Impact of Sree Narayana Guru On Malayalam Literature

Impact of Sree Narayana Guru - On Malayalam Literature
a paper presented at POTTI SREERAMULU TELUGU UNIVERSITY, HYDERABAD ON 10th August 2009


Religious reformers have always influenced the society by their forceful advocacy of their own interpretations of sacred texts resulting in the transformation of society, weeding out undesirable practices and replacing them with more appropriate ones such that there is harmony and peace in the society, prerequisites for progress.  Social reformers too follow this same goal but not based on adherence to the religious discourses or practices, but their operational plane is more mundane.  Either group makes effective use of Language, the vehicle of their thoughts and missions. When these two roles combine in some rare prophetic personalities, their impact gets not limited only to the society around them; but on the whole mankind.   Sree Narayana Gurudev (1855-1928) from Kerala was one such seer-saint.  With his versifications, exhortations, writings and advices assiduously recorded for posterity by his ardent disciples, it was the Malayalam language which had the fortune to get eminently enriched in a very unique way.  The Guru’s impact and imprint was, again, not limited to his own contributions; he had encouraged, supported and guided a number of his close followers; some of whom became leading lights of the literary era in which they lived.  The purpose of this paper is, thus, to examine “The Influence of Sree Narayana Gurudev on Malayalam Literature”.

Before we proceed further, it would be desirable to have a peep into the brief outline of the Guru’s biography given at Annexure I

The Guru - Unmatched Poet…

Sree Narayana Guru was a scholar of the highest order, well-versed in all three languages viz. Malayalam, Sanskrit and Tamil. He was proficient in all the ancient sacred books in all these languages. No wonder therefore that his literary outputs reflected this aspect in abundant measure.  He wrote many hymns and prayers in honour of different deities. Sometimes he composed small poems for the benefit of children in very simple language. The typical example is the ‘Daiva Dasakam’.  There were smaller works which were in the nature of advices to general public. But despite the apparent simplicity, his works invariably contained the gems of Indian philosophical thoughts. His most significant work ‘Aatmopadesa sathakam’ is a classic example of the quintessence of Upanishadic wisdom in astonishingly simple language. The guru exhorts people to live in peace and harmony recognizing each other’s rights. There is a perfect balance between the temporal and the spiritual strands in his works. To cite a few examples:

‘Oruvanu nallatum anyan allalum cher- poru thozhil aatma virodhi yorthitenam….’ [25]

'ഒരുവനു നല്ലതു മന്യനല്ലലും ചേര്‍-പൊരു തൊഴിലാത്മവിരോധിയോര്‍ത്തിടേണം.'

‘Pala mata saaravum ekam ennu paara – tulakil oraanayil andharenna pole
Palavidha yukti paranju paamaranmaar- alavatu kant alayaat amarnitenam.’         [44]

'പലമതസാരവുമേകമെന്നുപാരാ- തുലകിലൊരാനയിലന്ധരെന്ന പോലെ
പലവിധ വിധയുക്തി പറഞ്ഞു പാമരന്‍മാര്‍- രലവടു കണ്ടലയാതമാര്‍ന്നിടേണം.'

Akhilarum aalmasukhathinay prayatnam  Sakalavum ingu sadaapi cheytitunnu
Jagam itil immatam ekam ennu chinti –chchagham anayaa takataar amartitenam’    [49]

അഖിലരുമാത്മസുഖത്തിനായ് പ്രയത്നം-സകലവുമിങ്ങു സദാപി ചെയ്തിടുന്നൂ
ജഗമിതിലിമ്മത മേകമെന്നുചിന്തി-ച്ചഘമണയാതകതാരമര്‍ന്നിടേണം.'

The exhaustive commentaries that this work generated from the elite scholars speak volumes of its richness.  He wrote in all three languages and wrote poems as well as essays, commentaries and advices on moral and ethical issues. He ranks amongst the very best poets in Malayalam language.

For most of his poetic works, he employed the verse pattern of simpler Sanskrit metres – almost like the ‘Manipravaala saili’ employed by Kunchan Nambiar in his ‘Sreekrishna Charitam’ a very popular ‘Kavya’ of the times.

As for his dexterity in the use of simple but effective style, the following stanza sings volumes aloud!-

‘Malarati rantilumittu poonchilanka   kkulakal koruthu kalichitunna neram
Kala kala yennu kilungium chilampi – nnoli chevi rantilu menu kelkkum ee njan ?’

'മലരടിരണ്ടുമിട്ടു പൂഞ്ചിലങ്ക-ക്കുലകള്‍ കൊരുത്തു കളിച്ചിടുന്നനേരം
കലകലയെന്നുകിലുങ്ങും ചിലമ്പി- ന്നൊലി ക്ഹെവിരണ്ടിലുമെന്നു കേള്‍ക്കു മീ ഞാന്‍?'

The repetitive usage of ‘l’ and ‘r’ sings in one’s ears just like a ‘ghunghuru’

The extent of non-violence to be practiced in life as advocated by the Guru is evident from the very first stanza of [Anukampaa dasakam ] 'അനുകമ്പാദശകം'.

He prays to the lord, who is the ‘dispenser of mercy’ – ‘Karunaakara’ ( notice the choice of  adjective;  not ‘the omniscient’ , ‘omnipotent’ ‘ omnipresent’ etc.) to fill him with mercy such that he does not cause any harm to any fellow-creatures, even to a tiny ant!  

“ Oru peeda erumpinum varu – ththaruth ennulla nukampayum sadaa
Karunaakara!  Nalku kullil nin    thirumey vitt akalaatha chintayum”

":ഒരു പീഡ യെറുമ്പിനും വരു-ത്തരുതെന്നുള്ള നുകമ്പയും സദാ
കരുണാകര! നല്‍കുകുളളില്‍ നിന്‍ തിരുമെയ് വിട്ടകലാതാചിന്തയും"

[Anukampaa dasakam -1 ]

When he extols the quality of mercy in general, he does not hesitate to embrace the similar concept in other religions. (For him, there is only one religion.)   He touches upon this special quality of divine mercy personified in Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha, Sri Shankara  Jesus and Mohammad Nabi, and states:

“ Paramarthamurachu ther vitum Porulo ? Bhootadaya kshamabdhiyo ?
Saralaadwaya bhashyakaaranaam guruvo?...

"പരമാര്‍ത്ഥമുരരച്ചു തേര്‍വിടും പൊരൂളൊ? ഭൂതദയാ ക്ഷമാബ്ധിയോ?
സരളാദ്വയ ഭാഷ്യകാരനാം ഗുരുവോ?......

Purusha akruti poonta Daivamo ?     nara divya akruti poonta dharmamo ?
Paramesa pavitra putrano ?   Karunaavaan ‘Nabi’ muthu ratnamo? ”
പുരുഷാകൃതിപൂണ്ടദൈവമോ? നരദിവ്യാകൃതിപൂണ്ട ധര്‍മ്മമോ?
പരമേശപവിത്രപുത്രനോ? കരുണാവാന്‍ നബി മുത്തുരത്നമോ?"

[Anukampaa dasakam 7 ]

In the religious and philosophical spheres, not to speak of the social and practical areas, he left lasting imprints.  A great many scholars wrote about him and his works; biographies abound; and there still is an outpouring of commentaries of his major works coming from distinguished pens.  It is estimated that there were over 1600 books of this genre. This shows the everlasting influence of the Guru’s works on the Malayalam language.

A list of the major works of Gurudev is given in ANNEX- II
‘Valsala Sishya’ – Favourite Disciple.  

The Guru had a very keen eye to spot and encourage talent amongst his many followers. One such occasion turned out to be of extreme significance to the Malayalam language.  It was in 1891.  He had arrived at Vakkom to install Deveswara idol in that temple. A prominent local citizen, ‘Narayanan’, invited the Guru to his home. Narayanan’s second son, ‘Kumaru’ was unwell and was at home. When the child approached the Guru to pay his obeisance, the latter asked him whether he was willing to accompany him.  The child expressed his willingness and the guru sought and obtained the consent of his parents.  This was the child, who, eventually, turned out to be a life-long associate, close confident and companion to the Guru and became one of the most acclaimed poets of the Malayalam Language –‘ Kumaaran Aasaan.’  'കുമാരനാശാന്‍.'

As noted above, Gurudev was himself  a scholar-par-excellence in all three languages: Malayalam, Sanskrit as well as Tamil. He had composed numerous verses of outstanding quality. All his close disciples were too, outstanding scholars. They wrote extensive commentaries on Guru’s works.  Collectively, their contributions enriched Malayalam language immeasurably.  However, among all his disciples and associates, one person outshone all others by virtue of his commitment, sense of devotion and service to the causes of guru besides his own superb qualities of head and heart.  It was this ‘Kumaru’, known to the world today as Mahakavi  ‘ Kumaaran Aasaan.’  'മഹാകവി കുമാരനാശാന്‍.'

Aasaan himself and his invaluable contributions to the Malalayam literature are perhaps the most important and direct results of the influence of Sree Narayana Guru on Malayalam Literature.

This paper proposes to examine the major literary poetical works of  Kumaaran Aasaan  and the extent to which Aasaan was able to spread the message of Sree Narayana Guru to humanity as a whole.  [ A list of Kumaaran Aasaan’s major poetic works appear as Annex - IV)

A brief outline of his life history appears at the end as Annex III.  However, the intimate association of the Guru and his ‘valsala sishya’- ‘favourite disciple’, deserve to be dealt in detail as it is of extreme relevance to our theme.

About ‘Kumaru’

The year 1891, we have seen, was the turning point in the life of Kumaru, for he had his first ‘darsan’ of the Guru in that year.  His was a rather large family; he had five brothers and two sisters and he was the second child of his parents.   Kumaru had, as was the practice of the times, learnt rudiments of Sanskrit and later mastered its vast, rich and complex treasure-house of literature. He passed his tests with flying colours at too young an age and hence could not get the post of a ‘teacher’. So, Kumaru functioned as a clerk and also as a small temple priest [‘pujari’] for some time. Eventually, he became a Sanskrit teacher and was thus known later as ‘Kumaran Aasaaan’. [‘Aasaan’ lierally means a teacher of lower primary or today’s KG level.]  

Malayalam Literary Scene -  Then:

Malayalam language was undergoing tremendous transformation in those times. Learning, especially Sanskrit, was confined to the upper caste and education was denied to the lower caste people. Kerala Varma Valia Koyithampuraan and his nephew A.R. Rajarajavarma thampuraan were the leading lights of the day. Both represented the pinnacles of two different schools; the former, mostly in favour of traditional style and the latter, for innovation and progressive approach. The former, who made yeomen service to Malayalam, translated the ‘Saakuntalam’ of Kalidasa from Sanskrit into Malayalam. For the first time, he also translated an English novel, ‘Akbar’ into Malayalam. ‘A.R’., as the nephew  is popularly known, firmly established the foundations of Malayalam grammar and its Aesthetics.  Those orthodox intellectuals who adorned the courts of the king, involved themselves in practicing versification mostly for entertainment and some indeed enriched the language by translating famous sanskrit plays into Malyalam. A number of them depicted and extolled amorous, erotic and lustful love in their verses. To cite, the ‘Venmani’ Group of poets. An exceptional and outstanding poet of this era was ‘Kodungalloor Kunjikuttan Thampuraan’ who single-handedly translated the entire Mahabharata of Sage Vyasa, comprising one lakh and twenty four thousand stanzas, into Malayalam verse of the same original metre! There were, of course, some exceptional poets like ‘Kundoor Narayana Menon’, who insisted on versification in ‘Suddha Malayalam- pure Malayalam.  This was the heritage Aasaan found when he began his literary pursuits.  

‘Guru & Sishya’

He wrote a number of devotional verses and also, as was the wont of the times, wrote stanzas or slokas  extolling ‘sringaar’ or aspects of amorous love. When he met the Guru, the first important advice that the guru gave to Kumaru was to abstain from writing verses extolling carnal love – Sringaar Rasa.  Kumaru took that advice to heart and adhered to it ever since. That was the point of transformation from material to the spiritual in so far as the youth was concerned.

The following stanzas of Guru and Aasaan echo the very same sentiments in their fervent prayers:

 ‘Mizhi muna kontu mayakki naabhiyaakum  kuzhiyilurutti marippathinnorungi
Kizhiyumetuthu varunna mankamaar than  Vazhikalilittu valaykkolaa Mahesaa!’

'മിഴി മുന കൊണ്ടുമയക്കി നാഭിയാകൂം കുഴിയിരുലുരുട്ടി മറിപ്പതിന്നൊരുങ്ങി
കിഴിയുമെടുത്തു വരുന്ന മങ്കമാര്‍തന്‍ വഴികളിലിട്ടു വലയ്ക്പ്ലാ മഹേശാ!'

Thalamuti koti matanju thakkayitta  kkola mada yaana kulungi vannu kompum
Thalayu muyarti viyathil nokki nilkkum  Mulakalum enne valaykkolaa Mahesaa!’

'തലമുടികോതി മടഞ്ഞു തല്ലയിട്ടക്കൊലമദയാന കുലുങ്ങികൊമ്പും
തലയുമുയര്‍ത്തി വിയത്തില്‍ നോക്കിനില്‍ക്കും മുലകളുമെന്നെവലയ്കൊലാ മഹേശാ!'

[Guru-  Sivasatakam]

‘Kutti kkuranganayanaantham izhachu kanne- rittonnu nokki hrudayatheyitichu Sambho!
Vattamchuzhatti vishaya bhramanathilittu nattam thirippaveale nokki natatholaa Nee!’

'കുട്ടിക്കുരംഗനയനാന്തമിഴിച്ചു കണ്ണേ റിട്ടൊന്നു നോക്കി ഹൃദയത്തെയിടിച്ചുശംഭോ!
വട്ടംചുഴറ്റി വിഷയഭ്രമണത്തിലിട്ട നട്ടംതിരിപ്പവളെ നോക്കി നടത്തൊലാ നീ!'
[ vairaagya panchakam]
‘Kutila kuntalavum kucha kumbhavum  chatula vaanikal chanchala meniyum
Kati tatam kalimaan mizhiyaattavum chutu kanal katalil chuzhalikkolaa!’

'കുടിലസ് കുന്തളവും കുചകുംഭവും ചടുലവാണികള്‍ ച്ഞ്ചലമേനിയും
കടിതടം കുളിമാന്‍ മിഴിയാട്ടവും ചുട്ടുകനല്‍ ചുഴലിക്കൊലാ!'
                                    [Saanakara satakam]

‘Mahakavi’ Kumaran Aasaan

Asaan’s major poetic works like ‘Nalini’, ‘Veena Poovu’, ‘Leela’, Chandalabhikshuki’, ‘Chinthavishtayaya Seetha’, ‘Karuna’  etc. indeed dealt with the theme of ‘Love’; but not in its carnal or sensuous level but in its spiritual aspect.  This was a major deviation from the tradition of the times and the paths followed by his other significant contemporaries. This was feasible because of Asaan’s insistent adherence to the advice of the Guru. Most significantly, this can be considered as the sterling effect of Sree Narayana Guru’s lasting impact on Malayalam literature.  It must be mentioned here that Kumaran Aaasaan was the only poet who was given the honorific title of ‘Mahaakavi’ without writing a single ‘Mahaakaavya’! [‘Mahakavyas’ are supposed to strictly conform to the specifications stipulated by the ancient Sanskrit masters of the past in form and content.] The essential difference between Aasaan and many others was that while most others wrote to display their erudition, Aasaan wrote with a specific purpose – to educate, to enlighten and to guide.

The two towering personalities, Kerala varma, the ‘Kerala Kalidasa’ and  his nephew, ‘A.R.’,  the ‘Kerala Panini’ differed in their styles and approach. The versatile former religiously adhered to and was insistent on the usage of a special brand of rhyme, peculiar only to our language, known as ‘Dwiteeyakshara Prasam’ in his versification i.e. to have same consonants in the second letter of every four-line stanza or sloka.  While this was feasible for the highly talented scholars, rigorous insistence on this sometimes led to inferior quality of versification and hence, ‘A.R.’ advocated non-adherence to this rhyme scheme.  All prominent poets of the time divided themselves into these two camps. Ulloor Parmeswara Iyer was the spokes-person for the pro-rhyme group while K.C. Kesava Pillai was for the anti-rhyme group. They produced two beautiful ‘Mahakavyas’ – ‘Umakeralam’  and ‘Kesaveeyam’ respectively, substantiating their respective stands.  The argument lasted pretty long and neither side won; but it had the salutary effect that there was less rigidity on the exterior decorations on literary works and more focus, instead,  was given to the content and its innovativeness.

Aasaan was a faithful follower of  Kerala Varma as far as rhyme schme was concerned, as is evident from his major works like  ‘Veena Poovu’ ‘Nalini’, ‘Leela’, ‘Chinthavishtayaya Seetha’ etc., but towards the latter phase of his life, he moved over to free verse form as in ‘Balaramayana’, ‘Sree Budhdha Charitam’, ‘Chandalabhikshuki’, ‘Duravastha’ and ‘Karuna’. But, his former works like ‘Nalini’ drew acclaim by none less that the redoubtable ‘A.R.’, who appreciated his innovative style and the manner in which he became a path-breaker in form and content of Malayalam poetry!   Malayalam versification was never the same after Aasaan’s arrival on the scene thanks to Sree Narayana Guru!

This would become evident when we study Aaasaan’s works a little bit closer.


(A)    ‘Veena Poovu’-    [1907]

The publication of this short poem of 41 verses in 1907 was an epoch making event in Malayalam literature.  Watching the fall of a flower – no particular name given - from its height of glory and observing its present pathetic plight, devoid of all grace, on the ground, the poet philosophizes on the transitory nature of all types of beauty, glamour, prosperity and grace in the world. The verses are addressed to the flower and the poet traces its trajectory from a tiny bud into a full grown flower. The poem operates on many layers of meaning. The flower can be interpreted as a beautiful, gracious lady whose beauty and all physical grace vanished with the passage of time. From this apparent fall from the high to the lowest depth, the poet laments at the transitory nature of every material and sensuous objects and finally arrives as the consolation that the lasting peace is found with the union of the soul with the ultimate sublime.  He consoles by saying that decline and degeneration is the way of the world and hence it is pointless to worry about the fluctuations or vicissitudes of life; eternal peace and tranquility will be provided as prescribed in the Upanishads:

“ Haa! Saanti oupanishadoktikal thanne nalkum
Klesippatalma pari peedanam ajna yogyam
Aasaa bharam srutiyil vaykkuka, pinneyellam
Eesaajna pole varum okkeyum orkka poovae!”

"ഹാ! ശാന്തിയൗപനിഷദോക്തികള്‍ തന്നെ നല്‍കും
ക്ലേശിപ്പതാത്മപരിപീഡന മജ്ഞയോഗ്യം
ആശാഭാരമ് സ്രുതിയില്‍ വയ്ക്കുക, പിന്നെയെല്ലാ
മീശാജ്ഞപോലെ വരുമൊക്കെയുമോര്‍ക്ക പൂവേ!"

However, it may not be quite correct to conclude that Asaan is advocating spirituality to the exclusion of materialism. On the contrary, he seems to be advocating a fine balance between both the spiritual; and the temporal world. You have to face the reality and live in the present and in this world. This is obvious from the verses 38 and 39 wherein two distinct paths are indicated to reach the ultimate. May be that is what the Guru has shown in practice. He lived amidst the miseries and vicissitudes of the world and yet could hold himself aloft as a beacon of spiritual excellence.   
There are ever so many lines from this poem which are so often quoted by scholars to adorn their works.  It can be proudly stated that there is no Malayali (Keralaite) who does not know by heart at least a couple of stanzas from this work. It is assuredly Aaasaan’s brief but most popular poetic work.

The message that all bodily or sensuous pleasures are transient and hence not worth of relentless pursuit and that eternal peace and happiness is in this realisation which leads to tranquility of one’s soul is a direct result of the Guru’s initial advice to Kumaran Aasaan.

(B)   ‘Nalini’   -   [1911]

Written in 1911, this poem, as noted earlier, is a path-breaker in our Language. Totally deviating from style and content of his contemporaries, who often looked for themes from mythologies and epics and couched them in ornamental, stylish and traditionally approved verse forms, Aasaan, for the first time, created a work of art which became unique in many ways.   

The story is imaginary. The poem opens with the description of a saintly but bright and youthful figure who, for all appearances, had renounced the world.  He is ‘Divakaran’, a childhood friend of ‘Nalini’ who had fond hopes to share her life with him.  He had disappeared after the childhood years but shementally pursued him. When it seemed utterly futile, she attempts suicide but was rescued by a saintly woman under whose protection, she too dons the apparel of one renounced.  Years later, as the poem opens, they chance to meet.  She fondly recalls their childhood pranks and associated reminiscences in a typical Kerala village background and expresses her belief that this reunion was the result of her penance and hopes and pleads to allow her to continue in his company even if as his disciple. But Divakaran, who nearly renounced all attachment to the world, is unmoved. He philosophises on the eternal and true aspect of Love; but expresses his resolve to part ways then and there. In a moment of supreme bliss, she holds herself onto him and in that pose, gives up her ghost.  Although moved by this tragic sacrifice in love’s altar, undistracted from his ultimate goal, Divakaran moves on and spends the rest of his life  involved in activities aimed at the welfare of humanity -‘Lokakshemotsukan.’ 'ലോക ക്ഷേമോത്സുകന്‍'

There is no sensuous description of beauty of every part of a woman’s body or of conjugal bliss; no titillating scenic descriptions as we see in most other works. They usually end with the union of the separated lovers after much travails and tribulations. But, in this beautiful work, the ultimate message is the power of sacrifice and renunciation. Self-less work for the welfare of the society is the key note with which the poems ends. “ Anya jeevanutaki swa jeevitam  Dhanyamaakkum amale vivekikal “ "അന്യജീവനുതകി സ്വ ജീവിതം ധന്യമാകു മമലേ വിവേകികള്‍." is not only Aasaan’s message, but sums up the life  and message of Sree Narayana guru.

 (C) ‘Leela’   -    [ 1913 ]

Two years after ‘Nalini’, in 1913, ‘Leela’ was published. There was wholehearted welcome to this successor of ‘Nalini’’ from the discerning public. Once more, Aasaan relied on his own imagination for the story and its execution. He did maintain the traditional ‘dwiteeyakshara prasa’ (rhyme scheme ) in this work too.  Otherwise, it was another novel and successful experiment. Unlike in ‘Nalini’, ‘ Leela’ is set in a non-Keralite background thus giving it a more universal dimension.

The story line is simple. ‘Leela’, a flowering maiden had set her heart in a handsome youth ‘Madanan’ who too reciprocated her sentiments. But due to the difference in social status.  She was unable to disclose her love to her parents.  Her father, a rich merchant, arranged her marriage with another youth and she could not express her inner turmoil because of :

‘Gurujana Vachanam, kulakramam, tarunikal tannute aswatantrata…’    

'ഗുരുജനവചനം,  കുലക്രമം, തരുണികള്‍ തന്നടെയ സ്വതന്ത്രത.........'

The marriage was solemnized. She departed to her husband’s home albeit reluctantly.  Leela did suppress her feelings and ‘mechanically’, played the role of a wife superficially.  [ ‘Ghatana pati vilaasi cheykilum, pita mruga netra krupardrayaakilum ….  Sphutam akam aliyaate mevinaal taasila pole tharanga leelayil’  'ഘടന പതിവിലാസിചെയ്കിലും പിടമൃഗനേത്ര കൃപാര്‍ദ്രയാകിലും സ്ഫുടമകുമലിയാതെമേവിനാള്‍ തടശിലപോലെ തരംഗലീലയില്‍.' ( I-35) ] But, Alas!  Before long, her husband inexplicably passed away one night!  A desperate Leela had to return to her parents who too, had, by then, passed way.  Her mind roved back to her flame of youth ‘Madanan’ and she sent her close friend ‘Madhavi’ to find out his whereabouts.  The poem begins with Madhavi’s call of assurance to Leela that she could finally locate Madanan. (The story then gradually unfolds.) Together, they set forth to locate him in the forests near the Rewa river. They found him, a mere skeleton, in utter disregard to his clothes or looks, loitering along with the wild creatures and shunning all human society. [The poet says here… “ Dhruvam iha mamsa nibaddhamalla raagam’ 'ധുവമിഹ മാംസനിബദ്ധമല്ല രാഗം'  – meaning true love is based on the flesh; but is spiritual!] Momentarily, Lela felt she regained her lover; but Madanan even after recognizing her, did not heed to her pleas. He took to his heels and she pursued hotly with all her strength. Madanan jumped into the swirling, tumultuous waters of Rewa river and Leela followed.  They had the communion of their souls.

The celebrated stanza:

‘Aarum thozhee ulakil marayunneela…..’'ആരും തോഴി! ഉലകില്‍ മറയുന്നില്ല മാംസംവെടിഞ്ഞാല്‍.....'etc. propounds Aasaan’s belief that the cycle of life and death is endless; the soul does not become extinct even if the body does; the soul is eternal. The poet describes how, after this tragedy, Madhavi lived (as did Divakaran in ‘Nalini’) for the benefit of humanity.

The message once again is from the Guru… Live your normal life and endure all encounters, do not get lost in adversities; have a detached view and live life for the welfare of other people; that is the way to eternal bliss.

(D) ‘Sree Budhdha Charitam’

This is the Malayalam verse translation of Sir Edwin Arnold’s ‘Light of Asia’.  Gautama Budhdha’s  renunciation, enlightenment and preaching  have had global impact for more than two millennium. The universal brotherhood of man and the path of renunciation advocated by Buddha were exceptionally relevant to the times of Guru and Aasaan.  The greatest curse of the society in Kerala was the prevalent caste system and its associated innumerable ills.  Sree Buddha’s principle of non-violence “ Ahimsa” and his advocacy of the ‘Eight fold path of Dharma’ had universal appeal  There is, therefore, no surprise that the story of the Buddha had great interest to Aasaan which resulted in this beautiful poem. Aasaan started writing it in cantos in 1915, published  I and II in 1915 and III and IV in 1917.  Canto V was posthumously published.

(E)   ‘Prarodanam’ -  [1919]

‘Prarodanam’ is an elegy written to mourn the sad demise of the great littérateur ‘A.R.’, who was the leading light of all progressive Malayalam writers of that time.  This is more of a sentimental and personal work; yet the philosophical content of this work makes it one amongst the best elegies in our language. All glories pass; nothing is permanent; it is absurd to gloat over temporal gains and death is the leveler – in sum, these are exhaustively illustrated in this work. An oft quoted stanza:

‘Kashtam! Staana valuppamo, prabhrutayo, sajjatiyo vamsamo…’
'കഷ്ടം! സ്ഥാന വലുപ്പമോ, പ്രഭുതയോ, സജ്ജാതിയോ, വംശാമോ............' etc.

sums up Aasaan’s sentiments in full and warns us all, that ego continues to give us company only up to the grave.   Truly, it is the graveyard which is the spiritual university for all – ‘Adhyatma Vidyalayam!’  'അദ്ധ്യാത്മവിദ്യാലയം'

(F)  ‘Chintaavishtayaaya Sita’ [1919]

The Ramayana of Valmiki was the foundation of a large number of works in every language of India.  Rama and Sita  were ideal husband and wife. Rama was considered as ‘Maryadaa Purushothaman’ – ‘the Noblest amongst Men’; and Sita, the ultimate example of ideal and chaste wife  - pativrata-  who, without any murmur of protest, accepted all that her husband decreed or did.  

The poem opens when Sita’s twin sons, Lava and Kusa, had gone to Ayodhya, along with the sage Valmiki to meet with the King Rama, their father, to sing unto him the poem ‘Ramayana’ created by sage. Highly disturbed by the various unpalatable turn of events like the gossip casting doubt on her chastity and her consequent banishment to the forest by Rama when she was at advanced stage of pregnancy, Sita, now alone and siting in the hermitage (Ashram) of Valmiki,  reminisces that past.  She questions the wisdom of the king in having arrived at that decision; declares that whatever happened was certainly not due to her fault and that the king erred in casting her away to the forest under a deceitful pretext.  She is convinced of her purity.  When she reaches the court and observes Rama with a ‘golden sita’ – Kaanchana Sita – on the throne, she simply gives up her ghost.

It can be said that when Aasaan wrote this poem in 1919,  he dared to break this  concept of ideal Sita enthroned for ages. Aasaan’s Sita had her own will, her own interpretations of events and her own reasoning.  She was not just a doll. However, it goes to Aasaan’s credit that while her fierce spirit is portrayed unabated in this work, nowhere does his Sita utter any unpalatable references to Rama. There are doubtless, some ironical and satirical references [‘Karayennil urayppath uthaman Mara polangane kettu mannavan’;കറയെന്നിലുരപ്പതുത്തമന്‍ മറപോലങ്ങനെ കേട്ടു മന്നവന്‍!' ‘Rujayaarnum akam kaninju tan prajaye pottum urumpu polume..’ രുജയാര്‍ന്നു മകം കനിഞ്ഞു തന്‍ പ്രജയെ പ്പോറ്റും ഉറുമ്പു പോലുമേ..!'etc. ]  But then, even Ezhuthachchan, the revered father of Malayalam poetry, does make Sita speak some very bold lines like “ Raatriyil polum pirinjaal poratholam  Aasthayuntallo bhavane pitavinum’…'രാത്രിയില്‍കൂടെപ്പിരിഞ്ഞാല്‍ പൊറാതോളസ്ഥയുണ്ടല്ലോ ഭവാനെ പിതാവിനും......'etc.

Emancipation of women from the accumulated bondages was one of the Guru’s missions.  The powerful reasoning of Sita questioning the wisdom of King Rama in mercilessly discarding his pregnant wife upon some mere unsubstantiated gossip is, in turn, an indictment on the cruel society which kept on ill-treating the womenfolk. In portraying the inner currents of such a well known mythological figure, Aasaan was able to focus the attention of the general public on the sad state of women everywhere, adding another dimension to the Guru’s advocacy.

(G ) ‘Duravastha’ [1922]

While in most other literary works, Assaan – the author, preferred to remain in the background and let situations convey desired messages, in this poem, he directly steps in to explain the irrational caste-madness of the society. The poem describes how a Brahmin maiden, ‘Savitri’, manages to escape during an invasion from her home and takes refuge in the home of a low-caste youth by name ‘Chaathan’. She had lost everything and every relation during that carnage. The poem ends with the communion of the young couple disregarding the dictates of society.  One should note with special attention that in this poem, the heroine, Savitri recognizes the significance of education and undertakes and succeeds in converting an almost illiterate Chathan into a literate person. ‘Educate in order to liberate’ was one of Guru’s advices to his followers. That message is indicated in a not-so-subtle manner in this work.   The significant exhortation of the poet in this poem is: “Mattuvin  chattangale swayam – allenkil = Mattum athukal ee ningale than!’  "മാറ്റുവിന്‍ ചട്ടങ്ങളെ സ്വയ-മല്ലെങ്കില്‍ = മാറ്റുമതു കളീ നിങ്ങളെത്താന്‍."

Yes, ‘If you do not voluntarily change irrational traditions and practices, you will simply be wiped out by them” was the timely warning – a clarion call for the social revolution- from Assaan’s pen.  This eradication of caste system, paving the way for ‘one caste for the whole humanity’ was in accordance with the advice the Guru gave to the society.  

(H)  ‘Chandaala Bhikshuki’  [1922]

This work is a more focused one relevant to the ‘untouchability’ expensively prevalent in Kerala at that time. The lower caste people had no rights; only humiliating burdens.  They could not walk on the roads;  they should not even come near to the higher caste people lest they get ‘polluted’;  they should not touch any item meant for the higher caste people, public wells were not to be used by lower-caste humans and so on. By making a Buddhist disciple ‘Ananda’ accept drinking water from a low caste girl ‘Matangi’, Aasaan sent a not-so-subtle message to the detested practice. The poem concludes with the exhortation of Lord Buddha that all humanity has only one caste and ‘Love’ is universal. He chose non-Sanskrit metres in composing this poem.

Here again, this is what the Guru has shown in actual practice.  In a very categorical declaration made in 1916, it was proclaimed that the Guru does not represent any particular segment of society but is representing universal brotherhood of man. Aasaan’s this poem further buttresses this statement.    

(I)‘Karuna’  [1923]

Once again Aasaan’s genius turned to the Buddhist lore to convey the cardinal theme that the beauty of the flesh is transient but that of the soul is eternal. Once again, it is also an attack on all man-made barriers like caste and religion which separates humanity not sanctioned by nature.  For reasons of simplicity and lucidity, perhaps, Aasaan did not choose Sanskrit metres for this work too.  Did the poet have the story of the ‘sinful’ Mary of Magdalene and Jesus Christ, the ‘Redeemer’ at the back of his mind, in composing this work? One cannot be very sure.

‘Vasavadatta’ was a celebrated, very attractive prostitute of the city of Madhura.  It was after the time of the ‘Enlightened’- the Buddha and one of his committed missionaries, a very handsome youth by name ‘Upagupta’ was in the city spreading his Guru’s message. The lady heard about him and was smitten by his reported physical charms and sent invitation to him to come to her.  The youth politely declined same and conveyed the message to her ‘it is not yet time for them to meet.’  Surprised and somewhat annoyed a this unheard of refusal – usually, it was the other way round, men sought after her company feverishly- she repeated the invitation and received the same polite but firm refusal.
Time moved on. The lovely but greedy prostitute was caught murdering one of her suitors in order to gain more temporal benefits. She was sentenced to have her limbs, nose and ears cut off and cast outside the city.  The decree was executed. One of her faithful former servants, who continued to nurse her even at this tragic moment, managed to inform her pathetic plight to Upagupta who hastened to the scene. Vasavadata, on seeing him, ashamed, ordered the servant to cover her severed limbs.  She almost scolded him for not coming to her when she was at her prime and could have given him all her charms. But Upagupta told her that he came to her now in order to give her tormented soul message of tranquility from the Blessed One to receive which, she was till then, unprepared. Upagupta elaborated on the transient nature of physical beauty and dwelt on the eternal beauty of the soul by adhering to the path advocated by the Lord. Vasavadatta, thus, gained peace and tranquility at her very last moment.

Once again, it is the Guru’s role as ‘Redeemer of the fallen’ which appears to have propelled Aasaan to focus on this beautiful story which tells human beings not to be too greedy or be proud of transient, temporal assets but prepare themselves for longer bliss by purifying their souls.  


It would not be feasible to delve deep into all other works of Aasaan; but suffice to say, he was the most voluminous and effective spokesperson to spread the Guru’s message to humanity and his works, in reality, came to be regarded as the single-most influence of Sree Narayana guru in Malayalam literature, besides the Guru’s own invaluable contributions and their worthy, voluminous and innumerable commentaries by his disciples and literary masters who followed the Guru’s footsteps.


“Life and Times of Sree Narayana Gurudev”
Sree Narayana Guru, one of the greatest philosopher-poet-saints and social reformers of Kerala, was born on 28th August 1855, in Chempazhanti, near Trivandrum, Kerala. His father was ‘Madanaasaan’ and mother, ‘Kuttyamma’.  He had his primary and higher education during 1860 to 1880. His initial teacher was ‘Karthikapalli Kummanpalli Raman Pillai Asaan’. He became proficient in Grammar, Logic, Vedanta and all relevant Sanskrit texts. Thereafter, he spent sometime teaching children nearby. He was initiated to the ordinary life in 1882 with a formal marriage, but he dissociated from it and took to Sanyas – renunciation – immediately. He studied Raja Yoga techniques under Thaikkad Ayya Swami (1884) and developed a personal bondage with another great reformer of the times, Chattampi Swamikal around this period.   He spent long periods in mediation in Marutwamala hills undergoing severe penances. Finally he emerged as one who attained enlightenment - Brahma Sakshalkaram - and chose the path to walk amongst the underprivileged fellow-beings and to redeem the degenerated society he saw around him, rather than seeking eternal liberation – Moksha -  only for himself.
Sree Narayana Guru was convinced that all human beings belong to one single community.  There are no different religions or castes or creeds.  These artificial differences were created by man to satisfy some of his vested interests.  There is no divine sanction in separating man from man under one pretext or other. Only this realization among all human beings will ensure peace and harmony which are pre-requisites for all progress: material as well as spiritual.  People have to break away from the shackles binding them to superstition and traditional absurdities.  This is possible only by means of proper education.
Sree Narayana Guru was a tireless crusader for socials equality and fought against all sorts of discrimination prevalent against the down-trodden and the oppressed, in his times. One of the greatest social evils of the period was discrimination based on caste/creed – the untouchability.   The feudal system was in vogue; the land belonged to the feudal-lords or ‘Janmis’ who were invariably from the upper-caste; mostly Brahmins. People born in low caste were treated worse than animals.  They had no right to wear proper and decent clothes, they could not walk on the public roads; could not worship in temples controlled by the upper caste people and had no right to education. The study of ‘Sanskrit Language’ – ‘the Sacred Language of the Gods’ – was denied to their children. They could not demand even proper wages for their labour. They had to content with what ever was given as ‘grace’ by the lords.  Under this heavy yoke of caste system, there was no way for the underprivileged to progress in life.  Needless to say, the plight of their women under this abhorrent system was extremely pathetic.
As one who had keenly observed the ills that affected society around, he noticed that the habit of drinking was the root cause of instability in many poor families.  In those days, members of the backward ‘Ezhava’ community were mostly involved in ‘toddy-tapping’ as means for their livelihood.  Poverty, lack of education and undesirable effects of excessive drinks together made lives of the average people insufferable. 
His mission therefore comprised of enabling all down-trodden, irrespective of caste or creed, to attain fulfillment in life. Towards this liberation, he strongly advocated ‘Education for All’  and exhorted them to get ‘United  and thus become strong in seeking their Goal’. [ “Vidya kontu prabudhdharaavuka; Sanghatichu saktharaakuka” "വിദ്യ കൊണ്ട്  പ്രബുധ്ധരാവുക; ശക്തരാകുക" ]
The Guru traveled far and wide with his missionary message to awaken the masses and guide them in the proper direction.
To propagate his mission, an organization was registered in 1903, which grew as ‘Sree Narayana Dharma ParilpalanaYogam’; [S.N.D.P] – registered in 1928.
Let us now see how he implemented his ideals.
‘Aruvippuram’ is a small village near the river ‘Neyyar’ in Trivandrum. He was worshipping Siva during the days of his meditation. In 1888, he himself installed a Siva’s idol – ‘Siva Linga’ in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. This was a path-breaking event because, so far, only select Brahmin priests had the authority by convention to install idols of divinities. There were criticisms about this unconventional step; but he answered them by saying that ‘I have installed only an Ezhava Siva’. He opted for the path of conciliation rather than confrontation. He got the following lines inscribed at this temple gate:
        “Jaathibhedam Matha Dwesham Aethumillathe Sarvarum
        Sodaratwena Vazhunna Mathrukaa Sthanamaanithu.”
        "ജാതിഭേദം മത ദ്വേഷം ഏതുമില്ലാതെ സര്‍വരും
         സോദരത്വേന  വാഴുന്ന മതൃകാ സ്ഥാനമാണിത് "
[This is an ideal place of worship, wherein people live together in brotherly affection without any distinction of caste creed or hatred thereto.]
The Guru then went on installing deities in different places in Kerala. In some places, he installed a ‘mirror’ instead of the image or idol of any deity to convey the message:
“You are Yourself God!’
The Mirror  idols were installed at :
(1)Kalavankod, Cherthalai and (2) Ullala near Vaikom – Omkareswara Temple.
In the Kalavankottu temple idol, he got the words: “Truth”, “Dharma”, “Mercy” and “Love” inscribed.
His most important messages are:
[Oru Jaati, Oru Matam, Oru Daivam Manushyanu.]
ഒരു ജാതി, ഒരു മതം, ഒരു ദൈവം മനുഷ്യന്.
‘One Caste, One Religion, One God for All Humanity’-
and [Matam Aetaayaalum Manushyan Nnannayal Mati.]
മതം ഏതായാലും മനുഷ്യന്‍ നന്നായാല്‍ മതി
‘Whichever be one’s Religion, it is enough if the Man himself improves’.
In 1920, he sent out a clear message against the social evil ‘drinking liquor’ and exhorted people to desist from drinking.
“Liquor is Poison. Do not Drink it. Do not Produce it. Do not Distribute it.”
"മദ്യം വിഷമാണ്. അത് കുടിക്കരുത്.  അത്  ഉണ്ടാക്കരുത് . അത്  വിതരണം ചെയ്യരുത്."
In 1924, he organized a Conference of all Religions – the first of its kind in India, in Alwaye, Kerala. Its avowed purpose, he outlined, was ‘Not to argue and win: but to know and disseminate’. He traveled widely in Kerala and visited Sri Lanka twice (in 1918 and 1928) to propagate his message.
He firmly believed that there is only one God and the soul within us ( Jeevatma) and the Supreme godhead (Paramatma) were one and the same .[ The Philosophy of Adwaita – Non Duality ] But, he wrote many hymns and prayers addressed to different deities worshipped in Kerala  like Siva,Vishnu, Ganapati, Devi and so on in Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam, to enable the less enlightened to progress towards the supreme goal in life viz. self-realisation.
By devoting an entire life to educate people and bring them all under the principle of ‘One Caste for all Humanity’, the Guru re-established a healthy social system in Kerala.. He laid great stress on education and declared it as the basis of social progress. He traveled far and wide to propagate this mission. He was a scholar of great understanding of the ancient Indian text like Vedas and Upanishads. He was proficient in Sanskrit and Tamil besides Malayalam. He wrote in all three languages. Sree Narayana Guru himself was a profile writer in propose and verse. Several prayers and hymns were written by him in praise of various gods and goddesses besides other philosophical works. [ A list of his works is seen under Annex-1 ]
The guru’s closest disciples were from across the spectrum of the society. There were Brahmins and others from the upper caste. There was also one European Christian disciple.
The Guru met a great visionaries of his times including Sree Ramana Maharshi (1916), Poet Rabindranath Tagore (1922), Gandhiji (1925) and many other dignitaries and drew appreciation of and admiration from all these great men about his vision, philosophy and mission in life.
On 20 September, 1928, at 3.30 pm, Sree Narayana Guru attained ‘Samadhi’ and his soul merged with the Absolute – Brahman.
Sree Narayana Gurudev was a Jnana Yogi  as well as Karma Yogi of the last century.




Atmopadesa satakam            [One Hundred Verses of Self Instruction] –Malayalam
Dasrana Mala                [Garland of Vision] – Sanskrit
Advaita Deepika            [The Lamp of Non-Duality] – Malayalam
Arivu                    [Consciousness] – Malayalam
Daivasatakam                [Ten Verses on God ] – Malayalam
Brahmavidya Panchakam        - Brahma Vidya in five verses – Sanskrit
Vedanta Sutra                Essence of Vedanta in Sutras [Sanskrit]
Nirvruti Panchakam            - [Five verses: Final Self – Absorption] Sanskrit
Sloka Trayi                [Three verses in Sanskrit]
Homa Mantra                [A Mantra for Burnt Sacrifice]


Vinayaka Ashtakam            [Eight Verses on Ganapati] – Sanskrit
Sri Vasudeva Ashtkam        [Eight verses on Vishnu] – Sanskrit
Vishnu Ashtakam            [Eight verses on Vishnu] – Sanskrit
Sreekrishna Darsanam        [A vision on  Sreekrishna] – Malayalam
Sivaprasada Panchakam        [Five verses on the Grace of Lord Siva] – Malayalam
Sadasiva Darsanam            [A Vision of the Eternal Siva] - Malayalam
Sivasatakam                [One Hundred Verses on Siva] – Malayalam
Ardhanareeswara Stavam        [A Hymn to the Androgynous Siva] – Malayalam
Mananateetam                [Beyond Comprehension] – Malayalam
Chitha Chintanam            [Reflection on Mind and Matter] – Malayalam
Kundalini Pattu            [A song of Kundalini Snake] – Malayalam
Indriya vairagyam            [Detachment from the Pleasures of the Senses]- Malayalam
Prapancha Srushti            [The Creation of the Universe] – Malayalam
Kolateeresa Sthavam            [Hymn to Kolateeresa] - Malayalam
Swanubhava Giti            [ The Lyric Revelation of the Realised Self] – Malayalam
Pinda Nandi                [Foetal gratitude] – Malayalam
Chidambara Ashtakam        [Eight Verses on Mental space] – Sanskrit
Thevara Patikangal            [Five Songs in Praise of Siva] – Tamil
A Single Tamil Verse Praising Siva
Devi Stavam                [Hymn to Goddess] – in Malayalam
Mannanthala Devi Stavam        [Hymn to Devi at Mannanthala] – Malayalam
Kali Natakam                [Dance drama of Kali] – Malayalam
Janani Nava Ratna Manjari        [A Nine Gemmed Bouquet on Mother]
Bhadrakali Ashtakam            [Eight verses on Bhadrakali] – Malayalam
Shanmukha stotram                  -A Hymn to the six-headed (Shanmukha) God –– Malayalam
Shanmukha Dasakam            -Ten verses addressed to Shanmukha – in  Malayalam
Shanmatura Stavam            -Hymn in praise of the god with six mothers – In Sanskrit
Subramanya Kirtanam        -In praise of Subramanya – Malayalam
Nava Manjari                - A Bouquet of Nine verses – in Malayalam
Guha Ashtakam            - Eight verses on Gubha ( Subramanya ) – in Sanskrit
Bahuleya Ashtakam        - Eight verses address to Bahuleya (Subramanya) – in Sanskrit
Devi Pranama Devyashtakam        - Eight verses addressed to Devi – in Sanskrit
Works of Moral Value

Jeeva Karunya Panchakam    - Five Verses on Kindness to life – in Malayalam
Anukampa Dasakam        - Ten Verses on Mercy  – in Malayalam
Jati Nirnayam    - A critique of Caste : Verses – one Sanskrit, Six Malayalam  
Jati Lakshanam :        - Definition of Jati – in Malayalam
Sadacharam            - Pattern of Good Behavior – in Malayalam
Municharya panchakam    - Five verse on the life of a recluse – in Malayalam
Ahimsa            -  Non-Hurting – in Malayalam
Asramam            - In Sanskrit
Dharmam            - In Sanskrit
An Obittuary of two verses on Sri Chattampi Swamikal
Completion of an incomplete verse - - in Malyalam
                    ( Greeting to the Dharmakumaran Monthly)
Sri Narayana Smruti        - in Sanskrit :
[Written by Awami Atmananda as a Dialouge between the Guru and Sishyas.]


ISA Upanishad        - From Sanskrit – Original to Malayalam
Tirukkural            - From Tamil Original to Malayalam.

Prose Works

Cijjada Chintakam        : Reflection on Mind and Matter – in Malayalam
Daiva Chintanam-I        : Reflection on God – in Malayalam
Daiva Chintanam II       : Reflection on God – in Malayalam
Gadya Prarthana          : A Prayer in Prose : - in Malayalam
Atma Vilasam             : Self Manifestation – in Malyalam


The celebrated poet, Kumaran Asaan, was born on 12th April 1873  at Kayikkara  sea-shore village, some 25 miles north of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. His father was ‘Narayanan’ and mother, ‘Kaliyamma’. After preliminary education as per tradition, he learnt rudiments of Sanskrit. Worked as a teacher and later as a clerk.   Under he tutelage  of Manampur Govindan Asaan, learnt higher Sanskrit texts. Began devotional versification from very early. 

His meeting with Sree Narayan Guru in 1891 marked the turning point in his life.  On the advice of the Guru, turned to spirituality after accepting his discipleship. Learnt Sanskrit, Vedaanta and Yoga Vidya.  At the instance of the Guru, proceeded to Bangalore in 18895 for higher studies, under Dr. Palpu’s care.  Studied in Madras ( Chennai) and Calcutta (Kolkatta) focusing on Sanskrit and the Indian heritage. There, he acquainted himself with the renaissance Bengali literature and the works of the celebrated poet Rabindranath Tagore. Acquired proficiency in English during this period and in-depth knowledge of that literature.  Retuned to Guru’s presence in 1900.

Became the secretary of the famous ‘Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam –SNDP’ at its inception in 1903 and remained in that post for almost the next 16 years.  Held Editorship of the journal ‘Vivekodayam’.  Wrote numerous articles to spread the message of the Guru.  The publication of his superb poem ‘Veena Poovu,’, - ‘The Fallen Flower’-  in 1907 brought great critical acclaim and he became a noted poet thereafter.  A number of great poetical works like ‘Nalini’, ‘Leela’,  ‘ Chinthavishtayaya Seetha’, ‘Duravastha’, ‘Karuna’, ‘Chandaala Bhikshuki’ etc. which followed, not only settled his claim and fame as a versatile poet but also became trend setters in the Malayalam literature. In fact, the three versatile poets of Kerala, Vallathol Narayana Menon and Ulloor Parameswara Iyer along with Kumaran Aasaan formed the famed poetic trinity  (Kavithrayam) in the Malayalam literary horizon.

He was also nominated as a people’s representative by the King of Travancore in 1913.

Married ‘Bhanumati Amma’ in August 1918 and had two sons – Prabhakaran and Sudhakaran.

In 1922, the Prince of Wales honoured him as the poet laureate of Malayalam Language.

