PREFACE

First published in 1975 the original Malayalam edition of this volume had a good reception at the hands of the reading public. Discerning critics like the late Pro. Joseph Mundassery, Shri. K.P.S.Menon, Justice Shri. V.R.Krishna Iyer and others were generous enough to say a few good words about and it naturally well-meaning friends were soon demanding that an English version should be brought out without delay. Hence this venture.

People of kerala hold Narayana Guru in high esteem as a great Acharya who authored a new chapter in the socio-cultural history of Kerala. Much less are they adequately acquainted with his teachings, thoughts or the far reaching social reforms he had launched.

Narayana Guru was a Rishi, genuinely so, in the ancient Indian Tradition. His philosophy was firmly rooted in Shri. Sankara’s Advaita. More than that, he was truly a “Jnanin of Action” as observed by no less a person than Romain Rolland. His life was mostly devoted to up-lifting, to modernity and higher levels of humanism, this small part of the Indian sub-continent, Kerala, then hopelessly steeped in the quagmire of social taboos and superstitions to an extent that provoked Swami Vivekananda to condemn it as a ‘lunatic  asylum’.

Narayana Guru is revered and remembered in Kerala as great savant and seer, an exemplary model of human compassion, totally detached from desires and ambitions, and yet ever active in the tasks he had set before him ; a truly Jeevan Mukta Karma yogi. This book tries to portray the life and work of such a person, in as full a measure as possible, so that the universal mission of the Guru will be easily within the access of those who live away from the conditions under which he lived and worked, geographically, culturally and in time. And it is my sincere hope that my efforts in this direction will at least open up the way for attaining such an understanding or awareness among them.

I am greatefully indebted to Shri. Madhavan Ayyappath who has so painstakingly done the English rendering of this book, and to Shri. K.K.Vishwanathan  for the introduction. I also owe my thanks to Shri. M.Govindan, Dr.Ayyappa Panicker, Shri. P.K. Balakrishnan and A.N.Nambiar for their invaluable help in editing and toning up the work within the limited time available to them. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan naturally deserves our gratitude- and that of all  Keralites – for cheerfully agreeing to take up the entire burden of publishing this volume. May this be a forerunner to many more and brighter enlightening works on all aspects of Narayana Guru in the years to come. ….

M.K.Sanoo.