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Sri Narayana Guru was born in an Ezava family in about in a village by the name of Chempazanthi on the outskirts of Trivandrum city. His father Madan Asan was not just a farmer, but also a scholar who was well versed in astronomy and Ayurvedic medicine.
He was accepted as a teacher in the village. The villagers called him Asan — the colloquial form of Acharya, because he expounded the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. One must remember that, in those days, the knowledge of Sanskrit was zealously guarded by the Namboodiri Brahmins, and non-Brahmins were barred from Vedic studies.
However, Vaidyas, the practitioners of Ayurveda, learnt Sanskrit to study medical treatises — the Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas but they were barred from going any further.
Narayana lost his mother when he was fifteen or so and his father passed away when he was thirty years old.
By that time Narayana who was called Nanu began to be addressed by some as Nanu Asan Nanu the teacher. He had turned into an itinerant teacher, living on alms, and coming home only once in many months. He had dared to go beyond the study of Ayurveda, delving deep into the Vedic and Vedantic texts, and even taught Sanskrit to a few students who came to him. Although orthodoxy demanded the segregation of the lower castes, Nanu had found an unusual upper class Sanskrit teacher called Raman Pillay Asan who treated everyone equally.
Soon Nanu learnt poetry, drama, literary criticism and rhetoric, apart from the Upanishads which he studied himself. He wandered far and wide, from Kanyakumari in the south to Mangalore in the north, studying, meditating and exploring his consciousness. Two more teachers influenced Nanu. One was Kunjan Pillai also known as Chattambi Swami who was the head-boy of the class where Sanskrit rhetoric was taught. Later on, Chattambi Swami accompanied Nanu in his wanderings.
From him, he learnt the esoteric yogic teachings preserved in the Tamil spiritual traditions. To sum up, he soon emerged as a man who had dived into the inner depths of his own consciousness and discovered the true allpervading Self spoken of by the Upanishads. The inner experience unfolded as spiritual teachings on one hand and social reforms on the other. Especially after his wife passed away after a brief illness they had no children , Nanu became a fullfledged wandering monk with a large following.
People called him Sri Narayana Guru. He helped renovate temples which were abandoned and installed deities himself without asking the Brahmins to install them, as was the custom. For the first time in the history of Kerala, Vedic studies were open to non-Brahmins and all castes at the Shivagiri Ashram. I spent two months in the Shivagiri Ashram during my wanderings.
He passed away on 20th September, , at the age of seventy four, leaving a rich legacy of spiritual and social wealth. Going back to Ranjit, what endeared him to me was his ability to face even dangerous situations if it came to protecting friends. This was proved time and again even during the occasional street-fights we got involved in while we were college students, mainly to save decent friends from being harassed by anti-social elements.
He would provide solace to my parents by saying that he was in touch with me and could get me back in any emergency. He was always ready to help and asked no questions. Incidentally, it was in his house that I first saw a photograph of Sri Narayana Guru. Strange and Timely Inputs The process of inner transformation had begun, and deep down, in the core of my being, the river of consciousness was silently giving birth to new tributaries which would eventually flow into the great ocean.
The external inputs required for accelerating the process were provided for in strange ways. If I needed clarification regarding the practice of yoga or the finer points of philosophy and religion, books that discussed precisely the same questions, would fall into my hands as if by magic. As I grew older and was allowed to move around on my own, I began to frequent the Trivandrum Public Library, an old Victorian building which was a virtual treasure house of ancient works on philosophy, religion and even ceremonial magic.
Two incidents were so strange that I find it hard to dismiss them as coincidences. One morning, I walked to the British Council Library, which was not too far from home, hoping to find something which would explain certain contradictions I encountered in the classic Vedantic text called Panchadasi of Vidyaaranya.
I was browsing through the philosophy and religion section and found nothing particularly useful. Then I saw a copy of Dr. At that exact moment, three hardbound books landed on my neck from the top shelf. After massaging my neck with my hands to get rid of the pain, I picked up the books.