On 16th January 1924,  he died when the boat ironically named ‘Redeemer’,  capsized in the Panmana river, some fifteen miles south of Alleppey.  A memorial by name ‘Kumarakodi’ rose in that place. He was just 51, when he departed for his heavenly abode



1921        ‘Saundarya Lahari’     (Translation)
1903        Four Devotional Works ( Saankra Satakam etc.)
1907        ‘ Veena Poovu ’
1908        ‘Oru Simha Prasavam’
1911        ‘Nalini’
1914        ‘Leela’
1916        ‘Baala Ramayanam’
1917-24    ‘Sree Budhdha Charitam’ – [ Free Translation of ‘Light of Asia’]
1918        ‘Graama Vrukshathile Kuyil’
1919        ‘Prarodanam’
1919        ‘Chinthavishtayaya Seetha’
1922        ‘Pushpa Vaati’ –( A compilation)
1922        ‘Duravastha’
1922        ‘Chandaala Bhikshuki’
1923        ‘Karuna’
1924        ‘Mani Maala’ (Collection)
1925        ‘Vana Maala’ ( Collection)
1895.98‘Prabodha Chandrodayam’ – ( Translaion)
1900.3‘Vichitra Vijayam’


1911.15‘Raaja Yogam’

1912‘Maitreyi’ – Story – ( Translation)
1916                 ‘ Mana Sakthi’
1923        ‘Mata Parivarthana Rasa Vaadam’
1929        Critical Essays

Principles of Guru

Principles of guru (Guru Nithya Chaithanya Yati)

Principles of guru (Guru Nithya Chaithanya Yati)

Physical perception is a perception in contrast; a contrast of light and shadow. All objects of perception are finite bodies, illuminated by light. The shape and form are comprehended with the aid of the shades of light and darkness. Where there is only pure light, and nothing illuminated by it, there is no physical perception. The Guru is pure light and not an illuminated object. Consequently, the Guru is invisible, although self-luminous.

For the physical eye to see, objects need to be illuminated with light, and there also has to be a light within that animates the eye and which is transfigured in to shape of the illuminated object. Thus, what actually sees is an eye behind the eye, which is also the ear behind the ear, the mind behind the mind, and the value that evaluates everything. This is self.

Guru is none other than this self which resides in the heart of all. Thus he is nearer than anything else and yet he seems to be far, difficult to be approached and hardly known to anyone. We are so excited by what is seen that we even forget to ask who sees. Socrates rightly said “life” is entering in to a deep sleep and then forgetting the reality of the Self. Only one who has awakened from the hypnosis of sensuous life can recall the original and eternal verity of the ever-luminous Self. He will be also able to arouse others from their intoxication of ignorance. One who can play this noble role among individuated beings is called a guru for the simple reason that he is a Knower of the Guru.

The search for such a teacher is exhorted by the Scriptures. In fact the closing exhortation given in the last mantra of the Chandogya Upanisad is to this effect. Brahma told Prajapati, Prajapati told Manu and Manu told mankind to learn wisdom from a teacher according to rule, and, after having learned, to teach the same in turn to their own virtuous children.

According to Sankara the Guru is like a burning coal lying buried in the ashes. To a casual on-looker, he is like ashes of no worth. Little does one know that buried in the ashes there lies a source of energy that can blow up into a conflagration and burn away all dross of ignorance. Sankara further describes the Guru as a peaceful person with such sympathy that he embraces all in his loving compassion for no reason whatsoever. Such a wise and kind Guru who goes from place to place like a rain cloud, showering his compassion on all and greening the spiritual vitality of people yearning for wisdom, is compared to the spring season that gently and silently spreads its beneficence around the globe, bringing rejoicement to all those who have the refined sensibility to appreciate higher values.

According to Guru Nanak, the Guru is one who, having crossed over the ocean of samsara (the cycle of birth and death), is also helping others to cross over. According to Narayana Guru, every word of the Guru is resplendent with the pure light of the highest certitude of wisdom. By nature, he is in constant meditation. The Guru’s generosity knows no bound. His judgment is always tempered with love and compassion. His vision is always the best example of the attitude of sameness. His inward calm gives to his mind the dimension of dignity, just as the sense of awe is created by the vast expanse of a deep ocean. His transparent vision cuts across the scaffolds of phenomenality and he sees nothing but the blissful beatitude of the Self in everything.

All the same, the Guru behaves and reacts as a person at the transactional level, and there he lays his emphasis on being fully committed to his unlimited liability for the welfare of all. In that context, service is his watchword. He is a friend of the lone , the lost, and the rejected. In his love, even the most heinous sinner can easily find a haven of care and protection. He lives and symbolizes truth by being silent and when he articulates, the truth of every word that he utters bursts in to a world of magnificent meaning that always inspires and elevates the heart of his listener. He sets before others an example by living his beautiful thoughts in a beautiful way. In spite of his peaceful disposition and calm nature, it takes no time for him to comprehend unitively the inner structure of even the most complicated situations and his decision comes with the swiftness of a thunderbolt. He urges action with the spirit of inaction and his seeming inaction can achieve in no time what action of drudgery cannot accomplish in a million lives.

Such is the glory of a true Guru. May the eternal Guru that luminous Self of all, be ever victorious.

Universal Guru (Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati)

The Story of Narayana Guru is the story of the awakening and resurrection of the masses of India. Using the gentle power of persuasion, he influenced the proud Brahmins and the haughty rulers to accept the neglected masses of India as their fellow humans. By rousing the dormant dignity of self-respect in his fellow untouchables, he instilled dynamics in their quest for freedom. Through the acquisition of the required skills and education, they were further inspired by the Guru to aspire for their own equal share of all opportunities within the mainstream of socio-economic and politic-cultural advancements. With the aid of his own brilliant disciples, he revitalized his contemporary literature and revolutionized the value vision of his time. For those who were denied places for public worship he installed temples of harmony and purity. To those for whom education was denied he gave schools and exhorted them to free their spirits with the power of knowledge. For millions, social injustice perpetuated by tradition had remained an insurmountable barrier over centuries.

Narayana Guru provided them the motivation to stir and collectively wield power to legislate new laws that could successfully correct the diehard customs of the past. It was not by resorting to violence or pressure tactics that the Guru revolutionized the people but by offering his dignified example for them to see and follow. He was a sage on par with Buddha, Lao Tsu and Socrates. He was a persuasive teacher like Jesus and an upholder of social justice like Prophet Mohammed. As a philosopher his penetrating thought surpasses the climaxes of Descartes and Spinoza and amends the conclusions of Kent, Hegal and Marx. His integral vision excels Bergson’s study of the philosophical reductions of Edmund Husserl and Karl Jaspers. His mystical exaltations are similar to those of Blake and Rumi.

Narayana Guru’s Epistemology

In this epistemology, Narayana Guru is neither an idealist nor a materialist. His philosophy is unitive and holistic. Matter and spirit are relevant idea when one has to deal with the empirical world of things (perpetual) and the cognitive world of ideas (conceptual). There is no need to place one above the other. This world is not a random coalescence of chaotically flying molecules, nor is it the phantom imagination of a mischievous spirit. A person placed in this enormous setting can choose to play one’s history evolving or reading game of socio-political significance. He or she can vertically ascend from one’s individuated consciousness of ‘I’ to a transcendental reality of being one with all.

Narayana Guru’s theory of knowledge is wide and panoramic and he is no purist who will shout at any philosopher “no space-no space”. In Narayana Guru’s philosophical ‘commons’ there is a welcome and appropriate room for every philosopher, whether it is an extreme idealist like Emmanuel Kant or an extreme materialist like Karl Marx. Truth is many faceted, and it is not philosophical to patent any one vision.

To those who fanatically hold on to views such as ‘this alone’ or ‘that alone,’ Narayana Guru has a gentle admonition. He realized them that neither this nor that, nor the particular meaning speculated could be the ultimate way. It is more sensible to give up all problems of personal preferences whether positive or negative and allow the varieties of empirical transaction to parade as ever, the variants of the subjective to float along.

Guru’s Logic
Jesus said, ‘The Sabbath is for man and not man for the Sabbath.’ He cannot say exactly the same about logic, because logic does not alter its norms to suit our whims. Karl Marx put a good rejoinder; “The truth that is useless to man is no truth at all.” Narayana Guru thinks similarly about logic.

Logic is and should be the correct means to assemble facts and seek solutions. Missing links of information are likely to play tricks when coupled with conditioned likes and dislikes, our paranoia or our prejudiced anticipation’s of rewards. The Guru was not enamored with all the signs and squiggles of formal and symbolic logic.

To him perception carries the stamp of verity for transactional purposes, and perception is a psychologically generated phenomenon that is an amalgam of the essence of the things presented and the individuated consciousness to which the world is given. After perception the next reliable means to attain to truth is inference. The ground of truth in inference refers directly to the vertical essence of things. Yet specific horizontal aspect of anything can be unique or variant and for that reason detrimental to the precise assertion of truth. Narayana Guru assigns a high value to the testimony of comparison, as it implies the certitude of experimental proof and the fairly valid assessment made by knowledgeable persons.

Guru’s Ethical Teachings

The dynamic core of ethics is ‘sharing happiness with the other.’ What is unethical is obstructing dual sharing and even worse I inflicting conditions that are negatively oriented. Narayana Guru taught we should first be selfish in the big way of identifying with the true happiness one’s self. We do not deny to anyone any good value that we cherish. We do this by remaining mindful of the dialectical situation in which we are placed and being true to our counterpart. Making ourselves solely responsible, as we would do to our own self.

It was Jesus who said, ‘those who are not with me are against me, and those who are not against me are with me.’ In active or passive ways, people segregate even to the extent of apartheid camps of exclusive groups. Color, religions, language, nationality and food habits are all elements that separate person from person. The Guru did not see any rationale in curtailing the bounds of love. He wanted socializing to be put on the ground of common biologic fact rather than on whimsical prejudices. “Man is one kind, one religion and of one God”, he declared.

Narayana Guru’s Theory of Beauty

Beauty is the vision of the self-mirrored in the non-self. The closer the image is to the truthfulness of the self greater is the impact of beauty. The self is characteristically the existent, the subsistent and the ground of all values. In the scale of existence the eternal is polarized with the transient. As each suggests other, beauty is perceived as a dialectical interaction of opposites that cancel each other out. The pole star is beautiful and even so is the violet that blooms for a day. The beauty of subsistence makes the daily bread, the feeding mother, the bread winning father, the farm of abundance, the rain cloud and the guardians of the abundance. Beauty is affective; this gives the individuated self its dynamic link with the existential actuality of the given world. Obtaining the steady state of being established in the eternal equipoise is the state samatva or yoga. In pure art there is constant weaning of the senses from the agitating influx of the incoming stimuli and the directing of the spontaneous flow of invoked energy to a cosmic significance or to an intense humanization of inspirational aesthetic implosion. Narayana Guru describes this as the all-consuming flame of knowledge filling the conscientious self from the alpha to omega, which can be likened to the rising ten thousand orbs in the sky of consciousness. Such was a wonder Narayana Guru who lived in the worlds of human interest. It is only appropriate to think of him as universal Person.

Sree Narayana Guru - A genius and a saint

Articles about Sree Narayana Guru
-  by R. Ramdas Thampuran

R. Ramdas Thampuran

Narayana Guru was the initiator of a non-violent social revolution in the late 19th century. R. Ramdas Thampuran outlines the life and teaching of the guru on his 143rd birth anniversary.
Sri Narayana Guru was an extraordinary phenomenon who strode over the spiritual firmament of Kerala like a collosus during the late 19th century and early 20th century. He left an indelible impression on those who met him including luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He was a yogi, visionary, poet and a social reformer. While trying to uplift the downtrodden by fighting against the entrenched caste system, he was  simultaneously pursuing truth by delving into the depth of vedic lore. While he had his feet firmly planted on earth to ensure social equality, he had his head in the high altitudes of vedanta. He proclaimed that his ideal and goal was Advaita propounded by Adi Sankara. He was acclaimed as a Siddha purusha and Maharishi from the beginning of the 20th century.
Nanu, as he was known in his formative years, was born in Chempazhanthi, a remote village near Thiruvananthapuram, on August 20, 1854. His parents were Madan Asan and Kuthiamma. He had his elementary education in a nearby
village school. His father and maternal uncle Ayurveda which stood him in
good stead in later years. While Nanu was recognised as a good student. he
was also unorthodox much to the annoyance of his parents. Once he entered
the kitchen of a Harijan family to save the rice gruel. Also he used to
touch the so-called untouchables and then go and mingle with his family
members which was frowned upon.
Like the Buddha, the death of a relation triggered certain sentiments in
the extremely sensitive psyche of the young boy and he begun to reflect on
the evanescence of life and the riddles regarding the nature of existence,
death and the impermance of material objects. Essentialy a contemplative
lad, Nanu would visit temples, wear scared ash on his forehead, and was
known as "Nanu devotee" by his friends.
The first few steps on his journey towards God had already been taken in
his boyhood. An attack of smallpox during his teens further strengthened
his devotional attitude. The verses of "Vairagyotipadakam" written by
Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathri of Narayanceyam fame, were constantly on his
lips and this paved the way for his renunciation or sanyasa.
Nanu continued his non-formal education at the "Varanappalli house" under
the gurukula system and mastered the epics. Soon after he began training
pupils at elementary levels and earned the affectionate titles of "Nanu
Asan." He was married to his first cousin "Kaliamma" but the marriage
endded abruptly since Nanuasan became a wanderer.
His wanderings led him to the southern parts of the erstwhile Travancore
state and the Maruthuvamala hills were his favourite haunts. This region is
celebrated for its abundant plants and very soon the wandering Avadhoota
became an adept in siddha medicines and began to minister to the sick and
forlorn. He often crossed into Tamil Nadu and thus learnt Tamil and in his
later years compiled a few works in that language.
A contemporary of Nanu was Chattambe Swamigal a renowned yogi. The inherent spirituality dormant in Nanu began to unfold in course of time and soon he acquired the epithet Swami. Nanuswami underwent severe penance in
Maruthwamala hills confining himself in an isolated cave. He spent days in
deep meditation and obtained spiritual enlightenment. People approached him
for solace and advice. Nevertheless the so-called "higher class" did not
recognise his stature and instead ridiculed him. But he had already reached
the pinnacle of knowledge where all dualities dissolved into oneness. Man
made differences made very little impact on his yogic even mindedness.
Finally the Guru had arrived.
Sri Narayana Guru choose a beautiful location known as Aruvippuram, a
little south of Thiruvananthapuram, for his sojourn and soon it became a
pilgrim centre. In the year 1888, on the holy Sivarathri day, Narayana Guru
made the famous Sivalinga Pratishta, which signalled the death knell of the
obscurantist and demagogic caste system and there no stopping him. Another
place, a little north of Thiruvananthapuram also attracted the attention of
the guru. This was Varkala, where he established the famous Sivagiri
ashram. Starting as a humble hermitage in 1903, this centre witnessed the
building of a Siva temple in 1908 and the installation of the deity of
Sarada in 1912. Some of the famous temples consecrated by Sri Narayana
Guru include the Jagnnatha temple at Tellichery, Sreekanteswara temple at
Calicut and the one at Kalavancode near Sherthallai, where a mirror was
installed at the altar to teach humanity that every being is a reflection
of God. He also established an Advaita Ashram at Alwaye. Thus he emphasised
both the aspects of dual and non-dual or saguna and nirguna aspect of the
ultimate Brahman.
To describe the guru as a multifaceted genius, or a many splendoured
personality will be a gross understatement. At the mundane level, he was
struggling to uplift the downtrodden and give them some respectability in
society. He had to face severe personal and institutional resistance from
the ruling hierarchy and the upper castes. But he held no grudge against
his oppressors and his disarming love and catholicity slowly won the
admiration of even his worst enemies and during his later days he was
acclaimed as a Loka Guru by the entire state.
One landmark in the life of the guru was the establishment of the S.N.D.P.
(Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana) yogana on the May 15, 1903. But the
genius of the guru was not confined to the four walls of the organisation
and was so vast and transcentendal to encompass the entire humanity. He
did not want the yogana to restrict its organisation as an instrument for
social uplift but also laid emphasis on dharma paripalana (protection of
dharma) in the literal sense of the central theme of the organisation.
Two important incidents in the life of the guru are his meetings with
Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore. The former met him during the famous
Vaikom Satyagraha. Tagore met him in 1922. Deeply impressed and he
remarked "I have been travelling all over the world and had occassion to
meet several sages and enlightened beings. Yet I could not meet anybody to
compare with the great Sri Narayana Guru of India. This statement deserves
special mention since Sri Narayana was living contemporaneously with
spiritual giants like Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo and Ramana Maharishi.
Since all goodthings have to finally end, the guru's life also came to a
close on September 20, 1928, when he attained Mahasamadhi. However the
trail blazed by this incomparable master continues to inspire millions of
people, not only in India but all over the world.

Remembering a champion of empowerment

Some thoughts on the social reform tasks ahead as the 155th Sree Narayana Guru Jayanti is celebrated today.

NARAYANA GURU: Sandwiched between the caste Hindu rulers and the tactful missionaries, the Guru sought to reach the unreached.

The empowerment of the less privileged is today a national priority, across political parties and governments. In this context, a look at how Sree Narayana Guru addressed issues of socio-economic and cultural reforms for the less the privileged in Kerala a century and a half ago will be relevant.

His empowerment programmes covered a sizeable deprived population in the Travancore, Kochi and Malabar provinces. His target groups were unorganised, mostly illiterate and without access rights to public places such as roads, markets, courts, temples, schools and even hospitals. In order to impose their supremacy, caste Hindus and rulers insisted that these sections follow separate dress and hair codes. Their status was that of slaves and bonded labourers. They were traded like commodities by landlords, even by governments and kings. When the British consolidated their power in India, the new rulers remained silent spectators of the social injustice. The marginalisation of the weaker sections enabled Christian missionaries to go ahead with mass conversions.

Sandwiched between the caste Hindu rulers and the tactful missionaries, the Guru sought to reach the unreached. It was a big task, for which he got no support from the ruling class. And, he had zero resources. He could, however, successfully address the subject without hurting the feelings of the rulers. He neither expected nor asked for help. He was confident in the strength of the poor. He awakened the hidden strength in them.

Following his own strategy, he could win the people’s faith and formulate a series of projects and programmes for them. He could also successfully implement them with the help of their leaders, although they had had no earlier experience in such tasks. He focussed on organisation, education, thrift, savings, investments, venture capital, trade and commerce, skill development and institution-building. He minimised wasteful expenditure on family and social functions, improved personal and neighbourhood hygiene, addressed issues of personal health care, and introduced good practices in family and in society.

He implemented these programmes successfully more than a century ago when there was poor access to transport, communication and resources, and no organisational support. The only driving force was the spirit to perform and cross hurdles. Yet the process of change resulted in a new confidence among the target group. They organised themselves, raised resources and volunteered their services for the reform process. The whole process survived for a couple of decades and slowly lost its spirit, yet left behind admirable and visible changes.

A comparison between what happened in terms of social changes then and what is happening now will throw light on the missing links in our current project formulation and delivery mechanism. India is an independent and growing nation. But it has a sizeable number of illiterate and poor people. Its poverty alleviation programmes are the largest of their kind with social instruments like Self Help Groups. Yet we continue to be less than efficient in eradicating poverty and empowering the less privileged.

We should then find the missing links. If it was possible for a social reformer more than a century ago, with an unfavourable support system, why are we failing to achieve our objectives as a mighty nation? Introspection and learning from our own success models should help. During the Guru Jayanti celebrations, those who hold in high regard such leaders and acknowledge their achievements, should address the subject and institutionalise the process.

Different forums can address this subject. A suitable mindset needs to be created first. Following social science research methodology, similar success stories in their respective contexts can be studied and documented. With the required changes, these tools can be further sharpened for need-based project formulation and implementation in local areas. Such methodology will be indigenous and therefore will have obvious advantages. It will reflect local aspirations and will therefore ensure peoples’ participation. In the process, we should find out any missing links. It may be the much required energy, or some other factor. We should find out.

When the success stories are available right here, why are we shy to acknowledge our own strengths? We do not need new ideologies and strategies to remove poverty from our land. We should rather perfect our skills and export them to remove poverty from the face of the earth. Local change agents can address the subject. This is possible only when we find value in our own skills and resources and start taking pride in them. In the process we could enrich our culture and emerge as winners in terms of social reforms.

From the Prime Minister to the anganwadi teacher, an added spirit to find values in our own strength is the need. If Mahatma Gandhi could ignite it for freedom and the Guru could generate zeal for the deprived in Kerala, why cannot this mighty nation fulfil its national priorities? We should pool our energies and enable others to optimise performance. That will bring forth the awaited glow, and our villages and towns will blossom with life.





A paper presented at the National Seminar on “Sree Narayana Guru : Reformation Movements – A Historico Philosophical Perspective” held at the Dravidian University, Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, on 30th & 31st October, 2008.

                                    By Smt. Sathya Bai Sivadas
                                    Lecturer (Rtd.), A.P. Educational Service
                                    President , 
                                    Sree Narayana Educational and Cultural Society

Religions: Quarrels and Conversions

“……. Though there is nothing that has brought man more blessing than religion, there is nothing that has brought more horror than religion . It has brought more peace and love, at the same time fierce hatred also. It has made the brotherhood of man more tangible but created more bitter enmity between one man and another. It is the inspiration behind a number of charitable institutions like hospitals for animals too, at the same time there is nothing else that deluged the world with more bloodshed, starting with the crusades and the persecution of Jews……”. – Swami Vevekananda

What is this religion?
In Latin “re” means back, again, “ligare” means to bind, to unite. Etymologically religion means that which binds one back to one’s origin. So the goal of all religions is to bind man to God, to unveil your real self, to discover your true nature, to draw out the divinity in you.

Religion is generally understood as the path for man’s search for his destiny, search for God, search for the Ultimate Truth, the rites of man’s communion with God. Different people have defined religion in different ways 

1. According to Swami Vevekananda “Religion is a question of fact not of talk, we have to analyze our own souls and find what there is. We have to understand it, and realize what we understand. That is religion. No amount of talk will make religion.”.

2. “Authentic religion is the clearest opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos can pour into human existence”. 
Huston Smith -Religions of Man.

3. Even the atheist Bernard Shaw said: “Religion is the only motive force for humanity” whereas Karl Marx dismissed it as the “opium of the people”.

4. Narayana Guru gives a very lucid definition. “The human mind went on trying to find answers to the mysteries of life, death and the universe. Answers to these spiritual problems evolved by great seers have become religions”.

Origin of religions:
The power of speech and the presence of religions are the two major characteristics that distinguish the human beings ( homo sapiens) from other animals. In the course of human evolution, these two must have developed along with the ability to think. The primitive man while observing the mysteries of life and death, the powers of nature like fire, rain, wind, thunder, earthquakes, floods, the sun and moon etc., over which he had no control, must have imagined a superior power over all these and himself which he named God. He viewed that power with awe, a complex feeling of love, respect, fear, anger and hatred. This complex feeling, in the course of evolution of human thought, underwent a dichotomy. One set of people tried to appease these forces of nature through appeals and propitiatory rites, while another set experimented with external means to control these. In course of time, the first set developed religion, philosophy and priests. The second set produced science, scientists and rational thinking. This is the beginning of religion and science The divisions of gnanam and vignanam came to be established. gananam is wisdom, the direct spiritual illumination which is clearly the field of religion, vignanam is detailed rational knowledge of the principles of existence which is the realm of science. 

But we have to understand that science and religion are not contradictory. They are only complementary. They are only two extreme wavelengths in the spectrum of human knowledge , which consists of the relationless Absolute at one end and the phenomenal world at the other end. The former is transpersonal experience, while the latter is purely experimental .

Structure of Religion:
Dr. Gavin Flood divides all major religions of the world into two types, the tree type and the river type. The tree type, starts with the teachings of one great seer, like the trunk of a tree and in course of time proliferates into of a number of sects and spreads all over like the branches of a tree. Religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism etc, belong to this category. The river type starts as a number of a small canals, which finally join together to form a mighty river. Hinduism, the beginning of which cannot be traced, started with a number of faiths and rituals like Vedic religion, Shaivism, Vaishnarism etc, and finally came to be joined together as one great religion, Hinduism.

Religious Universals:
Whatever be the origin and source of religions, a scientific study of religions reveal some common factors, the religious universals. They are theology, philosophy, mythology and rituals, which could be arranged in four concentric rings in a pyramidal shape. These aspects are conceived and understood by people of varying intellectual levels.

Occupies the topmost and central position in these circles. It is the attempt to define the indefinable, what the primitive man felt as the superior power which came to be defined as Godhead, Ultimate Truth, Reality, the Absolute etc.

Is the attempt to relate the phenomenal world of matter with individual consciousness and a realm of imagination which is much beyond this mundane world of eating, sleeping and reproducing. Human beings have to know this not by inference, but by intuition. 

Is the medium through which philosophy is brought to the common man, whose intellect is more practical than theoretical. Universally, mythology is the stories of human beings, divine beings and semi-divine beings interacting in a highly imaginary realm posing questions to humanity to ponder and find solutions to the esoteric human destiny. That is why there are some basic common factors in all mythologies for eg. human characters with super human powers, and divine characters with human frailties are there in all mythologies. “These holy tales and their images are messages to the conscious minds from the quarters of the spirit unknown to the daylight consciousness. They are telling us of matters fundamental to ourselves, enduring essential principles about which it will be good for us to know. They are not historical they speak not of outside events, but of themes of imagination”, -Joseph Campbell says in the “The Myths We Live by”.

Narayana Guru explains the meaning of mythology in simple terms. “ The stories of mythology are highly symbolic narrations to illustrate the search for meaning in spiritual matters, or parables and fables for codes of conduct. They are highly magnified through the lens of poetic imagination, so that they look absurd to the modern mind. Mythologies are bound to differ because people think differently and interpret differently.”

Rites and Rituals.
“Myths are the mental supports of rites and rituals, and rites are the physical enactment of myths”
                                                                        - Joseph Campbell in “The Myths We Live by”

Rites and rituals make the outermost fringes of religious practices which are observed collectively by the society and individually by the common man. Though many of the rites and rituals in the human society are of sociological origins, they are given a religious tone, and considered external expressions of religious practices. Let us examine, three rites observed by humanity all over the world. They are the rites of funerals, weddings, puberty or birth.

If we examine human evolution through pre-history and history, two fundamental realizations emerge. The first is man’s realization of the inevitability of death and the second is man’s need to have a social order.

Funeral rites are associated with the first realization. Man refused to accept that death was the end of life. Perhaps new sprouts from rotting vegetation gave them the idea that death was a giver of life. So human mind imagined and believed in a life after death. Many funeral rites like burials with supplies of food, clothing, cash, toys along with children etc. can be attributed to this sort of thinking. This belief went to the extent of burying weapons, army priests and even queens in the Egyptian pyramids.

But problems arise with the rituals practiced in these rites. People of all faiths performs funeral rites, but the rituals differ, some bury the dead, some cremate, some leave the body for birds to eat, etc. But before the disposal of the body, all pray for the departed soul, beg for divine mercy and forgiveness, atonement of sins etc. People forget these common factors of unity, and notice only the difference in the last part, which is insignificant, and feel that rituals are different, hence people are different. How stupid of us to ignore the similarity in the rites and presume that all are not the same. 

Wedding rites, and rites of puberty for girls and (in some African tribes) boys have a deeper meaning than mere festivities. These rites are meant for the orientation of the individuals in the society. Puberty rites are an indication to the young adult that hereafter he/she is responsible for his/her own actions, and an assurance to the society that as an adult, he/she is an integral part of its being. Wedding rites are the expressions of acceptance of the society, the binding of two individuals to form a ‘family’, the fundamental unit of society.

There is a third type of ritual, which is purely religious. Why do we enact Sita Rama Kalyanam, Nativity Play, and the Muharram procession etc?. It is a reliving of the entire episode to establish and reassure the hope of higher values and righteousness and the message of love and harmony to humanity.
“Myths are the mental supports of rites and rituals, and rites are the physical enactment of myths”
- Joseph Campbell in “The Myths We Live by”

Rites and rituals make the outermost fringes of religious practices which are observed collectively by the society and individually by the common man. Though many of the rites and rituals in the human society are of sociological origins, they are given a religious tone, and considered external expressions of religious practices. Let us examine, three rites observed by humanity all over the world. They are the rites of funerals, weddings, puberty or birth.

If we examine human evolution through pre-history and history, two fundamental realizations emerge. The first is man’s realization of the inevitability of death and the second is man’s need to have a social order.

Funeral rites are associated with the first realization. Man refused to accept that death was the end of life. Perhaps new sprouts from rotting vegetation gave them the idea that death was a giver of life. So human mind imagined and believed in a life after death. Many funeral rites like burials with supplies of food, clothing, cash, toys along with children etc. can be attributed to this sort of thinking. This belief went to the extent of burying weapons, army priests and even queens in the Egyptian pyramids.

But problems arise with the rituals practiced in these rites. People of all faiths performs funeral rites, but the rituals differ, some bury the dead, some cremate, some leave the body for birds to eat, etc. But before the disposal of the body, all pray for the departed soul, beg for divine mercy and forgiveness, atonement of sins etc. People forget these common factors of unity, and notice only the difference in the last part, which is insignificant, and feel that rituals are different, hence people are different. How stupid of us to ignore the similarity in the rites and presume that all are not the same. 

Wedding rites, and rites of puberty for girls and (in some African tribes) boys have a deeper meaning than mere festivities. These rites are meant for the orientation of the individuals in the society. Puberty rites are an indication to the young adult that hereafter he/she is responsible for his/her own actions, and an assurance to the society that as an adult, he/she is an integral part of its being. Wedding rites are the expressions of acceptance of the society, the binding of two individuals to form a ‘family’, the fundamental unit of society.

There is a third type of ritual, which is purely religious. Why do we enact Sita Rama Kalyanam, Nativity Play, and the Muharram procession etc?. It is a reliving of the entire episode to establish and reassure the hope of higher values and righteousness and the message of love and harmony to humanity.

Religious quarrels and conversions.
The reasons for religious quarrels are human nature, Incomplete knowledge and lack of comprehensive spirit to understand religions properly. This inability boils down to intolerance of another man’s faith or opinion. No religion teaches to kill or plunder or indulge in immoral activities. 

The theology and philosophy of religions remain almost the same with varying degrees of stress on different aspects. These are grasped mostly by intellectuals, who may differ in their interpretations and indulge in dialectics. But they do not take it to the streets or battlefields. The problem starts with non-intellectuals, with imperfect knowledge religions. 

Narayana Guru contends that it is the duty of the religious preceptors to explain the meanings of cryptic statements and fictitious stories to the common man to suit their intellectual levels. This will demystify religion. In his discussions with the rationalist C.V. Kunju Raman, the Guru gives several examples to illustrate this. It is commonly said that the Vedas are the words of God. The phrase used for this is apourusheyam, which means “beyond man.” The Guru explains how this is to be interpreted . It only means that we do not know who composed all the hymns of the Vedas, or the passages contained in them are beyond common human understanding and need explanations by the preceptors, acceptable to the modern rational mind. When the Old Testament says that the Ten Commandments are directly from God, or that God spoke directly to Prophet Mohammad, we have to understand that these words are the pearls of wisdom discovered by these wise thinkers to enforce an ethical code for the welfare of humanity. They have to be understood and followed in the proper spirit. It is extremely indecent to argue about these or make fun of them. We have to remember that some people will follow them only if the words are directly from God.

Swami Vivekananda gives some more examples of demystifying religions. The Bible Says “ Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. “ If this is taken in the literal sense it becomes absurd. Can we see God? Of course not , because our knowledge has limitations. But the statement “I and my father are one” makes one realise as reality in his heart an identification of the soul of man with God. These ideas are expressed in some religions, only hinted in some others.

Some times there are apparently contradictory statements. Jesus says “ The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” Again he says “ Our father who art in Heaven”. These two statements appear contradictory to the uneducated, but conciliatory to the wise. The former who imagines a heaven in the skies, a God occupying a throne there, cannot accept the first statement. When a man has developed a high sense of spirituality, he can understand that the kingdom of heaven is within himself and God who is in heaven is within him, whereas the unenlightened fail to understand this. 

Such apparent perplexities and contradictions are there in every religion. They mark different stages in the growth of the religions. There are stages in the growth when forms and symbols are necessary. These have become rituals. They are the languages, which souls in that stage will understand. But one has to understand that rituals alone are not religion. They are highly degenerate gestures from which the original meaning is lost or forgotten. Even the priests may not know the full meaning. To ridicule and start arguing in the name of absurdities in mythology and rituals is the first step of religious quarrels. Human nature will lead it to a riot, violence, or even a war.

Narayana Guru In Atmopadesa Sathakam explains through an anology (stanza 44 - 48) of the parable of the blind men and the elephant, how incomplete knowledge and lack of comprehensive spirit have become the reason for religious quarrels. It is sheer folly and ignorance to believe that one religion can win over another by arguments or war. Depending on the socio- cultural and political conditions of the period and place, different religions stressed different aspects of values, which are not inimical but only complementary. He quotes the example of Christianity which is based on Universal love and Islam for which the basis is brotherhood. Aren’t these two, love and brotherhood one and the same?. Is there any meaning in arguing that Brotherhood is nobler than love, or love is greater than brotherhood?. Such arguments lead to nowhere . 

We have to understand that doctrines and dogmas alone are not religion. Mythology and rituals alone are not religion. Religion is a combination of all these in varying proportions to suit the different intellectual levels. What Narayana Guru did was to interpret religion in different levels , so that he could lead people to spirituality beyond the narrow confines of religions. It is relevant to quote Narayana Guru’s words in this context, which will remain a password for religious unity of all types, in all places. Religious texts are common human heritage. “ The human mind went on trying to find answers to the mysteries of life and death, and the universe, Answers to these spiritual problems evolved by great thinkers are found in the philosophy of all religions. This great inheritance belongs to the whole of humanity and no one has any exclusive rights on it. Exclusiveness would be against the spirit of the ancestors who acquired them for posterity. Just like the principles of science are considered the common inheritance of humanity and shared by all, similarly books on spiritual matters also should be utilized by all for the common good. Each individual can select his own author”.- (From the welcome speech at The All Religions’ Meet, held at Aluva in 1924).

Religious conversions.
The burning question we now face is religious conversions. Genuine disbelief was the main reason for religious conversion in the past . We can add three more reasons to this at present : the need to shed caste identify, the expectation of material benefits and coersion.

There was a time in the social history of Kerala when the entire Ezhava community (untouchables) proposed a mass conversion. The reason for this was evidently the need to shed caste identity. The rigours of caste system became offensive to human dignity and the educated leaders of the community held a discussion with Sree Narayana Guru who was the sole religious preceptor of them.

The discussions with Sahodaran Ayyappan and C.V Kunju Raman, (both are rationalists, but favorite disciples of the Guru) are interesting social documents. ( Published in the newspaper Kerala Koumudi Dec, 1923) The Guru analyzed very clearly the meaning of conversion. If the conversion is desired because of genuine disbelief in the principles, the inner core of the religion, it is hypocrisy to continue in the same religion. The conversion will benefit both the individual and the religion which he is leaving. One religion will get rid of a non- believer and the other will add a believer. But if the conversion is because of the outer crust of the religion, namely customs and traditions, it is cowardice to run away. They should stick to the religion and change the unhealthy and unsocial customs. 

After explaining all these, he effected a masterstroke. He organized an All Religions’ Meet, the first one in Asia, in Feb 1924 in his Advaithashram at Aluva. Representatives of all major religions attended and explained the principles of their religions. The outcome was that it became evident that all religions uphold the same universal values. The difference is only in the external details like customs and traditions and certain rituals .

Through this he proved to his followers the meaninglessness of religious conversions. They gave up the idea of conversion, and started to work for breaking such traditions and customs, which stand in the path of human liberty, dignity and progress. The practical result is the famous Vaikkom Satyagraha, in support of rights for untouchables to use public roads, the first organized struggle by the Indian National Congress against untouchability and caste discrimination. It was manned by the followers of the Guru and led by Periyar Ramaswmy.

In the modern social set up two more factors have entered the scene, voluntary religious conversions for material benefits and conversion by coersion by anti-social elements. Those who are tempted by material benefits to change their faith are no doubt first-rate hypocrites. Do they believe in any religion?. Those who are coersed to convert at gunpoint , or through psychological blackmail are unfortunate victims of socio-political upheavals. Such forced conversions only add to the list of non-believers.

Let us conclude this paper with the words of Swami Vivekanda.

Swami Vivekananda says:
“The end of all religions is the realization of God in the soul. That is the one universal religion. If there is one Universal Truth in all religions, I place it here, in realizing God. Ideas and methods may differ, but that is the central point. There may be a thousand different radii but they all converge to one centre and that is the realization of God, something beyond this world of senses, this world of eternal eating and drinking and talking nonsense, this world of false shadows and selfishness. If there is something that is beyond all books, beyond all creeds, beyond the vanities of this world, it is the realization of God within yourself. One may pray in all temples and churches or mosques, carry all the sacred books in his brain but if he has no perception of God, he is an atheist. Prophet Mohammad calls such a man a donkey carrying books. A man who knows nothing of these, but if he feels God within him, he is a saint….. When a man says that he is right, his religion is right and all other religions are wrong , we have to presume that something is wrong with the ma…..” Let us remember always Narayana Guru’s words “What ever be the religion, let man be virtuous.” 

                                                                                                                Smt. Sathya Bai Sivadas


1. An Introduction to Hinduism By Prof. GAVIN FLOOD
(Cambridge University Press) Lecturer in Religious Studies
University of Wales, Lampeter. 

2. The Religions of Man By Prof. HUSTON SMITH
(Published by Harper& Row) Professor of Philosophy 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. The Myths to Live by By Prof. Joseph Campbell
(Published by Penguin, Newyork) The world’s foremost authority on Mythology was a lecturer at Sarah Lawrence College, where there is Joseph Campbell chair in comparative Mythology. Famous works are Masks of God, The Atlas of Mythology, The hero with a Thousand Faces. 

4. Speeches of Swami Vivekananda Published by Advaithasharama
In America Vol. III, V, VIII of ( Ramakrishna Mutt)
Complete works 

5. Sree Narayana Guru 
The Social Philosopher of Kerala 
Published by by Smt. Sathya Bai Sivadas 
(Bharatiya Vidyabhavan) P. Prabhakara Rao


                                                Smt. Sathyabai Sivadas.

Religions of the world can be divided into two types, the River Type and the Tree Type. A number of canals start from different places, swell up in their course and join together to form a mighty river. Similarly, different belief systems, cults, traditions etc. start from the invisible past and come together to be encompassed into a great religion. In later days, philosophical explanations are added, mythological and historical legends are composed in the attempts to unify and substantiate the existence of these varieties. Hinduism is the perfect example of this.

As a tree starts with the germination of one seed, the tree type religion starts with the thoughts of one man. Like a tree it grows, taking roots among the people. After some time the solid trunk of the tree divides and sub-divides into a number of branches and spreads out wide. In the religion founded by one man also this happens because people are different and they think in different ways. Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are perfect examples of this.

Buddha, the Man

So, Buddhism started with a man-Siddhardha Gouthama, the son of a king, who emerged as Buddha later on. He never introduced himself as the son of a king but only as Buddha, the awakened one. While wandering among the people, impressed by his glowing appearance, a question was put to him,

“Are you a god?” “No.”
“Are you an angel?” “No.”
“Then are you a saint?” “No.”
“Then what are you?” “I am the awakened one.”

From Siddhardha to Buddha
This great transformation took place more than 2500 years ago. It is only natural that historical facts are touched up with the cosmetics of legends to make them look more attractive. Everyone knows that when Siddhardha was born, his horoscope was cast, and the astrologer predicted that either he would become the Emperor of the world, or the Redeemer of mankind. Naturally he was kept entrapped in the luxuries of the palace and carefully guarded against any exposure to unhappiness and suffering. The story of the four passing sights is also well-known: the sight of an old man, a body racked with disease, a dead body, and a monk in ochre robes with a shaven head. These sights taught him the lesson that life is subject to old age, disease and death. It made him think: where is the realm of life in which all these are overcome? The vision of the monk pointed to withdrawal and search. So he broke free from the snare of the palace and left.

Six years followed during which his full energies were concentrated towards this search which was not at all easy. The process appears to have moved through three phases, with no record as to how long it lasted, and how sharply the three were divided.

His first act was to seek out two of the foremost Hindu masters of the day to pick their minds for the wisdom in their vast tradition. He learnt a great deal about Raja Yoga and Hindu philosophy so much that Hinduism today claims him as its own, holding that his criticisms of Hinduism of that day were only reforms. To include Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu was a clever conciliatory move for the revival of Hinduism.

His next step was to join a band of ascetics and give their way a full try. He practised all types of austerities. He held his breath until he felt that he was being smothered. He fasted so severely that he fainted. Someone gave him a little rice gruel and saved his life. This experience taught him the futility of asceticism. It had not brought enlightenment. In fact this made him think of The Middle Path between asceticism and over-indulgence in life.

In the third and final phase, Gouthama devoted his quest to a combination of rigorous thought and mystic concentration along the lines of Raja Yoga. He sat down beneath a fig tree with a vow not to move until he was enlightened. 

Records offer a course of temptations in the form of Desire, Death, Mara and the last one, Reason. After conquering all these forces of evil, finally on a full-mooned May night, his mind pierced the last bubble of mystery and wisdom blossomed in him. The great awakening had arrived. Gouthama’s being was transformed and he emerged as Buddha. The event was of cosmic import. The fig tree rained red blossoms. All created things filled the morning air with their rejoicings and the earth shook with wonder. For a total of forty nine days he was deep in rapture, after which his glorious glance opened onto the world.

For nearly half a century Buddha trudged the dusty paths of India, preaching the ego-shattering, life-redeeming elixir of his message (Details are there in other papers). At last at the age of eighty, around the year 480 B. C., he died eating accidently poisoned food.

Buddha the Man to Buddhism the Religion
This has to be seen against the background of Hinduism out of which it grew. Unlike Hinduism, which emerged by slow, largely imperceptible, spiritual accretion out of an invisible past, the religion of Buddha appeared overnight. Buddhism drew its basic vitality from Hinduism, but against its prevailing aberrations and corruptions, Buddhism recoiled like a whiplash. It hit back and hit back hard. Hinduism writhed under the impact of Buddha and his sermons. It was a religion against Hindu perversions--an Indian Protestantism.

To understand the teachings of Buddha, we shall need a minimal picture of the existing Hinduism that partly provoked it. There are some general areas common to all religions. These are authority, ritual, speculation, tradition, salvation and mystery. Each of these has an important function to perform in religion. Buddha’s reactions against Hinduism were mostly in these general areas. Let us take this one by one. 

Authority in Religion: Leave alone the supreme authority of God, a human agent is required to solve man’s problems in religious life. Some men rise above others by their study of religion, in their capacity to understand and deal effectively with the human spirit. By virtue of their competence their advice will win respect and their words will become authority. In the Hinduism of those days, this authority was reserved for the Brahmins alone. Strict guild regulations have been devised to ensure that the religious truths discovered in their culture remain their secret possession in order to maintain authority

Buddha preached a religion devoid of this authority. His attack on authority was double –edged. On the one hand, he wanted to break the monopolistic grip of the Brahmins on religious discoveries. A good part of his reforms was to make it generally known that what had been the property of a few ,has become the common property –contrasting his own openness with the Brahmins’ secrecy. “The Thadhagatha had no such thing as a closed fist of a teacher.” In his death-bed also he said, “I have not kept anything back.”

The second part of his attack was directed towards individuals. They were depending on Brahmins for guidance and explanations in religious matters. To them he said, “Learn and discover through your own experience”

Rituals in Religion: A second natural element in religion is ritual. Perhaps it was the cradle of religion, and the clothing of ethics and theology. Religion originated in celebrations and concern. When people felt like celebrating or deeply concerned about something, they get together singing and chanting, gesticulating and dancing. These natural reactions, in course of time were codified into religious rituals. In Hinduism, ritual, instead of being a protective covering in which the seed of ethics might germinate, has become a restricting shell. Endless libations, sacrifices, chants, and musicals were available if one had the cash to pay the priest, but the spirit of religion had largely departed. 

Buddha preached a religion devoid of rituals. Repeatedly he ridiculed the ancient meticulous observances of Brahminic rituals. He believed and taught that belief in the efficacy of rites and ceremonies is one of the ten fetters that bind man’s spirit. He strongly resisted Hinduism’s idols which were the centre of ritualistic worship. This fact has extracted comments that Buddhism is not a religion, but only rational moralism.

Speculation : Speculation is the third characteristic of religions. Interminable disputes as to whether or not the world was created in one day or over a period of time, what the upper and nether worlds are like, and what precisely transmigrated after death---Buddha was silent about these. When a disciple asked him whether the world is eternal or not, whether the soul and body are the same or different, he answered in a parable: A man was shot with a poisoned arrow. His friends wanted to get a surgeon to pull out the arrow immediately and start treatment. If the man wanted to know who sent the arrow, from where it was shot, what type poison was used etc. etc. before the arrow was released, what would happen? The man would die. Similarly, whether body is real or the spirit is real, whether the world is eternal or not, there is grief, suffering and despair. Only the path that leads to the destruction of suffering is real and relevant. So the Buddha told his followers, “let these unexplained things remain unexplained. Follow the useful path.”

Tradition : Tradition is the means of conserving and transmitting the cultural wealth of the past to the future through the present.Language is an important medium for this. In the Hinduism of the day, tradition had become a drag on progress because of its insistence that Sanskrit should remain the language of religion, though it was no longer intelligible to the people. Buddha preached his religion in Pali which was the language of the common man. This can be compared to Martin Luther’s decision to translate the Bible from Latin to English and German.

He rejected not only the language, but also the messages and teachings which were blocking the passage to the destruction of suffering. Though he had liberated himself from the past, many of his contemporaries were still under the weight of the past. He urged them to break free, “Do not go by what is handed down, nor on the authority of your traditional teachings. If you find them conducive to only loss and suffering, reject them” ( Some Sayings Of The Buddha –Oxford University Press)

Fatalism inherent in the Theory of Rebirth: In the Indian society of Buddha’s day, many had come to accept the cycle of birth and re-birth as never-ending. Added to this was the Brahmin- sponsored notion that release from this cycle, or liberation was possible only from the Brahmin caste, and one has to pass through thousands of births to be born as a Brahmin. As a result, a sort of dejection and sense of defeat had settled over the people. The general feeling was that there was no escape from this fate. Nothing struck Buddha as more pernicious than this fatalism.

Buddha preached a religion of intense self-effort. He severely condemned the notion that only Brahmins could attain enlightenment. He believed and asserted that whatever be your caste, you can achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, “Let a man of intelligence come to me, honest, candid, straight forward. I will instruct him and if he practises as he is taught, then he will come to know for himself and to realize that supreme religion and goal.”

The Supernatural: Buddha preached a religion devoid of supernatural. He condemned all forms of divinations, soothsaying and forecasting as low art and forbade his monks from playing around with any form of superhuman power. Hinduism in those days had degenerated into mystery and mystification. Magic and divinations had taken over. Religion had become a technique for cajoling innumerable gods to do what you want them to do. Buddha was totally against this. “No god or gods could be counted on, not even the Buddha himself.”He told his followers, “When I am gone, don’t bother to pray to me.... work out your salvation by yourself with diligence.”

The most startling thing that Buddha said about man was that he has no soul. This doctrine has caused Buddhism the name as a religion. His denial of a soul as a spiritual substance appears to be the chief point that distinguished his point of transmigration from the Hindu concept. While Hinduism held incarnation as a soul assuming a different body, Buddhism holds it as transmigration-the flame of a candle passing from one to another.

After his death, all the accouterments of religion which he tried to exclude, came tumbling into his religion with a vengeance, so that it is now much different from the original.Has Buddhism undergone transmigration? 

Buddha preached a religion which was empirical, scientific, pragmatic therapeutic, psychological, democratic and directed to individuals. Whether Buddha’s religion –without authority, without ritual, without theology, without tradition, and without supernatural- is also a religion without God? Is a question reserved to be discussed. Thankyou.

                                                                                                                Smt. Sathyabai Sivadas, Lecturer(retd) A. P. Educational Service 
BIBLIOGRAPHY Chief Editor, SIVAGIRI(English)Quarterly.
1 An Intruduction to Hinduism-------------Prof. Gavin Flood.(Cambridge U.P)
2.The Religions of Man----------------------Prof. Huston Smith(Harper&Row)
3. Some Sayings of the Buddha -----------Oxford University Press
A paper presented at the National Seminar on BUDDHISM- WORLD HARMONY AND PEACE at Kakatiya University sponsored by U.G.C. on 12th&13th Sep. 2009.



the philosophy of Narayana Guru on present education

            by justice B.S.A Swamy (Retd.)



 At the outset, let me express my thanks to the organisers of this conference which is being held as a part of platinum Jubilee celebration of Sivagiri Thirdhadanam  for giving me an opportunity to speak on the philosophy of Narayana Guru on education, in the present context of deterioration of the values in education on all fronts. Starting from Buddha all the social reformers having realized that the sufferences of teeming millions of people in this country is mainly due to illiteracy, ignorance and superstitious beliefs practiced by them, emphasized the need of imparting value based quality education to all. In the modern India, starting from the first social reformer Mahathma Jyothi Rao Phule, Narayana Guru, Ambedkar and Periyar followed suit and dedicated their lives for emancipation of the working class who through their sweat and hard labour produce the wealth of the country but subjected to victimization and  exploitation by the vested interests in this country. When Narayana Guru was born, majority of the population of Kerala were treated as untouchables and were denied of human rights and condemned to live in poverty and humiliation. The Chaturvarna system was followed scrupulously and Swamy Vivekananda described Kerala society as a “Lunatic Asylum”. Narayana Guru could not assimilate the social order prevailing at the time of his birth and raised the banner of revolt against the advice of his parents and other relatives, left the house in search of solace to his mind, ultimately to the forest. Having gone into meditation for years he realized that all human beings are born alike and a few clever people divided the working class into various castes and sub-castes and made them to serve as slaves by denying education, spirituality and decent way of life. Even temple entry was prohibited to them on the ground of un-touchability. He also realized that these barricades are man made and he should fight the inhuman practices imposed by upper castes. In that direction he propounded the philosophy of one caste, one religion and one god for a man. He consecrated more than 60 temples for sudras and atisudras. This action of Guru shook the foundations of orthodoxy which were built up and nurtured by the priestly class for over ages. He worked for the emancipation of these sections of people through education on social front. He evolved three major formulae in that direction 1. Freedom through education 2. Strength through organization 3. Economic independence through industries. The very fact that he consecrated Sarada Devi temple at the religious headquarters, Sivagiri shows the importance he has given to education. To carryout the renaissance movement on social front through massive educational programmes he formed S.N.D.P(Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana ) Yogam . The units of S.N.D.P were formed in all villages and primary education was made compulsory for the followers of Guru. Each unit was directed to maintain a School and a Library. Apart from that the S.N.D.P used to conduct series of lectures throughout Kerala to teach the common man, the importance of education, health, hygiene, morality, economy and industry.




