Sree Narayana Guru's

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Sree Narayana Guru was a sage with a difference. He was for the material as well as spiritual development of all irrespective of caste, creed race or religious or sex..


At birth every child is an innocent angel. All inequalities in the name of religion, caste, creed, languages as well as wealth arise afterwards. Death equalizes everybody again. Hence he has done away with all these obsessions.


He was a sage on par with Buddha, Lao-Tzu and Socrates. He was a persuasive teacher like Jesus Christ and an upholder of social justice like the Prophet Mohammed. As a philosopher his deep wisdom surpasses the climaxes of Descartes and Spinoza and amends the conclusions of Kant, Hegel and Karl Marx. About him


(1) Rabindranath Tagore has thus said:


I have been touring different parts of the world. During these travels,

I have had the good fortune to come into contact with several saints and Maharshis. But I have frankly to admit that I have never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Narayana Guru of Malayalam-nay, a person who is on a par with him in spiritual attainment. I shall never forget that radiant face illumined by the self effulgent light of divine glory and those mystic eyes fixing their gaze on a far remote point in the distant horizon. “


(2) Romain Rolland, in ‘Prophets of New India’, has thus said:


His doctrine was impregnated with the monist metaphysics of Sankara, but tended to PRACTICAL ACTION, showing very marked differences from Bengal mysticism, of which effusions of love (Bhakti) inspire in him a certain mistrust. He was, if one may say so, a Jnanin of Action, a grand religious intellectual who had a keen living sense of the people and their social needs. He has contributed greatly to the elevation of the oppressed classes in South India, and his work has been associated at certain times with that of Gandhiji.”


(3) Mahatma Gandhiji has thus said:


I deem it a great privilege in my life to have visited this beautiful Travancore State and met His Holiness Sree Narayana Guru Swamy. Her Highness the Maharani also spoke to me about the greatness of Guru Swamy.”


(4) Dr.Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer , the then Diwan of Kerala has thus said:


Long before Mahatmaji’s Harijan uplift started, it was the great Sree Narayana Guru who instilled the Slogan of Universal Brotherhood into the hearts of the masses. Sree Narayana, was indeed a Daiva Doot who fought against untouchability, disability and castesism. Sree Narayana Guru was not only a leader of Ezhava community but a great soul who actually give leadership to the whole of India.”


(5) ‘Sanatana Dharma’, the official journal of the Theosophical Society, thus wrote about him soon after his mahasamadhi in 1928:


During recent centuries, no one in India has enjoyed so much reverence as Sree Narayana Guru commanded-a reverence so glorious, so enduring, so comprehensive, so universal and so pure. His life has exemplified the great truth that, some times courageous souls who has attained liberation do take birth among peoples who are oppressed by custom to show them the path of emancipation, and in doing so, take upon themselves, suffering and Rishi Narayana, who was to awakened Malabar Patanjali in yoga, Sankara in wisdom, Manu in the art of Government, Budha in renunciation, Mohamed in Strength of spirit, and Christ in humility, after 72 years spent in the drama of human life has gone back to whence he came.”





