New York Interview 1990



Video of Shivabalayogi being interviewed in New York, 1990
the meanings of Guru Purnima and Mahashivaratri


Shivabalayogi was interviewed by Jack Lenchner in New York, 1990. The interpreter is D. Jagadish Kumar.


The Meanings of Guru Purnima and Mahashivaratri

Shivabalayogi is interviewed in this 1990 New York video excerpt.  He demystifies the origins of Guru Purnima, the annual full moon day that is the occasion for celebrating the guru, and Mahashivaratri, the annual great night of Shiva, which falls on a moonless night.

Guru Purnima ("guru full moon’) celebrates the full moon day on which Sage Vyasa, a model for all gurus, was born.

The moonless day of Mahashivaratri was when God Shiva drank the poison that threatened creation. Swamiji explains that that poison was not unlike the threat of nuclear weapons that we have created today.

5:21 minutes




The following is a transcript of this portion of that 1990 interview:

Q         This July was Guru Purnima day.

SBY    [no translation] “Yes, yes.”

Q         Every July.

SBY    [no translation]  For that day, the Guru Purnima day, we were at Columbus in the State of Indiana.   That’s near Indianapolis.   We were there and we celebrated it there.   On that day he [Swamiji] consecrated a statue of Nataraja in Columbus.

Q          Columbus, Ohio?

DJK      Indiana.

Q          Indiana.   Columbus.   Christopher Columbus.   Columbus, Indiana.

            On the Guru Purnima day we opened another Sai Baba center in New Jersey.   I am thinking about the guru, the day of the full moon.   Guru Purnima day . . .   [Purnima means full moon.]

SBY     [interrupts]

Q          . . . full moon and Shivaratri, no moon.   Would Swamiji comment on the full moon on Guru Purnima day and maybe the no moon on Shivaratri?

SBY     [no translation] “Mahashivaratri.”

Q          Mahashivaratri.

SBY     He says the Shivaratri, it was the day on which Shankara Bhagavan, Shiva, he drank the poison.   And the Guru Purnima is the day on which the Sage Vyasa was born.   So we are remembering those events, and in remembrance of those events we perform these functions.

            So on that day which is called Guru Purnima, all the disciples and devotees, they worship their own gurus.

            “You understand?”

Q          Yes.

SBY     “Yes.”

Q          And the full moon, the significance of the full moon for one and no moon for the other?

SBY     He says that on the day that Lord Shiva has drank the poison, that’s called the Mahashivaratri.   The real meaning of that is, just like we are doing now, we have made lots of atomic weapons and nuclear weapons, in the ancient times also the people had made such bombs, such weapons.   And they left the weapons and they ran away from them because of the danger that they caused, that they put out.   So when the people ran away from that.  Lord Shiva had to come down and drink the poison and save us from that.  So he did that on a day when there was no moon, on a new moon day.   That’s why we celebrate it now.

            And then, coming to Guru Purnima, Sage Vyasa was born of a full moon day.   So that’s why it is called the Guru Purnima.   In the same way we also have the Buddha Purnima.   That is Budhha, he was born . . .

[Swamiji interrupts Jagadish]

            He is talking about the Buddha Purnima.   The Buddha himself was born on a full moon day.   That’s why we call it the Buddha Purnima.

[Swamiji interrupts Jagadish]

            He says the devotees of these gurus, whenever these gurus were born, that day of the year, they perform that function for their guru.

            On the 25th of December, Christmas, Christ was born.   So the devotees of Christ, Christians, they celebrate the birthday of Christ every year.

            In the same way, people of other religions, they celebrate the function on the birthday of their guru.


Q         [paying attention to the clock and the camera] Uh hum.

A transcript of the complete interview is at the Archive Transcripts page.