Narayana Kasturi (25 December 1897 – 14 August 1987) (Kannada: ನಾರಾಯಣ ಕಸ್ತೂರಿ; Tamil: நாராயண கஸ்தூரி; Malayalam: നാരായണ കസ്തൂരി; Telugu: నారాయణ కస్తూరి) was born Kasturi Ranganatha Sharma in North Travancore, which now forms part of the modern day Indian state of Kerala. He is remembered by many as a great visionary who promoted human fraternity and multilingualism.
He received his bachelor's degree in Law, and his master's degree in Arts from the University College, Trivandrum, India. "After his degree at the age of 21, he stumbled up on an advertisement for the post of a lecturer in a High School in the city of Mysore." He acquired the position. After a few years, Kasturi began to "seriously contemplate on a career in Law."
Around 1928 he served as a lecturer in Maharaja's College of Arts (affiliated to the Mysore University). He served as the Secretary of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission in Mysore for over seventeen years. During these years he came into contact with Sri Siddharudha Swami, Ramana Maharshi, Meher Baba, and Narayana Guru; and was initiated into Japam by Mahapurushji, the direct disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He met Sathya Sai Baba in the year 1948 in Bangalore. In his first meeting with Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Baba related, ""After retiring from the University, stay with Me. You can write My biography." "Me?" Kasturi replied. "Yes, I shall tell you whom to consult for details – parents, brothers, kinsmen, neighbours, teachers, etc. I shall also help." It was July 1948." He began to write the life of Sathya Sai Baba and published it as Sathyam Sivam Sundaram Part I. He later became the editor of the magazine of the Sathya Sai Organization, called Sanathana Sarathi.
In 1949, "a University Order sent Mr. Kasturi to the Intermediate College, Davangere as its Principal." Kasturi stayed on for five years and then retired. "When he retired in 1954 with a full year's pension, Swami (Sai Baba) suggested that he go on a spiritual pilgrimage to North India taking his mother and wife along."
In 1956, Sathya Sai Baba suggested, and in spite of Kasturi's reluctance, "convinced him to accept the offer of the post of Producer of Programmes for the newly established All India Radio Station, Bangalore."
Kasturi enjoyed the post immensely, and "during a visit to Bangalore in 1958, (Sathya Sai Baba) spotted him (Kasturi) at the residence of Mr. Vittal Rao and said, "Now, you have to work at Puttaparthi. A monthly magazine will start soon. Guess! How is it named?" "In the initial days of Sanathana Sarathi, with no professional or skilled help of any kind, be it in writing and editing to printing, pasting and parceling, it was a tremendous responsibility for Professor Kasturi to ensure that the issue, flawless in every aspect, reached the readers on time."
Mrs. Geeta Ram, who watched and played with Professor Kasturi as a tiny girl in those days, recalls, "The whole process of type-setting would be repeated so many times. After the sheets were printed, the ink would still be wet. They would then have to be spread all over the floor to dry, so the ink would not smear. Later, the pages were carefully collated, stapled together, packed and addressed in preparation for mailing – all done by hand. Although there were a few volunteers to help him, I remember Professor Kasturi doing all these jobs, month in and month out, for so many years. This was truly his labor of love for Swami (Sathya Sai Baba)."
Kasturi authored the work Sathyam Sivam Sundaram ("The Life of Sathya Sai Baba"), which was translated into English as Truth, Goodness, Beauty. The first part of book was published in 1960. As Kasturi states, it "is the story of the Lord, come in human form,". The first book covers the first thirty four years of the life of Sathya Sai Baba. Kasturi states that he wrote about the early years of Sathya Sai Baba's life based on information gathered from Pedda-Venkapa Raju (Sai Baba's Father), Seshama Raju (Sai Baba's brother) and teachers from the schools in Bukkapatnam and Uravakonda, where Sathyanarayana Raju (Sai Baba) was a student. The second part of the book was published in 1968 and closed the first volume of "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram". Kasturi states that "ten eventful years had pass(ed)" between the publications of parts three and four. The second volume (and complete "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram") was published around 1980.
"“He was no ordinary man, a scholar par excellence and a matchless writer,” says Anil Kumar" of Kasturi. He also proved his talent as a writer in the Kannada language, especially as a humourist as his writing was packed with humour and contained many jokes. He wrote more than 1000 articles. According to some sources, he named Mysore Radio station "Akashavani" while working for Gopalan. Narayana Kasturi translated the famous Malayalam novel Chemmeen into Kannada. N Kasturi (sometimes referred to as Na. Kasturi) was a regular contributor to the Koravanji.
Koravanji, which he launched on Ugadi Day in 1942, enjoyed a circulation of nearly two lakh (two hundred thousand). Rashi himself wrote the column "Koravavalokana", and was responsible in bringing the latent talents of many young writers to light. Some well-known names include Kefa, Bulla, Aa. Ra. Se, Na. Kasturi, C.K.N. Raja, Girani Ramsami, and T. Sunandamma. Though the magazine ceased publication in 1967 due to financial constraints, many of its writers remained in the field. Magazines devoted to humour came to the market, but none seemed to match the success of Koravanji.
"People may come and go, there may be many speakers and writers, any number in the past, numerous in the present and many more in the future, but none can equal Kasturi in the art of oration and narration. His poetic style, nectarine language, convincing candour, and his soft and tender, appealing and devoted voice… Professor Kasturi is a legend, a personality too extraordinary to imitate or emulate,” says Professor Anil Kumar."
According to Lawrence A. Babb, virtually all existing accounts of Sathya Sai Baba's life were based on the hagiographic writings of Narayana Kasturi. In 2000, a highly detailed account of the first twenty four years of Sathya Sai Baba's life was published. The author stated he was "eternally grateful to Professor N. Kasturi, the first official biographer of (Sai) Baba. At every stage, his magnum opus, Sathyam Sivam Sundaram, has served as a pathway into the life of (Sai) Baba."
Kasturi's autobiography. entitled Loving God: Eighty-five Years under the Watchful Eye of the Lord, was published in 1982 by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications.
- Professor Narayana Kasturi M.A, B.L Available Online
- Narayana Kasturi, Author of Sathyam Sivam Sundaram Available online
- Babb, Lawrence A., Redemptive encounters: three modern styles in the Hindu tradition, ISBN 0-520-05645-0
- Love is My Form, Vol. 1 [Sai Towers Publishing. Bangalore. ISBN 81-86822-77-1]
- Kasturi, Narayana Loving God. Eighty Five Years under the Watchful Eye of THE LORD, 1982, Prasanthi Nilayam, published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications
- Kasturi, N., "Sathyam-Shivam-Sundaram: The Life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba", 4-volume series, ISBN 1-57836-077-3
- Kasturi, N., "Easwaramma: The chosen mother", ASIN B0007BFTEY
- Kasturi, N., "Loving God: Eighty-five years under the watchful eye of the Lord", ASIN B0007C8W60
- Kasturi, N., "Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume IX", ASIN B000IOTMDE
- Kasturi, N., "Sathya Sai Speaks: Discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Volume I", ASIN B000E8PPQW