Speech on Guru Purnima 2014
Jai Guru Datta.
My prostrations at the lotus feet of our Sadguru Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji on Guru Purnima in California USA. We are very fortunate to celebrate Guru Purnima in the physical presence of our Swamiji. We are truly blessed to have darshan of Sri Swamiji on this day, to see Sri Chakra Puja performed, to witness the performance of Pada Puja, to receive the holy water that washed his feet, to touch the Sadguru Padukas and listen to his Guru Purnima message.Guru Purnima is celebrated as Vyasa Purnima in recognition of his contribution to the Sanatana dharma. The Purnima (full moon day) in the month of Ashad (July-August) is an extremely auspicious and highly sacred day of Guru Purnima. Vyasa codified, classified or divided the Vedas into four: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharvana Veda, and Sama Veda. The Sanskrit word Vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe; hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas." By splitting or dividing he was able to help the mortalsto understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. He is considered the editor of the Vedic literature. In addition to the codification of Vedas, he is also credited with writing all eighteen major Puranas, Mahabharata and Brahmasutra.We celebrate Guru Purnima since Vyasa was born on this day. He also completed the codification of the four Vedas as well as writing of the eighteen Puranas on this day. Owing to the passage of time Vyasa Purnima came to be called Guru Purnima. Vyasa and his four important disciples, Sage Jaimini, Paila, Vaishampayana and Sumantu are important teachers in the guru paramapara, who are worshipped today.His contribution to the cultural heritage of Veda Vyasa is applauded in in many scriptures.
Salutations unto thee, O Vyasa, whose intellect is vast, whose eyes are as large as the petals of a full-blown lotus, by whom was lighted the lamp of wisdom, full of the Mahabharata oil (essence).
We salute Vishnu in the form of Vyasa, and Vyasa in the form of Vishnu, who is theembodiment of the wealth of knowledge, and belongs to the lineage of Vashishtha.
It is also time to remember two chapters from Bhagavat Purana that described Lord Dattatreya and Ashtasiddis - eight supernatural powers that bestowed our own Sadguru Sri Swamiji. It is here we come to know the very nature of Avadhuta. 'One who has cut himself asunder from all things which are transient-One who has shaken off avidya and lives in the bliss of his own atman. He is an Avadhoota.'
It is also a time to remember Lord Dattatreya, regarded as God and the Guru of Gurus, who considered twenty-four Natural elements, creatures, humans and lifetime experiences as His Gurus, and learnt a number of lessons from all of them.The forbearance from earth, all pervasiveness fromair, limitlessness of sky, rejuvenation from water, detachment from Pigeon, self-sacrifice from fruit-bearing trees,the changeless moon, the omnipresence of sun, mighty banyan tree, value of surrender from python, desire that leads to destruction from firefly, the biksha concept from honey, delusion by distraction from elephant, awareness of vulnerability from deer, wary of sense organs from fish, vairagya concept from the courtesan named Pingala, contentment from a child, one pointed concentration from archer, the powerful wind are some of the gurus that have provided flashes of intuition that guided Lord Dattatreya to become the guru of Gurus. On this Guru Purnima, it’s appropriate to remember the AdiGuru – Lord Dattatreya.
Also let us remember Lord Shiva who imparted the significance and importance of Guru to Parvati Devi. He expounds the true meaning of the Guru, the power of the Guru’s grace, and how to serve guru selflessly. The powerful chanting of Guru Gita by Sri Swamiji has awakened the curiosity among thousands of listeners who have started to appreciate the relevance of Guru Tattva for the preservation of Guru-Shishya tradition and Guru-Disciple relationship, which have strengthened the faith causing revival of sanatana dharma. The central points mentioned include that guru dispels the ignorance; without guru’s initiation none attains Brahman; knowledge is worthless even though one studied all scriptures; one is protected by guru even when God gets angry; water becomes holy by washing guru’s feet; Shiva and Shakti live in Guru’s feet; even one letter becomes supreme to be repeated frequently; proper ways and methods of worshipping a Guru result in washing off the sins; benefits are accrued by worshipping a Guru; and one can get liberated form samsara.
Also time to remember the Guru Parampara of Sri Swamiji through Lord Dattatreya, Sri Pada Vallabha, Narasimha Saraswathi, Jayalakshmi Mata, Sri Swamiji and Bala Swamiji. Let us pay our respects, regards, reverence and veneration to our Datta Parampara.
