||Date of Observance: Full moon of
Guru Purnima (IAST: Guru Pūrṇimā, sanskrit: गुरु पूर्णिमा) is a
festival traditionally celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists, marked by
ritualistic veneration of the Guru, Guru Puja.
The word guru is derived from two words, 'Gu' and 'Ru' . The
Sanskrit root "Gu" means darkness or ignorance. "Ru" denotes the
remover of that darkness. Therefore one who removes darkness of our
ignorance is a Guru. Gurus are believed by many to be the most
necessary part of lives. On this day, disciples offer puja (worship)
or pay respect to their Guru (Spiritual Guide). It falls on the day
of full moon, Purnima, in the month of Ashadh (June–July) of the
Shaka Samvat, Indian national calendar and Hindu calendar.
Traditionally the festival is celebrated by Buddhists in the honor
the lord Buddha who gave His first sermon on this day at Sarnath,
Uttar Pradesh, India. While Hindus celebrate it in the honour of the
great sage Vyasa, who is seen as one of the greatest gurus in
ancient Hindu traditions, and a symbol of the Guru-shishya
tradition. Vyasa was not only believed to have been born on this
day, but also to have started writing the Brahma Sutras on ashadha
sudha padyami which ends on this day, hence their recitations as a
dedication to him, are organised on this day, which is also known as
The festival is common to all spiritual traditions in Hinduism,
where it is dedicated to the expression of gratitude towards the
teacher by his/her disciple. Hindu ascetics and wandering monks (sanyasis),
observe this day by offering puja to the Guru, during the Chaturmas,
a four month period during the rainy season, when they choose
seclusion, and halt at one selected place; some also give discourses
to the local public. Students of the Indian classical music, which
also follows the Guru shishya parampara, celebrate this festival,
around the world.
This was the day, when Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the
Mahabharata – was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman's daughter
Satyavati, thus this day is also celebrated as Vyasa Purnima. Veda
Vyasa, did yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies by gathering
all the Vedic hymns extant during his times, dividing them into four
parts based on their use in the sacrificial rites, and teaching them
to his four chief disciples – Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and
Sumantu. It was this dividing and editing that earned him the
honorific "Vyasa" (vyas = to edit, to divide).
"He divided the Veda into four, namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.
The histories and the Puranas are said to be the fifth Veda."
- Brahmanda Purana Vyasa Maharshi is the guru of all gurus.All
prayers today to ones guru are directly reaching Vyasa.Vyasa
maharshi has helped everyone to know vedas and puranas and lead life
in a righteous way. Guru means one who removes darkness from ones
The Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath about 5 weeks after his
enlightenment. Before Gautama (the Buddha-to-be) attained
enlightenment, he gave up his austere penances and his friends, the
Pañcavaggiya monks, left him and went to Isipatana (Sarnath).
After attaining Enlightenment the Buddha, leaving Uruvela, travelled
to the Isipatana to join and teach them. He went to them because,
using his spiritual powers, he had seen that his five former
companions would be able to understand Dharma quickly. While
travelling to Sarnath, Gautama Buddha had to cross the Ganges.
Having no money with which to pay the ferryman, he crossed the
Ganges through the air. When King Bimbisara heard of this, he
abolished the toll for ascetics. When Gautama Buddha found his five
former companions, he taught them, they understood and as a result
they also became enlightened. At that time the Sangha, the community
of the enlightened ones, was founded. The sermon Buddha gave to the
five monks was his first sermon, called the Dhammacakkappavattana
Sutta. It was given on the full-moon day of Asadha. Buddha
subsequently also spent his first rainy season i.e. Varsha vassa at
Sarnath at the Mulagandhakuti. The Sangha had grown to 60 in number
(after Yasa and his friends had become monks), and Buddha sent them
out in all directions to travel alone and teach the Dharma. All 60
monks were Arahants.
Observances by Buddhists and Hindus
Buddhists observe on this day uposatha i.e. to observe eight
precepts. Vipassana meditators practice meditation on this day under
the guidance of their teachers. Rainy season i.e. varsha vassa also
starts with this day. During the rainy season lasting for three
lunar months from July to October. During this time Buddhist monks
remain in a single place, generally in their temples. In some
monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation.
During Vassa, many Buddhist lay people reinvigorate their spiritual
training and adopt more ascetic practices, such as giving up meat,
alcohol, or smoking.
A sanyasi performing Vyasa puja traditionally held on Guru Purnima
day, as a part of Chaturmas rituals
The Hindu spiritual Gurus are revered on this day by remembering
their life and teachings. Vyasa Puja is held at various temples,
where floral offerings and symbolic gifts are given away in his
honour and that of the cosmic satguru. The festivities are usually
followed by feast for the disciples, shishya, where the prasad and
charnamrita literally nectar of the feet, the symbolic wash of
Guru's feet, which represents his grace, kripa is distributed.
As a day of remembrance towards all gurus, through whom God grants
the grace of knowledge (Jnana) to the disciples, special recitations
of the Hindu scriptures especially, the Guru Gita, a 216 verse ode
to Guru, authored by the sage, Vyasa himself, are held all day;
apart from singing of bhajans, hymns and organising of special
kirtan session and havan at many places, where devotees from all
over gather at the ashrams, matha or place where the seat of Guru,
Guru Gaddi exists. This day also sees the ritual of padapuja, the
worships of Guru's sandals, which represent his holy feet and is
seen a way of rededicating to all that a Guru stands for. Disciples
also recommit themselves on this day, towards following their
teacher's guidance and teachings, for the coming year.
A mantra that is particularly used on this day is "Gurur Brahma,
Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Parabrahmah Tasmai
Shree Guru Veh Namah".
This day is also seen as an occasion when fellow devotees, Guru Bhai
(disciple-brother), express their solidarity to one another in their
According to Jain traditions, it was on this day, falling at the
beginning of chaturmas, the four month rainy season retreat,
Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, after attaining Kaivalya, made
Indrabhuti Gautam, later known as Gautam Swami, a Ganadhara, his
first disciple, thus becoming a Guru himself, therefore it is
observed in Jainism as Guru Purnima, and is marked special
veneration to one's Gurus and teachers.