Friday, July 9, 2010


Guru is one of the thousand 'naamams' in the Vishnu Sahasra-Naamam.
Verse 23 says this:
गुरुर्गुरुतामो धाम सत्य सत्यपराक्रम I
निमिषो निमिष स्रग्वी वाचस्पतिरुधाराधीः II
"gurur gurutamo dhaama satya satya-paraakrama
nimisho nimisha sragvi vachas-patir udaaradheehi"

Guru or Mahaa Vishnu is worthy of our worship.

Guru Vandana is an aacharam derived from Sanatana Dharma.
"aachara prabhavo dharma, dharmasya prabhu achyuta".

Guru Vandana is not flattery of our cane-wielding, stern, grim, be-spectacled primary school teacher, as this writer had believed when he was very very young and, needless to add, very very foolish!

"gurur Brahma gurur Vishnu gurur devo Maheshwara,
guruh sakshat para-brahma, tamsai shree guruvae namaha"

Guru Vandana is to honour the entire 'guru parampara' of maata, our mother, pita, our father, guru who taught us in schools colleges and in our professions, the guru parampara, the gurus whom we have seen and from whom we have learnt, and even the gurus of earlier generations who are unknown to us but who are nevertheless integral to the sacred guru-parampara, all the way to 'parama-daivam' or Mahaa Vishnu.

We honour
 maata or janani the mother who is of course our first guru
 jagat-maata, Parvati Devi
We honour
 Pitaa or the father is the second guru.
 Jagat-pita, Mahaa-Dev.

Honour is due to our teachers in schools and colleges and to our trainers in our profession or vocation. They are the gurus whom we have seen .

Then there are the gurus whom we have not seen but of whom we have heard and from whom we have learnt through their actions and teachings.
We honour our kula guru of our respective communities.
In the Ayurveda medical profession, we know of the gurus Charaka and Shushruta whose guru parampara derives from Guru Dhanvantari whose guru is Mahaa Vishnu.
In the Siddha medical system, the guru parampara begins with Agastya Muni whose guru is Mahaa-Dev.
There are two schools of ancient architects and builders, one begins with Vishwakarma, the architect of Devas, whose guru is Mahaa Vishnu and the other begins with Mayaa, the engineer-in-chief of the Asuras, whose guru is Mahaa-Dev.

We honour
 Deva-guru Brihaspati,
 Asura-guru Shukra-acharya,
 Kapila-acharya who propounded Sankhya philosophy,
 Shankara-acharya who expounded the Advaita Vedanta,
 Madhva-acharya who expounded the Dvaita Vedanta,
 Ramanuja-acharya who expounded the Vishistadvaita Vedanta and
 Bhagavaan Sri Krishna, Mahaa Vishnu's poorna-avataram
  who gave us Sreemad Bhagavad Gita to guide us in the right living,
 Guru Sandeepani, the guru of Bhagavaan Sri Krishna
 Bhagawan Parashurama, the guru of Guru Sandeepani
 Maharshi Veda Vyaasa, who taught us about
life, deeds and teachings of Bhagavaan Sri Krishna
  and who compiled the MahaaBhaarata, Vedas, Upanishads etc.
 Bhagavaan Sri Raam, the maryaada purushottam,
  who through his life example taught us how to live righteously,
 Brahma-Rishi Vashishta, the kula guru of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,
 Brahma-Rishi Vishwamitra, another guru of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,
 Maharshi Valmiki who taught us Raamaayanam,
  the story of Bhagavaan Sri Raam,

 The Sapta Rishis,
  Atri, Angiras, Agastya, Gautama, Bhrigu, Kashyapa and Vashishta, the gurus of Maharshi Valmiki.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of gurus of whom we have not heard, but who are nevertheless worthy of our obeisance and ultimately we honour the guru of all gurus, the quintessence of all the qualities of a guru and repository of all wisdom "gurutamao dhaama" Lakshmi-Pati, Mahaa Vishnu.