It is time to remember the lamentation over the decay of dharma. At the very end of the Mahabharata in Svargarohanika Parva (Book 18:5), Veda Vyasa expresses his displeasure at the decay of righteousness through Dharmaraja:
”Thousands of mothers and fathers, and hundreds of sons and wives arise in the world and depart from it. Others will (arise and) similarly depart. There are thousands of occasions for joy and hundreds of occasions for fear. These affect only him that is ignorant but never him that is wise. With uplifted arms I am crying aloud but nobody hears me. From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted? For the sake neither of pleasure, nor of fear, nor of cupidity should any one cast off Righteousness. Indeed, for the sake of even life one should not cast off Righteousness. Righteousness is eternal. Pleasure and Pain are not eternal. Jiva is eternal.”
This is the message Sri Swamiji has been delivering admonishing his devotees to follow the righteous path, not to go astray, uphold dharma, face the hurdles, serve the humanity and follow the master only to reestablish dharmic world.
Celebrate the Glory of a Guru
The concept of Guru is one of the pillars of Sanatana Dharma that preserved and protected the very essence of human existence. The Sanskrit root "Gu" means darkness or ignorance, "Ru" denotes the remove or dispel. Therefore one who removes our ignorance is considered a Guru. A Sadguru is the one who teaches the TRUTH to dispel darkness. Truth hurts. Truth may be harsh and painful. But we devotees of Sri Swamiji know that we get the complete knowledge, it is not tainted to be palatable. Hence Sri Swamiji’s speeches may contain harsh words, but we learn that the road to liberation is covered with many thorns. We have to take full responsibility to burn our karmas. If we take one step toward him, he will take nine steps toward us. That is Sri Swamiji. That is our Sadguru.
A spiritual aspirant can never attain valuable knowledge by his own endeavor without approaching a Guru, no matter how intelligent he may be. Jadbharat revealed this message in Srimad Bhagavatam to king Rahugan:
"O Rahugan! One cannot attain knowledge of Atma and Paramatma by performing penance, sacrifices, renunciation, Vedic study or worshipping deities of water, fire or the sun. But when the dust from the feet of a Satpurush (God-realized Guru) sprinkles on our heads, then we can surely attain this knowledge."
Being a self realized soul, Sri Swamiji can delve deep into the relevant scriptures and pull out the most appropriate subject, throw light on the profound meanings ofthe human existence. Mundaka Upanishad calls such a Guru "Shrotriya" - knower of the true meanings of the scriptures. Adi Shankaracharya forbids an aspirant in endeavoring to decipher the meanings without a Guru. In his commentary on a Mantra of the Mundaka Upanishad, he says: "Even if one possesses knowledge of the scriptures, he should not attempt to delve into their meanings by himself. He should obtain the knowledge of Brahman only through the Guru."
According to Adi Shankara, two most important qualifications of a guru are Shrotriya, meaning well versed in scriptures and Brahmanishta meaning focused on Brahma. The combination of these two qualifications enable a guru to guide his disciples, clear their doubts even without explanation, infuse confidence and conviction, and provide much needed shield for the devotees. Adi Shankara explains more vividly the nature of Guru as thus:
“The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions and remembering them, who possesses tranquility, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed in the scriptures and unattached to enjoyment both seen and unseen, who has renounced the means to all kinds of actions, is a knower of brahman, and established in brahman, is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct, who is devoid of shortcomings such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, fraud, jealousy, falsehood, egoism and attachment. He has the sole aim of helping others and a desire to impart the knowledge of brahman only.” (Upadesa Sahasri of Sri Sankaracharya: A Thousand Teachings in Two Parts: Prose and Poetry;translated by Swami Jagadananda).
Devotees Commitment and prayer
A devotee has to have a full faith and commitment on the part of the disciple. There must be mumukshata (burning desire) to come close to a Guru and a receptive mind to fill it with nectar. In Updesa Sara (191-192), Adi Shankara even suggests as to how a disciple should pray with reverence to reap the benefits of a Guru:
The self is to be known. It is beyond everything knowable as there exists nothing else except it. I bow down to that pure, all knowing and all seeing self which is to be known.
I always bow down to those (teachers) who are conversant with words, sentences and means of knowledge and who, like lamps, have shown clearly [to us] brahman, the secret of the Vedas.
I bow down to [my] teacher, whose words fell [into my ears] and destroy ignorance [in me] like the sun’s rays falling on darkness and destroying it.
How to approach a Guru
The Puranas and histories (Itihasas) are full of instructions informing us how we have to act towards the guru with fear, devotion and humility. Not only that, the Gita also tells us how to approach our guru for removing our doubts:
"You should gain knowledge by prostrating before your guru, asking sincere questions for clearing your doubts, and by serving him" (Bhagavad Gita 4.34).
