Today is Guru Purnima, the Indian celebration of the teachers. The Sanskrit term “Guru” for teacher contains the two words “Gu” and “Ru”. “Gu” means darkness or ignorance and “Ru” is the remover of this darkness. The guru is somebody that removes our ignorance.
Purnima is derived from Purian, complete. When the moon is complete, it’s full moon. And that’s exactly the date for the annual celebration of this festival: every year on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (June 22th – July 22th).
Shiva – the First Guru
In the yogic tradition, it is celebrated how Shiva became the original guru, when he transferred the knowledge of Yoga to the Rishis. In India, this is a very auspicious day. Traditionally, disciples who want to intensify their practice use this day as a starting point.
On Guru Purnima, many Hindus perform a pooja (prayer, ritual) to worship the great sage Maharishi Veda Vyasa, who wrote the four vedas, the 18 puranas, the Mahabharata (containing the Bhagavad Gita) and the Srimad Bhagavatam. A good mantra for today is the Guru Strotam.
Everybody is a Guru
However, Guru Purnima is a day to celebrate every kind of teacher, including school and university teachers, but also beyond the teacher profession. Eventually, everybody is a disciple. Everybody is a teacher. You can learn something from everybody.
Teachers are just dudes too
There is a common misconception in the yoga world that somebody would need to be perfect in order to be able to teach. I once was very disappointed when I found out that a yoga teacher I admire very much smokes. But after all, our teachers are human. They have strengths and they have weaknesses. And the fact that they might not be perfect does not mean that they cannot help us realizing ourselves.
Use What is Good in Me
I will never forget a previous Guru Purnima that I spent in the Himalayas with my beloved Ayurveda teacher, Dr. Arun Sharma of Ayuskama Ayurveda. “Learn and use what is good in me”, he advised his students. “What is not good, leave it to me”.
I humbly bow down in front of all my previous, current and future teachers that have helped me and keep helping me to eradicate the ignorance of my mind, in eternal gratitude.