In the military the chain of command is the guru parampara and it is to be obeyed without question. In the civilian life the office hierarchy is the guru parampara and it is to be honoured and obeyed. At home the elders constitute the guru parampara who are to be respected and obeyed. Just as we honour and obey the gurus, they in turn treat us with affection and compassion and bestow upon us the blessings of their knowledge and wisdom.

In educational institutions the day starts with the chanting of Guru Vandana is followed by Vinayaka Stuti and Saraswati Vandana to invoke the blessings of the Lord Ganapathi, the Remover of Obstacles, and of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. We recite Guru Vandana to seek benedictions, to think the right thoughts, to say the right words, to do the right deeds, so that we may perform our 'swadharma' and acquire fame and various types of fortunes in this world and in the next. Sanatana Dharma requires that we perform Guru Vandana at the start every day that we may be rightly guided in our tasks which we aim to accomplish to perfection.

It is sad to note that most caste-based organizations do not start their meetings with Guru Vandana followed by Vinayaka Stuti. This explains why they are loosing their spiritual moorings and ceasing to command the respect of their adherents.

with their meanings:

अखण्ड मण्डलाकारं व्याप्तंयेन चराचरं।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरुवे नमः॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise the state which pervades the entire cosmos, everything animate and inanimate.

अज्ञान तिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जन शलाकया।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has opened the eyes blinded by darkness of ignorance with the collyrium-stick of knowledge.

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः ।
गुरु साक्षात परंब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, the direct Parabrahma, the Supreme Reality.

स्थावरं जंगमं व्याप्तं यत्किंचित्स चराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise Him, by whom all that is - sentient and insentient, movable and immovable is pervaded.

चिन्मयं व्यापियत्सर्वं त्रैलोक्यं सचराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

Salutation to the noble Guru, who has made it possible to realise Him pervades everything, sentient and insentient, in all three worlds.

सर्वश्रुति शिरोरत्न विराजित पदाम्बुजः ।
वेदान्ताम्बुज सूर्योयः तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, whose lotus feet are radiant with (the luster of) the crest jewel of all Srutis and who is the sun that causes the Vendanta Lotus (knowledge) to blossom.

चैतन्यः शाश्वतःशान्तो व्योमातीतो निरंजनः ।
बिन्दुनाद कलातीतः तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru,who is the ever effulgent, eternal, peaceful,
beyond space, immaculate, and beyond the manifest and unmanifest.

ज्ञानशक्ति समारूढः तत्त्वमाला विभूषितः ।भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रदाता च तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to that noble Guru, who is established in the power of knowledge,adorned with the garland of various principles and is the bestower of prosperity and liberation.
अनेकजन्म संप्राप्त कर्मबन्ध विदाहिने ।
आत्मज्ञान प्रदानेन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who by bestowing the knowledge of the Self burns up the bondage created by accumulated actions of innumerable births.

शोषणं भवसिन्धोश्च ज्ञापणं सारसंपदः ।
गुरोः पादोदकं सम्यक् तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, by sitting at whose feet, the ocean of transmigration, endless sorrows is completely dried up and the Supreme wealth is revealed.

न गुरोरधिकं तत्त्वं न गुरोरधिकं तपः ।
तत्त्वज्ञानात्परं नास्ति तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, beyond whom there is no higher truth, there is no higher penance and there is nothing higher attainable than the true knowledge.

मन्नाथः श्रीजगन्नाथः माद् गुरु श्री जगत् गुरु ।
मदात्मा सर्वभूतात्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is my Lord and the Lord of the Universe, my Teacher and the Teacher of the Universe, who is the Self in me and the Self in all beings.

