The Guru-Sishya Story

Ankur: “Hi Rishi. I understand that you have been looking for me”.

Rishi :  “Hi Ankur. What are you doing on 12th July?”

Ankur :  “I am not doing anything specific.  What is so special about that day?”

Rishi : “We are celebrating Guru Purnima on that day”.  I am honouring all the reputed teachers in the city on that day. I thought you could help me out in making the arrangements.”

Ankur : “I have been wondering about this Rishi.  When the whole country celebrates teachers’ day on September 5th, you are always in a hurry to celebrate this a couple of months earlier. Why hurry? Relax…”

Rishi :  (Laughs loudly) “Why do you think September 5th is celebrated as Teachers’ Day?”

Ankur :  “It is the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, our former President, who was a great teacher. We celebrate this day as Teachers’ Day in his honour.”

Sarvepalli

Rishi :  “No doubt… Dr Radhakrishnan was a great teacher.  But are you aware that “Teachers’ Day” has been celebrated for thousands of years on full moon day of the lunar month of Ashadh as Guru Purnima; Grand festivities are made on that day and teachers honoured.”

Ankur :  “Wow!  This is interesting.  I never knew that. Why have we been celebrating Teachers’ Day on this particular day?”

Rishi :  “Ankur.  I always appreciate this inquisitiveness in you.  This day is celebrated in honour of Sage Veda Vyasa, our badharayana who is considered as our first Guru.”

veda-vyasa

Ankur : “Is there any specific reason he is considered as the first Guru?”

Rishi : “Actually I need to explain to you two things in answer to this question.  First, our ancient seers had developed immense capabilities beyond their normal senses and were able to come in contact with the universal laws.  For millennia, they passed on these laws to their students orally.  As times passed, capability of humans to grasp the entire knowledge started diminishing.  At this juncture, Sage Veda Vyasa compiled all this knowledge into different sections and simplified them through many stories and historical events so that they are easily available and within the reach of common man.  In this way he made available a huge amount of wisdom to the common man and hence he is considered as the first Guru.”

Ankur : Oh!  This is a very interesting story.  So do you mean to say that he had written a book?  If so, what is the name of the book?  I would like to read that.”

Rishi :  “Sage Vyasa had been a great author.  He wrote lots of books (on palm leaves) in different formats for people with different personality types.  The Four Vedas, several Upanishads, 18 Puranas, Brahmasutras, etc., all together amounts to more than million verses… This is his contribution.”

Ankur :  “Oh!  That is too much.  One would not be able to complete a fraction of that in his life time.  So how is one going to benefit from this?”

Rishi :  “You must remember that he is a master teacher – the prime Guru.  He identified different sets of Gurus and made them each expert in one set of books.  Those teachers in turn passed on the parts of knowledge in which they specialized to their disciples.  In this way the entire wisdom was preserved and handed over across generations for thousands of years.”

gurukul

Ankur :  “To collate and compile all this information requires several TBs of space. Once we put that in cloud anyone can easily access it. This can be an interesting project to compile our wisdom.”

Rishi :  (Laughs again) Now I need to explain to you the other part called the Guru-Sishya parampara or Guru-Sishya tradition.  You may read volumes of information but it will not make sense to you if you don’t understand the inner meaning and its relevance to you.  In Guru-Sishya tradition, the Guru transfers not just the information but also the experience in a way that is appropriate to the student and thus actually it is the experiential knowledge which is transferred from a Guru to his discipline and not bookish knowledge.  It is for this reason that Indian culture and civilization is the longest and the only civilization whose date of origin could not be determined even now.  The computers may go, the papers may go, the palm leaves may vanish, but the wisdom in the form of experiences is there in man and that is transferred to the upcoming generations. As long as man exists this knowledge will remain…”

Ankur :  “Now I understand the greatness of our culture and the importance of Guru-Sishya parampara.  Hey!  Another truth strikes me.  Today there is a lot of buzz happening around experiential learning and activity based learning.  I thought this is a very innovative way for teaching discovered by the west.  But now I realize that is the essence of original Indian educational system.  I love this great country and feel grateful to all the great Gurus for keeping this civilization and culture alive.”

Guru-and-disciple

Rishi : “So what is your plan for next Saturday?”

Ankur : “Of course, I will be with you the whole day.  You are my Guru anyway.  It is my duty to offer my services to you on that day.  Can I invite Ankita also?”

Rishi :  “You are most welcome”

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1 Comment

  1. We wish all students a Happy Guru Purnima (Vyasa Purnima) ! « IMC – India meets Classic presents …

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