Guru PaurNami – An Explanation


The term, ‘paurNami’ means ‘full moon’. All full moon days are considered auspicious. The full moon day is generally considered to be very suitable for prayers. As the sun and moon, who are supposed to respectively influence our intellect and mind, come on a straight line on a full moon day, it is said to be a very suitable day for meditation.

Special abishegam and poojaa are performed for Devi on full moon days; even viLakku poojaa is conducted in some Amman temples. In astrology, one’s father’s and mother’s state of affairs are predicted mainly by the respective relative positions of the sun and moon in his/her astrological chart. Hence, full moon days, especially the full moon day occurring in the Tamil month of Chitthirai, are chosen to observe fasts for the departed mothers.

In the Tamil calendar, each of its 12 months feature at least one auspicious day; most of these auspicious days coincide with the full moon days of the months. Thaippoosam, Maasimaham, Pangguni uttharam,and Chiththiraa paruvam can be cited as examples. Likewise, the full moon day that occurs in the Tamil month of Aani(June/July)is set aside to pay our respect to the great gurus. Why the full moon day which occurs in the Tamil month of Aani, is chosen to pay our respect and appreciation to the great gurus?

If we flip the pages of our Tamil calendar (panjchaanggam), it can be seen that this day is labelled as Viyaasa poojai. The full moon day of Aani is supposed to be the birthday of Sage Vyasa. He is acknowledged as the guru of gurus. This is because he was the one who arranged and classified the four Vedas (therefore known as Veda Vyasa) and wrote the 18 puraaNaas. He also compiled the Mahabaratham,Srimad Bagavadham and Brahma Sutras.

Vyaasa is said to have been born to Sage Parasara and Sathyavathi, the adopted daughter of a fisherman, before 3000 years ago. If not for him we would not have had a rich religious literature at our disposal. As we give our special prayers to Vyasa also known as Badarayana or Krishna Dwaipayana, we also acknowledge all gurus who have been coming down continuously to guide us.

Guru PaurNami is the day that gives us the rare opportunity to pay our gratitude and salutations to all the gurus who have given us knowledge and guided us throughout. The Tamil tradition considers the mother as the first guru, and father second. Recall the famous Tamil phrase, ‘maadhaa pidhaa guru dheivam’. What is being observed as ‘Teachers’ Day’ at present has already been there long ago in the Hindu Tradition.

People have special prayers for their gurus and reflect on their life and teachings on the day of Guru poorNimaa. The best form of showing our gratitude to the gurus is to read and comprehend their works and try to adhere to the noble ways indicated by them.

Before we finish, we should remember that Lord Shiva is the Ultimate Guru who was the source for the origin of the Vedas and all other religious works which followed from the Vedas. The Lord was the guru for the four sagesSanahar, Sanaadhanar, Sanandhanar and Sanatkumaarar, the saptha (seven) rishis Kashyapa, Atthiri, Barathvaajar, Visvaamitthirar, Gauthamar,Jamdhakkini, and Vasishtar and, the NaimisaaraNya sages (NaimisaaraNyam= a chosen forest in the vicinity of Himalayas, to be exclusively used by sages for their austerities). We should also recall that Lord Muruhan is said to be the guru of Lord Shiva, because, wanting to check if Lord Muruhan knew the meaning of the primordial sound ‘Om’, Lord Shiva had to listen to Lord Muruhan’s explanation as a student. The point to note here is that, whichever deity is our ishta devadha, that deity will guide us toward salvation directly or indirectly through a guru.

On this auspicpus day, let us recall all our gurus with gratitude and pray to our Lord, in whichever form we see Him, and request Him to always guide us along His graceful path, besides thanking and hailing Him.

uruvaay aruvaay uLadhaay iladhaay; maruvaay malaraay maNiyaay oLiyaay;
karuvaay uyiraay gadhiyaay vidhiyaay; guruvaay varuvaay aruLvaay guhanae

By Dr.K.Thilagawathi

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