The Manu Smriti elaborates on the method of prostrating before the guru:
The guru's feet should be touched with hands crossed, i.e., the right hand should touch the right leg and the left hand should touch the left (2.72).
On this day, we are extremely privileged to see puja performed to our Sadguru’s Padas. We will soon be fortunate to touch the Padukas of our Sadguru on this Guru Purnima day. Scriptures have well documented the importance, significance, prevalence and power of Padukas. It is through these Padukas, Guru’s blessings, grace and compassion drenches all his devotees. Sri Swamiji himself said that guru Paduka puja started to develop guru bhakti and seva bhava in the devotees. Adi Shankara wrote about Sri Guru Paduka Sotram and Guru Paduka Panchakam extolling the merits of worshipping Padukas. Similarly SrimanNigamanthaDesikan written an extraordinary book on “Paduka Sahasram” thousand verses on the Padukas of Lord Ranganatha.
In fact Bharata ruled Ayodhya by worshipping and seeking guidance from the Sandals blessed by Lord Rama. These Padukas ruled the kingdom. Many saints have discussed the virtues of Paduka Puja and even build Temples. Sri Narasimha Saraswathi, the second avatara of Lord Dattatreya, lived his last 12 years in Ganakapur under an Audumbara tree and when he decided to leave his body, he promised the villagers that he will leave his Padukas there and he will be ever present, and their wishes will be granted if his Padukas are worshipped. Similarly, the Padukas of Sri Pada Vallabha, the first incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, are worshipped in Pittapuram.
Over the last several decades, Sri Swamiji, the recent incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, allowed to perform Pada Puja as well as Paduka Puja to revitalize bhakti among all his devotees. In addition, Sri Swamiji built a Temple dedicated to Padukas in Gannavaram and also built another one in Ganakapur. It appears that Pada Puja and Paduka Puja are as powerful as worshipping the real Guru in person as is the case with Sri Swamiji.
Guru and Disciple (sishya)
There is a special bond between guru and sishya (disciple)in our Sanatana Dharma that symbolizes unconditional divine love and wisdom. It is the loftiest and most sacred of all relationships. Guru always keeps his eyes on these shishyas constantly, persistently, and continually at least 1-12 teaching the inner meaning of the Vedas and other sacred scriptures. Their relationship is unique, close and life transforming.
As many of us are aware that in Avadhuta Datta Peetham, Sri Swamiji maintains Veda Pattasala where you will see shishyas chanting Veda Mantras, learning the richness of all the scriptures and imbibing the virtues of a Guru. It is a sight to see these young shishyas walking and playing in the Ashram. It is a sight one would not forget. Their trust and bhakti in Sri Swamiji is evident and visible.
On this Guru Purnima, students express their gratitude toward great teachers who taught us the Vedic knowledge and so many values in life.
The students get up in the early morning, mediate on the Guru and chant prayers. The shishyas get the opportunity to do Pada Puja. Guru Gita elaborates extensively the role and importance of Guru. Regarding the Guru Feet, Guru Gita saya:
Mantra moolamgurorvakyam;Moksha moolamgurorkripa
"The Guru's form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation".
Let us remember the tradition of Dialogue.It is through dialogue where probing, questioning, inquiring, and challenging are given paramount importance, Guru and Shishya tradition flourished in India. This tradition is reflected in Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and many other scriptures. The word Upanishad means learning or absorbing by sitting near a guru. Upameaning to sit near and nishad meaning to listen - to absorb. In this tradition, no WORD is accepted as conclusive and final. No Concept goes unchallenged. No theory is accepted without evidence. Guru never evades or avoids these questions. He never turns his back on his disciples. Mind cannot be forced to accept without reason, explanation, clarification, and justification. Shishya’s curiosity is has to be answered to his satisfaction by a Guru. Numerous examples are found in our scriptures about our guru-shishya tradition. One of the unique examples is the dialogue between Yama and Nachiketa. Massive compendium of Yoga Vasishta is a dialogue between Guru Vasishta and his disciple Lord Rama. Discourses and dialogues between Sandipani and Lord Krishna, Lord Krishna and Arjuna, Dronacharya and Arjuna, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda, Samarth Ramadas and Shivaji, and Govindapada and Adi Shankara, are the fitting examples of the guru-shishya tradition firmly rooted in Sanatana dharma, but unknown to other religions. Bhagavad Gita (4:34) captures the tradition in this sloka: “The disciple should humbly pose questions to the Guru and please him by serving him. He will then impart the knowledge of God, so ordain the wise sages.”
