GURUPOORNIMAA
July 04, 2001
Des Plaines Mandira

The origin of Gurupoornimaa is celebrating the birth of Vyasji. Through his scriptures (the Vedas, Purans, Mahabharat, etc.), his knowledge is present to this day. Thus, on this day, Hindus first give respect to Vyasji, through whom a lineage of correct knowledge has been preserved. (The aasana or sitting place of a guru is thus called vyaasa-pitha.) Also on this day, devotees go to their own guru with an offering. (Conversely, on the guru's birthday, the disciple seeks blessings from the guru.)

While many religions talk about God, Hinduism has a special belief in the guru as well. To set an example for humanity, the manifestations of Rama Bhagwan and Krishna Bhagwan also accepted a guru: Vashishtha and Sandipani, respectively. Similarly, Swaminarayan Bhagwan accepted Ramanand Swami as His guru, and also treated Muktanand Swami as His guru.

Given in Bhagavat 10/54, in the aashrama (hermitage) of Sandipani, Krishna Bhagwan recognized that Sandipani's wife was sadened due to the loss of their child at a young age. Krishna Bhagwan thus formed a mother-and-son relationship with her. Before leaving the hermitage, Krishna Bhagwan asked Sandipani and his wife what he could offer them for guru-dakshinaa (gift or payment to a guru at the completion of the teachings). Sandipani and his wife replied that they were happy with everything as that they had everything in ample amount. But, Krishna Bhagwan knew that with his departure, the parents would again go into a state of child loss. Thus, Krishna Bhagwan told them that he would return their lost child to them. In this way Krishna Bhagwan displayed the relationship and duty one has with a spiritual master.

A child's first guru is his mother. The mother and father (the second guru) prepare the child for existence in this world. Through the parents and other relations, the child acquires increasing knowledge. When the child goes to school, each of his teachers (and peers) also become his guru. After marriage, one's spouse can also be seen as a guru. Generally, throughout our lives, anyone from whom we gain inspiration is accepted as a guru. There is the example of Lord Dattatreya, who made 24 gurus. He took the positive in everything, including animals, and made them gurus for the good qualities they possessed. The vision of God is received from a spiritual guru. A mother is often this first spiritual guru too, and her guidance can be stronger than over a hundred gurus! The mothers of Dhruv, Prahlad, Shivaji, to name a few, are examples. Through a spiritual guru, one learns about God and attains proximity to God.

In olden times, the disciple went to the guru's aashrama (place of residence). There, according to their capacity, disciples acquired spiritual knowledge. At the aashrama, the guru took each disciple to be his own child. The guru treated and taught all of his students equally, despite differences in merit or status.

Kakaji used to say that just as one tests pure gold by a "nitric acid test" (gold is the only yellow metal that does not react with nitric acid), it is acceptable to test a guru to determine if he is apt for you. In Swami Ni Vato 2/1, Gunatitanand Swami states, (1) "Find out [the guru's] own actions," (2) "Look at the capacity/power of the [guru] he has served," and (3) "Consider those [disciples] who have remained in his association." After accepting the guru, free of doubts, one should become totally open with him.

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