By Dr.P.K.Sabu

Narayana Guru

About Dr.P.K.Sabu

Dr.P.K.Sabu / Narayana Guru

Dr.P.K.Sabu is a retired Professor of Geology, College of Engineering, Trivandrum, Govt. of Kerala. He has authored a popular science book 'Nanotechnology' in Malayalam. Dr.Sabu is involved in publishing numerous articles on Narayana Guru and translating the 'Psychology of Darsanamala', an elaborate commentary on 'Darsanamala' (Narayana Guru's philosophical work in Sanskrit by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati), based on lectures given in University of California.

Sree Narayana Guru

A response to certain references to the Guru by Prof. Ramachandra Guha

The man who has been taught by the Holy Spirit will be a seer rather than a scholar. The difference is that the scholar sees and the seer sees through; and that is a mighty difference indeed - Aiden Wilson Tozer.

There is no doubt that Prof. Ramachandra Guha occupies a prominent place in the field of Literature. His books on History, Cricket and Environment are well-received by the readers and are discussed and valued all over India and abroad. He has written a series of books based on the life-history of Mahatma Gandhi. The book is divided into different stages in Indian history. 'India After Gandhi' (published in 2007), 'Gandhi Before India'- the first volume of Gandhi's life-history (published in 2013), the second volume titled 'Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World' (1914-18) are those books. In all these books, he has made references to Sree Narayana Guru. Let us look at what he says in the first series 'India After Gandhi'. He referred to Guru as "the legendary leader of the Toddy Tappers community known as Ezhavas."

This despicable reference had invited a lot of ire and criticism at that time itself. It was a hot topic of discussion in the media and definitely might have come to the notice of Prof. Guha himself. The Guru is a venerable person as a Rishi, a Yogi and a Universal Preceptor. The impropriety of presenting such a person in a despicable manner invited the rancour of many a reader. But, Prof. Guha did not stop with this. He repeated the same mistake in his third series "Gandhi-the Years After". He goes like this; "Born in the lowly caste of Toddy Tappers known as Ezhavas, Narayana Guru had started a social movement to remove caste altogether." (page 212) and "Gandhi visited Sree Narayana Guru-the great Ezhava reformer also during his visit to Travancore." ( page 226).

He himself has given us enough evidence to prove that his interpretation of Guru and His teachings are solely based on his accumulation of superficial facts. He spilled the beans in his interview with Shajahan Matampatt on the occasion of Kerala Literature Festival held in Calicut in January 2019.The topic of discussion was "Gandhi-Before and After". (The written format of this conversation can be traced to the Feb. 2019 volume of the Malayalam magazine 'Pachakuthira' (Grasshopper).

In this conversation, he was kind enough to raise the status of the Guru, a little higher. He says, though the Guru started his activities as an Ezhava reformer, he was able to come out of that also. To substantiate his statement, he made a comparison with Dr.Ambedkar also. He also explained why he was not able to analyse thoroughly the activities of the Guru. When Shajahan confronted him with the fact that Malayalees protested vehemently against his reference to the Guru as 'Ezhava reformer', he said; "There is no doubt that Guru is a modern social reformer in India. Let me say, it is unfortunate that we do not have a reliable reference book in English to know more about Guru. The Malayalees never bothered to write anything about the Guru in English. They themselves are responsible for belittling the Guru thus. People like me, do not have any books to read about the Guru and know about Him."

Prof. Guha lives in Bangalore. After reading the facts given below, the readers can decide whether they should take the statements like the assessment of Guru as an Ezhava reformer and Guha's justification that we do not have any reliable English books to read and know more about the Guru, at face value.

Sree Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru Literature in English

The first book in English 'The Word of the Guru' was published from Geneva as a series of articles. It was written by Guru's disciple P. Natarajan, who later became Nataraja Guru, with the intention of introducing Narayana Guru to the world. Narayana Guru was alive when the first chapters were published in the magazine called 'Sufi Quarterly' in 1928.

These articles caught the attention of many eminent personalities like the French writer Romain Rolland-the recipient of Nobel Prize in Literature in 1915. He has written a book based on the life-history of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, published from Paris in 1930. Narayana Guru's name is mentioned in this book. Rolland wrote: "Sree Narayana Guru was, one might say, a Jnanin of action, a grand religious intellectual, who had a keen living sense of the people and of social necessities. 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 Gandhi." Prof. Ramachandra Guha is a person living in 21st century in the land sanctified by the foot-steps of the Guru, whereas Romain Rolland is a person, who came to know of the Guru through his Indian contacts and the articles in the 'Sufi Quarterly'. Even then, while recognizing Guru's role in eradicating inequality in human beings, he also looked at Him as a 'Jnanin'. How was it possible?

At this point, we have to distinguish between greatness and fame. Romain Rolland was a great man. So, he was able to recognize the greatness of Guruhood. Greatness is not something that comes along with fame acquired through publishing books or by any other means. It is true that we cannot expect the greatness of a Nobel Laureate from everybody. Even then, we have to learn from Romain Rolland the procedures and formalities to be followed while writing about a much reverable personality like Narayana Guru. He wrote about the Guru after reading 'Guruvarul' and doing a bit of research about Him and was fully satisfied by the information, thus obtained.

During that period, Nataraja Guru was a research scholar in Sorbonne University of Paris. Romain Rolland expressed his desire to meet Nataraja Guru and have a talk with him. Accordingly, he met Rolland at his residence and exchanged his views about the Guru. When we know the efforts made by a Nobel Laureate, that too, a person living in France in the 1920's, before writing anything about the Guru, we feel like bowing our heads before him. On the other hand, we feel pity for those who are famous but doesn't have the greatness in collecting sufficient and authentic information and knowledge before writing about seers.

Sree Narayana Guru

The Greatness of Guruhood

To know the greatness of Narayana Guru or any other Guru, the first thing one should learn is 'who and what a Guru is'. Generally, a 'Guru' is a person in human form, venerated and respected by the people around him. He is respected not for his individuality, but for the embodiment of Guruhood in him. Moreover, one should have the basic knowledge about Guruhood, its vastness, importance and in which field of life, it is more relevant.