The emergence of Narayana Guru on spiritual and social front in the erstwhile Trivancore State electrified the entire society and the down-trodden sections of the people who never enjoyed civilized life in any form till then started to fight for their rightful existence in the society through non violence movement. Infact, within a span of 40 years, the societal setup has undergone a sea change and the Keralites now stood first in all walks of human life, in particular in the field of education.


            Coming to present societal scenario  Dr. B.R.Ambedkar having realized that without educating the teeming millions of people who live in abject poverty the democratic form of Government that the  country has chosen, looses its value and one man one rule remains a myth. Hence incorporated Articles 45 and 46 in the Directive Principles of State Policy in that direction . While Article 45 postulates uniform free and compulsory education to all the children of this country up to the age of 14 years with in a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution, Under Article 46 of the constitution a duty is cast on the state to promote educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Weaker Sections of the people and to protect them from social injustices and all forms of exploitation. After the advent of the constitution, the ruling class, having felt that the colonial system of education is not suited to this country, decided to reorient the educational system in order to suit the changing needs and aspirations of the people, as education is also regarded as a potential tool for the social change and national development. Accordingly several Committees were appointed, many a time by the Central Government. Almost all the Committees uniformly felt that there is an urgent need for introducing uniform value based education for improving the quality of life at all levels from primary level to higher education. Every time on the basis of the recommendations of those committees the Central Government was coming up with a National Educational Policy. But the ruling class was not prepared to implement the policy propounded by them as they will not have the opportunity of serving the teeming millions of people if these people start asserting their share in the governance of the country after getting themselves educated. In such an event people who constitute less than 15% of the population and who are at the helm of affairs, be political, be executive, be administration of justice have to vacate their seats and the will of the majority of the people of this country will rule the roost. The last National Policy on education was propounded in the year 1986 by the Central Government where in stress was laid on uniform education from primary level, and the same should be implemented within ten years thereafter. But that ten years period is being extended from time to time without any attempt to achieve the goals set out in the policy. On the other hand, the sovereign function of the State to impart education to all its citizens as human energy is considered to be a national wealth, the ruling class of this country has taken a round about turn and commercialized the education by opening star educational shoppies. Before adverting to the aspect of how the ruling class is denying the basic minimum education to the common man, I would like to refer to some of the salient features of the education policy of 1986 under the Chairmanship of late P.V.Narasimha Rao the then Union Minister for Human Resources Development on 27th and 28th of 1986 who later became the Prime Minister of this country. The resolutions adopted at that conference were “ There was complete agreement on National system of education and on giving priority to eradication of Illiteracy, Universalization of elementary education and Vocationalization of education …………”


  Para 13:- That the new thrust in elementary education should emphasize the aspects (i) Universal Enrollment and Universal retention of children up to 14 years of age and substantial improvement in the quality of education.

 Para 3.8:- In our culturally plural society the values that are to be fostered through education should have a universal appeal, and should be oriented towards the unity and integration of our people.




In Para 3.2 The concept of a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of a comparable quality. To achieve this, the Government will initiate appropriately funded programmes. Effective measures will be taken in the direction of the Common School System recommended in the 1968 Policy.


 Para 3.6 To promote equality, it will be necessary to provide equal opportunity to all not only in access, but also in the conditions for success. Besides, awareness of the inherent equality of all be created through the core curriculum. The purpose is to remove prejudices and complexes transmitted through the social environment and the accident of birth.


The spirit and content of this resolution was accepted in the World Conference on Education for all held on 05-02-1990 at Jomtien Thailand in the following terms.  


     Article 3-4 :- An active commitment must be made to remove educational disparities. Un deserved groups – the poor, street and working children; Rural and remote populations; nomads and migrant workers, indigenous peoples, ethnic, racial and linguistic minorities, refugees, those displaced by war; and people under occupation - should not suffer any discrimination in access to learning opportunities.


            In the light of the above National Policy on Education we have to consider what is meant by value based education. Value education teaches us to preserve our culture, heritage, practices, whatever is good and worth while in what we have inherited from our culture, apart from helping us to accept and respect the attitude and behaviour of others who differ from us. Value education does not mean value imposition or indoctrination. Values in general can be classified under 5 headings. (1) personal (2) social (3) moral 4) spiritual and 5) behavioural. While the personal values relate to the values cherished by an individual like ambition, contentment, courage, determination, honesty, self confidence, and simplicity etc., Social Values are concerned to the society. Social values are always practiced in relation to our neighbours, community, society, nation and the world. These values are likely to undergo changes as the changes that take place in the society. Moral values are referable to an individual character and personality confirming what is right and virtuous. Spiritual values relates to devotion to God in various forms. Behaviour values relate to good manners that are needed to make one’s life successful and fruitful. Moral education in its broad sense includes not only inculcation of moral and ethical values but also spiritual, humanistic, scientific, aesthetic and sporting values. Thus comprehensively moral education means value oriented education. Though the National Policy on Education emphasized on the role of value education to eliminate obscurantism, religious fantacism, violence, superstition and fatalism, it was also commended that primary emphasis has to be laid on the inculcation of positive thinking based on heritage, national goals and universal perceptions. But unfortunately, majority of the educational institutions failed to impart value based and moral education for an integrated development of human personality and made the people to give importance to the material aspects of life and western culture leaving our own values and systems that were developed over centuries knowing fully well that a life without proper values will be a chaotic one and disastrous. Infact the unruly behaviour, crime and violence and deceitfulness that are fast taking roots among the student community both in the precincts of the educational institutions and out side ,  is the direct result of the educational curricula which is neither value based nor moral oriented.


Added to this falling of ethical values and moral standards in the country , the mushroom growth of varieties of educational institutions contributed their mite in successfully diverting the mind of the people from the age old human values , irrespective of their religious faith . The constitutional goal of free and compulsory uniform value based education to all the children up to the age of 14 years, reiterated by all the committees remained illusory. On the other hand all efforts are being made by the ruling elite to keep away the vast majority sections of people from education itself leave apart value based quality education.


            According to me, while primary education is considered as roots, the secondary education as the trunk and the collegiate education as branches of a tree, since the syllabi up to 10th class would be the same except little variations, to exploit and encash the middle class mentality by giving different nomenclatures to the same studies and the real specialization as per the choice of the pupil (in India, the parents) starts for settlement of his career in life over the years. But unfortunately as on today there are as many as eight types of schools functioning in the country which is quite contrary to the constitutional mandate. 1) Public Schools (I.S.I Standard) 2) Residential Schools 3) Convent Schools 4) Ashram Schools 5) Navodaya Schools 6) Kendriya Vidyalayas 7) C.B.S.E Schools 8) Adult Education. In Government schools the medium of instruction is in regional languages without English and the Public Examinations are being held at 7th class and 10th class.  In private educational institutions the medium of instruction is only in English followed  by weekly , bi weekly, monthly , quarterly , half-yearly and annual examinations . Even if the child gets some less mark in weekly tests, the Management directs the parents to take away the child from their school there by making the child to mug up the subject or indulge in mass copying than molding him as an enlightened soul.


 Infact the Courts too, did not lag behind in throwing the education system to shambles. Firstly to my mind, a combined reading of Articles 28,29 and 30 of the Constitution of India gives an impression that the Minorities are allowed to establish educational institutions to protect their language  , script or culture and to conserve the same . But unfortunately the Supreme Court held that minorities are also entitled to establish secular educational institutions and the reason given by them was that in future, the majority may deny them admission in the secular educational institutions. The reason given by the Supreme Court is a far fetched one and do not stand to reason in the light of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality before law and equal protection to all before law . The Courts further held that the Government cannot have any control over the administration of the minority educational institutions except prescribing the educational curriculum and to grant affiliation for purpose of holding examinations. Such Judgments came handy to the unscrupulous elements and they exploited the spirit underlying the judgments to saturation point. As on today most of the educational institutions established and maintained by the minorities, only the students belonging to majority community are receiving education rather than the students belonging to that minority, by spending huge monies towards capitation, tuition fees and other fees.


Added to this, the Supreme Court opened flood gates by permitting privatization and commercialization of the education. Everyone knows that most of the private educational institutions that sprang up after this judgment neither have proper infrastructure nor teaching faculties. The controlling agencies like NCTE and AICTE etc institutionalized corruption in the name of periodical inspections by the so called experts in the field and the result is that there is a nose dive in the standards of education that is being imparted in these educational institutions. Though the students may get a Degree or a Diploma they do not have the command over the subject or they know anything about the course they studied. While this is the position with regard to private institutions, the government educational institutions from university down below the village educational institutions, are starving for funds and most of the institutions are being run without teaching staff, leave apart qualified teaching staff and infrastructure. To augment their finances, the universities started introducing self finance courses. 


As the universities are not imparting education in undergraduate courses, those students are deprived of teaching by qualified and more experienced research scholars.   Last  but not the least , the universities have become hot bed for politics and the teaching staff as well as students are divided on sectarian lines directly under the nose of vice-chancellor and bringing down the reputation of the universities as institutions of learning . The U.G.C has no control over  the research guides and scholars except giving stipend   to the scholars  there by  the quality  in research work has taken a nose dive and the Ph.D’s  that are being awarded have become a farce. With the result, the so called post graduates and graduates that are being produced by these ill equipped educational institutions are not able to face the ever challenging needs of the fast changing society due to globalization and economic reforms.



            Nextly , the ruling elite  with a view to  have control over the material resources of this country  hatched  a  new plan of opening educational institutions  by spending crores and crores of  rupees of public money  and are refusing to implement rule of reservations by contending that they are institutes of excellence .  This very fact itself prove that our ruling elite themselves are admitting that other educational institutions are not maintaining excellent standards in imparting education.


The net result is that the students studying either in private or government educational institutions  are deprived of quality education leave apart moral and value based education.


Hence, it is high time that all well meaning persons should start their own educational institutions to develop integrated human being with moral and ethical values than depending upon ruling elite who are bent upon treating us as animals so that they can successfully continue their hegemony.  I am happy that wherever the disciples of Narayana Guru are there, they are starting and maintaining educational institutions par excellence with the other educational institutions in imparting value based education to the children and thus translating the dreams of their guru, a reality.


Following the judgment of the Supreme Court in Unni Krishnan case, constitution was amended and Article 21 A was introduced to the effect that receiving education is a fundamental right of a citizen and as per the interpretation given by the Supreme Court on Article 21 right to life does not mean animal existence but a meaningful existence with all human values. We have to fight the ruling elite by initiating litigation in courts seeking implementation of the constitutional mandate i.e. free compulsory universal primary education for all. Otherwise the vested interests will continue to have their hegemony over the affairs of the state in all walks of life.


Let all of us dedicate to the ideals and philosophy of Sri Narayana Guru and try to build a new social order where in all the citizens are treated alike.







Justice B.S.A Swamy

Former Judge, High Court of A.P


Executive President


Editor- in- Chief






The problem of women must have started with creation. A passage from The Digit of the Moon quoted by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Discovery of India  gives  this complex picture. When the creator felt the need to create a woman, he found that he  had exhausted all materials in the creation of man.  So he started gathering building material. The rotundity of   the moon, curves of the creepers, clinging of tendrils, trembling of grass, the  slenderness of the reed, the bloom of flowers, the lightness of leaves, the tapering of the elephant’s trunk, the  glances of the deer, the clustering of rows of bees, the joyous gaiety of sunbeams, the weeping of clouds, the fickleness  of winds, the timidity of the hare , the vanity of the peacock, the softness of the parrot’s bosom, the hardness of the adamant, the sweetness of honey, the cruelty of the tiger, the warm glow of fire, the coldness of snow, the chattering of the jays, the cooing of the kokila, the hypocrisy of the crane and the fidelity of the chakravaka compounding all these together he made  woman and gave her to man.


As literature is the mirror of the society, this description tells, what the society thought  of the  woman in those days.  Coming to the physical qualities of the woman, the objects used are beautiful and enchanting, no doubt.  But look at the objects representing her mental qualities: it is a bundle of contradictions, joy and sorrow , timidity and vanity, sweetness and cruelty, softness and hardness, warmth and cold, hypocrisy and fidelity.  There is nothing to indicate wisdom or  the power of discretion to distinguish between good and evil.  Her mind will be a battlefield full of contradictions.  He character is unsteady.  Feminine  nature  is disastrous like  a flood. The society felt  that she was  foolish, ignorant, fickle minded and untruthful.  The society had no confidence in her.  The society was afraid that if she was given freedom to mingle with men, she might run away  with someone.  Then the prestige and dignity of the family would be burnt to ashes  Hence the social law givers Goutama, Boudhayana, and Manu decided that the woman did not deserve freedom.  She had to be under the care and protection of a man, either her father, husband or son.


The role allotted to her was that of a glorified servant, a cook, a nurse and a help to her husband in his religious rites.  For this, she did not need education.  The society and the law givers (The composers of the Dharma Sastras & Smrities) felt this or they were afraid that education might  stimulate the intellectual  faculties dormant in the woman and she might start asking awkward questions. The lawgivers were circumspect and to avoid all these complications, declared that the women of all castes were not eligible for education.  As the Shudras were convinced and coerced to believe that they did not require education for the work they did, the women of all castes were convinced that they would be happy without the botheration of education and they were content to live in the bliss of ignorance.


There is a sociological explanation also.  The woman is bestowed with maternity and the responsibility of baby care by nature.  Being physically weaker than man, at some stage of her life, she needed physical help, support and protection of man.  She chose her mate and protector.  Family units were formed in this way.  As protector of the family the man had to use his physical strength and restrict  the woman at times.  The man started to feel that the woman was his property and he had a right to own her.  As families grew to become society, the woman became totally under his control.  Denial of freedom and education were devices to keep her under control. Women came  to be considered a possession of  man.


Coming down to Kerala specifically, the restrictions and sufferings were caste based For the  Sarvarnas – Nambudiri and Nair women – the problems were different from those of Avarna Women.


Among the Nambudiris, the women had a miserable fate due to the rule of “primogeniture” followed by Nambudiris.  According to this rule,  only the eldest son of a family inherited the property.  In order to keep the property in tact, only the eldest son was allowed to marry, that  too from his  own caste.


            Resultantly, as many men who were not the first sons could not marry, and the axe fell on the Nambudiri women (Antarjanam).  Many of them had to suffer life long compulsory maidenhood or become one of the many wives of an old Nambudiri.  Hence  young widows and suicides became common  among them.  A character, created by Lalithambika Antarjanam (short story writer) prays “Even if I am to be born as a dog ten times, please do not give me the life of a Nambudiri woman”. These words express how  unbearable life was to these women


The predicament of Nair women was some thing different.  For the convenience of  the younger sons of Nambudiri families, who  could not marry, a peculiar custom called Sambandham – a morganatic marriage – with Nair or Kshatriya women was devised.  According to this, the Nambudiri could cohabit  with a Nair woman, and produce children.  But  the woman did not have the status of a wife, nor did the children have any filial  rights.  They  were not even allowed to touch their father, lest they pollute  him.  The children became the responsibility  of their maternal uncle as per  the matrilineal system followed  by the Nairs.  The status of a Nair woman was decided by the number of Nambudiri husbands she had.  These poor  women were brainwashed to believe that it was their god – given duty to please the Nambudiri, and  the seed of the Nambudiri would produce clever  and smart children. The  women were in a fools paradise.




In public all the Savarna women were allowed the dignity of covering their body.  But the Avarna woman had to go around half naked.   In 1829 there was a royal edict by which all Avarnas, including  women, were forbidden from wearing clothes on the upper half of their  bodies, and jewellery made of silver and gold.  The purpose of this edict was to identify Avarnas, so that the Savarnas could maintain untouchability   and unapproachability, but in the case of Avarna women it was too indecent  to make her go half naked in public.  If at all she had covered her bosom, she had to uncover it in the presence of an upper caste person.


Another royal proclamation of the ruler of Venmani derogates the Avarna woman outright as the object of pleasure for any man.  The proclamation says if an Avama woman does not surrender herself to the passions of any man of her own caste  or uppercaste, she is considered immoral and deserves the death sentence.  Untouchability was only towards Avarna men, not women!.


The Avarna  woman had no claim to chastity, or self respect.  Look at the stanza in “Bharatha Gatha”.




            Aarana narimaarenniye yarume

            Keralam thanniladiyayi

            Charitryam sankichu nilka venda


            (In Kerala, no woman, except the Brahmin, has to be concerned about chastity).


If a poor tenant got married, he had to surrender his bride to the Feudal Lord on the first night itself.  Added to all these was the infamous “breast tax” imposed on Avarna women.


By the good sense of Rani Laxmi Bai of Travancore and the British  interference, these beastly uncivilized rules were revoked by royal orders,  in 1851.  but the women continued to be illiterate, ignorant and slavish.   She had no voice, no individuality and no identity of her own.  


This is the seen that Narayana Guru saw from the pinnacle of Advaithic Vision.


What he had experienced through withdrawal and meditation is  an exultation  of the Self into the Absolute – The Eternal Existence or Universal Consciousness.  To a person who has identified himself with the Universal Consciousness, the suffering of another person is his own suffering and a blemish on the Universal Consciousness. Narayana Guru saw around him humanity suffering from untold miseries caused by poverty, ignorance, superstitions, religious dogmas which defile human dignity, and atrocities and blunders in the name of tradition.  To him all  these appeared as “blemishes” on the purity of the Universal Consciousness.  As a person who has identified himself with the Universal Consciousness,  he took it upon himself the unlimited responsibility of removing all these blemishes.  In other words, the Brahmajnani  became A Jnani of Action, to uplift the downtrodden people and ease their suffering.  In this great “Yagna” his  contribution to the Emancipation of Women is the topic I have taken up to discuss.


In these modern days of feminism, demands for women’s  empowerment, and the Women’s Reservation Bill dangling in the air, this  topic is quite relevant. What the Guru has done for women’s advancement  almost hundred years ago, is something radical, and fundamental,  the first step for a never ending journey of progress ie., the   education of women.  A Chinese proverb says that even the longest journey starts with a first step.


The UN Declaration of The Elimination of Discrimination against Women came only in 1967. The 9th Section of this says,  “All necessary steps are to be taken to ensure that girls and women, whether married or unmarried, have equal rights (as men)  to education in all fields”.


About 55 years earlier to this declaration the Guru had given instructions to the volunteers of SNDP(Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam), about  education, through  Vivekodayam.


“……… Tell them (people) that hereafter there should be no Ezhava male or female without at least primary education…….”


In a letter to the Vignana Vardhini Sabha, a leading socio-cultural and literary organization of the day, the Guru had said, “……. In the society, not only men, but also women must be educated.  Do not neglect them in such matters…….”


Three points emerge from these statements.


1)         He did not discriminate between men and women.  He considered them integral parts of the society with equal status and responsibilities.


2)         The Guru had understood, much before the UN had thought about it, that the liberation of any society is complete, only if the women are emancipated.  This emancipation does not mean  liberation from male domination, but liberation from the different  social forces that curb her freedom and stunts her individuality.

3)         Education is the only means to emancipate women.


Those were the days when the women of Kerala were pushed aside  to the confines of kitchen and child-bearing, nursing the sick, and serving the men.  While many orthodox families thought that  education for a  girl was an unwanted  luxury, some others felt that  education would spoil her morals.  Into such a society, Narayana Guru introduced the revolutionary idea of educating the girl child.  It  was  shocking and shaking the foundations of tradition.


So, when the volunteers  of SNDP went from door to door to implore  the parents to send their girls to school, the elders had a sceptic look.  But  the Guru developed  an effective  technique.  Well-to-do households with  good social status among the Avarnas were approached first.  Of course,  the volunteers had to face first a  firm refusal  from the parents, who slowly  relented to a stage of hesitation, and finally gave silent approval.  When  girls from such homes started going to school, the common people had no hesitation.  They readily sent their girls to school.


Schools sprang up, and girls started going to school in large numbers.  The trickle became a torrent.  Then, higher education became a problem.  At that time, colleges were established only in Trivandrum  and  Cochin.  The Avarna girls were  legally permitted admission to Government  Women’s hostels.  But rooms, kitchens and dining rooms in the hostels  were separated on caste basis.  Because of this discrimination even well-to-do Avarna families did not send their girls for  higher education.  The Guru understood the problem and found a solution for it.  The Solution was “Sree Narayana Vidyarthini Sadanam”.


He invited his  able and efficient disciple Smt.  T.V. Narayani Amma,  gave her a soverign with  blessings, and instructed her to start a hostel for Avarna Girls at Trivandrum.  Following the Guru’s  instructions, Smt. Narayani Amma started SNV Sadanam, in a small rented building in Trivandrum.  From that simple beginning, the SNV Sandanam has grown  today to a very big establishment which houses hundreds of girl students and working women without any caste or religious discrimination.


A similar institution was started at Ernakulam also, under the leadership of Tapaswini Amma, with the help of Panavalli Krishnan Vaidyar and K.P. Karuppan Master.


When the Guru visited Madurai it seems he had instructed eminent men like George Joseph (Editor of  Young India) to start a similar institution in Madurai.





The Second revolutionary declaration  for the emancipation of women is in Stanza 260 of Sree Narayana Dharma.  In this he permits. Sanyasadeeksha to women


Shantyadi Saadhanavathi

            Nityanitya Vivekini

            Viraktibharitha Yoshith

            Pumvath Sanyasamarhathi


(A women who is desirous of peace and salvation, and  has the wisdom and ability to distinguish between  good and evil, and  total detachment from worldly affairs is eligible to receive Sanyasadeeksha.)


The revolutionary nature of this declaration becomes evident when viewed in contrast with  what the smrithis and shrutis have ordained for women.  Per haps during the Vedic period the women must have enjoyed  equality and equal opportunity for   education as exemplified by philosophers like Maitreyi  and Gargi.  They had access to the highest  knowledge of the Absolute or Brahman.  However  this liberal attitude changed in course of time.  The scriptures were given new interpretations  and women came to be considered inferior to men, both physically and mentally.  They women were forbidden from reading and even  listening to the  scripture ( Vedas) and entering  some places of worship (Some religions believed that a soul exists  only in a man not in a women)  The Guru, born  as a Hindu and well versed in Hindu scriptures  had perceived the degradation of women in  Hinduism in this basic in equality.  As a true  religions reformer, he brushed    it aside and   granted the women fundamental equality  with men through this declaration.  (The story of  Amba in Mahabharat, the arguments against her taking up Sanyasa in Parasuram’s Ashram, will make an interesting study – refer “Bharataparyatanam” by Kutti Krishna Marar).


A stanza from his short poem “Ashramam” shows Guru’s unified vision of integrating the spiritual  and the temporal  for the emancipation of women.




Yadvada thrive thadvaccha

            Streenam pumsam prudhak prudhak

            Vidyalaya dishi dishi

Kriyantham ashramam sadda


(For men and women, separate educational institutions and Ashramams are  to be  started in all places wherever possible).


Schools and Ashramas are equally important for the allround development of a human being – man or woman.


Two women who had first received Sanyasadeeksha are Swamini Juothirmayi Mata, and Swamini Amrutha Matha.


Matha Jyotirmayi had received  sanyasadeeksha from Guru Nitya Chaithanya  Yati  and started Mangala Bharathi Ashram at Thotuva, Ernakulam Dist. in 1984.  The Ashram conducts regular study classes for women on the philosophy of the Guru and study camps for  children.  This Ashram is under Sree Narayana Gurukulam.  All the functions of the Ashram are conducted  under the direction and leadership of Sri Muni Narayana Prasad Swamy.


Sree Narayana Sevika Ashram at Palyathuruth in Ernakulam District, was established by the efforts of Swamini Amrutha Matha. Swamini Amrutha Matha was one of the first women to receive  Sanyasadeeksha from Sivagiri.  This Sevika Ashram was started for a special purpose.


While the Guru was in Ceylon in 1918, he published a message asking for the establishment of Dharmapalana mattoms for women.  The message reads,


“……… There is need  for establishing an institution like a  convent, where girls can live and pursue their studies.  The main objectives of these Dharmapalana Muttoms are to train girls  in certain compulsory requirements like good character, good  behaviour, knowledge of languages, expertise  in child care, house  keeping, nursing the sick, and handicrafts like stitching which are  useful for house keeping.  They must be trained in these, so that they would become the goddesses of prosperity of homes…….”


This Ashram at Palyathuruthu is the first institution to be  stated to implement these principles.  A “Brahmavidyalayam”  to train  the women as  sanyasinis, has  also started functioning here.  It was one of the dreams of  the Guru to get committed women ascetics to spread his messages.  That dream is being fulfilled through this Brahmavidyalayam.


The crowning glory of all women’s organizations, is the  Sree Narayana Sevika Samajam, and its Multipurpose Welfare Centre at Sree Narayana Giri, about 5 Km away from Aluva Advaithashram.  The idea of forming the Samajam was the brainchild of Sahodaran Ayyappan, and Smt. Parvathi Ayyappan took up the responsibility of starting  and developing the Multipurpose Welfare Centre, for  the benefit of women.  The location selected to house it was “Valmikikunnu”, a hillock sanctified by the foot-steps of the Guru.  While living in Advaithashram, the Guru used to go on long walks, medidate and rest for a while on a block of stone on this hillock, watching the glory of nature around it.  The stone on which the Guru sat, is still preserved here, as a holy spot of pilgrimage.


Though the Welfare Centre was started as a carehome for orphaned children, under the able guidance of Smt.  Parvathi Ayyappan  and other  devoted sevikas, it  has become a center of service and relief to the helpless.


Social Reformations:


A Third factor  that contributed to the emancipation of women is some important social reformation measures adapted by the Guru.


In those days, a girl child was a financial burden to the parents, as there were four expensive rituals to be performed for the girl.  The scale of celebration of these functions seemed to be the criterion for assessing a person’s  status in the society.  Families vied with one another is spending money for these functions and had gone bankrupt.   Consequently the girl child was  considered a curse.


The four function to be conducted were  Minnukettu Kalyanam, a mock marriage, Thirandu Kalyanam – to declare a girl’s puberty,  Podavakoda Kalyanam – Wedding, and Pulikudi Kalyanam – at the time of the first  pregnancy.


The Guru strictly forbade three of  these functions, except the wedding which he  modernized. By stopping three expensive functions,  the parents of the Girl child heaved a big  sigh of relief as  the girl child became less of a financial burden.


 The modernization of marriages was  a great social debut.  The Guru insisted that the  proposed bride and groom must be allowed to meet  and talk to each other and understand  each other, They have to find out by themselves whether they  suit each other.  The marriage has to be performed  after getting their consent,  in a very simple, inexpensive way.


This modernization of marriages served  two purposes.  It gave a fillip to the woman’s self respect.  She was given the freedom to choose and exert her will.  This is the greatest gist to the women.  The parents were also happy because expenses were reduced.


Parallel organization:


 Following the example of SNDP, Paralled organizations like Yogakshema Sabha, N.S.S and Sadhujana Paripalana Sabha etc were formed and introduced reformatory measures. The rule of primogeniture and morganatic marriages came to be abolished


The Change in the Society  


After the  Guru administered the supreme panacea  of education, spirituality and social reformation measures  there is a magical transformation in the women.   The women developed an identity, individuality,  dignity, and a voice of her own, and gained a respectable place  in the society.


The change is reflected in the literature of 20th Century.  From 13th to 19th C, the poets of Kerala (mostly Manipravalam) described only the physical charms of a woman.  The heroines of Unniyadi Charitam, Unnu Neeli Sandesam, Unnichirutevi Charitam, Chandrotsavam etc., have only  one character, a beautiful body, to give pleasure to the man.  The had no mind or soul.  This mind and soul which was absent in the women characters, were re-invested in them in the imaginative creations of  Kumaran Asan.  Asan’s heroines, Nalini, Leela, Savitri, Seetha, Chandalika and even Vasavadatta emerge as women with not body alone, but mind  and soul also, who are capable of analyzing and expressing situations in life in philosophical light.  They are ideal women conceived in the mind of the poet, influenced by the vision of Sree Narayana Guru.


THE IDEAL WOMAN - The Vision of Sree Narayana Guru


To conclude the paper, it becomes necessary to look at the picture of the ideal woman, as envisaged by the Guru.  The statement made by the Guru from Ceylon says that girls must be trained to become goddesses of prosperity for homes.  In a poem by the Guru “Bharya Dharmam” (Duties of a Wife) he gives utmost importance to the lady of the house.  A woman having qualities suitable to her home, and capable of controlling the expenses to be within the income limit, will be a support to the man of the house.  She is expected to be virtuous, chaste, loving and respectful to her  husband.  It is her duty to look after herself and preserve the name and fame of the family.  Such a woman will be respected not only by the husband but also by the gods.  The prosperity of the home and the well – being  of the children depend  on the qualities of the lady of the house.


This poem has to be viewed in the framework  of the social conditions of the day.  As the title of the poem indicates, this is a home oriented vision of a woman.  The ideas are similar to those in Thirukkural.  In those days, when the woman was confined to the house, the accepted role of a wife was that of a glorified servant.  But Narayana Guru elevates  the wife to a high pedestal, as the financial controller of home, the custodian of the reputation of the family, the defender of herself, and the  dispensor of destinies of all the  members of the family.  If the man is the  bread- winner, she is the home- maker and commands his respect, as her role is equally responsible and respectable.  In the social set up of those  days, this picture of the ideal wife must have appeared like a revolutionary outburst.


The women in general are career-conscious now, and they  are willing and ready to take up any challenging career.  The women of Kerala are certainly in the forefront in this.  But the Avarna women of Kerala should realize that, they  are what they are now, because of Narayana Guru.  It was he who kindled the light of knowledge and opened the doors of the school to their grand  mothers or great grand mothers.  This seed of revolution – women’s  education – which he had sown, had grown and  borne fruit, which the modern women harvest as “Women’s Empowerment”.  They should not forget their benefactor  and the rich legacy which  he had bestowed on them.





Smt. Sathya Bai Sivadas

Author of “Sree Narayana Guru, The Practical Philosopher” &

Sree  Narayana Guru, The Social Philosopher of Kerala”.



Paper presented at The Conference on Education and Organization  as the part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebration of Sivagiri Theerthadanam

By Sree Narayana Mandira Samithi, Mumbai on 16-12-07. 



Sathya Bai Sivadas & P. Prabhakara Rao     





The Vaikkom Satyagraha was the first systematically organized agitation in India against orthodoxy to secure the rights of the depressed classes. For the first time in history, the agitation brought forward the question of civil rights of the low caste people into the forefront of Indian politics. No mass agitation in Kerala acquired so much all-India attention and significance in the twentieth century as the Vaikkom Satyagraha. Vaikkom is a small temple town in Central Travancore on the eastern banks of the backwaters of Vembanadu. The town is famous for its Shiva temple, which in the early twentieth century was the citadel of orthodoxy and casteism. As was the custom prevalent in those days, the Avarnas were not allowed to enter the temples. But at Vaikkom, they were not permitted even to use the public roads around the temple. Notice boards were put up at different spots prohibiting the entry of Avarnas reminding them of their social inferiority. All the more unbearable to them were the fact that a Christian or a Muslim was freely allowed on these roads. An Avarna had to walk through a circuitous route, two to three miles longer to avoid the road beside the temple. It seems that when Ayyankali Pulayan had to travel through this road, he was asked to get down from his bullock cart, and walk through the circuitous route and his bullock cart without him was allowed to pass through the road. 

Why Vaikkom was selected for the Agitation?

(Historical Background)

During 1865 the Government of Travancore had published a notification that all public roads in the state were open to all castes of people alike. In July 1884, the Government by a fresh notification reaffirmed the policy laid down in the previous order and enjoined that any violation of these orders would be visited with the severest displeasure of the Government. This notification came up for a judicial review before the High Court. The High Court then considered it expedient to draw a distinction between ‘ Raja Veedhis' (Kings Highways) and ‘ grama veedhis' ( village streets). The court decided that the public roads mentioned in the notification of the Government were intended to mean only the ‘ Raja veedhis' and not ‘ grama veedhis'. The roads around Vaikkom Temple were considered ‘ grama veedhis' and consequently even after 65 years of Government proclamation, they were barred to the Avarnas and a unit of police (consisting of Savarnas ) was stationed in the vicinity to enforce the custom. 

Other Probable Reasons

About two hundred years ago at Vaikkom, there was an attempt at temple entry and a gruesome end to it. Balarama Varma was the king of Travancore and Kunchukutti Pillai was the Diwan (Dalawa). About two hundred bold and daring Ezhava young men, in and around Vaikkom decided to enter the temple and worship. A date was fixed. Those who were in charge of the temple carried the news to the king and the authorities and the king promised to take necessary action. On the day of the proposed temple entry one messenger from the king came to Vaikkom, and met the temple authorities.

“Where is your army?” They asked.

“Why do you want an army? Am I not enough?” Said the person in reply.

They wondered how this single man would stop 200 able-bodied young men. The young men organized themselves in to a procession from Iruvelikkunnu on Kottayam Road . Their plan was to enter the temple from the eastern road. As they were nearing the temple the King's messenger rode on horse back through their midst very fast wielding his sharp sword. A number of heads rolled to the grounds and the rest bolted for their lives. After two or three trips by the rider on the scene there were only severed heads and headless trunks rolling on the ground. All these were collected and buried in the pond at the northeastern side of the temple. It seems Dalawa Kunchukutti Pillai had ordered the massacre; hence the pond came to be known as Dalawa Kulam. The pond is no longer there. It is filled in and the present private bus stand is constructed there.

There was another crucial incident, which triggered the action. Sree Narayana Guru himself was prohibited from passing through the roads around the temple. Sri Bhargavan Vaidyar mentions this in the golden Jubilee Souvenir of Neyyattinkara S N D P Union. The editorial of the Malayala Manorama on 29 th March 1924 (the day before the starting of the Satyagraha) mentions, “If a venerable sage like Sree Narayana Guru and his disciple Mahakavi Kumaran Asan were driven away from the road around the temple by a drunken upper caste buffoon in the name of caste, can their people take it lying down? If they rise up in revolt can any authority stop them by force?

The famous Malayalam poet Moolur Padmanabha Panicker wrote

Long ago on the streets of Vaikkom in a rickshaw

The great sage Sree Narayana was going

An idiot born as god on earth

Came up and ordered the rickshaw to withdraw.

If this is the truth, T. K. Madhavan, the favorite disciple of Sree Narayana Guru, must have taken an inner pledge to annihilate the tradition, which insulted his Guru, and the result was the Satyagraha at Vaikkom.

Protests by Ezhavas

The Ezhavas had taken up the issue since 1905. Ezhava representatives in the Travancore Legislature Kochu Kunjan Channar, Kunju Panicker and Kumaran Assan raised the question of using the public roads around the temples by Avarnas . The authorities remained adamant and refused to take up the matter even for discussion as it was considered a religious question. Again in 1920-21, Kumaran Assan raised the question and it was decided to shift the notice boards a little, so that some parts of the roads would be accessible to the Avarnas. But this was not what the people wanted.

When T. K. Madhavan, the organizing secretary of the S N D P Yogam became a Member of Travancore Legislature, he felt that Kumaran Assan and others has accepted a humiliating compromise. Madhavan wanted to demand outright temple entry. But he was denied permission even to introduce the resolution in the Legislature. Madhavan met the then Divan Raghaviah at his residence and requested him to reconsider his decision. The Divan refused. Madhavan requested for permission to make a representation to the Maharaja himself. Even this was denied. Frustrated and enraged, Madhavan raised his voice of protest before the Divan, “ We are denied the right to present our problems to the legislatures, and we are denied permission to represent to the Maharaja. How are we to resolve our problems? Are we to leave Travancore?” The Divan retorted, “ You may leave Travancore to solve your problems.”

Madhavan's main objective was to achieve unconditional temple entry for the Avarnas , but he understood that the right to use public roads around the temples was first step. He already had the idea of launching an agitation at Vaikkom against the forbidding of roads around the temple, as an activity of the S N D P Yogam. He discussed the matter in detail with Sardar K. M. Panikkar. Sardar Panikkar gave him very sound advice. “ True, the Ezhavas under the leadership of Shree Narayana Guru had united and uplifted themselves, and have become a formidable force in the socio-economic-political atmosphere of Kerala. Though the SNDPYogam has become a mouthpiece for all downtrodden people and the standard bearer of social revolution, the issue at Vaikkom, needs handling at a higher and wider level. It is not just a fight for gaining access to road, but a symbolic battle against atrocities in the name of caste. It has to be given a national and cosmopolitan look and gain the attention of the entire world. For that, it is necessary to include it as an activity of the Indian National Congress, and get Mahatma Gandhi to approve it.'


Involvement of the Indian National Congress

Madhavan met Mahatma Gandhi at Tirunelveli on 23 rd September 1921 , and apprised him of the conditions of the Ezhavas and their achievements through the SNDP. Because they had already achieved admission to school, Mahatmaji agreed that the time was ripe for temple entry. Mahatmaji promised to write to the State Congress Committee to take up the issue.

Madhavan attended the Kakinad AICC meet (1923) in the company of Sardar Panikkar and K. P. Kesava Menon. Madhavan got a pamphlet printed ‘ A request to the Indian National Congress on behalf of the untouchables of India .' Madhavan tried with all his might to convince the members, of the need to eradicate untouchability. The Congress agreed to include the eradication of untouchability in their constructive programs and resolved to lend full support to the Vaikkom Movement, and authorized the KPCC (Kerala Provincial Congress Committee) to undertake the task.

In accordance with the Kakinad Congress resolution, the KPCC met at Ernakulam on 24 th January 1924 , and formed an Untouchability Abolition Committee (UAC) consisting of T. K. Madhavan, Kurur Nilakantan Nambudiri, T.R. Krishna Swami Iyer, K. Velayudha Menon and K. Velappan (convener). A publicity Committee of five members including T. K. Madhavan was also formed.

The KPCC, the UAC and the Publicity Committee reached Vaikkom on 28 th February 1924 . There was a huge public meeting. Madhavan made a public request to the UAC to get the prohibitory notice boards removed from the roads around the temple. The Committee resolved to take procession of Avarnas through the roads on the very next day of the Pulaya Mahasabha meeting.

The news of the decision reached far and wide. It evoked mixed reactions. The caste Hindus who tolerated the speeches at the meeting could not digest the idea of a procession as proposed by the KPCC and the UAC. They along with the local Magistrate, the Police Inspector, and the Tahsildar, met the congress leaders at their camp, and suggested a postponement. They promised that they would try to prevent communal tensions, and make the procession a success, if they were given time. The congress also realized the situation. They could also make use of the time to plan and prepare properly for launching the agitation. The date was fixed as 30th March 1924 , and the idea was to take out a procession. Meanwhile, the local Magistrate fearing communal tensions issued prohibitory orders against the procession. Hence the UAC changed its tactics. It was decided to send only three volunteers every day instead of a procession. Volunteers were selected from all castes.

A Satyagraha Ashram was set up about one furlong south of the temple. The Ashram was packed with volunteers who came from different parts of the country. The venue of Satyagraha was decided to be on the western road where a prohibitory board announced:  

Ezhavas and other low castes are prohibited through this road

Hundred of policemen armed with lethal weapons, ready to meet any eventuality, were on the vigil round the clock at the spot where the Satyagraha was to begin.

On the morning of 30th March a bugle call for action was sounded. The first batch of volunteers selected to offer Satyagraha were Kunjappy (Pulayan), Bahuleyan (Ezhava) and Govinda Panicker (Nair). Before leaving the Ashram , they were strictly instructed not to offer any resistance and remain calm against all provocations. The Satyagrahis , wearing khadi and Gandhi caps and garlands, marched forward with the Congress flag fluttering before them. All the volunteers followed them shouting ‘Satyagraha ki jai, Mahatma Gandhi ki jai.' All of them would stop at a distance of fifty feet from the notice board, and only the selected three would walk to the point where the prohibition board hung. The police would stop them and ask them their caste. The police would pronounce that the low caste men would not be allowed to pass; only the Savarnas could. The upper-caste men would insist that their companions should go with them. The police would prevent them. The Satyagrahis would wait there patiently until they were arrested just before noon . When they were produced before the court, invariably they were convicted and sentenced to jail and fined. They refused to pay the fine, and courted extra imprisonment. In the evening there would be a procession and public meeting, protesting against the arrest. The meetings were given wide publicity and people thronged in from all directions. They returned, rejuvenated by the inspiring speeches of the leaders to come back again next morning to start the routine.

The Satyagraha was temporarily stopped for two days on the 5th and the 6th of April to try for a compromise between caste Hindu leaders and the Congress. All talks failed and Satyagraha was resumed. T. K. Madhavan and K. P. Kesava Menon (KPCC President) volunteered on 7th of April and courted arrest. They were later released. All those who were arrested at Vaikkom were released when the Maharaja of Travancore , Sree Moolam Thirunal , passed away.

The struggle continued like this up to 10th April, when the police adopted the new tactics of barricading the roads and thus tried to prevent the Satyagrahis from reaching the disputed roads. The police also decided not to arrest the Satyagrahis , and they responded with fasting. But Gandhiji disapproved of fasting as it went against his theory of Satyagraha. The police who were watching the progress of the agitation were convinced that their policy of not arresting the Satyagrahis was not very effective. So they wanted to use strong-arm tactics to crush the agitation. The conservatives joined the police, and in due course, the conservatives took over and the police became silent witnesses to the atrocities committed on the volunteers by the conservatives. When the Satyagraha started the ruling Maharja of Travancore was Sree Moolam Thirunal . He and his minister Divan Bahadur T. Raghavaiah were golden props of extreme orthodoxy. They wanted to keep old customs in Toto. Divan Raghvaiah made a speech in the Travancore legislature strongly defending the Savarnas and denouncing the Satyagraha.

Meanwhile hundreds of letters were sent to Gandhiji to suspend the agitation. Two advocate brothers from Kerala, Sivarama Iyer and Vancheeswara Iyer met Mahatmaji and argued that the roads around Vaikkom temple are private property and hence the Satyagraha was irrelevant.

All newspapers in India flashed headlines about the Satyagraha . Money flowed from different states to Vaikkom. The Akalis of Punjab came to Vaikkom to open a free kitchen for the Satyagrahis . Non-Hindus like Barrister George Joseph, Bhajematharam Mathunni and Abdul Rahman (the Editor-in-Chief of The Young India) came forward to offer Satyagraha. But Gandhiji did not accept any of these. Gandhiji wrote in the Young India on April 24th 1924 and May 1st 1924 against accepting outside aid.

As for accepting assistance from Hindus from outside, such acceptance would betray un readiness on the part of the local Hindus for the reform. If the Satyagrahis have the sympathy of the local Hindus, they must get locally all the money they need.”

Gandhiji wrote to Mr. George Joseph on April 6th 1924 , “As to Vaikkom, I think you shall let the Hindus do the work…. It is they who have to purify themselves. You can help by your sympathy and your pen, but not by organizing the Movement and certainly not by offering Satyagraha. If you refer to the Congress resolution of Nagpur , it calls upon the Hindu Members to remove the curse of untouchability…Untouchability is the sin of the Hindus. They must suffer for it; they must pay the debt they owe to their suppressed brothers and sisters. Theirs is the shame and theirs must be the glory when they have purged themselves of the black sin. The silent loving suffering of one pure Hindu as such will be enough to melt the hearts of millions of Hindus, but the sufferings of thousands of non-Hindus on behalf of the untouchables will leave the Hindus unmoved. Their blind eyes will not be opened by outside interference, however well intentioned and generous it may be, for it will not bring home to them their sense of guilt. On the contrary, they would probably hug the sin, all the more, for such interference. All reforms to be sincere and lasting must come from within…” . Anyway before George Joseph received this letter, he offered Satyagraha and was arrested. The Akalis also withdrew on Gandhiji's word.

There were more than 200 volunteers in the camp. After some time, it became difficult to maintain the camp. It was brought to the notice of Gandhiji at the Belgaum Congress and the Congress records show that an amount of Rs, 1000.00 per month was sanctioned from the Congress funds for Vaikkom Movement. (Source: A.K. Antony's article in the Malayala Manorama special issue on the Platinum Jubilee of Vaikkom Satyagraha on March 30 th 1999).

Important people like Vinoba Bhave and Swami Shraddhananda visited the spot. E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (affectionately called ‘Periyar' by the Tamilians) came with his wife Nagamma and a group of followers and offered Satyagraha on April 14 th . The whole group was arrested and Periyar was kept at Arukutty jail. In spite of Gandhiji's objection to non-Keralites and non-Hindus taking part, Periyar and his followers were present giving moral support to the movement till it was withdrawn. Periyar got the title ‘Vikkom Veeran'.

Nagamma with Mrs. Joseph, Mrs. T.K. Madhavan and Mrs. Govindan Channar, among others formed a Women's committee to persuade the women of the villages and get them ready to participate in the Satyagraha. They went around villages explaining to the women, the meaning and purpose of this Satyagraha and collecting from them, handfuls of rice and small changes to maintain the volunteers' needs. The women started to offer Satyagraha on May 20 th 1924 . Nagamma was arrested along with Mrs. T.K. Madhavan and later released. Nagamma's leadership induced courage and solidarity in the women.

The Role of Sree Narayana Guru in Vaikkom Satyagraha

Sree Narayana Guru, who had never shown any interest in the national movement or the activities of the Indian National Congress, involved himself with the Vaikkom Satyagraha and extended much co-operation. The reason is quiet evident. The Vaikkom Satyagraha was not an agitation for political freedom, it was a movement to purify the Hindu society of its blemishes, and this was what Guru also attempted through his actions and messages.

But some how, a small misunderstanding arose between Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru, regarding the modus operandi of the Satyagraha. One of Guru's dialogues with the General Secretary of the S N D P was misinterpreted in such a way that it led to believe that the ideals of Gandhiji and Guru clashed. There was a stage when someone suggested to Gandhiji to withdraw the support for the Satyagraha because the spiritual leader of the Thiyyas was urging his followers to use violence, which is against the principles of Satyagraha.

The Guru had thorough discussions with his favorite disciple T. K. Madhavan, about the Vaikkom Movement, even before Madhavan met Gandhiji about the issue. The Guru had another discussion with K. M. Kesavan, the then General Secretary of the S N D P when the Satyagraha was launched.

Kesavan: Gandhiji wants to win over the other side and the Government by sympathy, by self inflicted suffering. That is how they gain their end.

Guru: The will to suffer and sacrifice should be there . But there is no need to get drenched or starved. Enter where entry is banned and face the consequences, Take blows without giving them. If a fence is raised in your path , don't turn back, jump over it. Don't stop with walking through the road, enter the temple, every temple, every day, everybody. If the offering of pudding is ready, take it. Go to the place where free food is served in the temple; and sit along with others. Let the Government be informed of what you intend to do. One should not fight shy of laying down one's life. Those who think another's touch pollutes him should not be left unmolested in their so called cleanliness. That is my view…. Give publicity to all these in the papers. Let people know that I subscribe to their views. But let there be no violence or show of force . Don't be perturbed by coercion.

Kesavan: Temple entry is the ultimate goal of Satyagraha. That is postponed to the next year.

Guru: Why? Isn't it too late even now?

This view was given wide publicity and the newspaper cutting containing it reached Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji wrote in the Young India on June 19 th 1924 .

‘His Holiness Sree Narayana Guru, the spiritual leader of the Thiyyas is reported to have disapproved of the present methods of Satyagraha at Vaikkom. He suggests that volunteers should advance along barricaded roads and scale the barricades. They should enter temples and sit with others to dine…. Now the action proposed is not Satyagraha. For scaling barricades is open violence. If you may scale barricades, why not break open temple doors and even pierce temple walls? How are the volunteers pierce through a row of policemen except by using force?…. If the Thiyyas are strong and willing to die in sufficient numbers, they can gain their point…. All I submit is that they will have gained it by some thing the reverse of Satyagraha. And then too, they would not have converted the orthodox to their views, but would have imposed it on them by force.'

‘A friend who has sent me the press cutting suggests that by reason of the violent advice of the guru, I should ask the local Congress Committee to call off the Satyagraha. I feel that would mean want of faith in one's means and surrender to violence…..If Congressmen connected with the Vaikkom movement entertain the suggestions said to be favored by the Thiyyas spiritual leader, there would be case for penance, and therefore suspension, but not otherwise. I would therefore urge the organizers at Vaikkom to make redoubled effort and at the same time, keep stricter watch on the conduct of those who take part in the movement. Whether it takes a long or short time to reach the goal, the way is the way of peaceful conversion of the orthodox, by self-suffering and self purification and none other …'

Careful analyses of both the statements reveal that there was no essential difference. The major objectives of both Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru were the same, the eradication of untouchability, and the acceptance of human equality. And the immediate objective of the Vaikkom Satyagraha was the establishment of a simple primary human right to make use of the public road around the temple. Both Gandhiji and the Guru agreed in this matter. What Gandhiji suggested is gain access to the road, and then try for temple entry. What Guru proposed is to go ahead without stopping until temple entry was achieved. ‘Don't stop with walking through the roads, but enter the temple…'

At one point Gandhiji suggested that Sree Narayana Guru had suggested to the volunteers to adopt open violence. ‘ He suggested that the volunteers should advance along barricaded roads and scale the barricades…For scaling barricades is open violence .' Let a humble question be raised. What happened at Vaikkom? The volunteers were made to stand in the hot sun, drenched in the rain till mid-day, and then arrested. If they had followed what the Guru has suggested, tried to cross the fence, probably they would have received more blows, but would have arrested early, for defying orders. What Narayana Guru suggested was only to intensify the struggle or speed up the process in the Gandhian way. If the Guru's suggestion to the volunteers to scale the barricades was ‘open violence', then Gandhiji's exhortation to the people to prepare salt at Dandi defying government orders is also equivalent to open violence. Attempt to scale the barricades is only open defiance, not open violence.

