Guru is one who is “heavy” (with knowledge, wisdom and inner experience) and hence holds us fast lest we be swept by the waves of ignorance and be drowned in the ocean of material existence. Traditionally, a Guru is a God Realized Being – one who has merged with Divinity and remains back on earth to teach those who yearn for Divinity.
All existence has come from the Supreme Brahman and nothing exists apart from Divinity. All creation is veiled by maya or illusion and it is difficult for us to know or understand Divinity. In great compassion, Divinity manifested a portion of itself which retains the memory of Godhood and sent it to teach us. This is the Guru. Only God can be Guru as only God knows God!
There are as many paths to God as there are people. Each of us is a unique being with a different approach to God. Hence we have a large number and variety of Gurus. Sri Krishna speaks of a variety of paths in the Bhagwad Geeta – karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, japa yoga, dhyana yoga etc. Each Guru imparts the knowledge, wisdom and practices best suited to his disciple.
Nowadays, any person who imparts knowledge or wisdom or unique insight is labelled ‘Guru’. We have Internet Gurus, Management Gurus, Music and Dance Gurus, Drama Gurus, Storytellers, Horoscope Readers and Palmists who are Gurus , Exercise Gurus and Think Positive Gurus and so on. They too have their roles in making our lives better.
Veda Vyasa classified and codified the huge findings, knowledge, wisdom and experiences of the Rishis of India into Vedas, Upanishads, Puranans and the great epic of Mahabharata. His literary works are extraordinary and their high spiritual stature and wisdom make them outstanding. His works guide us even today and hence he is a great ‘Loka Guru’ – a Guru to the world!
The Guru Purnima is a day dedicated to honor Veda Vyasa and the Gurus who guide and steer our lives towards Divinity. With so many ‘Gurus’ in our lives, it is also a day when we should think of each of them with gratitude and reverence for help rendered in our times of need. Let this day of Guru Purnima be filled with love and appreciation to all the Gurus in our life. Let us also do our bit in serving our Gurus in thanksgiving.