Words of Mahatmas are immortal as they have relevance for all time. They are meant for the general good of humanity and they influence not only the people of that time but the generations to come also. India is a land of great souls who come from time to time in order to replenish the spiritual wealth of this blessed land. Jagath Guru Sree Sankaracharya, Sri Aurobindo, Sree Ramana Maharshi, Sree Rarnakrishna Paramahamsa are some of the spiritual leaders who have inspired and continue to inspire 'people in the spiritual path. Among the large number of spiritual leaders of India, we have in Kerala some great personalities who have given spiritual guidance to those about them during their life time and remain as guiding lights to those in darkness. There are spiritual teachers who have come to remind the world of the need to give room for spiritual aspirations along with interest in material pursuits. Sree Narayana Guru was one of the great spiritual leaders of India who unlike the others fought like a warrior against the injustice of the society in which he was born.
Sree Narayana Guru who came to the socio-cultural scene of the pre--independence India witnessed various social evils like untouchability, superstitious, illiteracy etc. working around him. Ile was born as the son 0" Niadanasan and Kuttiyamma in an F,zhava family at Chempazhanty in Thiruavananthapuram, capital of Kerala state in 1856. During his childhood days, which was a period of spiritual and cultural decadence, Guru, expressed his awareness of the injustice inherent in the social system. He used to make deliberate attempts to break the conventions of the society which he found as unjust. Many instances in his childhood days show that his mind was always brooding over philosophical issues such as the meaning of life and death, the cause of suffering etc. Though after his education, he served the society as a teacher for a short while, he knew that his place was not within a family. But, as his family was an ordinary one, the elders decided that the youth should marry and settle down. The marriage ceremony was conducted without Guru's permission or presence as it was possible in Ezhava families at that time. But Guru did not stay back as was expected. He broke the rules and went out of the house into the world as his spiritual inclinations prompted him. Instead of bearing the burden of one family, he decided to renounce the worldly pleasures and work for the well-beino of the humanity as a Sanyasi. His spiritual brilliance attracted many followers and soon he established his asram at Sivagiri in Varkala.
Untouchability and similar caste-related unjust laws were severely oppressing people of low caste at that time. During his visit to Kerala, on finding the people helplessly wading through their superstitious beliefs and restrictions of untouchability, Swami Vivekananda rightly remarked that `Kerala is a house of lunatics'. Sree Narayana Guru's arrival was at the right time since majority of the population in Kerala at that time had not even understood the injustice inherent in their social system. Guru wanted to rescue them from the miserable state of ignorance. He took efforts to make people aware of the need to discard superstitions and the evil practices of untouchability. He wanted them to think and become wiser in the material and spiritual sense. He thus became a social reformer besides being a scholar, poet, philosopher and a Yogi. Guru knew that faith in God is beneficial for the people as it will keep them in the righteous path for the sake of society.
If people do things as they like to achieve their selfish goals, their society soon will be in the grip of utter chaos. Therefore his teachings and writings were on how to lead virtuous lives with mutual respect and without hurting anybody. He taught people the importance of being compassionate to those in misery. Only a society of individuals with honesty, dharma and sympathy for the fellow beings could make spiritual and material progress. If people in a society develop selfless attitude towards others, it would lead to the disappearance of social evils to a great extent. As one can see, independence of India is the result of the selfless efforts of millions of people. If there had been nobody to sacrifice the material comforts for the sake of India's freedom from the rule of foreigners, India would never have become an independent country.
Guru visualized a society which is freed from social evils like untouchability, superstitions, habit of drinking alcohol, illiteracy etc. For that he emphasized the importance of righteous living which would be possible through faith in God and education. In order to live meaningful lives people need to be wise in the material and spiritual sense. It is for this purpose that Guru established temples and educational institutions and they can be conceived as the two pillars upon which a life based on dharma and wisdom could be constructed. He says, "ananavatmasukhattinacarikunnava/ aparannu sukhattinayi varenam"-which means, what you do for your own happiness should bring happiness to others also. Guru wanted people to become more refined and wise through education and stronger by unity. He founded SNDP, i.e.,Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a social organization in 1903 to carry on his revolutionary mission and spread his messages throughout the world. When a religious conference named as the Parliament of Religions was held at Aluva in 1924, its slogan was "Not to argue and win, but to know and to make known". It was mainly Guru's crusade that resulted in the uplift of the low caste people of Kerala.
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