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Narayana Guru

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Narayana Guru
Narayana Guru.jpg
Narayana Guru
Personal
Born(1855-08-28)August 28, 1855
DiedSeptember 20, 1928(1928-09-20) (aged 73)
Varkala, Travancore (now Kerala, India)
ReligionHinduism
Known forSocial reforms in Kerala
Relatives
  • Madan Asan (father)
  • Kuttiyamma (mother)
PhilosophyOne Caste, One Religion, One God for All
Religious career
Websitewebsite

Narayana Guru (August 28, 1855 – September 20, 1928) was a spiritual leader and social reformer in India. Born into a family of the Ezhava caste in an era when people from such communities were regarded as Avarna. He led a reform movement in Kerala, against the injustice in the caste-ridden society of Kerala in order to promote social equality.[1]

Biography[edit]

Shri Narayana Guru at the age of sixty.
Inscribed on the walls of the Shiva temple at Sivagiri[2]
Without differences of caste

Nor enemities of creed
Here it is, the model of an abode

Where all live like brothers at heart
Excerpts from Anukambadasakam[3]
Is the Reality that drives the chariot proclaiming the Supreme Truth (Lord Krishna),

Or the Ocean of Compassion and patience (The Buddha),
Or the Guru who wrote lucid bhashyas (commentaries) on Advaita (Adi Shankara),
this Compassion embodied one?
Is he the Almighty appearing in human form
Or righteousness manifesting in divine human form
Or the holy Son of God (Jesus Christ)

Or the merciful (Prophet) Nabi, the pearl, the gem?

Narayana Guru, née Nanu, was born on August 28, 1855[note 1] to an Ezhava peasant, Madan Asan and his wife Kuttiyamma, in the village of Chempazhanthy near Thiruvananthapuram, in the erstwhile state of Travancore, in British India.[4] His early education is known to be in the gurukula way under Chempazhanthi Mootha Pillai[5] during which time his mother died when he was 15. At the age of 21, he went to central Travancore to study under a known Sanskrit scholar from the Puthuppally Varanappally family, by name, Raman Pillai Asan, who taught him Vedas, Upanishads, as well as the literature and logical rhetoric of Sanskrit.[6] He returned to his village in 1881 when his father was seriously ill, and started a village school where he taught local children which earned him the moniker, Nanu Asan.[7] A year later, he married Kaliamma[8] but soon disassociated himself from the marriage to commence his public life as a social reformer.[6][note 2]

Leaving home, Guru traveled through Kerala and Tamil Nadu and it was during these journeys, he met Chattampi Swamikal, a social and religious reformer, who introduced Guru to Ayyavu Swamikal from whom he learned meditation and yoga.[9][10] Later, he continued his wanderings until he reached the Pillathadam cave at Maruthwamala where he set up an hermitage and practiced meditation and yoga for the next eight years.[11] In 1888, he visited Aruvippuram where he meditated for a while and during his stay there, he consecrated a piece of rock taken from the river, as the idol of Shiva, which has since become the Aruvippuram Shiva Temple.[12] The act, which later came to be known as Aruvipuram Pratishta, created a social commotion among the upper caste Brahmins who questioned Guru's right to consecrate the idol.[13] His reply to them that This is not a Brahmin Shiva but an Ezhava Shiva[14] later became a famous quote, used against casteism.[15][16][17] It was here, the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP Yogam)[18][19] was founded on May 15, 1903 by the efforts of Padmanabhan Palpu, better known as Dr. Palpu, with Narayana Guru as its founder president.[20]

Guru shifted his base to Sivagiri, near Varkala in 1904 where he opened a school for children from the lower strata of the society and provided free education to them without considering their caste.[6] However, it took him seven years to build a temple there, the Sarada Mutt was built in 1912. He also built temples in other places such as Thrissur, Kannur, Anchuthengu, Thalassery, Kozhikode, and Mangalore and it took him to many places including Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) where he made his final visit in 1926. On his return to India, he was involved in a number of activities including the planning of the Sivagiri pilgrimage which was planned after his visit to Pallathuruthy in 1927 to attend the anniversary of the S.N.D.P. Yogam.[21]

