Saturday I was totally preoccupied with events happening in house.
On Sunday when I opened the social media I was flooded with imageries wishing me for ‘Guru Poornima’ it definitely had me thinking. The messages were typically
Happy Guru Poornima…
Wishing you all on Guru Poornima… the instinct to ask wishing me what. My learning from my friends Merriam-Webster, (I have not checked with their rivals Oxford dictionaries or Readers Digest dictionaries) is that wish someone something would mean either
… You bid them something.
…You order something
…You foist something.
I wonder which of the three is happening here.
Before dashing off that ‘wishes to you’ or a ‘happy something or the other’ it might be a good idea to know what is the relevance of that particular occasion, what does it celebrate, or what does it commemorate.
Guru Poornima falls on the full moon of the month of Ashadha in the Hindu Lunar Calendar. This is celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan too. While the Vaishnava sampradaya of Hindu’s call it Vyasa Poornima and dedicate to Vyasa the author of Mahabharata the Shaiva and Yogic tradition, this is the day Shiva is honoured as the first Guru who imparted the knowledge to the saptarishi’s. The Buddhist commemorate this day as the first discourse by the Sakhya Muni at Saranth, for the Jains it is the ‘Treenok Guha Poornima’ and it marks the first day of the chaturmasa or the 4 months monsoon retreat.
Essentially it was a day to pay gratitude to the people who shared their wisdom, with no monetary expectation, the wisdom that helped one evolve and get enlightened. This is based on the Karma Yoga.
What irritated me the most was, the imagery that was sent with these greetings, it always shows a male ancient Indian ascetic? If there is no ascetic, the imagery has joined palms the ‘namaste’ mind you the joined hands wear bangles., this year round there were some hands with rudraksha of course. I am yet to receive an imagery of female ascetic for Guru Purnima. Even the person who sends Sharada mata, has her sitting next to Ramakrishna parmahamsa never on her own. Female spiritual icons are cast in the seva – dasya structure of navavidha Bhakti but never acknowledged as Gayathri the reigning energy of study and research. A guru need not necessarily be male, nor does he have to be saffronized!! Guru’ is the word that comes from the combination of the root words Gu and Ru, Gu means darkness or ignorance, while Ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Yet both deepa and Jyothi, that is the light and the flame that dispel the darkness are considered feminine energies. If the person who guides from ignorance to knowledge, liberates you from your limitation, the person becomes the guru. Gender and the saffron are both irrelevant here. However my daughter who is a Sanskrit scholar tells me, that Guru is a masculine word.
In her book Women Awakened author Swati Chopra talks about eight women who are spiritually evolved.
The Shakta’s consider Parvati, the essence of nature as our eternal Guru, she guides, through the experiences of Dharma-Artha-Kama to attain Moksha. About Moksha well that is a conversation for another day…
Do you remember the story from the Upanishad, where a sage burns a bird that disturbed his concentration with just a glare. Later during the day, as he sage goes to collect alms, a housewife tells him to wait a for a moment and she would get the alms. Unfortunately her duties call to her, so the sage has to wait for a long time, this annoys the sage. He tries to curse her, she tells him, “I’m not a poor helpless bird that can be burnt by your anger” the sage is amazed that she knew about the bird.
The lady then guides him to person who can give the knowledge that he seeks. The sage goes to look for the person, and when he reaches there he discovers that the person is a butcher and he is totally immersed in his work. This annoys the sage, however at the end of the day, the butcher explains the intricacies of Karma Yoga. But the butcher also tells the sage that the house wife is his Guru, as she was the one who showed him to way to liberate himself from his limitation.
It is believed by the canonical Hinduism that every human being has 64 gurus in their lives and these Guru’s appear when you require them. But you will be able to recognize them only when you are willing to transform. Looking back I have had such wonderful souls who guide me I truly bow my head in gratitude to each one them.