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Sree Narayana Guru

Sree Narayana Guru


Sree Narayana Guru, from India, was a well-known philosopher, spiritual figure, and social reformer. He actively opposed the pervasive social inequities in Kerala's caste-based society and worked to advance social equality and spiritual enlightenment. It is important to remember that he was a human who supported society's development rather than a divinity, despite some reports that he was revered as a god.

Narayana Guru was born on August 20, 1856, into an Ayurvedic medical family in Chempazhanthy, close to Thiruvananthapuram. In contrast to other members of his society, he studied religious materials in great detail in addition to his Ayurvedic training. He learned from academics, including Raman Pillai Asan, who helped him better grasp the Vedas, Upanishads, and Sanskrit literature. He embarked on an exploratory voyage through Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where he met prominent people like Chattampi Swamikal and Ayyavu Swamikal, who introduced him to yoga and meditation. He spent eight years doing yoga and meditation in the Pillathadam cave at Maruthwamala due to his quest for spiritual truth.

The consecration of an idol of Shiva at Aruvippuram in 1888 was one of his notable deeds. As Guru said that the consecrated idol represented an "Ezhava Shiva," rejecting the idea of caste-based deities, this act posed a challenge to the common caste-based hierarchy in the community. This incident was a turning point in his life. It helped pave the way for establishing the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP Yogam), a group dedicated to improving the lives of those in underprivileged social groups. Sree Narayana Guru promoted the value of spirituality, equality, and education throughout his life. He established schools for kids from poorer castes, giving them free education and emphasizing the value of education for empowerment. He also constructed temples on various sites to promote a sense of community and harmony among the various facets of society.

Beyond Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru also visited Sri Lanka and made a significant impact there. Right up to his death on September 20, 1928, at 72, he kept motivating and directing people. In India, his ideas and deeds still motivate social reform and the desire for equality. Remembering him as a committed social reformer and philosopher rather than a deity is crucial.


The legacy of Sree Narayana Guru is intricately linked to his struggle against casteism and his endeavors to advance social equality and religious tolerance. Caste prejudice was pervasive in Kerala during the 19th and early 20th centuries, harming people of lower castes like the Ezhavas and untouchable castes like the Paraiyars, tribals, and Pulayars. Sree Narayana Guru's teachings and deeds significantly contributed to societal reform by opposing these discriminatory practices. Here are some significant elements of his legacy:

  1. Consecration of Temples and Symbols
    Consecration of temples was one of Sree Narayana Guru's most important efforts to combat casteism. Notably, he dedicated 45 temples in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These consecrations, which frequently deviated from tradition, represented his values. For example, he dedicated temples with ideals like Truth, Ethics, Compassion, and Love written on them. In addition, he dedicated an Italian artist's sculpture, a mirror, and a vegetarian Shiva idol. These efforts promoted universal ideals over caste divisions while challenging the established rules of temple worship.
  2. Compassion and Religious Tolerance
    Sree Narayana Guru's teachings strongly emphasized compassion, religious tolerance, and harmony across many castes and religions. His composition "Anukampadasakam" pays homage to several holy leaders, including Adi Shankara, Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus Christ. He hoped to do this by bridging the barriers between various religions and encouraging understanding among people from all backgrounds.
  3. Empowerment through Education
    Sree Narayana Guru understood the value of education in improving the lives of underprivileged groups. Children from lower caste backgrounds may receive a free education because of the schools he founded. His emphasis on education was intended to give people the information they needed to break down societal barriers and lead happier lives.
  4. Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP Yogam)
    Sree Narayana Guru served as the organization's first president when Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP Yogam) was established. The SNDP Yogam, which worked to improve underprivileged communities via social and educational programs, played a critical role in promoting the rights and welfare of these groups. It keeps up its efforts to advance social equality and deal with problems encountered by disadvantaged groups.
    Sree Narayana Guru
  5. Sivagiri and the Sarada Mutt
    Sree Narayana Guru founded the Sarada Mutt in Sivagiri, a hub for religious and educational pursuits. He pictured it as a location for education, meditation, and volunteerism that would cut across caste lines. Sivagiri is still a major destination for pilgrims and serves as a reminder of the Guru's teachings.
  6. Impact on Modern Kerala
    Sree Narayana Guru's legacy has significantly impacted Kerala's social and cultural fabric. Following generations of leaders and reformers were motivated by his teachings to carry on the struggle against caste prejudice and advance the creation of a more just society. His ideology still influences social justice, equality, and intercommunal harmony discussions.

The efforts of Sree Narayana Guru to combat casteism and advance social equality are still effective and relevant today. His ideas still serve as an example for people and groups striving to build an equitable and inclusive society in India and beyond.

Vaikom Satyagraha

In the Hindu society of Travancore, a princely state in India, there was a massive social protest and movement known as the Vaikom Satyagraha against untouchability and caste-based discrimination. It occurred in the early 20th century and was essential in opposing the then-dominant caste-based social mores and promoting social equality. An incident involving Sree Narayana Guru catalyzed the Vaikom Satyagraha. Guru was allegedly prevented from using a road leading to the Vaikom Temple by a member of an upper caste. This incident sparked criticism and a desire for reform by highlighting society's rigid caste-based limitations and untouchability.

