The full moon day in the month of Ashadha (June-July) is known as Guru Purnima. This sacred festival falls on July 9 in 2017, and honors the ancient lineage of enlightened beings who have graced the world with their presence, imparting the knowledge of the "Self." The word "Guru" in Sanskrit is translated as "dispeller of darkness." The Guru dispels the darkness of ignorance and leads seekers on the path to enlightenment.
Sadhguru: Guru Purnima is the day the first guru was born. In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a god, he is seen as the Adiyogi, or the first yogi. Guru Purnima is that full moon day when the first yogi transformed himself into the Adi Guru – the first guru. This is the time of the year when his attention fell upon the now celebrated Saptarishis – his first seven disciples. Over 15,000 years ago, when the solstice had shifted from the summer solstice to the winter – that is, when the Sun’s run with relation to this planet shifted from the northern run to the southern run, which in this tradition is known as Uttarayana and Dakshinayana – on that day, Adiyogi looked at the Saptarishis and saw that they had become shining receptacles of knowing. They had done some simple preparation for 84 years and he could not ignore them anymore. He observed them closely and when the next full moon rose, he decided to become a guru. That full moon day is known as Guru Purnima. He turned south and the transmission of yogic science to the seven disciples began.
The yogic science is not about how to bend your body or hold your breath. This is the science of understanding the mechanics of the human mechanism and to be able to dismantle or put it together. Adiyogi made a dimensional change in the way people perceive and understand the existence and the source of creation. And he made himself a bridge between a simple piece of creation and the source of creation. He said, “If you walk this, there will be no distinction between you and that which you refer to as the creator.” The journey is from creation to the creator.
When Adiyogi spoke, he was not speaking religion, philosophy or dogma. He was talking about a science, a scientific method through which you could undo the boundaries that nature has set upon human life. Every boundary that we set has the purpose of protection to start with. We build a fence around our house with the intent or protection. But once you become unaware as to why you set up these boundaries, the boundaries of self-preservation also become boundaries of self-imprisonment. And these boundaries are not in any one form. They have taken on so many complex forms.
I am not just talking about the psychological boundaries that you set for yourself. I am talking about the boundaries set by nature for your protection and wellbeing. But human nature is such, you cannot experience true wellbeing unless you transcend the limitations of boundaries set upon you. This is a human predicament. When you are in danger, you want fortresses around you. The moment the danger is gone, you want it all to collapse and disappear. But if the boundary that you set for your self-preservation does not go down when you wish, you feel imprisoned and suffocated because once you have come with a discerning intellect, a limitation or that which confines us to something is the worst thing. Human beings will suffer confinement more than torture. The moment a human being feels confinement, their suffering is untold.
Shiva’s work was to bring the tools of awareness that will allow you to transcend these boundaries – tools that will allow you to keep the fortresses to the extent they serve their purpose and make them vanish when you don’t want them. How to build this magical fortress that only those forces which are dangerous for your existence see, but you yourself cannot see? This was Adiyogi’s work. Using the basic illusory nature of nature itself, he came up with many incredible methods to build that magical fortress that you can walk through but no enemy can penetrate. This day is in celebration of this, that something so sophisticated and phenomenal began for the human race for the first time.
The most significant day
It is on this day, for the very first time in the history of humanity, that human beings were reminded that they are not a fixed life. If they are willing to strive, every door in the existence is open. So this day is the most significant day for the human race. It was held that way in this land till recently. Guru Purnima was one of the most important festivals in the nation. People celebrated it irrespective of caste or creed because in this country, the most important thing was not wealth or money. Knowledge or knowing was considered the highest value. A teacher or guru was considered the highest entity in society because knowing is the most important thing. But then for some reason, we chose to celebrate ignorance instead of knowing, and in the last sixty-five years, Guru Purnima has lost its significance because the Government of India did not declare a holiday.
Before the British came to India, there were three days of holidays around Amavasya or new moon day, and two days of holidays around Purnima or full moon day. So there were five holidays in a month that were meant for you to go to the temple and work on your inner wellbeing. But when the British came, they made Sunday a holiday. What is the purpose of that? You don’t know what to do on those days so you eat a lot and watch television!
So, this celebration has slowly died across the country. It still lives in a few ashrams here and there, but most people are not even aware that this is the most significant day because before the idea of religion entered anyone’s mind, Adiyogi put the idea that a human being can evolve beyond his present dimensions of existence; and he gave the tools to make that into a reality. This is the most precious idea that has entered the human mind: that he can evolve beyond his present limitations and go into a completely different dimension of experience, existence and access into the existence.
Editor's Note: Guru Purnima falls on July 9 this year. Join us at the Isha Yoga Center for a special satsang with Sadhguru (in-person or live webstream) or celebrate at your local Isha Center or at home.