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)