However, I cannot explain how the books fell, for other than me, there was nobody near that particular bookshelf. The other incident was even stranger. I was fourteen years old and had by then read a lot of books on yoga, mysticism, religion and philosophy. The spontaneous night-time meditation on the light that appeared in the centre of my chest continued, but I was faced with a peculiar problem which was to me very serious.
Different teachers and different texts gave different locations for the heart centre. Ramana Maharishi insisted that the heart centre was on the right side of the chest, the Kabir Panthis and even Ramakrishna Paramahansa mentioned the left side of the chest close to the actual heart. Many yogic texts including the Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, located the heart centre in the centre of the chest and called it the Anahata Chakra the centre which had automatically been activated in me.
What was perplexing was the fact that spiritual stalwarts like Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who, one would think had reached great heights of personal spiritual experience should contradict each other on the location of a very important psychic centre. If one was right, then the other was wrong.
I began to have serious doubts about the existence of these centres. Was it all imagination; mine as well as that of others? I think that was the first serious crisis in my spiritual journey and I decided that I must sort it out immediately. I worked out a plan. My tuition teacher Mr. Ramaswamy, had by then shifted to a place called Manacaud far away from my house.
I had therefore stopped going there. One day, I informed his brotherin-law who was in school with me that I would like to consult Mr.
Ramaswamy regarding certain problems in Mathematics. I then went home and told my parents the same thing, adding that if it got too late, I would sleep there and come home the next morning which was a Sunday. That was going to be the first night I was spending outside my house. After initially expressing some apprehension, my mother finally let me go. Actually, I did have some problems with geometry, which I knew could only be solved with Mr. The other half was that not very far from Mr.
My intention was to finish the tuition and get out, saying that I was going back home, but actually walk up to the Samadhi Thotam and spend the night there. Before I continue with my nocturnal adventure, I must tell you something about Samadhi Thotam and why I wanted to go there. In a remote and lonely corner of Manacaud, there was an untended grove of coconut and other trees, frequented by dogs and jackals. In it, under an ancient banyan tree, stood the samadhi of a great yogi, Sri Ramadasa Swami, who had lived during the reign of Maharaja Ayillyam Tirunal of Trivandrum, — As mentioned earlier, a samadhi is a grave that holy men and yogis supposedly enter into voluntarily.
Jeeva Samadhis were even more special as the yogi is believed to have entered it while still living, sat in the cross-legged Buddha pose, and instructed his disciples to seal the grave.
The samadhi at Manacaud was considered a Jeeva Samadhi, and I had heard that great yogis in the past, including Sri Gopala saami had meditated in the Samadhi Thotam at night and had had illuminating spiritual experiences. I thought I would do the same and perhaps get an answer to the problem that was confusing me. Of course, I did not mention anything about the Samadhi Thotam to my tuition teacher or his household.
I got into a bus and alighted at the East Fort terminus. Then,I walked up to Mr. I must have reached there around 7 pm. By the time the tuition was over, it was 8 pm. That Mr. My parents would not know that I did not spend the night there. My friend Marthanda Pillai walked with me some distance, but I managed to shake him off and proceeded alone to the Samadhi Thotam.
I had to make a few enquiries before I finally reached the place. It must have been around 9. The small gate was open. There were no lights inside except for an oil lamp in front of the cubical Samadhi structure.
The flame flickered in the wind. I was quite scared. Jackals howled not very far away. There were no human beings in sight, and in the dim light, I imagined strange creatures lurking among the trees and bushes which swayed in the wind.
I sat down at the back of the Samadhi, somewhat shielded from the wind which had suddenly begun to blow strongly.
An other-worldly peace enveloped my being as the half moon slowly came out of the clouds. I leaned against the Samadhi and soon fell asleep as I was quite tired. I woke up with a start when I felt someone or something shaking my legs violently. As I sat up my hair stood on end and I had goose bumps all over. I was petrified for there, near me sat a creature, who can best be described as grotesque and frightening.
I saw a thin, almost skeletal, dark complexioned, naked man with large sunken eyes, long matted hair and a long beard. The only redeeming feature was the strong smell of sweet incense that seemed to emanate from his unwashed body.
Ha ha, nobody, no body, only smoke and vapour. It is everywhere, here, there, everywhere? Ha ha, manifested in different centres for different people.
