These are sacred days in succession. Buddha-purnima, full moon celebrating Buddha's enlightenment around June; guru-purnima, full moon celebrating and honouring the universal guru and the individual guru, around July; rishi-purnima, the full moon celebrating the rishis, the ancient sages of yore through whom the knowledge of the Vedas was revealed, around August.
The guru tradition is a universal in all ancient cultures. Buddha's last teacher was celebrated Arada Kalama who taught him Sankhya-yoga. Jesus has St. John the Baptist. The Incarnation Rama has to be reminded of his divinity by the sage Vasishtha (read Yoga-vasishtha). Krishna the teacher of Bhagavad-gita had three gurus. It was the last one, Ghora Angirasa who gave him the mantras :
Even Gilgamesh of the Sumerian-Akkadian epic has Utnapishtim. The Sufi tradition pays homage to its peer-o-murshid masters. Anyone seeking to progress in any field seeks a mentor. Modern day Catholics have spiritual directors for study and contemplation of texts like Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. So in all ancient traditions of Africa, New Zealand, American Indians, and you name it.
Seeking a guru, therefore, is an innate part of our nature; part of our spiritual urges. Many resist this urge out of ego. They think 'I can make it on my own' and sooner or later they stumble or become disappointed or confused as to their path.
A guru may appear in an embodied form or in a disembodied form, for a guru is one who infuses into our individuated consciousness the divine consciousness. Consciousness has no form. Our Gurudeva continues to guide thousands from his bodiless state. The body-bound do not understand this.
The contact with the bodiless guru is to be established through guru-chakra, but an embodied guru is needed to initiate us into that chakra. So let us not allow our ego to be an obstacle on this path.
Many who have been guided by the guru are tempted to declare themselves as gurus several incarnations prematurely. It takes one, yes, many incarnations to reach the status of a guru who can lead aqualified disciple to the highest divine consciousness. On the other hand, our Gurudeva Swami Rama said, "a guru can transmit his entire knowledge to a qualified disciple in one night of silence".
Let us just gather the qualifications of purity required and wash our minds of heterogeneous vRttis, replacing them with a continuous calm flow of single vRtti of atman-awareness. Our task ends at gaining the qualification and the guru will take care of the rest.
Out of sheer reverence it is common in many ashrams to place the wooden sandals of guru on his seat after s/he has departed from the body and reverence offered to these symbols of guru's presence.
I have attempted to translate the nine verses of the guru-paadukaa-stotra (also sung and recorded by Madonna), the hymn to guru's wooden sandals but I cannot find words in English to express the contents of the sonorous Sanskrit.
Let your consciousness be the true translation of these hymns to the Guru.
At this time in our two Ashrams in Rishikesh, 23 Pandits are doing 24-hour akhanda-patha, non-stop recital of guru-gita for nine days and the atmosphere is electric.
May your meditations on guru-purnima electrify your body and prana and turn you into a spiritual magnet.
Ever in service of Gurudeva
Swami Veda Bharati
Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh