SREE NARAYANA GURU-A Brief Life Story

Sree Narayana Guru, one of the greatest philosopher-poet-saints and social reformers of Kerala, was born at 6.15 am on Tuesday 28th August 1855, in Chempazhanti, near Trivandrum, Kerala.

He had his primary and higher education during 1860 to 1880. His great teacher was ‘Karthikapalli Kummanpalli Raman Pillai Asaan’. He was initiated to the ordinary life in 1882 with a formal marriage, but dissociated from it and took to Sanyas – renunciation – immediately. He studied Yoga techniques under Thaikkad Ayya Swami (1884) and developed a personal bondage with another great reformer of the times, Chattampi Swamikal around this period.

Sree Narayana Guru was a tireless crusader for socials equality and fought against all sorts of discrimination prevalent against the down-trodden and the oppressed, in his times. One of the greatest social evils of the period was discrimination based on caste/creed – the untouchability. The Guru traveled far and wide with his missionary message to awaken the masses and guide them in the proper direction.

‘Aruvippuram’ is a small village near the river ‘Neyyar’ in Trivandrum. He was worshipping Siva during the days of his meditation. In 1888, he himself installed a Siva’s idol – Siva Linga’ in the temple premises there. This was a path-breaking event because, so far, only select Brahmin priests had the authority by convention to install idols of divinities. There were criticisms about this unconventional step; but he answered them by saying that ‘I installed only an Ezhava Siva’. He opted for the path of conciliation rather than confrontation. He got the following lines inscribed at this temple gate:

“Jathibhedam Matha Dwesham Aethumillathe Sarvarum
Sodaratwena Vazhunna Marthukaa Sthanamaanithu.”

[This is an ideal place of worship, wherein people live together in brotherly affection without any distinction of caste creed or hatred thereto.]

The Guru, then went on installing deities in different places in Kerala. In some places, he
installed a ‘mirror’ instead of the image or idol of any deity to convey the message that ‘You
are yourself  God!’ The Mirror as idol are at :

(1) Kalavankod, Cherthalai and (2) Ullala near Vaikom – Omkareswara Temple.

In 1895, he took a young boy to Bangalore and handed over to Dr.Palpu, another well-known social reformer of great zeal of his times. This boy later developed into one of the finest philosopher-poets of Kerala – with title of Mahakavi – as “Kumaran Asaan’”.  Sree Narayana Guru himself was a profile writer in propose and verse. Several prayers and hymns were written by him in praise of various gods and goddesses besides other philosophical works. To propagate his mission, an organization was registered in 1903, which grew as ‘Sree Narayan Dharma ParilpalanaYogam’; [S.N.D.P] – registered in 1928 and today, it is known world over as the representatives body propagating the Guru’s teachings.

The Guru met a great visionaries of his times including Sree Ramana Maharshi (1916), Poet Rabindranath Tagore (1922) and Gandhiji (1925) and drew appreciation of and admiration from all these great men about his vision, philosophy and life.