गुरुः आदि अनादि च गुरुः परम दैवतम् ।
गुरोः परतरं नास्ति तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
Salutation to the noble Guru, who is both the beginning and beginningless, who is the Supreme Deity than whom there is none superior.
त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव, त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणं त्वमेव, त्वमेव सर्वं मम देव देव ॥

(Oh Guru!) You are my mother and father; you are my brother and companion; you alone are knowledge and wealth. O Lord, you are everything to me.

For the verses and meanings of Guru Vandana I have relied for most part on .

Monday, February 1, 2010


Samskrita Bharati is a non-Government, non-profit organisation working to revive and popularise the use of Sanskrit or Samskritam, the Language of our National Ethos in daily communication. Samskrita Bharati is committed to the exposition of the richness and beauty of Samskritam and its relevance to the modern world. Propagated and popularised by the itinerant Rishi-Munis, Samskritam was a pan-Indian language in Vedic time. Due to an efflux of time it gave way to spoken dialects in various parts of Bharat. Samskrita Bharati is spearheading the ‘Spoken Samskritam’ movement in our country and abroad.The organisation teaches functional language for day-to-day conversation. Spearheaded by a team of selfless and dedicated volunteers, Samskrita Bharati conducts various programmes aimed at enabling people from all sections of society to discover the joy of speaking Samskritam, providing a glimpse into the scientific heritage and spiritual wisdom embodied in Samskrit literature and highlighting the need to preserve this ancient cultural and spiritual heritage of our land.

Pundit Chamu Krishna Sastry, a Sanskrit Scholar from Tirupati Sanskrit College along with his 5 friends after graduated in Sanskrit came up with a unique methodology of teaching spoken Sanskrit through ‘Speak Samskritam’ course with 10 day capsule classes of 2 hour duration. Within a short span of time this methodology became a trailblazer in the field of teaching Sanskritam. This Speak Samskritam Movement took off in 1981 from Bangalore city and the rapid spread of Spoken Samskritam classes all over the country paved the way to establish "Samskrita Bharati" - a national level organization in New Delhi in 1995. Lot of Simple Sanskrit books, tapes and CDs for learn practical conversations tools in Samskritam at various levels are developed systematically to allow new speakers to effectively use Samskritam for conversations in a span of mere ten days.


This is regarding a quaint, sleepy hamlet named Mathoor in Karnataka, situated a little over 4 kms away from the hustle-bustle of the district headquarters, Shimoga,. Samskritam is the vernacular of a majority of the 5,000 residents of Mathoor Village.

Mathoor was known as a center of learning for Sanskritam and Vedic studies from time immemorial. Mathoor’s Sanskrit-speaking habit got a further boost when Pejawar mutt Pontiff Vishvesha Theertha visited the place in 1982, and christened it 'the Sanskrit village’. Here, the study of the language begins from the Montessori level, where kids are taught rhymes and told stories in Sanskrit — even Chandamama comics are printed in Sanskrit. While Sanskrit is a compulsory subject in school, teachers and students even talk to each other in this language. At times, the whole village seems like a pathashala — with everybody, greeting each other with 'Hari Om’ (hello) and 'Katham asthi?’ (How are you?).

Sanskrit has been the language of India's soul. A well-known western scholar has described it as the Mother of all languages. Our ancient Indian sages called it the Language of the gods, "Devabhasha". While it is a Pracheena Bhaasha or ancient language, it is also the Saamskritaka Bhaasha, or the language of our culture. Nobody can truly understand and appreciate the spirit of Indian culture, if he does not know the Sanskrit language. Sri Aurobindo, while speaking of the importance of the Sanskrit language for India, says: “It is of the utmost value to a nation, a human group-soul to preserve its language and make it a strong and living cultural instrument. A nation, race or people that loses its language cannot live its whole life or real life.”