Romain Rolland was a person who tried to study about Guru while living in France. There is another foreigner-John Spiers (1907-1979) from Scotland-who stayed in India years together to know more about Guru. Fascinated by the ancient civilization of the East, he came to India, at the age of 23. He met Nataraja Guru and became the disciple of the Guru. John Spiers was staying in Kaggalipura, a place near Bangalore, at the neighbourhood of Prof. Ramachandra Guha. From there, he started publishing a magazine called 'Values'. The first volume was released in September 1955. It was dedicated to Guruhood. In the editorial of the first volume itself, he has clearly stated 'for whom the publication is not meant for'. To quote his own words, "We are not writing for morons or academic deadpans". May be, John Spiers meant to convey the message that the greatness of Guruhood is beyond the grasp of these two categories.

He continued to publish articles on Guruhood in general, and also the need to look at Narayana Guru in the broad background of Guruhood. One among those articles is 'Right Appraisal of Narayana Guru'. Let me quote a part from that: "Narayana Guru belonged to this world of Guruhood and Absolutist ways. Thus Guru domain is not confined to the geographical area called India. Some day, a great work may be written on the history of Guruhood everywhere. What are called histories of philosophy and biographies of philosophers omit the common Guru factor, which integrates the great figures and joins regions apart in time and space, ancient or modern, east or west.

Whole dynasties of Gurus have existed, century after century. In the Mediterranean area, they are known from Thales (600 B. C.) to Plotinus (300 A. D.). In China, Gurus have been known from the time of Lao Tzu (500 B. C.) down the ages through Bodhi Dharma (600 A. D.) and HuiNeng, through the Zen Gurus who still exist in modern Japan. As outspoken prophets, quietist Mystics and poetic Sufis, Gurus have persisted even inside the harsh orthodoxies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In India, the list itself of Gurus known by name would cover many passes. Every region has had its galaxy of wisdom teachers, poets and singers-from Jnaneswara in the Maharastra west to Ramakrishna in the Bengal east and from Guru Nanak in the Punjab north to Narayana Guru in the Kerala south. Some, like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, have emerged from the orthodox fold of Vedic Brahminism; others such as Thiruvalluvar or Thukaram and also Narayana Guru, from primarily non-Vedic, pre-Aryan backgrounds; while others such as the Buddhist and Jaina, have represented heterodox approaches.

All these varied backgrounds are relativistic factors, but the Guru when he appears, should, never be confused with the background. No Guru has ever identified himself with any special religious or national or geographical background. Narayana Guru, for example, while not favouring any special religion, used the special language of every group, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic or Jewish, while remaining unidentified with any of them. The Guru domain is unique in being thoroughly neutral."
(underline by the author)

Sree Narayana Guru

The Value of Norms

Every field of human life has its own norms. Kilometre, as a measuring unit, is used to measure distance and kilogram is used for weights, but we cannot use them vice versa. John Spiers has given a clear picture of the fields to which Guru and Guruhood belong to and what are its measuring rods. The most significant factor in that field is highlighted with underline in the above quoted passage. He also explains what should not be done in this matter. There are certain norms to be maintained while writing, talking or doing something about Guru. On the contrary, if we assess a Guru based on local history, hearsays and prejudices, it will be as strange as measuring distance by kilogram and weights by kilometre.

Prof. Ramachandra Guha had granted a promotion to the Guru from the status of an "Ezhava reformer" to that of a "Social reformer". Let us look at the opinion of John Spiers regarding this status. This quote is from the same article: "Over and over again the Guru will be called a social reformer. This is a travesty of truth. Speakers will go further and associate Guru with the communal politics of Kerala, making him in to some sort of a tribal leader. The Guru protested against this use of his name in his own lifetime. Such speakers know nothing and and care less for the true status of Guruhood and the Science of the Absolute (brhma-vdya)." John Spiers has written a book on Narayana Guru 'A Warrior Rishi' where he portrays Guru, not in the context of social history but in the history of Guruhood.

Prof. Guha's justification for not having an opportunity for detailed study of Narayana Guru is lack of English books on Guru. All the above-mentioned books are in-depth study of the Guru. These were published even before Prof. Guha was born. In addition to books, for those who earnestly seek to learn Narayana Guru, lot of other records are also available.

Sree Narayana Guru

Findings of Tagore and Andrews

Romain Rolland had envisioned the Guru as 'a Jnanin of Action'. Similarly, John Spires also adored Him as 'a Warrior Rishi', long before they met the Guru in person. Guha's attention is also invited to the findings of two more great personalities, Rabindranath Tagore and Deenabandhu C. F. Andrews, about the Guru.

What Tagore said about the Guru is well-known: "I travelled in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, I had the good luck to meet many Rishis and Siddhas also. But, so far, I have never met anybody who can excel Sree Narayana Guru in spirituality; let alone to be equal to Him in Spiritual excellence. I am sure that I can never forget that radiant face bathed in celestial bliss and those deep and penetrating eyes centred on a point in eternity, deeply immersed in holy meditation."

C. F. Andrews-a close associate of Mahathma Gandhi, visited the Guru on 22nd November 1922, along with Rabindranath Tagore. This Christian missionary wrote a letter to Romain Rolland, about the visit. Wikipedia (in the page on Charls Freer Andrews) has quoted a line from the same. It goes like this; "I saw our Christ walking on the shores of the Arabian sea, in the attire of a Hindu sanyasin." May be these words might have been the inspiration behind Romain Rolland's inquisitiveness to know more about the Guru. It is strange that a sanyasin envisioned as a Yogi by Tagore and depicted as Jesus Christ by C. F. Andrews, became 'an Ezhava Reformer' in the eyes of Prof. Guha.

Sree Narayana Guru

The Findings of Theosophical Society

So far, we discussed the views of Mahathmas outside Kerala, about the Guru. Now let us look at the discoveries of Guru's contemporaries, who had the vision to recognize the greatness of Guruhood.

Theosophical Society is a movement spread all over the world. 'Sanathanadharmam' was the mouthpiece of Kerala chapter of Theosophical Society known in Malayalam as Brahma Vidya Sanghom. At the great demise of the Guru, every publication assessed the Guru in their own viewpoint. The views of this newspaper is quoted in the book 'Sree Narayana Guruswamikalute Jeevacharithram' (The biography of Sree Narayana Guru) written by Sri Murkoth Kumaran. The relevant parts are given below; "Kerala is plunged into darkness by the sudden demise of a great preceptor. On 20th September, the peaceful radiance of that face has merged into the setting sun. Sree Narayana Guru has gained a holy pedestal in the hearts of Keralites, like his predecessors Sri Sankaracharya and Thunchathacharyar."

Some people depict Him as a 'Thiyya Guru'. But, He has never initiated a Thiyya as His disciple. But, many, irrespective of caste and creed, namely Brahmins, Nairs, Thiyyas and Europeans have accepted Him as a Guru. To progressive Kerala, He is a Pathanjali in Yoga, Sankara in knowledge, Manu in governance, Buddha in sacrifice, Nabi in patience and Jesus in humility. Narayana Rishi, who combined in Himself all the great qualities of all these great men lived 72 years on this earth in the guise of a human being and went back to His heavenly abode. (This Malayalam book was first published in 1930. The quote is from page 198-199 of 2007 edition).

A detailed account of the meaning of Guruhood, where it comes from and what is the relevance of Guruhood etc., were given while quoting John Spiers. The essence of those notions can be seen in the last sentence quoted from 'SanathanaDharmam'. They have depicted Guru as a person who was born in the lineage of all the Gurus, Rishis and Prophets till today and as one who lived in Kerala during His lifetime. These lamp posts of Gurus, Rishis and Prophets, who are scarcely ever seen in the long passage of history cannot be confined in the restricted purview of academic scholars. (The title given to a book written by Rev. Bishop Dr. Geevarughese Mar Theodosius of Marthoma Church is 'Narayana Guru-the manifestation of a prophet envisioned by Kerala'. (It is quite incidental to mention this here.)

Sree Narayana Guru

The Findings of Philosophers

Now, let us come to the field of philosophers who may be familiar to the literary scholars. It was in 1933 that Narayana Guru was installed in the lineage of world Prophets (exactly quarter of a century before the birth of Prof. Guha). A Thesis based on the 36-42 stanzas in Athmopadesasatakam (One Hundred Verses of Self Instruction - a philosophical work of Narayana Guru in Malayalam) was submitted in Sorbonne University in France. The research was done by P. Natarajan who later became Nataraja Guru. A D.Litt degree with triple honours was awarded for the work. (Later he obtained an MRST too, from London). From the fact that this award was given by faculty members including the Nobel Laureate Henri Bergson, we can assess the standard and depth of Guru's vision.

Here, let us stop for a while and think. Romain Rolland, Rabindranath Tagore and Henri Bergson are all Nobel Laureates. The first two have recognized the greatness of the Guru overtly, whereas Henry Bergson has done it covertly. Even then, why Ramachandra Guha was not able to recognize the greatness of Guruhood, let alone the greatness of Guru's philosophy? In 'Advaita Dipika' (Lamp of Non-duality: a short philosophical work of Narayana Guru), Guru says that the sun which showers radiance on this earth is only a void in the eyes of a blind man. In the same way, to the people who are devoid of inner vision, Guru will only be 'an Ezhava Reformer born in the caste of Toddy Tappers'.

Sree Narayana Guru

More English Books on Guru

Many English books on Guru's philosophy have been published so far. Narayana Gurukula (A Guru-Disciple organisation founded by Nataraja Guru in 1923) itself has published 82 books analysing the different aspects of Guru's philosophy and presenting them before the readers. Many publishers have released books on Guru's biography, in addition to the books describing His role in social reformation. The biographies written by Murkoth Kumaran and M. K. Sanu have been translated into English. The book titled 'Narayana Guru-The Prophet of Renaissance' written by P.Parameswaran, the Director of Bharathtiya Vicara Kendra, is one among them. The Foreword to the English edition was written by Swamy Ranganathananda, President of Ramakrishna Mission. In the foreword, he has written a sentence which can indirectly be applied to people like Prof. Guha. "In our country, those who stand for human values and social reformations, have to learn a lot from Gurudev's exhortations and the endearing spirituality of His personality."

To the Christians, the Gospel is the way of salvation for mankind. There is another book of the same nature, written by K. P. Joseph, namely 'Gospel of Guru Narayana of India'. This book depicts Guru as a link in the series of prophets and saints of modern age. Books like 'Sree Narayana Guru-A Critical Study' written by Dr.Vijayalayam Jayakumar, 'The Life, Times and Miracles of SreeNarayana Guru', by K. K. Ramachandran, 'The Universal Guru' written by Sachidananda Swamy are to be noted specially. The latest books in this series are 'SreeNarayana Guru-A Comprehensive Biography: The Perfect Union of Budha and Sankara' by Asokan Vangassery Krishnan and 'Narayana Guru: A Life of Liberating Love' by Nancy Yielding. Both are 2018 editions.

Sree Narayana Guru

Garry Davis

In most of the books written in English about Narayana Guru, His philosophy, psychology and life-history in the background of local history are the plots. But, Guru's vision has reached a wider space in the outlook of broad-minded thinkers and philosophers. They have written about Guru's concept of 'Oneness' and its prominent role in solving universal conflicts. Garry Davis is one among them. He was a pilot in the American Air Force during the First World War. After the war, he gave up American citizenship and started working for world peace. He imbibed the philosophic foundation for such a great deed from Narayana Guru's vision of 'Oneness'. This happened quite unexpectedly, when he met Dr. P. Natarajan (Nataraja Guru), during a voyage.

Garry has written a book 'My Country is the World' (Published by Macdonald & Co., London in 1961) describing his adventurous efforts to propagate his idea of the 'One World' for world peace. A detailed description of his meeting with Nataraja Guru is given here. Garry says: "I was later to learn that Dr. Natarajan was the disciple of Shri Narayana Guru, of Travancore, South India, who, when died in 1928, was mourned by millions of followers throughout India and the Far East, and who was accorded recognition as a jagat guru or universal sage from Romain Rolland, the brilliant French writer". (page-91).

Sree Narayana Guru

Unchallengeable Judgement

What is so far given are accounts of the opinions of people who have directly seen the Guru, those who enquired seriously, and those who delved deep into search and research on Guru. Even then, all these may not be acceptable to those, whom acceptance may be proportional to the position of who said it. If position is the highest yardstick, as per socially accepted norm, we should give priority to the opinion of the judges of the Apex Court of Justice. According to the Indian Judicial system, the judgements made in the Supreme Court are unchallengeable. If Prof. Guha wants the opinion of such a person, I can quote the opinion of a Supreme Court judge, too.

It goes like this; "The moral miasma which has made the world the worst ever, has to be redeemed and a new world order restored. Only the spiritual radiance and the divine message of Sree Narayana Guru with his unitive Vedantic vision and synthesis of the spiritual and temporal can save mankind. His commandments are as simple as those of Jesus. His philosophy is as profound as Adisankara's. His teachings are straight and simple .So much so, beyond caste, creed and continent, Sree Narayana Guru can lead kindly light to all parts of the universe. He is already a universal Guru whom time cannot wither nor custom stale. Once his life, doings, writings and messages reach the common people there will be a spiritual, moral and material revolution." (underlined by me) This 'judgement' is given by Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer in the preface to the book 'Sree Narayana Guru: The Social Philosopher of Kerala', authored by Sathyabai Sivadas and P. Prabhakar Rao. This book was published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1997 i.e. ten years before the publication of Prof. Guha's book 'India After Gandhi'.

Sree Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru in Global Perspective

Coming back to Garry Davis, he had first-hand experience of a Word War and the catastrophes it bring forth. He sincerely wanted to relieve the world of future World Wars and its horrible aftermath. World war is a universal problem and only a universal vision can become the philosophical foundation for solving the problem. It should be the philosophy of an all-embracing vision, not confined to the narrow boundaries of caste, creed, clan, race or nationality. This all-embracing vision is comprised in Guru's philosophy of 'One Caste, One religion, One God for Man'. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, a judge in the highest court of justice in India, has upheld the glory of this vision. In his view, the world has become a hell. Along with religion, the existing economic policies and political manifestoes devoid of a global perspective play a major role in making life difficult for the masses. The only solution is to develop economic policies and political manifestoes of a universal nature aimed at the welfare of the entire humanity. Guidelines for developing such an economic theory and political program based on the philosophy of Narayana Guru is also available in English-Nataraja Guru's book 'Experience One World' published by D. K. Print World, New Delhi.

The book 'India and The Unthinkable' published by Oxford University in 2016 can be of use to Prof. Guha to understand how Guru is known all over the world. This book is not an exclusive study about Guru, but contains information about Him. The book was edited by Prof. Vinay Lal of University of California, Los Angels (UCLA) and Prof. Roby Rajan of university of Wisconsin-Parkside. The outer cover has a symbolic picture of Narayana Guru, also.

By the booming of Information Technology, the world has become a global village. If we just type 'Narayana Guru books' and click the mouse, information about many of the English books mentioned above starts pouring in. Even then, if a person declares that he doesn't have information about the Guru, because of scarcity of books in English, should it be taken at face value? Answer is left to the readers.

Sree Narayana Guru

Children's Narayana Guru

Stories play a major role in introducing the children to the world of letters and making them literate. The curiosity to read and hear stories will lead them to the enlightened world of literacy, removing the darkness of ignorance. Let us lead people like Prof. Guha also to the path of Narayana Guru literacy, by telling them a story. I can suggest the name of a suitable book in English namely 'Sree Narayana Guru', a picture story book in 'Amar Chitra Katha' series. After reading this book and gaining enough basic knowledge, they can upgrade themselves by reading 'Children's Narayana Guru' written by Swamy Muninarayana Prasad. Had Prof. Ramachandra Guha referred at least these two books before making the assessment of Guru, the need for this response would not have occurred.

Those scholars who do not have the ability to recognize Narayana Guru at the level of Guruhhod, can try to understand Him through His philosophy. If that is also impossible, let me come down to the stage which should definitely be familiar to them, i. e. the field of academics where focus is on research. To know more about the research conducted on Guru, inside and outside India, we should start not from Kerala but from France.

Sree Narayana Guru

The Study of Guru at Academic Level

Narayana Guru was a seer who realised the Self. The incessant flow of the experience of Self Realisation is the undercurrent of Guru's vision of 'Unitive Philosophy'. His life exemplifies the visual manifestation of that great philosophy. How is one becomes self realised? To get a scholarly answer from a non devotee of Narayana Guru, over to Dr.P.C.Alexander, who was the Principal Secretary to two Prime Ministers of India: "By rote or by plodding through books, none can attain the power of the Self. If that is so gained, I too would have been full of spiritual power. Dr.Radhakrishnan is one who had immersed himself in innumerable spiritual and religious treatises. Radhakrishnan, who had assimilated the essence of the Vedas and other religious texts, could have become a powerful spiritual leader. But none recognises him as that. Only when god-realisation is achieved and enjoyed, true spirituality emerges. Sree Narayana Guru is one of the rare great Souls who had won the unique spiritual attainment...... Sree Narayana Guru was the perfect blend of Bhakti, Karma, Yoga and Jnana. This is a unique combination seldom found in the average great man". (Sree Narayana Gurudev-A jnanin of Action: Compilation of Essays, page 103.)

In the academic field, knowledge is not considered as unitive, but as a multi-faceted phenomenon. It can be said that each department in the universities is one face of this multi-faceted approach. So far, more than 25 doctorate degrees are awarded in studies related to the Guru, from Universities of India and abroad. These studies are not confined to any particular faculty, but spread over to different departments like Language and Literature, Psychology, Philosophy, Education, Social Sciences etc.

It is interesting to note that the pioneering research on Guru was conducted not in India, but in France. In 1933, Sorbonne University, France, awarded D. Lit. to P. Natarajan for his thesis based on verses 36-42 of Narayana Guru's philosophical work Atmopadesasatakam (One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction). Subsequently, Natarajan was awarded M. R. S. T. (Member of Royal Society of Teachers) from London. Peter Oppenheimer-an American, took up the 49th verse of Atmopadesasatakam for his Master's degree in Psychology.

One of the bishops of Marthoma Congregation, Dr.Geevarughese Mar Theodosius, took his doctorate degree from Mc Master University in Canada. The topic for the thesis was 'Modernization and Retention of Heritage in the Philosophy of Narayana Guru', based on the history of a village named 'Murikkumpuzha' in Kerala. Here, let me invite the attention of those who can only see the Guru as an Ezhava Social Reformer, to certain revelations of the reverend Bishop. He says; "Sree Narayana Guru's messages should be looked upon as a part of the process of humanization rather than as a movement of social renaissance. Hence, Sree Narayana movement is humanization-a process that speeds up the formation of a new humanity."