Sree Narayana Guru was born on 14th Chingam 1032 M.E.(28TH August 1856 A.D.) on Chathayam star in an old Ezhava family known as Vayalvaram at Chempazhanthi about 11 kilometers north of Thiruvananthapuram. His father Madanasan conducted classes in Kudipallikoodam and was also a good farmer. His mother Kutti Amma was a simple pious lady. He was the only boy among the 4 children of his parents. From childhood onwards he showed signs of spiritual life. He had his first lessons in Malayalam and Sanskrit from Chempazhanthy Mootha Pillai, a good scholar of the locality and also from his uncle Krishnan Vaidyar who taught him Ayurveda, Sanskrit and Astrology. He also acquired proficiency in Tamil by private study. At that time he used to visit a Tamil book seller at Pettah in Thiruvananthapuram and read almost all books. At the age of 23, having known his aptitude for learning, he was sent to Kummanpally Ramanpillai Asan, a renowned scholar at Kayamkulam by his uncle. Here he stayed for about two years (1877-1879) at Varanapally, a renowned affluent Ezhava family which provided free boarding and lodging. He acquired sound scholarship in logic and philosophy. The secrets of vedantic and upanishadic wisdom became an open book to him. He returned to Chempazhanthy in his twentyfifth year (1879). Here he started imparting knowledge and wisdom in local schools known as Kudipallikoodams to local children, in particular the children of the depressed and oppressed sections of the society. This was a period of intense mental struggle for him. On the one hand he was obliged to support his family by fulfilling his duties. On the other hand he was faced with an ever increasing inner urge for a deep spiritual life. To divert him from the spiritual life his relatives made him marry at the age of 28. The marriage was solemnized by giving Pudava (new clothes) to the bride by his sisters and bringing the bride to his house. It is believed that the marriage was not consummated.





He used to say; “Every man is born in this world to fulfill a certain definite purpose. I must fulfill the purposes for which I was born”. He left his home in search of Truth and met several men in order to attain self realization. During these periods he went out from village to village like a mendicant, eating whatever is offered and mingling with the most lowly of all classes. During his journey he befriended Sree Chanttambiswamigal who introduced him to Thykkattu Ayyavu who was a Yogacharian. He studied under him for some years. From him he received many valuable advices. Guru went to Pillathadom in Maruthwa malai near Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu and did tapas for many years. He used to say that he has left there his friends –one leopard and one snake. There he attained supreme realization. Coming down to the planes he wandered in and out of Kerala and later Ceylon and met all types of people and dined with them. Sometimes he helped them to do their work in a better way. Sometimes entered into religious discourses with them.




A few decades ago Kerala was an extreme example of social and economic inequalities- “a lunatic asylum’ in the words of Swamy Vivekananda. Over a third of its population were outcastes and treated as untouchables. Some of them were even unseeables by the high caste Hindus. They have to keep off meters and meters away from high caste Hindus. Educational institutions were not opened to them. Government Jobs were denied. Temple entry forbidden. To the higher castes the untouchables were just meant to serve them with the lowliest of the menial jobs. They lived in abject poverty. They were tutored to believe that it is their fate to serve the high caste Hindus and live in servility. The “Karma theory” very well fitted to evolve such a social theory. This extreme Social inequality led to economic inequality that developed into intellectual inequality.  


Today the picture is quite different in Kerala. The rigid caste system disappeared in Kerala. But caste still lingers in mind. Education is open to all. Many of the untouchables now wield intellectual power and professional skills. Among them there are judges, doctors, engineers, professors, teachers and government secretaries. Untouchability is unheard,inKerala.Life expectancy is the highest in the state, infant mortality is the lowest, the number of children per women is one amongst the lowest, it’s medium marriage age is the highest, so is it’s percentage of literacy. Also Kerala is the cleanest state in the whole of India. This transformation was brought about largely by the steps initiated by the great seer Sree Narayana Guru.




His manifesto thus says: “All people alike desire for happiness. All spiritual and material institutions work with this aim. But human soul long for an everlasting happiness in place of short-lived material happiness. Towards this goal human soul is making its pilgrimage.


To get physical, mental and spiritual happiness for a community, its members’ adherence to cleanliness, religious customs and morality help to a great extent. Worshipping centers and temples contribute to a long extent to extend these to all people. But to have all these, members of the community require financial progress also. For this we have to improve and reform agriculture, trade and technical training etc.


Materialism and spiritualism are not two entities. These are both sides of a coin or the both wings of the same bird. These two actually work for the same purpose. When all organs in a body work together, the body experiences happiness. Similarly to achieve mankind’s ultimate aim of happiness material as well as spiritual institutions are to work together.”




