The Gurupoornima for this year is on 12 July. Gurupoornima is an occasion to remind ourselves that we are doing the work of Isvara – ‘Isvaraprityartham’.
The Jayanti of Maharishi Veda Vyasa is celebrated since time immemorial in our country as Gurupoornima. His whole life was to organize the Vedas and our Vedic heritage in such a way that its continuity and purposefulness is maintained. The message of Oneness given by Vedas is essential for the well-being of the world which is getting disintegrated because of excessive materialism and individualism. The humanity in its evolution needs this Vedic Vision of Oneness. It is the work of Ishvara. But to be able to do that we Indians need to shake off our confused understanding of Dharma which is limited at present only to religious practices; we also need to shake off whatever lethargy, jealousy and selfishness that has entered due to the invasions and the colonial rule.
For that, during those testing times of invasions and more since the time of Swami Vivekananda, various organized efforts are being taken up. Vivekananda Kendra is also one such effort. While explaining Swami Vivekananda’s message, Mananeeya Eknathji used to tell that, “Intense practice of Dharma means experiencing the presence of God in one’s own self and in the world. That makes one conscious of the divine within and urges him to work for its unfoldment and enables him to grow spiritually. Simultaneously, it generates in him a sense of oneness with God’s creation and, consequently, an intense fellow-feeling for the members of his own species – the human race – and prompts him to work with zest for human welfare and progress… If, and as long as, the spiritual awakening intensifies on these lines, it is dynamic and full of tremendous potentialities for the transformation of humanity into higher and higher planes of existence. But, if it remains limited to rituals, forms of worship and offerings to God, or prayers and praises addressed to Him, it becomes static and has hardly any role to play in human advancement.” Being aware of the need of the society, Eknathji envisaged a thought movement which would take into account the natural god-wardness of our people and channelize it for practicing Dharma which helps one manifest one’s divinity and also propels him to work for the society.
For Eknathji, the Memorial for Swami Vivekananda was not limited to the one at the Rock but he wanted a vibrant memorial to Swami Vivekananda ‘in an organized efforts’ so that India becomes capable in delivering her mission. Therefore Eknathji founded Vivekananda Kendra, a spiritually oriented service mission. Explaining about the need of such organization Eknathji said, “The remedy for the ills of our country, therefore, lies in launching a mighty movement of right thought sweeping the entire country. It has to be a two-pronged move. On the one hand, it is to be aimed at (1) transforming our people’s inherent God-wardness into the right spiritual urge rising out of the teachings of the Upanishads, namely, (a) each soul is potentially divine and (b) faith in God, in turn means faith in one’s self, i.e. in one’s potentiality to rise to divine heights. On the other hand, it is (2) to convert the spiritual fervour thus released into works of national reconstruction.
To continue in such spiritually oriented work, a timeless source of inspiration and guidance is required. A source which represents all that India has stood for; a source to which Karyakarta has to surrender and also can draw succor for oneself; a source which can motivate a karyakarta coming from any region and tradition of India; a source which would link Karyakartas to the hoary past of our ancient land and yet has the potentiality to embrace the whole world. Obviously a personality howsoever great could not be chosen for the same. In this Ishwariya Karya – God’s work -who should be our guide other than Ishwara? Our Kendra prayer also focuses on Tavaivakaryartham Iha Upajatah – we are born to do Your work only. Our guide in doing this work of God is none other than God. How is God understood? How will He speak to us? Tasya Vachakah Pranavah says Patanjali. The God speaks to us through Omkar. Omkar is verily the expression of God. Thus Omkar Upasana is necessary for those who work for the well-being of the whole universe. Therefore, in Vivekananda Kendra, Omkar is our Guru.
Omkar encompasses all the names and forms of God. When we say God is our guide what do we mean? God is not going to tell us directly to do this or do that. The whole universe has come out of Omkar, thus God has manifested as this universe. Swami Vivekananda says, “When He is less manifested, it is called darkness, evil; and when He is more manifested, it is called light. That is all. Good and evil are only a question of degree: more manifested or less manifested. …The difference is only in degree. It is all a manifestation of that Atman; He is being manifested in everything; only, when the manifestation is (covered) very thickly we call it evil; and when it is (covered) very thinly, we call it good. It is the best, when all covering goes away. So everything that is in the universe is to be meditated upon in that sense alone, that we can see it as all good, because it is the best.”
Where there is thought for others, service of others, absence of selfishness, absence of jealousy; Ishwara is manifested more explicitly. Thus Ishwara is manifested in our Karya, our dayitva and also in the team of Karyakartas with whom we work. Thus when we worship our Guru, it means actually we are reiterating our resolve to be steadfast to our goal, to work in an organized way. Therefore Omkar as our Guru gives us the understanding that individual opinions are to be submitted for collective wisdom; the collective decisions are taken as the guidance of God; each Karyakarta becomes precious to all; organizational functioning is followed as sacred Sadhana.
Omkar means affirmation, creation, inclusive approach and self-effacement. Thus, every Karyakarta by Omkar Upasana strives to create by practicing self-effacement and is constructive and positive in his approach. Omkar Upasana has been followed in India since time immemorial and thus India has been inclusive in her approach. To maintain and nurture this all inclusive and all-embracing spiritual tradition of India many Rishis, saints, warriors have lived and died for her. Thus Omkar Upasana also means that all those personalities, incidents become the source of inspiration for us to keep the flame of this spiritual land alive and vibrant.
We are striving to expand our work on the eve of Mananeeya Eknathji Janma Shati Parva. Thus celebrating Gurupurnima becomes important as it enables us to inculcate the vision and values with which we should work. We can focus this year on the practice of self-effacement as we celebrate Gurupoornima in our branch centers so as to strengthen ourselves as a right instrument in the hands of God.