Soon after the meeting at Pallathuruthy, which was the last public function he attended, Guru became ill and underwent treatment at places such as Aluva, Thrissur, Palakkad, and finally to Chennai; the physicians attended to him included Ayurvedic physicians like Cholayil Mami Vaidyar, Panappally Krishnan Vaidyar and Thycauttu Divakaran Moos as well as allopathic physicians viz. . Krishnan Thampi, Panikker, Palpu and a European physician by name, Noble.[22] he returned to Sarada Mutt and it was here, he died on September 20, 1928, at the age of 73.[7]

Legacy[edit]

Fight against casteism[edit]

Casteism was practised in Kerala during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the lower caste people such as Ezhavas and Thiyyas and the untouchable castes like Paraiyars, tribals and Pulayars had to suffer discrimination from the upper caste people such as Brahmins.[23] It was against this discrimination that Guru performed his first major public act,[24] the consecration of Siva idol at Aruvippuram in 1888.[25] Overall, he consecrated forty five temples across Kerala and Tamil Nadu.[26] His consecrations were not necessarily conventional deities; a slab inscribed with the words, Truth, Ethics, Compassion, Love,[27] a vegetarian Shiva, a mirror and a sculpture by an Italian sculptor were among the various consecrations made by him.[28] He propagated the ideals of compassion and religious tolerance and one of his noted works, Anukampadasakam, extols various religious figures such as Krishna, The Buddha, Adi Shankara, Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammad.[3][29]

Vaikom Satyagraha[edit]

The social protest of Vaikom Satyagraha was an agitation by the lower caste against untouchability in Hindu society of in Travancore.[30] It was reported that the trigger for the protest was an incident when Narayana Guru was stopped from passing through a road leading to Vaikom Temple by an upper caste person. It prompted Kumaran Asan and Muloor S.Padmanabha Panicker, both disciples of Guru, to compose poems in protest of the incident. T. K. Madhavan, another disciple, petitioned the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly in 1918 for rights to enter the temple and worship, regardless of the caste.[31] A host of people including K. Kelappan and K. P. Kesava Menon, formed a committee and announced Kerala Paryatanam movement and with the support of Mahatma Gandhi, the agitation developed into a mass movement which resulted in the opening of the temple as well as three roads leading to it to people of all castes.[31][32] The protest also influenced the Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936.[33][34]

Sivagiri pilgrimage[edit]

Sivagiri pilgrimage was conceived by three of the disciples of Guru viz. Vallabhasseri Govindan Vaidyar, T. K. Kittan Writer and Muloor S. Padmanabha Panicker which Guru approved in 1928, with his own recommendations.[35] He suggested that the goals of the pilgrimage should be the promotion of education, cleanliness, devotion to God, organization, agriculture, trade, handicrafts, and technical training and advised Vaidyar and Writer to organise a series of lectures on these themes to stress the need for the practice of these ideals, stating this to be the core purpose of Sivagiri pilgrimage. However, his death soon after delayed the project until 1932 when the first pilgrimage was undertaken from Elavumthitta in Pathanamthitta District.[36]

Writings and philosophy[edit]

Guru published 45 works in Malayalam, Sanskrit and Tamil languages which include Atmopadesa Śatakam, a hundred-verse spiritual poem[37] and Daiva Dasakam, a universal prayer in ten verses.[38] He also translated three major texts, Thirukural of Valluvar, Ishavasya Upanishad and Ozhivil Odukkam of Kannudaiya Vallalaar.[39] It was he who propagated the motto, One Caste, One Religion, One God for All (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu) which has become popular as a saying in Kerala.[40] He furthered the non-dualistic philosophy of Adi Sankara by bringing it into practice by adding the concepts of social equality and universal brotherhood.[41]

All Religions' Conference[edit]

Guru organized an All Region Conference in 1923 at Alwaye Advaita Ashram, which was reported to be first such event in India.[42] It was an effort to counter the religious conversions Ezhava community was susceptible to[43] and at the entrance of the conference, he arranged for a message to be displayed which read, We meet here not to argue and win, but to know and be known.[44] The conference has since become an annual event, organised every year at the Ashram.[45]

Notable disciples[edit]

Public acceptance, honours and veneration[edit]