His active public career started in 1888 when he consecrated Siva Temple by installing Sivalinga that was taken from the depth of Sankarankuzhi in Neyyar River at Aruvippuram defying tradition that only a Brahmin priest could officiate at such religious acts. On being questioned by a Brahmin Pandit he politely replied. “I installed only an Ezhava Siva”. He purposely performed the idol installation of Siva which had been denied to the out castes (Avarnas) for millenniums. He was only 33 at the time of this installation. It was a silent revolution to eliminate all evils in Hindu Society and to establish a society based on social equality. His dream of an ideal society was inscribed on the walls of this temple as this:



This is the model center

 Where all live in brotherhood,

 Free from caste distinctions

  And religious animosities “


At Murukkumpuzha near Thiruvananthapuram along with Sivalinga he placed a board with the inscriptions: SATYAM, DHARMAM, DAYA, SANTHI (Truth, Righteousness, compassion, peace). He attached greater values to these cardinal qualities than mere worship.


In 1905 he shifted from Aruvipuram to Varkala. Here Swamiji constrcted a hermitage and on April 30, 1912 (M.E.18-9-1087) on Chitra Pournami day installed Saraswathy (Sarada), the Goddess of wisdom and education according to Hindu mythology. He exhorted the people to bestow greater attention on education. Here there is no custom of giving Prasadam or Payasam (the left over of fruits, flowers and sweet food dedicated to God and later distributed to devotees) as directed by him. He started there a Sansksrit and an English Educational Institutions.


In 1912 he reached Aluva and selected a site near the side of Periyar river. An Ashram with a Sanskrit School was started in August 1914 (M.E. 1090) at Aluva. To the students he himself took classes in Gita, Upanishad and Vedanta and sometimes in Sanskrit also. The Ashram was named as “ADVAITHA ASHRAM”. Here there is no Idol installed. One will have to worship the all pervading Universal Self as he likes. It is the highest form of temple worship. By these examples he showed to the devotees that one can worship God with or without Idol.


In 1920 at Karamukku in Thrissur district he was to open a temple with the idol of Chidambaranatha (Siva). When the auspicious time came, he instructed to bring an oil lamp. He installed the lamp as Idol and declared” LET LIGHT RADIATE”. He meant that the need of the hour is the light (knowledge) that radiates into the hearts of mankind and dispel the darkness of ignorance.


His last installation was at Kalavamkodom at Cherthala Taluk. The temple authorities decided to install “SAKTHESWARA”, a combination of Sakthi and Iswara meaning of Parvathy and Siva. When Guru reached there for installation, there was a turbulent situation with a section of the rationalists agitating for no more installation and the other group desiring for it. Guru tried to pacify both of them. He ordered for a big looking mirror. He first installed Saktheswara amidst the playing of ‘Nadaswara’ and chanting mantras. After that the mirror was placed behind it with Pranava Mantram “OM” engraved on it. Mind is likened to mirror in religion and literature. A clear mirror indicates a clear mind. Only in clear mind free from impurities, god’ vision can be reflected. Always remember that it was also the installation of ‘OM’ the mystic syllable representing ‘Brahman’.


At the time when Guru started reformation in temple, the Avarnas (backwards) as a whole worshipped evil Gods like Chathan, Chamundi, Marutha etc. Animal sacrifices were wide spread. They were not allowed to worship Satvik Gods like Siva, Subrhamannya, Ganapati etc. He started a net work of temples throughout the state, removed all idols of evil gods, give new mantras ( Stothra Krithikal) to worship Satwik gods and advocated the people to follow it. The people simply obeyed him. The result was that in 1931 censes there were only 9000 temples dedicated to evil gods whereas there were 16000 such temples in 1921. Animal sacrifices were stopped in toto. The installation of light or Deepam at Karamukku enshrined the message of enlightenment within oneself. The Sarada Idol at Sivagiri conveyed the message that the exigency of the hour was education. The installation was made at a time when the literacy percentage of the Avarnas (backward) were deplorably poor.