No controversy. Even with my eyes open I could feel it. Before I could respond to his words in any way, he abruptly jumped up and ran into the darkness. I thought that, far away, a white flame leapt up from the ground or was I imagining it? That was the last I saw of him. My eyes still open, I enjoyed the joy of the violet glow. No more fear. Slowly, dawn vanquished the darkness of the night.
With that, the violet flame also subsided. I stood up. Not a soul in sight. I walked nearly three kilometers. Luckily, I found a bus, alighted near the tamarind-tree bus stop, and went home.
I have made iddiappam and potato curry. I was amongst a small group of boys whose parents opted to send us to the Loyola College which had just been established at Sreekaryam on the outskirts of Trivandrum. Others went to the government intermediate college, to the Mar Ivanius, and the Mahatma Gandhi college. Some old friendships faded and new ones were made. A few of my old friends stayed in the Loyola College hostel. I decided to be a day scholar. It took me more than an hour to reach college by bus.
It was the period when I was beginning to be on my own, and able to stay away from home for short periods, if I found it necessary, under some excuse or the other. It was during these years, from the age of fourteen to nineteen, that I was exposed and subjected to a host of experiences both mundane and supra-mundane.
In retrospect, I am convinced that all that was required to mature the mind and strengthen it to ascend to higher spiritual dimensions, and which would have required a dozen years or more under normal circumstances, was concentrated to come my way, in just five years.
At the mundane level, I was led to taste all that is considered forbidden; drugs, drinks and all other things that many teenagers indulge in at that age, and yet, I was pulled out in the nick of time. Someone or something was watching over and protecting me. My teacher would later refer to this period as the Tantric phase. Even today, I consider every friend and associate of mine who contributed to my experiences during that phase as an Upa-guru or associate-teacher and thank him or her, wholeheartedly.
Little did I know then that, later in life, drunks, drug addicts, casanovas and deviants of various colours and shades would come to me for succor. If it had not been for those five years of intense exposure, I would not have been able to understand or help them in any way, and worse, might have even been tempted to fall into their terrible and miserable ways of life.
Regarding what happened at the spiritual level, I shall go into a little more in detail, since this is meant to be a spiritual biography. First, I must tell you about my meeting with Kaladi Mastan. This was the second time I was meeting him. At sixteen, close to the end of my first year in college, I joined the National Cadet Corps and was selected for an army attachment camp at the Mahatma Gandhi College campus. After three days of attending the camp, I applied for sick leave, complaining of fever, headache and joint pain.
Leave was granted and I walked out of the camp. Just outside the campus, I discovered to my surprise that I was fine. At home, everyone thought that I would be back in a week. There was plenty of time and I decided to wander a bit. Changing two buses, I reached the sea shore tomb and shrine of Beema Palli in the afternoon. Standing before the entrance to the shrine I noticed that the influence of organised religion had penetrated even in what was once a remote sea-side hamlet.
In place of the little mosque beside the shrine, stood a huge, colorful mosque, built probably with contributions from expatriates. It was a Friday, and sensing the commotion inside the shrine created by those who believed themselves possessed, I decided not to enter, and lugging my army style hold-all, walked across the sands and crossed the road, looking for a tea shop. I thought I needed a strong cup of tea first.
As I walked towards it, I noticed that there was a small crowd of about a dozen people standing silently around the verandah, with their backs turned towards me. I joined the group and found that they were all looking at a dirty looking, thin, naked man, crouching on the floor and laughing to himself. His grey hair was cut short in a summer cut and his dark face was framed by a trimmed white beard, but the eyes were fascinating; large and loving, and they were now glancing at me.
I suddenly realized that this was the same man, and I had gone back as he had predicted. His first words to me confirmed the same. The proprietor of the tea shop got him a fresh cup of tea. I paid half a rupee. Seeing his yellow teeth which looked like they had never been brushed all his life, I hesitated. Rarely does he do this. By then, it was growing dark. Forgetting all about my regulation hold-all, I ran behind him. Soon we came to the sea shore. I sat crosslegged near him.