Sree Narayana Guru's exhortations were in unison with Gandhiji's idealism and practical wisdom. The Guru's words are clear indicators –

The will to suffer and sacrifice should be there .'

Take blows without giving them'

‘Let the government be informed of what you intend to do'

‘Let there be no violence or show of force'

Why did Gandhiji miss or ignore these words and interpret the guru's suggestion as an exhortation to violence and made blatant statements that ‘the spiritual leader of the Thiyyas is reported to have disapproved of the present methods of Satyagraha at Vaikkom? It is for posterity to decide.

Any way, the Guru did not issue any statement to counter Gandhiji's writings in Young India. It was never the Guru's technique to argue and win. He expressed through actions what he had to say.

He offered his Vellore Mutt near Vaikkom for the use of the Satyagrahis and Head Office was set up there. He made a personal contribution of Rs.1000.00 (a very big amount in those days) to the struggle fund, and set up a special collection box at Sivagiri. Two of his favorite disciples, Swami Sathyavrathan and Kottukoikal Velayudhan were deputed to work for the Satyagraha .

When the Satyagraha was at its peak, on September 27 th 1924 , the Guru visited the venue. He reached Vaikkom by boat. Thousands were waiting at the jetty to receive him. He was welcomed with a multicolored garland of khadi yarn. He was also presented with the second khadi towel woven at the Satyagraha Ashram , the first one was sent to Mahatma Gandhi. The Guru jokingly offered to wear khadi garland and volunteer Satyagraha.

On the next day, he presided over a public meeting convened to pray for the good health and wellbeing of Mahatma Gandhi. Swami Satyavrathan remarked that it was a good fortune to have the Guru along with them. Suddenly, the Guru got up and said, ‘I am here not just to participate, I am here to pray .' He stood in meditation for a few minutes while the whole crowd waited. This was the single occasion when Guru had ever prayed in public.

The Guru stayed in the Ashram for two days, went around and saw all arrangements and joined the community meal. The volunteers felt, not the presence of a formal visitor, but the presence of an intimate advisor and an elderly leader. His presence and appreciation gave them renewed spirit and sense of commitment.

The Guru was extremely happy to see a Pulaya boy in the kitchen to help the cooks. He was glad the seeds sown by him were proliferating and bearing fruit.

The S N D P had most willingly taken over the task of supplying manpower for the endeavor, and continued to support until the Satyagraha was withdrawn.

During March 1925, when Gandhiji came to the Satyagraha site, he visited the Guru at Sivagiri. A part of their conversation is relevant here.

Gandhiji: Is there any difference of opinion for Swamiji about the Satyagraha started at Vaikkom? Does Swamiji think of adding or altering anything to the Movement?

Guru: My knowledge is that it is going smoothly and I am not of any opinion of making any alterations.

Gandhiji: Some are of the opinion that nonviolent Satyagraha is of no use, and to establish right, violence is necessary. What is Swamiji's opinion?

Guru: I do not think that violence is good.



The Savarna Processeion

In the meanwhile, Mahatmaji felt that the support of the Savarnas was essential for the success of the Vaikkom Movement. So he suggested to the leaders at Vaikkom, that a procession consisting of only Savarnas should march to Trivandrum , the capital, to register their solidarity with the Avarnas and lend their full support to the cause. The Savarna procession of about 500 men set out from Vaikkom on November 1 st 1924 under the leadership of Mannathu Padmanabhan, the unquestioned leader of the Nair Service Society. There was spontaneous welcome to the procession at every place they passed. On their way, the procession swelled as people joined. They halted at Sivagiri, paid homage to Sree Narayana Guru, and received his blessings. When the procession reached Trivandrum on November 12 th 1924 , with the jubilation of a conquering army, it had gathered nearly 5000 men. A similar procession of about a thousand men from Suchindram under the leadership of Perumal Naidu also reached Trivandrum on the same day. A mammoth public meeting was held.

On November 13 th 1924, a delegation headed by Changanasseri Parameswaran Pillai waited on the Regent Maharani Sethulakshmibai and submitted a memorandum signed by more than 25,000 caste Hindus, “ We the undersigned members of the deputation, loyally and respectfully beg leave to approach your Gracious Highness with the humble prayer that the roads around the Vaikkom temple walls, and all other roads similarly situated in other parts of the State may be thrown open to all classes of Your Gracious Highness' subjects, without distinction of caste or creed…'

Though the memorandum was submitted with much optimism, reaction was not that favorable. The Maharani expressed that the issue had to be decided in the legislature. The resolution was moved in the legislature on February 7 th 1925 , by the then S N D P Secretary N. Kumaran (Later he became High Court Judge). The text of the resolution was ‘ All roads around the temple at Vaikkom, and similar roads all over the state of Travancore must be open for traveling for people of all castes and creeds .' The resolution was defeated by 22 votes against 21. (It is understood that Dr. Palpu's brother who was expecting favors from the Government voted against the resolution. He was a close associate of the Guru at Aruvipuram, but he turned Judas. He was haunted by the community and he fled from places to place to save his life. He became a social outcaste and met with an ignoble death.)

The defeat of the resolution severely affected the morale of the Satyagrahis and boosted the highhandedness of the orthodox. While Gandhiji tried to lift the sinking morale through exhortations to remain patient and peaceful, Indanthuruthil Nambuthiri , the leader of orthodoxy, arranged for hirelings to beat up the Satyagrahis . They were thrown into neck deep waters. Lime mixed with other strong irritants was poured in to their eyes. The police stood silently watching as they were secretly instructed not to interfere. Mahatmaji wrote in Young India, “ The Travancore authorities may, however, be respectfully told that the Congress cannot watch barbarity with indifference …The letting loose of the goondas on the devoted heads of the Satyagrahis, is bound to gather the Satyagrahis, the full weight of all-India public opinion….”

As a protest against atrocities, statewide agitation began. Big Savarna temples were boycotted, bringing down their revenue. The Savarna Mahajana Sabha organized meetings at their strongholds, against the Satyagraha. Tension was mounting, and it was time that something was to be done. There were even reactions among the volunteers that the slow passive method of Satyagraha was ineffective in the face of violence and goodaism.

It became imminent for Gandhiji to visit the place where his principle of Satyagraha was being tested. So he came down to Vaikkom on March 10 th 1925 . His secretary Mahadeva Desai, his son Ramadas Gandhi, Krishaswamy Iyer, and C. Rajagopalachary came with him.

Gandhiji stayed in the Ashram and spoke to the volunteers. He tried to boost up their morale, by explaining to them the principle of Satyagraha and the role of scarifies and suffering in it, and the need for extreme patience. He tried to reach a compromise with the orthodoxy and for this; he had to meet the Savarna leaders. His secretary sent a note of invitation to the Savarna leader Idanthuruthil Devan Neelakandan Nambudiri to come over to the camp. The haughty Nambudiri not only refused to accept the invitation, but also said that those who wanted to see him must go over to his house. So it was that Gandhiji and his party reached the Indanthuruthil Mana (a Nambudiri household) on the next day noon . They were made to sit in the portico of the house, while the Nambudiri and his Savarna comrades occupied the inner room. The Nambudiri believed that Gandhi and his followers were polluted by the touch of untouchables, and could not be admitted in to the pure interior of an orthodox Mana. (The irony of the fate is that the same Mana is now the office of the District Union of Toddy Tappers !).

Their dialogue continued for nearly three hours. Gandhiji made three practical proposals:

•  The unapproachability that is practiced at Vaikkom is not found in any Hindu scriptures. The orthodoxy contended that Adi Shankaracharya laid down the custom. In that case, Gandhiji proposed that an impartial Hindu Pundit must scrutinize Adi Shankara's Smirithis, and if this custom is not mentioned then it has to be withdrawn.

•  The second proposal was that a referendum was to be taken from Savarnas . If the majority of Savarnas were willing to allow the roads to be opened to the Avarnas , it should be accepted.

3) Third proposal was that of arbitration. The orthodoxy appoints a Pandit, Gandhiji

would appoint a Pandit on behalf of the Satyagrahis . The Divan of Travancore

would act as an umpire. All must accept the winner's decision.

None of these was acceptable to the orthodoxy, who believed that the Avarnas are suffering because of their Karma (result of actions in their previous births). So Gandhiji left without a compromise and the Satyagraha continued, and the atrocities on them multiplied beyond words.

Mahatmaji had to do something about it. He wrote to W. H. Pitt, the then Police Commissioner of Travancore to put an end to goondaism . Pit being a European, was in a better position to intervene and bring an honorable settlement between Government and Gandhiji. Pitt agreed to influence the Government to remove all barricades and withdraw the prohibitory orders, on condition that Gandhiji instructed the Satyagrahis not to cross the point where the prohibitory board was. However the police would remain at the spot until all the terms of the agreement were implemented. An agreement was reached through correspondence.

The Agreement

1. Government agreed to withdraw the prohibitory orders passed in February

1924, and Gandhiji agreed to withdraw the Satyagraha.

  1. Government let the roads on three sides of the temple (north, south and west) open for public but the eastern approach road, and the two roads leading to it from the north and south remained reserved to the caste Hindus ( Savarnas ) only.
  1. Gates were to be put up at three places:

•  At a short distance from the eastern gopuram on the eastern approach road.

•  At the north and south ends of the eastern road.

These three gates were to be open only at the time of worship to admit those who had the right to enter the temple.

  1. It was also declared the portion of the road enclosed by the three gates would remain closed to Christians and Muslims as well as Avarna Hindus who have no right to enter the temple.
  1. A new road was to be constructed joining the eastern approach road to the northern road, for the convenience of the public.

C. Rajagopalachari conveyed the details to Gandhiji through a letter and Gandhiji issued orders on October 8 th 1925 to the Secretary of the Satyagraha Ashram to withdraw the Satyagraha . But action continued till November 1925 until all the conditions were implemented in Toto.

The reactions.

  1. One view is that it was only a partial success for non-caste Hindus ( Avarnas ) as they gained access only to the roads on three sides of the temple. The fourth and most important eastern road remained inaccessible to them.
  2. It was really a blow to the Christians and Muslims as they lost their previously enjoyed freedom to have complete access on all the roads around the temple. Now the eastern road was blocked to them.
  3. Because of the gates, which remained closed the members of the Devaswam Board and the inmates of the temple who used the eastern road as thoroughfare were denied the opportunity.

Anyway it was a great opportunity for the Congress party to grow in Kerala. Before this agitation, the congress in Kerala was only a limited number of upper caste and upper class people of Malabar (which was under British rule). The Avarnas did not bother about the Congress, as the Congress leaders did not show any enthusiasm for the eradication of social inequalities. But when the party undertook to lead the agitation at Vaikkom, the Avarnas underwent a sea of changes. At the exhortation of T. K. Madhavan, they joined the Congress en masse. The Congress swelled from being a class party to a mass party.

Another achievement of Vaikkom agitation is certainly communal harmony. Progressive minded Savarnas and Avarnas came together with Christians, Muslims and even Sikhs. It is to be remembered that many Savarnas played the role of active leaders, till the withdrawal of the Satyagraha, and this has demonstrated the basic unity of the people.

Above all, the Vaikkom Satyagraha was a testing ground for the Gandhian principles of Satyagraha . It was tested and proved as the most effective means for the first time.



Sree Narayana Guru

My father was an ardent devotee of Sree Narayana Guru. Deriving  inspiration from him I made attempts to learn Guru and his philosophy. My attempt made me to believe that Sree Narayana Guru was treasure house of knowledge and wisdom. His greatness and purity is to be experienced by swimming through the ocean of knowledge revealed through his writings, lofty messages and personal life. He was a teacher, saint, poet, social reformer, great nation builder  and the embodiment of other qualities blended into one. His life ,work and teachings have refreshing uniqueness. There was naturalness and sublime simplicity tinged with mystery in them, thus rendering them peculiarly interesting and profoundly instructive. No one had so clearly and successfully demonstrated in recent centuries the ideals and methods and the way of realizing them. The achievements of Guru cannot be explained in words. His spiritual attainments made him omnipotent. I consider, therefore,  Guru as an incarnation of God.

Deena Bandhu C.F.Andrews, a well known philosopher, after visiting Guru had said “I had a vision of God in human form, Sree Narayana Guru who is renowned in the southern-most part of India is that Supreme being”. Mahakavi Kumaran Asan, who had the opportunity to live with Guru have expressed, in many words, through his poems, that the Guru was none other than God. Shivalinga Swamigal, 1st disciple of Guru, found Guru to be Shiva,the God.
The life of Guru was an open book. He was born in a humble peasants’ family at a time when the people in Kerala were divided on the basis of caste. Vast section of the society were degraded as Untouchables. They were being exploited socially, culturally, educationally and economically forcing them to live in shame as deprived destitutes. They were denied education and employment. They were not allowed to wear proper cloths to cover nackedness. They were not allowed to worship satvik Gods or to enter their temples . They were not allowed to walk through the roads meant for upper caste people.  They were conditioned to believe that those restrictions were ordained by God. No one ,therefore, dared to challenge the arrangements. Seeing the state of affairs Swami Vivekanandan had called the Kerala State as “Lunatic Asylum”.

Guru could not comprehend the prevalent state of affairs. After preliminary education, he set out in search for the reason and the solution. He traveled the length and breadth of the country spending most of the time for meditation and thought. He lived with all types of people and interacted with them. He learned the philosophies of Vedic , Dravidian, Christian, Islamic and other well known faiths. He acquired excellent knowledge in Ayurveda. He undertook penance  in pillathadam at the hills of Maruthwamalai  in Tamil Nadu for years sustaining himself mostly on berries, tubers, leaves  and water from  mountain brooks.  He came out self realized. Instead of remaining in solitude, and enjoying the bliss himself, he decided to serve the society.

Guru started his mission with the consecration of Shiva temple at Aruvipuram on a Shivaratri night in 1988.This was a small incident without much of fanfare. But the effect sparked the social revolution in Kerala. It was an unprovoked challenge to the centuries old supremacy of priesthood. Throughout his life he executed his mission without confrontation and without creating any enemies. He never argued about anything. He never criticized anybody. He was a man of composure and action. He transformed the lunatic asylum to an abode of self respecting, forward looking and tolerant society with fraternal feelings smoothly and efficiently. He helped the people to save themselves from superstitious beliefs and to do away with the self destroying rituals, customs and dogmas practiced by them out of ignorance and in the name of religion and tradition. He set an example to make the temples to be centers for purity and development. He was available for more than 40 years to execute his mission of transforming the society  by instilling self respect and human dignity in the minds of the people. People of various talents from various fields of activity were attracted to Guru. Social reformers, freedom fighters, educationalists, thinkers, poets, writers, journalists, socially persecuted people  and many more were attracted to Guru for guidance, light and inspiration. All of them actively participated in the revolution that followed.

Many great personalities  visited Guru at his Ashram in Varkala and paid glowing tributes.Some of them were  Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave etc. Mahatma Gandhi after visiting Guru on 13th March 1925 at Varkala had said “I feel it as the greatest privilege in my life to have visited the beautiful State of Travancore and to have Darshan of venerable sage, Sree Narayana Guru.I had the fortune to stay one day in his holy Ashrama. His Excellency the Regent Empress also spoke to me about the greatness of Guruswamy. I fervently hope that you would enforce his lofty ideals”. According to Guru, man’s duty is to take care of his life here and now.The life hereafter will take care of itself.It was in this spirit that he wanted his followers to work for the making of their present lives healthier and richer.

Rabindranath Tagore visited Guru at his Ashran in Sivagiri on 22nd November 1922 and recorded there that “I have been touring different parts of the world. During these travels, I have had the fortune to come into contact with several saints and maharshis. But I have frankly to admit that I have never seen one who is spiritually greater than Swamy Narayana Guru of Malayalam- nay, a person who is on par with him in spiritual attainment. I am sure, I shall never forget that radiant face illuminated by the self effulgent light of divine glory and those majestic eyes fixing their gaze on far remote point in the distant horizon”.

The spiritual and material revolution that took place in Kerala at the instance of Sree Narayana Guru had great impact in the freedom movement that was taking place in the country. Guru wanted a total transformation. He wanted balanced growth for the society spiritually as well as materially.Indian constitution drafted few years after the demise of guru had his influence. The secularism , Education-especially women’s education, equality , prohibition etc are drawn from the teachings of Guru. The Philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru is relevant without the barriers of place and time. It is relevant in the world as is relevant in India.

(The speech given by. Shri.R. K.Krishnakumar, Chief Guest on the occasion of 153rd Gurujayanti Celebration at Chembur Complex on 2nd Sept.2007)


Sree Narayana Guru, A GREAT AUTHOR

Swamy Dharma Teerthan in his book “ A Prophet of Peace” wrote about Sree Narayana Guru  “We make no secret of the fact that we claim for Gurudev a place among the highest, among the sun and stars, and not among the creatures of the earth, among the saviors of humanity and not among the kings and conquerors, among the Buddhas, the Christ and the Mohammeds , and not among mere philosophers and geniuses. The highest standards ,therefore, are not too high to measure the value of his work. The widest sweep of our mental vision will not be too wide to comprehend the scope of his message. We have to approach the subject in terms of world problems and in the light of  the evolution of  centuries. To think of Gurudev merely as a reformer,  as the religious leader of a community, as a great scholar and genius or the founder of numerous institutions would be narrowing our outlook and blurring our vision of the greatest truth.” This statement had come from his heart, out of his experience with Gurudev. Sree Narayana Guru was in fact  a mystic, a philosopher , visionary , scientist , social reformer, poet and much more, all blended into one. He was all virtues, values and rare qualities personified. He was a Jnanin of action.

I am not venturing to narrate, analyze and explain about qualities and contributions of Sree Narayana Guru, because I am afraid that I may  err in close scrutiny by the varied perspectives of  scholars and thinkers. I understand that he was a self realized person who could  realize the eternal truth. This is apparent in all the innumerable activities he had been involved during his life time. Guru  neither created any enemy  nor antagonized with any of the prevailing systems  to implement his plans for improving the quality of the less privileged in the society. Leaving the readers to their wisdom to understand Guru, I prefer to take an easy route of introducing the readers to the books written by Sree Narayana Guru and the literature available on the life and teachings of  Guru. The interpretations and explanations on the books written by Sree Narayana Guru are developing as Sree Narayana Guru literature in geographical progression. These are now available in different languages like Malayalam, Tamil, English, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi etc. Many publishers are now coming forward to publish the Sree Narayana literature for they are in high demand.

Sree Narayana Guru had written many books. There are about 63 books now available and published. The list of books Could be seen from the web site of Sree Narayana Mandira Samiti, Mumbai (the address being These books could be categorized into five. They are (1) Devotional Songs (2) Philosophical Books (3) Books of Proclamations (4) Translations and (5) Prose.

 Darsanamala(A garland of vision of the absolute), Atmopadesa-satakam(One hundred verses of self instruction),Advaita Dipika(Lamp of non-dual wisdom), Anukampa Dasakam(Ten verses of mercy), Arivu(Epistemology of Gnosis) Cit-Jada-Cintanam (Reverie on consciousness and matter), Pindanandi(Pre-natal Gratitude), Swanubhava-Giti(Experiential Rhapsody), Daivadasakam(Ten verses to God), Janani Navaratna Manjari (Nine-Jewelled Bouquet to Mother), Kundalini pattu( The song of the kundalini power etc. are some of the popular books written by Guru. These works are incomparable for their haunting melody, sublime concepts and mystic experience.

In Darsanamala,  the book written by Guru, the concept of the absolute is elucidated in one hundred verses, divided into ten darsanas of ten verses each. It is conceived as a garland of ten exquisite flowers, strung together in the thread of the absolute. The ten darsanas cover not only the epistemological ground of the earlier nine of the Indian philosophy; yet another is necessitated, perhaps, by the new concepts which surfaced after them. Into this ten-fold container is distilled the Guru’s darsana of life. In this scheme, Bhakti occupies the seminal position. Concept-wise the ten fall into three well-marked groups. Sections 1 to 4 come under the phenomenological group, concerned with the objective world, viz. Adhyaropa, Apavada, Asatya and Maya darsanas. The middle three , Bhana, Karma and Jnana are psychological in approach. The third section, 8,9 & 10, is set apart for mystical experience. They are Bhakti, Yoga and Nirvana. The format suggests a graded symmetry in the unfolding of awareness and the orderly development of thought. The sequence starts with Supposition(Adhyaropa) and gains momentum through consciousness(Bhana) to consummate in salvation(Nirvana).The core concept is Bhana. Bhakti is the means to salvation(Nirvana). It comes after and through Karma and Jnana. Yoga follows Bhakti. To be an effective means to Nirvana, Bhakti must have the aid of Yoga or discipline of the mind and intellect. The Bhakti Darsana is expounded in a terse, quintessential style. The full implications of Darsanamala become clear when read in conjunction with the other poems of the Guru.

Atmopadesa Satakam(one hundred verses of self-instruction) is yet another  composition of Sree Narayana Guru. This could be considered as the representative of Sree Narayana philosophy. The verses in this book are written in simple Malayalam. The essence of Vedantic philosophy, the divine experiences encountered by Guru in his search for the Absolute, the systematic approach to be adopted by the seekers of truth are given by Guru in melodious verses. Apparently this book look very simple to understand by any common man. But for the seekers of truth the depth of the philosophy contained is immeasurable. Many learned persons have attempted to find out the meanings of the verses and to interpret them. These were on the basis of the pearls they could pick up while diving through the ocean. Hundreds of interpretations have been published  and are available in the market. But no one could claim it to be an exclusive interpretation. This indicates the depth of the subject incorporated by Guru in the book. By understanding the book one will realize what exactly  is the nature of the self and that knowledge will give an insight as to how one should conduct his life during the tenure provided to him.

Daiva Dasakam is a prayer written by Guru for daily use by the children who were inmates in his Ashram. The ten verses are very simple, but when we search for the meaning  and attempt to interpret one could see that it is the essence of vedantic philosophy given in a capsule form for the use of common man. The people from any caste, creed, region or religion could use this prayer. To my knowledge no universal prayer was  available like this after Gayatri Mantra.


 SreeNarayana Gurukulam, Sreenivasapuram.P.O, Varkala, Kerala, India-695145  have published all the books of Sree Narayana Guru with meanings, explanations and interpretations. All the books are available at the above address. Sree Narayana Dharma Sanghom Trust, Varkala, Kerala-695145 have also undertaken to publish similar books written by various authors. Prominent among them is the one written by Prof.G.Balakrishnan Nair. Sree Narayana Gurukulam attempted to translate and interpret the books of Guru in English and most of the works of Guru are now available in English with them. All the books are available at very reasonable price. The Word of the Guru, One hundred verses in self Instruction, An Integrated Science of the Absolute, An Anthology of the poems of Narayana Guru are the world famous books written by Nataraja Guru based on the Philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru. Sree Narayana Gurukulam is fully engaged in the research and study of Sree Narayana Philosophy. Contributions of Nitya Chaitanya Yati, Muni  Narayana Prasad and other inmates and the people connected with them deserve to be appreciated.

In this world of complexities, contradictions and intolerances the spiritual radiance and the divine message of Sree Narayana Guru with his unitive Vedantic and synthesis of the spiritual and temporal can save mankind.His commandments are as simple as those of Jesus. His philosophy is as profound as of Adisankara. His teachings are straight and simple. So much so, beyond race and religion, beyond caste, creed and continent, Sree Narayana Guru can lead kindly light to all parts of the universe. He is already a universal Guru whom time cannot wither no custom stale. It is the obligation of Kerala and Keralites wherever they are to spread the glorious and universal teachings of this noble and unique soul. Once his life, doings, writings and messages reach the common people there will be a spiritual, moral and material revolution. He saw these dimensions in an integral fashion. Only such a synthesis can combat the vulgar culture that consumes the composite values of India. Thus there is a cosmic patriotism, salvation  methodology which the greatest Guru has left as legacy.
Narayana Guru composed several poems in Malayalam,Tamil, and Sanskrit and many of them are devotional songs. All his poems are marked by the special glow  of a vision which is almost superhuman. The warmth of self-expression pervades many of his poems. Guru’s poems are works remarkable for their original beauty, imagination and brilliance of vision.


Before the starting of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a noble, great power had been working towards the spiritual and social awakening of the community. It was none other than the great Sree Narayana Guru. By installing a rock from the Neyyar River as Shivalinga at Aruvippuram in February 1888 (on the Shivaratri day of Kumbha month of Malayalam year 1063), he started a silent revolution in the history of Kerala. It caused a social revolution, which uprooted the old social system of Kerala.

Gradually, Aruvippuram became a pilgrim center. On Vavu (Full moon) day, people began to come there to worship. The disciples of the Guru, included the famous poet Kumaran Asan, decided to give food to the pilgrims that led to the creation of ' Vavoottu Yogam' (serving food to the people who come as pilgrims). In 1889, the Vavoottu Yogam had been expanded. Thus an organization, 'Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam' (Aruvippuram Temple Congregation) had formed.

On Malayalam Era 1078 Dhanu 23, (1903), a special meeting of Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam was conducted. They decided to change that into a big organization for the progress of Ezhavas both in religious and material ways. Thus, on 1078 Edavam 2, (1903, May 15), with Narayana Guru as its President, ' Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam' has been registered as 'Aruvippuram Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam' according to the Indian Companies Act, No.6, 1882. Sree Narayana Guru was the permanent chairman of Yogam. N. Kumaranasan was elected as the General Secretary. He held this post till 1919, July 20, except in 1904.

There are different opinions exits about the role of the Guru in the establishment of S.N.D.P Yogam. On verifying the original records of registering the SNDP Yogam with the Government as a limited company, the following facts can be derived. The Government file (No 8338) regarding the registration has two parts. Part I contain the bye -laws and proceedings with sixteen clauses. None of the clauses speaks of any caste. The sixteenth clause clearly states of the 'casteless' nature of the organization. Eleven people signed the bye-law and the first signatory witness to the document was the resident of the Siva Temple , P. Narayana Pillai. Narayana Pillai was the one of the most trusted disciple Sree Narayana Guru. He installed the first idol of the Guru at Thellicherry together with Moorkoth Kumaran.

Part II of the file (No 8338) gives a different picture. It is an application to the Diwan of Travancore to register the SNDP Yogam as a limited company. The applicants are P.Parameswaran (the brother of Dr.P.Palpu) and Marthandan Krishnan. Here the caste provision of the organization is clearly stated: “promoting and encouraging religious and secular education and industrious habits among the Ezhava community". The license of the Yogam was issued to the applicants P. Parameswaran and M. Krishnan.

The Guru wanted the Yogam to function as the vanguard of his 'Liberation Movement'. But the leadership of the Yogam could not rise up to the expectation of the Guru. It could function only in a caste organization. Hence, in 1916, the Guru sent his resignation letter to Dr. P. Palpu. The Guru attributed 'caste pride' to the leaders of the Yogam and declared that he belonged to no caste non-religious.


Sri Narayana Guru was an extraordinary phenomenon who strode over the spiritual firmament of Kerala like a colossus during the late 19th century and early 20th century. He left an indelible impression on those who met him including luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He was a yogi, visionary, poet and a social reformer. While trying to uplift the downtrodden by fighting against the entrenched caste system, he was simultaneously pursuing truth by delving into the depth of Vedic lore. While he had his feet firmly planted on earth to ensure social equality, he had his head in the high altitudes of Vedanta. He proclaimed that his ideal and goal was Advaita propounded by Adi Sankara. He was acclaimed as a Siddha Purusha and Maharishi from the beginning of the 20th century.

Sri Narayana Guru was an extraordinary phenomenon who strode over the spiritual firmament of Kerala like a colossus during the late 19th century and early 20th century. He left an indelible impression on those who met him including luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He was a yogi, visionary, poet and a social reformer. While trying to uplift the downtrodden by fighting against the entrenched caste system, he was simultaneously pursuing truth by delving into the depth of Vedic lore. While he had his feet firmly planted on earth to ensure social equality, he had his head in the high altitudes of Vedanta. He proclaimed that his ideal and goal was Advaita propounded by Adi Sankara. He was acclaimed as a Siddha Purusha and Maharishi from the beginning of the 20th century.

Like the Buddha, the death of a relation triggered certain sentiments in the extremely sensitive psyche of the young boy and he begun to reflect on the evanescence of life and the riddles regarding the nature of existence, death and the impermanence of material objects. Essentially a contemplative lad, Nanu would visit temples, wear scared ash on his forehead, and was known as "Nanu devotee" by his friends. The first few steps on his journey towards God had already been taken in his boyhood. An attack of smallpox during his teens further strengthened his devotional attitude. The verses of "Vairagyotipadakam" written by Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathri of Narayaneeyam fame were constantly on his lips and this paved the way for his renunciation or sanyasa. Nanu continued his non-formal education at the "Varanappalli house" under the gurukula system and mastered the epics. Soon after he began training pupils at elementary levels and earned the affectionate titles of "Nanu Asan." He was married to "Kaliamma" but the marriage ended abruptly since Nanu Asan became a wanderer.His wanderings led him to the southern parts of the erstwhile Travancore state and the Maruthuvamala hills were his favourite haunts. This region is celebrated for its abundant plants and very soon the wandering Avadhoota became an adept in siddha medicines and began to minister to the sick and forlorn. He often crossed into Tamil Nadu and thus learnt Tamil and in his later years compiled a few works in that language.

A contemporary of Nanu was Chattambi Swamigal a renowned yogi. The inherent spirituality dormant in Nanu began to unfold in course of time and soon he acquired the epithet Swami. Nanu Swami underwent severe penance in Maruthwamala hills confining himself in an isolated cave. He spent days in deep meditation and obtained spiritual enlightenment. People approached him for solace and advice. Nevertheless the so-called "higher class" did not recognise his stature and instead ridiculed him. But he had already reached the pinnacle of knowledge where all dualities dissolved into oneness. Man made differences made very little impact on his yogic even mindedness. Finally the Guru had arrived. Sri Narayana Guru choose a beautiful location known as Aruvippuram, a little south of Thiruvananthapuram, for his sojourn and soon it became a pilgrim centre. In the year 1888, on the holy Shivaratri day, Narayana Guru made the famous Sivalinga Pratishta, which signaled the death knell of the obscurantist and demagogic caste system and there no stopping him. Another place, a little north of Thiruvananthapuram also attracted the attention of the guru. This was Varkala, where he established the famous Sivagiri ashram. Starting as a humble hermitage in 1903, this centre witnessed the building of a Siva temple in 1908 and the installation of the deity of Sharada in 1912. Some of the famous temples consecrated by Sri Narayana Guru include the Jagnnatha temple at Thellicherry, Sreekanteswara temple at Calicut and the one at Kalavancode near Sherthallai, where a mirror was installed at the altar to teach humanity that every being is a reflection of God. He also established an Advaita Ashram at Alwaye. Thus he emphasised both the aspects of dual and non-dual or saguna and nirguna aspect of the ultimate Brahman.

To describe the guru as a multifaceted genius, or a splendor personality will be a gross understatement. At the mundane level, he was struggling to uplift the downtrodden and give them some respectability in society. He had to face severe personal and institutional resistance from the ruling hierarchy and the upper castes. But he held no grudge against his oppressors and his disarming love and catholicity slowly won the admiration of even his worst enemies and during his later days he was acclaimed as a Universal Guru by the entire state. One landmark in the life of the guru was the establishment of the S.N.D.P. (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana) Yogam on the May 15, 1903 . But the genius of the guru was not confined to the four walls of the organisation and was so vast and transcendental to encompass the entire humanity. He did not want the Yogam to restrict its organisation as an instrument for social uplift but also laid emphasis on Dharma Paripalana (protection of dharma) in the literal sense of the central theme of the organisation. Two important incidents in the life of the guru are his meetings with Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore. The former met him during the famous Vaikom Satyagraha. Tagore met him in 1922. Deeply impressed and he remarked "I have been traveling all over the world and had occasion to meet several sages and enlightened beings. Yet I could not meet anybody to compare with the great Sri Narayana Guru of India . This statement deserves special mention since Sri Narayana was living contemporaneously with spiritual giants like Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Arobindo and Ramana Maharishi.

Since all good things have to finally end, the guru's life also came to a close on September 20, 1928 , when he attained Mahasamadhi. However the trail blazed by this incomparable master continues to inspire millions of people, not only in India but all over the world.


I was shivering when I boarded a plane in Melbourne . I wore two sweaters, and on top of all that I wore a camel hair overcoat. When I landed in Perth it was very hot outside. I wanted to run to the terminal so that I could remove all my warm clothing. I was walking fast in the hot sun when a woman stopped me. She wanted to take my photograph. Who wants to be photographed when smoldering like a volcano? I said, “Excuse me,” and walked past her, but she was quite an athlete. She ran ahead of me and started clicking from the front, the left and right. Without looking at her I continued to jog. She came close to me and asked,
“You are Swami what?”
“I am Swami Nobody,” I replied.
“Excuse me; is that an Indian name or the English nobody?”
“That is my name.”
“Oh, I see...I see... Do you believe in God?”
“I don't believe in anything.”
“Gee, you are impossible! If you don't believe in God on whom do you meditate?”
“On Chu-Chi.”
“Chu-Chi? What is that?”
“When people say God I don't understand. When I say Chu-Chi they don't understand.”
Dr. S.S. Barlingay, a professor of philosophy in Western Australia , carefully followed my dialogue with this woman, who happened to be a press photographer. He introduced himself to the lady and said, “This is not an ordinary swami. He is a philosopher. Whatever he says has a metaphysical meaning. 'Swami Nobody' means that he is not a body. His name is Nitya Chaitanya. Nitya means ‘eternal.' The body is transient; he is eternal. Further, he is Chaitanya which means ‘consciousness.' The body is material that is why he called himself Swami Nobody. Only religious people are believers. He is not religious. He is a philosopher who questions everything and only after careful scrutiny and a lot of pondering does he accept anything. This is why he said he does not believe in God. God is a vague term. He does not accept words that are not defined. To expose the vagueness of God to you he mentioned another word which was equally unintelligible. Am I right Swamiji?” I nodded my affirmation. I wanted to escape that woman. All this happened ten years ago. Now when the Editor of the publication Malayala Nadu , asked me to write on "God: Reality or Illusion?" I remembered this old incident. How can anyone speak about God without first of all coming to a tentative agreement on a meaning on which both parties in a dialogue can settle? To make matters worse there are three words that need defining: God , reality and illusion . A misconception of any of these terms can lead us to wrong conclusions. Whether God is real or not he has a rightful place in all dictionaries. Even confirmed atheists cannot escape God because in order to deny God they must first conceive him. Philosophy in the USSR (the 1979 publication of the Progress Publishers of Moscow) not only refers to God, but also, due to some reflex conditioning, it spells God with a capital G.
According to Roget's Thesaurus , God is also: Deity, Divinity, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Providence, Lord, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Supreme Being, the First Cause, the Infinite, the Eternal, the All Powerful, the Trinity, Christ, Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Judge, the World, the Logos, Emmanuel, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, Paraclete. There are also other words like Allah, Khuda and Bhagavan. The English word God comes from the Anglo-Saxon god . For Icelanders it is Goo or Guo . For Danish people it is Gud . The Gothic word is Guth , and German is Gott . The indigenous root is ghu which comes from the Sanskrit hu as in huta , meaning "sacrifice." In the same sense, God is one who receives sacrifice, hutaceya . In Sanskrit, God is Isvara , the inner controller. In Malayalam, God is called Daivam. Daivam in Sanskrit means the incomprehensible fate. No one needs to look into a dictionary to believe in God. So, to consider the verity of God's reality we should consider the operational meaning of that term. In a church, when a congregation of one hundred people calls out in one voice, “Our Lord God,” it is possible that a good many of them are not calling the same God that their neighbors are praying to. When the word God is put on paper, all its significance vanishes and only a vague idea of the general term remains on the paper to be interpreted according to each person's fancy. God makes sense only when one speaks of God in a special context. When a man is writhing in pain and moaning “Oh God,” what he means by “God” is the possibility of a miracle that can happen to him there and then to relieve his pain. A man exclaiming “God!” on seeing a beautiful sunrise, by “God” means “How beautiful is this sight!” When a thief tiptoes in a house he intends to burgle, he fervently says, “God.” Here he is invoking the possibility of everyone going into a deep sleep and that no untoward thing should happen. When a physicist is watching an experiment in his cloud chamber, he may say “God!” as an expression of wonder at the inadequacy of all the tools invented by man for deciding the exact behavior of subatomic particles.
When a Hindu devotee goes to a Siva temple, she either looks intently at the sivalinga or she closes her eyes as tightly as possible. In either case she is looking at God and the object before her has almost nothing to do with what she sees in her mind as God. The same Hindu devotee will go to a Vishnu temple or a Devi temple and may stand before a totally different image of God, but the formal differences of idols are immaterial to her. To her God is at once subjective and not subjective, objective and not objective. This seemingly philosophical enigma, however, only troubles the philosopher and not the simple devotee. When one person attributes everything to God, another person attributes it to Nature. The will of God can be easily exchanged for the law of Nature. To discern things, mind puts itself into a frame of reference and it then goes backward and forward between the reference and the referent. This is a process which is reflexive, cognitive and, by repetition, mechanical.
When a free thinker closes a letter, he simply writes “Best wishes.” A believer writes, “I pray to the Almighty to bless you with good health, cheer and prosperity.” The free-thinker does not know who should carry out the best wishes. It is like filling up a blank. Both people are flinging their stones of hope at probability, one reverently and the other nonchalantly. The freethinker congratulates himself for not being so superstitious as to pray to God, while the believer pities the freethinker being blind to the obvious. Only through a critical examination of one's own conceptual ground can one come to clear an idea of God in the philosophical context.
Yati: Are you a believer?
Nitya: Mostly I am ceaseless questions intermingled with hypotheses and underlines.
Yati: That is not my question. Is there anything called belief in your mental process?
Nitya: In one sense. Consciousness has a central focus. That central focus calls itself “I” and its possessive case is “my.” Mind functions; it is always engaged in creating its own worlds. The material for that world is some unexamined conventions, certain ideas which look almost innate, many hearsays, certain well examined convictions and a number of relationships which appear to be relevant. It is not likely that I will ever fully know all of them, much less examine them. Therefore, the total impact of my historical make-up to the present moment can in one sense be called my belief. I have no other belief in any other sense.
Yati: You are becoming too philosophical. My reference to belief is a simple one. When a Christian thinks he is a sinner, it is a matter of belief. He believes that there is sin. He also believes that it is wrong to be sinful. He believes that there is a direct relationship between an actor and his action. He believes that a wrong-doer should be punished. He expects to be punished because he is a sinner. He believes that the ultimate punishment for sin is hell. He believes that every man is vicariously a sinner because the first man sinned against God. He believes there is Satan and that Satan always uses his dubious ways to lead man into committing sins. Such being the bad inheritance of man, he is in dire need of a savior. Jesus Christ is his savior. By believing in Jesus he has an able attorney to intercede for him on the final day of Judgment. I suppose you now understand what I mean by belief. Are you a believer in that sense? Nitya: These are all interesting allegories proliferated by poetic and myth-making minds. In religion we have this and many other similes and metaphors which are weird or enchanting. When I was a child I could hardly distinguish an image from the original, but one does not remain a child forever. Growth sweeps away many cobwebs of imagination. The child in man, however, never grows entirely; so, the profoundness of silly dreams and silliness of profound beliefs follow him all the way to the graveyard My frame of mind is certainly different from that of a pious Christian, but I do not laugh at him and also I do not take him seriously when arranging my own thoughts.
Yati: You are juggling words; this is no good. You must have faith in God and Åtman at least.
Nitya: You have given me a clear idea of what you mean by belief. We should now have a similar tentative agreement on the definition of God and Åtman.
Yati: You are now bowling my questions back into my court. The very intention of this inner-view is to clarify the concepts “God” and “Self.” It is not a healthy dialogue when one poses counter questions. I shall make one more concession. I shall go into the analytical bits of my question and you can answer my special queries. In South India many people believe that there is a Goddess of Small Pox; she distributes this virus in those whom she loves and in those whom she hates. Her name is Mariyamman , do you believe in her?
Nitya: No.
Yati: Every year millions of people go on pilgrimages to Shabarimala, Guruvayur and Tirupati. These pilgrims believe that the benign presence of God is present in those temples. Do you think so?
Nitya: No, not at all.
Yati: There are godmen who can clearly read your mind, see your past doings, predict your future and materialize objects like sacred ashes, watches and talismans; they can also at times produce out of their mouths icons such as sivalingas. Do you think that is possible?
Nitya: You give me a list of possibilities and then you ask me if they are possible. All these are reported observations. Godmen are not laboratory equipment. People do not go to them with unerring metrical devices; also, there is little chance of performing an experiment to see the universality of the truth which someone presumes. Personally I am not impressed with such performances. I need ashes to manure my garden and not my forehead. So, a pinch of ashes cannot impress me. It is certainly interesting to get a costly watch with the blessing of a godman, especially if I don't have to compensate for it with money or lifelong servility. I am thankful to these great men, however, for not doing something as mind-blowing as producing out of their mouths something bigger than their heads. What I look upon as a miracle is that two plus two constantly equals four, and that a human mother gives birth to a human child and not the kid of an ass or a gorilla. I do not see why we should relate miracles to God. If God created this world, he did it with the meticulous precision of a much disciplined mathematician. Freak occurrences only give a bad reputation to his performance.
Yati: I see your point, but well informed scientists who have done thousands of fruitful experiments in their labs have changed their minds in their objective pursuits and they are now looking in other directions which are usually looked upon as mystical. I know scientists who have given their life earnings to temples and churches as a mark of great reverence to the unknown, which has become known to them through the intercession of the deity of a certain religious place, such as Lourdes , or of a godman who performs miracles.
Nitya: When in India , if I saw someone exhibit currency bills such as liras, rubles, yens and francs, I would think of them as instruments of fiscal transactions used in some far away country, but if I get an Indian rupee when I am hungry, it delights me. I know I cannot eat the rupee, but by exchanging it I can get masala dosha and tea. This possibility is implied in the rupee bill. I can never equate this to an advertised promise of a million rubles. The rupee is a reality here and now and the ruble is only part of a fantasy. The rupee or even a bundle of a thousand rupees can, however, become meaningless if I change my location from Madras to Madrid . The sovereignty of a currency bill has its own value reference. If someone goes to the Tirupati or the Guruvayur temples and feels good, I'll congratulate him for having found a currency bill for his faith, but these bills are of no use to me; instead, I have my own tokens of higher values, such as having an hour's talk with Brett, the painter, who I love, or an hour's listening to a violin concert by Yehudi Menuhin. It is all a matter of taste and choice. Taste and choice are only the surface gleanings of something seeded in us, the roots of which lie deeply buried. It is my pleasure to dig deep to investigate the hidden treasury of my mind as well as the catacombs of my irrational fears.
Yati: To cut it short, you are not a believer in God.
Nitya: If chanting and singing and telling of beads and fasting and praying and becoming a recluse are the marks of belief in God, I should admit that I am far from it.
Yati: Alright then! But, do you accept God in any sense?
Nitya: Yes, but does it matter if I believe or not? I already told you that God is in the dictionary. Some words have no operational dynamics until they are circumstantially placed. In railway compartments in India the word lock can be seen written near shutters. One cannot say whether it is a noun or a verb; however, when night falls you know it is unsafe to sit with the shutters open and then the word lock suddenly changes from a noun to a verb in the imperative. It is the same with God. God needs a set-up, a background, therefore there is no point asking about the existence or non-existence of God; rather, one should question the existential validity of an occasion which a person interprets as having to do with what he calls God.
Let us take a few instances. A child asks his father, “Dad, where does this world come from?” The father doesn't actually know, so he says, “From God.” Here God means "I do not know." If he happens to be more philosophically inclined, the father will recast his son's question into “Dad, if this world is an effect what is its cause?” At once he will see that such a train of thought will lead him only to the paradox of either begging the question or into the absurdity of ad infinitum . So, he can either answer the child with “an unknown mystery,” or “God.” In the entire vocabulary of the human race there is no word more convenient than God to escape the agony of facing the enigma that confronts humans all the time. If we don't want to use the word then we should change ourselves into mobile encyclopedias and go on piling hypothesis upon hypothesis until we and our adversaries are bored to death. My definition of God is "the genus of all genera." The old cliché, “Brevity is the soul of wit” comes very handy to me when I use God to punctuate disturbing thoughts.
Yati: To put it in another way, God is a shorthand symbol for you.
Nitya: Agreed. Are you satisfied now?
Yati: Don't you accept Narayana Guru as your Guru?
Nitya: Yes I do.
Yati: Didn't Narayana Guru write a prayer addressed to God? Was he not praying to God? You wrote a commentary on this prayer. Was Narayana Guru praying to a shorthand symbol? Was your commentary a long-hand version of his short-hand writing? If that is so, you can be accused of hypocrisy.
Nitya: I have never seen Narayana Guru in person. I had no physical transactions with him. For me he is more his word than his historic personality. By his word I mean sixty works in Sanskrit, Malayalam and Tamil. I also have images of him which I have gathered from his biographies and popular hear-say. So, in one sense, my idea of Narayana Guru is also a short-hand symbol. When Narayana Guru prayed to God, calling him Daivame , the emotional impact he felt is unknown to me. Did his nervous system become agitated? Did he experience cardiovascular excitement? Did he maintain a steady blood pressure? All this is unknown to me. I do not even care to know about it. I am I, and Narayana Guru is Narayana Guru. I do not want to become Narayana Guru and I am not likely to. His language is that of a born poet, rich with allegories. He had an ear for music and whatever he wrote was melodic. He was happy to present his visions with rich theatrical vividness. That is not my style. I love cold logic, especially the logic of mathematics.
When I think, speak or write I always compare my thoughts with the known findings of science, both Eastern and Western, modern and ancient. By science I mean shastra ; it need not necessarily be confined within the limits of technocracy. Vyasa is as respectable a scientist as Newton or Einstein. My prejudice is such that I would set Vyasa and Narayana Guru on a higher pedestal than some scientists of high caliber. They were scientists who sang science with the richness of the song of bards. When you say, “the wind blows,” you instantly become poetical. The wind is not a person that blows; what you mean is that there is a high pressure velocity of movement. When you speak of a plane or train saying that she is late, it is not likely that I would become enamored of the femininity of these vehicles. When I agreed to be the disciple of Narayana Guru, I made it conditional that I should retain my freedom to translate his mystical language into a scientific language.
Yati: Do you mean to say that you differ from Narayana Guru only in the diction and style of his writing and not in your doctrinal stand? In the Darßana Mala , Narayana Guru says that this world is created by Paramesvara , the Supreme God.
Nitya: Not quite so. Before attributing the authorship of the world to the Supreme God he reduces the verity of the world to the status of a dream. Subsequently he also asks, “If the effect has no reality, what verity has its cause?”
Yati: Are you suggesting that Narayana Guru was a nihilist?
Nitya: In allegorical language the similes involve the reference and the referent. Narayana Guru builds up a system of philosophy by employing a methodology which takes us from the position of an ignorant person who mistakes his projections for reality to the vision of an enlightened philosopher who can pinpoint truth as aum tat sat , "that is it." After this, he uses a methodology complementary to what he used in the first half of the book to discuss both the experiential and the imperiential advancement of a seeker of truth until he becomes established in truth as a full-blown seer. It is wrong to lift a verse out of context and to place it on the table as the doctrine of Narayana Guru. All the ten Darßanas of the Darßana Mala are to be taken together. We should not mutilate its organic coherence.
Yati: Let me put a straight question to you. Do you pray?
Nitya: Yes I do, sometimes ritualistically, sometimes obligatorily and sometimes as a blissful indulgence.
Yati: What do you mean by ritualistically?
Nitya: In all countries, communist, capitalist or otherwise, the national flag is raised and lowered every morning and evening to the sound of the national anthem. This is a ritual. The human being is a social animal who lives in groups and such rituals are part of our group life. To flow with the current amicably and harmoniously it is good to join the masses, but it is also good to sneak out when the masses degenerate into mobs. Whenever I am in the company of religious people who like to attend a church service, or a Sabbath in a synagogue, a Sufi dance, or a Hindu sankirtan , it is my pleasure to join my friends. I may not go along with all the implications in the song sung or the ritual performed, but I do appreciate the sharing of fellowship and the musical qualities of the songs which can sometimes lift our minds to ethereal heights. I still remember vividly how my mind was lifted to a sense of elation when I listened to some Hebrew hymns chanted by a rabbi in a synagogue in Australia . Hebrew or Greek makes no difference to me because I do not understand either. So evidently, it was not the purport of the words that sang in my heart, but the spiritual fervor of the rabbi who appeared to me at that moment as a true symbol of pure devotion. Ritualistic prayers can be quite boring too. I attended an Easter service in a Presbyterian church. The phoniness of the vicar and the shallowness of the songs were so disparaging that I decided to use the occasion to study the characters around me in terms of descriptive psychology.
Yati: And what is obligatory prayer?
Nitya: There are many ardent religious believers who are deeply devoted to me. They want me to pray when somebody is sick, mentally depressed, or caught in some tight situation. They believe that my prayer may bring the benign grace of God to lift the blues and bring them beneficial results. I do not question their faith, nor do I ask to which God I should pray. Our world is not a chaos, it is a cosmos. As the Greeks believed, it is some sort of a collage made up of the earth, chaos and Eros evolving into a cosmos. In that evolution what is significant is a high percentage of recurring probability. My obligatory prayer is aimed at this probability factor. It is a blind-man's-bluff in good spirit. There is nothing wrong in hoping for the best. Beyond that I do not exaggerate the effectiveness of my intercession.
Yati: Do you pray for your personal needs?
Nitya: In times of physical tiredness and mental weariness, imitating elders, I used to say “ ayyo ” “ amme ” (mother), and “ Daivame ,” and jokingly at times I used substitutions like “ Daivatinte natune ,” meaning “God's sister-in-law.” These expressions have become a kind of conditioned reflex. Sometimes, imitating my Christian friends I say, “ ente kartava ,” meaning “my creator,” or “Allah,” as my Muslim friends would say. These are like sighs; they mean nothing, yet, unconsciously the myth in me gets an occasion to surface and that way it must bring some psychological relief. When a serious occasion arises in my life, such as facing death, I would rather have death than the intervention of any supernatural force. Once, as a heart patient, I seemed to be coming to a close in a hospital in Singapore . I saw the nurses offer fervent prayers for an extension of my life. A couple of Chinese nurses knelt by my bedside and spent the whole night in vigilance, praying. I searched in my heart for the need to pray and I found neither the need to pray nor a power to pray to. I can categorically say that I do not pray for myself.
Yati: What do you mean by blissful indulgence with prayer?
Nitya: The Indian rishis, both ancient and modern, are poets endowed with a great sense of humor. They can present a mathematical formula in the format and tone of a hymn. One such is:  
Aum purnamada purnamidam
Purnat purnam udachyate
Purnasya purnam adaya
Purnam eva avasishyate.
  This can be chanted with eyes closed, hands enfolded and a feeling of devotional piety, but it is only a mathematical formula and it can be expressed in a much less devotional way such as, “The value of zero is absolute. The unmanifested value of zero and its manifested value are the same absolute. Zero plus zero, or zero minus zero is the same absolute zero.” Similarly, there are whole passages in the Upanishads and hymns composed by Sankaracarya and Narayana Guru which can be sung in perfect ragas (musical scales) and they can also be the subject matter for philosophical pondering. The allegories used appeal to our high aesthetic sense, to our poetic delight and our creative imagination; at the same time the truth they reveal through poetic suggestion can stand the glare of mathematical logic. Such prayers make ego boundaries flexible and sometimes they produce the magical effect of effacing all frontiers that separate the individual from the totality of being, of which he is an organic part. Here prayer becomes a meditation on excellence. You can take one ideogram and live with it for days till you become possessed with it. This is what poets call the magnificent obsession of the hidden splendor. Whether Aristotle likes it or not there are moments when we have to part with syllogistic reasoning so that we can listen to the choir of the heavenly spheres.
Yati: Are these philosophical prayers addressed to God?
Nitya: Once again you are going back to the need to define God. Once, a Marxist asked Nataraja Guru to define God. He said: “That which is right even when you are wrong is God.” In the Upanishads God is defined as existence, subsistence and value (sat cit ananda); Narayana Guru repeats the same in his universal prayer.
Yati: However tenable is the meaning of God as interpreted by theistic philosophers, don't you agree with me that crusades were made in the name of God? Was India not divided into two nations because the Hindus and the Muslims could not pray to the same God? Is not priest craft instituted with the blessings of God and are not the priests perpetuating superstition and exploitation of the gullible? Do we not have the menace of megalomaniacs that pretend to be agents or incarnations of God? Are you prepared to tolerate all these evils in the name of God?
Nitya: No, we should not. Evil is evil and the upholder of truth should always fight these evils. Do we give up science just because it invents and enables power crazy politicians to manufacture atomic bombs and weapons even more destructive than that? Science is not at fault there. If science can be accepted, God is also acceptable for the same reason. In a human body 90% of the mass is only water and the rest is composed of various chemical combinations. In the same way 90% of human consciousness is buried in the unconscious; of the remaining 10% at least 6% is the memory that is amassed during one's lifetime. The active functioning of the mind is mostly of the nature of recall and imagination; even a large percentage of discernment which involves judgment is of a routine mechanical nature. Only once in a while does our awareness become acute and we become critical in our reasoning. We cannot spotlight that rare moment of reasoning as the only significant core of our life.
There should be due recognition given to the myth of our unconscious, the creative work of our imagination, and the indiscernible truths of our faith in perennial values, such as love, justice, truth and compassion. Major institutions of man, such as family, church, nation and political affiliations are all based on assumptions. Some such assumptions are irrational, as for instance when a man says, “she is my wife” and “she is no longer my wife.” Such being the collage of the rational and the irrational which make the totality of our life, I think that the healthy attitude is to have a holistic appreciation of life, which comprises elements of fear, curiosity, wonder, sense of justice, ununderstandable opacity, bi-polar relationship, love, the need to sacrifice, great moments of serenity and beatitude, pure chance, hidden dynamics, hope, delusion, sense of loss and the need for reverence and acceptance of testimony.
Life is playful, it is serious, it is factual and equally it is fictitious. All this can be termed in one word, God. I have accepted the testimony of two brilliant minds to have the full appreciation of the world of which I am and the world which is none other than me. My two authorities are the mathematician and the poet. The mathematician leads science, the veracity of which is good fodder for my mind, and the poet presides over the musical throne of my heart. I don't think one can exist without the other. Only schizoids want to draw a clear line between the two, and what poverty of imagination it is to stand with either one of them and to reject the other. I am deeply in love with Vyasa and Valmiki, Kalidasa and Homer, Dante and Shakespeare, Goethe and Hugo, Tagore and Basho. What laboratory can measure, weigh and grade the worth of an epic or the value of a haiku?
When Tagore says, “We the rustling leaves have a voice that transfers the storms, but who are you so silent? I am a mere flower,” or when he says, “The fish in the water is silent, the animal on the earth is noisy, the bird in the air is singing, but man has in him the silence of the sea, the noise of the earth and the music of the air,” do we not want to sit with the poet and nod our head in admiration? Tagore once said: “Logic is a sword, all blades and no handle. It bleeds the hand that holds it.” Sometimes a poet has a better insight of mind than a professional psychologist.
Saigyo says:
The mind for truth
begins, like a stream, shallow
at first, but then
adds more and more depth
while gaining greater clarity.  
All that counts in our life is not our bank balance or the jewelry securely locked in a safe; we can be as pleased with a mood, the mood of a poet.  
Seduced by the warm breeze,
my blossoms went off with it
to who-knows-where;
so, loath to lose them, my heart
stays here with nothing but my own Self.
There are philosophers who have combined the vision of the mathematician and of the poet in one. One such was Spinoza whose God reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists. Although Einstein was prepared to go that far with Spinoza, he maintained that God does not play dice with the world. On December 12th, 1926 , he wrote the following to Max Born: “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing, but an inner voice tells me that is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.” To Einstein's famous maxim: “God is subtle, but he is not malicious,” his own explanation is: “Nature conceals her mysteries by means of her essential grandeur, not by her cunning.” Who said that, Einstein the physicist or Einstein the poet? I bow before the certitude of the scientist and the assurance of the poet for revealing to me the God who, to me, is everything.