Many Ph. D. degrees have been awarded to the studies on Guru in the faculty of Language and Literature and these are not confined to Malayalam and Sanskrit. In Hindi, a doctorate was awarded to Prof. Mahilamony on a comparative study between Narayana Guru and Thulasidas. In addition, many of Guru's works and life-history are also available in Hindi. Notable among them is the book 'Sree Narayana Guru' written by G. Gopinath, former Vice-Chancellor of Wardha University and visiting Professor of Helsinki University. The dept. of Russian in University of Kerala awarded a doctorate to a comparative study of humanitarian considerations of Leo Tolstoy and Narayana Guru. Dr. Pushpalatha was the researcher.

Fr. George Karakkunnel, a teacher in St. Joseph's Pontifical Institute, Aluva, Kerala had selected the topic 'Advaitic Vedanta (non-dual philosophy) of Sree Narayana Guru for his thesis in post-graduate studies in Kings University in London. Later, he developed the theme and wrote the book 'Advaita and Liberation: The Social Vedanta of Sree Narayana Guru'.

Sree Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru : Litterateur's Perspective

The study of the Guru had started during his life-time itself. The scholars touched not only the philosophical aspects of his works but also their poetical aspects. In the book '100 Poems in 100 Years', edited by Dr. P. K. Rajasekharan and published by D. C. Books, Sree Narayana Guru is included as one among the 100 Malayalee poets of twentieth century. Some of the sentences in the preface of this book will be helpful to know whether Narayana Guru started his activities as an 'Ezhava Social Reformer'. To quote from the same; "Sree Narayana Guru's Aruvippuram installation not only paved the way for the formation of movements that led to the awakening and reformation of the downtrodden and dalit categories, but also to initiate the reformation of Kerala social structure itself. 'Indulekha' that was published in the very next year of the installation testifies the very face of this reformation." ('Indulekha' is a seminal novel of Malayalam by O. Chanthu Menon.)

Again, let me quote the words of two famous litterateurs who were contemporaries of Narayana Guru. This will also make us understand how we should not look at the Guru. E. V. Krishna Pillai and C. V. Raman Pillai are those two gentlemen. To the words of C.V : "People can express many opinions about the Guru. These opinions are not based on proper understanding. (like many scholars-author). The realm of Guru is different. It can be understood only by people of that realm. Even in the Govt. Census, it is recorded that Narayana Guru is a great saintly person".

This quote is found in the article written by Dr. Suresh Madhav in Bhashaposhini (January 2016), a Malayalam monthly, by citing the diary notes of Maravoor Bhaskaran Nair, who became a disciple of Narayana Guru and came to be known as Bhaskaranandji. E. V. Krishna Pillai's opinion is also from the same article.

E. V., who always referred the Guru in a sarcastic manner, once met the Guru. Afterwards, he shared his experience with Maravoor thus: "I totally agree with what you say. Recently I met Sree Narayana Guru. He is indeed a great man. I felt great respect and devotion to him. I prostrated before him and paid obeisance. I really bow down before your blind belief and devotion to the Guru." G. Sankara Kurup is another Malayalee poet who had direct contact with the Guru. He has accredited Guru as the 'Second Sugathan'. (In Malayalam 'Sugathan' is one of the synonyms of Buddha.)

Sree Narayana Guru

Study of the Guru Outside Academic Field

Even outside the academic field also, many studies have been conducted on the Guru on par with research works. The book 'Three Acharyas and Narayana Guru' written by Muni Narayana Prasad is one among them. About 1500 years ago, it was Maharshi Badarayana who introduced the principles of Vedanta in aphorism known as sutra. Thereafter, though great masters like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva made valuable contributions to Indian thought, it was only Narayana Guru who presented Vedanta in aphorism. 'Vedanta Sutra' is it's title.

The concept of philosophy is very old and Narayana Guru lived in the age of modern science. Guru redefined philosophy to go with the findings of modern science. Studies are going on about these redefinitions also. Prof. G. K. Sasidharan's book 'The Maharshi who Made Advaitha a Science' comes under the purview of these studies that was initiated by Nataraja Guru. 'The Tao of Physics' is a book written by the scientist, Fritjof Capra. Prof. Sasidharan's book should be assessed in the background of a statement made in this book. "At the outset, the ways of a Western physicist and that of an Eastern rishi may look different. But, in reality, there are so many common factors in both. So we need not be surprised at the notable similarities in their description of the formation of this universe."

Prof. Nissar Ahammed's words help us to look at the Guru from the perspective of modern western thought. He assesses Guru as "The Shepherd of Being." This phrase was originally coined by the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. Nissar Ahammed is using the same term to depict Guru in a different context: "Sree Narayana Guru is an exceptionally gifted poet who did not get the acclaim he deserved. The underlying thoughts in his poems and the poems that were born out of those thoughts are only a few of his multifarious presentations. They can be attributed to be the result of his deep meditation on being. But, if the body of the Guru and its every movement is considered as the worship of being?, then, we can interpret the term 'the shepherd of being' as the one who has taken every care in every moment to safeguard being. Thus we can look at the Guru as the one who expels the all-pervading darkness for the welfare of his fellow beings." (Draft papers of Conference on Metaphysics and Politics, Backwaters Collective, Kochi; 2018, page 71).

Of late, the research on Narayana Guru has extended to the domain of performing arts also. Guru's works are now being interpreted and performed through music and dance. A composition that was written for a particular school of music is generally not amenable to any other forms of music. But, Guru's compositions have been sung not only in Carnatic and Hindusthani style, but also in Arabic and Folk music also. A testimony to this statement is the title of an interview with Sri. T.M.Krishna in "THE HINDU" (NOVEMBER 08, 2019) - "Narayana Guru's words are intrinsically musical".

Sree Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru as a Historic Figure

What is said from the beginning of this article till now are information pertaining to the different domains of a multifaceted personality. Historians and scholars may argue that these are not matters of their interest. So, finally, let us come to the field of history and social reformation. We are entering to this field, centred around the probing of finding any credible account of appraising Narayana Guru, from any accredited source, similar to that of Ramachandra Guha ie. as an 'Ezhava Reformer'.

Let us start from an official record. It was in 1940 that the Travancore State Manuel prepared by T. K. Velupillai was published. Look at the references about Narayana Guru in the tenth chapter titled 'Hinduism'. "He consecrated temples in many parts of Travancore. Entry to the temple was not restricted to persons of his caste only; any person, irrespective of caste or creed was allowed into the temples. Within a short period, Guru declared his policy of 'One Caste, One Religion, One God for Man'. His influence was not confined to the people of his own community only. Most of his ascetic disciples were from the Nair community." (Page 639 of 1996 edition).

