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Guru mantra: Know the meaning and revere true teachers this Guru Purnima
Often guru mantra "Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, / Guru Sakshat param Brahma, tasmai shri guravay namah" is recited on Guru Purnima to begin the festival which falls on July 9 this year. Both in India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated in educational institutions, ashrams, gurukulas and temples.

When translated in English and presented in Japanese language art form of haiku, it would mean somewhat as follows: Guru's creative force, / saviour, transforming vigour. / I revere Guru.

When transformed to an attributive phrasal acrostic, the letters of the word GURU would stand for the following characteristics. G: God of creation; U: Ultimate cause of nurturance of innate human potentials; R: Reckoning force of transformation; U: Utterly deserving being for worship for removing ignorance.

In Sanskrit, Guru word is made two root words – Gu and Ru – in which Gu means darkness, and Ru means remover. Thus, guru stands for the teacher who is the remover of darkness.

A true guru dispels darkness of ignorance (avidya) and falsehood to reveal the light of existential truth (atamgyan). Such a guru leads his disciples towards self-realisation.

According to spiritual commentator Sharon Gannon, the most potent prayer is the last line of the mantra in which we ask to have the good sense to be humble enough not to miss our chance to recognise the guru when they do appear.

"Only if we can let go of our self-cherishing, our pride, our need to be recognised and our yearning to be given credit for the things we do, can we ever hope to encounter the guru, that which brings enlightenment to our soul," he elaborates.

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