Like any other festival, Guru Puja too is doused with the flavor of spirituality. The taste of divine exhortation is more obvious in it. The disciples of Ved Vyas are said to be the forerunners of this expression of celestial love. Therefore, it is also called Vyas Puja. It is celebrated on purnima which falls in the month of Ashada. It is the initiated ones who comprehend its significance and the message it wishes to convey. For the ones yet to be blessed with supreme knowledge, the occasion and its internally mobilizing atmosphere is an inspiration to taste the sublime enjoyment associated with the celebrations. The inspirational value for the yet-to-be-initiated has in its womb the seeds of dormant divine consciousness waiting to be awakened.
It is a special occasion for a spiritual disciple. On this day, he not only pays his obeisance but also rejuvenates and reinforces his paraphernalia - satsanga(discourse), sadhana (meditation) and seva (service). The occasion serves as a reminder for the disciples to re-kindle the flame of devotion if it is found to be diminishing due to the impact of Maya and karmic impressions on the soul, accumulated over numerous previous births.
Guru Puja commemorates the communion of Guru and Shishya (teacher and the taught). Here, the student is not in search of bread-winning education. He seeks the highest knowledge by which the Imperishable Reality is realized. The teacher is one capable of taking the pupil from finite to infinite, from darkness of ignorance to the light of awareness and from death to immortality.
A classic example of this communion is provided in the Kathopanishad, though the first mention of the story is in the Rig Veda. It depicts a dialogue between Yama, the master of Self-Knowledge and Naciketa, a young pulsating life, inquisitive, knocking at the door of death and extracting from it wisdom which lies beyond life and death.
The Upanishad sets forth the highest theme of Brahm Jnana - science of God and Soul -in the form of three questions that Naciketa asked Yama. To test his passion for Truth, Yama offered him three boons. He was tempted with alluring alternatives. But he insisted on being granted the light of Truth. No worldly temptation was enough to detract him from the ultimate aim of human life.
Expounding the truth, Yama said, 'It is not suppression but control of senses that is needed for spiritual search. This search has an inward movement leading to the revelation of the Divine in the inmost soul. We must turn our gaze inward'. Remember, the treatise does not narrate the essential constituents of Brahm Jnana, it only commands us to search for a preceptor who can unravel it. The constituents of divine knowledge essentially represent the inherent divinity of man.
In Paingala Upanishad, Paingala, the pupil approaches Yajnavalkya on meditation and nature of release who then tells him to meditate on light form of Brahman for salvation through Divya Chakshu (divine eye). It is this metaphysical form of Supreme Brahman which is the sole basis of meditation of an initiated one. It is the light of soul, on seeing which, the inward journey of an aspirant starts and further exploration strengthens his resolve for ultimate union with the Oversoul.
Every soul is destined to become perfect. You need someone to provide the impulse. The impulse has to come from another soul capable of transmitting spirituality. Such a self realized soul is called Satguru. A Satguru does not embroil the seeker in the dense forest of words and hymns. He is the one capable of manifesting the inherent divinity of man instantly and does not advise his disciples to wait for it to happen some day.
Vivekananda said, 'one cannot see God except through such human manifestation who has known, seen and become one with Him by unraveling the profoundest mystery and capable of transmitting the same onto the seeker. He is light himself and can illuminate others as well, just as the sun illumines the moon gratuitously'. Thus, a Guru does a selfless service, holding the only motive of arousing God-consciousness in both pious and the wicked alike.
Bible says 'unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.' Scriptures say God is within us and has bolted the door from inside and handed over the key to the Guru. Such a Guru, when confers knowledge of self and makes one twice-born, opens the door and imparts inner eye to enable one see the transcendental form of God within. He, thus, performs the role of Brahman. Just as a sculptor molds and shapes a worthless stone and makes it worthy of worship in a temple, in the same fashion a Guru nurtures and nourishes his disciple at every step of journey into the metaphysical world of ultimate reality and liberates him while living. Thus, he is Vishnu too. Guru is Mahesh as well. He hurriedly brings forth his samskaras (latent tendencies) and assists him to burn them in the fire of divine knowledge.
Performing your worldly duties, act upon the divine exhortation to realize the ultimate aim of human life. Human birth is rare and precious: justify it. The shelter of a Satguru - perfect spiritual master - has been acknowledged in scriptures of all religions. It is a law ordained by the Lord of the universe that only a Satguru or a preceptor is capable of opening your divine eye to enable you to see God. He unfolds the supreme secret of inherent divinity. You cannot see the Invisible, Immutable Essence through your physical eyes. It is only through the eye of spirit that one can see the metaphysical form of God. It is a super sensuous experience that can be experienced only through the divine eye. Even God, when incarnates on earth in human garb, adheres to the Divine Principle by offering Himself to the lotus feet of the perfect spiritual master of the time.
The disciples of Ved Vyas thus dedicated one of the Lord's days to the celebration of receiving the divine eye of wisdom. Guru Puja salutes the union of the spiritual aspirant and his Guru, honoring that relationship as the foundation of pure existence. Had not the Satguru shown such aspirants their own essence and reason of being, a void would have remained within their hearts for eternity. Thus, the festival of Guru Puja also urges mankind to take the shelter of the Satguru of the time, as this is the gateway to realizing the Self within, in order to fill the inner void with the nectar of bliss. We listen and adhere to worldly commands either out of fear or greed. The end result is shackles of bondage. We continue to be tormented by vicious cycle of births and deaths. This divine command, if adhered to, will lead you to freedom and higher achievements in this life and beyond.