About setting up temples he has his own progressive ideas. He thus said


No benefit will be derived of having temples of unhygienic conditions and having the smell of bats always emitting. The inside of the temples should always be tidy. Instead of an Idol it is enough to have lamp hanging in the center. Lamp is the symbol of Knowledge (Pratyaksha Brahman). It is enough to have Darsan after bath. If it is inevitable to have Idols of worship, it is enough to have the photos of great-men around the lamp. When one goes to a temple the mind revels only on Almighty and not on the idol. The temples must have good gardens, libraries, debating halls, educational institutions capable of enticing the masses and raising their economical and cultural standards. Let temples remain at the center of all these. Let they be the source of social improvement of all those who believe and do not believe in idol worship.”


He once told “temple should construct temple”. Soon after laying the foundation stone of the temple at Thalassery he advised to open a box (Hundi) for putting donations. The present Jagannath temple at Thalassery was constructed almost by the donation of the devotees. All over Kerala he installed more than 30 temples, two temples at Kottar and Bhavani in Tamil Nadu and one by name Gokarnanath temple at Kudroli in Mangalapuram in Karnataka State. He could divert the income going to the Savarna temples to these temples and use them for the welfare of all. He opened his temples to all classes of people.




The caste system prevalent in India brought untold miseries to the Avarnas (lower castes) in Kerala. All human rights were denied to them. They were let to think that they were created by god to serve the Savarnas (upper castes) without any wages. Karma theory virtually made them slaves. The Avarnas were unaware that they had some human rights and therefore they were unable to question anything. Karl Marx once said that India shall be ripe enough for revolution only when its medieval survival was destroyed. The medieval survival in India was the caste system. In India Sree Buddha was the only one who could effectively fight caste system with his philanthropic and humanitarian outlook. He preached the equality of the backwards with the upper classes. His preaching and percepts met with success. But after his “Nirvana and consequent decay of Buddhism, the tyranny of caste system continued. It was Narayana Guru who again effectively fought caste system in Kerala. His writings inhis books Jathylakshanam and Jathynirnayam advocated one caste for mankind. He promoted inter-dining and inter caste marriage. At Sivagiri kids selected from other communities below Ezhava community were brought up along with the orthodox. Food, clothing and all other amenities were provided to them and created an atmosphere of casteless society. Whenever guests arrived at Sivasgiri to see Swamiji, food prepared by the Harijan cooks only was served. His disciples were from all castes. He encouraged the Vaikom Satyagraha which was for the right to walk through the road near Vaikom temple. Gandhiji met Guru at Sivagiri during this struggle. Gandhiji was in favour of Varna (caste). Pointing to the nearby mango tree at Vaidikamadom Gandhiji said:” The leaves of that mango tree are not alike. Like wise there is difference between man and man.” Guru replied: “Even if there is difference in its size the juice of all the leaves have the same taste”. He told Gandhiji that to have the real freedom, the caste and other evil customs must go. Years later Gandhiji spoke at Kolkatta endorsing Guru’s views. About castes Guru thus said:


For man there is no caste. The thinking that there is caste must go. That is what is wanted. Names that indicate caste must not be used. There are other good names. In writings also caste must not be used. There is nothing good due to caste. Caste forbids freedom, destroys intellect. Without freedom or intellect how labour can improve. There is no proof required to prove that there is only one caste. All animals have got this intelligence and they live accordingly. Why man alone has this doubt? He does not know to recognize his own caste. He is poorer than animals.”


Once Guru was travelling in a train. His conversations inspired respect in a Raja and a Namboodiri who were traveling in the same compartment. The Raja asked him:” What is your name.” Swamy replied: “Narayanan.” Raja asked: “Caste”. Swamy said: “Cannot you know by sight.” Raja replied: “No.” Then Swamy said: “If it cannot be known by seeing how can it be known by hearing.”


