+61 402 942 838 info@snmm.org.au
Proper formation in Sanskrit and Vedanda

In 1877 Nanu was sent to the family of Varanapally to be further educated under the guidance of a well-known scholar named Kummampilli Raman PillaiAsan. It was a custom those days for rich families to arrange for the higher studies of their sons, by honoring guest-teachers who volunteered to teach deserving students and providing them with free boarding and lodging. These teachers had no pecuniary motives. Seeing his amazing ability to grasp and digest the hidden meanings of Sanskrit classics, Raman Pillai Asan gave special permission to Nanu to be present with him when he was teaching other students also.

Nanu was both studying and teaching himself. It was not difficult for his teacher to know what was happening within him, Raman Pillai Aasan gave special instructions to the chief of the Varanapally household to give Nanu facilities to live alone and spend time as he liked in deep meditation and self-discipline.

Even though Narayana Guru was blessed with a very critical and analytical mind, he was also evenly balanced with a sense of deep devotion. Mere logic chopping did not amuse him. He was capable of silencing any argument with a thoughtful query or a witty remark. However, he avoided arguments and spent long hours in meditation and self-study He underwent a great mystical change in his vision of this world. It was no more "out there" mechanically operating as a brute fact. The inner world opened up many new avenues to him. He was sometimes drunk with such inner ecstasy that he found it hard to articulate it in words. One such state of ecstasy is echoed in a verse he composed and sang in spontaneous exultation:

Even simple incidents in his life are highly suggestive of the Guru-in-the-making in Nanu's youthful personality. There was a little dog in the house where Nanu lived. When taking his noon-meal he always used to give it a share. On most of the days when the little dog was about to eat, a big dog came snarling and driving away the small pup, and ate its morsel. Narayana Guru had great sympathy for the little dog bullied and deprived by the big one, but he never stoned the bigger dog or pushed it away from the food. Instead he looked at the little one and said half to himself, "We are sorry. What can we do when its heart is evil?"

According to some biographers, Narayana Guru was very devoted to Krishna in his childhood image. S, However, in his later life he did not seem to have any special preference for Krishna. In his several hymns to the different deities of the Indian pantheon, most of his praises are showered on Shiva, Subrahmanya, Devi and Ganesha, and only two on Vishnu.

There is no one living now who can speak with any accuracy on how the Guru conducted himself in his mystical frenzies. It is likely that the early biographers have erred on the side of exaggeration, as they are somewhat biased by the biographical studies of Sri Ramakrishna's mystical absorption's. It is possible that Narayana Guru had profound mystical feelings, but from all the reliable accounts we know he never expressed any excessive emotion of affection, hatred, anger or frustration. However, there are occasional references to the Guru being moved to a deep and profound sense of sympathy and compassion whenever he saw someone ill-treating a less-favored member of the society. His compassion was also extended to animals. In this connection it is appropriate to quote here one distinction between Narayana Guru and Sri Ramakrishna recorded by Romain Rolland, who wrote the biography of Sri. Ramakrishna in French:.

Glasenapp does not say anything regarding the new religious manifestations in South India, which are not negligible. Such for example is the great Guru Sri Narayana, whose beneficent spiritual activity has been exercising its influence during the past forty years in the State of Travancore on nearly two millions of his followers (he passed away in 1928). His teaching, permeated With the philosophy of Sankara, shows evidence of a striking difference of temperament compared with the mysticism of Bengal, of which the effusions of love (bhakti) inspire in him a certain mistrust. He was, one might say, a Jnanin of action, a great religious intellectual, who had a keen living sense of the people and of social necessities. He has contributed greatly to the elevation of the oppressed classes in South India, and his work has been associated at certain times with that of Gandhi. (Cf. the articles of his disciple P. Natarajan in the Sufi Quarterly, Geneva, December 1928 and in the following months.)

The termination of Narayana Guru's formal studies under Kummanpilli Raman Pillai Asan was probably in 1881. It seems he suffered from a severe attack of dysentery presumably caused by hemorrhoids. According to one report Nanu gave an indication to some of his close associates that he was going to make a still deeper plunge in his search for truth. He did not want to escape from the realities or phenomenalities of the world but he was keen to know the mysterious forces that governed the life of man. It was his intention to make full use of that knowledge, if in some measure he could make himself an instrument to correct the ills of the world. Most people of his time experienced life as an ill-functioning and disorderly arrangement, especially in the socio-economic and politico-cultural set-up of the human species.

Back to Top