The subject which concerns us here is that of world Government. In the light of Samuel Johnson’s statement that politics is the last refuge of scoundrels, and in view of  the more than evident nuisance value created by the din of rival politicians at the time of political elections, contemplatives are naturally expected to steer clear of all politics. The question arises then as to why spiritual and contemplative persons like ourselves, speaking of Unitive Understanding( advaita) and taking our position on the long spiritual tradition of India, should dabble in such subjects as government and politics at all; and the general reader would be justified in wanting to know the place of Advaita Vedanta in such a context.

Vedanta comes into contact with the problem of human welfare only indirectly, and sometimes after prayers there is a sort of ending benediction of santi, Which consists of saying, “let all people in the world be happy”. The welfare of  humanity is thus not altogether outside the scope of the Vedantic tradition of India. Suffering anywhere in the world must be considered as belonging to the subject.Every such situation has the subjective side or the Self-aspect which might be outside the context of actual suffering, and the objective side or the non-self aspect which is the actual seat or scene of such sufferings.

Advaita  Philosophy, which is no other than the way of Unitive Understanding in its essence must be capable of equating the self and the non-self as interchangeable terms. The suffering of fellow man thus equates itself naturally with the suffering of every true Vedantin. Bliss (ananda) and suffering (Duhkha) both take place within the Self, which has the absolute status of canceling its own subjective and objective prejudices. Advaita is a supposition taken between two rival aspects of the same problem. Thus the welfare of the humanity and the suffering of even the smallest animal, such as an ant going to be lightly trampled upon by a vedantin, become subjects of equal concernto him by the two sides of the situation in which he is to be correctly situated.

It is not the suffering as we see it in the headlines of a morning newspaper, glanced at before breakfast in a light-hearted way, that is to be kept in mind here. Headlines big and small reflect disasters major or minor, which take place in this world, and what is read in one daily newspaper is forgotten by the next morning’s breakfast. This is the common way of taking casual interest in politics. The difference between this way and the contemplative way that belongs to the Gurukula is that our interest does not fluctuate between morning and evening, or even between weekdays and Sundays.

Newspaper politics have to be reduced to a common numerator or denominator. We get thus a dialectical approach to politics which is, in our case, to be distinguished by two other terms besides, Unitive Understanding. Firstly we are interested in geo-politics, and not just politics. This implies that we treat of the planet Earth as a unit called geos, in which politics is to be discussed under the light of Sun in terms of Fus Solice, the justice of the sun. We are thus interested in world politics, and not just local or even national party politics. Secondly our politics is based o a dialectical approach, the essence of which can be stated by the formula inscribed on the shields of the two female figures in the monument of the Swiss confederation in Geneva, Switzerland. One tall female figure holds a shield bearing the inscription, One for all; the other corresponding counterpart of the same tall woman holds another shield , though placed on the ground, with the reciprocal part of the formula, all for one. Thus between the general good and the good of all there is a dialectical interplay of values. Politics emerges into view, as amply proved in the social contract of  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, when two factors, one standing for General Good and the other for the Good of all come into interplay.

These subtleties require much more elaboration than what we can make in these short preliminary remarks. Geo-politics, thus understood geo-dialectically, is special branch of discipline. We cannot go into all the detailed aspects here, but we can refer to some of the salient features of the geo-dialectical approach to World Government, by way of indicating some of the highlights and by way of underlining some of the characteristics of this kind of politics, to show that such a subject is not outside the scope of a contemplative or spiritual way of life, especially at the present day, when mass communication portends a time when humanity will receive messages which cannot be distinguished from the medium, nor the medium from the message.



1. Humanity is one :

This is a priori given basis of the World  Government outlined in this Memorandum.
The recognition of the unity and solidarity of mankind follows from the correct application of the scientific or unitive approach to the problems of humanity. Just as belief in many Gods is incorrect, so when humanity is considered relatistically as consisting of closed groups, however big, or justified in the name of power or practicability, such a view violates this first and fundamental principle of the indivisible unity of man. Humanity is one by its  common origin, one in its common interests and motives of happiness here on earth in everyday living, and one in its relation to the aspirations and ideals which bind human beings together by bonds of sympathy for each other. A unitive  and absolute value is at the basis of human life. This high human value knows no frontier either actual or ideological. It makes no discrimination between rich or poor, high or low, civilized or backward. Sympathy for suffering and indignation against injustice to fellow men transcends time and clime, and reaches out evenly or pointedly, as the case  may deserve, to the uttermost recesses of the one world which man inhabits.

2. Human nature, both good and bad at once:

To say that evil does not exist and that God created all men good will sound unrealistic to modern ears after all the experience of humanity which the historians have recorded. To state, on the contrary, that evil is the basis of human life, leaves us equally unconvinced. The wary man would back out of the paradox involved by saying that the verdict would depend on the particular case, and refuse to generalize. He might even  go further and say sophistically that the possibility of error all evil in human nature is what makes man human at all; and by the same token it could be argued that even evil must have a basis of goodness. Such arguments have brought human affairs up against impasses again and again. We are no nearer to the right answers to such questions than we were thousands of years ago. General  scepticism drives people to sit on the fence.

Irrespective of time and crime, wise men have repeatedly tried to teach us a way out of these dilemmas. There is a method and theory of knowledge proper to wisdom which is not the same as that of logic, ratiocination or even ‘objective’ or mechanistic intelligence.

3. Anew time-honoured approach:

Such an approach should be scientifically formulated. It will then resolve conflicting counterpart of a given situation or problem, unitively, without conflict. Just as one humanity is true, so one Absolute justice for all mankind, one goodness applicable to all mankind and one God or ideal of human happiness could be stated to be at the basis of common human existence. The ordering of human life on unitive lines is the function of the World Government as envisaged in the present Memorandum.

4. The science of dialectics:

Whether the human life is fundamentally good or bad does not concern us here so directly as whether it possible to cancel out evil by the good residing in human nature itself, i.e, whether there is still hope for humanity to overcome ignorance by wisdom. The static variety of human goodness or badness should be viewed dynamically as belonging to flow of human life shaping itself in time. Living unitive thinking is concerned with the progressive shaping of human life based on values which fuse into an ever newly integrated flux which is subject to a constant process of becoming. The old order changes giving place to new. It is in this sense that wisdom  is a Perennial way of contemplation. This wisdom forms part of a science which could be called dialectics. The Truth that makes men Free and the Knowledge that gives power are open and dynamic human values to be understood in the light of dialectics. The ‘evil’ that is necessarily present in human nature when viewed unitively according to dialectics, is as true as the ‘goodness’ inherent in a human nature when viewed in a similar way. All values, positive or negative, when unitively understood, belong to a vertical scale of values which man must recognize, and every moment he has to choose between opposite alternative. At each step here a constant process of dialectical revaluation is involved, whether in the life of each man, each unit group, or of humanity as a whole. Such an approach to world affairs is what this Memorandum recommends, and it is this which makes it so unique as legitimately to claim the attention of all lovers of humanity who are interested in a World Government which for the first time is scientifically conceived. This newly formulated science, wherein pure dialectical reasoning applied to problems of the world, may be called ‘science of Geo-Dialectics’.

5. The Geo-dialectical method:

The Geo-dialectical method consists of clearly recognizing the two counterparts which belong together in any given situation or problem to be eased or resolved in human affairs. Man is caught in necessity or bondage on the one hand, and, on the other, reaches out towards the contingent factor or freedom. If we could say that his necessity is symbolized either by the need for bread or common hunger, contingency is symbolized by the need to live and breath freely, and in fulfilling one’s life according to the inner urges within each man. Man has to fulfill life according to his own nature without being stifled or suffocated. Bread and freedom resolved into unitive terms of a central value spell Happiness. When each man is happy all mankind is happy. When there is a general happiness of mankind as a whole, each man has his happiness most secure. No mother is happy unless the child also is happy, and no ruler is happy unless his subjects too are happy. To recognize and deal with the dialectical counterpart , while respecting fully the nature of the individual or the integrated personality of normal units called nations, in such a manner as to cancel out counterparts in unitive terms of positive human values conducive to human happiness, is the basis of the geo-dialectical method. Being an applied part of pure dialectics, the full implications of this statement can be clarified only after studying dialectics.

6. Anomalies, absurdities and dangers of the mechanistic approach:  

The non-dialectical, non-unitive, mechanistic or unilateral approach which does not respect the integrated personality of nations or individual citizens gives rise to many anomalies, absurdities and disasters. If the case of a mother is taken up without including with it the case of the child, if the case of a ruler is taken without considering the ruled, or the master’s case without the servant’s, and even if we should forget to take into account that the one and the many are interdependent or reciprocally inter-related in a subtle dialectical manner, we invoke disasters large or small and so the seeds of injustice and consequent suffering. Each man consists of what he is subjectively, and what he holds as dear as life itself, such as his money, his family, or even his faith. These adhere closely and result in the happiness that each person craves for. National and cultural groups also have integrated personalities of their own which cannot be subjected to a mechanistic treatment which is merely based on quantitative statistics or facts, without injury. Such roots of integration lie deeply buried in history. The partitioning of nations has resulted in genocidal tragedies.

Operating through decades or centuries, historical necessity gives the raison d’etre  to the jigsaw puzzle patterns of the differently coloured patches on the mapped surface of the globe which school children are taught to distinguish as self-contained or autonomous political units, entities, states, countries or nations. Sometimes  such patches tend to mark merely an area where an amorphous mass of people live who are dictated by external forces. Even while the child is being taught political geography the patches change their  outline or encroach on each other with a strange irrationality. These patches are not the result of any scientific ordering of the world, but are arbitrary and haphazard in their origin and growth. They have been traced by wars old or recent, whether just or unjust, and de facto status of certain units do not correspond to their de jure  status in the present set-up of nations. The status of member nations in present day international bodies such as the United Nations depends on the veto or whim of the powers that be. No public or objective norms prevail here. Neither the natural law of the jungle nor any law consciously formulated in any manner in keeping with the much-vaunted  dignity of man regulates internationalism at present.

7. The zero hour for the declaration of a World Government is past:

In the days of chivalry willing combatants fought duets in strict accordance with certain codes of honor consistent with human dignity as understood in those olden days. But day has now come when a brave general is reported to be proudly contemplating the extermination of ‘whole sections of people’ by the latest weapons which human intelligence itself has placed at the service of irresponsible adventures. Instead of the knight errant helping women and children in distress, humanity today hears threats against the innocent and the unarmed. We hear war criminals punished after wars have ceased, when we are not sure whether the punishment or the crime violates human codes of honor or justice. While their children wait for the horrible news outside the prison, parents get the electric chair for not keeping their own intelligence from helping those whom one nation or other suspects for the time being. Politics too strangely keeps changing its own complexion from day to day. Concentration camps and the lot of millions of displaced families who are denied ‘papers’ year after year, making illegal even their right to work and earn a living, and thus in effect taking away their de facto status as fellow human beings,  prove that the days of barbarity and slavery are not over. Exposed to fear and insecurity, humanity knows not which way to turn for consolation. Helplessly, it looks on with impotence when the dignity of humanity itself is at stake. The zero hour for the declaration of a World Government, at least in principle, is long past. Such a Government must voice human honor and self-respect. It must preserve the wisdom-heritage of humanity and hand it down to coming generations. Those who love humanity and absolute human values at every level and department of life must be protected. Those who hate their fellow men for reasons that are not universally valid are as good as not existing. Those who adhere to rival relativist values are bound, in any case, to cancel out one another. There is no real need to name the enemies of humanity because their days are numbered if humanity has any hope of survival at all. That humanity will survive, the supporters of World Government do firmly and solemnly believe. Therefore the time has come for all lovers of humanity to take a definite stand, avoiding double-talk, duplicity, compromise and doubt.


1. The World Government is an accomplished fact :

The World Government came into being (in principle at least) at Long. 63* 25’ West,  44*32’ North on sept.4,1953. Utter Necessity was its justification. Very special states of stress, both personal and global, ushered it into being when a stateless person was forced into a closed territory against his own will or consent. Even a de facto of the world already, with a fine record of service to the same closed territory or ‘nation’, was denied the right to make a living or pursue his own happiness. There was no government  to represent him or stand by him. The world government had therefore to be conceived as though in ‘immaculately’ though neither illegitimately, disloyally, nor dishonourably, born. Time makes for no man. Better now than never. Necessity knows no law. All is fair in love and war. These are some of the sayings that held good here. It takes only two  to start a quarrel or sign a pact, and only one to tell the truth. It is not numbers that justify a Government, but its intrinsic quality based  on Absolute Truth or Justice. It takes but one to steer the ship to safety, though hundreds may weep and wail in vain.

2.The validity of the World Government is not questionable:

If even today the simple accident of being born in a so-called royal family can justify the formation of an absolute monarchy, it can be seen that no principle of geo-dialectics is violated by the formation of a world government. The world government has no territory other than the surface of the globe. It is not conceived as a rival to any existing government. It does not intend to duplicate any of their functions. Neither does it wish to be a parallel government, nor has it ambitions to be a super-state. On the other hand, it has no wish to occupy a second place among nation states. It has an absolute status of its own as understood in the light of the science of geo-dialectics already referred to. In the usually understood sense World Government has no programme of action or territorial ambition. It does not rule by threat, force, or the power of the magistrate or the police. Knowledge is its power and, instead of threats or punishments, relies on the truth of the dictum that a word to the wise will suffice. Just as a ball of iron can be made white-hot without the ball itself suffering division, change, or control from outside, so the world government proposes to influence humanity in and through humanity for humanity. Nothing is to be disrupted in the process. A certain type of truth which has been called ‘the pearl of great price’ , the ‘little leaven that leaveth the whole lump’ or that ‘Dharma(the right way of life) even a little of which will save from great’ is the pinch of Absolutist Wisdom which is to be added to the chaotic world- situation so as to help us to re-orientate and re-integrate and regulate human affairs. In other words, the World Government applies a subtle form of  ‘vertical pressure’ corresponding to spiritual heat of electricity. Order then emerges as with magnetized iron filings from non-magnetized chaos.    

 3. Confirmation of the World Government:

A second step forward in the formation of the World Government was taken at Long.77* 38” 58’ North, on May 15, 1956. A recessive part of the world, never even to be suspected of any intention to dominate the world through its power, has been chosen this time as the location from where to confirm and sanction the first information of the World Government at a dominant part of the world. To rise above suspicion, World Government has to be established neutrally between the dominant and the recessive aspects of world political life. No one carrying the threat of the atom bomb in one hand and a message of peace on the other can be trusted by others who sail in the same boat. Relativism breeds rivals while the correctly dialectical or Absolutist approach unites and frees men in the name of a humanity which is understood unitively.

Between the initial formation of the World Government and its later more precise formulation and confirmation, nearly three years of experimentation, meditation and study have been undertaken. This second time, as stricter geo-dialectics would require, there were two sides represented by two men, in the solemn pact before the declaration of the World Government. One of these contracting parties represented the Good of All and the other represented the General Good. This subtle dialectical contract sets the pattern for the growth of the World Government. Such a formation of  an actual government, at least in a nuclear form, has been duly announced. More conferences could be contemplated in the near future in different parts of the world, of those who represent the General Good or the Good of All, or both. The nuclear yet actual government will gather momentum by the good will of the people of the world from day to day so as to become an efficient and effective instrument for the reorientation and regulation of human affairs under the aegis of the Most High Principle of Goodness, or the Most Supreme Value of Happiness that humanity can accept to regulate its life. This Memorandum hereby greets all lovers of humanity with the happy news of the birth of the World Government. Its presence is to be felt, not especially in any fixed locality or centre, but all over or in every part of the world or wherever it can best serve its supreme purpose which is the political happiness of humanity. It is however the global, unitive one-world politics of all mankind with which we are concerned here. Because of its Absolutist character, this can be called both politics and non-politics at once, or a politics that gets rid of politics. In other words, World Government is based on the pure politics to be known as geo-politics.



1. All approaches hitherto either negative or relativistic

To the natural question why we should not join hands with other organizations working already in the field of internationalism, we have to answer that there is the fundamental drawback that all of them are vitiated by either a ‘negative’ or a ‘relativistic’ approach. What we mean by these two expressions must be somewhat clear from what we have already said.

By negativism we mean that proposals for peace or disarmament have been based on a regret or a fear connected with wars Just fought or wars expected. At such moments there is great volume of collective emotions available, and those who offer quick results get nations to pay large sums for preserving peace or in the name of security. The regret, however, passes, as also the fear. Positive attitudes take their places, and one organization which failed to fulfill its contract is succeeded by another in a modified form. This is how the League of Nations was displaced by the United Nations. The latter may be expected to go the way of its predecessor as soon as its impotency in the matter of securing peace becomes evident to all. It is patent that in spite of its declared intentions, the U.N. has not been able to makes its member nations reduce their armaments, nor has it been able to mitigate the national excesses of its member nations. Of course in some member nations it is better than nothing, but in other matters it is worse than nothing. Representatives of major nations get the chance of calling each other names at the glorified debates held under these bodies. With the points of order, the explanations of votes, amendments, counter-amendments and arbitrary powers of veto or methods of filibustering  or blocking through satellite members, the U.N. has no power to implement even the smallest item in its own declaration of human rights, not to speak of objecting to the dangers of atomic tests. Actually, it is used by power groupings to sling mud at each other. At best it is a glorified debating society employing thousands of interpreters, stenographers and clerks who live and move in a beehive of modern buildings. They are obliged to keep the powers that be in good humour. Every effort has been made already to try and work through the U.N. by the sponsors of the present World Government. The story is too long to relate here. Suffice it to say that it has been a signal failure.

By relativism  we mean that some sort of duality as between ‘free nations’ and others who are not so is still retained in the structure of the organization. The organization is not unitively conceived according to any science of Absolutism. Representation, admission, or expulsion are based on no uniform norms of any science universally or publicly  formulated.

2. Private, partial or party organizations with world programmes:

There are various religious, political or even commercial bodies which influence world affairs. There is the communist party which shapes the trend of world politics. Then there is the Catholic Church and various other bodies which have world programmes. Commercial combines and banking agencies fulfill openly or secretly many functions which properly should belong to a world government. These serve humanity in good, bad or indifferent ways, but as long as a correctly formulated world government is not there, no one has any right to find fault with whatever exploitation they consciously or unconsciously exercise in world affairs. International organizations exist in many departments such as the universal postal union, etc. Member nations may or may not ratify their resolutions, and even when they do so, the limitations of their own arbitrary sovereignty or nationalism are not wholly discarded. The approach to such problems is not based at present on any exact science such as we claim to be at the basis of the World Government as envisaged in this Memorandum. This class of organizations can be almost good or the next best, but just as one cannot jump a chasm in two leaps or expect a price for the number nearest to the one that wins the price, so the wholesale scientific basis of the World Government is all-important. The science of geo-dialectics is based on a rare and precious way of higher reasoning without which no world Government can be expected to succeed. Such undertakings would not be justified even if they should obtain a large measure of success. Here almost true is not good enough. This same verity is couched in the old words that ‘good government is no substitute for self-government’. The mandate for any government has to be derived from the people who are to be governed on the one pole and, from another pole, derived from the absolute justice implicit in any such government. Like religion or morality, there are two different sources to world government. It has to be the resultant of ascending and descending dialectical counterparts. Such principles, however, can be made clear only in the light of general dialectics, which has still to be formulated and taught in the proposed institute of Dialectics. Meanwhile we are here obliged to state with seeming dogmatism that partial and unscientific approaches to the problem of World Government are not valid.

     Section III

                                              Unique and Positive Qualities

1. What the world Government is not :

We have already stated in passing that the world Government is not based on power with the weapon of threats of punishment. Its authority is derived from humanity’s need for it and from its rightness and justice. It has been mentioned also that it has no territorial ambitions or designs. It does not propose to arrogate to itself  any functions that are being fulfilled already correctly by existing governments. No overlapping or duplication of  functions is in the scheme presented here. Neither is diarchy or parallel form of government contemplated. However, in spite of this position, World Government will not be second to any other government. It will consciously avoid functioning even as a supra-state in the usual sense. If we should want to think of the political theory on which it is to be based, it can be said here in advance that it does not subscribe to the laissez faire doctrine. Much less does it adhere to the doctrine of ‘might is right’, which though more positive, is still outmoded. The Benthamian doctrine of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ is also not in keeping with the principles of the present Government. It does not think quantitatively at all. That would make it fall into the capital error of being mechanistic or relativistic in its approach, which we have stated to be the very drawback we wish to avoid. It is based on a dialectical approach to world problems. What this implies we shall clarify as much as possible below.

2. Based on a solemn pact :

The world government is based on a solemn pact between the people of the world and their own dialectical counterpart in the form of a wise lover of humanity representing the general good of humanity as a whole. Although stated in the form of two aspects, these counterparts form the obverse of the same coin called Absolute Happiness, Goodness, or justice of Humanity. This is a unitive central value whatever the ordw-stimulous employed may be. Moreover, it is essentially a human value in keeping with the dignity of the human species. Bread and freedom will be provided for all when such a Government comes into its full swing of effective and efficient working, by the conscious co-operation and understanding of the people of the world. Stated in the most general terms, the task of the world government will be the intelligent ordering of human life activities in a manner normal and natural to man, without violating his own innate dispositions, legitimate interests, or aspirations.

3. The World Government must govern its subjects actively or positively :

It must be practical and effective in its functioning. Mere pious hopes like that of waiting to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth will not improve matters. A government worth the name must deliver the goods or benefits belonging to the domain of politics. It must make human life on earth less full of  humiliation, helplessness or suffering. While this is right, the world government must guard itself from falling into the opposite error of  getting involved in a maze of overt actions which will fan feelings of rivalry and create more warring camps than ever. To avoid war, to guarantee collective security, to make co-existence possible or to practice the virtues of the pancha-sila of  non-interference, or to cultivate an attitude of positive neutrality, have been the recommendations of some of the world’s politicians for improving human affairs. These recommendations, though good as far as they go, embody the negative side of the virtue of international life. To leave matters alone, and not to make more rules than are necessary, are cardinal virtues for the World Government to cultivate. Stopping at harmless virtues which are still relative will not make a world government function normally. The positive programme  of world government has at every stage to balance or cancel-out the negative, so as to strike the just mean between war and peace, activity and passivity, hot and cold attitudes, co-operation and competition. A constant pressure has to be maintained between these opposing tendencies so as to throw up constantly a higher value as an ideal for humanity.

4. Positive pressure and vertical ascent:

A man becomes a better man by intensely and consciously wanting to be good. When he is good he should mind his own business and not interfere with others. His own inner urges as a man, in so far as they are in keeping with human nature as understood scientifically in all its bearings, have to get the full play of expansion and expression normally, without clashing with others who want to have the same chances. Those deep seated specific qualities which distinguish man and make him unique and unrivalled, must be brought out into creative expression instead of lying dormant or unfulfilled. If virtues such as these apply to the individual, they could apply equally to families as  normal human life units. Rural or Urban units could have personalities cultivating the same virtues or moral principles in keeping with a science or philosophy of human life. Bloated amorphous political units must also attempt to confirm to the requirements of this geo-dialectical absolutist morality. When all formations follow the same laws, the order which constitutes World Government can be expected. No feverish horizontal activity is here involved. A certain positive pressure resulting in a vertical ascent is what needs to be constantly maintained in human life. This pressure can also be compared to a moral  or spiritual heat or to the magnetizing influence of a current of electricity. The principle of double negation and double assertion as known to scholastic philosophy in Europe should be understood as implicit here. Only a fuller treatise on geo-dialectics itself can clarify such matters more completely or elaborately.

                                  Active Programmed

1. What the World Government actually proposes to do?

What the world Government actually proposes to do is first and foremost to bring to bear a new and total world outlook upon world problems. It will help to turn out more and more world citizens. They will be human beings who have attained the full status  of persons who represent the general good and the good of all. While making themselves happy according to the light of dialectical wisdom, they will constantly strive for the happiness of their fellow men in a manner consistent with the same wisdom. Such a balanced life between two interests unitively treated, will enhance the value of the individual in society. He will carry with him a subtle influence  or presence. Such a man would be a modern version of a knight errant seeking the right kind of adventure  to face in the name of his love of humanity. He would soon be appraised of innumerable opportunities presenting themselves to him where he can render signal service to his fellow men without going at all out of his way. Many such functions might lie outside the scope of geo-politics proper, with which alone we are concerned primarily in this Memorandum. However, this should not deter such a man or woman from placing his or hers high personal credit at the service of the cause of World Citizenship and World Government. To call oneself a sovereign citizen of the world and consciously to affiliate oneself wholeheartedly to the noble ideal, reveals in one who does so the true human value which a lover of humanity must carry with him, thus enhancing his value at once with reference to himself and with all others with whom his of is lot live on earth. There are rights and duties that such an affiliation at once confers.

As such a status comes from an understanding of the science involved, there is no danger of groups of such men considering themselves as belonging to any superior caste or group. The danger of such a contingency need not, however, be ruled out. On the contrary all such World Citizens should be taught to keep this danger constantly in their minds, to correct themselves consciously, and to help fellow world citizens to do the same. The danger, however, should not deter humanity from launching the undertaking, just in the same way that burst boilers or air crashes do not deter man from navigation or flying. Moreover, by the overall unitive approach, which is the basis of the whole new outlook involved in the World Citizenship Movement, the danger of clannishness or caste-mindedness can always be counteracted consciously, even when the tendency is there. This unitive outlook is more deeply rooted than at that level of life where World Citizenship has to express itself, which at most, is the waking world of the conscious ego. The unitive approach to reality will permeate the sub-conscious, the infra-conscious, and the fourth stratum of transparent or direct awareness in the individual, so that the danger of exclusiveness as an individual will be countered very effectively. This is the definite advantage of the approach to world problems being actually a particular branch of the general science of wisdom dialectics. This will further guarantee proportion, balance, normality, wholesomeness, harmony, and humane grace or correctness to World Citizenship.

The success of World Government depends on its ability to produce the right kind of world citizen as its champion in different parts of the world. He could be described as the most important single asset on the side of the undertaking.

2. Political programmes can be made effective from inside, outside, from above or below the present formation :

Once the reorientation of the spirit or the change of heart in regard to world problems has taken place in a given individual, and he feels keenly that he has to do something for the furtherance of his ideal, it is possible for him to do it from where he happens to be naturally. If he is a legislator he can stand for election on a World Government ticket. The immense popularity of the One World idea will only enhance his chances of success. According to qualitative geo-dialectical principles it would not be wrong of him to enter any given council, big or small, national or local, urban or rural, swearing allegiance to the head of that group or the head of several groups for the time being; for in doing so he would be recognizing  only the symbolic absolutism implicit or inherent in the person(president or monarch) who happens to be at the head. Moreover, in terms of universal human values for which he is a politician, there is no contradiction or conflict between the interests of that particular political unit and in the human interests of the world itself taken as a unit. There is a geo-dialectical secret involved here which could be brought out by a homely example. If an old well should be hidden by a flood which covered it later, the water that quenches the thirst is the same water whether it comes from the hidden well part or from the lake overcovering it. There is no conflict possible between two concentric circles. This is the ancient wisdom found in the Bhagavad gita, which comes to the rescue of world politics by which all the walls of the Jerichos in the world must fall. The blast of absolutism from inside or outside the wall, or both together, by those placed superiorly above, or in, as it were, helpless position below, dominant or recessive men or women the world over, have only to want real solem earnestness to make the World Government effective. Thus the world government work will become most practicable, positive, and irresistible.

3. How to practice world politics from inside:

When once elected to a local or national body on a World Government ticket, the man or woman concerned takes a course of action in keeping with the principles of humanity and world morality or value comprised between the two poles of bread and freedom. Taking his stand on the norms and the standards of geo-dialectics the World Citizen generally takes a middle-of-the-road position in respect of leftist or rightist parties, and generally supports the president when absolute justice, morality or the ideal are not violated by his position. When resolutions are moved or voting is explained he gets a chance of placing before those who are politically minded a new approach based on global human interests. He can bring token cut-motions on armament budgets when disproportionate, and the people’s sense of justice can be appealed to. If he should be ousted from the council the people will follow him into the street if his cause is just and in the name of the interests of the common man and humanity at once. Here, for the present, the possibilities of such action frominside must be left to the imagination. When permanent support to the world approach is certain, ‘mondialization’ within such units is not impossible. Symbolic acts in keeping with the code of honor or morals proper to the world citizen could be resorted to, resembling Tolstoyan or Gandhian methods as revised in the light of a stricter geo-dialectical science.

4. The practice of world politics from above :

Men, and more especially women, who occupy positions of influence or who have resources at their command, can study the plans of world government and bring their weight to bear on the side of supporting human rights and preserving the best in the heritage of mankind, whether in art, culture, or wisdom. Dante, Shakespeare, and Kalidasa belong to humanity first, and the claims of particular nations for them are only incidental. There is also the one perennial contemplative tradition based on science of the absolute which is the common property of humanity. In preserving these and in protecting the common wisdom heritage of mankind the best interests of the common man will be secured also.

Poor men, who have to take a living wherever it is present available to them, are kept from freely reaching out to their God-given opportunities  by artificial man-made rules. These rules must be broken down. Travel becomes more and more difficult and rules are piled upon rules by nations big and small for no valid or justifiable reason except to retaliate in the name of national pride or exclusiveness. Parochialism, tribalism, casteism, and nationalism have much in common with fanaticism or blind orthodoxy. A world philosophy  and religion critically and scientifically ordered will help to relieve the existing asphyxiating conditions wherein miserable men and women have to live in the prison of criss-cross rules which is the present world. All modern people are keenly aware of this stifling atmosphere. The well-to do, the influential, or at least their wives, must take interest in the poor, not to disrupt anything or anybody, but to bring just that kind of legitimate pressure which will ease the trouble of the common man. There can be a World Order of Ladies or Knights who could function as supervisors, permission authorities, world guards or witnesses of natural integrity, peace makers or arbitrating advisers in the numerous walks of life in all matters ranging between the gaining of bread and the gaining of personal or spiritual freedom. Premarital, post-marital, and familial arbitration or advice, helping juveniles and children from possible maladjustments, the re-education of delinquents, psychological guidance, a pedagogy which respects the personality of the child, co-operative centers for the reclamation and relaxation of persons caught in the stress of life or in conditions of tension, and occupational guidance or treatment- these are only a few of the fields in which the world citizen could help the lot of humanity from wherever he or she might be living. A complete philosophy and a way of life shaped on unitive and absolutist lines is of  course presupposed here. It will be the task of the world institute of human affairs to elaborate, formulate, and make this available in the different languages of the world.

5.The practice of world politics from below :

Individual men and women are caught in the barbed wire frontiers, both ideological and actual, of rules and interdictions against freedom to pursue happiness freely and peacefully on the surface of the God-or-nature-given earth. There has been no way hitherto for the articulation of their grievances. Not content with enforcing the rules of his own country, police belonging to stranger countries have begun to help the other country in enforcing wrong rules in the name of internationalism. There is thus a double barrage of many absurd rules which themselves are multiplied beyond reason or necessity. The clever ones get away with every restriction somehow, but the lot of the ordinary man becomes difficult. One has to linger only for a few minutes at passport or permit officers to be convinced of the large volume of suffering to which men and women are subjected. To refer even to few typical cases would be outside the scope of this Memorandum and would mar the sobriety of style which we wish to preserve here as far as possible. In one of  his works Ruskin got a paragraph from a daily news paper printed in red ink, because the subject was shocking to all decent human sentiment.  The untold sufferings of the common man because of red-tape and regulations would have to be printed in some other ink if it is to find a place in a Memorandum such as this is intended to be.

What the common man could do is to register with the world government as a world citizen and try to bring a vertically conceived pressure to bear on the situation. He has to rely on numbers here to cope with the machinery of governments which have a great deal of inertia in them. All shoulders have to be applied to the wheel to set affairs going normally. The trumpet blasts for absolute fairness from outside the walls Jericho have to resound in consonance with the trumpet blasts from above, or inside.

6. The overall functioning of the World Government :

The inarticulated feelings  of the soul of humanity or the emergent personality of the people of the world has to find its voice in the World Government. The point of the view of the world government has to be broadcast unhesitatingly  in no uncertain terms and even with authority. Truth must be given a chance to prevail. Relativistic compromise is what makes humanity at present weak. These are facts which need no repetition here. As the world Government emerges more and more to public view, it will represent the conscience of humanity and will spotlight from day to day the errors detrimental to humanity’s interest. In such a task it must keep clear from tacitly or openly becoming a tool in the hands of any existing power block. Even if help should be obtained from some one quarter more than another, the world government must be above suspicion in pointing out mistakes. The cheap headline world of propaganda must be avoided. A ‘Voice of humanity’ and a World News Agency may be started to serve the cause of the world government. 

7. The issuance of world passports :

The issuance of world passports have already commenced. This would ease the situation arising in the cases of millions of persons who have no national status within nations. The response of nations is already there . Such persons will henceforth belong to the world Government. Their combined voice will and must be heard through the instrumentalities of the world government.

8. The proclamation of the Universal declaration of the human rights :

Proclamation of the Universal declaration of the human rights made by the United Nations at Paris 1948 gives a legitimate overall function covering many points so far remaining unimplemented. Many major and minor nations are already commited to the thirty articles in the declaration. In bringing vertical pressure to bear on this matter of implementation of that declaration, the world government would be in fact only helping the great number of nations to be true to their avowed undertakings.

9. To have a world committee :

To have a world committee to give assent to the world government and its functions from time to time and to hold world conferences to compare notes and do all at is incidental to the formation and correct functioning of the government, are also matters which are naturally to be provided for as normal to the programme  of the Government  as it is expected to unfold and expand quickly or gradually as the outside conditions and innate forces warrant. Powers of  supervision and assent may be vested in a Representative Select Committee  of those who are wise normally or who have received proper training in the Institute of Dialectics connected with the world government.

               Jurisdiction, Revenue, Resources, Etc.

1. Territorial jurisdiction :

The territorial Jurisdiction of the World Government is the surface of the earth. It does not think about owning any limited area to run its own primary government with land taxes, frontiers to protect, and defense arrangements. Overweighted with these items, present governments are in many ways outmoded remnants of the past which must all be subjected to drastic revision. These revisions will take place automatically when the world government as envisaged here begins to be more and more effective. Mondialization of select units of administration is not to be ruled out.

2.Revenue :

Revenue is to be derived from the principle of indirect taxation as it prevails even now. Though indirect, the revenue will be by mutual consent. Services rendered by the government could be charged for and, while prime necessities will be exempt even from such taxation as far as possible, items of luxury could be freely taxed. Such matters will be attended to by the World Service Authority under the World Government. Indirect tax is a form of profit which it is open for the World Government to make against services rendered. In fact trade combines and banking corporations-not to speak of religious bodies-even now exist, which have enormous assets sometimes as large and general as that of many existing governments. Economic and financial experts can see through the irregularities of some of the present monetary and other arrangements in which, by words such as going off the gold standard’ or in dividing the world into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ currency areas, wealth is conserved in pockets which when examined by standards of absolute justice, do not belong to them. Gold is stored in vaults without use for the artificially inflated credit of power blocks, and various book adjustments are made behind the back of the common man to whom the money really belongs. World banks and world currencies exist already without the regular consent of the people of the world and what is called as loan to one country from another is not really a loan, but a long term commercial deal. It would not be impossible for the world government to have its own credit and currency valid the world over, and planned on some rational human basis such as one day’s labour equals one day’s food and shelter in a 30 or 40 hour week (or even less ) in a world where competition has been counteracted by co-operation , and where labour-saving devices are employed for more human conditions.

As we have already said, the most valuable single asset of the world government is the world citizen. Since world citizens can be found by virtue of the rightness of the cause in any part of the world in unlimited numbers, the assets of all well-intending people anywhere in the world are already in effect those of the world government. A revised living and organic system of accounting and budgeting has to be devised. There being no duality of ends and means in this work, receipts and disbursements need not necessarily show large figures. After all, on final analysis, large-scale banking is nothing but book-keeping.


1. Unitive approach :

When it is said that wars begin in the minds of men, it is already conversely admitted by even full-fledged politicians that the solution to world problems are of a spiritual order.  The doctrine of a dialectical materialism, which puts necessity and hunger first, follows another line of approach. Both these approaches  can be reconciled in a unitive approach to world problems as implied in the present Memorandum.

Let us consider the armaments race which is due to mistrust and fear of other  nations. A serious proposal from the world government is sure to have an almost magical effect in easing the tension of mistrust between nations. The dehypnotization  of the mentality of mutual suspicion will save every nation, large or small, from the lop-sided provisions at present made in their budgets. Let world opinion merely support the idea of the world Government and a tangible relaxation will be felt at the poles in the personality of nations which breeds mistrust, and even theoretically respected authority can avoid the waste of billions of dollars for the world as a whole.

2. Various incidental items :

Let the World Government honour  the farmer instead of vexing him with ever more items of taxation; let it start co-operative colonies to ease the tension of competitive life, such as those known as the kibbutz now working successfully in Israel, where there is no money exchanged at all; let it start fair-price shops, taking a percentage in the place of tax and so effectively eliminate the middle man, the black-marketeer and those who corner the necessities of life and make great and disproportionate profits at the expense of the common man; let it create clubs or pensions for persons obliged to pass their lives in eternal boredom, by means of colonies which will give them a natural outlet for expression and opportunity for light occupation without competition for the young, the old and the weak; let it confer titles or honours on people who render signal service to the needy and thus give them a legitimately deserved chance to shine in the eyes of their fellow men. Such are some of the miscellaneous ways –too numerous to list completely – by which the world government can justify its existence while it gathers momentum  to be finally effective.

3. Decentralisation  and the canceling out of problems :

Another method full of possibilities for World Government, is decentralization and the method of the cancellation of the plus and minus of a given situation. For instance, capital is the cause of the sufferings of the labour. Large mills are responsible for slums. Promiscuous religious charity is responsible for begging. These pairs that are interdependent could be cancelled out one against the other without punishment or reform coming from the centre. The head and the tail aspects can be cancelled out dialectically without central interference. The world Government can help in the ordering of such matters, taking into consideration the counterpart involved in each problem.

4. New states :

There are many new states which require a new and fresh constitution. They could be guided by the world Government so that their new constitution would be framed in the spirit of world government itself. This would save their disruption when world-mindedness in politics becomes a fully accomplished fact.

5. Need for sacrifice on the part of world government sponsors:

The sponsors of World Government have ever to keep before their minds that only through sacrifice and renunciation can such a noble idea be ushered into being. Human unity is an idea which is valid in theory at present. For people to adhere to the idea earnestly, they have to be sure that those who stand for it are not themselves of power or grabbers of goods with unholy greed. Such a detachment should not be merely superficial, taking only the outward form of abstinence or even austerity. Happiness in the contemplation of the Self in its Absolute sense alone brings that blissful self-sufficiency which belongs to one who is able to be an exemplar of Wisdom. This contented state of happiness is induced by knowledge of the Science of the Absolute. A human being attains to his full stature as man when he is happy with himself, and thus in himself represents this high human Value. Such an ideal is within the reach of every human being without distinction of race, religion, nationality , sex or even station in life. The humblest can walk in the way of the Absolute. Even a bad man who has taken the decision to regulate his life with reference to this final Absolute Norm of human life becomes by that mere decision equal in spiritual status to the greatest of wise men.

Thus having referred finally to the fountain-source of  Wisdom from which one has to drink if one is to become a World Citizen in the fullest sense of the term, we hereby comment this Memorandum with all its imperfection to the attention of those generous spirits who are favourably disposed to examine  it with sympathy and earnest understanding. Let those who are not of this category at least spare the sponsors of the Memorandum from their disadoption  of it and consequent disparagement of its contents. Such is the prayer with which this document goes out to lovers of Wisdom and of humanity.

MEMORANDUM ON SELF GOVERNMENT AND A HARMONIOUS WORLD ORDER Definitions and Elucidations-Nitya Chaitanya yati

 By Nitya Chaitanya yati

“Good Government is no substitute for Self-Government.”


What is envisioned by a person as the existential environment to which one belongs and that one is obliged to share in general with all beings that belong to the same reality and in particular with the members of one’s own species who live nearby in space, time, and action-reaction situations.


In Sanskrit the synonym for world is loka, which is intimately connected with two other terms, alokanam, and alochanam. Alokanam means, “to bring all parts of an ensemble into one meaningful and coherent unity”. Lochanam is “eye”. Alochanam means “envisioning”. Here, what you see and what you understand are treated as being the same.

The world we see is not a static entity. In the act of seeing there is the seen and the seer. The seer is a stream of consciousness, and what is seen is the ever-transforming and transmuting modulation that the seering consciousness is undergoing. Hence, what is seen, understood, and rated in terms of values changes from moment to moment, and it can be at variance with the envisioning experience, of another. In other words, we are living in a series of worlds. And innumerable are the worlds juxtaposed adjacently to each person’s innumerable worlds. In short, there is nothing more complex than what is termed by this small word, “world”.

In all major religions the ‘world’ is said to have come from the ‘Word’. In other words, “the world exists, and its subsistence is in the word”.  The world and the word put together become an affective meaning or intrinsic value to anyone who is conscious of  the word  and recognizes the world.

As there are countless millions of subjective units stationed in animated bodies from where each entity receives the message of the existence of the worlds to which it belongs, and in turn broadcasts each person’s reaction and responsiveness to the same world which is always in the process of being generated both collectively and individually, the world is a conscient flux. Although the idea of world can thus be neatly elucidated in logical statements, there are large areas in the world-experience which are imperceptible, unimaginable and inaccessible to exploration, discernment or judgement.


To preside over, supervise and maneuver all the coherent parts of a system and manipulate its overall function in such a manner that the assigned function of every part can harmoniously operate with all connecting parts so that the whole system can organically work as a single unit and yield the result or results for which the system is intended to be an apt instrument. Such a governing entity is the government.


Natural forces such as physical, chemical and biological, when left to themselves, yield results which can be favourable or detrimental to the interest of the human race. Rains that pour from the sky can flow as a river and irrigate the farmer’s land, but they can also flood and bring havoc. When humans use their intelligence to channel water through well-controlled routes which enable them to make use of every drop, we can say that the course of water is governed.

Every person is a confection of the spirit or consciousness and a physical organism made up of innumerable physical, chemical and biological energies and devices. The common ground where they meet and yield joint effects is in the immediate perception of things and in the slow and accumulating mounting of conceptions. As the growing process and decaying process are intertwined, every person is walking on the razor’s edge  of interminism. This moment can be one of triumph and the next can be one of irremedial destruction. Hence there is the need to enlarge and expand one’s consciousness and make it responsive to the demands of consciously governing the productive-destructive forces  with which the whole organism is always destined to walk in the path of life. Thus there is the need to govern oneself physically, bio-chemically, morally and spiritually.

