more ads
Kamat's Potpourri Amma's Column .
Kamat's PotpourriNew Contents
About the Kamats
Feedback
History of India
Women of India
Faces of India
Indian Mythologies
geographica indicaArts of India
Indian Music
Indian Culture
Indian Paintings
Dig Deep Browse by Tags
Site Map
Historical Timeline
Master Index
Research House of Pictures
Stamps of India
Picture Archive
Natives of India
Temples of India
Kamat Network
Blog Portal

'

Durable Link to this BlogTuesday, May 12, 2009

Narayana Guru (1854-1928)

Shri Narayana Guru (1854-1928 CE)

India has boasted of great gurus and saint-poets who belonged to so called lowly caste. They inspire of interesting and rather conflicting study of the caste system in India through the ages.

In the Indian tradition, Lord Krishna was a cowherd, Valmiki, who wrote Ramayana was a hunter and Vyasa who wrote Mahabharata was son of a fisher-woman. One may argue that they all belonged to hoary past, when caste system had not made its ugly appearance. But a great saint-reformer lived amongst us, not long ago. He changed the face of an entire community and is venerated by one and all, due to his high spiritual attainments and social leadership.

He was Narayana Guru.

Narayana was born in a small village near Tiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), capital of Kerala state. His parents Madan and Kutti Amma belonged to Ezhava community, which was considered untouchable in conservative Kerala. In the 19th century Kerala, the Ezhavas formed more than 17% of the total population and were fairly educated, although discriminated. Young Narayana was lucky enough to get good education from Raman Pillai Asan.

© V.N. O'key
Narayan Guru (1854 - 1928)
Narayan Guru (1854 - 1928)
Portrait in India ink by V.N. O'key

Married at a very young age --as was the norm at the time, he lost his wife soon and became a totally withdrawn from the world. Spiritual traits were ingrained in him and practiced Yoga and strict way of life of ancient rishis. He established a monastery and started preaching virtues of pure and pious life. He urged people to fight superstitions, animal sacrifice and cruelty to them. He was very much pained at the caste barriers of the time which forbade temple- entry to Dalits. He encouraged his people to build their own temples and trained them in puja rituals. He taught them Sanskrit and philosophy too. Soon he gained large following.

He preached three slogans to his followers.:

  1. One God, one caste, one religion for all mankind.
  2. Ask not think not caste
  3. Whatever the religion, let man improve himself.

Though started initially to emancipate his own community of Ezhavas, his belief in one God and one religion, brought together different castes much lower in the rung, who too became his followers. His gurukul at Shivagiri near Trivandrum became a great center of education and vocational training to students of all castes. He also started co-operative credit societies to avoid dependence of the poor on upper castes. His preachings led a movement known as SNDP yogam or Shri Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana Yogam.

Later he participated in Gandhiji's satyagraha which became famous as Vaicom temple-entry satyagraha. This did a lot to lessen social discrimination in south India.

Narayana Guru was the prominent preacher of the last century to teach and practice that, the caste system had nothing to do with Hindu religion and was only a social phenomenon, which could be fought against in a non-violent way.

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

More Entries...

Browse Amma's Column by Tags

1920s - ancient India - avatars - banana - bangalore - buddha - calcutta - christmas - coins - colin mackenzie - colonel - conference ii - conversions - cousin - cows - customs - dalit - democracy - dhols - dr narayan - drums - dung - fables - far east - gandhi - gandhiji - great deluge - guru - hinduism - home library - human body - idolatry - kalpa - karnataka - kautilya - kingdoms - krishna - manners - marriage - new books - new year - nuances - obituary - old temple - patience - personalities - peru - pontiff - postal service - prime source - queen - rao - relevance - religion - revolt - romance - runners - saga - saints - Saints of India - salt satyagraha - science - shaven heads - sher - sri lanka - suresh - terracotta - tradition - trauma - tsunami - tulunadu - unity - universality - women - zen - 11th century - 75th anniversary - alberuni - all india radio - amrita - ancient art - ancient india - ancient indians - animals - anmori - arthashastra - autobiographical notes - b_g_l_swamy - babies - basham - bedas - belief - bengaluru - bhagat singh - Bhagatsingh as seen by Kamaladevi. - bhagavata purana - bhagirath - Bhakti Cult - bharata - bhat - blouse - brahmin - brute - buddha jayanti - card games - cart - caste system - centenary tribute - centennial - chanakya - chariot - cheers - chilli - chinese monk - Christmas - christmas eve - cloud messenger - cockfights - code of manu - colonel colin - complete works - conch shell - cuisine - curry - customs - dasa - demons - dessert - devil worship - dhyan - dikshit - dikshitar - discovery - doldrums - eknath - elephant - empire - epigraphy - fanny - festival foods - festive - forest scene - freedom - gandhi - gandhiji - ganesh - gautama buddha - gayatri mantra - gesture - Goa - gods - gramophone record - grandmother - great men - grinder - guru - happy new year - haste - helping hands - hind swaraj - hind_swaraj - hindu - hindu religious symbols - hindu texts - hinduism - hindus - history conference - humanist - hunger - idolatry - indian civil service - indian names - indians - institution of marriage - interviews - jaina - juggernaut - kamath - kannada - karnataka - kasaragod - kavya - keladi - krishna - laughing buddha - legacy - lotus - loving touch - m n srinivas - mallya - mama - mango season - manu - masters - materialism - medieval india - memories - middle path - midwife - misadventure - moorthy - music tradition - musical - musings - narad - narada - new articles - night life - obituary - offerings - old photo - Om - ornaments - pai - pampa - panchatantra - peacock - peacock dance - peacock dress - pearls - philanthropist - pigeons - poet - poetess - potpourri - prayer - prehistory - promising artist - prostitutes - queen - quilt - rahul - rajasthan - rajendra - ramayana - ramdas - rao - rare volume - robber - roots - rubaiyat of omar khayyam - saints - sane guruji - saraswati - saraswats - science - scorn - sea navigation - sedam - serpent worship - shameful practice - sharana - shastra - shivaji - silver art - sorab - south east asia - south india - subba rao - sunset - swami - swamy - swastika - tara - tea - temple school - temple town - terracotta_town - three books - tiger - titan - tonsure - torave_ramayan - tradition - translator - travelogue - tree of life - tribute - tsunami damage - Tulasidas - tuluva - upanishad - vedanta - vedas - viswanath - Viswanath Kashinath Rajwade - vivekananda - w h sleeman - wall paintings - what is in a name - wilks -

Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


Introduction


ARCHIVES


Search Amma's Column


More articles by Jyotsna Kamat

 

 

 

Kamat's Potpourri Jyotsna KamatAmma's Column

© 1996-2016 Kamat's Potpourri. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without prior permission. Standard disclaimers apply

Merchandise and Link Suggestions

Top of Page