On this day of Guru Purnima, disciples express their gratitude to their Gurus, reminisce their association with their Guru, introspect, and recommit to follow the footsteps oftheir Gurus and resolve to obey them their mind, action and speech. Also cherish the glory and grandeur of Guru in continuing the tradition. All the disciples agree with Lord Krishna himself who acknowledged that He can never recompense his enormous gratitude to his Guru, Sage Sandipani.
Taitreya Upanishad – Guru Advise to the Graduating Sishyas
Guru Purnima is also the time to remember the parting advice by a Guru to his disciples. Guru’s advice is Taitreya Upanishad is filled with love, compassion and righteous feelings. Following is only a gist of advice rendered by a Guru:
“Speak the truth and practice the Dharma or the Law (Satyam Vada, dharmam chara). Never fail nor falter in the study of that part of the Veda that has been assigned to you. Study more but never less than thy portion.
“Never falter from the truth nor from the Law (Dharma). Never stint nor make mistakes in doing good. Never neglect to do that which would lead to prosperity.
“Do not give up your studies and do not stop teaching.
“You ought not to omit to do your duties towards your gods and ancestors; commit no mistakes in performing them.
“Revere your mother and your father as much as you revere god. Let your guru (preceptor) be looked upon as god. Let your guest get the same respect as is due to god.
“Be thou faultless and pure in thought and action. Only such of your qualities and actions as are clearly good should be cherished by you, and not others. Such knowers of Brahman as are greater than ourselves ought to be highly respected by you.
“Whilst giving, give with faith; never without it. Give richly. Give with humility. Give with fear, lest you give too little. Give with feeling and with full knowledge.
“At times you may be in doubt about the wisdom of a certain course of action. At such a time you should act in a manner in which thoughtful and virtuous knowers of Brahman who are desirous of following the Law, do act.
“So also, as regards your conduct towards men of ill fame; it should be like that of a thoughtful, virtuous knowers of Brahman who follow the Law.
“This is the message. This is the advice. This is the knowledge. This is the command. Thus should you live and act in life.”
Chaturmasa (the four months)period begins from the Guru Purnima Day. In India the ensuing four months will be considered as the monsoon season. During this season, disciples, sannyasis and aspirants to spiritual life take diksha (vow) to stay at one place and engage in the study of Brahma Sutras, and sacred scriptures, and engage in discussions and contemplation; do countless number of japas on Guru Mantra, and also to practice meditation.
This period is utilized to reinvigorate andrefresh spirituality and prepare the disciples to be equipped with four-fold qualities necessary for spiritual development. They are:
- Viveka- develop the skill to know the discrimination between good and bad;real and unreal.
- Vairagya- develop dispassion or nonattachment, to live the life of inner-detachment that would free him from desires, ambitions and anxieties.
- Sat Sampati – acquire six fold wealth like Sama- the control of the mind, Dama- control of external senses, Upparati- cessation from worldly enjoyments, Titiksha- endurance of pleasure and pain, Shraddha- full faith in the words of the master or the Guru or his teachings and Samadhana- deep meditation or undisturbed concentration.
- Mumuksutvam – develop deep desire for liberation.
On this festive occasion of Guru Purnima, let us remember Sri Swamiji as an Avaddhuta, Ashtasiddhi, Sadguru, Guide, protector, savior, and shield who is looking over all of us to avoid the potential dangers and help cross the ocean of samasara. Let us be thankful for countless blessings he showers on all of us day in and day out, let us remember Sri Swamiji’s compassion, powers, love and kindness toward all his devotees; let us cherish every moment of our association with Sri Swamiji and let us remember his healing touch, soothing words and benevolent look.
On this Guru Purnima day in 2014, let us remember the song of Mirabai that is so appropriate to appreciate Sri Swamiji:
THE WAY AND THE GOAL
Thou art my all, my all, O Lord,
Life of my life,
My innermost being.
I have none else in the three worlds
To call my own but Thee.
Thou art my peace, my joy, my hope.
Thou art my glory and my wealth.
Thou art all my knowledge, my strength.
Thou art my home, my place of refuge,
My dearest friend, my next of kin.
Thou art my present and my future,
My heaven and my salvation,
My scriptures, my commandments;
My Guru, thou art all these
And the spring of my eternal bliss.
Thou art the Way, Thou art the Goal,
O Worshipful One,
The tender-hearted Mother,
The raging Father too.
Thou art the Creator and the Protector,
And the Helmsman
Who steers my bark across the sea of life.
Jai Guru Datta.