As no person can be an island completely cut off from the rest of humankind, people have to huddle together and live as participant members of a corporate life governed by traditionally recognized social contracts, conventions, laws, taboos and mores. Thus the individual’s government is set within a network of collective government. Each person is expected to govern his or her life, and also submit to the dictates of a larger government to which the individual government can be a complementary aid or a contradictory irritant. In either case, one has to be responsible to the group in which one lives.


The nucleus of the world is the rhythmically pulsating consciousness of the individual which is constantly questioning, remembering, judging and in turn becoming affected by its continuous interaction with the world. As this consciousness has a mirroring quality in the wakeful state, it becomes dichotomous and a series of transactions occur betweenthe subject and the object. The object placed in the time-space-continuum, subject to physical-chemical forces, changes kaleidoscopically. Its corresponding image reflected through the organs of perception can occasionally be misread or misinterpreted by the witnessing consciousness. Hence there is the need for constant vigil, review, reconsideration and revaluation supported by a universally agreeable criterion. When the individual consciousness is well equipped with the normative notion of the Absolute, the individual’s perception can have minimum faults and consequently, an almost correct concept can be evolved. The vigil that is exercised and the correction that is continuously made is what is termed here as individuated self-government.

Elucidation :

The existential verity of a piece of fabric comes from the functional reality of the fibre. He or she is the world-ground. A person does not manifest out of nothing bu is born as the son or daughter of a man and a woman. The same couple may have other children similarly born and thus the family is a natural unit of any community. When the fetus is growing in the womb of the mother, the biological system that governs the life of the growing child. Thus individuals are closely knitted together with an intrinsic mutuality, and individuated self-government is part and parcel of the incorporated government of a family.

The familial system does not exclude the rights and needs of the individual. On the contrary, all the needs, rights and privileges  of the individual are secured in the familial government, and even the smallest child can give his or her assent or protest with a smile or a cry. Such messages coming from a child are always recognized and appreciated by all members of the family.

Thus at the very centre of both the individual self-government and the family government the happiness of the individual is the most treasured norm which is given full consideration. The growth process is one of continuous  adherence to the norm of happiness that is lived in the dialectical context of the one and the many. Where the happiness of one spells also the happiness of the other, agreement is easily attained. Where the happiness of one limits or thwarts the happiness of the other, government is felt as a restricting and disciplining feature.

The autonomy of the individual is that of the absolute sovereign. Two absolute sovereigns facing each other can spell conflict and disaster, but two absolute sovereigns united in interest and sympathy and thus becoming non-dual, enhance the quality of the sovereignty of each and become fully complementary. The family is the training ground for several such autonomous units to coalesce into the non-dual expression of the collective appreciation of genuine truth, genuine knowledge and genuine happiness. In that way individual self-government is inclusively within familial self-government.


The autonomous cells of a body, an inviduated person with his or her body-mind complex, and the corporate whole of a family with several members including infants, children and adults are all governed by an inner need, unconsciously felt in the case of autonomous cells and both consciously and unconsciously felt by the individual and members of the family group. Adequate measures are taken by the cell , the individual and the family to meet the need. These are the best expressions of self-government.

In the course of  history the governor and the governed became dichotomous, and governor came to possess the prerogative of commanding the governed and exacting obedience from them. The governor thus became the spearhead of power, authority, and moral judgement and became an office to direct, dictate, instruct, correct, punish and even to kill the governed. This dichotomy became intense in feudalistic oligarchic and dictatorial forms of government. 

Even now in national governments various stages of dichotomy are taken for granted, and the governments continue to act in policing and exacting taxes. The judiciary and the execution of  administrative measures are with the governor. The governed are looked upon as subjects. A world government of word citizens requires the transformation of dichotomous governments into homogenous self-governments.


In the living body of any animal or plant life, each cell has its definite role to play to secure the well being of the whole organism. If a cell is bruised or not getting the right nourishment, it communicates its particular need to the adjacent cells. The need is responded to by the community of cells around, which repair or replenish it. In the eventuality of its demise, its place is taken by another cell. Thus the welfare of the whole organism is maintained as much as is possible. This is a form of government where no one is acting as a superior, and there is no indictment shown to the ailing cell.

When the individual becomes incapable of functioning harmoniously, the person’s disability comes in the form of a physical or mental uneasiness. The individual can help by resorting to measures such as dieting, taking rest, doing exercises and changing harmful patterns and habits. When satisfactory results are not obtained, the individual turns to others in the community for the redressed of his or her disability. Through compassionate care and helpful camaraderie, correction is made or compensation received. Here also the governor and the governed are not two.

In a family infant is not even conscious of its very many needs. The parents keep the needs of the baby in their minds and attend to it as if it is part of the parent’s body-mind organism. In the very old members of the family there may occur senility and dependence. Loving and caring members of the family sympathetically appreciate such contingencies, and the needs are met without grudge or any show of anger.

AS the community is an aggregate of several families problems of childhood and old age are concentered within each individual family. The collective responsibility comes only when the structuring of certain family is not adequate to pay the needs of young and the old.

Homogeneity can be maintained even at the community level by increasing the collective consciousness of the community and its appreciation of human values such as those of cooperation and unselfish caring for others in one’s neighbourhood. Intense personal interest is substituted by the collective consciousness of general interest. Erring individuals and families can be treated as disabled persons or units in a community, and the remedy lies in  re-educating or re-equipping the person or family wherein love and compassion are given the topmost importance.

Symptoms of diseasaes are signals of malfunctioning or of the intrusion of foreign bodies. Only on rare occasions does the need arise to amputate a limb to save the body. Similarly there may arise the rare contingency of a member of the community needing to be kept in isolation for the purpose of minimizing the disharmony that is caused by such a person and also to provide them with an environment and understanding that can re-vitalise  and rejuvenate their value consciousness.

From the mechanized  forms of state governments where rigid law is sold to the highest bidder, a radical shift is to be made to a very humane society in which mutual concern is made less paranoic and more sympathetic.


The term “World Citizen” can be better understood with a negative definition than with a positive one. If a citizen of a state with political frontiers is expected to pay allegiance to the government of the state to which he or she belongs and is expected to take arms against aliens who might invade the territory of the state, a world citizen recognizes the entire world as his or her state and in principle dies not recognize any member of the human race as an alien to the world community to which he or she belongs. Such a person recognizes the earth as one’s sustaining mother, the innate inviolable laws of nature as one’s protecting father, all sentient beings as one’s brothers, sisters and kin, and the world without frontiers as one’s home. The world citizen’s allegiance is to the foundation of truth, the universality of knowledge and the fundamental ground of all values.  


The word “citizen” connotes one’s placement in a territory previously protected by citadels. In ancient India, the two most venerated offices were of the rajarsi (the philosopher king) and the brahmarsi (the sage or absolutist seer). The king is interested in meting out justice to every citizen of his country, whereas the absolutist seer sees all as the manifestation of the one absolute and directs his or her compassion to all living beings. Traditionally, the king always considered himself to be of limited wisdom and accepted guidance in all matters from the preceptor who lived outside the citadel.

The  king is a puravasi, a dweller of the city, and the seer is an aranyavasi, a dweller of the forest. In the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, when king Rama banished  his wife into the wilderness outside the citadel the seer Valmiki showed neither fear nor hesitation in receiving the abandoned queen  into his own abode of penance and giving her  the compassionate care that is due to a daughter from her father.

The role of the World Citizen is thus clearly outside the pale of the law legislated by the city dwellers who treat humanity outside their citadel as aliens. The firm ground of a world citizen is his or her absolute faith in the oneness of human kind and courageous resolution to uphold natural justice which is the prerogative of all who have come to this earth in their embodied manifestation.

The Absolutist seer (brahmasri)  does not oust the philosopher-king from his office of power. His or her role is that of an educator, a provider of conscience and an illuminator of truth. Only the persuasion of truth corrects the ruler of the city. The ruler continues to be the executive. Correct jurisprudence is thus expected to come from the world citizen, and the executives of corporate bodies are expected to do justice to such wise counseling coming from the sage or the absolutist seer.

Although it is the  birth right of any intelligent person to be a world citizen, many fail to resolve the conditioning of their upbringing an innate states of mind. That is why the relativistic executives place themselves at the disposal of the jurisprudence of the wise. The contradiction between the good citizen and the good man is highlighted in Rousseau’s Emile, but they can just as well be complimentary and reciprocal.


To make a faithful and accurate copy or replica of another, in which there is a one-to-one
Correspondence at all points of value or meaning between the original and replica, can be said to be a representation. In the social context, when one person can enter into full sympathy with another and can identify with the other’s  needs and value visions to a maximum possible level, that person is making a representation.


Social participation is mainly one of complimenting and supplementing the needs of all by the aids of all. Talents vary, and all cannot do everything that is needed to support one’s life. Therefore natural dependence is inevitable. The producer and consumer are counterparts of one and the same life situation. Only one who understands the demand can provide an adequate supply. Thus the central core of representation is wholesale understanding and dynamic mutuality. Without such mutuality and  two –pronged understanding, representation is not possible, although a mockery of it is being practiced in all so-called democratic institutions.


Consciously admitting and ratifying the claim  of representation is expressed by a vote.


It is almost impossible for anyone to represent another totally in all details. Also it is not physically possible for one person to familiarize himself or herself with all those from whom that person expects a vote. In spite of the uniqueness of individual personality, the perennial values which bind human kind together are equally admitted, accepted and adored by all sensible people in more or less the same manner. One who has a maximum appreciation of such values and who lives those values in a conspicuous manner and in an open way in his or her society can legitimately expect the admission of all, other members of the community that he or she is a faithful representative of those perennial values. The purpose of campaigning for votes is that of validating the claim of representation by highlighting one’s personal adherence to such values. Canvassing for votes by using pressure tactics is vulgar. Therefore a campaign has to be a programme  of social education.


To preside is to keep vigil, witness, oversee, observe and express at the right time to all concerned one’s consent to what can be passed as right, and in like manner, to interrogate, criticize and if necessary dismiss what is not tenable in the light of truth, justice and goodness.


In the Bhagavad Gita the role of the Absolute is given as that of the president  of world affairs. The president gives his or her assent or dissent. In either case, the president is one who sees the immediate and far reaching result of any plan or action that is promoted by any member or group of members over whom he or she sits in perfect vigil as the all-seeing eye and all-illuminating light. God is the world president. A human world president should be correctly performing the role of the true representative of God.


There are two categories of law –descriptive and instructive. Descriptive law is a revelation of the hidden modes of the form , structure and function of all manifested entities of the world, ranging from a subatomic particle to the totality of the galactical systems.  There is an inter-correctedness between parts, and therefore both causes and effects are multifarious. It is only for the sake of convenience that linear versions of descriptive law are stated in terms of cause and effect. The true law that governs the parts of an organic whole is too great a wonder to be holistically comprehended and stated, and yet that law is mirrored in all individual cases of mutuality and relatedness. Such isolated and mathematically reduced laws are stated by physicists, chemists, biologists and such groups of natural philosophers.

Instructive law again can be categorized into technological laws and laws of convenience. The application of scientific understanding to create new forms, reassemble old forms and correct malfunctioning or dysfunctioning structures comes under the category of technological law. The law of convenience is a human endeavor to deal with the seemingly chaotic behaviors of living beings ranging from the virus and bacteria to the restless and cunning humans who constantly disturb the peace of socialized communities. This last kind is more or less a pseudo-law which claims respectability by obtaining its legitimacy through the strategies of votes, referenda, or by applying the dictates of “the big stick”.

Elucidation : In the elucidation of the world citizen we borrowed two terms from Sanskrit literature, rajarshi and brahmarsi,  the relativistic visionary of a closed community and the absolutist visionary or sage who is concerned with the very foundation of truth, justice and goodness. There are two other terms in resonance with these visionaries: dharma and Brahman.

Dharma literally means, “that which supports or holds together”. The constituent entities of the entire world can be conceived as an aggregate of dharma. The main characteristic of dharma is the reciprocal relationship between a structure and its function. In an atom, the nucleus is formed of protons and neutrons, and its shell is made up of the fast moving satellites of electrons. If its structure is tampered with, its function also changes. The change can be catastrophic, such as in the case of a fission. The planets that revolve around the sun in the solar system are another example of dharma in which the cohesiveness of the system is guaranteed by an inner principle of its magnetic field. The insight into dharma can thus be microscopic  as well as macroscopic. In either case science is discovering only the structure function complexof the entities which constitute the universe in which our own body-mind complex is but a minute speck. All these discoveries, mathematically enunciated, and precisely stated by the scientists, come under the category of descriptive law.

Natural forces act like yin and yang with their fourfold characteristics of contradiction, complementarity reciprocity and compensation. With insight and cunning, these innate characteristics can be exploited for the purpose of inventing instruments that are intended to make human life on earth easy and comfortable. With that end in view innumerable aspects of descriptive law are put together as an artist’s abstraction, composition and collage, a technological creation, or the re-membering of a structure and correction of existing entities.

As a world citizen is already identified with the absolutist seer, it is only natural for such a person to accept all descriptive laws that are correctly stated by scientists. His or her special role is in the reassessing and revaluing of the pseudo-law of convenience as it is mainly fashioned by a power holding minority to safeguard their vested interests. The opening passage of the Qur’an begins with a praise of Allah as the  gracious one who protects all the faithful (rahman) and also as the beneficient one who showers his mercy even on those who have no faith and who walk in the path of wretchedness (rahim). The absolutist vision of a world citizen has in it the qualities of both rehman and rahim. He or she is concerned with both the general good and the good of all. The law that governs the general good is a vertical parameter that holds everything together from the alpha of existence to the omega of the joy of fulfillment within the axus of sound knowledge or wisdom. The good of all vouchsafes the horizontal and individual attention given to each person so that the intrinsic worth of every person is fully honored.


Wealth is measured by the satisfaction a person gets from what he or she possesses. One’s possession can be what is given and what is acquired. The given wealth consists of the physical body, the organs of perception and action, mind and intelligence, innate disposition, and the community set up to which one belongs. Education, experiences gained through training, the perfection of talents, practical insights into trades and the kind of accommodation and job one finds for himself or herself  are acquired constituents of wealth. For the acquisition of wealth a person has to spend  a certain portion of his given resources so that his overall resources can be constantly replenished and even increased. If a person can give to the community more than what he consumes, that person can be considered wealthy. To measure wealth with the standerds of money is fictitious. The real cannot be measured by the unreal.

Elucidation :

Wealth is an intrinsic richness that can ensure the unbroken happiness of the person who possesses it. A sane and intelligent mind aspiring to actualize the high ideals of truth, goodness and beauty, habitated in a healthy body regulated by exemplary habits can be considered to be the most covetable wealth that one can have. Wealth is the medium through which one can share his or her bounty with others.

The production of wealth is directly related with the expending of one’s energy in a rightful manner. One can spend one’s  energy laboriously or delightfully. The delightful expenditure of energy is experienced as “work”, and what is grudgingly done on the basis of a contract by bartering one’s freedom is called “labor”. In an inhumane community, labor is purchased and sold. On the other hand, where people commune with each other and care for the sustenance of the group to which they belong, every work is a consciously contributed gift. In such a situation each is giving according to his or her might and is taking only what is needed. Therefore there is no compulsive labor, and there is also no need for hoarding.

In the world government of world citizens such an ideal community is envisaged, and therefore the true wealth of the government is the goodwill of all the people who constitute the government. There is no separation between the government and the governed. Both individual and collective needs are fulfilled simultaneously through an act of each member’s dedication to the good of all. In such a society, taxation is unnecessary because the government’s revenue comes from the solemnity of the gift which each person gives and each person is.

The Sanskrit word for wealth is dhanam. This word is etymologically related to two other words: dhanyam and dhanyata.  Dhanyam is “what is consumed”, such as rice, wheat, corn, etc., so one who raises a crop and collects the produce in a barn is called a dhanavan, a possessor of wealth. This points to the most fundamental need of humans, food for self-preservation. Edible food can be produced only by growing food-giving plants. Thus true and natural wealth comes from the farmer. Farms produce more grains than a farmer can consume. Hence the source of agricultural production can be looked upon also as the breeding ground of humanity. NO farmer can raise a crop in large quantities without being aided by others, and team-work  is natural in farmlands. There is a collective expenditure of energy for the sake of producing goods that in turn, can replenish the expended energy and also provide for those who are too young to begin to work or too old to continue work. Thus, farm is the general field of wealth of the entire community. It is only natural to think of the stock as part of the farm and the breeding and raising of sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry also come under the wealth of people.

Where the barter system is inconvenient and farm produce is converted into symbolic money, use-value is veiled by exchange-value. In the course of the economic history of people, unreal money became superimposed on real goods, and the unreal has become so dominant that most people have forgotten what true wealth is. The transition from use-value to exchange-value came through the substitution of gold which gave way to the gold standard, which in turn became reflected in paper money, which has now been reduced  to a bank  card and the transfer of certain digits from one account book to another. The faith in another’s economic stability or integrity is measured today by checking with the bank and getting an idea of the digital numbers mostly assured through a telephone conversation. Thus economics has become a new religion based on faith in the teller’s intelligence disposal.

Faith and skepticism go hand in hand. In the fifties, the American dollar was supremely esteemed, and that was based on the foundation of Universal faith in the economic hegemony of United states. But that was torpedoed by skepticism, and the dollar  tumbled. The reeling dollar disturbed the stability of all other currencies which were tied up with it. Here wealth and poverty can be seen causing world crises in a field far removed from the actual and natural source of wealth. There has to be the new envisioning of a sound economics that will help people to return from the fluctuating no-man’s land of speculation back to the certitude of the true wealth that satisfies each person here and now with a sense of well being and fulfillment. That fulfillment in Sanskrit is called dhanyata, which literally means “absolute contentment”.


Self preservation is a primary instinct. Every living organism is likely to be subjected to unexpected forces of destruction. The device, manner, method, strategy, weapons, maneuvers, and vigil assembled with a view to preserving one’s individuated existence is “defense”. Defense is corollary of offense. Offense can come from accidental or irrational sources, and also from the deliberate actions of rivals. As society is a community of individuals, destruction of an individual can directly affect the wellbeing of the community also. Therefore to take measures od defense is a major concern of any society.

When a government is conceived to be of the entire human race, such as is the case with a world government, much attention is to be given to the issue  of defense and all other problems related to it , in all details. The security that is sought by an organism or institution to preserve its existence and function to the extent that its longevity can be reasonably expected can be called “defense”. In the eyes of those who subscribe to the idea of unity and the interconnectedness of everything, there is no alien outside the single reality, thatis, which could give offense. In such a unitive vision, all offensive factors of life result from a malfunction in the organization where opposite forces, instead of canceling and neutralizing contradictory tendencies, can become devastating. The monistic philosopher  will attribute such hazards to ignorance on the part of the organizing agency of every set-up or system that constitutes the universe as a whole. For this reason defense can be best looked upon as a principle of negentropy that maintains the equilibrium of the flux of becoming.

Elucidation :

Organization of living matter into the functioning structure of a living body happens on the physical plane at the very heart of the primary constituents of matter where reside both positive and negative forces. Their union is made possible through the canceling out of the opposites which consequently results in the complementarity of the counterparts that are thrown  together, even at the primeval level. From microscopic beings to ferocious animals like lion and tiger and intelligent beings like humans, an over-riding attention is given to the preservation of each unit of life.

It is through the same channels of pleasure-giving and life-promoting equipment of a living body that destructive offenses also come. A new born child, with evident pleasure and curiosity, turns its head and looks at all objects around when the light that illuminates these objects is gentle. If the light becomes dazzling, the child closes its eye. Turning away from whatever is offensive is one of the primary mechanisms of defense. Nature herself in her infinite mercy has limited the pitches of sound and frequencies of light that can be consciously experienced through the sense organs such as the ear and the eye. Thus defense is a necessary equipment of life.

In lower animals, as their very life can be sustained only by feeding on other forms of life, they are inadvertently operating in the field of offense and in turn all victims of such offense are programmed by nature to employ effectively the mechanism of their defense. Some have sharp teeth to bite. Some are equipped with fangs of poison. The simple enumeration of the devices of defense that can be noticed in the plant and animal world with the inclusion of insects, birds and reptiles, could run into volumes. Such being the magnitude of the world of offense and defense to which we belong, neither the government of the individual nor the incorporated body of world citizens can conduct any long term operation without accepting  a well-thought-out system of defense.

In the matter of defense, opinions vary from the extreme point of the  pacifist to the uncompromisingly fanatical stand of the facist.  The pacifist believes in the might of the right, and the facist believes in the right of the might.Even those who give much lip service to the sovereign sacredness of all individual forms of life and champion the cause of the preservation of life on earth are tempted to believe that it is right to arm to the teeth in the name of defense and even advocate offense as the best means of defense.

In our own day, the communists are accusing the champions of democracy of being blatant facists committed to the selfish interests of capitalism, and to an equal measure the democratic countries are accusing the communist countries and their satellites of being the most menacing facist force, committed to the effacement of human freedom. Therefore, each group thinks there is every justification for eradicating at least half of humanity to save the other half.

In the present day history, no problem is more vital than the problem of defense. To some noe who can place himself or herself in the neutral zero of all-embracing consciousness of the world citizen, there arises the question, “In whose defense?” and “Against which offender?”

 The first policing we observe in a family is when two children fight, and their mother, equally concerned for both, stops them from fighting by resorting to various means of conciliation, from speaking to them in kind and loving words to turning to measures of violence. When either of the parents cannot effectively police their children, they jointly do it. To give credibility to their authority, they hold before their children the examples of family conventions, traditional ethical values, and religiously instituted morals. When all such measures fail, they may even give their silent consent for the judiciary and the executives of their state to step in and exercise power over their children. Thus there are many magic circles around the individual, the society and even the state, to enforce law and order.

Defense becomes a major issue when the devices of defense imply violent measures, and the reaction posed to an offensive action becomes doubly offensive and recoils with a large measure of the same evil for the correction of which the retribution is posed. When you turn to the history of humankind, its very structure is passing through the technological advancement  made, on one side, with labor-reducing gadgets, and on the other, with the weapons of defense invented and elaborated to such gigantic proportions that it has resulted in the manufacture of a nuclear arsenal which can annihilate both the offender and the punisher.

The crises we are facing at the present moment have filled the minds of all reasonable people with such a tremendous psychosis of fear that everyone seems to have come to the tether end of his or her wits. Science has advanced in the peeling away of all the covers of mystery, and the technicians have advanced in their skills to create anything in the biological, chemical and physical spheres of the sky, earth and water to the extent that they have come to a point where retracing to normal and civil behavior has become almost impossible.

Statesmen who are at the helm of affairs in the various state governments, from superpowers to small island states, have come to the sorrowful recognition that there is no lie used to blindfold their counterparts of rival states which has not become transparent. Pacts of agreement cannot hold good any longer. In such a situation the devising of a peace policy for preserving , not the life of this person not even of the human race, but every form of life on earth, not only for a few years, but for several millions of years, seems to be at stake.

The only silver lining on the horizon of this colossal historical disaster is the nature of human heart that melts at the thought of one’s love for those who are extremely dear. If fear and hatred have snow-balled into the present disaster, the new defense policy has to begin with the instilling of love and trust. The consciousness of a person is presided over by his or her conscience. The arms race has already crossed the zero point of self-defeat. Now the pendulum can swing back. As an initial step, the hate-rhetoric of propaganda for which the media are used so extensively should be dropped.

When Cain killed Abel and stood before God with the guilt of his brother’s blood on his hands and callously asked God, “Am I the caretaker of my brother?”, The first offense against God and man came to visit us as a plague. The new defense should begin with the conscious declaration on the part of every person, “Yes, I am indeed the caretaker of my brother. And I will live for my neighbor because that person’s Self is my own Self”.


The world marches on and man advances towards his high destiny zigzag, now rising, now falling but in his long run of history, towards fuller manifestation of his divinity. This process of progress is punctuated by reverses when, in benighted spells, moral values slump terribly, material achievements oppress the many and science, the driving force of the human ascent, turns wicked and menaces the very survival of homosapiens. From pervasive corruption to nuclear crisis, from oceanic social injustice to massive violence and vulgarity, the human family is currently losing its identity, integrity and collective conscience. Now, ‘to be, or not to be: that is the question’. To-day; to-morrow many be too late. In this dangerous dilemma, a spiritual catalyst’ with the message of a holistic realist, a common man, telling simple truths and propagating practical propositions, a divine human without pretensions, penetrating into the human essence with arrows of spiritual-material power, and unfolding a cosmic vision of universal oneness and individual excellence, is the urgent desideratum – a Socrates, a Jesus, a Gandhi, a Lincoln, a Lenin and a Vivekananda amalgamated in a humble figure with penetrating power to transform our being with revolutionary profundity.
The world where Narayana Guru was born and died has changed. But the basic issues that challenge mankind remain the same.
The dazzling millenniums in the offing, pregnant with technological promise, beckons to us, but the die-hard divisive madness, with portents of systemic break-up, frighten us. Where are we? Whither do we go? Have we a tomorrow? The menace of the atom may blow up both hemispheres but peaceful nuclear uses may spell abundance. Who will lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom when innocent billions of humans are held hostage by warring ideologies, minatory militarisms, snarling Big Power blocs, quarreling communities and globoshima bombs, cold war among super-powers ‘willing to wound but afraid to strike’ and world leaders experiment with hatred but are alienated from unitive understanding? The human spirit is gripped by a ‘do or die’ crisis. A sublimely egalitarian social order is struggling to be born but our dear earth, the only known spaceship with homosapiens and civilizations, is spinning with frenzied speed towards nuclear chaos. In this final chance, fate commands humanity to make a critical choice between catastrophe and enlightenment. This whispering gallery of history bids us see reality which leads us towards universality where man sees his true image of oneness, where human heritage finds fulfillment in a new vision of divinised materialism, where a fundamental change must overtake warring West and slumbering East. Such is the darkling prospect, the riddle of future shock.

A gentle voice with the power of a storm, a far-seeing eye with the penetration of star, may I fancy, midwife that creative change when objective conditions are ripe. Was Narayana Guru, frail figure of fathomless power like Gandhi, such a voice, and such a vision, such a harbinger of hope? Perhaps, yes.
A dialectical analysis of the social-spiritual upsurges in contemporary history and an in-depth study of the dynamics of social change in the current context of world transition may well unfold the navigational role of the Guru at the micro and macro levels in the cosmic drama where all of us are actors more or less.
Such a one, with radiant eyes fixed on distant stars and next-door man, was Narayana Guru whose teachings are never time barred but deserve to be re-learnt and applied with a spirituality creative re-interpretation and a touch of dialectical materialism. That is the task of the Narayana Guru centers everywhere – not rituals and statues, ochre robes and poetic chants.
Life is in fatal peril; man is facing his gravest moment. Here is a frail Might of Light who tells humankind that pilgrimage to God is only thro’ pilgrimage to man, that to meet God and his truth you must first meet Man in his essence. Said Jesus: “the Kingdom of God is within you”. Said Ingersoll: “an honest God is the noblest work of a man”. Narayana Guru said: “Be one’s religion what it may, man must be good. One caste, one religion, one God for man”.
These messages, given to meet the challenges of social justice, have to be re-translated into the tongue of contemporary events. Narayana Guru fought, with quiet strength, the asuric injustices, the philistine fanaticisms and barbarian practices of his society. He resisted Brahmanical bigotry and installed deities, himself being of untouchable caste. But he taught the synthesis of divinity and humanity and made a mirror the last idol he enshrined. Look at yourself in the divine mirror, he admonished. “Know thyself” was the unmistakable message. He wanted a holistic understanding of Creation, acceptance of material prosperity of all as integral to higher advances of civilization and adoption of the eclectic Religion of Man, without region or division, as the synthesis of a new culture. This is the dynamics of the Word of the Guru, rekindled by the dialectics of the world community around. Of him Rabindranatha Tagore, after a historic meeting wrote: “I am sure, I shall never forget that radiant face illuminated by the self effulgent light of divine glory and those yogic eyes fixing their gaze on a far remote point in the distant horizon.”
The lens of a researcher may well tell us the story of how Kerala Society lived when Nanu, the bud, bloomed. But to confine his puissant impact on the social structure, the thought ways and life styles and response to new challenges to the West Coast of India is to dwarf the structure and culture of Narayana Guru whose inner power for change explains the centers in other parts of India, in South East Asia, U.K, and USA.Is Lenin’s revolutionary impact confined to Russian frontiers or Gandhi’s to India, Voltaire’s to France? Speaking generally, individuals don’t shape the course of history, ideas do. When dynamic ideas which express, at the right time the imperatives of tomorrow and strengthen the seminal forces that fight against the dying status quo, then history is shaped and a nascent synthesis, a fresh social equilibrium takes form.
In the battle of the tense Kerala, why India itself, witnessed, Narayana Guru silently personified the forces of the future and potentised the social proletariat, until then spiritually suppressed and economically exploited. He became the bugle for liberation from caste domination and communal division, from spiritual illiteracy and the opium of bigotry. He stood for universality and founded it on omnipresent divinity. He charged equal human rights and material deliverance with the matchless vitality of advaita. He knew the destiny of Man and resolved the unreal conflict between material and spiritual progress. His unitive understanding became a revolutionary gospel without noisy upheaval, his quiet utterances articulated a confident ideology where human bondage shall be broken and every man shall unfold his cultural wholeness, thro’ the highways of enlightenment. He was a Karma Yogi and a Jnana Margi, relevant to the worldly earth but inspired by celestial light. He sowed the seeds of social change, a new human order, not thro’ party politics or military might but thro’ propagation of simple ruths too penetrating to resist.
Victor Hugo spelt it out: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.”
Narayana Guru fathered profound ideas which did not shake but shape history. In truth, “Men make their own history, whatever its outcome may be, in that each person follows his own consciously desired end; and it is precisely the resultant of these many wills operating in different directions and of their manifold effects upon the outer world that constitutes history.” (Engles)
“No single man makes history. History cannot be seen; just one cannot see grass growing. (Pasternack)
Even so, the Narayana Guru was then representative man of his time and was the tacit yet volcanic power that moulded the future, manumitted the serf and promoted the emerging order of a casteless, classless culture where hatred was outlawed, brotherhood was the human essence of the system and unitive understanding the philosophical underpinning.
The many dynamic dimensions of the Guru’s personality cannot be studied in entirely by historians or sociologists or philosophy departments. He made history but was more than that. He spoke with a saintly gaze about a divinised society but he was more than that. His amazing serenity concealed the earthquake potency of his personality. A study of the Guru is the study of an epoch; a research into the Guru is a missile for social mutations. A comprehensive understanding of all that he did and said from a historic perspective and a futuristic objective will help a deeper grasp of India today and tomorrow. This Guru, though physically dead, has left a Testament of Truth which remedies the maladies which threaten to break up our nation, ever our cosmos.
There are some universal beings who remain beacon lights but it is left to us to re-interpret them in the light of changing challenges. Narayana Guru is one such. The Guru is within us as force for human mutation. I am sure, that a great sense of creative responsibility lies on us all to make Narayana guru a living force of unitive understanding with asocial dimension.

Nancy Yielding
Little Narayana, “Nanu,” never liked being indoors. The thick mud walls of the hut had no windows so it was always dark inside. The coconut-thatched roof provided some shade but little real protection from the heat of the tropical sun. The smell of sweat and coconut oil mixed with smoke from cooking fires created an atmosphere that he found suffocating. He much preferred being outside, walking on the thin paths raised up between the rice paddies, dabbling his feet in the irrigation streams, or sitting in the shade of the coconut trees where occasional breezes brought fragrances of the jungle and relief from the heat.
So he was happy when it came time for his education to begin and his father asked him to sit beside him outside. In the sand under the palm trees, Madan Asan wrote the letters of their Malayalam alphabet, then held Nanu’s hand and traced the curling figures until Nanu could do it by himself. A farmer, Madan Asan also was educated in traditional fields, both folk and classical. He was respected in the community as a knowledgeable man. It was natural that he should be his son’s teacher, passing `on to Nanu not only the Malayalam language, but also the ancient sciences of medicine and astrology. As he grew older, Nanu was also taught Sanskrit, the language in which a great heritage of literary masterpieces and philosophical treatises had been preserved through ages. He learned to chant the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, and memorized texts related to both literature and philosophy. His education was then considered complete.
As Nanu grew, he became aware of a whole network of superstition and prescribed behavior which divided society into groups and doomed many to lives of ignorance and poverty. Although his family participated in some reform efforts, they also observed some of the worst traditions. Nanu’s sensitive nature rebelled against such practices and he protested in gentle ways, often simply ignoring the barriers and freely associating with all.
He continued to spend as much time as possible outside, helping with family chores such as planting and tending a vegetable garden, grazing the cows and plowing. He dug a well, and then planted fragrant and flowering trees and bushes around it. Keeping company with nature fostered in him sensitivity to her many forms of beauty. Following her lures, he roamed the countryside, hiking many miles through the jungle and along inland waterways. Often, he would rise and go out very early, preferring to go without food and to feast instead on the singular beauty of a lotus opening to the sun.Or, entranced by moonlight sparkling on the ocean, he would spend the night on the beach rather than return to the confines of the hut. He often felt that his very soul flowed out until he became one with the beautiful scene around him, remaining for hours in a peaceful bliss.
As he wandered he ruminated, chanting the verses of poetry and philosophy he had memorized. He yearned to know more of the unfading splendor and timeless balm for suffering of which they spoke. Devotion to that unknown source grew in him as days went by. Gradually, the songs of his own heart also took shape as poetry. One day an uncle chanced upon him as he sat singing on the branch of a tree. Realizing that the beautiful hymn was the young man’s own composition, Nanu’s uncle decided that further education should be arranged for him. Nanu spent the next four years studying poetry, drama and literary criticism with a well-respected teacher, Raman Pillai Asan. During this time, he lived away from home where he continued his habit of studying, composing and chanting outside while he grazed his teacher’s cows.
As he matured, his sensitivity to beauty naturally extended to the young women he encountered. How much more attractive than the lotus was the flowering of a young woman’s smile and how much more engaging than the sheen of moonlight was the light of a young woman’s glance. But such encounters were few since social contact between unmarried men and women was virtually forbidden. His friends’ practice of composing erotic poetry to express their longings and frustrations did not appeal to him. He saw such pursuits as distractions from the search for the source of beauty to which he increasingly drawn. He wanted to discover if there were any truth to the promise of a deeper meaning of life. 
When he returned from the silence of those years, the pot was indeed full of pearls. Wherever he sat, people would come to be healed by his serene presence. Wherever he walked, they felt the bracing atmosphere of truth and justice and were encouraged to rid themselves of the bonds of ignorance and oppression. Whenever he spoke, his sweet compassion evoked confidence and loving kindness in others. Whenever he sang his compositions, his listeners came to know of the timeless light and beauty within them. Nanu, Narayana, had become a guru, a dispeller of darkness. He continued to move freely for the rest of his life, not only dark hut, but outside all the darkness of superstition and social convention. And, as he wandered, he continued to compose and chant.  
Four different times, his compositions took the form of a set of one hundred verses. Two of these, Atmopadesa Satakam and Darsana Mala, are the culminating wisdom-instruction of one who has discovered the source and become filled with radiant inner awareness. Two others, Siva Satakam and Svanubhavagiti Satakam contain all the agonies of the search, revealing to the seeker the mysteries of the process of transformation. Here, Narayana Guru stands together with us as seekers, giving voice to our suffering and yearning and joyously singing of the brilliance with which we were filled and surrounded. voice to our suffering and yearning and joyously singing of the brilliance with which we were filled and surrounded.
Human Dignity
M.P.K. Kutty
Do you shun a person because he belongs to another caste or faith. Do you discriminate between people based on race, ideology or nationality? Do you judge others because of their gender, age, status, colour or possessions?
What if others discriminate against you on any of these grounds? You feel hurt. You feel pained. It is unjust as well. Of all such discriminations, caste distinctions based on birth constitute the gravest assault on human dignity. Many in the past have raised their voice of protest against this evil.
Sri Narayana Guru, lived during late 19th and early 20th centuries. A social reformer, born of a low caste, he taught people the oneness of the whole human race. Born into the Ezhava caste, he lived at a time when casteism with its attendant practice of untouchability pervaded society.
Those days an Ezhava could not get closer than 64 feet to a Nair who was considered superior to an Ezhava in the caste hierarchy. The Ezhava in turn, would resent it if any Pulaya or Pariah -- still lower down in the hierarchy -- got closer than 30 feet to him. No wonder India witnessed so many reform movements against the caste system.
Sri Narayana Guru, educated in Sanskrit and the Vedas, not only preached against the caste system but set up the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) to propagate his ideals. Promotion of education among the downtrodden and reformation of religious practices and customs were high on his agenda. In his great endeavour to uplift the downtrodden and give them respectability in society, he had to face severe personal and institutional resistance.
His doctrine, "One caste, one religion and one God for men" is justly famous. However, the stress on "one religion" did not mean that he questioned the validity of religions other than his own. His effort was to show that all religions had the same goal and enshrined almost similar values allowing no discrimination between one person and another. Whichever be the religion, it suffices if it makes one a better person, he held.
Nationalism and racism based on cultural, linguistic and racially identified groupings, compete closely with religion in separating one person from another. In defense of "imaginary lines" or borders and in attempts to expand their territories, we trundle out our war machines and fill the beautiful earth with violence and blood. It is the most wasteful expenditure of earth's resources and its end, self-inflicted suffering, he concluded.
Along with Tolstoy and other visionaries, Narayana Guru too held that the planet of ours is rich and generous and if loved and cared for, is well able to provide for all its beings. Only greed, fear and ignorance cause us to separate ourselves on the basis of quite superficial differences. They compete and kill instead of letting us joyfully share the gifts and bounty of this beautiful planet.
It is, however, doubtful if the long campaign by the guru or others like Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar have eliminated the scourge of caste from the Indian mind. All of them have become idols to whom society pays lip service
 Politics of power, elections and elevation of people to positions of prestige and honour in society still hinge upon caste. It is still one of the biggest obstacles in the path of progress and national unity. The recent debate, making a distinction between casteism and racism, on the eve of the Durban meet on racism only revealed our lackadaisical attitude and our tendency to gloss over this evil.
The founding fathers of America affirmed the equality of man as a basic principle of existence ordained by God.
Their "Declaration of Independence" stated as much: "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."
We need that spirit and vision today. Narayana Guru, by his life and example, spoke for the oppressed. He worked for an egalitarian social order. Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore who met him in Kerala expressed their admiration for his work. They, too, had laboured to drive home the truth of the equality of man. Until we learn to accept and honour one another without considerations of caste, creed or colour, we must consider their labour as incomplete.

Life and Teachings of Sree Narayana Guru - A Text Books for Students

Life and Teachings of Sree Narayana Guru - A Text Books for Students

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Sree Narayana Mandira Samiti, Mumbai

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SNG-Father of Social Renaissance in Kerala

Great men are those , whose life and  teaching give a new impetus to the cultural evolution of large masses of people. Their actions and messages have universal significance  and perennial values as they remain the source of inspiration for generations to come. Sree Narayana Guru was one such superhuman, who had set in motion an unprecedented spiritual and intellectual ferment in Kerala with his Unitive vedantic vision and the synthesis of the spiritual and  temporal, he had reshaped the social conscience of Kerala, brought in a miraculous transformation of its social psyche, and wrested a new civilization based on religious tolerance and communal harmony, which earned him the title. “The Father of Social Renaissance in Kerala ”.
At Kollam, in south Kerala, the 150th Jayanti celebrations of Sree Narayana Guru was inaugurated by Ms. Sonia Gandhi on 30th August, 04 and an year from the date is declared as the year of Sree Narayana Guru on that occasion, Ms. Gandhi had enumerated some aspects of his multifarious personality.  He was a spiritual leader, philosopher, humanist, poet and revolutionary  all rolled into one, the greatest India had ever seen. Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi also had paid glowing tributes to him, when they visited his shrine at Sivagiri, a few kms south of Kollam, Ravindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi had gone to his abode at Sivagiri meet him (1922, 1925) (Tagore found in him “ Self effulgent of Divine Glore ”. Deena Bandhu C. F. Andrews, who accompanied Tagore considered him “ God in Man’s form” The French philosopher Romain Rolland qualified him as a “Jnani of Action ”, where as K.R. Narayanan, our former President considered him “ The light of hope of downtrodden people ”.)
These are credentials to his greatness, issued by great men. What about the common people? He has carved out a niche for himself in everyone’s heart. A tour of Kerala will reveal that there is no village or town without a mandir with his statue as idol, or a small temple consecrated by him, or an educational institution or a library in his name. People come to the Gurumandir, surrender themselves in piety, light lamps and offer prayers and unburden all their woes. He is their God, they have no other God, they don’t need either. To the intellectuals his messages are the perennial source of inspiration to fight for social justice.
He lived (1855-1928) in a society which was caste ridden to the core, with untouchability and inapproachability as norms. It was deeply cleft into Savarnas and Avarnas. Castes like Nambudiri  (Kerala Brahmin), Menon, Nair etc constituted the Savarnas and were considered the upper caste. The Avarnas were castes like Ezhava, Paraya and Pulaya, and were condemned as untouchables, destined to subhuman existence. Caste hierarchy was strictly maintained by Savarnas as well as Avarnas. Among the Avarnas, the Ezhavas were the highest in social ranking. Hence castes like Paraya and Pulaya became untouchable to them. Each caste practised untouchability with as much rigour and venom as their caste superiors did, as each caste had someone inferior to them. But if anyone accepted a Christian or Muslim name, he became socially acceptable. Such was the limit of absurdity prevailing in the society. No wonder Swami Vivekananda called it a “Lunatic Asylum”.
Narayana Guru was born in a moderately educated middle class family of Ezhavas. As a child he was precocious, and spiritually inclined. He became a scholar of Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit, Ayurvedam, and the Hindu scriptures at a very young age.
As he grew up, the humanist in him woke up and responded to the woes of miserable millions around him. Illiteracy, ignorance, superstitions and poverty reigned over the majority of Avarnas. Religion, which should have been a solace and support had become an instrument of tribulation for them by raising barriers and imposing restrictions in the name of caste. He saw how the essential goodness of the human soul was stifled under the weight of unhealthy traditions and the progressive human spirit suppressed by denials and restrictions.
After years of Meditation, he found the solution for all maladies caused by religion and caste in the Advaitha theory of Adi Shankara. Advaitha stipulates that the same Divine spirit dwells in all living beings. ALL IS ONE. Narayana Guru assimilated this great truth, If all life is the manifestation of the same universal spirit, how can there be any essential difference between one man and another ? Difference like colour of skin, dress, language and even religion are external and superficial. They induce variety in the great unity of basic equality. They do not impose any social ranking. But the caste system is a mischief maker. With the enforced social grading, it divides and subdivides humanity, and with its denials and restrictions it obstructs the spiritual and material progress of man. The more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that the caste system is against the spirit of Advaitha.
He was the next person who struck at the root of caste system by pointing out how it contradicts the spirit of Advaitha. He was up rooting a system which was rooted in religion, by making use of another tenet of the same religion.
 Sree Narayana Guru evolved a unitive philosophy- a Gospel Unity- based on Advaitha- it is well explained through his poetic compositions “ Advaitha Deepika ” and “ Atmospadesa Shathakam”. The essence of his philosophy is in three assertions.
One Caste, One Religion and One God for man.
Ask not, Say not, Think not Caste.
What ever be the religion, let man improve himself.
This Gospel of Unity has shaken the social conscience of Kerala, a hundred years ago. It is equality relevant to modern times as the best antidote for communal disharmony and religious fundamentalism.

The Saint turns Revolutionary:
The philosopher turned a revolutionary when he saw the blunders and atrocities committed in the name of religion and caste. The inhuman treatment meted out to the so called untouchables troubled his compassionate heart and raised moral indignation. Not only were they nurtured in ignorance, condemned to slavish drudgery, but also were subjected to shameless exploitation. They were not allowed to enter the  Aryan (upper caste) temples, not even to walk on the roads around them. But their offerings in cash were accepted. The poor souls waited patently 30-60 feet away from the temple premises, with the hope that a glimpse of the prosperous deity would improve their lot. Their own gods, whom the Avarnas propitiated with drunken orgies and animal sacrifices seemed ineffective in improving their lot. So, to propitiate the Aryan gods, they threw  their coins into the  temple premises which were washed and collected by the priests. However, seldom were the poor souls given a glimpse of the deity, as they were not allowed to worship those deities. Even gods were segregated in the land where Advaitha was born. This irony had to be changed and the thirst for worship would have to be satiated. Behind their piety and patience Narayana Guru saw the spark of human desire for  emancipation and progress deep in their hearts, but hidden and subdued by restrogressive convictions and conventions. It was this hidden spark which he ignited with his unitive philosophy, to explode and become the propelling force for their spiritual and social upward mobility. The whole process is a bloodless revolution, in the upsurge of which all decadent and purile traditions were swept away and a new social order was ushered in.

The Bloodless
Narayana Guru launched this revolution through a unique step. Challenging social norms, he an Avarna who had no right to enter a temple, consecrated a temple for Lord Siva, who is strictly a deity for the upper caste, at Aruvippuram, ( a few kms south east of Trivandrum) on the wee hours of Sivaratri of 1888, he picked up a stone from the adjacent River Neyyar, stood in meditation for hours, clutching the stone, and then placed it on an altar as “Sivalingam”. It was the demolition of the dividing wall of caste and tradition between men and gods, and the assertion of man’s fundamental right to worship. To the hundreds of untouchable devotees who stood watching the ceremony, it was the first lesson in equality- equality of all before God, and the first step in their liberation from spiritual serfdom. They can worship the same Lord, as their upper caste overlords worship, if they cannot go to the temple, the temple has come to them. To the enraged priesthood, he gave the befitting reply that it was an Avarna Shiva, and not a Brahmin Shiva that he had installed. If was the death knell to the authority of priesthood, and the launching of the bloodless revolution.
But his message to humanity was something more than that. On the newly erected temple wall he wrote a small poem. It was not another Panchakshari to worship Lord Siva but it was a hymn of universal brotherhood to unify humanity. It read,
This is the model abode
Where all live in brotherhood
Without the dividing walls
Of caste discrimination and religious rivalry.
Through these lines, the small stone which he installed as Lord siva, evolved into a symbol of human unity, objectifying Advaitha.
Hundreds of Sree Narayana temples sprang up for different deities  with trained non-Brahmins as Archakas. Through these temples, his clarion call to liberate the so-called untouchables from social and spiritual serfdom reached out to every nook and corner of Kerala and awakened the lethargic souls. Temples became the centers of activity-unification, enlightenment, and emancipation of the people.

Revolution through Education :
This was the second step, but launched almost simultaneously.  The Guru had realized that ignorance, and poverty are the root cause for all social evils. And the only remedy is education, with equal stress on its two emanations-education for character and education for career. It should ensure that the mind is enriched with the sense of truth, beauty, virtue and love, and also the ability to earn sufficiently for a comfortable living. Education has to enable them to integrate the opposing values of spiritual and material, traditional and contemporary. Only enlightenment trough, such education can make these crippled souls aware of their rights as human beings and their potentialities and induce in them the strength and confidence to compete with the privileged classes. He taught the people to make use of education as tool to liberate themselves form superstitious traditions, a means for economic independence, and a weapon to fight social injustice.
The down trodden people found a fresh breath of energy and a source of inspiration in his slogans.
Freedom through Education
Strength through Organization
Economic independence through industries.
Under his leadership his  followers organized themselves into Sree Narayana Dharma  Paripalana ( S.N.D.P ) Yogam, and launched massive educational programmes, both formal and informal .
Though he established sanskrit schools to teach the scriptures, he encouraged English education and inspired rich men to invest in industries and sponsor the deserving poor for technical education abroad.
Revolution through Reformation :
The third step of  the revolution was social and religious reformations. To safeguard the economy of a developing community, he forbade all ceremonies and rituals, including weddings and funerals and other religious  functions where money was being wasted in feasting and festivities. Instead he suggested to make use of the money to educate a suitable person so that he would be useful to the society. He demysified religion by simplifying all rituals. He recognized the futility of chanting Sanskrit verses to ignorant masses and replaced them with simple malayalam verses and hymns so that people understnad the meaning of all. He saw how the consumption of alcohol was degrading the individual and undermining the economy of the society at large. So he gave the command. “ Liquor is poison, do not make it, do not give it, do not drink it. ” people obeyed his orders as he had become “God in human form”.
Spirituality beyond Religions:
While S.N.D.P was taking care of people’s material prosperity the Guru was concerned about their spiritual needs. He believed that prayer and worship are the first step towards a higher spirituality. So he constructed temples and installed idols. But he turned an iconoclast, if the deity was to be propitiated with drunken orgies or animal sacrifice which was contrary to the higher values he was trying to inculcate in the people.
“Illumination in the hearts of the people” was the Guru’s concept about the purpose of temples. To illustrate this, he installed lamps instead of idols in two temples, and finally a mirror. These consecrations, starting with idols, passing through lamps and ending in a mirror represent the progressive steps in spirituality.  From the first step of worshipping idols, man evolves to the enlightened stage of conceiving the Ultimate Truth-Aham Brahmasmi Through the mirror installation, the Guru revealed to the masses his message, “God is not somewhere up above, he is the innermost Being of one’s own Self”. The kingdom of God is within you.
This is the “One God” he preached about, the Spirit or Energy that animates and activates everything in this Universe. He had imbibed this spirit of the Universe. The Universe had become  part  of him. It was a spirituality beyond religions- a peak from where he could see and show that all religions point the way to the same eternal Truth. Hence, conversions from one religion to another is only a change of paths. All religious tenets are legacies to humanity from wise men. They have to be shared by all. Any religion is good enough for the believer to attain spirituality. (He accepted even atheism, if it could make a man better. Some of his followers were atheists).
The first All Religions meet in Asia was organized by him in Feb. 1924 at his Advaithashram in Aluva, close to the birthplace of Adi Sankara. At the entrance to the meeting hall the motto was displayed, “ We meet here not to argue and win, but to know and be known.” If, religious fanatics all over the world could understand the sense in these words, so much of bloodshed in the name of religion could have been avoided and the world would have been a much better place to live in.
 The Guru’s endeavour was to evolve a new culture, a synthesis of the  old and the new, a smooth transfer from outdated ideas to progressive modernism. And he achieved this social miracle within a short span of forty years. He had metamorphosed the depressed castes of Kerala, from prostate subhuman status to educated decent citizens with dignity, self respect and economic power. A radical change in sentiment, intellect and perspective was ushered in, where rancour and dissention prevailed, he brought in unity and harmony, poverty and ignorance was replaced with prosperity and erudition. The impetus brought out the literary, artistic and academic talents hidden in the depressed people and opened before them the way for growth and prosperity for which sky is the limit. The flowers of Indian Renaissance began blooming among the once downtrodden masses of  Kerala. It was both a spiritual and social Renaissance.
No other state in India has the record of such tremendous progress within such a short span of time. If the state of  Kerala now stands first in literacy, it is the ultimate result of the massive educational projects launched by Sree Narayana Guru. If untouchability has become a thing of the past in Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru’s temples are the inspiration behind it. If conflicts and confrontations in the name of religion is minimal in Kerala, the credit goes to his Gospel of Unity.
The secret of Narayana Guru’s success is his integrated vision of man’ need for spiritual salvation and physical well being. The basis of his humanism is an all encompassing love and faith in man’s ability to evolve. In all his endeavors to uplift the downtrodden, he never said a word against the upper castes. In fact, many upper caste men were his followers. He was a philosopher, but he brought philosophy down to practical life. He was pious, but not a fanatic. Piety to him was something personal to each individual, a communion with the inner self. He was loyal to the essence of religions, but not their external crusts. He was born  a Hindu, but never claimed as one. Though he was born and lived in Kerala, he was universal Guru, since his messages have universal application as they cut across cultural barriers and can inspire humanity at large. The world which is facing religious, racial and regional contradictions and conflicts, will certainly find solace and solutions in his messages. His legacy to humanity is a spirituality beyond the narrow confines of religions, respect for human dignity irrespective of caste, race and creed and the courage to shed the shackles of tradition, if it stands in the way of human progress. This legacy belongs to the entire world, and it is the duty of his devotees and followers to make this known to the world.

