Guru Purnima is traditionally held to be Bhagawan Vyasa’s birthday. According to the Indian calendar IT falls on the 15th of the month of Ashada. Bhagawan Vyasa is called Veda Vyasa – or the Compiler of the Vedas. Bhagawan Vyasa saw that, in the coming yugas, men would be of grosser mind and would lack the ability to learn and retain all of the Vedas. So he compiled the Vedas into four parts – the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda. The ancient saint, who compiled the four Vedas, wrote 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata.The full moon day in the month of Ashadh in July. This day is as a mark of respect to the “Guru” i.e. a teacher or a preacher. Divine discourse and bhajan samarohas are also organized to make the day more special.The day, also known as “Vyasa Purnima” is observed by devotees who offer pujas worship to their beloved Gurus. Sage Vyasa is known to be the Adi original Guru of the Hindu religion.
The auspicious day of Vyaasa Poornima has a great significance as everybody knows that the role of a Guru in real life is very much important.
Hindus show much respect to their gurus. Gurus are often regarded as God. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6/23) tells :
“Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
Tasyaite kathitaa hi arthaaha prakashante mahatmanaha”
This means, Guru to be worshipped in the same manner as the deity – God, to attain all there is to attain on the path of God-realization. When this Self is within you where is the need to search for someone to teach you!
In India, Guru Purnima is at various ashrams, especially with much grandeur at Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh. The day is here on a grand scale with devotees coming from various parts of the country. The same is also at ashram of Satya Sai Baba at Puttaparthy, Ashram in Amritapuri and few other places of spiritual importance. Guru Purnima is also few places outside India. This is a day for spiritual seekers who remain extremely open to their gurus to receive divine power, and for this reason holy people choose to shower everyone with their most auspicious divine blessings.
Immense contributions were made by the great gurus of India during ancient times. Maharishi Ved Vyas is well known for protecting the Vedas and preserving knowledge.
Krishna Dwaipayan, popularly known as Ved Vyas, was born in Kalpi Island of the Yamuna River on the full moon day in the month of ‘Ashadh’ (June-July). His father was Sage Parashar, the grandson of Sage Vasishtha and his mother was Matsyagandha, a fisher girl whose original name was Satyawati. When Sage Parashar died, Satyawati got married to Shantanu, the king of Hastinapur.
Ved Vyas composed the great epic ‘Mahabharata’ which is read worldwide even today. He recorded all the history for the future generations and rendered ‘Gita’ as a part of the epic, which still serves as an ideal guide to every human being for positive actions and living a purposeful life.
Vyas made great efforts in preserving the voluminous store of Vedic knowledge. At first when he doubted that the Vedas might get extinct, he protected them by compilation and organised them into four parts. He then laid stress on handing over the knowledge from one generation to the other. This was done by a guru to his disciple and by a father to his son.
Besides these, he allotted the various branches of knowledge to several communities. The different branches were Ayurveda (medical science including surgery), Sthapatya Veda (sculpture related to metals, mortars, stones and wood), Gandharva Veda (vocal and instrumental music, dance, art etc.) and Dhanur Veda (skills of military warfare).
Ved Vyas also composed Puranas so that the common people could understand all about the Vedic principles and sincerely follow them in their lives. According to him, religion was not just belief in facts heard or told, but being a part, by realizing truths and developing them and carrying them out in actions.
The Guru-Shishya tradition for protection of Indian culture was established by Ved Vyas. He assigned each of the four Vedas to different disciples who were competent for propagation of knowledge. He gave Rig Veda to Bhaskala, Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana, Sam Veda to Jaimini and Atharva Veda to Aruni. The main goal of this tradition was to establish an ideal social order.
The Gurukul system of education in India thus gradually developed from the Guru-Shishya tradition. The sons of both the kings and the common men came from far off places to stay with the guru in his ‘ashram’. All lived together and the children were treated as part of the guru’s family. They served their guru and respected him as a deity. The disciples learned not only what they were taught but also learnt how to live with humility and dignity. The disciples attained knowledge by observing the life of their guru and experiencing truth.
Ved Vyas shall always be remembered for his sincere efforts of preserving Vedic knowledge. Hence, his birth anniversary is celebrated every year as Guru Purnima.