Guru Purnima celebrated all across India as an occasion to respect those who bestow knowledge and purpose on us. On this day people celebrate the services of teachers, gurus, and mentors who guide them, from the darkness of ignorance, towards the light of knowledge and wisdom. Purnima means full Moon. The full moon day that falls in the month of Ashadha (June-July) is observed as Guru Purnima.

When is Guru Purnima 2021?

The 2021 Guru Purnima day falls on 24th July, Saturday.

Purnima Tithi Timings On Guru Purnima Day 2021

Sunrise 24 July, 2021 05:58 AM.
Sunset 24 July, 2021 07:08 PM.
Purnima Tithi Begins 23 July, 2021 10:43 AM.
Purnima Tithi Ends 24 July, 2021 08:06 AM.
This day is also known as Vyasa Purnima as it commemorates the birth anniversary of Veda Vyasa, the great sage and poet who is the author of the epic Mahabharata. The day also goes by the name Gyaan Purnima as it celebrates the spread of knowledge and wisdom among the people.

Guru Purnima day is also a momentous occasion for the Buddhists, Jains, and the Sikh community. Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath on this day. The occasion is marked as Buddha Purnima. The Jains mark this day as the Treenok Guru Purnima. To them, this is the day when Lord Mahavira made his first disciple. The Sikhs honor their ten spiritual gurus on the day of Guru Purnima. 

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Significance of Guru Purnima Festival

The word Guru is a combination of the sounds ‘Gur’ and ‘Ru’. Gur means darkness and Ru means light. So the word Guru means a person who pulls you from the darkness of ignorance towards the light of knowledge. It is through this uplifting of the senses and enlightenment of the soul that human beings traverse their journey towards moksha. So a Guru, in effect, guides you from the cycle of birth and rebirth in the material world towards the ultimate moksha of the spiritual world. Guru Purnima signifies the vital role of teachers in our lives. 

As per Vedic culture, a Guru is someone who shines light into the soul of a person and drives out the fear of the unknown and the sway of ignorance. It is believed that our Guru resides in the Vishuddha Chakra in the throat and awakens when we deliver ourselves to our higher self. By celebrating Guru Purnima we are abiding by the long history and tradition of placing Gurus on the same pedestal as gods. The day is dedicated to the teachers and mentors who instilled in our knowledge and purpose in life and who made our lives worth living. 

The Story Behind Guru Purnima

As per Vedic texts, Lord Shiva is considered as the first guru or the Adi Guru. He transmitted the knowledge of Yoga to the Saptarishis on the Purnima day in the month of Ashadha. Hence this day has been called Guru Purnima ever since. In Buddhist culture, the day of Guru Purnima is considered as the birth anniversary, death anniversary and day of enlightenment of Lord Buddha.

As per Buddhism, the day of being born is the same as the day of attaining Bodha or enlightenment. And the day of attaining Bodha or enlightenment is the same as the day the first Sermon was delivered. So, Guru Purnima is the same as Buddha Purnima as per Buddhist culture. 

Rituals and Celebrations of Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima is celebrated in India and other countries like Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia where Vedic culture held influence in the distant past. Various rituals are prevalent while observing Guru Purnima in Vedic culture as well as Buddhist culture. 

On Guru Purnima day, devotees take a bath and put on new clothes, offering prayers and tribute to their Gurus. Deeksha is offered and people recite Guru Shloka. If one’s Guru is not alive, the picture or the portrait of the Guru is used. Devotees also worship Maharishi Vyas and pay offerings to Sri Madhvacharya, Adi Shankara, and Sri Ramanuja Acharya, all revered as Maha Gurus in Vedic culture.

Devotees perform “Vyas Puja” and recite Mantras and hymns. Guru Gita, a holy text, is also read in the memory of Maha Guru. The recital of Mantras is also done, as per norms, in the Guru’s remembrance. Performing Guru Purnima Puja and Yajna at temples and homes brings blessings of the gurus to the devotee. Fasting is also observed on this day, along with Yogic Sadhana and meditation.

The Buddhists, on this day, honor Lord Buddha and pay homage to him by visiting his shrines. The Uposatha ritual is carried out and the devotees listen to the eight teachings of Buddha. Many consider this the perfect day to begin life devoted to meditation and ascetic practices. Flowers, incense, candles, milk, and Diyas are offered to idols of Lord Buddha by priests, monks, and nuns. Devotees dress up in white clothes. Kheer is prepared and served as a prasad.

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As per the Hindu calendar, Guru Purnima also marks the beginning of Chaturmas. The Chaturmas is a four-month period starting from Ashadha which is considered holy by the devotees. They spend almost their entire time devoted to religious activities and undertake special studies and observe various austerities during this period. As mentioned before, Guru Purnima day is also the day of illuminating the mind and soul with the light of knowledge. To symbolize this, it is customary for the people to decorate their homes by lighting traditional lamps on this day.   

Jupiter and Guru Purnima 

In Vedic astrology, the planet Jupiter is referred to as Guru and he embodies the virtues of knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. The Guru or Jupiter is considered the most benign planet in Vedic astrology. While Guru Purnima day mostly refers to the teachers and mentors that have uplifted humanity from the darkness of ignorance and fear, the planet Jupiter has a significant place in the observation of this day. 

The Guru Purnima occurs on the full moon day in the month of Ashadha. This comes after the Summer solstice when the luminosity of the Sun has peaked in the annual calendar and has started its journey southwards to the Winter solstice. For Earth, this means the planet is in an accepting phase where it is open to receiving virtues of other planets. In other words, this is an ideal time to receive knowledge or wisdom from the Guru which is the planet of Jupiter. 

Why Jupiter? In the month of Ashadha, the Sun is either in late degrees of Gemini or in the sign of Cancer. In both cases, it is strongly influenced by Jupiter. Meanwhile, the Moon is in the sign of Sagittarius at this time. Jupiter is the ruler of the sign Sagittarius. In short, at the time of Guru Purnima, both the Sun and the Moon are influenced by the virtues of Jupiter. Also, this combination has to happen in the month of Ashadha, because the Ashadha Nakshatra is intended to grant Moksha or liberation. 

In more scientific terms, Jupiter holds another interesting place when it comes to interstellar travel. To get out of the clutches of the Sun’s gravity and reach the outer planets and beyond, the spaceships utilize the gravity of Jupiter to slingshot their way towards the outer realms of the solar system. And the Vedic literature states that to reach God, one needs the guidance of the Guru! 

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