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Sree Narayana Guru, also known as the “Father of Kerala Renaissance,” was a social reformer and spiritual leader from the state of Kerala in India. He is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of Kerala and played a crucial role in the Kerala Renaissance. This social and cultural movement aimed to uplift the marginalized communities in the state. He advocated for the upliftment of the lower castes, women, and other marginalized communities through education, social reform, and spiritual upliftment. He also played a crucial role in the development of the Indian state of Kerala and in creating a sense of unity and pride among the people. He is revered as a spiritual leader and his teachings continue to influence many people today.

Sree Narayana Guru

Legendary saint Sree Narayana Guru was a social reformer and the founder of the renaissance movement in Kerala during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. His life was a succession of initiatives and deeds that contributed to Kerala’s current society’s holistic development and renaissance in the spiritual, social, academic, and intellectual arenas. Kerala was formerly known as the Malabar, Cochin, and Travancore States. Sree Narayana Guru attained mahasamadhi on September 20, 1928, after achieving birth on August 28, 1855. 

One of the important individuals who created the philosophical foundation for the Keralan Renaissance was Sree Narayana Guru. He is credited as the architect of contemporary Kerala for his multifaceted contributions to changing Kerala’s feudal and caste-based society into a modern one. This spiritual leader’s life depicted the driving force behind Kerala’s Renaissance and his polyphonic ideals, which still have an impact on Kerala and its society today. He was a lower caste monk known as an “avarna sanyasi,” the spiritual head of the Ezhava community, a free thinker, and a revolutionary who worked to abolish caste and untouchability from society. In Kerala’s democratic society, Guru was also a devoted follower, a guru, a hermit, the creator of the community temple, a poet, an organizer, a Vedic philosopher, etc.

Sree Narayana Guru- Major Work

  • To oppose caste discrimination, he created the tagline “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).
  • He defied the caste-based conventions of the period by building a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Aruvippuram in 1888.
  • In one of the temples Sree Narayana Guru constructed in Kalavancode, mirrors were utilized in place of idols. This served as a representation of his message that the divine dwelt within each and every one of us.
  • Conversions: He advocated equality but thought that differences shouldn’t be used to influence people or stir up trouble in society.
  • At the Alwaye Advaita Ashram in 1923, he called an All-Region Conference, which was regarded as the first of its type in India. This was a reaction to the religious conversions among the Ezhava group.
  • He later established a charitable organization in 1903 as the president and founder of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP). The group still has a large presence today.
  • In order to advance agriculture, handicrafts, literacy, hygiene, and trade, the Sivagiri pilgrimage was established in 1924.
  • He developed into one of Adi Shankara’s most enthusiastic proponents and re-evaluators of the Advaita Vedanta non-duality theory.
  • Numerous novels by Sree Narayana Guru were written in several languages. A few examples include Advaitha Deepika, Asrama, Thevarappathinkangal, and others.
  • He was a skilled social reformer who spearheaded the fight for open access to the temple for everyone and against issues like social discrimination against untouchables.
  • The Vaikom uproar, which was directed at the temple, was started by him.

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About Kerala Renaissance

The Kerala Renaissance, also known as the Kerala Social Reform Movement, was a cultural and social reform movement that took place in the Indian state of Kerala during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It aimed to bring about social, cultural, and economic modernization and upliftment of the people of Kerala, particularly the socially and economically disadvantaged classes.

The movement was led by a group of social reformers, including Sri Narayana Guru, Dr. Palpu, Ayyankali, and Brahmananda Sivayogi, who worked to promote education, social equality, and women’s rights. They also advocated for the use of the Malayalam language and promoted the development of art and literature. They also worked to abolish caste discrimination and the caste system and to improve the status of the lower castes.

The Kerala Renaissance also saw the rise of many social and cultural organizations, such as the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, which aimed to uplift the status of the Ezhava community, and the Nair Service Society, which aimed to improve the status of the Nair community.

The Kerala Renaissance had a profound impact on the social and cultural landscape of the state. It led to the eradication of certain social evils, such as the caste system, and the upliftment of the socially and economically disadvantaged classes. It also led to the development of a distinct cultural identity for Kerala and promoted education, art, and literature.

Sree Narayana Guru as the Father of Kerala Renaissance

Sri Narayana Guru is considered the “father of renaissance” in Kerala for several reasons. He was a leading figure in the Kerala Renaissance, a social and cultural movement that aimed to uplift the marginalized communities in the state. He played a crucial role in bringing about social and cultural changes in Kerala through his teachings, writings, and actions.

First, he was a strong advocate for the education and empowerment of marginalized communities, particularly the lower castes. He established schools and institutions that provided education and vocational training to these communities, which helped to break the cycle of poverty and caste discrimination.

Second, he challenged the caste-based hierarchical system that was prevalent in Kerala at the time and propagated the message of “one caste, one religion, one god for man” which aimed to create a sense of unity among all people regardless of their caste or religion.

Third, He also played a key role in the establishment of temples and other religious institutions that were accessible to all people regardless of their caste or religion. This was a significant step towards breaking down the barriers of caste and religion and promoting equality among all people.

In addition, Sri Narayana Guru’s teachings and actions helped to create a sense of pride and self-respect among the marginalized communities in Kerala. His contributions to the upliftment of these communities are still remembered and honored today, and his legacy continues to inspire many people in Kerala and beyond.

FAQs on the Father of Kerala Renaissance

Who is considered the “Father of the Kerala Renaissance”?

Sri Narayana Guru, also known as Sree Narayana Guru, is considered the “Father of the Kerala Renaissance.” He was a social reformer and spiritual leader from the state of Kerala in India who played a crucial role in the Kerala Renaissance.

What were Sri Narayana Guru’s main goals?

Sri Narayana Guru’s main goals were the education and empowerment of marginalized communities, particularly the lower castes, the challenge of the caste-based hierarchical system and promoting unity among all people regardless of their caste or religion, and promoting the sense of pride and self-respect among the marginalized communities in Kerala.

What were Sri Narayana Guru’s contributions to the Kerala Renaissance?

Sri Narayana Guru’s contributions to the Kerala Renaissance include the establishment of schools, institutions, and temples that were accessible to all people regardless of their caste or religion, his teachings and writings that aimed to promote equality and self-respect among marginalized communities, and his efforts to break down the barriers of caste and religion.

How is Sri Narayana Guru’s legacy remembered today?

Sri Narayana Guru’s legacy is remembered today through the many institutions, schools, and temples he established, and through the continued study and veneration of his teachings. His contributions to the upliftment of marginalized communities in Kerala are still honored today, and his message of equality and self-respect continues to inspire many people in Kerala and beyond.

What was Sri Narayana Guru’s role in promoting education in Kerala?

Sri Narayana Guru played a key role in promoting education in Kerala, particularly for the socially and economically disadvantaged classes. He established many educational institutions and ashrams and encouraged education for all, regardless of caste or gender. He also worked to revive the use of the Malayalam language and promote the development of art and literature.

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