Message from Paramahamsa Prajnanananda — Guru Purnima 2017
Loving and Divine Ones,
Let the choicest blessings of God and the masters be upon all of you. I take this opportunity to pray for you and send you my best wishes on the occasion of Guru Purnima, the birthday of Bhagavan Vyasadeva, which is dedicated to the guru-preceptors of all times and all places. This year it falls on Sunday, July 9. On this day we celebrate by paying homage not only to our Kriya lineage, but to all the gurus of humankind.
When we were little children, we went to school, and our parents told us that the teacher was our guru, so we should be respectful. At school, we observed the older students' obedience and their regard for the teachers. We were taught to love and respect our teachers as we did our parents. Our parents gave birth to us and raised us with the utmost care.
When we grew up, we found that the concept of the guru was broad. To love any guru is to show our love and gratitude for their contribution to our development. We have learned a lot from them. Who are the gurus? A popular Sanskrit verse describes a few gurus who should be adored:
annadata bhayatrata vidyadata tathaiva cha
janita chopaneta cha panchaite pitarah smritah
"One who has given us food, who has helped us be free from fear, who has educated us, who has given birth to us, or who has initiated us into a spiritual path is considered to be a parent (guru)."
- Annadata, someone who has fed us: It could be a farmer or Mother Earth, water, the sun, or the environment. It could be a mother who cooks or anyone who has provided food to others. Do we really recognize their importance in our lives? Metaphorically, anna (food) can refer to spiritual knowledge or divine thoughts provided by a guru-preceptor through divine teachings.
- Bhayatrata, someone who has freed us from fear: When we were little babies, our parents, family members, society, and even our pets could protect us and make us fearless. They must be recognized and appreciated. A friend can give us courage or support us, or free us from life's challenges when we are weak or fearful. The guru removes our greatest fear, the fear of death.
- Vidyadata, someone who has educated us: Vidya refers to knowledge of two types: secular knowledge that we obtain in schools, colleges and universities, and spiritual knowledge that we receive from the guru-preceptors. Not only humans educate us. The Bhagavatam describes twenty-four different kinds of gurus (We recently published a study of this work as My Gurus).
- Janita, someone who gave birth to us: Our parents are our first gurus, and between them our mothers are the first gurus. A guru-preceptor can be a father or mother because he or she provides us with new life via spiritual instruction.
- Upaneta, someone who initiated us into a spiritual path: Just as we have teachers in schools for our formal education, we also have spiritual educators. We have been inspired by reading the writings of many teachers, and we have been initiated into a particular spiritual path.
Let us develop a new understanding of life. Let us understand the practical significance and role of the guru-preceptor. On this special occasion we should remember our beloved Shri Gurudev, his divine qualities, his love and compassion, his sacrifice and selflessness, and his wisdom and training. I have no words to describe how much I appreciate him.
On this special occasion, I pray to all the masters of humankind including Sage Vyasadeva, asking them to bless every one of us to be a worthy disciple and serve the masters' causes with love and humility. I bow to all of you. I send my love and best wishes to all of you again.