Teachers play a key role in shaping the future of their students. From Kindergarten to universities, they contribute in not only shaping our career but also make us a better individual. September 5 is celebrated across India as teacher’s day as we honour the memories of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born on September 5, 1888 at Tirutani, Madras Presidency of the then British India. However, paying obeisance to Guru is not new to India. Under Gurus-Shishya tradition, knowledge was passed on from one generation to another by a set of highly devout members of the society, who were either saints or academic scholars. Here we have enlisted seven venerated Gurus from Indian Mythology:
Guru Dronacharya is the most popular teacher of Indian mythology. He was a sage with a mastery of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons or Astras. He was appointed as the royal preceptor (coach) to the Kauravas and Pandavas after he took a golden ball out of a well via archery. Of all the students, Arjuna was his dearest as Dronacharya considered him to be the most dedicated, hard-working and naturally talented of all students. However, Dronacharya showed that even teachers can have faults. Drona considered Arjuna as the greatest archer but he came to know that there was a tribal named Eklavya who could prove to be a threat to Arjuna’s superiority. Blinded by Arjuna’s love, Guru Drona demanded Ekalavya his thumb (a body part essential to archery) as his Guru Dakshina. Ekalavya unhesitatingly cut off his thumb and handed it to his Guru.
Lord Parshuram is known in Indian mythology as the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu and the destroyer of Kshatriyas. He only gave training of warfare to Brahmanas. He is said to have cursed Karna, the great warrior and eldest son of Kunti after he found out that Karna was not a Brahmin and he had the capacity to endure immense pain like Khatriyas. One afternoon, Parashurama was very tired and he dozed off with his head rested in Karna’s lap. At that time a bee came and sat on Karna’s thigh. Within a few minutes, it began to bore into Karna’s thigh. But Karna desisted from swapping it off, fearing that the action would disturb his Guru’s sleep. Soon blood began to ooze out from his thigh and trickled onto Parsuram’s cheek, waking him up. Surprised over Karna’s capacity to endure pain, Parshuram suspected Karna of being Kshatriya. “Tell me the truth, who are you? Have you not hidden something from me?” he said. “Are you a Brahmin boy? Tell me, tell me the truth.” he asked. Karna said that he was neither Brahmin nor Kshatriya but a charioteer’s son. This invited fury from the sage who cursed him to forget all he had learned when he needed it most.
Vishwamitra was the Guru of Lord Rama and his brother Lakshaman. Sage Vishwamitra taught them the Devastras — the knowledge and use of divine weapons in war. He is also said to be responsible for the marriage of Sita with Rama. The great sage is believed to have tested the King Harishchandra’s veracity. He also saved Shunahshepha who was to be sacrificed. He is also said to be the creator of the Gayathri Mantra, a shloka which, when recited, enlightens your inner self and rescues you from ignorance. He was originally the Chandravanshi King of Kanyakubja. He was a valiant warrior and the great-grandson of king Kusha.
4) Ved Vyas:
Rishi Ved Vyas is said to have gifted humanity a gigantic and everlasting storehouse of realism, spiritual knowledge, and philosophy in the form of the great epic Mahabharata, in which he also is an important character. Said to be the 18th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, he was born to Satyavati and sage Prashar. Ved Vyasa was also the biological father of Pandu and Dhritarashtra. He had impregnated their mothers Ambika and Ambalika through Niyoga (ancient Hindu ritual of impregnating). Ved Vyas is also said to have documented all Vedic knowledge in the form of Puranas, Upanishads and ‘Mahabharata’.
Sage Vasishtha is one of the Saptarishis (seven great sages) of Hindu mythology. He is also famous for his legendary conflicts with sage Vishwamitra. In Rigvedic hymn 7.33.9, Vasishtha is described as a scholar who moved across the Indus river to establish his school. Numerous treatises composed in ancient and medieval era attributed to Vasishtha make him one of the most revered sages of all. Vasishtha Samhita, Vasishtha Dharmasutra, Yoga Vasishtha, Agni Purana, Vishnu Purana are believed to be authored by Vashishtha.
Sage Valmiki has a very prominent place in Indian mythology as he is said to be the author of great Indian epic Ramayana. Besides, he was also the teacher of Lord Ram’s sons Lav and Kush. The legend goes that he taught Ram’s sons the Ramayana, which was once narrated to him by the Sage Narad Muni. Ramayana is one of the few epics in history that is written in verse. Hence, it is also known as the Adikavya (first poem) and the author/poet Valmiki is known as Adikavi (the first poet).
Rishi Shukracharya was the worshipper of Lord Shiva and Guru of Daanavas (demigods with both good and bad qualities). He was the son of Rishi Bhrigu (one of Saptarshi’s sons) and an expert in Yog Vidya. Asuras are said to have attacked Lord Indra (Devas) time and again under the tutelage of Guru Shukracharya. In Hindu mythology, it is said that he possessed the knowledge of the “Mrut Sanjeevani”. Though he was the guru of Asuras, he taught the Sage Brihaspati’s son Kacha this Mritsanjeevani Vidya, which invited the anger of Asuras. Whenever they killed Kacha, Shukrachaarya resurrected him every time using his Mritsanjeevani Vidya. Finally, the asuras one day killed Kacha, burnt him, and mixed his ashes in wine and through deceit made Shukracharya drink the same. Shukracharya taught the last lesson of this Vidya to Kacha when he remained in his stomach, and finally, Kacha tore his stomach (Guru Shukrachaaryas stomach) and came out using the knowledge of the same Vidya. The guru also decreed an injunction, “From today I put the demarcation line for all the Brahmins. The Mandabuddhi Brahmin, who even by mistake ever drinks ‘Madira (Alcohol)’, his whole Dharma would be destroyed.”
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