Unwanted customs were another stumbling blocks for the progress of Ezhavas in Kerala. Ceremonies like Kettu Kalyanam, Thirandukuli, Pulikudi etc and other customs of evil were stopped by him (Today people are unaware of such customs). He asked people to stop drinking. He also advocated not to do liquor business. He said that the earnings from liquor business is something earned by destroying so many and their families. And therefore it is a sin.


He asked people to avoid pomp and luxury. He advocated marriage to be simple. For a wedding there should not be less than ten people- the bride, the bridegroom, their parents, one companion each from the bride and bridegroom side, one priest and one important local man. A month before the marriage ceremony, the prospective life companions may be allowed to see each other and talk to each other. However this is irrelevant, where mutual love has pronounced them man and wife. Those parents who want to spend a considerable amount on wedding shall gift such amounts to their children as bank deposits. There must not be any dowry in marriage since it is equivalent to selling children.He modified codes for marriage ceremonies and funeral rites.

The brotherhood movement ( Sahodara Prasthanam ) started in 1917 by K. Ayyappan made a crusade against untouchability. Shri Ayyappan was an ardent follower of Sree Narayana Guru. Guru has encouraged and blessed him in his acts which earned him the nick name Pulayan Ayyappan. When Guru heard of the atrocities meted out to K.Ayyappan in his fight against caste, Guru asked him to forgive like Jesus Christ.


He thus said: “Each village should have its own cultural societies and libraries and community can derive much benefit from them in the matter of education. Each member of the community should do his bit in strengthening these institutions. The rich should not keep silent on these subjects.” He also stressed the need to contribute to charitable institutions. He viewed these institutions as means of self purification for the donors, broadening their outlook and raising their minds to higher planes.


He asked people to speak truth, have fear of righteousness, have theisms and unity, avoid meaningless and harmful customs and adopt nobler codes of conduct in tune with the times. He asked people to observe five purities and five Dharmas enunciated by Sree Buddha.


To the capitalists and workers Guru cited the example of bullock-cart. It is not enough to have two bullocks of enough strength and one cart. The two bullocks should pull the cart with one mind. Then only the cart will move. Similarly the capitalists and workers should work together. It is the capitalist who invests money. If that money is kept locked, then there is no use. Workers do not have money to invest. But they have enough skill and experience to execute work. If both of them co-operate, there shall be prosperity.


In 1924 Guru convened an All Religious Conference at Advaidasram. It was the first of its kind in Asia and second in the World (the first one was at Chicaco in America in which Swamy Vivekanada participated). At the entrance gate he made this message to be written: “Neither for debate or nor to win but to know and let to know”. The religious conference lasted for two days. His aim of this conference was to expose to the world that the cardinal principle of all religions was one and the same and the ultimate aim is to attain the Self. He advocated the spirituality that surpasses all religions. At the end of the conference Guru blessed everybody and issued this message.


Since the speeches in this conference of religions have revealed that the ultimate aim of all religions is the same and there is no need for the followers of different religions to fight among themselves, we intend to make arrangements for the study of all religions at our proposed school at Sivagiri.”


While talking to Gandhiji at Sivagiri Guru also pointed out that “there are means of salvation in other religions also. Hence conversion is not needed for spiritual salvation. Hinduism is sufficient for spiritual freedom. But people are more after worldly freedom. Gandhiji may have to take another birth to bring it to fullness. The problem is so deeply rooted.” He understood that what India needed was freedom from caste competitions and religious frictions.


In 1903 he founded the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam which fought for many social rights denied to the lower castes. He established the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham on 11-1-1928 for sanyasins who were meant to do dedicated service among the people. With his blessings his disciple Nataraja Guru founded on 1923 the Narayana Gurukulam which at present is trying to spread the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru all over the world.


