Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Politics Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Rejection of Narayan Guru is a rejection of Indian Pluralism and Dissent

Ram Puniyani 05 Feb 2022

Guru

Every republic day we have the gala program where on one hand the military parade with its highlights is displayed and on the other floats from different states are displayed. The central Government chooses these floats. This year (2022) they rejected the displays from West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Kerala in particular, on the ground that only 12 such displays are to be exhibited. In the case of Kerala display, there was another aspect which came to surface. The jury (Defense ministry) in charge of the selection of floats advised the Kerala Government that instead of Narayan Guru float which they had submitted, they can prepare the tableaux of Shankaracharya, who also hails from Kerala. The jury opined that Shankaracharya united India and should be put on the float. This is the third time since 2017 that the Kerala float is being rejected.

What is interesting is that this suggestion of replacing Narayan Guru with Shankracharya, given by the ministry displays the deeper agenda of the central Government, which is working towards Hindu Rashtra in particular. These two tall figures from Kerala have very different and very opposite social ideologies. Narayan Guru stood for ‘One caste, One Religion and One God’ and Shankaracharya for the Brahmanical values of inequality.

Shankaracharya belonged to the earlier period between 8-10th century when teachings of Buddha were promoting caste equality, and for regarding ‘this world as real’ and to strive to wipe out the miseries of the people. Shankar argued that ‘World is an illusion’ and Brahma is the only reality. He had strongly challenged the Buddhist ideologues, shaming them. He was one of the ideological proponents due to which Buddhism got wiped out from India.

He went on to establish Mutts in Dwarka, Badrinath, Jagganath Puri and Shrigeri. These were to emulate the pattern of Buddhist mutts, while philosophically standing on the opposing side, Buddhism as materialist and Shakarachaya as an idealist. Buddhism for equality and Shankaracharya for the Vedic Brahmanical values of birth based hierarchies of caste and gender.

Narayan Guru was a deeply humane person. During the course of his growing up he went into the deeper engagement with spiritualism and the practice of Yoga. During the course of his philosophical journey in 1888, he visited where Aruvippuram he went in meditation. It is during his stay there, that he took a rock from the river, consecrated it and called it as an idol of Shiva. This place since then has been known as Aruvippuram Shiva Temple. This act later came to be known as Aruvipuram Pratishta. It created a lot of social commotion and opposition especially from amongst the upper caste/Brahmins.

They did not accept Guru's right to consecrate the idol. He replied to them "This is not a Brahmin Shiva but an Ezhava Shiva". This quote of his later became very famous and has been used against casteism. To fight against castiesm he committed his life. His steps were a big practical means in challenging the deep set caste system.

In due course Narayan Guru shifted his base to Sivagiri, near Varkala in 1904. Here he opened a school for children from the lower strata of the society to offer and provide free education to them. In the backdrop of the caste system this was a revolutionary step, on par with Jotirao Phule in Maharashtra, who had started schools for dalits. Modern education has been a big liberating force in the struggle against the caste system. People of all castes were welcome in his school contrary to the existing practice where only the upper caste had the privilege for education. After seven years Narayan Guru also built a temple there and the Mutt was built in 1912, this was open to people of all castes. He also undertook to built temples in other places such as ThrissurKannurAnchuthenguThalasseryKozhikode, and Mangalore. This reminds one of the later efforts of Ambedkar in Kalaram Temple entry movement, which was strongly opposed by upper caste.

Narayan Guru’s efforts challenged the Brahmanical system and he tried to break the barriers of caste. This was the major movement against the prevailing caste system. The present regime, ruling at the center, glorifies the past where caste hierarchies prevailed and Brahmanism was the major religion. It is also referred to as Vedic religion or Sanatan Dharma (Eternal, timeless). Shankarachaya is the major figure being projected as the one representing the major spiritual tradition of India.

Ambedkar points out that the history of India is a history of constant antagonism between the values of equality put forward by Buddha and values of hierarchy as presented by Vedic Brahmanism or what they label as Sanatan dharma. Currently with the rise of the right wing many efforts are being made to give the exalted position to Shankar, while the others belonging to the materialist tradition like Buddha, Charvak are being undermined. Interestingly at political level BJP does recognize Narayan Guru, but that is purely for electoral purpose and at symbolic level. As the real recognition is concerned it has been ignoring him, and the present rejection of the float showing him, proves the same.  

In a way the rejection of the float of Kerala with Narayan Guru represents the politics of inequality for which the right wing stands. The Narayan Guru Math and Kerala Government is seeing the Central Government’s decision as politically motivated, which seems to be true. Other political parties like Congress have also criticized the decision of the Central Government. The jury claims that they have to select the best so this decision had to be taken. For it the likes of Kabir, Narayan Guru are an anathema. Gandhi who struggled for removal of untouchability and caste inequalities did take off from Saint tradition of India. It is time that we recognize the yeomen services of the likes of Narayan Guru and give them their due place in our National culture.

The present regime's rejection of the floats proposed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in particular also shows the attempt to undermine the federal concepts in favor of a more centralized power structure.   

