The day is coming to an end. For most people, today is a Sunday, and as the evening gets darker, it is sign of the end of the weekend and the beginning of the “Monday Blues”. In Kerala a birthday was celebrated…… Whose birthday would be the natural question? The answer would be Sree Narayana Guru.. Who is he can be a question one might hear, or maybe not..
Like my previous post on Onam, this short write up is on a Guru. Most people know him as a social reformer, as a Sadhu, as a Hindu Saint, and other ……. Kerala is known as ‘God’s own Country’. According to the Wikipedia, there are many places around the world that are referred to by this name. Kerala is a small state in the southernmost part of India, named as one of the “ten paradises of the world” by National Geographic’s Traveller magazine. One can find many explanations some which are supposedly mythological like the Sage Parasurama threw his battle axe(towards the south) from somewhere near Gokarana and the space between Gokarana and the place where is axe fell turned to land, which is Kerala. I also had someone tell me that in the cycle of rebirths it is the effect of your past Karma that gives the atma (soul) the privilege to be born as a human. To be reborn as human again in India is considered at a higher plane than the previous and to be born in Kerala the highest.
I was born in Kerala and spend most of life away. Back at my birth place, the on-going years till now, has been a journey of un-learning, questioning the self, introspecting, fighting belief systems of the self and surrounding, getting to understand that the more one walks into the dense forest of belief systems, the more constricted it becomes to express one’s own thoughts. However it is only when one goes deeper that answers start to materialize from no-where, and the old belief systems start to crumble just like old paint on the wall to be replaced by beliefs whose foundations are built on experiences of the self, and one starts to believe that the ‘Belief System’ needs to be purified with time, for it to shine bright just like fire purifies gold. It is like the ‘join the dots picture’. Anyway there are still many dots left, small bits and pieces of the complete picture has only been revealed.
Sree Narayanan Guru was born in 1856 in the suburbs of present day Thiruvananthapuram. His father Madana Asan, could have been a scholar, the word Asan certainly indicates a person of knowledge. It is said that he learned Malayalam, Tamil and Sanskrit from his Father. It is also said that the young Nanu(as he was fondly called) loved to spend time herding the cows, composing hymns and singing. He also had extensive training in Vedanta Philosophy. The Guru relied a lot on his own experiences, and teachings of the Upanishad. Apart from this he is to have studied Yoga Vasistha of Valmiki Ramayana and Patanjali’s Yogasutras.
He was against any forms of community other than the Human Community. A great spiritual Guru, whose thoughts and teachings are yet to percolate into our lives. Thoughts and views that would make living simple and foster a feeling of warmth in mankind, and to look at another human being as human being first. In the words of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore who met the Guru in 1922, “I have never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Narayana Guru or a person who is at par with him in spiritual attainment”. The meeting of Gandhiji with Narayana Guru is supposed to have triggered a crucial transformation in Gandhiji’s approach to caste and color conflict in India and abroad.
*Biographical references http://www.sreenarayanaguru.in/biographies