Today is a day in which we celebreate "Guru Parampara", which is the honoring of the lineage of teachers that stood out in the preserving of the message of yoga, those who have led us. So what better way to look at the meaning of the word "Guru" and to chant a bit and remember those who helped us along the path. Here are four meanings of "Guru"
1.- In Sanskrit it means teacher. The roots come from "invoke' ["gur"] to "raise or lift up"
2.- As a noun it means the "imprartner of knowledge"
3.- Richard Freeman tells us (In "The Mirror of Yoga") that (as an adjective) it means "heavy". The guru is spiritually heavy with knowledge and experience and the students are light and seeking grounding.
4.- In the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad we find the chant you've probably heard in which we ask to be taken from darnkess to light. That is another suggestion of the term guru, she that takes us from ignorance to understanding or from darkness to light:
Om, asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma yjotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya
om shanti shanti shanti
Om, Lead us from Unreality to Reality
lead us from Darkness to the Light
Leas us from Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortaility
Om, Peace Peace Peace
I wanted to find a traditional vedic chant in YouTube but no such luck, however this rendition by Ravi Shankar, produced by George Harrison (yes from The Beattles) is pretty good:
Gratitude to the lineage of Sri Krishnamacharya, via Sri K Pattabhi Jois and Ramaswami and the Kuyvalyadhama insitute of India for their research in pranayama, and the Vipassana meditation for their free retreats on meditation around the world!
May we all be the light