As an explanation and proof to this official record, we can verify the list of Guru's disciples. His first disciple was Swamy Sivalingadasa, whose name was Ayyappan Pillai in his poorvasrama (before entering the monastic life). Narayana Guru's last ascetic disciple Swamy Ananda Theertha, who fought against caste system and had to face severe tortures, was a Brahmin. Swamy Sathyavrathan, who was known as 'the Vivekananda of Sree Narayana Guru', Swamy Dharma Theertha, Swamy Chaithanya - all belonged to the Nair community during their poorvasrama.
(Here emerges a very interesting possibility. By linking this fact of caste relationship between the Guru and disciples with the "Ezhava" comment of Prof.Guha, some future scholar may 'discover' that Ezhavas were the Gurus of Nairs and Brahmins!!)

Not only the ascetic disciples, but many of the leaders in the social domain, who had the greatness to recognize the greatness of Guruhood, did not look at him as an Ezhava Social Reformer. Sri V. T. Bhattathiripad, who pioneered the ways to humanize the Nampoothiris (Kerala Brahmins), remarked: "Let me openly tell you that it was Sree Narayana Guru's life and philosophy that motivated the progressive and revolutionary Nampoothiri youth to fight against the supremacy of the Brahmins in later years." (Malayala Manorama daily; 20/09/1980).

Marxists scholars of Kerala too do not appraise Narayana Guru as an Ezhava Social Reformer. In the book 'Kerala Renaissane-A Marxist perspective', a Marxist intellectual P.Govindan Pillai has described Guru as "The Rajashilpi (Master Architect) of Kerala Renaissance".

Sree Narayana Guru

The 'Coming Out' of Narayana Guru!

This response is neither for the sake of a nit picking nor an attempt to argue and win; it is borne out of the humble desire to convey the message to scholars, about the need of collecting authentic data/information before commenting on, judging, assessing and appraising matters related to a personality like Narayana Guru. In this context, verifying the veracity of one of the statements of Ramachandra Guha deserves special attention. In the interview with Dr.Shajahan Madampatt, he opined that "Guru started his activities as an Ezhava Social Reformer. Later he was able to come out of that also." Let us see the chronology of Guru's 'activities' and assess how valid this assessment is.

Here we are not considering the basic question of 'Does a yogi has any type of activity?'. For argument's sake, if we say 'yes', Guru's activities in public domain started with the consecration of idol of Siva in Aruvippuram, a village in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital district of Kerala in 1888. There, the purpose of that installation is inscribed on the walls, proclaiming to the world that the temple was a model abode where all people meet as brothers and sisters, irrespective of caste, creed, region, religion etc. Thus, he had established the noblest aim of his life, the concept of Universal Brotherhood, right in the beginning of his 'activities' itself. (It is this inscription of Aruvippuram, the honourable president of India quoted in the joint Parliament Session on June 20, 2019. Thus the universality of Narayana Guru has been approved officially).

Dr. Ezhumattoor Rajaraja Varma has written about that historic moment: "May be, in the history of the world, this is the only installation of an idol that invited the attention of the whole world." (Aruvippurathinappuram; 2016, page 12). Then, surely this can't be interpreted as the starting of 'Ezhava Social Reformation'.

Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, a social organisation was founded in 1903. The immediate activities of this organisation was concentrated mainly to find solutions for caste related evils, particularly that of Ezhavas. (Let us note, it is after 15 years of Guru's proclamation of Universal Brotherhood of Aruvippuram installation). It is true that Guru cooperated with this organization for more than a decade. If this association with the Yogam is the reason for describing him as an Ezhava Social Reformer, then, we have to listen to the words of the Guru in this regard.

When Guru was asked the question why a person who is casteless cooperate with the movement of Ezhavas, he answered: "Caste system is like a Maddalam (A percussion instrument). It is Ezhavas who stand in the middle. If you turn right and see, you can find castes starting with the Nampoothiris, their educational and cultural superiority along with their evil customs and practices. If you turn to the left, you can see the downtrodden and despicable castes, their evil customs and practices, their ignorance and subjugated existence. If both these groups are kept at the two ends of a rope, you can pull them from both the sides and bring to the centre." (Sree Narayana Guru Vaikhari-Conversations of Narayana Guru - by Dr.T. Bhaskaran, page 120). So it is not as an 'Ezhava Reformer' Guru cooperated with this organisation, but as a means and with the noble intention to annihilate caste related evils altogether.

Narayana Guru's 1916 proclamation of "We don't have Caste" (Guru always referred himself as "we" as a reflection of his concept of oneness where there is no "I" and the "other") must be known to those who have the basic knowledge of Kerala renaissance. Centenary of this proclamation was a widely publicised official program of Govt. of Kerala. To come 'out' of something, one has to be already 'in' it. How can Narayana Guru come out of the frame of 'Ezhava Reformer' in which he never had been? A gesture of Govt. of Travancore, exempting the Guru from appearing before courts of law, is a solid evidence of approving him not as a reformer, but as a Guru, whose domain is beyond the norms of manmade laws.

To investigate further into the activities of the Guru and to know whether his activities were aimed solely for the development of a particular community or for the overall development of the people, the book 'Developmental Modernity in Kerala-Narayana Guru, SNDP Yogam and Social Reform' by P. Chandra Mohan will be of great help.

Sree Narayana Guru

Guruhood has no Barriers, Either Geographic or Political

During His life time itself Narayana Guru's influence had spread to the then neighbouring states of Madras, Mysore and Andhra, directly and through the chain of his disciples. What is said by Prof. Anandan in his paper presented in the seminar conducted by Potti Sreeramulu Telugu university, Hyderabad in 2012 is something that has gone unnoticed by many: "It is the great man Asaganandagiri, better known as Malayala Swamy, who propagated the messages of Sree Narayana Guru among the people of Andhra. He founded Vyasahram in 1926 in the village called Yerpedu, situated between Thirupathi and Kalahasthi. All his efforts were centred on propagating the vision and messages of the Guru." Swamy Asagananda was the disciple of Swamy Shivalingadasa, who was the direct disciple of the Guru, to whom a reference is already made as the first disciple of Narayana Guru.

