Sree Narayana Guru – Greatest Advocate of Humanism

Translation of the Tribute piece written in Malayala Manorama on August 22nd 2013  by HH Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living. Responsibility is completely mine, for any errors in this translation from Malayalam to English. Kindly notify me for corrections. This tribute piece was written on the occasion of Birth Anniversary of the Guru (August 20th)
Sri Narayana Guru took birth in the 19th Century for the sake of development and progress of Human race. He was a great proponent of Humanism. He was responsible for the extra-ordinary awakening in the Kerala of those days, both by his action and deed. This Great Maharshi, was responsible for bringing Advaitadarshana as means of salvation to the entire Human race, which otherwise was exclusive preserve of Scholarly debates
His effort was towards unifying and equalizing the entire human race across the world by exposing the futility and meaninglessness of differences and differences caused by Caste, family and religion. He expounded that everyone is a part of same Divine & composition of humans across the world both physically and mentally is the same. This great Guru who described Characteristics of Indivual Human as “punarnnu perum ellamo” (All that are born of sexual union of humans are same species), “Oru yoni oru aakaaram Oru bhedavum illa ithil” (One yoni – womb, one form, there is no differences between them), Manushyanam Manushyathvam (humaneness is the quality of a human being) – says primary needs of all human beings are the same. Everyone desires Food, Clothing, Health, Water & Shelter. He also made people aware of the fact that – the recognition & position earned by someone is also desired by others is good for a better world & Unending and selfish desires & acts sows the seeds of disharmony in the community.
Guru exhorted Keralites to reject discriminating people based on limited comprehension of Caste, which gave rise to differences and conflicts. His words and life was devoted to obliterate non-Dharmic thoughts and deeds of fellow human beings. He preached that “it is not other human beings who make one impure but one’s own thoughts, words and acts”. His dreamt of a humans who made understanding, love and compassion a basis of their lives
He rejected the belief that those who adapted Panchashuddhi (5 types of Cleanliness) & Panchasheela (5 practices) are the protector of generations. Instead he directed people to make unselfish nature a way of life.
While the birds and animals with its limited needs co-exist harmoniously with nature, He warned that it is dangerous when humans who destroy nature and earth to satisfy their greed.
Personal traits like purity in words, thoughts, senses, country, home etc along with community benefiting traits like Non-violence, Truth, Asteya (Non-Stealing), Fidelity, Prohibition (intoxicants) – were his dreams for realization of a Modern Kerala. Guru’s preaching that a Pure Divine thought on part of individual and family is inevitable, gave rise to a new culture of temple ritual system. Consecration of Lord Shiva temple in Aruvippuram in 1888 was a beginning of a big Revolution. It was a proclamation that God and Supreme Knowledge is birthright of everyone irrespective of caste and religion.  Guru in fact set in motion a powerful & impactful mass movement through this temple. These temples established all over became a place for a devotee to seek knowledge, skills and solace and had Educational, Library, garden and some vocational training centres associated with it.
Guru’s message Freedom via Education was an invitation for an flood of scientific thinking. Guru made people aware that rebuilding Kerala – which was then beset with ignorance, misdeeds, superstitions & poverty – was possible through education alone. His goals for Education was for creation of a Modern Kerala. Guru who encouraged an educational system with equal prominence to Malayalam, Sanskrit and English, Study of Shastras, Vocational/Technical study, Women education also set aside funds for those willing to study abroad and also set up evening schools.
According to Gurudev, final goal of every religion was the same. and those who did not realize were like the blind men who touched elephant and imagined things. Religious bigots will see nothing in other religions and also sees a separation. Guru insisted on a creation of culture of acceptance and respecting other faith to prevent religious animosity & conflict.
In those days, every word and deed were controlled based on the religion and caste they belonged to. The tenets, adaopted by other cultural and development organizations, he preached awakened & arose everyone towards strengthening of community & cultural bonding.
It was giving a shape to culture of Humanatrianism, co-existence and peace in Kerala. Every cultural and political organizatins included the teachings in their work. Kerala which benefited enormously walking the path advocated by Guru became an example for the whole world. Malayalis thus became capable of settling anywhere in the world. Malayalis rejected the caste system. Kerala became an abode religious harmony. People thus were able to reap benefits of this favorable situation .
But, this change could not be sustained by Keralites. This enviable material prosperity, especially those of middle class gave rise to commodification. Without their knowledge the culture of humanism got ejected out. Malayali community who are ever ready to accept any change, without any second thoughts or analysis adapted this commercial culture. Today we see a community that has slipped away from the path prescribed clearly by Sree Narayana Guru
This culture of excessive greed & uncontrollable commercialization changed a Malayali to an unthinking, highest polluter. Unstable family, violence against women and children, extremism, alcoholism, disrespect towards Nature & corruption and such characteristics that are against human values, reminds us of the importance of adhering to Guru’s vision.
The teachings and path of Guru, which is relevant beyond any generation is the mantra of hope. We have to be prepared to imbibe it mentally and convert it into our life-style. It is not a world devoid of natural diversity, terror or insecurity, we should leave a world more beautiful than what we enjoyed, to our future generations. Humankind should ensure that valuable gifts like smile, amicability, compassion, broadmindedness etc   that nature has bestowed on us is never forsaken. We need variety, material comfort and progress. At the same time, let us not forget to be human or humanism.

