Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu

Hindu religious texts are characterized by the presence of many melodious and intensely meaningful chants, verses (‘shlokas’) and prayers (‘prarthanas’). One of the most well-known among them (which is regularly recited in households and temples alike), is the ‘Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu’ shloka. Apart from highlighting the all-powerful nature of the sole divine Lord, this verse also emphasizes on the various roles that He assumes, in order to preserve the balance of the world.

Through the very first words of the verse (‘Gurur-Brahma’), the Lord is referred to as the creator of the Universe, and all its elements. However, the significance of the Supreme Being does not end with simply creating the world, as we know it. As ‘Vishnu’, He is the one in charge of sustaining the universe, and looking after the well-being of all its inhabitants (‘Gurur-Vishnu’). Finally, the divine ‘Guru’ is also responsible for the destruction of the resources on Earth, whenever he deems such action to be suitable (‘Gurur-Devo Maheshwarah’).

The ‘shloka’ also reiterates the basic Hindu belief that the divine ‘Guru’ transcends the barriers of space, time, and the creation and destruction of the world. He was, is, and will always remain, whatever might be the state of the universe. This power of the Lord is referred to as ‘para brahma’ in the verse. The acknowledgement of the very existence of an Almighty Lord is acknowledged through the phrase ‘Guru Sakshat’. According to Hindu literature, the presence of the Lord is a given, and it is up to the devotees to move spiritually closer to Him through unwavering devotion and prayers.

The ‘Guru’ is the best guide that one can ever hope to have, for smoothly moving through the journey of life. As such (and as is the custom in Hindu religious verses), this ‘shloka’ ends with a few words of appreciation and reverential gratitude from the devotees (‘tasmai Shri Gurave Namah’). One is, indeed, humbled, by the enormous powers, the commanding presence, and the generous piety that the Lord possesses, for one and all.

Regularly chanting this ‘shloka’ would definitely give you an idea of the nature and significance of the ‘Guru’s role in shaping the world. It is not for nothing that this verse is regarded as one of the most powerful ‘mantras’ in Hinduism.

‘Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu…’