Friday, July 9, 2010


Guru is one of the thousand 'naamams' in the Vishnu Sahasra-Naamam.
Verse 23 says this:
गुरुर्गुरुतामो धाम सत्य सत्यपराक्रम I
निमिषो निमिष स्रग्वी वाचस्पतिरुधाराधीः II
"gurur gurutamo dhaama satya satya-paraakrama
nimisho nimisha sragvi vachas-patir udaaradheehi"

Guru or Mahaa Vishnu is worthy of our worship.

Guru Vandana is an aacharam derived from Sanatana Dharma.
"aachara prabhavo dharma, dharmasya prabhu achyuta".

Guru Vandana is not flattery of our cane-wielding, stern, grim, be-spectacled primary school teacher, as this writer had believed when he was very very young and, needless to add, very very foolish!

"gurur Brahma gurur Vishnu gurur devo Maheshwara,
guruh sakshat para-brahma, tamsai shree guruvae namaha"

Guru Vandana is to honour the entire 'guru parampara' of maata, our mother, pita, our father, guru who taught us in schools colleges and in our professions, the guru parampara, the gurus whom we have seen and from whom we have learnt, and even the gurus of earlier generations who are unknown to us but who are nevertheless integral to the sacred guru-parampara, all the way to 'parama-daivam' or Mahaa Vishnu.

We honour
 maata or janani the mother who is of course our first guru
 jagat-maata, Parvati Devi
We honour
 Pitaa or the father is the second guru.
 Jagat-pita, Mahaa-Dev.

Honour is due to our teachers in schools and colleges and to our trainers in our profession or vocation. They are the gurus whom we have seen .

Then there are the gurus whom we have not seen but of whom we have heard and from whom we have learnt through their actions and teachings.
We honour our kula guru of our respective communities.
In the Ayurveda medical profession, we know of the gurus Charaka and Shushruta whose guru parampara derives from Guru Dhanvantari whose guru is Mahaa Vishnu.
In the Siddha medical system, the guru parampara begins with Agastya Muni whose guru is Mahaa-Dev.
There are two schools of ancient architects and builders, one begins with Vishwakarma, the architect of Devas, whose guru is Mahaa Vishnu and the other begins with Mayaa, the engineer-in-chief of the Asuras, whose guru is Mahaa-Dev.

We honour
 Deva-guru Brihaspati,
 Asura-guru Shukra-acharya,
 Kapila-acharya who propounded Sankhya philosophy,
 Shankara-acharya who expounded the Advaita Vedanta,
 Madhva-acharya who expounded the Dvaita Vedanta,
 Ramanuja-acharya who expounded the Vishistadvaita Vedanta and
 Bhagavaan Sri Krishna, Mahaa Vishnu's poorna-avataram
  who gave us Sreemad Bhagavad Gita to guide us in the right living,
 Guru Sandeepani, the guru of Bhagavaan Sri Krishna
 Bhagawan Parashurama, the guru of Guru Sandeepani
 Maharshi Veda Vyaasa, who taught us about
life, deeds and teachings of Bhagavaan Sri Krishna
  and who compiled the MahaaBhaarata, Vedas, Upanishads etc.
 Bhagavaan Sri Raam, the maryaada purushottam,
  who through his life example taught us how to live righteously,
 Brahma-Rishi Vashishta, the kula guru of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,
 Brahma-Rishi Vishwamitra, another guru of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,
 Maharshi Valmiki who taught us Raamaayanam,
  the story of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,

 The Sapta Rishis,
  Atri, Angiras, Agastya, Gautama, Bhrigu, Kashyapa and Vashishta, the gurus of Maharshi Valmiki.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of gurus of whom we have not heard, but who are nevertheless worthy of our obeisance and ultimately we honour the guru of all gurus, the quintessence of all the qualities of a guru and repository of all wisdom "gurutamao dhaama" Lakshmi-Pati, Mahaa Vishnu.

