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90th anniversary of Sivagiri pilgrimage and Golden Jubilee of Brahma Vidyalaya

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    4th May, 2022

Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a programme to mark the 90th anniversary of the Sivagiri pilgrimage and the golden jubilee of the Brahma Vidhyalaya.

About

About Sivagiri pilgrimage:

  • Sivagiri is the holy abode of one of the great saints and social reformers of India, Sree Narayan Guru.
  • Established by Narayana Guru who propagated the message of ‘One Caste, One Religion and One God for Mankind’, the Sivagiri Mutt is a major spiritual-cum-pilgrim centre of the backward Ezhava community in Kerala.
  • Subjects: The pilgrimage focuses on eight subjects vis-a-vis education, cleanliness, piety, handicrafts, trade and commerce, agriculture, science and technology and organised endeavour.
  • The pilgrimage started with a handful of devotees in 1933 but now has become one of the major events of south India.
  • Every year, lakhs of devotees from all over the world irrespective of caste, creed, religion and language visit Sivagiri to participate in the pilgrimage.
  • Shri Narayan Guru had also envisioned a place to teach the principles of all religions with equanimity and equal respect.
  • The Brahma Vidhyalaya of Sivagiri was set up to realise this vision.
  • Brahma Vidhyalaya offers a course of seven years on Indian philosophy including the works of Shri Narayan Guru and scriptures of all important religions of the world.

Architecture and distinctive features of the temple:

  • The Sivagiri Sarada temple is octagonal in shape.
  • It was planned and designed by the Guru himself.
  • The Sarada temple here has windows, which were very uncharacteristic of a temple.
  • The Guru called it Sarada Mutt and he wanted to dedicate it to Saraswathy, the Goddess of knowledge.
  • The goddess is seated on a white lotus, indicating the knowledge blossoming on purity.
  • The rituals are also is different from that of other temples.
  • While other temples perform nivedyam (offering of food to the deity) or abhishekam (pouring oil, ghee and such on the idol), Sharada temple is devoid of all such rituals.
  • The devotees are free to worship the goddess reciting hymns.
  • Guru, himself a writer and poet, wrote Janani-navaratna Manjari, in praise of the Goddess.
  • Apart from consecrating a symbolic idol and shunning all tantric rituals, the Guru also insisted on keeping high hygiene standards on the temple premises.
  • His followers adhere to the Guru’s words now too and the temple is thus very different from other temples in the world.

 About Shree Narayana Guru:

  • He was born in 1856, in the village of Chempazhanthi near Thiruvananthapuram as the son of Madan Asan, a farmer, and Kutti Amma. 
  • He was born into an Ezhava family, in an era when people from backward communities faced social injustice in the caste-ridden Kerala society
  • He led the Reform movement in Kerala, revolted against the caste system and worked on propagating new values of freedom in spirituality and social equality which transformed Kerala society.
  • He became a ‘Parivrajaka’ (one who wanders from place to place in quest of Truth) after the demise of the father and wife.
  • He passed away in 1928.

Contribution in anti-caste revolution

  • Narayana Guru consecrated the first temple of Lord Shiva in 1888 where an idol was ordinated by a non-brahmin in Aruvippuram village of Kerala.
  • His step sparked off the anti-caste revolution against the upper-caste Brahmin communities.
  • In 1903, he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) as the founder and president.
    • The organization continues to mark its strong presence to this day.

Contribution to National Movement:

  • He was in the forefront of the movement for universal temple entry and against the societal ills like the social discrimination of untouchables.
  • He provided the impetus for Vaikom agitation, which was aimed at temple entry in Travancore for the lower castes.
  • He captured the essence of Indian-ness in his poems, which highlighted the unity that lies beneath the world’s apparent diversity.

Literary Works:

  • He wrote various books in different languages. Few of them are:
    • Advaitha Deepika
    • Asrama
    • Thevarappathinkangal
    • Brahmavidya Panchakam etc.

Philosophy of SreeNarayana Guru:

  • Sree Narayana Guru became one of the greatest proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, the principle of non-duality put forward by AdiShankara.
  • In 1913, he founded the Advaita Ashram at Aluva. This was an important event in his spiritual quest.
  • This Ashram was dedicated to a great principle – Om SahodaryamSarvatra (all men are equal in the eyes of God).
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