Narayana Guru 1967 stamp of India
Commemorative coins issued in 2006
5 Coin

In 1916, Ramana Maharshi hosted Narayana Guru at his Tiruvannamalai ashram when Guru was returning from a trip to Kancheepuram where Swami Govindananda, a disciple of Guru, had established centre, Sree Narayana Seva Ashram.[49] Rabindranath Tagore met Narayana Guru at the latter's ashram in Sivagiri in November 1922. Tagore later said of Narayana Guru that, "I have never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Narayana Guru or a person who is at par with him in spiritual attainment".[50] Three years later, Mahatma Gandhi visited Guru during his 1925 trip to Kerala to participate in the Vaikom Satyagraha[51] after which the Indian independence movement leader stated that it was a great privilege in his life to have the darshan of an esteemed sage like Sree Narayana Guru.[52]

On 21 August 1967, Narayana Guru was commemorated on an Indian postage stamp of denomination 15 nP.[53] Another commemorative stamp on him was issued by Sri Lanka Post on 4 September 2009.[54] The Reserve Bank of India issued two sets of commemorative coins depicting Guru's image, each valued at 5 and 100 respectively, on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary.[55][56]

The first of the several statues of Narayana Guru was erected at Jagannath Temple, Thalassery in 1927 while he was still alive.[57][58] His statues are seen in many places in Kerala which include a 24 feet statue at Kaithamukku in Thiruvananthapuram.[59] The Government of Kerala observe the birthday, the Sri Narayana Jayanthi, and the date of death (Sree Narayana Guru Samadhi) of Narayana Guru as public holidays.[60]

In popular media[edit]

The life of Narayana Guru has been portrayed in a number of movies starting with the 1986 film Sree Narayana Guru,[61] made by award-winning director P. A. Backer.[62] Almost a decade and a half later, R. Sukumaran made a film on the life of Guru, titled Yugapurushan[63] in 2010 with Thalaivasal Vijay playing the role of Guru and the film also featured Mammootty and Navya Nair.[64] Brahmashri Narayana Guru Swamy is a Tulu film made in 2014 by Rajashekar Kotian on Guru's life and the film was the 5oth film made in the language.[65] His life during the eight years he spent at Maruthwamala (also known as Marunnumamala) has been adapted into a docufiction, titled Marunnumamala and the film was released by Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala on August 9, 2016.[66][note 3]

Works[edit]

In Malayalam[edit]

Narayana Guru's Tomb at Sivagiri
  • Swanubavageethi
  • Narayana Guru (1999). Aathmopadesh shathaksm. New Delhi: D.K Printworld.
  • Narayana Guru, Sree; Vimalananda; Ed (1985). Adwaitha deepika. Thiruvananthapuram, S Vijayan.
  • Narayana Guru (1989). Arivu. Varkala: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Narayana Guru (1988). Daivadasakam. Trivandrum: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Narayana Guru; Bhāskaran, Ti (1981). Śivaśatakaṃ (in Malayalam). Tiruvanantapuram]; Kōṭṭayaṃ: N.M. Sajee Bhaskaran ; Vitaraṇaṃ, Nāṣanal Bukst̲āḷ. OCLC 13027019.
  • Jeevakarunya Panchakam
  • Anukamba Dasakam
  • Jathi Nirnayam
  • Jathi Lakshanam
  • Chijjada Chinthanam
  • Daiva vichinthanam – 1 & 2
  • Athma Vilasam
  • Narayana Guru; Bhaskaran T (1981). Shivasathakam. Sajee Bhaskaran.
  • Kolatheereshastavam
  • Bhadrakaalyashtakam
  • Gajendra moksham vanchipattu
  • Ottapadyangal
  • Sree Krishnana Darsanam
  • Mangalasamsakal
  • Narayana Guru (1987). Subrahmanya keerthanam. Varkala: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Subramanya Ashtakam
  • Sadasiva Darsanam
  • Samasya
  • Swanubhava Geethi
  • Indrya Vairagyam
  • Narayana Guru (1976). Nyayadarsanam. Varkala: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Narayana Guru (1988). Prapanchasudhidasakam anubhoothidasakam. Varkkala: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Narayana Guru (2003). Kalinatakam (2nd ed.). Varkkala: Narayanagurukulam.
  • Narayana Guru, Sree (1993). Baahuleyaashtakam. Varkala, Narayana Gurukulam.
  • Narayana Guru (1985). Sree Narayana Guruvinte Sampoorna Kruthikal (in Malayalam). Calicut, Mathrubhumi.
  • Narayana Guru; Bālakr̥ṣṇan Nāyar, G (1972). Kuṇdalini-pāṭṭu' (in Malayalam). Trivandrum: Sree Narayana Publishing House. OCLC 499830611.
  • Narayana Guru; Narayana Prasad; Narayana Gurukula (2003). Kāḷināṭakaṃ. Varkkala: Nārāyaṇagurukulaṃ. OCLC 58526535.

