As we approach Guru Purnima on July 9, we look back at the historical tradition of this nation which revered the Guru – a culture which is unfortunately almost lost in modern times. Guru Purnima was cherished throughout the country in the past and was seen as a possibility to receive Grace. To revive this culture, we present a collection of inspiring stories from the lives of Gurus past, narrated by Sadhguru, which illustrate the unique methods each Master employed to bring transformation to disciples.

In the stories below, Sadhguru recounts the story of Adiyogi and the gurudakshina offered by the seven sages, the origin of the Guru Pooja we offer today.

Sadhguru: If you are in a state of offering, life happens differently.

We do not know how long the Saptarishis sat in front of the Adiyogi, receiving and drinking what he offered, but because of the nature of what the Saptarishis perceived, the lore says they sat there for millennia. Adiyogi offered them 112 ways in which a human being can attain to his fullest. Because 112 was too much for each of them, he divided this into 16 each. Then he told them to go and share it with the rest of the world, and he directed them as to which one should go to which part of the world.

When they were just getting ready to leave, he said, “After all this, won’t you offer anything to me?” They were so completely mesmerized by what he had offered, they had forgotten this fundamental etiquette. Then they looked at themselves, “What do we have that we can give?”

One of them said, “Except the loincloth that we wear, there is nothing in our hands. What can we give you?”

Adiyogi said, “But are you going to leave without offering anything to me?”

The others were dumbstruck, “What can we offer? What do we have that is worthy of him?”

Then Agastya Muni bowed down to Adiyogi and with these 16 magnificent ways in which a human being can attain, which he had grasped, he said, “I offer everything back to you.” Taking this cue, everyone else did the same. Now everything they had learnt and known, they poured it back at his feet. After many years of learning and grasping, they were once again completely empty.

Shiva said, “It is time to go.”

Before they went, they asked, “Can we at least have you whenever we want?”

He said, “Yes, if you stay empty as you are right now, I am always there for you.” He taught them simple methods with which they could invoke him, and because they went out completely empty and ignorant, all 112 ways were available to each one of them – but not as their own. They became a passage for Adiyogi to deliver this.

The Saptarishis offered back what they had spent their lives to learn. Because they offered these 16 things as their gurudakshina, we still maintain the tradition today. When we do Guru Pooja, we make 16 offerings, called “shodashopachara.” All the 16 ways are offered back to him. If one does this, standing naked and empty, everything that is Divine will also be yours. Everything that you call as “Creator” will also be yours. Otherwise, you will pick up pennies and think you have won, that you have made it in life. Most people do not learn with life, they only learn with death. When the moment of death comes, everything that you have gathered will mock you in such a horrible way – that is when you know what a waste it has been. Right now, in competition with someone next to you, your whole purpose is just to do a little better than some other fool.

These seven sages went out empty and impacted the world in a way that can never be obliterated. Adiyogi manifested himself in a million different ways because they had the sense to give back everything that they had learnt.

Editor’s Note: Celebrate Guru Purnima by joining the Satsang with Sadhguru at Isha Yoga Center. Register to join in-person or via live webstream at your local Isha Center or at home.