Spiritual revolutionary

An extraordinary combination of a saint, a philosopher, a poet and a social reformer, the name of Narayana Guru evokes respect and awe.

Because, for one born in a socially backward community, to grow amidst the privations of social oppression, it was nothing short of a miracle to reach the pinnacle of human achievements in so many different spheres and to be finally venerated by the very society which treated the so called low born with scorn and disdain. 

The saga of Narayana Guru’s life is a lesson for mankind as to what the human spirit can achieve when driven by a deep inner urge to rise above the prevailing societal conditions, tempered with a spirituality that is truly universal .

Even as a young boy, ‘Nanu’ as he was called was given to silence and deep contemplation on the mysteries of life. With a father who was a learned man, home was the first school and later on, he came under the tutelage of a renowned scholar of those times, where he mastered Sanskrit, religious lore and the epics.

The inherent renunciate in him saw him taking to an itinerant life of a monk, spending days in seclusion. 

His powers of meditation, oblivious to the world around him gave him deep insights into the mysteries of life that moulded his thinking into the fundamental truth of life, the ‘oneness’ of all creation.

Adi Shankara’s  principle of monoism (Advaita) was his guide to life. Despite his dislike for publicity, it was not long before he came to be identified as a ‘Guru’ who could help people in their troubles. Still, he was ‘one of a low caste’ to the so called ‘high born’.

With passage of time, the spark of rebellion in him was ignited by this social discrimination on the grounds of caste.

The revolutionary in him surfaced. Not the revolutionary with weapons , but a silent fighter with arms of determination, courage, resolve and non-violence.

His battlefield? The same place where caste hierarchy and discrimination originated. The temples.

He insisted that temples should not be places of mere idol worship, but places where all human beings, irrespective of caste or social standing could come and commune with the divine.

Not surprisingly, he met with stiff opposition and personal harassment. But his grit and determination saw him building numerous temples that were open to all. If just an oil lamp in one temple exemplified the Vedic dictum “Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya’ (from darkness to light), just a mirror in the sanctum of another silently spoke that man is simply a reflection of the divine.

Narayana Guru’s ashram in Sivagiri is a venerated place drawing people of all creeds.

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