name of the island in the river where he was born. Even beyond seeing his work, there are many reasons to understand that a great Guru was born on this day.
Firstly, He is the son of the Rishi Parashara, who is often seen as the father of Jytotish in this age. Surely a great astrologer as Parashara must have been completely aware on which day his son would be born. There are several stories floating around about how it happened that he procreated exactly on that moment with a simple fishermen’s daughter (who later would become a queen), but the birth of a son on Guru Purnima must be the core reason that he moved in the activity of procreating.
Parashara is the grandson of Rishi Vashistha. In this way the Shakti of this great Master of all kinds of knowledge flows through this lineage. Satyavati, a simple fishermen’s daughter who is now also seen as an incarnation of Kali, was the mother of Krishna Dvaipayana. About the two of them meeting are various stories, of which I will will share a couple I am aware of.
The birth of Vedavyasa
Parashara got hit by the sword of the cannibals, and when he opened his eyes he was in fishermen’s house. Satyavati was looking after him and she looked beautiful. Parashara was in love and in this moment of weakness procreation happened. After this Parasara had to go from ashram to ashram and do his dharma of teaching everyone the principles of Sanatana Dharma.
He used to always return on the Purnima day in Ashada, the birthday of his son Krishna Dvaipayana. The boy was very fond of his father. He would often tell his mum that his father is talking to him internally all the time and that he promised to take him with him one day.
Then one day when it was Purnima Ashada (Guru Purnima) came again and Parashara arrived, the father of Satyavati was very upset. He explained his anger: what would be of my daughter if she has to raise this boy alone and go without a husband? Or does she now has to live with you as a non? Parashara knew this was an important question of dharma and went into meditation on what to do…..
After a while he came out and he said to Satyavati: I liberate you from this duty, and he left with the boy teaching him all he knew. He also didn’t leave Satyavati without a great destiny. She became queen of Hastinapur, Indiathese secret narratives are mentioned here by Pandit Sanjay Rath at 1hrs, 19 mins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGQEH1UxN5E and in The book of Vedavyāsa the Master which is a very nice easy to … Continue reading
Lord Buddha gave his first sermon on this day.
We see buddhist also celebrating this day to honour their teachers. It is known that many Vipassana meditators practice under guidance of their teachers on this day. Moreover, this day is also seen as a start day for the rainy season in India, during which Buddhist monks remain in one single place, generally in their temples. This gives the opportunity to intensify their meditations. During this period also many Buddhist lay people revive their spiritual practices.