Shri Gurubyo Namah

“Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Mahesvarah
Guru Sakshat Para Brahma Tasmai Sri Guruve Namah”

No distinction is made in this verse between a guru and Paramatman, be it Siva, Vishnu, or, Brahma. None of us has seen Isvara, but, a guru is present before us in person – if he is pure of heart and mind, possesses jnana and other such qualities, he will give us the same peace of mind and blessings as we seek from Isvara. Indeed, one of the things we pray to God is that we access the right Guru. Adi Sankara himself says in Vivekasudamani

“Durlabam trayamevaitat Devanugrahetukam
Manusyatvam, mumuksutvam, Mahaprusasmsrayah”

Three great boons are difficult to come by and can be obtained only by grace of God: birth as a human being; desire to seek truth; getting a great person as one’s Guru. What we seek in the form of a Guru is Isvara Himself, although we may or may not get the perfect person as a Guru – even then we should worship Isvara through the Guru. It is for this reason a Guru is considered parabrahman, the source of all three, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

There is another verse that says the same thing.

“Acaturvandona Brahma, Dvibahuraparo Harih
Aphalalocanah Sambhu Bhagavan Badarayanah”

Badarayanah is one of the names for Veda Vyasa, the great guru. He is ‘acaturvandana Brahma’, Brahma without four heads (but with just one head); ’dwibahurapor Harih’ (Hari with only two hands and not four); he is also ‘aphalalocanah Sambuh’, Siva without the eye on the forehead.

Adi Sankara also describes an acharyas or guru and their role thus:

“Tirnah svayam bhimabhavarnavam janan
Ahetuna anyanapi tarayantah”

The guru is one who has himself crossed, bhima bhavarnavam, or, the terrible ocean of samsara. They must have crossed it – tirnah – themselves. Then, they should help others (anyanapi) cross it (tarayantah). ‘Ahetuna’ means ‘for no reason’. The guru should do this without expecting anything in return.

Chaturmasya viradam, or, Vyasa Puja

In this journey of a Guru, the Tamil ‘Adi’ month, is important. On the full moon day, or Poornima, in Sankaracharya Mutts like the Kanchi and Sringeri, the Acharyas and Gurus start observing Chaturmasyam and, to signify it, perform an elaborate guru puja, called Vyasa puja. In many places this is also called Guru Poornima. Poornima means the effulgent full moon and Guru means destroyer of darkness or remover of ignorance. The veda says- "Chandro manaso Jathaha", meaning Moon is mind, so the full moon signifies the wholeness and brightness. Just as the moon shines by reflecting the light of the Sun, a true devotee can dazzle by gaining it from his Guru.

It is part of Sanyasi dharmam that, in tune with his vow of detachment, he should not remain in one place for long but instead be a wandering mendicant. This may however leave him with little time to meditation and other spiritual practices and to the acquisition of his own aatmajnanam. He, therefore, stays in one place during the chaatur maasya.

Before taking the chaturmaasya vratham and commencing their discipline of meditation, yoga, and aatmavichaara, the sanyasins invoke the grace of Sri Veda Vyasa and other preceptors of aatma jnaana. This pooja is as important to sanyasins as Upaakarma (annual thread changing ceremony) is to those who belong to the other aasramas. This puja is called ‘Vyasa Puja’, for Sri Vedavyasa stands foremost in the line of these preceptors. Vyasa codified the Vedas into four divisions and integrated the messages of the Upanishads relating to Brahman, Jiva and the Universe in his great book, the Brahmasutras

The unique place of Vyasa and Adisankaracharya as is captured in the following verse - Badaraayana refers to Vyasa.

शङ्करं शङ्कराचार्यं केशवं बादरायणम् ।
सूत्रभाष्यकृतौ वन्दे भगवन्तौ पुन: पुन: ॥

It is not Veda Vyasa alone who is worshipped on Vyasa Pooja day. Several groups of preceptors are worshipped. Finally, Saaligramah pooja and an omnibus worship (samashti pooja) are performed.

This year the Vyasa Puja and Chaturmasya vratham will take place on 22nd July, 2013. Those of us who cannot participate in such a puja in any of the mutts in India, may we remember and pray to all our acharyas and gurus.

Jaya Jaya Sankara, Hara Hara Sankara
Hara Hara Sankara, Jaya Jaya Sankara
Tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha