The Guror Aṣṭakam, or “Eight Stanzas on the Guru,” are verses in the Sanskrit language attributed to Adi Shankaracharya (CE 788–820), one of India’s most well-known philosophers and poet-saints. Tradition holds that he traveled throughout India on foot expounding the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta (nondualism), which teaches that the individual soul (atman) and the Supreme (Brahman) are one.
In the verses of the Guror Aṣṭakam, Shankaracharya points out that neither beauty, nor wealth, nor fame, neither scriptural learning, nor virtuous actions, nor even yogic attainments are of any consequence if one’s mind is not steeped in devotion to the Guru. As the poem’s melodious refrain intones, “If one’s mind is not attached to the lotus feet of the Guru, what then? What then? What then? What then?”
The lotus feet of the Guru are a mystical source of grace and illumination and symbolize the state of oneness with the Absolute in which the Guru is established. By keeping our mind focused on the Guru and on the Guru’s teachings, we open ourselves to receive the Guru’s grace. In this way, we can discover and become immersed in the fullness of that state of oneness within our own being. On the occasion of Gurupurnima, reciting and reflecting on the Guror Aṣṭakam are excellent ways to honor Shri Guru, who dwells within us as our very own Self.