Teachings and preachings of Guru

We are living in the 21st century. The Gurudev was in the 18th and 19th centuries from 1855 to 1928. The present generation is not fully aware of the social systems, especially of the backward class communities, prevailed during those days. In order to get an idea about the pathetic and precarious conditions of the downtrodden sectors and the endeavour of the Guru for eradication of the caste system and upliftment of those oppressed class  we must look into the past.

    The society was divided into castes and subcastes with social ranking and also classified as Savarnas - the privileged upper class and Avarnas as untouchables. The  Avarnas or untouchables and unapproachables, were tortured and harassed both physically and mentally. They were treated as slaves of the Savarnas and had no access to public roads, public offices like post office, court, schools even hospitals. In temples, the offering  of Avarnas in the form of cash was acceptable but they were prohibited to enter in it. For easy identification, separate dress code and hair style was imposed. An Avarna man was not allowed to grow a mustache and a woman could not cover her bossom and she was the object of pleasure for any upper caste man. In addition to such humiliations, atrocious taxes were levied on them which were extracted under the threat of severe punishments. The Avarnas of Kerala were the most subjugated and exploited set of people in India. This pathetic situation extracted the comment from Swami Vivekananda that Kerala is a lunatic asylum and Keralities are  insane.

    After withdrawal of meditation at Maruthvamala Guru saw around him the humanity struggling in ignorance with no one to guide. The Guru approached them with his advaitha Philosophy,  One caste, One religion and  One God for man.   As the same universal spirit glows in all human beings, there is no difference between them and the caste system which divides humanity and its direct off -shoot untouchability are absolutely baseless.  It is against the spirit of Advaitha.

    The Guru offers scientific explanations through two poems Jathinirnayam  (Determination of Caste) and Jathilakshanam (Characteristics of Caste).  These two poems explain how the Guru denies the validity of caste as a social institution. He equates the meaning of the word caste with the biological term species. Each species (Jathi) has its distinctive  characterstics.
    The first stanza of Jathinirnayam, in Sanskrit, explains this very clearly.
                “manushyaanaam
                    manushyathvam
                jaathir gothvam gavaam yadhaa
                na braahmanaadira syaivam
                ha thathvam vethi ko api na”


    just like bovinity (gothvam) is the distinctive characteristic of all cows, human-ness is the characteristic of all human beings. Hence all cows belong to one caste (species) and all human beings belong to one caste, ‘humanity’. The real identifying characteristic is something that is inherited by birth and continues till death without change. This definition of the characteristics of jathi (species) is without the defects of avyaapthi (insufficiency), athivyaapthi (extending beyond limits) and as ambhavam (non - existent). Terms like Brahmin  do not conform to these. Hence they do not mean anything, but the people do not recognise this.

    All human beings are born from a  mother and all have the same  figure. Brahmin and Paraya both are born in the same way . There are no characteristics distinguishing between the two. Hence they belong to the same jathi, ‘narajathi’.

    Some people feel shy to tell their caste. The hierarchial superiority and inferiority in the name of caste is ingrained in the minds of people since ages. Therefore when questioned about what his caste is, a lower caste man may tell a lie to hide his caste. To save him from such a situation, the Guru declared - “ Ask not, Say not, Think not Caste”. His idea was not to establish equal status for castes but to eradicate the very idea of caste from the minds of his followers.

    The Guru supported inter - caste marriages and inter-dining. “Whatever be the difference in the form of worship, dress, habits or language of man, they are of the same caste (jaathi) and hence there is no harm in intermarriages  or in dining together”.  All human beings belong to the same community. Men should live together as one caste. Caste should not be mentioned any where. This view should get universal  appeal especially when people are trying to establish their own caste and religion as supreme and make others to follow them. The words of Guru though he preached centuries ago have relevance in the contemporary world and its significance has been increasing day by day.

    After the Sivalinga Prathishta at Aruvippuram in 1888, the Guru consecrated idols and founded many temples all over Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka but subsequently took up other compaigns to enlighten the people giving the formulae - “ Freedom through Education, Strength

through Organisation, Economic Independence through Industries.”  It was felt that the best way to reform the society is to obtain freedom through education and strength through organisation. The Guru wanted to enlighten the people  through education for which he himself started educational institutions. To unite the masses through organisation and make them a self confident and self respecting community he established the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam on May 15, 1903. It spread all over Kerala and the other states and has been engaging in many activities for the promotion of educational, cultural and social endeavours for the upliftment of weaker sections of the society. A number of other organisations in the name of Guru are working across the country and abroad to do service to humanity. The number of such organisations are increasing year after year which shows that the teachings and preachings of the Guru are very relevant in the contemporary world.

     It is to be remembered that the Guru enthusiastically approved the suggestions of his ardent devotees to start Sivagiri Pilgrimage with certain norms and modalities.  The pilgrims should reach Sivagiri in saffron robes after following ten days austerity based on Sree Budhas five purities of Body, Word, Mind, Food and Deed.  The festival should be so planned to focus attention on eight subjects - Education, Cleanliness, Piety, Agriculture, Trade, Handicrafts, Organised Endeavour and Technical Training.  experts on these subjects should be invited to lecture and the pilgrims with discipline should listen them and practice  what they have heard, in the day to day life. This  will ensure the people prosperity. Accordingly the Sivagiri Pilgrimage started on January 1, 1933 with five persons. Now we are celebrating the 77th Sivagiri Theerthadanam and expecting around 20 lakhs pilgrims from all over the world.The number of pilgrims has been increasing year after year which shows its significance and influence on the people for a better tomorrow.

    Let us examine the importance of eight subjects and how it is relevant to the present day life of the people. education, without which nobody can lead even an ordinary life and everybody is striving hard for better education. Cleanliness is a major factor on which all governments focus attention. Different types of new contagious diseases like chikenguniaya, H.I.V Aids etc., are on the increase and it has now become a menace. This can be remedied only on keeping cleanliness in our day to day life. Piety is an essential quality of mankind to lead a good life. It will bring back us from doing evils. A pious man will not ordinarily become an evildoer. Organised endeavour has become as an order of the day to achieve one’s goal. Agriculture is the main profession of the majority of population. The very existence of people depends upon food, which cannot be served without promotion of agriculture and hence its importance is everlasting. Trade and Commerce is another factor to solve unemployment problem and for prosperity of the country. Handicrafts help the people  both in organised and unorganised sectors in earning livelihood to a great extent. Science and Technological training is now a must in almost all fields and its importance has been increasing, consequent on the introduction of modern devices like information technology, Chandrayaan I, Manned  Moon Mission - chandrayaan II of I.S.R.O etc.,

     We must remember that the Gurudev propounded the above subjects in the 19th century, still its significance is increasing in the 21st century and will last for ever. All the other teachings and preachings of the Guru are invaluable and immortal and have direct relevance in the day to day life of the people all over the world, irrespective of Caste, Creed, Religion, Language or Sex.

    May Jagath Guru Sree Narayana Gurudev bless us to make use of his teachings and preachings in our practical life to lead the country to peace and prosperity.