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Sree Narayana Guru

  • Published
    1st Sep, 2023
Context

The 169th birth anniversary celebrations of Sree Narayana Guru has recently commenced at Chempazhanthy in Thiruvananthapuram.

About the Personality:

  • Sree Narayana Guru was born on 22nd August, 1856 to Madan Asan in a village near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • His family belonged to the Ezhava caste and was considered ‘avarna’ according to the social mores of the time.
  • Right from his childhood he loved solitude and always indulged himself in deep contemplation.
  • He was intensely drawn to worship at the local temples and composed hymns and several devotional songs.
  • From an early age, he was drawn towards asceticism. He lived as a hermit in a forest for eight years.
  • He learned Vedas, Upanishads, literature, logical rhetoric of Sanskrit, Hatha Yoga and other philosophies.
  • In 1903, he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), a charitable society as the founder and president.
  • The organisation continues to mark its strong presence to this day.
  • In 1924, the Sivagiri pilgrimage was established to promote the virtues of cleanliness, education, devotion, agriculture, handicrafts, and trade.
  • Philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru: He became one of the greatest proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, the principle of non-duality put forward by Adi Shankara.
  • He also has many contributions during freedom struggle of India.
  • He died on 20th September, 1928 and the day is observed as Sree Narayana Guru Samadhi in Kerala.

Important Works:

  • Against Caste Injustice: He gave the famous slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).
  • In 1888, he built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Aruvippuram which was against the caste-based restrictions of the time.
  • In one temple he consecrated at Kalavancode, he kept mirrors instead of idols. This symbolised his message that the divine was within each individual.
  • Against Conversions: He taught equality but felt the inequalities should not be exploited to carry out conversions and therefore generate strife in society.
  • He organized an All-Region Conference in 1923 at Alwaye Advaita Ashram, which was reported to be the first such event in India.
  • This was an effort to counter the religious conversions Ezhava community was susceptible to.
  • Contribution to National Movement: A remarkable social reformer, he was in the forefront of the movement for universal temple entry and against the societal ills like the social discrimination of untouchables.
  • Impetus for Vaikom Agitation: He provided the impetus for Vaikom agitation which was aimed at temple entry in Travancore for the lower castes. It drew nationwide attention and appreciation from Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Unity through his Poems: He captured the essence of Indianness in his poems which highlighted the unity that lies beneath the world’s apparent diversity.
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