In Hinduism, Ashadh sud poonam (the full-moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashadh) is observed as the auspicious day of Gurupoornima. On this day, all Hindus worship and honor their Gurus. Gurupoornima is one of the three main annual festivals in the Swaminarayan Sampraday. His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples all take this day to gather and pay respect to our Gurus, Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.

Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa explains the precise meaning of the Sanskrit word “guru.” Gu means “andhkaar,” which is “darkness.” Ru means “prakaash,” which is “light.” Thus, one who enlightens the ignorant or shines light to those in darkness is called a Guru. Swamibapa says further, “Guru veena gnaan nahi,” which translates to, “Without a Guru, knowledge cannot be attained.” Without a Guru, knowledge about religion and the real meaning of life cannot be achieved.  Only Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa can enlighten our souls with true religious knowledge, and by doing so, we can achieve the greatest happiness and endless peace of the supreme Lord. Therefore, He is our true Guru, and it is important to honor Him on this auspicious day.

This year, Gurupoornima fell on Sunday, July 25th, 2010. A celebration was held at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey in the presence of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree and sants, and hundreds of disciples from all over the world had gathered. The celebration commenced with a small procession led by Swamibapa Pipe Band from the temple prayer hall to Swamibapa Hall. Acharya Swamishree and sants carried Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, who was seated on a golden palanquin, through the procession. Disciples followed them with abundant offerings for the Lord. Upon arriving in Swamibapa Hall, Acharya Swamishree and sants performed the Gurupoojan ceremony to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and gave Him the offerings brought in by disciples. Acharya Swamishree offered celebration cake to Shree Harikrushna Maharaj and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, and He and the event sponsors then performed panchamrut snaan to Shree Harikrushna Maharaj. Everyone was then seated, and they listened to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa’s divine ashirwad about Gurupoornima and our Gurudev Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Acharya Swamishree then showered His divine ashirwad upon the congregation.

His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree explained that we should be extremely appreciative of and thankful for such a supreme Guru, Lord Shree Swaminarayan, even more so than our parents, because a true Guru will grant you eternal salvation. Gurupoonam is a day to show our Guru how much He is truly appreciated. A true Guru is the one who has no ego, one who is not stubborn, and one who is patient. By a true Guru’s presence, one achieves peace at heart. We have attained Lord Shree Swaminarayan as our true Guru by His divine grace, not by meditation or any other means. We should bestow all of our mind, body, soul, and wealth at the feet of such a Guru. Such a guru will give you guidance to spend all your energy to please the Lord, and He will give you His idol (murti). Oftentimes, we are so careful in purchasing materialistic items that we go to the extremes of comparing prices, brands, shops, etc. We should be just as careful, if not, more careful, to please our Gurus Lord Shree Swaminarayan and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.

Following Acharya Swamishree’s divine blessings, sants and disciples gave speeches about Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, and Acharya Swamishree in honor of the occasion. All disciples were then given the opportunity to perform the Gurupoojan ceremony. To conclude the celebration, everyone performed aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and then had maha prasad.