In the military the chain of command is the guru parampara and it is to be obeyed without question. In the civilian life the office hierarchy is the guru parampara and it is to be honoured and obeyed. At home the elders constitute the guru parampara who are to be respected and obeyed. Just as we honour and obey the gurus, they in turn treat us with affection and compassion and bestow upon us the blessings of their knowledge and wisdom.

In educational institutions the day starts with the chanting of Guru Vandana is followed by Vinayaka Stuti and Saraswati Vandana to invoke the blessings of the Lord Ganapathi, the Remover of Obstacles, and of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. We recite Guru Vandana to seek benedictions, to think the right thoughts, to say the right words, to do the right deeds, so that we may perform our 'swadharma' and acquire fame and various types of fortunes in this world and in the next. Sanatana Dharma requires that we perform Guru Vandana at the start every day that we may be rightly guided in our tasks which we aim to accomplish to perfection.

It is sad to note that most caste-based organizations do not start their meetings with Guru Vandana followed by Vinayaka Stuti. This explains why they are loosing their spiritual moorings and ceasing to command the respect of their adherents.

with their meanings:

अखण्ड मण्डलाकारं व्याप्तंयेन चराचरं।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरुवे नमः॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise the state which pervades the entire cosmos, everything animate and inanimate.

अज्ञान तिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जन शलाकया।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has opened the eyes blinded by darkness of ignorance with the collyrium-stick of knowledge.

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः ।
गुरु साक्षात परंब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, the direct Parabrahma, the Supreme Reality.

स्थावरं जंगमं व्याप्तं यत्किंचित्स चराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise Him, by whom all that is - sentient and insentient, movable and immovable is pervaded.

चिन्मयं व्यापियत्सर्वं त्रैलोक्यं सचराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise Him pervades everything, sentient and insentient, in all three worlds.

सर्वश्रुति शिरोरत्न विराजित पदाम्बुजः ।
वेदान्ताम्बुज सूर्योयः तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, whose lotus feet are radiant with (the luster of) the crest jewel of all Srutis and who is the sun that causes the Vendanta Lotus (knowledge) to blossom.

चैतन्यः शाश्वतःशान्तो व्योमातीतो निरंजनः ।
बिन्दुनाद कलातीतः तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru,who is the ever effulgent, eternal, peaceful,
beyond space, immaculate, and beyond the manifest and unmanifest.

ज्ञानशक्ति समारूढः तत्त्वमाला विभूषितः ।भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रदाता च तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to that noble Guru, who is established in the power of knowledge,adorned with the garland of various principles and is the bestower of prosperity and liberation.
अनेकजन्म संप्राप्त कर्मबन्ध विदाहिने ।
आत्मज्ञान प्रदानेन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who by bestowing the knowledge of the Self burns up the bondage created by accumulated actions of innumerable births.

शोषणं भवसिन्धोश्च ज्ञापणं सारसंपदः ।
गुरोः पादोदकं सम्यक् तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, by sitting at whose feet, the ocean of transmigration, endless sorrows is completely dried up and the Supreme wealth is revealed.

न गुरोरधिकं तत्त्वं न गुरोरधिकं तपः ।
तत्त्वज्ञानात्परं नास्ति तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, beyond whom there is no higher truth, there is no higher penance and there is nothing higher attainable than the true knowledge.

मन्नाथः श्रीजगन्नाथः माद् गुरु श्री जगत् गुरु ।
मदात्मा सर्वभूतात्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is my Lord and the Lord of the Universe, my Teacher and the Teacher of the Universe, who is the Self in me and the Self in all beings.

गुरुः आदि अनादि च गुरुः परम दैवतम् ।
गुरोः परतरं नास्ति तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is both the beginning and beginningless, who is the Supreme Deity than whom there is none superior.
त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव, त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणं त्वमेव, त्वमेव सर्वं मम देव देव ॥

(Oh Guru!) You are my mother and father; you are my brother and companion; you alone are knowledge and wealth. O Lord, you are everything to me.

For the verses and meanings of Guru Vandana I have relied for most part on .