The foundation of S.N.D.P.Yogam paved the way for the establishment of other social organizations. One such organization is Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham which is founded on 1905 by the Pulaya King (as called by Gandhiji) Shri. Ayyankali who has done yeoman service for the uplift of Pulayas and other downtrodden. Namboodiries established in 1908 the Yogakshema Sabha which worked for the well being of Namboodiries in Kerala. Mannath Padmanabhan on 31-10-1914 founded the Nair Sevice Society which has done credible job for the progress of Nairs in Kerala. Pundit Karuppan worked for the progress of Dheevara Community especially through his literary works. It was in the soil ploughed and made fertile by Sree Narayana Guru that communism thrived in Kerala. It was through the Sahodaran Patram, Karl Marx, Lenin and his Russian Revolution were first introduced in Kerala. It was Sahodaran Ayyappappan who coined the Malayalam word ‘Sakhav’ for the English word comrade. All these movements contributed extensively for the building up of modern Kerala.




For making an ideal society he advocated an eight-fold path.


1. Education:


He thus said: “Education leads any community to higher standards and, therefore, if we are interested in the welfare of the community, we have to encourage it. It may not be possible for every one to qualify in higher educations. Therefore those who are reasonably rich should try to educate the poor students interested in higher learning by sending them to other centers. This would benefit the society as a whole. The importance of Sanskrit education is declining gradually. The chief language now is English. Therefore our attention has to turn towards English. Women also should be educated. They should not be left in the lurch”. He asked his followers to explain the benefits of education and the loss caused by its lack and encourage the people to see to it with pride that not a single one of either sex went without at least primary education. He asked to enthuse and help people to open schools and libraries wherever necessary.


2. Cleanliness.


Cleanliness is next to godliness. Hence he asked the people to keep the body and mind clean. He thus said: “Cleanliness should start from kitchen. Once you keep the body clean, the cleanliness of food and house will follow. One who has achieved this can achieve anything. Everybody shall take bath every day so that body and clothes shall be clean and illness shall go. “He asked the people to organize bathing groups ( kuli sanghs) to promote this.


3. Piety (Iswarabhakti).


He asked people to have Bhakti (devotion) for god. He thus said: “Love for the god who is the father of the world, love for guru, father and mother, love for the truthful son of God, love for those who tread on the path of God and love for those who lead people away from forbidden acts and do acts for the liking of all is called Bhakti. Life without Bhakti is food withoutsalt and people who do not have Bhakti shall be given food without salt. Bhakti and pride shall not go together. It is enough if one is having Bhakti and faith. If faith is there the result shall follow.”


4. Organisation (Saghatana).


He asked people to get strengthened through organizations. He thus said: “The aim of the organization shall not be to include one sect of people. In this era the strength through organization is essential. To exchange ideas small organizations are essential. These small organizations shall become the corner stones for the society’s organizational strength. The working of these organizations shall be intelligent since it shall be the harbinger for all future progress. One may say that I would like to work in union but I get nobody to work together and therefore remain doing nothing. For the Christians there is the church and the priest. They lead an organized and systemized life. One shall learn from them”


5. Agriculture.


All shall do agriculture. It is the backbone of the mankind. Not only that, it is its life itself. House-holders require money. Agriculture is useful to make money. The money that the house-holders are permitted to acquire is meant for charity.


6. Trade.


Swamy thus said: “As a community we are very poor. Improvement is possible only through trade and industry. This demands attention of the rich. They can get from outside various kinds of machinery and run industries. If one cannot do it many should join as a company and boldly venture out. Though the paths to prosperity is open, men of our community do not have the courage to step out. We send out to other countries our produce like copra, coconut husk, etc and pay heavily to buy the consumer goods they manufacture out of them. We are forced to do this because we do not know the manufacturing process. We have to change this situation by sending our children to study in factories. It is the rich who have to undertake this. If sufficient money is not there societies and limited companies may be formed.”


7. Handicrafts.


He stressed the need for development of handicrafts. It shall provide jobs for more people and more utilization of indigenous materials.


8. Scientific and Technological Training.


Nowadays skilled workers are more required. Therefore scientific and technological trainings are essential. It provides jobs not only in this country but also in other countries.


