I was haggling with a fruit vendor at the Adarsh Nagar market (in Bombay) when a group of young boys and girls asked me to sign a piece of paper, expressing solidarity with the armed forces in Kargil. I write this piece a day after Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif's meeting with Bill Clinton in Washington.
Impressed with their spirit of dedication I asked them how their organization was funded. They told me that every year, on Guru Purnima Day, people in the locality donated what they could afford. In all these years not once had the organization fallen short of funds?
Embarrassed at not knowing the significance of Guru Purnima Day I decided to find out for myself. Here it is for you.
Vyasa was the child of sage Parasara and a fisherwomen Satyavati. He was named Krishna because of his complexion. Because of his tapasya at Badrinath he was called Badarayana.
Vyas was born on the full moon day (Purnima) of the month of Asadh (Hindu calendar). The Hindus who always relate their worship of God with the various times & Incidents of Nature always have special significance for the full moon day. 'Purnima' signifies complete illumination and Vyasa Purnima signifies spiritual illumination. Vyasa is considered to be the Guru of all time. The day is therefore called Guru Purnima and not merely Vyas Purnima.
He collected all the Vedic Hyms and gave them a standard form and accent. Because of his great work he came to be called Veda Vyasa (the person who divided and codified the Vedas).
Vyasa's masterpiece was the Mahabharata. Together with the Ramayana it represents the collective Conscious of India. Rare is a person who has not heard about the martial exploits of Arjuna or the Daanvver (benevolent) nature of Karan. It is an essential part of our Culture and grandma's favorite bed time story. The epics have been a backdrop to a number of movies and plays in India and abroad. The TV serial continues to be very popular.
The teaching of Mahabharata can be summed up as “Yato dharmah tato jayah." i.e. Where ever there is righteousness there will be victory. Truth, self-control, asceticism, generosity, constancy is virtue are the means of success, not caste and family. I wish that all politicians who use caste to divide the country were to read this. True joy entails suffering.
The Holy Geeta is part of the Mahabharata. Geeta reveals the complete science & art of Holistic Living. It reveals a way of life by which the so called worldly actions themselves become means for the spiritual unfoldment within. One need not leave ones field of actions with all their intrinsic conflicts & pains (our own Mahabharatas) to start the divine trek to the subjective illumination. All journey's, including the journey of being one with God, have to begin from where we stand today. Real freedom says Gita is not from action, but in action.
When ever I am confused, feeling low or very happy, reading the Geeta shows me the way, devoid of ego, wanting the fruits of action. It helps in getting the mind rid of agitations, control lust, anger, desire, hope, fear and anger. It is amazing that a book written over three thousand years ago is as relevant today as it was then.
Veda Vyasa's contribution to Indian culture and society is unsurpassable. No wonder he is considered to be the Guru of all time. The 18th of July is a day that is dedicated to him and thus called Guru Pournima day.
1. Guru Purnima - www.swaminarayan.org/festivals/gurupurnima