Sivagiri Pilgrimage

The annual Sivagiri pilgrimage honors the principles and teachings of Sree Narayana Guru and is conducted in Sivagiri, a spiritual and cultural center in Kerala, India. The Sivagiri pilgrimage was created in 1928 with the help of Sree Narayana Guru's followers Vallabhasseri Govindan Vaidyar, T. K. Kittan Writer, and Muloor S. Padmanabha Panicker. Sree Narayana Guru envisioned the Sivagiri pilgrimage to spread several concepts and principles that he thought were crucial for advancing humanity. He recommended that the pilgrimage concentrate on the following objectives:

  • Emphasizing the value of education for empowerment and advancement.
  • Promote personal and environmental hygiene to be clean.
  • Promoting spiritual ideals and a sense of devotion to God.
  • Advocating for well-planned, systematic actions in all facets of life.
  • Understanding the importance of agriculture as a source of food.
  • Fostering independence through commercial endeavors.
  • Promoting the growth of technical knowledge and skills.

The pilgrimage's goals were first put off after Sree Narayana Guru died in 1928. However, the first Sivagiri pilgrimage was arranged in 1932, beginning in Elavumthitta in Kerala's Pathanamthitta District. Since then, the pilgrimage has developed into an annual occasion that draws thousands of individuals from various backgrounds. Sree Narayana Guru devotees and followers congregate at the Sivagiri Mutt during the Sivagiri pilgrimage to respect Guru and consider his teachings. The gathering will feature talks, panel discussions, cultural performances, and spiritual exercises that underscore the fundamental beliefs and ideals that Guru has promoted.

To preach Sree Narayana Guru's message of social equality, education, and spirituality, the Sivagiri pilgrimage has grown into a significant venue. It also serves as a reminder of the ongoing work to advance Guru's principles and build a more just and peaceful society.

Sree Narayana Guru

Writings and Philosophy

The philosophy and writings of Sree Narayana Guru are based on spirituality, social change, and the propagation of universal values. He left behind a sizable body of literature in the Malayalam, Sanskrit, and Tamil languages that continue to influence and instruct people today. The following are some salient ideas from his writings and philosophy:

  1. Atmopadesa Satakam
    "Atmopadesa satakam," one of Guru's most well-known compositions, is a hundred verses spiritual poem. He discusses numerous facets of self-realization, moral behavior, and the road to spiritual enlightenment in this poetry. The verses reveal the spiritual wisdom of the Guru and his emphasis on self-knowledge and self-improvement.
  2. Daiva Dasakam
    Guru wrote the 10-verse "Daiva Dasakam" prayer. This all-inclusive prayer illustrates his devotion to a higher power and inclusive mindset. The prayer expresses humility, submission, and a request for heavenly guidance.
  3. Translation of Texts
    Sree Narayana Guru's contributions go beyond just his works of music. He translated several significant writings so that a larger audience might benefit from their wisdom. His translations include the Ishavasya Upanishad, the Thirukkural of Thiruvalluvar, and Ozhivil Odukkam by Kannudaiya Vallalaar. These translations show his dedication to spreading important lessons across linguistic and cultural barriers.
  4. The motto of One Caste, One Religion, One God for All
    One caste, one religion, and one God for everyone Sree Narayana Guru popularized the phrase "Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu," which translates to "One Caste, One Religion, One God for All." This phrase summed up his aim for a society devoid of caste and religious differences. He promoted the acceptance of everyone's shared humanity and the removal of obstacles that support inequity.
  5. Synthesis of Non-Dualism and Social Equality
    Guru's philosophy is based on Adi Shankaracharya's non-dualistic teachings. He highlighted that social equality and global fraternity should go hand in hand with genuine spiritual knowledge. Guru's ideology aimed to close the gap between spiritual truths and actual societal change.

The words and ideas of Sree Narayana Guru are still relevant and important in discussions about spirituality, social justice, and the oneness of humanity today. His legacy inspires those working to create a harmonious and just society because of his holistic approach to spiritual teachings and emphasis on social reform.


  1. Vidyabhyasam
    The literal meaning of this word is "education" or "learning." It implies the activity of learning new things and partaking in educational pursuits.
  2. Shuchitwam
    In both a physical and moral sense, "Shuchitwam" denotes cleanliness or purity. It represents the value of upholding a clean and pure state inside and outside.
  3. Eeshwaravishwasam
    It means "faith in God" or "belief in the divine." Eeshwaravishwasam. It highlights the importance of confidence and trust in a higher power.
  4. Krishi
    In Hindi, the word "Krishi" means "agriculture" or "farming." It denotes crops' growing and agriculture's significance in providing for human needs.
  5. Kaithozhil
    The word "Kaithozhil" most likely means "handicraft" or "handicrafts." It highlights the worth of manual labor and traditional crafts.

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