Another resource to look at the Guru beyond 'Ezhava Reformer' and at national level, is the words of C. Achutha Menon who was a communist leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala. "Arya Samaj was born in the north-western parts of India. Likewise, Brahma Samaj was formed in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The Social Reformation Movement in Kerala, under the guidance of Sree Narayana Guru is a parallel movement of these. But, in my opinion, this movement was more modern and highly sophisticated than all other movements. I express this opinion only after studying the unique nature of this movement." (Preface to C.R. Kesavan Vaidyar's book 'Sree Narayana Chinthakal').

The waves of the influence of Narayana Guru did not confine to the neighbouring states alone. They crossed the sea and reached Ceylon. The Sree Narayana Guru Memorial Hall and Gurumandiram in Colombo are the external manifestations of that influence. As a mark of respect to the Guru, Sri Lankan Govt. had released a postal stamp in his name in Sep.2008. One of his disciples, Swamy Govindanada, travelled to Singapore and Japan as an envoy of Guru.

A mention to the somewhat unique nature of the social structure that developed in Kerala, with Narayana Guru as the hub, is also worth mentioning to evaluate the fallacy of the "Ezhava Reformer". The title "The Enigma of Green Kerala" is sufficient to convey the peculiarity. This is an article by Bill McKibben published in US in 1995. In this article, using an American norm, Narayana Guru is placed on par with Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln-the greatest architects of social justice in America.

Sree Narayana Guru

Three Questions

So far done is a quick survey of how Narayana Guru have been appraised along various perspectives-starting from the domain of a Pophet, Guru and Rishi, which can be understood only by people who are broad minded and gifted with an inner vision, to the field of the transactional world where the social implications of Narayana Guru's model is recognised at the local, national and international levels. To arrive at a logical conclusion to this survey, three questions are to be answered:

Q. 1: Why is it that Narayana Guru is looked up on from a series of perspectives?

Ans. We find an answer in the biography 'Sree Narayana Paramahamsadevan' authored by Swamy Dharmanandji. Swamy compares Guru to a peculiar flower named 'Manorenji'. Swamy says; "when we smell the flower, keeping in mind the fragrance of a particular flower or fruit, we feel the flower emanating the same fragrance. Guru's life is also almost like this. Guru appears to be that which we have in mind while appraising the Guru. Means, we can see only that in Guru". (A corollary of 'Manorenji' metaphor helps us to evaluate those who evaluate Narayana Guru).

Q.2 : In spite of the wide range of literature available on Narayana Guru, why does a scholar attach the tag of caste to a Sanyasi and a Guru, even in 21st century?

Ans. One reason may be linked to the answer to the first question. Another reason is an observation made by Deborah Buchanan. She says: "Despite his many achievements, Narayana Guru often receives no more than a cursory mention in modern histories of India. This holds true whether the focus is socio-political or whether it is spiritual. Part of the problem is that Narayana Guru spans those issues; he does not fit in to either category. Part of the problem is the very issues that the Guru himself addressed. He did not fit in to the north India activist model, and neither was he of high caste following a specific Hindu line of religiosity.... By default and through a continuing act of distortion, Narayana Guru has been labelled a saint of a particular region and a spokesperson for a particular caste. What a reversal of all that he taught!" (Introduction to 'Narayana Guru-A Life of Liberating Love' by Nancy Yeilding - DK Printworld, New Delhi, 2019). And the distortion is going on.

Q. 3: Has any of the Mahatmas, who visited the Guru, referred to him on the basis of caste?

Yes. It is none other than the Mahatma about whom Prof. Ramachandra Guha has written the book in which he makes a caste-based reference to Guru. Once Gandhiji referred Guru as a "Thiyya Sanyasin" (Narayana Guruvum Gandhijiyum - Narayana Guru and Gandhi - Dr.S.Shaji , page 174 & 176, quoted from 'Young India' Dt. June 19, 1924 and July 10, 1924). Thiyya and Ezhava are considered as same caste. Let us recall 'what' Romain Rolland, Tagore and C.F.Andrews 'saw' in Guru and can have a comparison with what Gandhiji 'saw'. Applying the corollary of Manorenji metaphor opens the possibility of interpreting the conditioning of these great men.

Sree Narayana Guru

"Gandhiji is a Child"

Gandhiji made this reference of caste without even respecting the age-old Indian concept that a Sanyasin is not bound by any caste, because, to become a sanyasi one has to undergo a 'civic death' and so is beyond all social stratifications. Not only that Gandhiji conferred the caste identity, he also said that Narayana Guru is a Sudra. (Dr.S.Shaji, page 90). Sudra is the term to denote one of the varnas in the four fold varna classification of ancient India. Actually Ezhavas were outside the varna system and Gandhiji made the sudra reference without even knowing this very basic concepts of varna. No wonder, Narayana Guru was forced to tell one of his disciples, Bhargavan Vaidyar, that "Gandhiji is a child, as far as matters related to religion are concerned". (Dr.Shaji, page 90).

When looked upon against an earlier statement of Gandhiji on caste, his assessment of Narayana Guru, violating the norms of sanyasa, seems to be neither casual nor accidental. See this statement: "I do not think that caste is an evil institution. In the beginning, caste was a code of customs that accelerated the welfare of the state." This quote is from the Malayalam book 'Moolyangalude Kuzhamarichil (Promiscuous mixing of Values) by Nitya Chaitanya Yati, page 43. (Reference to this quote is not specifically given in the book. But another quote in the same page is referred to 'Young India', February 1920 and so this too may have the same reference.) So, kindly bear with me for raising the doubt of whether the caste reference to Narayana Guru in 'India After Gandhi' published in 21st century, when Independent India has grown to a 'not so young' level in her perspective towards caste, is based on references in 'Young India' published during pre-independent days?

Sree Narayana Guru

Role of Scholars in Society

Explanations given so far help to assess the validity/absurdity of appraising Narayana Guru as an 'Ezhava Reformer'. A scrutiny of the statement "Born in a lowly caste of toddy tappers known as Ezhavas, Narayana Guru had started a social movement to remove caste distinctions altogether" is also not out of place. Three points are to be considered here. First of all, anyone who conduct a serious study on Narayana Guru can see that he didn't start any social movement, unless the definition of 'starting' includes 'cooperation' also. Second point is whether Ezhavas were toddy tappers. It is true that many 'scholars' have that impression. But the factual fallacy of this impression was revealed during the beginning of 20th century itself. In the 1911 census report of Travancore, N.Subrahmanya Iyer has given the distribution of population on the basis of profession. In Ezhavas, out of 1000, the number engaged in toddy tapping was 110. Quoting this statistics and after questioning the validity of conferring a profession on a community on the basis of just 11% of its population, Kumaranasan, the poet of Kerala renaissance and the first general secretary of SNDP Yogam wrote: "Hence, the information that the occupation of Ezhavas is toddy tapping, is wrong." (Vivekodayam monthly, Vol.IX No. 8, cited in Ezhava-Thiyya Charithra Patanam by K.G Narayanan: 1984, page 51.) It is more than 100 years after Kumaranasan's clarification based on facts, the notion of certain scholars of colonial time has reappeared in the book on Gandhi, whose mission was to fight colonial notions!