Smt. Sathya Bai Sivadas
(The writer is a retired lecturer in English from Andhra Predesh Educational Service, and the author of:
1. Sree Narayana Guru, The Practical Philosopher,
 Published by Sree Narayana Educational and Cultural Society of Secunderabad.
2. English Version published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
3. Telugu Version published by Hyderabad Book Trust.

Social Revolution By Sree Narayana Guru through Temple Reformation

Sree Narayana Guru was an embodiment of all virtues, values and rare qualities seldom found in human race. He was a mystic, a teacher, a philosopher, a visionary, a rationalist, a saint, a humanist, a social reformer, and a poet, all blended into one. His teachings are straight forward and simple , bringing out spiritual, moral and social revolution. He demonstrated his teachings in practice through his own life.

It is normally understood that revolution  is:- perpetuating a drastic and far-reaching change in the attitude and behavior of the people. In the political context a revolution is a violent, radical change in the existing social order brought about by people's agitation and struggle for change. It shakes up the existing social order and political system, causes hostilities and bloodshed and passes through chaotic periods of instability and confusion before a semblance of stability settles in. .Such a revolution divides people into groups and classes, each fighting for protecting their own self-interests. But the revolution that Sree Narayana Guru set in motion through temples at Aruvippuram defies any stereotyping. It was a unification process and not division, and therefore peaceful and silent. It was a harmonious integration of spirituality and material progress. In effecting fundamental changes in existing order, its power was more than what the ordinary mortals could have imagined. He used the same institution of temples which were used to keep the people divided to integrate them and guide them for a meaningful and prosperous life. It was the creative approach of a social revolutionary, a practical genius, for transforming these traditional institutions of temples  into vehicles of social change, while maintaining its characteristic as a place of worship.

Why did Narayana Guru launch the revolution through temples?  

The role of temples in the social life of the people.

Temples are at the heart of Hindu religious life. Temples bring devotees closer to the divine. They are the imitation of the cosmic order on the earth, a sociological “middle cosmos” established by priest-craft between the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of the individual and that the icons in the temple synthesize both doctrine and sacred presence, both didactic and suggestive of the feeling of divine power. The temples act as mediums through which devotees approach godhead. The idols at temples are concrete expressions of godhead, which cannot be otherwise comprehended or grasped directly as we do the world around us. When we worship at a temple, we temporarily step out of the limitations of worldly life and try to have a glimpse of transcendental reality. The deity, which is the object of devotion and worship, guide the devotees in their pious endeavor

The temples in Kerala during the Guru’s time

Social history tells that temples are the instruments to perpetuate caste hierarchy and discrimination and in Kerala at that time, this phenomenon was at its worst. The society was cleft into Savarnas (the forward castes ) and Avarnas (the Backward classes and Dalits). Both the groups practiced caste hierarchy and rigid rules to maintain it, while the Avarnas as a bulk were condemned as untouchables.

The Avarnas ,though in majority, were kept strictly away from the general stream of the society. The rigid caste rules to precipitate untouchability and social tyranny, observed for generations, made them live like a dumb-driven cattle serving their masters without complaint. They were denied all the avenues to know their inner strength, by the denial of education. They were not permitted to speak cultured language. They were forced to clothe, speak and behave in such a way as to affirm their lowliness and submissiveness every moment. They were denied the right to construct a house of their own choice, the freedom to walk along the public roads, to wear decent clothes to cover nakedness or to wear jewelry made of gold. Added to all these was the burden of unjust taxation and inhuman punishments .

But the master stroke to keep these people permanently inferior was the division of Gods.(Imagine, in the land of Adi Shankara’s Advaitha, even the gods were divided in the name of caste!)To worship Shiva, Parvathi, Ganesha, Subrahmanya, etc of the Aryan pantheon, was the prerogative of the Savarnas,and the Avarnas were not allowed to worship these deities, not even to come within the compound-wall of  these temples, but their offerings in cash were shamelessly accepted. They were allowed  to worship only inferior local deities like chathan , madan, yakshi etc. The mode of worship was also different. The Savarnas conducted their worship in a sober way, with offerings of flowers and fruits and delicious food items. The Avarnas offered crude items like animal blood, roasted bran, liquor, and other intoxicating substances. After the ritual of worship, they consumed these items as sacramental food. This was certainly an instrument to keep their morals at a low level., to induce the feeling of inferiority and self pity in them, so that they will never think of equality with their masters, and be content to remain permanent underdogs.

As these temples became the exclusive domain of priesthood and upper castes, who also controlled state authority, temples and power gradually became synonymous. The psyche of the masses in general will be that all good things in life are given to them by the grace of their God. The stronger the God, the better off you are in life. So, the Avarnas who were forced to live in humiliating conditions, attributed their pitiable state to their being denied entry into temples and worship the gods there! So, they waited patiently at a distance outside  temples to get a glimpse of the prosperous deity, with the hope that their lot might improve with that. They hoped to prosper by remaining in full obedience. But in the depth of their hearts was hidden the spark of virtue and desire to progress., which was stifled under unhealthy traditions. The Guru, with his deep insight into human nature, recognized this inner power in their piety and patience and inflated it to become the propelling force for their upward social mobility

The Guru had comprehended the injustice which was being perpetuated on the large section of the society in the name of God. He searched for the cause and solution. He had .wandered around in the planes and the hills, interacted with the people in close quarters and lived with them. He practiced deep meditation and undertook long penance on the Maruthwan Hills and emerged from there an enlightened man. He came down to the midst of humanity with a definite plan and a well defined programme to reform the society from decadence by making them know their inner capacity to understand their problems and to respond positively. The temples seemed to be the best medium to launch this. If temples were the main culprit in subjecting these people to oppression and misery, the very same temples must be used to resurrect them .  

This culminated in the consecration of Shiva temple at Aruvipuram, a village situated at a distance of 24 kms

from Tiruvananthapuram, on a Shivaratri night on12.03.1888. After the consecration of Shiva idol

Guru wrote on the walls of the temple:-
jaathibhedam-mathadvesham   “This is a model abode

ethumillathe sarvarum                  where all men shall live as brothers

sodarathvena vazhunna               without caste distinctions

mathruka sthanamanithu              and  religious rivalries”


This was not a small event. Hundreds of devotees had attended this function. Aftermath of this event sparked the social revolution in Kerala. The news spread like wild fire. An Avarna whose place is 32 feet away from the temple wall, broke all accepted social norms, and consecrated the holy shivalingam!  It was an unprovoked challenge to the centuries old supremacy of priesthood. The enraged priesthood could not take it. A learned Brahmin confronted the young Guru with the question, “What right does a non-Brahmin have  for consecrating Lord Shiva?" The Guru replied nonchalantly, “we have consecrated our own Shiva. Where is the directive against it?" The learned Brahmin had no reply

Historically, this action was the launching of a major rebellion against Indian orthodoxy. This was an assertion of the fundamental right of man to worship the deity of one’s choice. It demolished the dividing wall between Gods and rang the death knell to priestly authority. It was his first lesson on universal brotherhood to his followers. The small stanza which he wrote on the newly constructed temple was not another hymn to worship Lord Shiva, but a declaration of equality and fraternity, and an eye-opener to custodians of casteism .

 The next temple that Sree Narayana Guru consecrated was at Mannanthala in Thiruvananthapuram in 1889. The Guru arrived a little later than the appointed time and installed the idol. A noted person among the public, who was aghast that the installation did not take place at the auspicious time that was determined for it beforehand, tried to know from the Guru the zodiac sign of the installation that he had just done. The Guru replied,  “The horoscope is ascertained after the birth of the baby. Here the installation is over. Now you check the auspicious time and cast the horoscope accordingly. This event was quickly followed up by similar consecrations of temples in other parts of Kerala at the request of his followers. The Guru consecrated more than 60 temples in and out of Kerala and used the temples as  institutions to educate the masses. The temples itself turned as an embodiment of the creative imagination of the great seer. He opened the doors of the temples to all without any caste distinctions. People were made to realise  that the Gods and Goddesses were not the monopoly of a few priests.

Two revolutionary steps.

To prove this point beyond doubt to his followers and others, he introduced another revolutionary step. He trained Avarnas in rituals of worship and appointed them as Archakas in the temples consecrated by him. As the Guru was a scholar of Sanskrit and well-versed in Hindu scriptures, he started Sanskrit schools which were open to all castes and religions. Young Avarna boys who had some lenience towards spirituality were selected for this purpose and trained. Their recitation of Upanishads and Vedas were so perfect that even Mahatma Gandhi admired them.

During the series of consecrations of temples, there was another daring step taken  by the Guru.  Without an iota of hesitation, he removed the idols of chatan, yakshi, marutha etc and installed shiva, subrahmanyan and devi (mother goddess) in their places. The motive behind this action was certainly his deep commitment to improve the life-style of the people. He knew that if these blood-thirsty deities continued to preside over the lives of the people, animal sacrifices and drunken orgies would not stop, and people would continue the same uncivilized life. So , he replaced these deities with sober ones ,so that people could forget the old ways and start the new method of worship which the Guru had taught them.  

Progress from idols to abstract spirituality

Slowly and steadily his axe started to fall on the mindset or perception of the people. The changed mental programming made them to believe that they are lower to none. Guru revealed through the consecrations of temples that the idols are not very essential and practically demonstrated it by progressively changing the consecration of idols to lamp, mirror, words, symbol etc. God lives not in temples  but in the hearts of the seeker. The meanings of the symbols were aided by the stories and songs related. Thus, Guru composed 15 poems on Shiva ,7 Poems on Subrahmanya ,6 poems on  Devi, 3 poems on Vishnu and one on Vinayaka. These compositions link the Godhead  in an icon to the absolute truth , through contemplation of meaning. Thus the form (image ) and the word (alphabet) got equal role in communicating  wisdom to the common village folks. Guru explicitly represented both orthodoxy and heterodoxy by installing a mirror and a lamp instead of idols during  the later period. He revealed that the temples are required for men to purify themselves on their journey to the realization of truth.

Guru’s revolutionary ideas about temple construction and management :

He set an example to make the temples to be centers for purity and development. He wanted fresh air and light to enter the temple and to keep it clean. He wanted the temples to be places for the people to assemble, exchange their views and to work together for the betterment of their lives. Temples which were hitherto the instrument for dividing people, became a place for the unification of the people and centres of informal education. In Sree Narayana Guru's vision, along with the experiential knowledge of the ultimate reality, knowledge and learning that ordinary mortals gain through schooling and thinking also had importance. The Guru's exhortation to "awaken through learning/knowledge" bears this out. Moreover, the Guru dedicated a temple at Sivagiri exclusively to the Goddess of Learning, Saraswathi. One of the other names for Goddess Saraswathi is Sarada and the Guru preferred it. Hence this temple is known as Sarada Mutt. The Sarada Temple is octagonal in shape with eight windows that let in a flood of light and fresh air - a departure from traditional temple architecture. Not only that, the Guru forbade festivals and other temple rituals here. He advised collective chanting of hymns and offering of flowers, instead. The Guru composed a hymn titled Janani Navaratna Manjari praising the Goddess of Learning for the sake of devotees.

Guru was available for more than 40 years to execute his mission of transforming the society by instilling self respect and human dignity in the minds of the people. People of various talents from various fields of activity were attracted to Guru. Social reformers, freedom fighters, educationalists, thinkers, poets, writers, journalists, socially persecuted people and many more were attracted to Guru for guidance, light and inspiration. All of them actively participated  and contributed to the revolution that followed. The temple entry proclamation in the state of Travancore(1936) and other rights and privileges conferred on the lower castes were the direct result of the reformation movement initiated by Sree Narayana Guru.

Sree Narayana Guru was a practical genius for transforming traditional institutions to serve as vehicles of change. The modernization was also reflected in his concept of the temple. Guru said that the temples “should not be built in an expensive manner” as was the custom in ancient days. No money should be spent on elaborate festivals. Adjacent to temple there should be schools, library, reading rooms, small scale industrial training institutes to be used for the welfare of the people. This is the creative approach of a social revolutionary, who understood the heart of the people and their culture, and who sought to transform a traditional institution into an organ of social change while maintaining its characteristic as a place of worship. If our social reformers and political leaders understood this strategy of swimming along with the masses, and at the same time changing the direction of the current for them, a social revolutionary movement would emerge in our country as a more widely accepted and powerful force. The magnificent facilities and the immense wealth of our ancient temples could be put to social, cultural, educational and economic uses of community, while retaining their central role as places of worship. This can be done without interference in the pursuit of religion and without any sort of imposition from above. The owners and trustees of the temples should voluntarily accept the noble and the constructive role that Sree Narayana Guru envisaged for the house of worship. That would help in making religion real and meaningful to the people instead of being the so-called opium of the people.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that God does not dare to appear before a starving man except in the form food and work. If that is so, no temple can exist in an ignorant and poverty-stricken society unless it has some role to play in meeting at least some of the crying needs of the people. In the present stage of Kerala’s and India’s development when there is a new cultural renaissance and a resurgence of religious beliefs and practices among the masses, it is important that a constructive and progressive direction is given to the revivalism so that our society would not lapse into its ancient obscurantist ways . Sree Narayana Guru’s teachings and example are profoundly relevant in this context.

When the temples began to copy the example of their ancient prototypes, caste exclusiveness started creeping in , religious antagonisms had not been removed, the Gods were being compressed into the traditional forms,  unnecessary rituals and ceremonies were getting in, Guru felt that it was time to call halt to this sort of progress. He said “I have not given you the God of a caste but the God of all who seek and that the doors of the temples should be opened to all who knock. Some heard, hesitated and left the doors closed. A few heard, bowed their heads and flung the doors open. He then said. You have had enough of these temples .People are losing faith in temples. Money spent on building them may become a waste. God may be worshiped anywhere. Just a small prayer hall is therefore quite sufficient. It can easily be constructed and easily be maintained. The idols are not essential. It is the ideals which matter. Worship the ideals. Put up the mottoes of  Truth, Love and Duty in your temples and practice these virtues in your lives. That would be better  than all the idols in the world. So he consecrated temples without idols.

At Murukkumpuzha temple Sree Narayana Guru instatted a bronze plate with "Aum" written in the middle and "Satyam (Truth), Dharmam (Ethical Principles), Daya( Kindness) and Shanthi (Peace)" written around it (1921). He did not stop there. Guru wanted the mottoes to  enter the hearts of the people. So he asked them to keep a mirror in the temple instead of the idol or the motto. In two temples Guru instatted mirrors. One of them is at Kalavamkodu where the mirror installed is with the inscription "Aum Shanthi"(1927). The other one is at Vechur Ullala where the mirror with the inscription of "Aum" in the centre is installed(1927). The mirror, by its truthful reflection , always reminds us that as we are, so are our Gods too. God lives not in temples but in the hearts of the good. A noted Sanyasi follower of Sree Narayana Guru had explained the message of these unique installations thus: "A seeker begins his religious pursuit  with the worship of god in idols; he gradually ascends to the sphere of great effulgent light; he reflects truth, kindness, peace, etc., in his life; finally he experiences Supreme Truth, which is Aum, shining like the sun in his Soul, like the reflection in a mirror."

After all the temples are not for the benefits of Gods. They are for the men who require rest houses on the high road of progress. They are flag staff which beckons all  to the post of duty. Having gathered in temple, in the name of highest and best; we should think of the work outside the temple; for all work is outside. He said once pointing to a temple “ Here look at this nice temple . Open up a beautiful flower garden all round. Good trees should be grown, and in their shades platforms should be erected for people to sit on and enjoy the light and air. There should be a reading room in every temple. The sacred books of all faiths should be collected there and taught to those who want to learn. Let the temple be in a corner ; if you keep the place clean and beautiful people will come. It will be an aid to healthy living and serve as a place of ennobling thoughts. We should use the temples intelligently.The income generated in the temples should be used for the welfare of the poor. Take the instance of the Sivagiri temple. How many go there to improve their health and return hale and healthy. If you bath in good water, keep clean, breath pure air and think of God, certainly your diseases must be cured. All have their places of worship. Who have not? So we cannot say that temples are unnecessary.”  

Guru started educational institutions around the temples ,which empowered the beneficiaries with literacy ( Malayalam, tamil, sansrit, and English) and even technical know-how. Cottage industries like weaving , coir making and mat making were started in them. On another occasion when people came to take him for the consecration of a temple he said-“keep a light is not that sufficient? God is light”. He  installed burning lamp at Karamukku near Trissur (1921)   reciting the famous mantra Tamaso ma jyothir gamaya , thus giving  practical expression to the ancient Upanishadic prayer at this temple. They wanted something more, and then he suggested it would be well to keep the portraits of great men all round the light. There is another humorous incident worth remembering in this connection. In the early days of Sivgiri, people had installed a three pointed golden rod at the place of worship. One of the followers of Gurudev threw away that rod and placed Gurudev’s sandals in the place. The audacious fellow was caught hold of by the rest and taken to the presence of Gurudev.

Gurudev : why did you throw away that rod ?

The Fellow : Gurudev’s is the only image worthy of worship. That is our faith. Gurudev : Then what about the sandals ?

The Fellow : The sandals are a symbol of Gurudev.

Gurudev : If the sandals can represent me , why cannot the golden rod also? In these ways , he slowly led the minds of the people out of the limitations of temples and creeds to the ideal of ‘One caste, One religion, One God’ for man.

Through the temples Guru could regain for the downtrodden their lost self-respect and a new spirituality was introduced by changing the idols and changing the mode of worship. The spirttual and social revolution that took place in Kerala at the instance of Sree Narayana Guru had great impact on the freedom movement that was taking place in the country. Guru wanted a total transformation. He wanted balanced growth for the society spiritually as well as materially. The increase in the literary level and removal of unsociability in Kerala was due to the revolution initiated by Guru.   Indian constitution drafted few years after the demise of guru had his influence. The secularism, Education, womens’ education, equality, prohibition etc were drawn from the teachings of the Guru.

Some aspects of Sree Narayana Guru's unique reform were remarkable. It destroyed the nefarious hold of the upper class on all aspects of social and religious life of the society without spreading bitterness and enmity. Ended the exploitation without violence. It did not destroy the oppressors, but their oppression. It resulted in the upliftment of the oppressor and the oppressed alike..

Sree Narayana Guru : Life and Messages

Sree Narayana Guru was an embodiment of all virtues, values and rare qualities seldom found in human race. He was a mystic, a teacher, a philosopher, a visionary, a scientist, a saint, a social reformer, a great nation builder and a poet, all blended into one. To millions of his devotees Sree Narayana Guru is an incarnation of God.  He was a saintly contemplative man who could impart wisdom and give enlightenment to a seeker of truth. His teachings are straight forward and simple, bringing out spiritual, moral and material revolution. Sree Narayana Guru was treasure house of knowledge and wisdom. His greatness and purity is to be experienced by swimming through the ocean of knowledge revealed through his writings, lofty messages and personal life. His life, work and teachings have refreshing uniqueness. There was naturalness and sublime simplicity tinged with mystery in them, thus rendering them peculiarly interesting and profoundly instructive. No one had so clearly and successfully demonstrated in recent centuries the ideals and methods and the way of realizing them. The achievements of Guru cannot be explained in words. His spiritual attainments made him omnipotent.

According to  Theosophical Society of India, Sree Narayana Guru was “Patanjali in yoga, Sankara in wisdom, Manu in the art of governance, Buddha in renunciation, Mohamed in strength of spirit and Christ in humility”. Swamy Dharma Teerthan,  a genius by himself, a contemporary and the disciple of Gurudev wrote in his book A Prophet of Peace: “We make no secret of the fact that we claim for Gurudev a place among the highest, among the suns and stars and not among the creatures of the earth; among the saviors of humanity and not among the kings and conquerors; among Buddhas, the Christs and Mohammeds, and not among mere philosophers and geniuses. The highest standards, therefore, are not too high to measure the value of his work. The widest sweep of our mental vision will not be too wide to comprehend the scope of his message. We have to approach the subject in terms of world problems and in the light of the evolution of centuries. To think of Gurudev merely as a reformer, as the religious leader of a community, as a great scholar and genius, or the founder of numerous institutions would be narrowing our own outlook and blurring our vision of the greater truth”. He further quoted. “It is impossible to find in history, an individual who has performed so many wonderful miracles and has become the object of worship for everyone, while alive.”

Deena Bandhu C.F.Andrews, a well known philosopher, after visiting Guru had said “I had a vision of God in human form; Sree Narayana Guru, who is renowned in the southern-most part of India is that Supreme Being”. Mahakavi Kumaran Asan, who had the opportunity to live with Gurudev had expressed, in many words, through his poems, that the Gurudev was none other than God. Shivalingadasa Swamigal, the first disciple of Gurudev, found Gurudev to be Shiva, the God.

The life of Guru was an open book. He was born in a humble peasants’ family at a time when the people in Kerala were divided on the basis of caste. Vast sections of the society were degraded as Untouchables. They were being exploited socially, culturally, educationally and economically forcing them to live in shame as deprived destitute. They were denied education and employment. They were not allowed to wear proper cloths to cover nakedness. They were not allowed to worship satvik Gods or to enter their temples. They were not allowed to walk through the roads meant for upper caste people.  They were conditioned to believe that those restrictions were ordained by God. No one, therefore, dared to challenge the arrangements. Seeing the state of affairs, Swami Vivekananda had called Kerala as “Lunatic Asylum”.

Guru could not comprehend the prevalent state of affairs. He had the insatiable desire to know  the world, the universe and the creations therein. After preliminary education, he set out in search for the reason and the solution. He traveled the length and breadth of the country spending most of the time for meditation and thought. He lived with all types of people and interacted with them. He learned the philosophies of Vedic, Dravidian, Christian, Islamic and other well known faiths and analysed them to know the truth revealed therein. He had acquired excellent knowledge in Ayurveda. He undertook penance in pillathadam at the hills of Maruthwamalai in Tamil Nadu for years sustaining himself mostly on berries, tubers, leaves and water from mountain brooks.  He came out from there self realized to serve the society.

Guru started his mission with the consecration of Shiva temple at Aruvipuram on a Shivaratri night on 12.03.1888.  This was a small event without much of fanfare. But the aftermath of this small event sparked the social revolution in Kerala. It was an unprovoked challenge to the centuries old supremacy of priesthood. Throughout his life Guru executed his mission without confrontation and without creating any enemies. He never argued about anything. He never criticized anybody. He was a man of composure and action. He transformed the lunatic asylum to an abode of self respecting, forward looking and tolerant society with fraternal feelings smoothly and efficiently. He helped the people to save themselves from superstitious beliefs and to eradicate the self destroying rituals, customs and dogmas practiced by them out of ignorance and in the name of religion and tradition. He set an example to make the temples to be centers for purity and development. He was available for more than 40 years to execute his mission of transforming the society by instilling self respect and human dignity in the minds of the people. People of various talents from various fields of activity were attracted to Guru. Social reformers, freedom fighters, educationalists, thinkers, poets, writers, journalists, socially persecuted people and many more were attracted to Guru for guidance, light and inspiration. All of them actively participated and contributed to the revolution that followed.

 Many great personalities visited Guru at his Ashram in Sivagiri Mutt Varkala and paid glowing tributes.  Some of them were Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave etc. Rabindranath Tagore visited Guru at his Ashram in Sivagiri on 22nd November 1922 and recorded there that “I have been touring different parts of the world. During these travels, I have had the fortune to come into contact with several saints and maharshis. But I have frankly to admit that I have never seen one who is spiritually greater than Swamy Narayana Guru of Malayalam- nay, a person who is on par with him in spiritual attainment. I am sure, I shall never forget that radiant face illuminated by the self effulgent light of divine glory and those majestic eyes fixing their gaze on far remote point in the distant horizon”.

 Mahatma Gandhi after visiting Guru on 13th March 1925 at Varkala had said “I feel it as the greatest privilege in my life to have visited the beautiful State of Travancore and to have Darshan of venerable sage, Sree Narayana Guru.  I had the fortune to stay one day in his holy Ashrama. His Excellency the Regent Empress also spoke to me about the greatness of Guruswamy. I fervently hope that you would enforce his lofty ideals”. According to Guru, man’s duty is to take care of his life here and now. The life hereafter will take care of itself.  It was in this spirit that he wanted his followers to work for the making of their present lives healthier and richer.

Ramana Maharshi after meeting Guru said that “Sree Narayana Guru  was the Mahatma of high intellectual supremacy.”
M. Romain Rolland said  in December 1928 that “The new religious manifestations in South India which are not negligible, such for eg: is the great Guru Sree Narayana whose beneficent spiritual activity has been exercising its influence during the past 40 years in the state of Travancore on  millions of his followers(He passed away on 20th September 1928). His teaching permeated with the philosophy of Sankara shows evidence of striking difference of temperament compared with the mysticism of Bengal.  He was one might say “a jnanin of action” a grand religious intellectual, who had a keen living sense of the people and of social necessities. He has contributed greatly to the elevation of the oppressed classes in south India and his work has been associated  with that of Gandhi.”  
 Along with Gandhiji,  E.V. Ramasami Naickar, C. Rajagopalachari, Mahadeva Desai, Devadas Gandhi etc., were also there.   Gnadhiji had visited  Sivagiri twice more.  Great men like Swami  Shraddhananda, Pandit Rishiram, Divan C. Rajagopalachari, Divan Watts, Diwan Mandat,   M. Kishnan Nair, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Rao Bahadur P. Sundaram Pillai, etc., had also visited Guru, at different times and received his blessings. Mahakavi Ulloor  S. Prameswara Ayyer, who used to visit the Guru often and received  his blessings, had deep devotion and respect for the Guru. The eminent scholar Punnassery Neelakanta Sharma also was  an admirer of the Guru, and had composed  a number of poems in praise of the Gurudev.

 Eminent poets have also written poems  praising the Gurudev.  The Guru had such a wonderful personality that anyone came to  him, became  his admirer or disciple.

Swami Chinmayananda said:  can India  rediscover her heart ? can religion, a philosopher of the Upanishads, help us in meeting the challenges of our nation?  Can they rediscover  our moral balance ? all these burning questions are answered in living life  by the Sivagiri ashram. My humble and devoted  prostrations to Sree Narayana Gurudeva….may his blessings be upon all of us, Gurudeva was the personification of love  as Jesus Christ and lord Buddha.
The spiritual and material revolution that took place in Kerala at the instance of Sree Narayana Guru had great impact in the freedom movement that was taking place in the country. Guru wanted a total transformation. He wanted balanced growth for the society spiritually as well as materially.  Indian constitution drafted few years after the demise of guru had his influence. The secularism, Education, especially womens’ education, equality, prohibition etc were drawn from the teachings of the Guru. The Philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru is relevant without the barriers of place and time. It is relevant in the world as is relevant in India.

Sree Narayana Guru was  born on the 28th of August 1855 (Chingam 14th of 1031, as per the Malayalam Calendar under the star Chathayam in Malayalam) in a small village  called Chempazhanthi in Trivandrum Dist.  of Kerala state, at the southern tip of India.  His   parents were Maadan Aasan and Kuttiamma.  It is said that the Guru was born to this ideal couple after intensive prayers  and many years  of waiting.  Though the little boy was named  Narayanan, in course of time, the name  came to be shortened as Nanu.   Nanu means (Na + Anu)  that which is not small. He certainly  grew up to become great.  It is said  that even  his birth was extraordinary. This baby did not cry when  he was born, did not cry when the umbilical cord  was cut, nor when he was bathed.  He never cried  even for hunger, thirst or any other physical needs.  This calmness was a strange phenomenon.  He had three younger sisters. As a child when he visited their family temple of Manakkal Bhagavathi, along with  his mother and sisters , it was usual to find him somewhere in the temple  meditating seriously or just watching  the blue sky, immersed in deep thought.

Sree Narayana  who was known as Nanu  and Nanu Bhakathan learned a lot from his father . His knowledge on  customs and rituals  and also Indian spirituality was immeasurable . This knowledge was  obtained directly  from his father. Even though he was a naughty boy  during childhood, he noticed every bit of his surroundings for understanding the  universal laws guiding the world including the animals and human beings. His quotations, experiences, stories, advise, guidance, counter questioning and challenging the  superstitions , etc  were always   superb due to this approach of learning from the  nature/surroundings.  His  explanation to all customs and rituals, Indian concepts, beliefs, pathways, traditions    were all impregnated with full of logical, scientific and rational analyses  and wisdom .

During childhood itself he had the innate awareness that everything was an appendage of God.  The sense of equality or oneness therefore prevailed in  his behaviour towards anything  and everything. His feeling of ONENESS extended to encompass not only human beings but all living beings, trees and vines, animals and birds, worms and even insects.  This inherent conviction led to the logical  conclusion that   he and God  are the same in essence .  He used to eat  the offerings to the God  at home, before the pooja was over.  When questioned, his  reply used to be “God will be pleased if I am pleased’.      

Savarna, Avarna, Brahmin,Nambudiri, Nair, Ezhava, Paraya, Pulaya, were all equal to him.. He displayed these as a fun by touching and polluting the one who  observed caste discriminations and untouchability. He made friendship with the children of low castes like Parayas  and Pulayas.   He  took bath with them scrubbing  their backs and allowing them to scrub his. The people who observed caste discriminations and untouchability expressed their unhappiness  saying “Nanu has become  totally impure, defiled” but the little Nanu  had a ready reply that “My back  and their backs are  clean now”.

Nanu was initiated to primary education in1860 by the Elder Narayana Pillai of Kannamkara household, who was also a member of the Advisory Council to the King. Observing Nanu’s learning ability, he remarked, “Nanu learns as if he had studied the lessons earlier, and is simply repeating now”. Nanu was very good at studies. He could internalize anything that he heard or read just once. He exhibited extraordinary intelligence, brightness, humility, kindness and spiritual strength. Narayana Pillai told Maadan Aasan, that “Nanu’s birth and life shall be something extra-ordinary. After he crossed sixteen you will not be able to hold him to you”. Nanu acquired profound knowledge in Malayalam and Sanskrit. By the time Nanu reached 16 years, he developed the tendency to be introvert in thoughts and actions. He found solace in the loneliness on sea shores, near backwaters and among the bushes on hillocks.  Immersed in deep thought he used to roam about all alone in Chempazhanthy and neighbouring localities.  

 It is believed that during these wanderings, he mastered Tamil language and read all the important literary works and philosophical compositions in Tamil. He in later life translated holy books in Tamil like Thirukkural,, Ozhuvilodukkam, etc. to Malayalam.   

During the period of his wanderings he had an attack of small-pox and for about 18 days he did not go home. He lived in the dilapidated temple of Mother Goddess on yonder hill, where the people were afraid to go even during day time.

Nanu set out to Kayamkulam for higher studies in 1877 as a student under Kummampally Raman Pillai Aashan, a great scholar of those days and a strict celibate. The noble household of Varanapally was in the vicinity., where Nanu got free boarding and lodging. Under the guidance of Ramam Pillai Aashan, Nanu studied advanced Sanskrit literature, grammar, logic, astrology, and philosophy. He completed his studies in about three years (1877-1880). In those days Nanu developed interest in the worship of Lord Krishna and also practiced introspection and meditation.It is said that once he had a vision of young Lord Krishna playing with him.  He composed a poem of single stanza in Sanskrit “Sree Krishna Darshanam” describing the ecstasy he experienced on these visions. Later onhe composed hymns like Vasudevashtakam,Vinayakashtakam, Bhadra Kalyashtakam, Guhashtakam, Nava Manjariri etc. while at at Varanappally.  

The eldest member of Varanappally Shri. Kochu Krishna Panickar helped him in all his endeavors, either in higher studies or spiritual exercises. During the routine literary discussions held everyday Nanu participated  mainly as a listener to all arguments and counter arguments. If the discussions reached the level of quarrels, Nanu intervened and his opinions were always being accepted as final.

After returning from Varanapally Nanu  started teaching in the small school founded and run by his father, Maadan Aasan. This gave him the title”Nanu Aasan”.  Few months later,  he started a small school at Anchuthengu, a place having concentration of Pulayas, an untouchable community who were denied admission to the schools.  He concentrated on inculcating piety and other sober habits in the children.
 The behavior of Nanu Ashan gave an indication that he was moving away from normal family life to saintly life. The family members therefore decided to get him married  to bring him to the normal family life. As per the prevalent system Nanu’s three sisters went to the bride’s(Kaliamma of Nedunganda ,his paternal aunt’s grand daughter who was selected as the bride)  home, gave her a set of new clothes as part of marriage ceremony and brought her home at Chempazhanty. But Nanu Aasan had already left his home before his marriage was performed or Kaliamma was brought home. He was not in favor of family life.

Nanu Aasan rambled throughout South India, all alone, during 1880-1888. He wandered around the places like the seashore of Shankhu Mukham, Veli, Kochuveli, Mannanthala, Anchuthengu, Kulathur, Varkala, Nedunganda, Kadakkavur, Chilakkur, Nadayara, Aruvippuram (near Kilimanoor) Parasala, Neyyatinkara, Aruvippuram, Kalayikkavila, Iraniyal, Marthandam, Thakkala etc. It is said that he was seen among the fisherman, Christians, Muslims and all others and learnt their ways of life, practices,  rituals and philosophy. He acquired extensive knowledge of Quran , Bible and other religious texts. Christian and Islamic Scholars  revered him for the interpretations  he  could give on the texts of Bible and Quran.

Kunjan Pillai Chattambi introduced Nanu to Shri. Thaikkattu Ayyavu, a great adept in Hatha Yoga. Yoga practices under the guidance of Shri. Ayyavu increased his thirst for self realization and this led him to pillathadam in Marutvan hills of Kannyakumari district for intense penance.

 Enlightenment,  descended on him like a thousand suns rising together and his self ascended  like the flutter of a  blissful butterfly  from flower to flower tasting the nectar of life.   This made him Sree Narayana Guru. The experience of Guru at Marutuan Hills and the ecstasy he enjoyed could be gathered from his works like sivasatakam, subramanya stotram, guhastakam, atmopadesa satakam etc.  

His life after self realisation reveal that he had a definite plan and a well defined programme to reform the society from decadence. He sacrificed his spiritual achievements for the betterment of humanity. From Maruthwamalai he moved to the thick forest on the banks of Neyyar river and started living at a place known as Aruvippuram. Knowing the presence of a person with divine powers, the people around started visiting Guru for blessings and mitigation of sufferings. He got his 1st disciple, Ayyappan Pillai-later Shivalingadasa Swamigal, from this place. Sree Narayana Guru with the mastery  Yogic powers (Ashta Siddhi) and the knowledge in Ayurveda could cure the diseases of many people. He had miraculous powers of giving the blind the vision, the dumb the powers to speak, the paralysed ability to walk, curing the diseases like leprosy by a touch, a look or a word, blessing the childless with the children by offering some medicinal leaves or fruit . The elderly at  villages, could tell us thousands of such stories.

At the time of Guru’s birth Kerala was a land of worst caste distinctions, ignorance, superstitions and long practiced social bondage. In the name of chathurvarna  the people  were divided and  discriminated.  The  Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Shudra constituted  “Savarnas “ and others as “Avarnas”. Avarnas, though formed the majority of the population, were kept strictly away from the general stream of the society.

The rigid caste rules observed from generation to generation were the supreme power in the land. In the midst of ignorance and social tyranny, the poor laborers lived like a dumb-driven cattle serving their masters uncomplainingly. Large number of people in the society were denied the right for worship in temples, education, social status, economic freedom, freedom to walk along the public roads, wearing decent cloths to cover nakedness or wearing ornaments etc;. Seeing the pathetic condition of the people  Swamy Vivekananda called Kerala State as a “Lunatic Asylum”. But Sree Narayana Guru wanted to transform  the people there to a self respecting, forward looking and tolerant society. Guru wanted them to be educated, make them understand the importance of cleanliness and make them self reliant in earning the livelihood.   

. The very first act towards the implementation of his plan was the consecration of a “Shiva” temple at Aruvipuram, a village about 15 miles away from Trivandrum on 12.03.1888. It was a clarion call from Aruvippuram, proclaiming that those who belong to the lower rungs of the society also could install and worship gentle and serene   deities, which had been the privilege   of the upper  strata  alone for thousands of years. Apparently this was a simple act without hurting anybody. Nevertheless in effect it demolished the very foundation of age old tradition of consecrating idols and temples by the coterie of so called high caste priests alone. Here on the walls of this temple Guru wrote:

jaathibhedam-mathadvesham   “This is a model abode

ethumillathe sarvarum                 where all men shall live as brothers

sodarathvena vazhunna               without caste distinctions

mathruka sthanamanithu             and religious rivalries”

This event was quickly followed up by similar consecrations of temples in other parts of Kerala. All with the request and active participation of the people. The Guru had consecrated more than 60 temples in and outside Kerala He opened the doors of the temples to all who knock. People were made to realise  that the Gods and Goddesses were not the monopoly of few priests. Slowly and steadily his axe started falling on the mindset or perception of the people. The changed mental programming made them to believe that they are lower to none. Guru revealed through the consecrations of temples that the idols are not very essential. It is the ideals which matter. God lives not in temples but in the hearts of the seeker. Temples are required for men to purify themselves on their journey to the realization of truth. Guru revealed through his own life how the Advaita philosophy, that the supreme one alone prevails and all that we see and experience are only its variegated manifestations and could be practically applied in the day-to-day life of humanity. He wanted the temples to be places for the people to assemble exchange their views and to work together for the betterment of their lives.

Sree Narayana Guru Consecrated  Jagannadha  temple of Talassery on 13.02. 1908,  Kozhikkodu Sree Kantwswaram temple on 11.05.1910, Gokarnanatha Temple at Kudroli, in Mangalapuram(1910),Sivagiri Sree Sarada Madom on 30.04.1912, Sundareswaram temple  at Kannur on11.04.1916, Karamukku Sree Chidambara Temple on 13.05.1921, KalavamkodamArdhanareeshwara Temple on 14.06.1927 and Ullala Omkareshwara Temple on 25.06.1927. Disciples of Guru Viz.Santa Linga Swamy, a native of Tamil Naadu started Sree Narayana Mattom in 1913. Srimad Govindananada Swamy, started Sree Narayana Sevasharam at Kancheepuram in 1916, Govindananda Swamy had also toured  Singapore, Malaya and Japan in 1917 to spread the messages of the  Guru. In the same year, Sree Narayana Satsanga  Samithi, and Advaithasharama Sabha was also started at Chintadripet in Madras. Maharshi Asangananda Swamy,  disciple of Sivalinga  Dasa Swamy, settled at Yerpedu near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and started Vyasaashramam.  He became popular in Andhra Pradesh  as Malayala Swamy. Sankarananda  Swamy,  founded  a number of hermitages  in and around Kashi.  He was a teacher in  Kashi (Banares) University and had introduced  the Guru’s Darsanamala to be taught in  a number of Ashramas.  Shanti Ashram, founded  by Sadhu Sivaprasad in Agra.

          The Guru visited Sri Lanka in 1918 and started an organization “Vignanodayam”, and the devotees started Sree Narayana Mandiram at  Colombo.

Guru taught the people:“Gain strength through organization” and put this into practice by establishing an organization by the name  Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam in the year 1903. Sree Narayana Guru was the life time President (1903-1928) of SNDP Yogam, Dr. Palpu was 1st Vice – President and Kumaran Asan, the 1st Secretary.  SNDP played quite decisive and distinctive  role in the evolution of modern Kerala, .  Before  the advent of political  organizations SNDP took up political issues  required   for the progress of the people,  on the suggestions of the Guru.  SNDP played a major  role to secure freedom for untouchables, to use roads, right to temple entry and eradication  of untouchability.  SNDP was also used  to dispel superstitions  and unhealthy traditions  and to introduce reformative steps for the progress  and prosperity of the people.  SNDP always  struggled to secure the rights of the weaker sections. By using this organization he taught the people to have clean living habits and clear thinking. Self destroying customs like poligamy and polyandry, thalikettu(a mock marriage),worship of Gods with cruel features,  animal sacrifices to please Gods etc;  were also stopped with scientific reasoning. SNDP Yogam was founded for achieving  material and spiritual progress of a large mass of people  discarding discriminatory feelings.  It    was not meant to work  for the emancipation of one particular community alone but to strive for  the progress and prosperity of the entire society.  That was the objective of the Guru’s vision. A report submitted at the 50th Anniversary of SNDP, by the then general Secretary Sri R. Shankar will throw light on this. The first Women’s Association Stree Samajam(1904) and first Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition of Kerala  was organized at the 3rd Anniversary celebrations of SNDP at Kollam.  The first Labour Association meeting was conducted during the 15th Annual meeting of SNDP in 1918.  The First Labour Union (The Travancore Labour Union) was  founded at Alapuzha in 1925.  The leadership for this was  taken up, following the suggestion of the Guru, by Vadappuram  Sri V.K. Bava, a householder  disciple of the Guru. Much before reservation   was introduced in the Constitution of India,  an agitation for proportionate representation  under the leadership of SNDP had resulted in the introduction  of reservation in  Travancore Assembly in the Year 1934. SNDP Yogam  assumed the leadership in the process of social renaissance in Kerala. In later days, following the ideals of this organization, “Sadhu Jana Paripalana Yogam” for the uplift of Pulaya community was started by Ayyankali, Nair Service Society(NSS) by Mannathu Padmanabham, Yogakshema Sabha by  V.T. Bhattadirippadu and Kalyana  Dayini Sabha by Pandit Karuppan.   

 “ Gain freedom through education” was another clarion call made by Guru. He started Shools and technical training centers at various places. Though the education was in Sanskrit and Malayalam, emphasize was given to the need to teach English. People from all strata of the society were admitted in his schools.  

Activities of Guru attracted talented people from various fields of activity. Guru could deploy all of  them effectively and efficiently in  the reformation process enunciated by him. They were from the field of social service, freedom fighting, education, politics, thinkers, writers, poets,  spiritual seekers etc; etc;. Under the guidance, light and inspiration of Guru all of them performed in their own respective fields for the development of the people. Guru also established Sree Narayana Dharma Sanghom(Registered on 09.01.1928) for the perpetual spiritual learning and its dissemination.

Thus in all conceivable ways, he led the people onward educationally, economically, socially, culturally and spiritually making them work out their own salvation, injuring nobody or raising not even a word of protest from any source.

He opened places of worship and education to all without any difference in caste, creed, religion or language. People could assemble there and work, learn and live in fraternity. Guru helped the fellow beings to save themselves from superstitious beliefs and to do away with the self destroying rituals, customs and dogmas practiced by them out of ignorance and in the name of religion and tradition. He wanted the temples to be centers for purity and development. Guru never argued about anything. Guru never criticized any body. Guru was a man of composure and action. While he was liberating the people from the age old ill-conceived traditions, he never said a word against the then so called custodians of tradition and vested interests. But he went on doing what was right and exhorted the people to follow.

Sree Narayana Guru had written many books. There are about 63 books now available and published. The list of books Could be seen from the web site of Sree Narayana Mandira Samiti, Mumbai (the address being

These books could be categorized into five. They are

(1) Devotional Songs

(2) Philosophical Books

(3) Books of Proclamations

(4) Translations and

(5) Prose.

 Darsanamala(A garland of vision of the absolute), Atmopadesa-satakam(One hundred verses of self instruction), Advaita Dipika(Lamp of non-dual wisdom), Anukampa Dasakam(Ten verses of mercy), Arivu(Epistemology of Gnosis) Cit-Jada-Cintanam (Reverie on consciousness and matter), Pindanandi(Pre-natal Gratitude), Swanubhava-Giti(Experiential Rhapsody), Daivadasakam(Ten verses to God), Janani Navaratna Manjari (Nine-Jewelled Bouquet to Mother), Kundalini pattu( The song of the kundalini power etc. are some of the popular books written by Guru. These works are incomparable for their haunting melody, sublime concepts and mystic experience.  

Some of the important teachings of Sree Narayana Guru which have  universal relevance are the following:

1) “One caste, one religion, one God for man”  

2) “One in kind, one in faith, one in God is man, of one same womb, one same form, difference none there is at all”

3) “Whatever be the religion of a man, it is enough if it makes him virtuous”

4) “Ask not,  say not, think not caste”

5) “Acts that one performs for one’s own sake should also aim the good of others”

6) “Liquor is poison, make it not, sell it not, drink it not”

7) “ Gain freedom through education”

8) “Gain strength through organization”

9) “Gain prosperity through Industry”

Inspired by the teachings and messages of the Guru, hundreds of temples and other independent organizations came up and are functioning now in the state of Kerala and other places, such as Thalassery Jnanodaya Yogam, Kollam Sree Narayana Trust, Koorkancheri Sree Narayana Bhakta Paripalana Yogam, Moothakunnam HMDP Sabha, and a number of Clubs in Urban areas of all important towns, Mumbai Sree Narayana Mandira Samithi (Holy teeth, the only mortal remains, of Sree Narayana Guru -one wisdom tooth and four artificial teeth used by the Guru- received on 11th January 2004 are kept here)., Coimbatore Sree Narayana Mission, Bangalore Sree Narayana Mandira Samithi, Hyderabad  S N Educational and Cultural Society, Kolkata Sree Narayana Seva Sangham, Delhi Sree Narayana Kendra. Thousands of branches of SNDP, Branches of Narayana Gurukulam functioning in over 16 countries like Fiji, Singapore, Belgium, and America. Organizations in the name of the Guru  in cities like Singapore, London, Chicago and Colombo, Vyasashram in Andhra Pradesh (Yerpedu, near Tirupati), Suka Brahmashram near Sri Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, Sree Narayana Vidyalayam at Payyannur  founded by the last disciple of the Guru Sri. Ananda Theerthar, Gayatri Ashram at Chalakudy founded by Geethananda Swamy,  Sree Narayana Sevika Ashram at Paliathuruthu of North Paravooor Dist. Started by Swamini  Amrutha Matha,  Sree Narayana Shanti Mattom started by Brhmacharini N.K. Thankamma  of Pathanamthitta, Mangala Bharati Ashram,  Thottuvapadi,  Perumbavoor, Sree Narayana Samskarika Samithi, an organization by Govt. servants among the devotees of the Guru etc.etc.

Sri Nataraja Guru, started Narayana Gurukulam In 1932 The Gurukulam offers a way of life in which all should live in unity immersed in eternal bliss, as all are just miniatures of the all pervading Universal Consciousness. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, atheists and agnostics live  together in unity  without any divisive feelings there. Guru Nityachaithanya Yati, and Muni Narayana Prasad nurtured and developed Gurukulam to a world renouned organization. The East West University of Brahma Vidya run  by the Gurukulam is a great institution for comparative philosophical studies.“The Parliament of World Govt.” established   by  Garry David,  a disciple of Nataraja Guru and a world citizen, deserves special mention.   The contributions of  Nataraja Guru’s other disciples, viz. Mr. John Spiers, Swamy Ascharyacharya and Mangalananda Swamy  are also remarkable.  “Gurukulam”, spiritual magazine, is the manifesto of Narayana Gurukulam. Gurukulam  runs a big publishing house,  which publishes books on the studies, interpretations and  criticisms of the Guru’s philosophy, his compositions, and other philosophical works.  The Gurukulam  Convention, held every year during Dec, 23 to 29th is a blessing to the seekers of Truth.  

                  28.08.1855  (1031 Chingam 14, Chathayam ) Born  Vayalvaram house in Chempazhanty (This is the date accepted by Sivagiri Mutt).