Every year during the pilgrimage to Sivagiri Guru wanted to organize seminars at Sivagiri on the above subjects. He said “Experts in these subjects should be invited to give lectures on them. People should listen to these lectures with discipline and attention. They should try to practice what they learnt. They should achieve success. That will assure prosperity for the people and the country”. Four things he stressed more for social advancement are religion, morality, education and industry.







1.Be enlightened with education.


2.Be strengthened with organization.


3.Make progress through industry.


4.Don’t speak caste, ask caste and think caste.


5.One caste, one religion and one God for mankind.


6.Whatever be the religion, it is sufficient if it is good for mankind.


7.Whatever be the difference in faith, dress or language, as all humanity belongs to one caste, there is no harm in inter-marriage and inter-dining.


8.Do not make liquor, don’t drink it and don’t sell it.


9.Spend judiciously.


10.Man who knows dharma should work hard for the progress and well being of his neighbour.





He had several followers and disciples who whole heartedly dedicated themselves to the fulfillment of his noble ideas. Dr. Palpoo, Mahakavi Kumaranasan, T.K.Madhavan, C.V.Kunjiraman, Moorkoth Kumaran, C.Krishnan, Sahodaran Ayyappan were the more prominent among his followers for propagating his teachings and carrying out his instructions. Among his disciples we get Swamy Bodhananda, Swamy Sathyavratan, Dr.P. Natarajan, Swamy Chaitanya, Swamy Govindhanada, Swamy Dharma Thirthar, Swamy Atmanada, Swamy Sankarananda and Swamy Sree Narayana Thirtha. He could attract disciples and followers both from Savarna and Avarna classes.




Sree Narayana Guru was a literary genius. He was widely read in three languages, namely Malayalam, Sanskrit and Tamil. All his poems are devotional, philosophical and metaphysical. In selection of words, keeping rhymes and expressing incomprehensive philosophical subjects within the apprehension of common man, he had his own style. His words were simplest possible and at the same time deep and meaningful. His aim was to convey the world truths to the common man to the easiest way possible. He has to his credit more than 62 literary works. His early works show great personal devotions to individual gods like Siva, Vishnu and Vinayaka. As he ascends to spiritual eminence, his personal attachment to individual gods withers away and he sees the Universe as the creation of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient power. He sees unity in diversity and diversity in unity. His Sanskrit works include Vinayaka-astakam, Guha-astakam, Sree Vasudeva-astakam, Bhadrakali-astakam , Brahma Vidya Panchakam, Municharya Panchakam, Nirvrthy Panchakam, Ashramam, Darsanamala. In Tamil Thevara Patikam and some poems are written. His translation of ‘Thirukural ‘ is said to be the first of its attempt to translate it into Malayalam. He also translated Isavasyopanishad from Sanskrit to Malayalam. His important Malayalam literary works include Atmopadesa-satakam, Deiva-desakam, Janani-nava-ratna-manjari, Kundalini Pattu, Jathi nirnayam, Jathi lakshanam, Chijjada-chintanam, Anubhuti- desakam and Jeevakarunya-panchakam. In praise of Lord Shanmugha he composed Shanmugha-stotram, Shanmugha-desakam and Subramania Keerthanam. In worship of Lord Siva he has written Sivaprasada-panchakam, Siva-satakam, Artha Nariswara- stavam, Siva-stavam, Paramasiva-chinta-dasakam and Sadasiva-darsanam.




In Atmopadesa Satakam stanza- 67 Sree Narayanaguru thus says:







(That which is beyond comprehension is one. The other is ordinary. Other than these two, there is no other form at all, either in memory, in sleep, or in the upper plane (heaven).)


