A prayer on Guru Purnima

By Sadhana cofounder Sunita Viswanath

It is daybreak on Guru Purnima. I am humbled by the beauty of this hour, a beauty that persists in spite of the severe drought that this place, Taos, NM, is experiencing.

Guru Purnima is a special day for Hindus, and also Buddhists and Jains. Purnima means full moon day, and Guru Purnima is the full moon day dedicated to our teachers. It’s a day to reflect on what we have learned, and how we will apply our knowledge in our lives.

On this Guru Purnima, I honor these magnificent mountains.

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Samudra vasane devi, parvatha sthana mandite — Oh Mother Goddess, the oceans are your robes and the mountains your jewels.

And I honor the teachers in my life:

  • My respected parents Saraswathi and Viswanath, who gave me life and taught me how to live it -- fully, with all my heart.
  • My Amma – Kameswari, my aunt who raised me – who taught me the most important lessons, that I am no less powerful because I am a woman, and that I can and must prevail in spite of great adversities.
  • My husband Stephan, who teaches me daily what a loving, selfless and egalitarian partnership looks like.
  • My children Gautama, Akash and Satya, who teach me how to stay alert and open-minded, always questioning, never following blindly.
  • My teacher and friend Dr. Ruth Vanita, who reads Hindu texts with me, gently guiding me towards my own spiritual core; and who also patiently debates with me so that I am on firmer ground in my positions and beliefs.
  • Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, who through his life and through his scholarship, reveals to me the loving and fearless heart of Hinduism.

Ramakrishna Parahamsa, 19th century Hindu mystic and Guru of Swami Vivekananda, once said, “When one’s mind becomes pure, then that mind itself becomes the guru.”

Just as the Divine is within us all, the Guru is within us. Perhaps our most profound teacher is our own discerning mind.

My Guru Purnima prayer is for rain in Taos, NM, and an end to religious violence the world over.

My Guru Purnima pledge is to apply all I have learned from my Gurus, and from my own discerning mind, and devote myself anew to my work to build a Hindu movement that stands against Hindutva (Hindu supremacy), and stands for love, nonviolence and the oneness of us all.