The versatile literary creations in the Sanskrit language have evoked a deep sense of awe and wonder among scholars of the world. All the profound spiritual wisdom of India embodied in our ancient scriptures like Vedas, Upanishadas,Bhagawat Gita, Puranas and Shastras are expressed in the Sanskrit language. No wonder great Indian sages like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda viewed Sanskrit language as the most perfect medium for expressing spiritual and philosophical ideas. But interestingly, even some of the modern scientists in the high-tech field of computers, have discovered that Sanskrit is the best language for the latest generation of Artificial Intelligence machine-systems.

Now let us hear from Jawaharlal Nehru. “The past has gone and the present is with us and we work for the future. But I have no doubt that whatever the shape the future may take, one of the biggest, the strongest, and the most powerful and the most valued of our legacies, will be the Sanskrit language.”

India’s contribution to various branches of knowledge and wisdom was denied in the past by the British as well as many Indian historians working under the British Raj and British influence. But why has this attitude not changed even after
? With the introduction of Macaulay system of education in 1835 the enslavement of the Indian mind began and it continues to be so even today --- even after 63 years of our partitioned independence.

”Secularists” take note. Jawaharlal Nehru who had the highest regards for Sanskrit language was not an adherent of the Sangh Parivar, which they greatly fear and hate. Macaulay’s offsprings, the “Convent-educated secular” Hindus who out of their deep-seated inferiority-complex try to deride anything to do with India’s hoary traditions, call Sanskrit a dead language. Let these slave-minded “secular” ignoramuses realise that the Jews, after Israel became independent, revived and popularized their ancient language Hebrew. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922) highly regarded as the “reviver of the Hebrew language” was the first to float the idea of reviving Hebrew. He published articles in newspapers on the topic and then initiated and participated in the project which came to be known as the Ben Yehuda Dictionary. He worked tirelessly to raise awareness about Hebrew revival while fighting against its opponents.

Dr Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), son of a Sri Lankan Tamil aristocrat and his English wife, was a scientist by training and outlook. He believed that we will never get the strength to build a great enduring nation by solely engaging in material pursuits. He emphatically stated thus: “The weakness of our national movement lay in the fact that WE DID NOT LOVE INDIA. We loved the suburban England of that time. We loved the bourgeois prosperity, which we hoped would be established when we had learned enough science and forgotten enough art to successfully compete with Europe in a commercial war conducted on its present lines. It is not thus that nations are made.”

In the India of 1910 we were under British Rule and culturally we were the slaves of England and the West. In the India of today though we may be politically free, yet we continue to be cultural slaves of the Christian West.The warning given by Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy in these days of globalisation is as relevant as it was in the days of British India and Western Imperialism

Modern Hebrew, now revived and revitalized by Jewish patriots, is now widely spoken in Israel. Chamu Krishna Shastry says: "Popularising Sanskrit is far easier. It is the mother of almost all Indian languages and up to 60 per cent of the words in the other languages come from Sanskrit."

Language revitalization is being carried for several languages abroad often without official support. But the Government of India came out with a notification in 2000 declaring Sravana Pournima day as “SAMSKRITA DINAM” throughout the country. RASHTRIYA SANSKRIT SANSTHAN is a (DEEMED UNIVERSITY) established under the Ministry of Human Resources Development administers the Scheme for the Development of Sanskrit Education.

In Tamil Nadu, the Samskrita Bharati, has been working for the cause of propagation of Samskritam for more than two decades. Its activists state with pride that the local people’s response to their efforts has been very positive and encouraging despite the fact that native Tamil language had originated independent of Samskritam.

The credo of Samskrita Bharati could be summed up as follows:

To understand the greatness of our National Samskriti, revival of Samskritam is imperative.
For all Bharatheeyas it is easy to speak in Samskrit as most their mother tongues are derived from Samskritam.
Samskritam is not the exclusive preserve of any community and all Bharateeyas could learn to speak Samskritam fluently.
Samskritam should be a vibrant and widely spoken language.
Samskrita Bhasha is best suited to unite our country.

Dr. R. Ramachandran is the Secretary of Samskrita Bharati Tamilnadu.