Sree Narayana Guru
Towards the end of the 19th century, Sree Narayana Guru emerged as a wisdom teacher with his gifted poetic skills in Malayalam and Sanskrit languages. Through poetic expressions, he began to clarify mind-matter interactions, based on Upanishadic wisdom and contemporary social conditions. Living as a jnana yogi with his monastic disciples in the serene environments of his spiritual abodes (Ashrams), he often stepped outside as a karma yogi, mixing with ordinary men, empathizing in their plight and working alongside reform aspirants, instilling in them hope and rationale for a spiritual and social renaissance and their political self-determination.
Sree Narayana Guru was a modern day proponent and re-evaluator of Advaita Vedanta. The Guru’s philosophy, which is fundamental of non-dual wisdom in principles, further extends traditional Advaitic concepts into practical modes of self-realization through contemplation, spiritual inquiry, realization, and compassion for life; whilst importantly emphasizing on egalitarian values of spiritual freedom, social equality and multicultural co-existence as essentials values to be practiced for human progress. His philosophy strongly denounces all forms of social discrimination in the name of race, caste or religion, and focuses on education and enterprise for the social uplift of the World’s underprivileged peoples. The Guru encourages inter-communal marriages to homogenize society and remove all time-acquired racial differences and sees through feudal social hierarchies which he dismisses as superficial, without harboring any ill will for adverse social circumstances from history.
The Guru teachings further emphasize the basic tents of civil rights, the importance of women’s role as equals in society, conservation of planet Earth, and strongly encourages the learning of widely spoken languages, such as the English language, as a means of progress through inter-cultural interaction.
Sree Narayana Guru had authored several literary works during his lifetime. Although early poetic works from his childhood and adolescence have not been recorded, there are currently sixty-two works from the latter part of his life that have been recovered, archived and interpreted by his immediate disciples and lineage of philosophy scholars. Many of the original works would have been lost or remain undiscovered, as the Guru’s initial years of profound poetic outpouring was in the early days at Aruvippuram in the company of a handful of his sannyasin (ascetic) disciples, who were individually tasked with having to listen and record his extemporaneous recitals.
The Guru’s recorded works are broadly classified as follows:
Works of moral value,
Sree Narayana Guru’s philosophical postulations are mostly expressed in poetic compositions. His poems, in Malayalam and Sanskrit languages, encapsulate wisdom and its metaphors that are set in aphorisms, often requiring academic interpretations for their understanding and enjoyment.
His philosophical inquiry into the reality of the Universe often addresses the mind and matter dialectical, pointing to the consistency underlying existence, or the objective reality on Earth, and the true nature of the Absolute, or supreme knowledge (consciousness) behind the creation and sustenance of the Universe.
Abstract on Sree Narayana Guru (Copyright ©NPHIL 2013: Narayana Philosophy Society. Adapted from the module ‘The Life and Legacy of Narayana Guru’).