Rejection of Narayan Guru is a rejection of Indian Pluralism and Dissent

Guru

Every republic day we have the gala program where on one hand the military parade with its highlights is displayed and on the other floats from different states are displayed. The central Government chooses these floats. This year (2022) they rejected the displays from West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Kerala in particular, on the ground that only 12 such displays are to be exhibited. In the case of Kerala display, there was another aspect which came to surface. The jury (Defense ministry) in charge of the selection of floats advised the Kerala Government that instead of Narayan Guru float which they had submitted, they can prepare the tableaux of Shankaracharya, who also hails from Kerala. The jury opined that Shankaracharya united India and should be put on the float. This is the third time since 2017 that the Kerala float is being rejected.

What is interesting is that this suggestion of replacing Narayan Guru with Shankracharya, given by the ministry displays the deeper agenda of the central Government, which is working towards Hindu Rashtra in particular. These two tall figures from Kerala have very different and very opposite social ideologies. Narayan Guru stood for ‘One caste, One Religion and One God’ and Shankaracharya for the Brahmanical values of inequality.

Shankaracharya belonged to the earlier period between 8-10th century when teachings of Buddha were promoting caste equality, and for regarding ‘this world as real’ and to strive to wipe out the miseries of the people. Shankar argued that ‘World is an illusion’ and Brahma is the only reality. He had strongly challenged the Buddhist ideologues, shaming them. He was one of the ideological proponents due to which Buddhism got wiped out from India.

He went on to establish Mutts in Dwarka, Badrinath, Jagganath Puri and Shrigeri. These were to emulate the pattern of Buddhist mutts, while philosophically standing on the opposing side, Buddhism as materialist and Shakarachaya as an idealist. Buddhism for equality and Shankaracharya for the Vedic Brahmanical values of birth based hierarchies of caste and gender.

Narayan Guru was a deeply humane person. During the course of his growing up he went into the deeper engagement with spiritualism and the practice of Yoga. During the course of his philosophical journey in 1888, he visited where Aruvippuram he went in meditation. It is during his stay there, that he took a rock from the river, consecrated it and called it as an idol of Shiva. This place since then has been known as Aruvippuram Shiva Temple. This act later came to be known as Aruvipuram Pratishta. It created a lot of social commotion and opposition especially from amongst the upper caste/Brahmins.

They did not accept Guru's right to consecrate the idol. He replied to them "This is not a Brahmin Shiva but an Ezhava Shiva". This quote of his later became very famous and has been used against casteism. To fight against castiesm he committed his life. His steps were a big practical means in challenging the deep set caste system.

In due course Narayan Guru shifted his base to Sivagiri, near Varkala in 1904. Here he opened a school for children from the lower strata of the society to offer and provide free education to them. In the backdrop of the caste system this was a revolutionary step, on par with Jotirao Phule in Maharashtra, who had started schools for dalits. Modern education has been a big liberating force in the struggle against the caste system. People of all castes were welcome in his school contrary to the existing practice where only the upper caste had the privilege for education. After seven years Narayan Guru also built a temple there and the Mutt was built in 1912, this was open to people of all castes. He also undertook to built temples in other places such as ThrissurKannurAnchuthenguThalasseryKozhikode, and Mangalore. This reminds one of the later efforts of Ambedkar in Kalaram Temple entry movement, which was strongly opposed by upper caste.

Narayan Guru’s efforts challenged the Brahmanical system and he tried to break the barriers of caste. This was the major movement against the prevailing caste system. The present regime, ruling at the center, glorifies the past where caste hierarchies prevailed and Brahmanism was the major religion. It is also referred to as Vedic religion or Sanatan Dharma (Eternal, timeless). Shankarachaya is the major figure being projected as the one representing the major spiritual tradition of India.

Ambedkar points out that the history of India is a history of constant antagonism between the values of equality put forward by Buddha and values of hierarchy as presented by Vedic Brahmanism or what they label as Sanatan dharma. Currently with the rise of the right wing many efforts are being made to give the exalted position to Shankar, while the others belonging to the materialist tradition like Buddha, Charvak are being undermined. Interestingly at political level BJP does recognize Narayan Guru, but that is purely for electoral purpose and at symbolic level. As the real recognition is concerned it has been ignoring him, and the present rejection of the float showing him, proves the same.  

In a way the rejection of the float of Kerala with Narayan Guru represents the politics of inequality for which the right wing stands. The Narayan Guru Math and Kerala Government is seeing the Central Government’s decision as politically motivated, which seems to be true. Other political parties like Congress have also criticized the decision of the Central Government. The jury claims that they have to select the best so this decision had to be taken. For it the likes of Kabir, Narayan Guru are an anathema. Gandhi who struggled for removal of untouchability and caste inequalities did take off from Saint tradition of India. It is time that we recognize the yeomen services of the likes of Narayan Guru and give them their due place in our National culture.

The present regime's rejection of the floats proposed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in particular also shows the attempt to undermine the federal concepts in favor of a more centralized power structure.   

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives