Under the Baniyan Tree…

musing about Guru Poornima.

Adi Shankaracharya, had his daily bath and was emerging out, before him came a chandala. The orthodox person in Shankaracharya moved away… the chandala asked him,

“Are you moving away… or will the ‘YOU’ move away”

Adi Shankaracharya saw this as arrogance. But the chandala smiled serenely continued.

“When you say advaita then the same 5 elements that make you make me. The same soul in you is in me… now tell me who should move”

It was then Shankaracharya realized that the guru had come in the form of a Chandala to give him an insight.

Every time there I receive this, “happy guru Poornima card’ this story pops up.

Guru Poornima is a day of relevance in the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions it about being grateful to the Guru in our life.

When someone says ‘happy guru poornima’ I’m kind of confused. I express gratitude to Paula Marie Jackson, and Dr. Yuvraj Kapadia for helping navigate. I do not mean academic teachers; I mean people who tell you how to navigate through life keeping your personal values and integrating intact. That list would be endless beginning with father to my daughter.

From where I see it, Guru Purnima should be about being grateful for the teachers that have come to your life, and opening yourself for the next level of growth. Being able to accept guidance and insight from whichever form the universe sends it in.

Do you remember the Upanishadic story of the rishi Parashar?

He was meditating under a tree, a bird disturbed him. Parashar rishi looked at the bird and the bird burnt ashes. Feeling very powerful the rishi went to collect the alms for day. He reached a house, where the lady of the house was about to give him alms, when her sick mother-in-law called for help. She requested the rishi to wait while she would tend to her mother-in-law.

The lady then had to attend to her husband and children, the lady got delayed in serving the alms, angry rishi was set to curse her, she smiled at him and told him, “I’m not the helpless bird that you burnt this morning.’

Rishi Parashar was taken aback and wondered how this housewife could know about the bird.

She smiled at him and told him, well I have chosen the priorities of my life, and I do tasks that I have to do with all sincerity and gratitude. I accept the responsibility the universe has given and utilize the resources I have to fulfil them This gives me strength.”

“Mother please be my guru” the rishi requested.

‘That is not my priority, but I shall send you to my guru”

When the rishi went to the place where the lady had directed him it was an abettor the guru was a butcher. The Butcher gave the rishi a stone to sit on as he continued his work without any conversation. Late in the evening he finished for the day.

He went to his house tended to his family. After dinner he asked the rishi what can I do for you.

By this time rishi Parashar’s temper was very high. Rishi Parashar expressed his anger. The Butcher listened to him peacefully and then replied. “I have not read any scriptures. But I do my task with humbleness and gratitude. I dispense my responsibility with diligence and sincerity. This gives me strength. Else you would have intimidated me, like you tried to intimidate the house wife, or burnt me down like the bird.’

The rishi had the insight as to what was missing in his path. He thanked his Guru and returned to the forest.

Coming back to Guru Poornima to me it is not about the guru, it is about the seeker. When a person is willing to learn and transform his teacher arrives. It is for seeker to recognize his teacher and learn. Some basic requirement would be

  • A quest to know one’s self.
  • The courage to find the truth.
  • Being able to shift from reaction to responding.
  • Being able to accept people and situation free of judgement.
  • Trust in self, in the process and the universe.
  • Patience to wait for the right moment.
  • The unbiased attitude.

Hope you find your Guru that you seek.

Your Guru is already in your life., to recognize accept and surrender is up to you.

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