In Sanskrit[edit]

The first Jnana Vigraham of Narayana Guru
  • Narayana Guru (2004). Darsanamaala. Varkkala: Narayana Gurukula.
  • Narayana Guru (1985). Brahmavidyapanjakam. Varkkala: Narayana Gurukulam.
  • Narayana Guru; Śāstrī, Harihara (1998). Darśanamālā. Naī Dillī: Ḍī. Ke. Priṇṭavarlḍa. ISBN 9788124601099. OCLC 671596309.
  • Nirvruthi Panchakam
  • Slokathrayi
  • Vedantha Suthram
  • Homa Manthram
  • Municharya Panchakam
  • Asramam
  • Dharmam
  • Charama Slokangal
  • Homa Mantram
  • Chidambarashtakam
  • Guhashtakam
  • Bhadrakaliashtakam
  • Vinayaka Ashtakam
  • Sree Vasudeva Ashtakam
  • Janani Navaratna Manjari

In Tamil[edit]

  • Thevarappathinkangal[68]

Translations[edit]

  • Thirukural
  • Isavasyo Upanishad
  • Ozhivil Odukkam

Translations of Guru's works into other languages[edit]

  • Narayana Guru; Narayana Prasad (translator) (2007). Garland of visions: Darśanamālā of Narayana Guru. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124603918. OCLC 167576536.
  • Nataraja Guru; Narayana Guru (2001). An integrated science of the absolute: based on the Darśana mālā (Garland of visions) of Narayana Guru. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124601846. OCLC 50756278.
  • Narayana Guru; Narayana Prasad (translator) (2009). Shorter philosophical poems of Narayana Guru: Brahmavidyā pañcakam, Advaita dīpikā, Aṛivu, Homa mantram, Daiva daśakam. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124605158. OCLC 653807175.
  • Narayana Guru; Narayana Prasad (translator) (1997). The Vedānta-sūtras of Nārāyaṇa Guru: with an English translation of the original Sanskrit and commentary. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124600856. OCLC 37282506.
  • Narayana Guru (1977). Life divine and spiritual values. Bangalore: Swami Sivananda Spiritual Centre : Copies can be had from Satsangha Seva Samithi. OCLC 615117867.
  • Narayana Guru; Sreenivasan (translator), K (1994). The song of the self: a new translation of atmopadesasatakam (one hundred verses of self-instruction). Thiruva-nanthapuram, Kerala: Jayasree Publications. OCLC 222527764.
  • Narayana Guru; Nataraja Guru (translator) (1969). One hundred verses of self-instruction (Atmopadesasatakam). Varkala, Kerala: Gurukula Pub. House. OCLC 695387.
  • Narayana Guru; Atmananda (translator); Narayana Prasad (2007). Nārāyaṇasmr̥tiḥ (in Sanskrit). New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124603925. OCLC 733026527.
  • Narayana Guru; Nityacaitanya Yati (translator) (1982). Vinayakashtakam: eight verses in praise of Vināyaka. Varkala: Narayana Gurukula. OCLC 863337667.
  • Narayana Guru (1969). One hundred verses of self-instruction. OCLC 606239200.

Works on Narayana Guru[edit]

