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Guru Purnima is an Indian & Nepalese spiritual tradition dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers, who are evolved or enlightened humans, ready to share their wisdom, with very little or no monetary expectation, based on Karma Yoga.
Sadhguru: We have entered the period of Dakshinayana, when the sun’s relationship with the planet changes from its northern movement to its southern run. The shift within the human body is such that during this time, it is more conducive for sadhana, for setting goals. It is the time when the farmer begins to plough the land. It is the time when the yogi begins to knead this piece of earth – the body – that he is privileged to carry. And it is at this time, many thousands of years ago, that the magnificent eyes of the Adiyogi fell upon the human creature.
The Story of the First Guru Purnima
In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a god, he is seen as the Adiyogi, the first yogi. Over 15000 years ago, a yogi appeared in the upper regions of the Himalayas. No one knew where he came from and what his antecedents were – and he did not introduce himself – so they did not know his name. So he is referred to as 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.
He simply came and sat and did nothing. The only sign of life was tears of ecstasy dribbling down his eyes. Except for that, it did not even seem like he was breathing. People saw that he was experiencing something that they were unable to fathom. They came, waited and left because the man was oblivious of other people’s presence.
Only seven people hung on. These seven people were insistent that they must learn from him. Adiyogi ignored them. They pleaded, “We want to know what you know.” He dismissed them, “You fools, the way you are, you are not going to know in a million years. You need to prepare. Tremendous amount of preparation is needed for this. This is not entertainment.”
The first full moon of Dakshinayana is Guru Purnima, the day the first guru was born.
But because they were so insistent, he gave them a few preparatory steps. So they started preparing – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year – they prepared. Adiyogi just ignored them. It is said they did 84 years of sadhana. Then, one full moon day, after 84 years, on the day when the sun was shifting from the northern run to southern run – which in this tradition is known as Dakshinayana – Adiyogi looked at these seven people. They had become shining receptacles of knowing. They were absolutely ripe to receive. 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. Guru Purnima is that full moon day when the first yogi transformed himself into the Adi Guru – the first guru. He turned south – which is why he is known as Dakshinamurthi – and the transmission of the yogic sciences to the seven disciples began. Thus, the first full moon of Dakshinayana is Guru Purnima, the day the first guru was born.
Guru Purnima: A Possibility to Transcend
This transmission – the world’s first yoga program – happened at the banks of the lake Kantisarovar, a few kilometers beyond Kedarnath. When we say “yoga,” we are not talking about twisting your body or holding your breath. We are talking about the very mechanics of life and how to take this piece of creation – you – to its ultimate possibility. This phenomenal dimension of human consciousness, or the possibility of the individual becoming a window to the universal, was unleashed on this day.
Guru Purnima signifies one of the greatest moments in the life of humanity. This is about transcendence and liberation, a possibility that human beings never knew.
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Guru Purnima signifies one of the greatest moments in the life of humanity. This is about transcendence and liberation, a possibility that human beings never knew. It does not matter what your genetics are, who your father was, or what limitations you are born with or have acquired, you can transcend all of that, if you are willing to strive. For the first time in human history he declared that it is possible for a human being to evolve consciously.
A few years ago, when I was interviewed by an American magazine, one of the questions I was asked was, “Who is the most significant person in the West to have worked for human consciousness?” Without hesitation, I said, “Charles Darwin.” They said, “But Charles Darwin is a biologist.” I said yes, but he was the first to come and tell people that it is possible to evolve; it is possible to become something more than who you are right now.
Guru Purnima is about transcendence and liberation, a possibility that human beings never knew.
It is those societies in the West that subscribed to the theory of biological evolution that are open today to a spiritual process. Those that believe that God made us the way we are and that’s it – they are not open to any such possibility.
Darwin talked of biological evolution about two hundred years ago. Adiyogitalked of spiritual evolution more than fifteen thousand years ago. The essence of his teaching is that every atom in this existence – including the sun and the planet – has a consciousness of its own; but what these do not have is a discerning mind. Once consciousness arises with a discerning mind, it is the most powerful possibility. This is what makes human life so unique.
The Monsoon’s Role in the Story of Guru Purnima
After Adiyogi’s transmission was complete, the seven sages set forth to spread the yogic sciences throughout the world. One of them, Agastya Muni, headed south into the Indian subcontinent. Agastya Muni lived a life which could be considered almost superhuman, and he made sure that every human habitation south of the Himalayas had a spiritual process. In many ways, everything that we do here today, what we call Isha Yoga, is just a small extension of Agastya’s work.
Agastya’s move to the South began a tradition of yogis and spiritual sadhakas setting forth on a cycle of moving from the Himalayan region down south and back again up as the seasons come and go.
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