Bollywood, Drugs, Ethics, Politicians – A Heady Mix

A Transcript of His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of  The Art of Living speaking on Bollywood’s complicity in current degradation of Societal Values

(I have attempted transcription of the talk as delivered verbatim, in order not to lose the purport in the process of scripting)

Question: Dear Guruji, Adi Shankaracharya was a Sanyasi. Yet He established various methods of Puja and Worship. What is the significance of Idol Worship in Spirituality? A recent Bollywood Cinema has shown it in bad light


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Just imagine that there was no Idols at all in this country, no temples, no photographs, no paintings-Mankind would have been in a big loss. Just imagine there were no Sculptors, you would have never known how the people in the past would have looked like. Just imagine there was no Michelangelo, his paintings ; no Ravi Varma, and there is no painting of any sorts, the world would be such a dull place.

Similarly just imagine a world without any music, without any dance, without any festivity – you know these people systematically attack the values of this society or the culture of the country, they are into some mischief, I tell you. They say all Ashrams are bad, you cannot put all Ashrams in one basket and say they are all hopeless. You cannot say all temples are simply looting money.

Rudra Puja
Rudra Puja

What do these people do? What do the Bollywood do? Each of those actors sometimes come and sneeze in front of the camera and takes crores of Rupees. For Vicks advertisement they had to come and just sneeze 2 times. That’s it! 2-3 crores they take home. What do they do? Drink, go for drugs go to parties drink and waste the money. Whose money are they wasting? Public’s! And that too poor people who go for entertainment, pay so much of their hard earned money and these money in crores go to the pockets of these Bollywood actors and actresses. And their lives, I tell you is miserable. It is misery in bundle. And immoral, unethical behaviour – they may talk about ethics but if you see their personal life, you cannot find ethics – most of them, many of them. And they say there should be no idols, there should be no puja, don’t go to Satsangs, Dahi Handi (Curd Pot) mat karo. Arre! Dahi Handi is a beautiful festival remembering Lord Krishna‘s life story and people enjoy. Holi is a festival, Ganesh is a festival. These festivals bring color to the Society. That is what India is. Just imagine, no temples at all, no Murthis (Idol) at all, no figures at all – It won’t be India. It will be like Afghanistan, where 2000 year old Bahmiyan Buddhas were destroyed. What is there? Just Desert.

Bamiyan Buddha, Afghanistan (Doesn't Exist now)
Bamiyan Buddha, Afghanistan (Doesn’t Exist now)

No! these people have ulterior motives and they want to take our country towards Naxalism. Because they don’t want Ethics and Religion to blossom. What do they do? They take religion to beat up religion. This is the new trend that has come up in this society.
How these these politician do? They create their own enemy and make them stand against them. And they go on abusing the politician. So all those who are against this politician will go that guy who is his enemy. And then he wins the elections, and then he takes them within himself. This is what happened with NCP. What is NCP? They all went away from Congress. People voted for them because they are not with Congress and they joined Congress back. First they deceived Congress, then they deceived people. What happened to Prajarajyam in Andhra Pradesh, this famous actor (Chiranjeevi) was made to stand against Congress party and people had a big hope. This guy would give us a change and would make a difference. All the opposition vote he cornered which would have otherwise gone to another party. Six months later he went and merged with Congress. These are deceptions.

Sworn Enemies?
Sworn Enemies?

Similarly you would see in Bollywood, anyone wearing a tilak will be a villain. Someone with a choti (a hair tuft) has to be a bad guy.


And they bring dignity of people who are practicing ancient wisdom or religion into a very bad light so that young people can go away from that. More young people move away from traditional values, they can make them susceptible for drugs, alchohol and cigarettes. All these lobbies work towards this. Because what stops youth from using drugs is, I tell you – it is their Religiosity.

