Guru Purnima - puja to the Guru
Sri Chinmoy on Guru Purnima, 2007
Guru Purnima (Guru Pūrṇimā, sanskrit: गुरु पूर्णिमा) is a special day in the year when every sincere devotee offers puja (worship) to his Gurudeva.
Guru Purnima is on the day of full moon, Purnima, in the month of Ashadh of the Hindu calendar.
When Vyasa was born
This was the day when Krishna-dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the Mahabharata – was born. Veda Vyasa did yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies by gathering all the Vedic hymns extant during his times, dividing them into four parts based on their use in the sacrificial rites, and teaching them to his four chief disciples – Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu.
It was this dividing and editing that earned him the honorific "Vyasa" (vyas = to edit, to divide).
He divided the Veda into four, namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. The histories and the Puranas are said to be the fifth Veda. - Brahmanda Purana 1.4.21
The spiritual Gurus are revered on this day by remembering their life and teachings.
Guru Purnima calendar 
year Guru Purnima date 2007 30 July 2007 2008 18 July 2008 2009 7 July 2009 2010 25 July 2010 2011 15 July 2011
What is Guru Purnima?
The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa. Every Hindu, as every sincere seeker in the world, is indebted to this ancient seer who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.
Significance of Guru Purnima
On this day, every spiritual aspirant and devotee worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and every disciple performs a Puja to his respective spiritual preceptor, or Gurudeva, with sacred songs, hymns, meditation and joyful events.
Every spiritual seeker and devotee worship his Gurudeva and, praying to him as God's direct representative on earth, soulfully offers him his devotion in the form of flowers, fruits, and other offerings.
Performing this puja in the evening is considered more appropriate. However one can do it in the morning as well. On the day of the puja, the devotee is supposed to fast. After bathing the person can begin the puja.
This day is also of deep significance to the farmers, for it heralds the setting in of the rains. Traditionally it is said to be a good time to begin your spiritual lessons, and spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual sadhana from this day.
The period Chaturmas ("four months") begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.
How to Observe Guru Purnima
Let us see for example how Guru Purnima is celebrated every year at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh.
- All aspirants awake at Brahmamuhurta, at 4 o'clock. They meditate on the Guru and chant his prayers.
- Later in the day, the sacred worship of the Guru's Feet is performed. Of this worship it is said in the Guru Gita:
Dhyana mulam guror murti;
Puja mulam guroh padam;
Mantra mulam guror vakyam;
Moksha mulam guroh kripa.
The Guru's form should be meditated upon;
The feet of the Guru should be worshipped;
His words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra;
His Grace ensures final liberation.
- Sadhus and Sannyasins are then worshipped and fed at noon.
- There is continuous Satsang during which discourses are held on the glory of devotion to the Guru in particular, and on spiritual topics in general.
- Deserving aspirants are initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyas, as this is a highly auspicious occasion.
- Devout disciples fast and spend the whole day in prayer. They also take fresh resolves for spiritual progress.
Advice from a Guru
Swami Sivananda recommends:
Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realisation. Do vigorous Japa and meditate in the early morning hours.
After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor. Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day. In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.
Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru.
At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru. The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message.
 Dates as listed on www.hinduism.co.za