Sree Narayana Guru Was Anything But Non-Hindu
On his 88th death anniversary, let us dispel the myth that Sree Narayana Guru was not Hindu.
Eighty eight years ago today the great social reformer, philosopher, saint and visionary Sree Narayana Guru (lovingly called Gurudevan) breathed his last. Recently this great savant from Kerala was dragged into unnecessary political posturing.
The BJP on 16 September described Sree Narayana Guru as a great “Hindu sanyasi”, in a Facebook post as Kerala celebrated the birth anniversary of the 19th-century reformer. The post praised the works of the Guru adding also that first national conference of the Jan Sangh was held in Kozhikode and the venue was named after Narayana Guru.
However the Left and Congress attacked the post as an attempt to distort Gurudevan’s legacy. CPM leader and Kerala’s CM Pinarayi Vijayan said Narayana Guru never wanted to be limited to a particular religion-
“He had anticipated that certain quarters would try to lock him in a particular religion. Hence, Guru had made the historic declaration ‘we have no caste’ a century ago. Certain quarters want to create a division in society over Guru. This is an attempt to take Kerala to the Dark Age,”
State Congress president V M Sudheeran went a step further claiming said Narayana Guru had fought to liberate people from the clutches of caste and religion, hence it would be an insult to describe him as a Hindu sanyasi.
Although Gurudevan spoke of universal welfare it cannot be disputed that his ideas were rooted in Hinduism. In the days of Narayana Guru, Kerala was plagued by rampant discrimination of the lower-caste groups by the upper-castes. In some cases, the very sight of the groups termed untouchables were considered to pollute the atmosphere.The punishment given, if any of these inhuman strictures were not followed was death. Swami Vivekananda during his visit to Kerala called it a ‘lunatic asylum.’
However, the Ezhavas, the community to which Narayana Guru belonged were slightly better off. Many among them were Sanskrit-scholars, landowners and peasants. Sree Narayana Guru made it his mission to clean the ailment that had crept into the then Hindu society. This was seen during Shivratri in 1888 when Gurudevan visited Aruvippuram, a town located near Thiruvananthapuram. There, lower caste devotees expressed their helplessness at being barred from entering the local Shiva temple by the local priests. Gurudevan in response asked the devotees to construct a make-shift temple which he himself consecrated. When challenged by the Nambudri Brahmins he replied-
‘It was only a Thiyya (Ezhava) Siva that I consecrated.’
From then on till his death, he travelled to almost every village in Kerala
and the then Madras State to spread his message of equality. Gurudevan
challenged the social system of Kerala, and did so by making the
thoughts of Bhakti and Vedanta the basis of his reform efforts.
Now when the ‘secular brigade’ terms that Narayana Guru is non-Hindu, then Bhakti and Vedanta are also not Hindu concepts.
It will not be surprising if next the secular brigade terms Shiva as a non-Hindu god.
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