                  1860 Initiation to Education by Kannakara Mootha Narayana  Pillai.

                  1860 – 1877 Primary Education in a local school and at home from his father Madan Aasan, and uncle Krishnan Vaidyan – lonely meditations, wandering habits, acquires the name “ Nanu Bhaktan”.

                  1877 – 1880 Higher Education at Kayamkulam, Puduppally, under Kummampalli Raman Pillai Aasan-Boarding and lodging at Varanappalli.

                  1880 - 1888 Roaming about  in different parts of India.  Friendship with Chattambi Swamy – Yoga training from Thykkad Ayyavu-Penance at Maruthvamala - Vision of God - Becomes Narayana Guru and emerges at Aruvippuram.  The first disciple Sivalinga Dasa Swamy joins.

                  1888 - 1891 Installation of Shiva Lingam at Aruvippuram on Sivaratri night of (Kumbham)(12.03.1888)   The first message to humanity in connection with this, “Jaathi bhedam……….” is declared-Starting of Aruvippuram Temple Association.

                  1891 – 1897 Disciples like Bhairavan Swamy, Nischalananda Swamy, Chaithanya Swamy, Kumaran Aasan, Dr. Palpu, C.V Kunju Raman, and Moolur Padmanabha Panikkar, Paravoor Kesavan Aasan etc. are accepted.

                  1897 Composition of Atmopadesa Shathakam.

                  1901 Declared as a sublime Religious Reformer through the Govt. Census Report.  By this time, Guru’s name had spread from Kanyakumari to Mangalapuram.   

                  07.01.1903  Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam established.

                  1904 The Govt. exempts the Guru from appearing in courts. Ayyankali visits the Guru.  Founding of Sivagiri Mutt.

                  1905 The first All India Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition at Kollam on the third anniversary of SNDP.

                  1907 Felicitation by Theosophical Society at Kozhikkod-Indisposed and taking rest at Palakkadu

                  (13.02.1908) Consecration of Thalasseri Jagannadha Temple

                  (13.04.1910 Kozhikkod SreeKanteswaram Temple

                  30.04.1912  Sivagiri Sharada Mutt,

                  1912  Aluva Advaithashram. Ayyappan Pillai (Satya Vrathan), Sahodaran Ayyappan, T.K. Madhavan etc., become disciples.  

                  (21.02.1913 Mangalapuram Gokarnanadha Temple

                  11.04.1916) Kannur Sundareswaram Temple.

                  1916 The Guru’s Shashti Poorthi (60 Years) celebrated all over  Kerala, and in places like Madras, Bombay, Kolkatta, Coimbatore  and Madhurai and in other nations like Singapore, Sree Lanka, Burma & Malaysia.  Declaration that he has no caste.  Meeting Ramana Maharshi  at Thiru- annamalai.

                  1918 The first visit to Sree Lanka. The Guru wore saffron clothes for the first time. Founding of 42 night-schools in Sree Lanka and Vignanodayam Sabha in Colombo.

                  13.05.1921  Installation of lamp at Karamukku temple.

                  1921 Installation of plaque with Satyam, Dharmam, Daya, Shanti, written on it.

                  1921 Anti- liquor slogan as birthday message –

                  1921   Composing “Jati Nirnayam”. All Kerala Brotherhood Association meeting in Advaithashram-message supporting inter-caste marriages and inter-caste dining.

                  22.11. 1922 Viswakavi Ravindranath Tagore and C.F.Andrews visit the Guru at Sivagiri.

                  24.01.1924  Jan 24th The first All Religions’ Meet  in Asia at Aluva Advaithashram.

                    1924         March Starting of Vaikkam Satyagraha.

                  1925   Thulam 15th Foundation laying of Brahmavidyalayam at Sivagiri.

                              March 12th   Visit of Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, E.V Ramasami Naickar.

                  Kanni 11th Appointment of Bodhananda Swami as legal successor-

                  Medam 20th Registration of the Guru’s will.

                  01.09.1926  Second visit to Ceylon.

12.03.1927 Installation of the Guru’s metal statue at Thalassery  by Bodhananda


                  14.06.1927  Installation of mirrors with Om Santhi at Kalavamkodam

                  1928 Jan 9th  Founding of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham

                  Jan 16th  Granted permission to  Sivagiri Pilgrimage-Guru is indisposed.  Journey to Palakkadu, Madras, Trichur, Kochi.

                  May  Rest at Sivagiri

                  May 20th  Nataraja Guru was sent abroad for higher studies

                  July  Swamy Dharma Theerthar receives Sanyasa deeksha

                  August Swamy Ananda Theerthar(last disdiple) receives Sanyasa deeksha.

                  20.09.1928 Thursday, at 3.30 pm Mahasamadhi at Vaidika Mattom in Sivagiri.


Life being social by its very nature is unavoidable with humans.  Safe guarding social harmony is therefore one of the most important imperatives of modern society, particularly in view of the realization that the entire earth has already become a “global village.”  Sadly enough, lack of this harmony creates many problems that continue to torment the modern human race nearly everywhere in the world.  The role played by religions in this disharmony is formidable

We in the Modern Age plead for scientific understanding in all matters.  Why can we not also apply this scientific method in the field of social harmony as well?  Instead, what we do is unconsciously allow ourselves to be dragged along the prejudices of religious identities, racism  and the like.  Why can’t we be motivated by science instead of by prejudice? This problem is not merely of a regional dimension or even a national one, but is of a profoundly global significance.

Our modern system of education helps us to analytically understand the world, ultimately enabling us to make better use of it in order to ensure our pleasure.  This pleasure-seeking inevitably compels us to exploit the world even at the expense of a secure life for our descendants.  Making us pleasure-seekers, greedy and self-centered, is what this educational system has as its ultimate goal.  We thus happen to live in a world with little care for others and little concern for the entire earth and its complex natural systems of life.  To borrow from the terminology of the Bhagavad Gita, this education makes asuras (demons) of us.  Fully developing this demonic nature within us and giving it the opportunity for free play is at the root of most of our modern social and communal ills.  The steady increase in crime, suicide, and unmindful and brutal behavior towards the hapless, are a few examples.

Feuds and violence in the name of religious identity are no exception.  In such situations, religion actually becomes degraded as a pleasure-giving object.  Finding one’s own identity with his religion, particularly for its organized form, and the willingness for self sacrifice for its own sake, often bringing about a consequent disregard for another’s similar identity with his faith, is what gives pleasure in this type of religiousness. In my opinion, the preceding defines what should come to be known as the corrupt form of religion

Religion, in its genuine form, enables us to identify ourselves with the total existence, with the total nature, and with the total Reality.  Knowing and exploiting the world will never be our motive when guided by this genuine sense of religiousness.  On the contrary, we find ourselves with the world, we live as part of the total flow of nature, we realize that which is Real within us is also that which is Real in everyone else as well.  Finally, we find ourselves fully absorbed in to the whole.

This is the experience the genuine teaching of any religion leads us to.   Being tempted to bring the world under our control, bringing others and other objects under our control, or bringing the followers of other religions in to the fold of our own, will never become the motive of anyone who lives a genuinely religious life.  Religious education and religious feeling make each of us feel how ultimately insignificant our transient existence is; how our lives are one with the mysterious Total.  This mysterious Total is variably named in different religions – Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, the Lord, Dharma, Brahman, and Atman are some such names
Those who argue for one’s own religion or against the religion of another are compared by the Guru to the blind men of the famous children’s story who went to see an elephant for the first time.  None of their perceptions is completely wrong.  Yet none of them is totally right.  It is not such incomplete, parochial and closed perception that is to guide our life.  The total perception of life reveals the inner oneness of all religions.  In Guru’s own words: “The essential teaching of various religions is one alone.  Not seeing this, like the blind men who saw an elephant, the ignorant meander in this world arguing in many ways but reaching nowhere.  Witnessing this and restraining oneself, one should remain undisturbed.”
Genuine religion, instead of teaching us how to know, control, and exploit the world, teaches us how to know ourselves and control ourselves so as to be one with the whole, never going against the interest of the Total and of one’s fellow beings.  Such a trait, diametrically opposite to the demonic nature, is also there in each of us and is called daivi sampatti (divine nature) in the Bhagavad Gita.  The modern outlook of believing blindly in the ideology of democracy, which supposedly goes hand-in-hand with secularism, blinds us to such an extent that we completely ignore the divine nature in each of us.  We therefore do not feel the necessity of training ourselves to know and to control ourselves.  This happens even in matters having religious import.  That means that we, in our ignorance, treat even the divine elements in us in a demonic way.  This is the basis in which our contemporary communal problems are primarily rooted.  Religions’ role in human life is that of nurturing the divine nature (daivi sampatti) in each of us.  It makes each individual capable of becoming aware of one’s inseparable oneness with the Total, with the ultimate Reality, with God.  Such awareness gives a new dimension and orientation to the worldly knowledge we gain; it naturally loses its demonic tendency and becomes subservient to divine nature.  Ensuring this sort of self-happiness in all respects is the role of religion in our lives.  It is in this sense that Narayana Guru defined his famous notion of “Oneness of faith” (Oru matam) thus:   
“Everyone in every way strives always to actualize self-happiness
This faith (in self-happiness) is one alone in all the worlds.” (Atmopadesa Satakam, 49)
Recalling this secret constantly saves one from the gravest sin of destroying oneself for the sake of the religion one loves and follows, as well as of destroying others’ who also are equally ardent in their faith in the religion they follow. Religion in short is a personal matter. Treating religion a such makes it scientific and acceptable to modern minds.  Giving it a social dimension corrupts it.  The very religion meant to develop the divine nature in us may thus become the source of the added oil poured on to the already raging fire of demonic nature hiding within us.
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All directives of the Guru derive from the transparent vision he possessed of the ultimate Reality underlying oneself as well as that of the whole world.  Ultimately it is one Absolute Reality or atman that unfolds itself as each of us, as our physical bodies, as the animating principle in us, as all the internal and external functional faculties, and as everything in the world.
The world he thought of is not merely the physical one perceived by modern science.  It is not merely the here and now.  If a hereafter exists at all, that also is not outside the world conceived of by the Guru.  In other words, it is the physical and mental worlds together, the here and the hereafter together, that he conceived of as “the world.”  The ultimate Reality he perceives is the Substance that unfolds itself as “this world.”  He called the reality atman.  The mysterious creative potential hidden in this equally mysterious atman, to unfold itself as all these worlds from itself, is called maya.
What is this all-underlying atman in essence?  It is consciousness or arivu, also called cit or samwit.  The Guru demonstrates it as easily as any modern scientist does in his analytical enquiry.  Take any object; for example, a piece of cloth.  Analyze it.  The cloth disappears in its thread-content.  Analyze the thread and it disappears into the being of cotton fibers.  Analyze the fiber further; it disappears into the being of the five basic elements.  These elements in their pure form, exist nowhere except as principles.  The existence of any principle, in its turn, is only as a knowledge setting formulated in Consciousness or mind, and thus it is Consciousness or arivu or cit that appears as the basic elements as fiber, as threads, as cloth and finally as everything in the world.
The cit in its functionally manifest form, appears as everything, both as mind and matter.  This mind is what conducts the search for the all-underlying Reality.  That Reality is none other than the substances that has assumed the form of the very same mind.  Therefore, what the searching mind has to do to know the all-underlying atma is interiorize its search and realize “I am that” (tat tvam asi). This transparent vision enabled the Guru to give an absolutist norm, not a relative or conditional one, to Ethics, the branch of philosophy that is thought of as a normative science, but hitherto remained without an accepted norm.What is that norm?  The reality that underlines my being is Real in another as well.  Myself and others being one substance, what is good and dear for me should naturally be good and dear for others as well.  This principle, when applied in Ethics, turns out to be the universal and eternal norm:  The actions that ensure happiness to oneself and others alike are good; the actions that ensure happiness to self and causes unhappiness to others are evil.  This is an original idea contributed by the Guru to philosophy in general
Narayana Guru was also the master who condensed the entire teaching of Vedanta into sutra form for the first time since Badarayana composed the traditionally well known Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras.  The ambiguity of that text gave room for various commentaries, keeping us in the dark as to its real intension and vision.  The Vedanta Sutras of Narayana Guru, consisting merely of twenty four sutras, gives no chance for such divergent interpretation.  This particular work makes Narayana Guru the Badarayana of the Age of Science.

The Guru expounded the philosophy of advaita (non-duality) in his own original way in his works such as Atmopadesa Satakam (One Hundred Verses of self Instruction), Advaita Dipika  (Lamp of Non-Duality), Darsana-mala (Garland of Visions of the Absolute), Vedanta Sutras, Brahmavidya Pancakam (Brahmavidya in Five Verses), and other numerous hymns.  His literary works – mostly poems – number around sixty

What did Narayana Guru mean by non-duality?  The non-duality of  bhava and sat, the non-duality of the apparent world and Brahman or atman, the one Reality just as gold and gold ornament forms do not and cannot exist separately, the fleeting apparent world and the eternal all-underlying Reality always remain non-dual. 

Though what we perceive is gold alone, we take it for ornaments; like wise, though we constantly perceive atman, by remaining atman, we think we are perceiving the world.  This is caused by avidya (ignorance).  Even when seen as the world, what really exists remains atman, just as even when a piece of rope is seen as a snake, it still remains a rope.  It is our freedom from this avidya that leads us to the right kind of perception.  It is our liberation from all miseries as well.  In this way, problem and miseries are felt as a part of the self-unfoldment of atman alone.  This is how we became liberated from all dualities and miseries.

This philosophy of oneness found expression in Narayana Guru’s life as compassion toward everyone and every being.  As each living being is simply a different manifest form of one and the same atman, the same atman within each of us – killing a living being means to kill oneself or one’s own brother in the self, as act no one would consciously choose to do. The Guru therefore became an ardent promoter of the ahimsa, the vow of not hurting.

This very same compassion found expression in another way as his campaign against casteism, a social phenomenon that categorizes human society into various levels, from the untouchable pariahs to the most pure and holy Brahmin.  This social system has existed all through the history of India, vitiating its entire social fabric.  The Guru declared openly how casteism was unscientific.  Every species that begets children through the mating of males and females belongs to one jati or kind.  Accordingly, those who are treated as pariahs and Brahmins belong to one jati.  The entire human race thus  belongs to one jati.  The social movement against casteism that was inspired by the Guru’s call was something unprecedented in the history of India perhaps in the entire history of human race.  Its impact on India, particularly in the state of Kerala, was spectacular.  Despite all such social developments that grew up around him, he remained a jnanin, a yogin,  tapasvin, par excellence, unmarred by anything, although sharing an interest in all things.
The prevalence of casteism is also caused by avidya.  Helping each individual to liberate himself from this avidya is what religion is expected to accomplish.  What is called avidya by the Guru is not basically different from the sin conceived of by Semitic religions

Different religions, or rather religious movements, at this point, find their intrinsic oneness.  It is in order to enlighten the elite as well as the layman of this basic truth, that Narayana Guru organized a Parliament of Religions, the first of this kind in Asia, in 1924, at his ashram at Aluva.  At the entrance was written in huge letters, “Not for arguing and winning but for knowing and letting know.”  At the close of this Parliament, he officially declared a decision to establish a mata-mahapatasala, a school to teach all religions with a sense of sympathy and a quest for knowing, at this ashram at Varkala.

Such an open-heartedness with regard to religion is what imminently need in this Age of Reason.  This open-heartedness is to be present in one’s own religious congregation.  Creating such an atmosphere is not the responsibility of laymen but of the priests and monks, or bhikshus and sannyasins.

Let us be scientific, open-minded, and practical in our religiousness and the related responsibility, rather than being dogmatic, close-minded and impractical.  On the one hand, a scientific and broad-minded revisualization of our religiousness will definitely ensure a bright future both for humanity and for religion.  The other attitude, on the other hand, is doomed to be destructive.  Religions really are meant for making human life happy.  We should not let the very same religion become the cause of making human life miserable.

Let us dedicate ourselves to the noble cause of ensuring enlightened harmony among various religious followings, with an open-minded mutual understanding.  All of the world’s religions teach us to love one another.  Let us not allow these very same religions to become instruments of social and communal hatred.

Natraj Guru- Lover of Humanity.

While strolling amongst the stately trees at Ootty with Nataraja Guru one day in the spring of 1956, he said, "To be a lover of humanity, one first must acknowledge its existence. This is difficult for most people to do. It means giving up many false notions. We continued walking in silence. The immense calm of the forest, with the sun's rays scarcely penetrating their foliage, the wonderfully mild climate and his homely yet strangely impersonal kindness soothed me immensely after the hurly-burly of America and Europe.

"Lover of humanity?" It was the first time I had heard the phrase. It had a strange ring. How could one love all humanity? Wasn't love a strictly personal emotion one felt toward another individual or to ones' family, or to a sport or a favorite food, in other words, to some one or something with which one identified personally? How could you identify personally with humanity as such? How could one even grasp the reality of humanity in order to "love" it? True, I had read much science fiction in my teens. "Humanity" was often pitted against alien races in distant galaxies or far-off star systems. Invariably "home" planet was "Mother Earth," and I came to regard this notion as natural, even banal, as most self-evident facts are. My "travels" in space and even time thanks to Issac Asimov, Arthur Clarke and Ted Sturgeon allowed me to "leave home" mentally and emotionally and to return not without theoretical appreciation. But to accept the reality, the existence of humanity, as the Guru demanded for its "lovers" required a dimensional leap in sheer comprehension, almost an acceptance on faith bypassing one's already acceptance of lesser groupings such as family, nation and even corporation. Yet was not the extension more than logical, more than reasonable? Did not all lesser groupings by definition derive from "common" humanity? To love the part therefore without loving the whole was to be ignorant of its very source.

As I was pondering these thoughts, the Guru stopped and looked at me, his head slightly cocked. I think, he started slowly in that deliberate way of his, "You are a true lover of humanity." I stared at him my feelings mixed. "Love" and "humanity" were not yet a pair in my mind. Love was personal and humanity an abstraction. Yet some how, I sensed the rightness of allying them, even the necessity. I was strangely pleased if not fully comprehending the significance. Now, more than a quarter of a century later, I am beginning to understand just what it means to be a "lover of humanity." And to what commitments such an individual is enjoined.
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Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru, as indeed all "proper" Gurus, identified directly with humanity as the identified with humanity's creator. The two were recognized as corollaries, as inseparable as the individual with his/her creator. ("Love thy humanity as thyself" was as valid an injunction for the 20th century human as "Love thy neighbor as thyself" was for the 1st century human.) Just as they refer "back-wards" to their own teacher, so they acknowledge former masters or sages as proponents or examples of this dynamic relationship.

Thus, the human microcosm and macrocosm became in their person’s dynamic bi-polarities - to use the language of dialectics - to be taken always and inevitably together.

When contemplating the precious dialectics of this mystical yet ever-regenerating union flowing inexorably through time, the Guru once told me he could not repress a sense of ecstasy coursing through him.

Through the years, in my work as world citizen, I have found few fellow "lovers of humanity."

Many acknowledge humanity's existence and proclaim its right to survive and prevail, but that is not the same as loving it. To love is to be willing to die for one's love. There are millions to die for their country or maybe their religion, though that is less evident. Nationalism is the 20th century religion, the later day "golden calf" around which humans gather in worship and love. But die for humanity? For planet earth? Who or what is threatening it? We are not being attacked from outer space.... yet. And though the insect world seems to be deadly and hardy enough to out-survive the human race, still we are holding our own it appears.

Yet the threat to humanity itself has become increasingly apparent since 1945. Just as humanity has not only endangered other species on its home planet but forever eliminated them in its crude and thoughtless expansion so it is today endangering itself by itself with the unthinkable potential of eliminating itself entirely at least from earth.

When Nataraja Guru was teaching at the International School in Geneva in the late 40' s he used to listen to the daily broadcasts of the United Nations' debates. It became soon apparent to him he said, that what was missing was a representative of humanity itself at the UN. Among all those state delegates, no one "loved" humanity enough to place humanity's interests above those of his particular nation.
Then later, when I met him for the first time on the S. S. America in 1950 going from Europe to the United States he told me that renouncing U. S. nationality was equivalent to an Indian taking a vow of Sannyasin both being required for a direct affiliation with humanity’s wisdom heritage. My claim to world citizenship, he added, was nothing more or less than a manifestation of wisdom-seeking. I immediately rebelled against this ludicrous notion that I was seeking wisdom rather than a political solution to the nation-state's dilemma of war making. " If you are a true wisdom-seeker." he said, sensing my rejection, "you will have to test my claim to be a Guru or wisdom teacher. How else can you find out whether it is valid or not? On the other hand, if wisdom does not interest you, you will simply run away."
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As I was in the "wilderness" of intellectual depression at that precise moment secretly I would have listened to the devil himself if he had promised to teach me wisdom. Besides I had enough confidence in my own value structure and intelligence to be able to discern a true teacher from a phony. Inconsistencies would eventually reveal themselves. I told myself besides the obvious fact that deeds and words had to equate.

The fulfilling lesson I have learned since then is that the maturing of wisdom in one goes side by side with the capacity to love. This again may seem banal to the reader yet upon reflection, the relationship between knowledge and love has, to my mind, not been realized fully by many otherwise qualified teachers.
Nataraja Guru's statement that I was a "lover of humanity," came only after I had traveled to India to sit at his feet, as it were, as a wisdom disciple. Though I was at that time only a humble disciple, the mere fact of recognition of his Guru hood, therefore the "existence" of Wisdom itself, confirmed in his mind that my claim to world citizenship and thus membership in Humanity as such, qualified me as its "lover."

The religious world has difficulty with "humanity." Inclusive humanity confronts exclusive religion head-on. What the former affirms by its very existence the latter denies by its partiality. While God is affirmed as sole creator and ultimate sovereign by religion. His creation is denied in its entirety. Jesus Christ, for example, it is written, gave two commandments to his followers: Love God and love thy neighbor (as thyself). He did not admonish them to "love humanity." It wasn't until the 19th century that a latter-day prophet, Bahaullah, stated boldly that " The world is one country and mankind its citizens." To this revolutionary notion he added, "Let not a man glory in that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."

In commemorating Nataraja Guru's birthday, we implicitly are recognizing a " lover of humanity." We are thereby acknowledging humanity's existence and in turn our own vital and vitalizing kinship with it as a "being" in itself.

Humanity's "birth” is recent, concurrent with the worldwide communications network. The "baby" is demanding our attention, our resources and ... our love. Eventually and we trust soon, historically speaking, it must become "reasonable," accepting to abide by the Creator's already established rules.

Nataraja Guru, with Narayana Guru preceding him and Guru Nitya following him, as all Gurus and saviors before them, manifest these divine rules for the good of all and the general good of our Mother/Father: Humanity itself.

Let us dedicate ourselves anew, as “Lovers of Humanity" for in that divine lover is both our communal and personal "salvation."

Guiding Light

In olden days sailors had the pole star to guide them, though they never reached it. Every word of the Guru helped to light my life’s path of darkness and ignorance. To unravel the distant scene was never my quest, but each step was enough and important, and that was guided by the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru.
The great poet Mahakavi Kumaran Asan initiated me into the world of education. I knew not this greatness then, perhaps the majority of the literate world of Kerala too were yet to acknowledge his greatness. Little did I know that he was the torchbearer of the great Guru. His arrival was to introduce the suffering masses of north Malabar to the new world of light and knowledge brought by Sree Narayana Guru.

I must have been ten or eleven years old when my father the late Murkot Kumaran took the entire family to meet Sree Narayana Guru who was visiting Tellicherry. Reclining on a sofa, wearing snow-white dhoti and shawl, the Guru beckoned me towards him. He took out a banana from the bunches that were in front of him, and gave it to me. I straightaway ate it and put the peels in my shorts pocket. About seventy-five years later I consider it as the symbol of all that he had to give me in life. I do not remember the Guru having said anything to me. I knew he was looking straight at me. I will never forget those eyes. But as years passed by my mind often flash back at those radiant eyes, full of kindness, love, deep wisdom and eternal bliss. Many people ask me about his colour. The Guru was neither dark, nor fair. His face seemed to have a tinge of golden hue. Since it was long ago, I am not sure whether it is in my own memory or what I must have heard hundreds of times from my parents. Penetrating my memory to call them my own. The Guru got up. He seemed very tall to me. He naturally towered above me. He stood straight as a rod and moved slowly. My father and others had many things to inform him. We left. Little did I realise then, that I had a glimpse of one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time. As years rolled by his figure often comes back to me, day or night, awake or asleep and his words throw light across my life’s path, and help stones and thorns to turn soft. Thunder lighting and storm of one’s life fade into pleasant sunshine or smooth moonlight.

A couple of years later my father asked me join in the ‘Elanneer Abishekam’ when young and old carried tender coconuts to the Jagannatha temple which was consecrated by the Guru. Prior to the actual day we had to fast, for seven days. ‘Kottiyoor’ temple had such functions from ancient times.

Avarnas had to keep their offerings far away from that ancient temple and money tied at the end of a cloth along with stones and throws it towards the temple. They were later collected by the temple authorities. Those who carried coconuts sang filthy songs on the way. In the same day that festival was celebrated the Guru decided to have the same festival at Jagannatha temple also. Rows of devotees carrying tender coconuts uttered ‘Om’ all the way. Gone were the dirty songs at one stroke. Those who were not treated as human beings at ‘Kottiyoor’, became self confident with newly acquired dignity, approached their own temples, as a whole countryside resounded with the cry of ‘Om’. By consecrating temples of Sree Narayana Guru instilled in us self-confidence and dignity as human beings. He reformed temples too even installing a mirror. We were being slowly promoted primary, secondary, to University classes of Sanatana Dharma without annoying any one without trying to pull down those who claimed to be higher. With self-confidence, hard work the Guru was taking the people up the ladder step by step towards the concept of Adwaita.

“Unite and be strong, educate and be free; industralise and be prosperous” were his dictums. Unite for helping each other. ‘Unity’ was not meant to revolt against others or their custom. He wanted those deprived human beings to stand on their own legs. The Guru did not believe that his followers should beg for help from others. Hence his advice “educate and be free”, free from the dictates of others, as well as superstitions. He organized educational institutions. “We will stop building temples we’ll concentrate on educational institutions”, he had said. He did not stop there. Cottage industries, agriculture and all activities that would make the people prosperous attracted his attention. When some leaders wanted the Guru’s blessings for starting the pilgrimage to Shivagiri, he advised that lectures, exhibitions, classes should be conducted during the period to educate the people on various subjects like agriculture, cottage industries, science and technology. Years later when the first Prime Minister of India deputed me to serve the tribal people of north east India, the advice of the Guru was of great use to me as Nehru also wanted us to instill self confidence in the tribal people and help them to stand on their own legs, give them facilities for education, cottage industries and health care.

Guru’s most famous lines etched on the walls of the first temple he constructed in 1888 were:

“Without difference in Caste Or rancour of religion This is a noble abode Where all live like brothers”.

This is the forerunner of the preamble and basic structure of independent India’s Constitution formulated in 1950. To these lines could be added another of his famous dictum. “One Caste, One Religion, One God for man”. Guru’s concept that the entire human beings belong to one Caste is reflected in the Constitution as adult franchise. All human beings are equal in the voters’ list of India. This was not so before independence. There were separate electorates and human beings were divided in the name of religion. We have had to pay a heavy price for it. We have to follow Sree Narayana Guru who gave us the basic structure of democracy and secularism long before our elders even dreamt of an independent India.
Those like me who had the opportunity privilege and honour of having received the blessings of the Guru and grew up in an atmosphere permeated with the Guru’s teachings and with parents who helped us to fully imbibe his dictums, his poetical works, it was like preparing to live and work in independent India whose Constitution particularly the basic structure was a replica of Guru’s thoughts, dictums and mission.



It’s always the same. Either a communal issue is politicised or a political issue is communalised. The latest controversy in Kerala concerns the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the ‘Vaikom satyagraha’, a historic, though in itself minor event, that was essentially one of civil rights and not of religious freedom. The satyagraha began when the priests of a famous and most holy temple in Vaikom, a town just south of Cochin, as a matter of policy decided to prohibit the use of a road adjacent to the temple by members of the lower castes. Christians and Muslims could use it but not the Hindu lower castes.

The civil disobedience movement that ensued began in 1924 and caste Hindus as well as outcastes participated. Nairs and the followers of Sri Narayana Guru, spiritual leader of the Ezhavas (or Thiyas,), all joined in the agitation to recover the public road for all citizens. The government forbade the demonstrations and deployed police detachments to guard the road. Vaikom is a very low-lying area and during the monsoons the road became flooded, but the demonstrators kept up their picketing even in the worst weather, often standing in water neck-deep, while the police carried on their vigil in boats. This satyagraha received nation-wide attention. In1925, at the height of the campaign, Gandhiji visited Vaikom and worked out a typical Gandhian compromise by which all the roads in the area were thrown open to all except for a small stretch outside the temple itself. It was four more years before the satyagrahis finally won their battle against the priests.

The current silly and nonsensical controversy has been stirred up by (who else?) Sangh Parivar spokesman who have questioned the appropriateness of the Congress party inviting Sonia Gandhi to inaugurate the jubilee celebrations. Isn’t Sonia a Christian? Some say she is, others say she is Hindu by marriage (though Rajiv’s father was a Parsi, but never mind that). The Vaikom satyagraha, in fact, was supported by Hindus and non-Hindus in large numbers and at least one famous atheist, E.V. Ramaswami Naicker.

The main thrust of the agitation was provided by Harijans, led by Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru. The Guru’s slogan, 'One caste, one religion and one god for men’ became the motto of a progressive movement that brought about the historic Temple Entre Proclamation (1936) by the Maharaja of Travancore, the first of its kind in India, which opened the holy places of the State to all Hindus irrespective of caste. A similar campaign in Guruvayoor in Malabar in 1931 also helped the cause of radical reforms throughout Kerala. Here, demonstrators tore down the iron fence around the temple, which the British government then closed completely. The campaign was eventually called off.

The Vaikom satyagraha threw up two important leaders; Mannath Padmanabha Pillai, a caste Hindu (Nair) who led the Nair Service Society (NSS), and T.K. Madhavan, and Ezhava who was a staunch Gandhian and a leader of the Sri Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam. Of these, historically, Madhavan was the more important, but there is at present an attempt by Sangh Parivar intellectuals to promote Padmanabha Pillai.

Sri Narayana Guru’s efforts to reform Hindu worship and his philosophy of ‘one God, one Religion’ had certain important repercussions. The idea of united Kerala came out of his efforts to build temples for the powerful Thiya community of Malabar. The political fragmentation of the land of the Malayalee into Travancore, Cochin and Malabar had been hampering their cultural progress. The dream of Aikya Kerala was fulfilled in 1957 twenty-nine years after Sree Narayana’s death.

Gandhi’s visit to Vaikom and his involvement with the satyagraha, and later his meeting with Narayana Guru in Sivagiri (Varkala) had an important influence on the freedom struggle and on the Indian National Congress. The fight against casteism and communalism became an important part of the Congress party’s national programme.

At Sivagiri, Gandhi learned that the Guru trained untouchable boys for priesthood along with other Hindu children. The Sivagiri Ashram was also engaged in reviving handicrafts and cottage industries.

Gandhiji always had an ambivalent attitude to caste. He was thoroughly against untouchability, but he believed that varnashrama was a divinely ordained concept. (This was the bone of contention between Gandhi and Ambedkar, who maintained that so long as there was caste, there would be outcastes). At the Sivagiri Ashram, Gandhiji, trying to convert the Guru to his orthodox view, cited the examples of the leaves of the mango tree in the Ashram; they differed in size. The Guru countered by saying, ‘But does not their juice taste the same, having one and the same quality?’

‘So are all men in essence. Man everywhere belongs to one caste, one species.’

Guru and Brahmanisation Dr.J.Bhaskaran

Articles about Sree Narayana Guru

Ever since M.N. Srinivas formulated his theory of Sanskritisation also called Brahmanisation and Aryanisation. Sociologists and Historians have been enamoured of this theory. They apply this theory to the benign activities of Sree Narayana Guru and content that what he did in Kerala for the upliftment of the downtrodden conforms to this theory. They argue that he established temples on the model of those of the higher castes and that he employed his own people to perform pujas in those temples. Some even go to the extent of saying that he initiated such persons into Brahminhood, gave them the sacred thread and added to their names the title ‘Sharma’ to indicate their Brahminhood. In the recent issue of Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi (3-9 Dec 1995) there appeared an article to this effect. Not content with this, the writer has averred that Sree Narayana Guru questioned the supremacy of the Brahmins not by rejecting it but by himself becoming a Brahmin. This is quite unfounded.

Before examining it we have to note what Srinivas means by Sanskritisation. He says, “Sanskritisation is the process by which a low Hindu caste or tribal or other group, changes its customs, ritual, ideology and way of life in the direction of a high and frequent ‘twice-born’ caste. Generally such changes are followed by a claim to a higher position in the caste hierarchy than that traditionally conceded to the claimant caste by the local community,” (M.N. Srinivas, Social Change in Modern India. Page.6) of course there is a phenomenon like this in Indian society, which is even now caste-ridden. But the activities of the Guru cannot be equated with this. Some of the reasons may be explained here.

1. According to the Guru there is no “high” or “low” castes among human beings. All of them alike belong to one caste, the homo sapiens, as the Scientists call them.

2. When he installed a Sivalinga at Aruvippuram in the Neyyattinkara Taluk in 1888 he got inscribed on the temple wall his motto to this effect: “This is bound to become a model place where people live in brotherhood without any distinction of caste or hatred arising from religious differences”.

3. When he was questioned about his authority to install a Sivalinga that was the monopoly of the Brahmins, he coolly remarked that he installed an Ezhava Siva. If he were aiming at equalization with the Brahmins he would not have said like this.

4. The very concept of temples of the Guru differs from that of the higher castes. For him the temples should be the seat of learning and agents for the insemination of culture. The main temple should be he school, he said and to symbolize this he established a temple for Sharada, the Goddess of learning, at Sivagiri. He asked people to rear gardens around temples so that they may come and breathe pure air intermingling themselves in the meanwhile. The temple building itself should be neat and airy and allowing easy access to sunlight. They should not emulate the old temples that were the abode of darkness and superstition. In the conduct of festivals also he established new norms deviating from those of the higher castes emphasizing on avoidance of wastage. He insisted that there should be a library adjacent to every temple. The only way to make man better was to enlighten him be regarding and making him listen to learned discourses.

5. Just before Guru’s mahasamadhi in 1928, he granted permission to conduct a pilgrimage to Sivagiri every year by his devotees. The aims to be achieved by such a holy deed have been enumerated by him thus:

§ Spread of education.

§ Need for observing cleanliness.

§ Devotion to God.

§ Necessity of organizing the people.

§ Progress in agriculture.

§ Boosting business.

§ Handicrafts.

§ Training in Science and Technology.

This proves that he was not aping anybody in this case also. In fact it is doubtful whether anybody before him has thought on similar lines. He was specifically drawn a contrast from the famous Sabarimala pilgrimage saying that the pilgrims to Sivagiri need not take any baggage, in well-known irumudikettu, which is a must for the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

6. Fortunately for us he has warned against the perils of Brahmanisation. Once during a conversation pointing out the struggle for supremacy by Vasishta and Viswamitra has to surmount so many difficulties for surviving to become Brahmin. If that is the case with them, the Guru asks, what a perilous thing it would be if a man belonging to the so-called low caste that is far away from the caste ladder tries to become a Brahmin. This speaks volumes about the Guru’s attitude to Brahmanisation. Again when one of his followers who has been trained to perform puja (religious rite to the deity) in temples began to wear the sacred thread under the mistaken impression that it is the real mark of Brahminhood, the Guru jokingly asked whether he used to tie his keys on the thread as is done by a set of Brahmins.

7. During another conversation the Guru has dismissed the notion that the sacred thread is something really sacred. Once he met a group of young students belonging to the so-called low caste studying under a Brahmin Guru. The Guru enquired about the sincerity of the teacher in imparting them instruction. They said that he was ready to part with everything for their sake except his sacred thread. The Guru said, “that can be bought in the market.

8. There is yet another episode to prove that he was not for Brahmanisation. Once the authorities of a temple established by the Guru were discussing the question of appointing a ‘Shanti’ (priest) for the temple. Somebody suggested that a ‘Potti’ (Tulu Brahmin) resided nearby and that he was well-versed in the art of performing pujas in temples and that his services may be hired for the purpose. On hearing this, the Guru remarked: “in that case what have gone will come back in the near future”.

It s true that his activities have been instrumental for the upliftment of the downtrodden. But his aim was the well being of entire society and all castes and communities have been benefited by his activities. His outlook was humanitarian, he being compassion incarnate. A Guru filled through and through with compassion for the whole creation cannot engage in sectarian work.

Sree Narayana Guru was a Jinvanmukta, liberated while living by all means and his love for humanity made him come down from his high pedestal and work for it. He sacrificed, in the words of the poet Kumaran Asan, who was one of his close followers, his life, the body and even penance for doing good for others

The vision of Sree Narayana Guru

That prophets are not honoured at home is an accepted fact. Hence it is rare indeed that Sree Narayana Guru is honored as a visionary and prophet to take his lead to bring about deliberate changes in the history of a group of people around him. At least two million people of a country treated him as God incarnate and as their deliverer. He remained as a contemplative catalyst, absorbed always in natural quietude, with sublime calmness and inner clarity. No wonder, poet Rabindra Nath Tagore after his visit to Guru at his ashram expressed himself as : “ I have been touring different parts of the world… I have the good fortune to come in to contact with several saints and Maharshis. But I frankly admit that I can never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Sree Narayana Guru of Malayalam…. I shall never forget his radiant face illuminated by the self-effulgent light of divine glory and his yogic eyes whose gaze fixed at a far more remote point in the distant horizon.”

Sree Narayana Guru, a saint and socio-religious reformer of the last century hails from the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. His life and teachings carry enormous significance not only to the people of Kerala but to the world-community as well. Born and brought up in the avarna  community of Ezhavas, Narayana-Nanu for short-invariably maintained righteous conduct and an infinite compassion for suffering people. He displayed several noble attributes even as a boy. One instance can be cited from his school days : one day when he was returning from the local school he saw his friends hurling stones at a mendicant sannyasin, amused by his curious appearance. Nanu tried his best to restrain them  from attacking the mendicant. Failed and in utter helplessness he cried aloud thus succeeded in refraining the others from their sinful deed.

Guru spent the whole of his life for the up-liftment and betterment of the outcastes and down-trodden people of Kerala. He was a’religious preceptor’, Guru of the Indian tradition, at the same time a ‘social revolutionary’ who never wanted to escape from the hard realities of life of the common man. His very life, writings and teachings all  meant for the common man, the suffering and poor folk with no barriers of cast or clime. His philosophy is derived mostly from his own experiences of solitary penance which culminated in a cave at Maruthuamalai in the Kannyakumari district of Tamilnadu. It was here that he attained liberation and became a jivanmukta. His systematic training in Sanskrit and Vedanta philosophy, his profound and accurate understanding of the Darshanas, his critical outlook, philosophical discussions and constant meditation, all helped him to develop a plan of action to stop the miseries of the lives of the laymen.

Guru was a man of few words, neither an eloquent orator nor a prolific writer. Yet he did some compositions mostly in Malayalam, a few in Sanskrit and one in Tamil, namely, Tevarappatinkankal – Five Hymns extolling God. A topic-wise analysis of these works reveals the fact that they reflect the various stages of the life of Guru. At the first stage he was a wandering sadhaka, a devotee in total seclusion. As such his earlier writings were mystical, devotional hyms; hyms of bhakti. In the second stage of a full –fledged tapaswin, he wrote short essays notable for their depth of thought.At the final stage of a yogin, he was a ‘Jnanin in action’ when the philosophical works like Atmospadesasatakam (One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction) and Darsanamala (Garland of Vision)- the typical and authoritative works of his philosophy were born.

Guru had remarkable proficiency in Tamil. In addition to his original Tamil work, he has attempted translations of Tamil works too. The translation of the 32 kurals of the 1330 kurals or maxims of the immortal Tamil work of Thirukkural of the great Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar is worth mentioning. Three of which are stated as:

1.    Bhagaval Swarup sthuti : In the praise of Lord’s real image-dealing with Almighty, the Supreme Truth and the Sea of Righteousness. He refers to God as endowed with gunas or siddhis including anima(minute-ness), grima (grossness) and mahima(greatness). Worshipping at his feet alone one can cross the samsara sagara and attain salvation

2.     Varsha Varnam (In praise of rain): Rain is described as the nectar for the world, pouring down as elixir for the survival of the world. There will be endless suffering and even religious rites will be held up if clouds refuse to pour down.

3.    Sannyasamahatmyam (the glory of Sannyasa) : About the greatness of sannyasis he says, he who subdues the five elephants, namely the five senses with the hook of knowledge becomes the seed that sprouts in the mokshabhumi (field of salvation). This world is vulnerable to the ignorant and lowly but great sages have the power to subjugate them and achieve anything they want.

The objective of Guru’s mission are many and varied :
1.    Moral reconstruction and spiritual elevation of the people :
One of Guru’s cardinal aims was that the spiritual level of the people of Kerala in general and Ezhavas in particular should be raised in gradual but steady progression. The caste system was so rabid and wildly practiced in Kerala that the lower community people were denied even the right to worship the God of their choice. Caste has a structured hierarchy for its durability with an equal hierarchy of Gods. The lower communities were allowed to worship only the most inferior of gods like ghouls, devils, succubs and mad ghosts, Kali and other blood thirsty goddesses. They were restrained from worshipping gods other than lower deities. Sacrifices of birds and animals (blood sacrifices), drunken revelry, witchcraft and black magic were resorted to in the temples. These restrictions actually affected the intellectual capacity and the quality of mind of mind of the common man. Progress demands self  confidence and self assertion. It was this crude and morbid state of the social mind of Kerala that Sree Narayana Guru started treating with the ‘magic of minimum dose’ of spirituality. The ailing mind is to be made healthy by cleansing it and simultaneously treating it. In this process Guru exhorted them to exclude the mischievous and malevolent forces of nature from the sphere of worship. He consecrated temples and shrines for eliminating the dreadful fears of the average man who was the victim of imposed ignorance and repressive denials. Gradually, step by step, he raised the average man to resume the path of discovering God and equality before God.

2.    Reforms in Temple and worship :
Guru is deeply moved by the pathetic life of the common man : the ill-fed and down-trodden man of the street. For those people who cannot rise to the level of mystic experience or contemplative wisdom, Guru promoted the worship of a personal God. For that he established temples where these neglected members of society can live out their cherished desire to worship a personal God. The temple installations of Guru can be understood under two phases : Under the first phase, his installations were confined to Idols and under the second phase, they were in the form of symbols. During the early days of his Sannyasi life a group of natives from Aruvippuram represented him that the backward classes of people were denied entry in the temple controlled by the upper classes. In those days temples of worship became the monopoly of the rich and influential savarnas or upper castes. The avarnas have to take refuge with crude gods like Madan and Maruta Guru reformed this practice through his installations or prathistas of over fifty temples at different places. Mention may be made of three of them:

  a.)    Aruvippuram Siva Prathista: On the Sivarathri day in 1888, on the eastern bank of river Neyyar at Aruvippuram, in the presence of devotees and at about 3’0 clock in the morning, Guru walked in to the flowing river water, went down in its depth and emerged with a stone, shaped like a Sivalinga,  and installed the Idol on a pedestal and performed the abhisheka / pooja by sprinkling water over it. This marked the beginning of Guru’s reform of worship and the concept of temple. It was a historic and momentous event that the orthodox sections of society raised a hue and cry about it; Guru’s reply was  remarkable : “I  have installed only the Ezhava Siva” In fact Guru blew the trumpet of change with his momentous utterance on the occasion : “ this is an ideal place where everyone lives in fraternity with no differences between castes and no hostilities between religions”. Though a religious renovation, it became a part of the social revolution of Kerala.

  b.) Murukkumpuzha prathista : The prathista (installation) at Murukkumpuzha is an inscription ‘aum’ with a plaque engraved on it with the words : “ Truth, Righteousness, love and Compassion’. A very revolutionary concept of worshipping these words carrying the message that God lives in mind. 

  c) The Mirror installation: The most significant of all installations of Guru was  in Kalavankodam near Cherthala in Kerala where in a temple instead of an Idol, a mirror was placed on the pedestal revealing the highest vedantic principle of identity of Atman and Brahman.

  d)    Guru’s attempts to intellectualise and spiritualise the social atmosphere found another milestone in the   Chidambaranatha (Siva) temple at Karamukhu Trichur. The people built a temple here by their own efforts and at the auspicious moment of installation ceremony, Guru asked for a lamp instead of an idol which he placed on the mounting, lighted and said “ let there be light”

3. Social reforms:
  a)    Guru took note of the many of the worn out practices and customs that afflicted the  people. His clearing of the serpent grove in Mavelikkara unique in this respect. Kavu (grove)  in Kerala is a thick piece of jungle (serpent grove) considered to be the abode of the fierce deity kali for whom blood sacrifices and drunken bouts were everyday affairs. For the simple folk some of these kavus were centers of nightmarish fears that if they interfered with them they would become victims of serpents or wrath of Kali. In his attempts to reform the society, Guru urged the people to put an end to the superstitious fears associated with the serpent groves and bring them under proper use.     

   b)    His attempts at the internal cleansing of the community is also well known.  The discarding of the custom of mock marriages in families, the termination of the practices of thirandukuli or announcement of puberty for girls and pulikkudi(the practice of the husband feeding the wife with tamarind pulp in the seventh month of the first pregnancy) were welcomed and accepted as progressive lines of development.  

Narayana Guru was a social revolutionary. He had a universal vision of humanity. He held that the different peoples of different countries, cultures, regions and origins are but units of a single world society. His message of ‘One Caste, One Religion, One God for man’ had an electrifying effect up on the Kerala society which had been dubbed as a ‘mad house of castes’ by Swami Vivekananda. On the other hand, the message on account of its simplicity and intelligibility, profoundly appealed to the masses who were longing for equality for centuries. The intellectual, the learned, their radical and the revolutionary in spite of their differences of opinion, recognized its intrinsic merit where the frivolous factionalism of the old order should be replaced by the spirit of unity and basic accord. The social equality between the oppressor and the oppressed; the tormentor and the tormented in a caste-ridden society lies only in the re-conditioning and re-casting of the mind beyond the reach of caste. This is the message Guru wanted to convey.
The epigrammatic expression ‘liquor is poison, drink not, give not and make not it’ though un-meaningful today was the lone voice raised so convincingly and confidently by Guru, after Buddha many centuries earlier, for the intellectual, moral and spiritual elevation of man. Liquor induces morbidity whereas sane action in society requires sane thinking. Guru held that the aberrant addict is as guilty as the maker of the liquor for the de-generation of the society.

In many of his dialogues Guru discusses the case of ‘One Religion’. According to him, there is nothing illogical about the idea of One Religion. Actually one religion can cover all the religions of the world which have a common aim although they are taught by different teachers with slight difference according to places and periods. All religions are for the salvation of mankind. His famous composition ‘Atmopadesasatakam’ contains a chapter on Mata mimamsa – Critique of religion. Verse No. 44 presents the idea of One Religion in the following manner : The normative essence of everybody’s conviction is the same. Those who do not know this secret become fanatical in establishing relativistic points of view and argue like the proverbial blind men who went to ‘see’ the elephant and couldn’t agree between them in the description of the animal. In essence all religions are one. No amount of fighting or mutual attack can abolish a religion or conquer a religion. Further more, the essential goal to which all religions aim at is one and the same thing – attainment of perpetual happiness or highest bliss. The verse reads like this : “all beings at all times, everywhere, are exerting themselves to obtain happiness. This quest for happiness is the ‘One Religion’ in the world of which no one has any dispute. Knowing this, one should restrain from being lured in to any sign of fighting one’s own fellow beings’.

It is interesting to note that Narayana Guru did not mention any particular religion by his idea of One Religion. Unlike Swami Vivekananda who extolled Vedanta as the salvation of mankind, Guru encouraged the study of all religions by saying that religions are only guides in man’s quest to seek the supreme. He says : “whatever be his religion, man must be good”. The question is not what a man’s religion is, but whether the religion in which a man believes is conducive to his betterment, whether it helps him to become a better man. Hence according to Guru, the choice of religion must be left to people themselves. They can believe in any religion depending up on their taste provided it would make them good men in the world. The function of religion is to turn the hearts of men upward and hence for the seeker of truth religions are finger posts pointing out the direction of spiritual growth and perfection

Guru realized that temples serve other purpose than simple God worshipping. Thy can be instrumental in changing the whole life-style of the people, educating, organizing, creating awareness in the minds of people of their enslavement and social oppression. His temple installations are symbolic and hence are great instruments for the spiritual, social and economic uplift of the masses.
Narayana Guru is a great philosopher of the advaita tradition. Just a mention of the concluding verse of his seminal work. ‘Atmopadesasatakam’ reveals this : “I am neither this, not that, nor is the content of what is perceived as being, know it to be pure existence, all-embracing consciousness and joy immortal. Be brave with such a vision, discard all attachment to being and not-being and gently merge in that Truth that fills all with enlightenment, peace and serene joy”. But Guru did not stop with this theory of oneness of Brahman, he combined with it the traditional ideals of love and service wherein lies his uniqueness. He translated his position into the service of man, effected a revolution of the advaita doctrine in terms of practical ethics. He was a thinker moved by the hard realities of life attempting to apply the theoretical advaita into the realm of life, explaining everything in terms of the non-difference principle. He continued to remind humanity that temples are necessary to spread the light in the minds of common man. They should not generate darkness in the mind of man. Spreading the rays of new light in the minds of man-that is the cardinal message of Sree Narayana Guru
(Dr. D. Nesy is the professor and head of the department of philosophy, University of Kerala)