Sunday, January 29th, 2023 18:16:09

An Eloquent Eulogy

By Ashok Kumar
Updated: August 17, 2019 2:46 pm

Even though Advatia as a doctrine was extracted from the Upanishads by Sree Sankara, the 8th century sage and philosopher, it was Sree Narayana Guru who transformed the Advaita philosophy from an elite theoretical doctrine into a relevant principle of practical applicability. Thereby, he expanded its scope to effect phenomenal social changes, and enabled one of the most profound yet bloodless social revolution in history. As a social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru’s impact was unmatched in history. Those who had been denied basic human rights for centuries were able to experience dramatic changes in their lives due to the awakening caused by Guru’s teachings on self-improvement and self-empowerment. The focus on education, organisation and entrepreneurism that he insisted on to secure freedom, strength and prosperity remains an ideal and timeless model for peaceful changes in the condition of suppressed and marginalised people of any society. The defining theme of his vast philosophical writings is the oneness of human race transcending all peripheral differences. His earnest call for mutual respect and understanding among all religions is a lesson that is still to be learned.

Against this backdrop, the author has produced an amazing documentary that will be appreciated by all of his readers. His accounts are detailed and give the real life examples on how Guru educated people in order to rid the caste system in India. The book is a product of much research and careful analysis of the impact of Guru as a social reformer and is well written, extremely informative and contains many detailed accounts about the life of Sree Narayana Guru.

It focuses on the horrible caste tyranny emphasising restrictions set upon the lower caste people in Kerala until the early 20th century. Well-documented accounts on how Guru preached “Liberation through Education” in order to right this wrongful casting of people. The book is a wonderful account of his early days and education and his time spent as a teacher and the account on how people sought him out in order to obtain spiritual tranquillity. His missions are well documented within these chapters. The writer also devotes reading  about Dr Palpu, a devotee of Guru, who was instrumental in the founding of the social organisation called Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP Yogam) in order to spread the message of Guru against the caste system in Kerala.

In the context of the condition in India today,  Guru’s philosophy has a very strong relevance. The teachings of Sree Narayana has an important relevance to meet any challenges that threaten the unity and integrity of India and its religious, linguistic, ethnic, cultural and regional diversity. India’s unity and integrity can only be protected and strengthened by strengthening the bonds of commonality that run through this diversity.

Guru’s message is still applicable to today’s society given the amount of world poverty and  inequity amongst various classes worldwide.

In a nutshell, this book re-sanctifies the spiritual treasures that link perennial values and social concerns in a seamless web of transcendence. In fact, the intention of this well-researched and lucidly-written book is to introduce to readers the illustrious life of the sage, Sree Narayana Guru, who emerged as the conscience of Kerala in the twentieth century.



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