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1:57 PM Posted by Vijayasri

What is gurudakshina ?

The concept of gurudakshina is very ancient and it is unique to the Indian culture and tradition.
In India, the Guru (teacher)’s place is very high. Gurudakshana is dakshanai for Gurus.

Guru is Brahma - the creator, Guru is Vishnu - the operator and Guru is Shiva - the destroyer. The Guru is the Supreme Lord we salute Him. Sant Kabirdas placed Guru’s place above the God, because, it is the Guru who gives knowledge about the god.

Main aims of the education are construction of character, intellectual feeling, development of personality, self-purification, relaxation and emphasis on inter disciplinary studies. Education is standard measurement for the culture of a society.

In ancient period, the great sages used to be the Gurus, who lived in their ‘Ashram’ or hermitages, called ‘Gurukula’ located in beautiful forests or mountains, away from the social life and its luxuries. These Gurus were master in every aspect of life and had complete knowledge of all the branches of education.

The Indian tradition of guru dakshina was meant to serve as a way of showing respect and thanks to the guru. The repayment was not always monetary. At times, a teacher used to simply ask his student to execute an important task. However, the gurus often received a valuable gift or donations from the pupil and his family as his gurudakshina.

The tale of Eklavya is very popular. Drona was in charge of educating the Pandava and Kaurava princes in the use of weapons. Arjuna the Pandava was his favourite and it was his ambition to make Arjuna the best archer in the world. One day a tribal lad approached Drona for lessons in archery. Drona turned him down stating that only the warrior caste could be instructed in this discipline. Some months later the princes went hunting. Their dogs scented some prey and barking loudly they gave chase into the forest. Eklavya lived there. When he saw the dogs approaching he let loose a flurry of arrows and with each arrow pierced a dog’s mouth to prevent him from barking. The princes and Drona were watched this feat with amazement. Drona went up to Eklavya and asked how he had managed to become an expert in archery. Eklavya replied that he considered Drona his teacher. He had erected a mud statue of Drona and had practiced in front of the statue. Drona realized that Eklavya was a better archer than Arjuna. He told Eklavya that since he was the teacher Eklavya owed him ‘gurudakshina’. Eklavya agreed. As his gurudakshina Drona asked for Eklavya’s right thumb. In front of the princes and without hesitating for a second Eklavya cut of his right thumb and gave it to Drona. Without his right thumb Eklavya would not be able to grasp the bowstring and hence would not be a competitor to Arjuna.

In Indian tradition, place of Gurus is always looked upon and respected as equal to God, Parents and great scholars because they impart knowledge and wisdom to the disciples.

Though the life style of Indians has changed majorly down the years, yet the reverence and respect we pay to our teachers is still as it was a hundred years back.


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