  • Narayana Guru; Ṣājī, K. N. (2002). Nārāyaṇaguru: jīvitaṃ kr̥tikaḷ darśanaṃ. Tr̮śśūr: Kar̲ant̲ Buks : Distribution Cosmo Books. OCLC 52929384.
  • Narayana Guru; Bālakr̥iṣhṇan, P. K. (1969). Nārāyaṇaguru (in Malayalam). Kottayam: Sahitya Pravarthaka Co-operative : Society Ltd. OCLC 31116295.
  • Narayana, Guru; Nityachaitanya, Yati (2003). That alone, the core of wisdom: a commentary on Ātmopadeśa śatakam, the one hundred verses of self-instruction of Narayana Guru. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. ISBN 9788124602409. OCLC 915135852.
  • Narayana Guru (1961). Souvenir to commemorate the 107th birthdau of Sree Natayana Guru. Singapore: Sree Narayana Mission. OCLC 498088723.
  • Narayana Guru; Kesavan Vaidyar, C. R (1990). Śr̲īnārāyaṇaguru Svanthaṃ Vachanaṅgaḷiloode (in Malayalam). Kōṭṭayaṃ: Ḍi. Ṣi. Buks : Distributors, Current Books. OCLC 27111533.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The exact date of birth is disputed but two organizations directly related to Guru viz. Sreenaryana Dharmamadom, Maruthwamala and the online archives of Sree Narayana Guru mention the date as August 28, 1855
  2. ^ Cyriac Pullapilly writes on Guru's marriage that his worshipful biographers ignored this part of his life out of reverence for his later asceticism[8]
  3. ^ Marunnumamala - a docufiction in Malayalam on YouTube[67]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "SNDP - Shree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam". www.sndp.org. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b JithinC24 (2 May 2014). "Anukampa Dashakam (Ten verses on Compassion) By Sree Narayana Guru". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
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  6. ^ a b c "Sree Narayana Guru, Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala". www.keralatourism.org. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b Ramakrishnan (1 April 2019). "Sree Narayana Guru : the Revolutionary Social Reformer". Realbharat. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b Pullapilly, Cyriac K. (1976). "The Izhavas of Kerala and Their Historic Struggle for Acceptance in the Hindu Society". In Smith, Bardwell L. (ed.). Religion and Social Conflict in South Asia. Leiden: BRILL. pp. 35–36. ISBN 9789004045101. The guru was born probably in 1854
  9. ^ "Sree Narayana Guru : The Revolutionary Social Reformer". realbharat.org. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
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  67. ^ Red Archers (8 August 2016). "Marunnumamala - Docufiction in MALAYALAM". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  68. ^ R. Raman Nair; L. Sulochana Devi (2010). Chattampi Swami: An Intellectual Biography. South Indian Studies. pp. 190–. ISBN 978-81-905928-2-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • (Re)construction of ‘the Social’ for Making a Modern Kerala: Reflections on Narayana Guru's Social Philosophy, Satheese Chandra Bose, published in Satheese Chandra Bose and Shiju Sam Varughese (eds.) 2015. Kerala Modernity: Ideas, Spaces and Practices in Transition. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan.
  • Sree Narayana Guruswamikalude jeeva charithramMoorkoth Kumaran-(The official biography as approved by Sivagiri mutt.) Published by SNDS Trust
  • Sree Narayana Gurudeva Krithikal – Sampoorna VyakyanamG Balakrishnan Nair- (Works of Sree Narayana Guru with Complete Interpretations – ten parts compiled in two volumes) published by The State Institute of Languages, Kerala.
  • Brahmarshi Sree Narayana Guru – Dr. T. Bhaskaran- published by Sahitya Akademi.
  • The Word of the Guru : The Life and Teaching of Guru Narayana : Nataraja Guru, D.K. Printworld, 2003, New Delhi, ISBN 81-246-0241-7
  • Srinarayana Guruvinte Sampoorna Kruthikal (Complete Works of Sri Narayana Guru): Mathrubhoomi Publishers, Kozhikode, Kerala
  • Sri Narayana Guruvinte Mathavum Sivagiriyum (Sivagiri and the Religion of Sri Narayana Guru): K. Maheshwaran Nair
  • Narayanaguru- Editor: P.K.Balakrishnan (A collection of essays in Malayalam):March 2000, (First Edition 1954), Kerala Sahitya Academi, Trichur, Kerala.
  • The Philosophy of Narayana Guru: Swami Muni Narayana Prasad, D.K. Printworld, 2003, New Delhi, ISBN 81-246-0236-0.
  • Sree Narayana Gurudev - the Maharshi who made Advaita a Science - [Prof:G.K.Sasidharan]: Many Worlds Publications, Kollam, Kerala (First Edition 2014)
  • M. K. Sanu (2017). O. V. Usha (ed.). Sree Narayana Guru - Life and Times. Translated by P. R. Mukundan. Open Door Media. p. 280. ISBN 978-8193219614.
  • Nataraja Guru (2008). The Word of the Guru: The Life and Teachings of Guru Nārāyaṇa. D.K. Printworld. ISBN 978-81-246-0241-6.
  • Nityachaitanya Yati (2005). Narayana Guru. Indian Council of Philosophical Research. ISBN 978-81-85636-89-4.

External links[edit]