Our Heroes and Role Models???

When youth is away from religiosity the drug market flourish very well. This is the whole lobby that is working. The drug lobby, alcohol and cigarette lobby and the Bollywood. Do you now see how the market works?

People who go to temple or Gurudwaras or church –people with religious bent of mind or spiritual bent of mind don’t go to drugs. For that you have to first cut the youth from going to these places and then they can influence them, “Hey, C’mon take the drugs” That is how they have done it.

Sniffing Correction Fluid

A large percent of Punjab has been addicted this way. It is unfortunate. So painful to see a community like Punjab who were so robust & vibrant is going in this direction which is self destructive. And Children!!

(The following part edited/added with transcript of talk with the Updated video link) Courtesy: Sri Dinesh Ghodke

The Art of Living  took a very bold step in filing a case against the Eraser (Correction fluid), typewriter eraser ink, banning that. Went to Supreme Court and got the order in our favor. Its all done by Art of Living volunteers. Because this eraser ink, you could get it in any shop and the children, kids used to take it,  sniff it and use it to get high! So we made an effort to fight that. Now the government has banned that eraser ink, whitener. The whitener has been now banned! Similarly drug de-addiction program is happening in Punjab. But you know this lobby is so big! That’s why I want everyone of you to volunteer in bringing about spirituality to people.

Correction Fluid Banned in Punjab
Correction Fluid Banned in Punjab

In last month, we had 150 internationals from all over the world… from Russia, from other places went on padayatra in Andhra Pradesh, some parts of Karnataka, to bring the awareness in people. Spirituality is important! You all sing and dance meditate, participate in the cultural programs. This message was very well received from the people in the villages and unfortunately, Bollywood is destroying these fibre by projecting it all in a very negative light.

And who is funding this? Its coming from Dawood type of people, not all though… I wouldn’t say all of them are bad; generalization in any field is not wise but I see that this lobby of druggist and terrorist and unethical people are playing havoc through Bollywood!

(Check these links on Dawood-Bollywood Nexus : Pls note it is Not part of the talk1) Sanjay Dutt 2) Mafia Investments in India 3) Akshay Kumar 4) Stars to Attend Wedding Bash  )

You can view the Original video of the  talk uploaded on The Art of Living ‘s official Channel here

Busting “How Shiva did not recognize his own son” Myth

Ganapati Idol at Home – This Ganesh Chaturthi

Verbatim reproduction of Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar Ji’s counter to a rabble rousing fugitive Islamic Scholar who mocked Shiva unable to recognise His son.

The stories in the Puranas contain many incredible and hard-to-believe occurences. But they should not be interpreted as a nursery rhyme. Their language is Shakespearean and laden with great depth and meaning. We need to interpret these stories with a very refined state of mind.

The story goes that Parvati created a boy out of dirt from her body and appointed him to guard the doorstep. The first question that comes is how could Parvati, the Goddess Herself, have so much dirt? Parvati symbolizes the triguna – sattva, rajas and tamas. The entire creation is made up of trigunas. The dosha or imperfections that originate out of the triguna is an obstruction for the functioning of Prakriti. That was the boy that Parvati created to stand guard at the door.

Shiva is Shuddha Chaitanya, pure consciousness. Like the sun does not recognize darkness and cuts through it, Shiva does not recognize dosha and slays the impurity. But Prakriti cannot stay without impurity. So Shiva replaces the dosha with the head of an elephant, which symbolizes knowledge. Through knowledge, all the doshas or obstructions of Prakriti can be taken care of. This is the spiritual and metaphysical meaning of Ganpati being slain. So worshipping Ganpati as the remover of obstacles and the giver of gyana, knowledge is the most amazing depiction of the nature of consciousness.

Going a step further, even this difference between Prakriti and Purusha is done away with. That is why, the Ganpati Upanishad says,

ajam nirvikalpam niraakaaram-ekam
niraanandam aanandam advaita poornam
param nirgunam nirvishesham nireeham
para brahma roopam ganesham bhajema

Ganesha is the only One unborn unmanifest Reality. He is nirvikalpa and advaita – the formless, undivided One. This is the play and display of consciousness within itself.

While Ganpati is certainly the nirakara Parabrahman, he is invoked and worshipped in the mud idol for a period of time for the joy of the devotees. Then the Ganpati is asked to merge back into our heart and the idol is immersed in water. This ritual is observed for the sake of devotees, not for the sake of Ganpati. He who is without form is invoked in a form and then his spirit is invoked back into one’s heart as the idol is immersed.

Ganesh Chaturthi Greetings