Both of us faced the Arabian Sea. Big thief, come to steal my treasure. Stealing loving glances. Big Thief. First, a silvery light flooded my heart and then exploded into my head. I forgot everything except the presence of that light which was flowing up and down between my forehead and my heart. Waves of ecstasy filled my heart and from there my entire body. My hair stood on end, and I wanted to embrace the whole world. I do not know how long I sat there or what happened in the outside world.
You go and take a bath. He gave me a towel to wrap around me and took me to his house for a bath. Dawn was breaking, and as I bathed, I could still feel mild waves of bliss in my heart centre. When I had finished, the tea shop owner Hamid, gave me my clothes which he had washed, ironed and kept ready. I wore them and stepped out. Hamid told me that I was in a mad ecstasy for four days, and had to be physically restrained from wandering around naked. He never went into a shop or home.
No more treasure. He stood up naked as ever and ran away. Circumstances prevented me from going to Kaladi Mastan after that and finally when I went, after several years; I could only see his tomb. After serving me breakfast, Hamid told me what he knew of Kaladi Mastan which was very little.
He had suddenly appeared some years ago, naked and unwashed, like a just born child, and had for a long time been mistaken for a mad man. Once a big storm hit the area and the main high-tension electric line broke and fell on the flooded road. All traffic was disrupted and no one could move across the road. Anyone coming in contact with the water was sure to be electrocuted.
Two people had already died and the fire services, the army and the police had set up a barrier to prevent people and cattle from walking into certain death. Onlookers were shocked to see Kaladi Mastan running fast, jumping the barrier and before anyone could prevent him, walk through knee deep water. What astonished them beyond measure was that instead of being electrocuted, he emerged unscathed and nonchalantly walked away towards the sea. A soldier was the first one to touch his feet and prostrate before him.
From then on, he became popular amongst locals and people started providing him with tea which he drank frequently. He rarely ate, sometimes smoked, and resisted all attempts to clothe him. The ultra-orthodox Muslim kept away from him for it was against Islamic law to walk around naked. Those who had some understanding of Sufi teachings compared him with Rabia and the naked Mansoor al Hallaj and accorded him all the respect due to a saint.
The Hindu fishermen considered him an avadhoota, an ecstatic saint who had freed himself from all social norms and customs.
In general, most of the people of that little village believed that feeding him brought them luck. Hamid claimed that Mastan Sahib, as he called him — meaning intoxicated saint — was a great Sufi master who came from Kaladi in Tamil Nadu, and unknown to the general public, had a small circle of disciples of which he was one. He believed that the Mastaan had specifically blessed me to prepare me for greater spiritual unfoldment. Hamid died a year after the incident I have described.
Three Monks I will now tell you about my association with certain special people. Three of these were monks, each quite different from the other. If you remember, in chapter one, I had described my first encounter with Hindu devotional practices, and how, overwhelmed by the rhythm of the mridangam and cymbals, I had run out of the house and seen a small group singing and dancing around a tall and handsome man with a flowing beard. That was Swami Abhedananda. Swami Abhedananda had his ashram in the East Fort area.
Having by then acquired a bicycle, I celebrated my new found mobility by cycling to East Fort quite regularly. The East Fort was built by the Maharajahs of Travancore to protect the temple of Sri Padmanabha and was a residential area for the Brahmins called the Agrahaaram.
Eventually, it became a small township with shops, restaurants and large jewellery shops. The temple pond mercifully exists even today. Advanced embedding details, examples, and help! Mutt Collection opensource Language english-handwritten.
Reviewer: Rinkal - favorite favorite favorite - May 10, Subject: Hindi book Pls upload in hindi language. Home [P. Pulle [P. Solomon [P. Cosentino [P. Stahl [P. Amerman [P. Tompkins [P. Dubey [P. Sri M shares his fascinating travels across the Himalayas and back, profound knowledge of Upanishadic philosophy and deep spiritual insights born out of first hand experiences — promising the reader a unique and thought provoking journey.
One of the many unusual and intriguing aspects of this story is the fact that Sri M was born Mumtaz Ali Khan. Today, a family man, he leads a simple life — teaching and heading the Satsang Foundation, a charitable concern promoting excellence in education.
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