Sree Narayana Guru divides the world into two namely the empirical world and the world beyond count. For prosperity of the empirical world, he advocates the material development stressing on education, organization, social equality, agriculture, trade, industry etc. By the world beyond count, he puts forward his spirituality. Sree Narayana Guru by his several years of spiritual experience and philosophical reasoning accepted that the Advaita Philsophy of AdiSankara- the non dualism between Atman and Brahman-is the Ultimate Truth. The Advaita Philosophy is based on the essential oneness and identity of all life. He said that we should serve man as man, first because every one belongs to humanity and secondly because that Atman, the reality in man is non-different from Brahman, the Ultimate reality. Man should attempt to attain the Ultimate Truth by discriminating between reality and unreality. God is the Universal Reality behind the world. To realize this basic unity is the supreme goal of man. For this one has to vertically ascend from one’s individuated consciousness of ‘I’ to a transcendental consciousness of being one with all. To attain this Atmavidya (Self-knowledge) or Brahmavidya, man has to remove the veil of ignorance (Avidya) through wisdom (Vidya).




He led a very simple life. He took simple food. He wore only white clothes only till 1918 when he went to Ceylon. It was during this period he took to saffron clothes at the instance of his disciples. When he wore them for the first time he remarked: “Well dust won’t show in this.”


Once he was walking down the path of Sivagiri. He met a poor boy on the way. Having known the pitiable condition, he visited his house and parents. He asked one rich man known to him to help them.


Once jackfruit was stolen from Sivagiri during night. This was reported to him in the following day. He said: “Jack fruit tree belongs to the Ashram. But jack fruit belongs to all. One may pluck it in day time. Bite of snake and pricking of thorn can be avoided.”


When the collection box at Sivagiri was stolen Swamy said with a smile: ‘The thief would have found it tough had the money remained with several donors. Collecting it together in box made his work simple.”


A youth called Chari became an inmate of ashram. He came to be called Brahmmachari. Some petty complaints arose about him. They were proved true. Swamy remarked with a smile: “Let Chari go in his own way leaving the Brahman here.”





In 1928 Sree Narayana Guru fell ill. He had some urethral complaint. Even though many physicians and doctors attended, his illness oscillated between slight improvements and relapses. He was brought to Sivagiri as desired by him. Towards the end he appeared more and more calm. His eyes appeared to be resting in peace. His face proclaimed that he had already crossed the sea of pain. On 5th Kanni 1104 (1928 September 20) he spoke to the disciples who stood around him in clear tones: “I experience peace.” He wanted them to recite the prayer “Deiva-dasakam”. As the recitation reached the end where it is said: “Let us be in Your ocean of greatness for ever and ever”, his eyes were gently closed for ever. It was at 3-30 noon.


In history we come across a number of cases where seers, saints and great men tried to improve the conditions of mankind. They were either poisoned, crucified or killed. Socrates was poisoned to death. Joan of arc was set on fire. Jesus Christ was crucified. Muhmmed Nabi had to flee from Mecca to Madeena. Alexander the Great who wanted to conquer the world through wars died on his way. Through his wars thousands died. Nepoleon who wanted to unite Europe once said: “If I cannot unite Europe, there in future will only be a league of nations.” He was defeated in Waterloo and deported to St.Helena island where he was slowly poisoned to death. His dreams remained unfulfilled. Through the wars he waged, millions died. The Russian revolution and the Chinese revolution had to pay heavy casualties in terms of human lives.


Bloody revolutions immediately catch our attention. But remember that: “Peace has her victories no less renowned than war.” Here there is a Guru who during his sojourn on earth never uttered a single word against anybody and never created any enemy. He moved among the masses listening to their problems and giving them simple solutions. He stayed with them, dined with them and instilled in them with hope and courage. He advocated the downtrodden to stand on their feet. His words were commands and people simply obeyed. Such was the great faith the people were having in him. He never opposed anything but opposed silently and peacefully everything that stood in the way of progress. When lower castes were denied entry in temples he built temples for them. When education was denied to the Avarnas he built schools for them. He asked the rich to serve the poor. He never called for any slogan shouting, dharna, hartal and road blocking, but asked his people to work hard for progress. The result is the modern Kerala. He was a Jnana Guru in action. His actions were for the emancipation of human life-the soul, mind and body.


And thus he was a sage with a difference.