Thirdly we need to look at the social conditions of Kerala in 19th century, as a canvas to assess the 11% of Ezhavas tapping toddy. Works in Malayalam by Kanipayyur Sankaran Nampoothiripad and P.K.Balakrishnan throw light on this canvas. In 'Aryanmarude Kutiyettam Keralathil' (The Immigration of Aryans in Kerala), and Nayanmarude Purvacharithram (Past History of Nairs), written by the former and in Jathi Vyavasthayum Kerala Charithravum, (Caste system and the History of Kerala) by the later, we have a picture of how different communities lived while 11% of Ezhavas were 'toddy tappers'.

When we read about the caste-based mode of living described in these books, we feel that toddy tapping had more dignity than many other practices of that period. For example, look at an opinion recorded by 'Malabar Marriage Commission' in 1891: "The sense of justice need not feel diffident to condemn the social system that allots prostitution to the women of one community and to the other group, life-long celibacy." (Cited in P.K.Balakrishnan, page 333) This opinion is about the practice of 'sambandham' (morganatic marriage or sexual relationship without any legal bindings) between Nairs and Brahmins of 19th century. So scholars have ample scope for linking any great personality of yester centuries of Kerala, either saintly or social, to the social structure of that period. Whether that approach of digging out the past while referring great men goes with the saying 'scholars convey a look of neutrality in their eyes', or not, is a subject open for discussion. Anyway, Kerala society has already transcended that way of looking at any one of such personalities and has attained the maturity of assessing such assessments as parochial.

Sree Narayana Guru

Logical Contradiction

Just like the contradiction of Gandhiji appraising Narayana Guru as a sudra, a very interesting logical contradiction in 'Gandhi: The years that changed the world' (2018) is also worth mentioning. In page 226, the author says: "A poem attributed to Narayana Guru beautifully convey his egalitarian and universalist philosophy". Proof for this statement also is provided, by quoting a few lines from Jati Nirnayam (A Critique of Jati), one of the sixty odd works of Narayana Guru. It is in the same page we read: "While in Travancore, Gandhi also visited Narayana Guru, the great Ezhava reformer". How is it that a person with egalitarian and universalist philosophy can be classified as an 'Ezhava reformer' and, on the other hand, what is the logic in attributing Narayana Guru the status of an egalitarian and 'universalist', if he is a mere Ezhava reformer?

Sree Narayana Guru


This response may be responded not in favour, and may be unjustified, by pointing out that the author of Gandhi series has great appreciations for Narayana Guru. Praising Narayana Guru for his egalitarian and universalist philosophy and placing him as a reformer at par with Gandhi may be cited as examples to substantiate this response as unwarranted. There is sense in it, but whether Narayana Guru is a social reformer or not has already been explained. Moreover, the question raised at the Kerala Literature Festival, of one reformer alone is tagged to caste and Gandhi being not so, dim the intensity of the claim of appreciation.

More important is, this response is not at all centred on appreciation, it is mainly on the appraisal of Narayana Guru as an 'Ezhava Reformer'. A wrong appraisal can nullify all appreciations, however noble they are. Even a 100% appreciation of a master to his slave is not a justification for appraising another human being as a slave in modern time. So appraisals matters more than appreciations. As explained in the beginning, it is the question of whether the norm used to measure a seer is right or wrong. Just as the norm of kilometre as a measure of distance will not change according to the background of the individual who measure it, the norm of Guruhood too is unchangeable irrespective of whether the appraisal is made by a devotee or a scholar.

A simple example, related to a hypothetical appraisal of Gandhiji, will reveal the difference in intensity and magnitude between correct and wrong appraisals of Narayana Guru. In his speech, after visiting Narayana Guru at Sivagiri Mutt on 13th March 1925, Gandhiji said: "Today morning, during my talk to Narayana Guru, I told him that I am a scavenger. The status of a scavenger is at the utmost bottom among downtrodden people. I don't feel ashamed of considering myself as a scavenger. My request to each scavenger is that he should not be ashamed of his profession". (Quoted by Dr.T.Bhaskaran from Gandhijiyum Keralavum-Gandhi and Kerala - compiled by K.Ramachandran Nair, a publication of Kerala Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi; page 211).

Let us suppose a person took these words of Gandhiji literally and s/he later wrote a biography of Narayana Guru. Again let us suppose that we read in this hypothetical biography: "Narayana Guru was so compassionate to receive even scavengers and I have personally seen Guru patiently engaged in a conversation with a scavenger named Gandhi". This hypothetical statement is a nearest possible comparison to show the gravity of negativity of the sentence in Gandhi's biography: "While in Travancore, Gandhi also visited Narayana Guru, the great Ezhava reformer". Portraying Narayana Guru as an Ezhava reformer is tantamount to portraying Gandhiji as a scavenger. In the case of Gandhiji, at least there is a scope for arguing technically, because he said so. But all words and deeds of Narayana Guru are clear manifestations of what he is not.

Now, dear reader, if you find nothing wrong in the hypothetical appraisal of Gandhiji, you are endorsing the appraisal of Narayana Guru in the Gandhi series of Ramachandra Guha. If it is so, I profusely apologise for this response. On the other hand, if you think that the appraisal of a great personality of the transactional domain as scavenger is not correct, you are undoubtedly admitting that the appraisal of a great seer, who has inclusively transcended the transactional domain, as Ezhava reformer is equally or more incorrect. So I am sorry to say that, for those who study Narayana Guru seriously, such appraisals remain as a valuable example of how not to see him.

(This article was originally published in the Malayalam monthly 'Gurudevan'. Translated by Prof. Mariakutty Joseph and published in Vol-II, Issue No.II & III of 'Oneness', SNGCC Shillong.)

Sree Narayana Guru

Note: Contact the author through phone no: +91 94478 63335 or email to Dr.P.K.Sabu (

Sree Narayana Guru

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