The contribution of teachers is perhaps greater than the contribution of anyone else. Indians have acknowledged this for ages and that’s why we celebrate Gurupournima, also known as Vyasa Poornima. The term guru means ‘dispeller of darkness’.
The original Vedic texts were monolithic in nature and it was almost impossible for any individual to study them in a single lifetime. To make the wisdom of the Vedas more accessible, the great sage Vyasa, who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is said to have divided the Vedas into four parts: Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. It is this event that gave him the name Veda Vyasa or the compiler of the Vedas. Vyasa later composed the great epic, Mahabharata, which captures all the lessons of Vedas in the form of a story.
Considering his epic contribution to the history of humankind, the birth anniversary of Mahamuni Veda Vyasa is celebrated as Gurupournima. On the occasion, various institutions and its students across the country pay homage to their teachers, past and present.
Like every year, Thane-based Sri Tara Ma Mission, which runs ashrams, schools, colleges, and academies, observed Gurupournima with enthusiasm and reverence. On July 11, 2006, the devotees worshipped the founder of mission, Sri Tara Ma and Swami Omkarananda. Spiritual aspirants seeking guidance received the Guru mantra from them for spiritual progress through its chanting. The programme at the Sri Ma Vanasthali Ashram began early in the morning at 5 am with the chanting of Omkar followed by bhajans, kirtans, meditation and stotra recitation, and lasted for more than an hour. A number of devotees received their Guru mantra from Sri Tara Ma and Swami Omkarananda after the morning programme.
Later, the Vishwa Shanti Havan or the sacrificial ceremony for universal peace was performed at Sri Ma Vidyalaya from 8.30 am to 11.30 am. Many students from Std VI to X received Mantra Diksha from Sri Tara Ma and Swami Omkarananda. As part of the diksha, Sri Tara Ma and Swami Omkarananda also gifted them with a japa-mala (chanting beads) and taught them the method of chanting, using the same.
Children too displayed an enquiring mind with questions on the correct way of living and conducting oneself. Questions such as ‘When my mind and my heart presents conflicting solutions, what should I do?’ and ‘Since I have received the Guru mantra, does it mean that from now onwards I should stop the consumption of non-vegetarian food?’ All questions were answered in simple language so that children could understand.
Sri Tara Ma and Swami Omkarananda explained the children the effectiveness of chanting Guru mantra in developing concentration and a clear mind for improved performance in studies, at work in the future and ultimately in making better world citizens of them.
This was followed by Sri Tara Ma’s and Swami Omkarananda’s message on Gurupournima. Sri Tara Ma said, ‘In most spiritual or religious functions, people come late and leave early. But I am happy that all people came here much before the Havan began and stayed on till the consummation. I am happy that they have taken in the air purified by the Agni arising from this Havan. May peace be to all.’
Swami Omkarananda then added, ‘Mental and environmental peace is missing. People are running after sensory objects in their quest for happiness. No one is happy with their lot. After a particular object is attained, the mind craves for something else. So much is the vagary of the mind that it is not at peace even with a particular Guru and forces the individual to go from one Guru to another.’ He added, ‘Do Japam (chanting), Dhyanam (meditation) and cultivate favourable qualities to attain peace of mind, which is the true wealth.’
The students and others who received spiritual wisdom came away feeling calmer and at peace with themselves. And why not – the real purpose of Guru is to get us to know ourselves. Little wonder then that the word Guru is spelt G-U-R-U, which, when pronounced a letter at a time, reads ‘Gee! You are You.’