The first full moon of Dakshinayana is celebrated all over the country as Guru Purnima – a day when you celebrate your guru, your teacher. This could be someone who teaches you at school, is someone who has taught you the first steps in dance or even your parents, your first gurus in life. If one were to ask what the story behind Guru Purnima and why it is celebrated, there would be more than one stories:

The Story Of Guru Purnima The Importance And The Need
  • The first story goes something like this: long, long ago, there were four elderly men who were in the search for answers. The first one wanted a way out of misery, the second wanted more success, the third wanted to know the true meaning of life and the fourth one who had all the knowledge, still felt like something lacking. As they were wandering in search of their answers, they reached a banyan tree, with a young man sitting underneath, with a big smile on his face. Somehow, all four men felt that this young man had the answers and after spending sometime there, they all left with their answers. What was surprising was that the young man had not spoken a word – but the first man was now free from all misery, the second man had happiness, the third was no longer seeking anything and the fourth one now had a Guru to whom he could express everything. All this happened on a full moon day and this is where the Guru parampara started.
  • Lord Shiva is also recognised as the very first yogi or the Adiyogi, someone who suddenly appeared in the upper regions of the Himalayas, over 15000 years ago. Apart from the fact that there were tears of joy streaming down his face, there were no signs of life on this yogi, who simply sat down. No matter how many people gathered around him, he remained in his position, silent and immobile. Eventually only seven people lingered, insisting that the yogi teach them and even though, he ignored them, these seven stayed. The Adiyogi yelled out them, telling them that they had no idea how much effort went into learning, yet, they stayed put. Finally, the Adiyogi gave them steps to prepare and they did so, for weeks, months and years and it was only after 84 years, that Adiyogi finally acknowledged them. On a day, when the sun shifted from its northern run to its southern run, also known as Dakshinayana, Adiyogi realised that these seven men were now ready to receive the wisdom. However, it was only the next full moon, that he chose to become a Guru – he turned south and started transmitting the spiritual gifts of the yogic sciences to his students, earning himself the name Dakshinsmurthy. These seven men went on to become the Saptarishis.
  • In Buddhism, it is said that this was the day when Lord Buddha gave his first sermon, five weeks after he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. And in Jainism, it is believed that this was the day when Mahavira got his very first follower and become the first guru of Jainism.
Did you know that the monsoon months have a role to play in Guru Purnima? It is believed that after Lord Shiva had given all the knowledge to the Saptarishis, the seven of them set forth into the world, so that they could spread the message and knowledge of yoga. One of the seven was Agastya Muni, who chose to travel to the southern part of the Indian subcontinent and had a large part to play in ensuring that almost all people had a spiritual process. What he also started was a tradition, wherein sadhus and other spiritual persons would travel from the south to the Himalayas and then back; a cycle that was maintained for several thousands of years. However, the monsoon months were always a problem especially when it got really strong, as travelling by foot was tough. So, this period was taken as a time to rest. It is also said that Lord Buddha asked his disciples to take rest for this month and spend the time remembering all that their guru had taught them.

What is the symbolism behind the concept of Guru Purnima?

There are several notions that come forth, when you look at the symbolic aspect of Guru Purnima and why it is celebrated. And when you are pondering about Guru Purnima gifts ideas, it is important that you first take the time to understand why it is important. If you were to look at the story of the five aged men spending time with the young man sitting under the banyan tree, there is plenty of symbolism there – the seeking in us is what makes us old, but our spirit is always young. And if our spirit is young, that means we are ever eager to learn. The banyan tree is one of the sturdiest trees in the plant world – it can grow anywhere, needs very little care and can give oxygen, throughout the day, symbolising what in principle a guru is. A guru is someone who can help remove the darkness, misery and loneliness from your life. Often, our ignorance and misery stems from a lack of knowledge and a guru is someone who can fill that void.

When the Adiyogi distributed his wisdom to the Saptarishis, it signified one of the greatest moments in humanity – this showed that liberation and eventual transcendence was possible for human beings. Who they were born to, what their limitation were, what talents they had or did not have, had no effect on what you could achieve – if you were willing to strive to put in the effort, you could transcend to another level. Spiritual evolution was possible for anyone, provided they were willing to put in the work that it demanded. The essence of Adiyogi’s teachings lay in the fact that every atom in the universe has its own consciousness and for spiritual evolution, all that was needed was a discerning mind.

The Celebration!:

For most Indians, teachers day is the birthday of Dr. S Radhakrishnan; a day that was established only in 1962; but for India, Guru Purnima is the authentic teachers day – anyone who has taught you anything in life, is to be seen as a guru and respected as well as celebrated on this day. Take this day to celebrate everyone from your parents, to older siblings to actual teachers. Make the effort to do something special for them; you can start the day with a pooja or a visit to the temple and then spend some time with your gurus. If you are choosing to revere your parents and family members first, prepare a meal for them and you can buy gifts online from eCraftIndia to surprise them. For your literal teachers, you could look for gifts too – anything from religious idols to home décor pieces work well.

At eCraftIndia, we offer to you a range of handcrafted items, which are meant to jazz up your interiors – each created by an artisan who has had the knowledge and the talent handed down through the generations, these pieces are eons away from the typical mass manufactured products that you might find on regular shopping sites.