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A Cry in the Wilderness- The Works of Narayana Guru (Translated by Vinaya Chaitanya)

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Item Code: UAY095
Author: Vinaya Chaitanya
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789356290358
Pages: 248
Other Details 8.00 X 5.50 inch
Weight 250 gm
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Book Description

In the verdant countryside of south-west India, near the turn of the last century, lived a great poet-seer, a mystic who became the lightning rod for the transformation of the future state of Kerala from abject feudalism into an exemplary democracy. Gently proclaiming justice and equality for all, grounded in the mystical depths of life, Nārāyaṇa Guru wandered through the landscape, interacting with the multitudes who came to meet him, electrifying them to be at their best and galvanizing a peaceful movement to eliminate oppression in all its forms. With a motto of 'One Caste, One Faith, One God for Humanity', he unleashed boundless energy in those eager to dispense with the bondage of harsh traditions. Cheerful and compassionate at all times, the Guru directly demonstrated the practicability of attaining those goals through goodwill. He epitomized the way to mount a successful non-violent revolution: it must be grounded in philosophical realizations that are not divorced from practical considerations. Along the way he composed a compact body of writing that provides the conceptual underpinnings of why it worked. They are all gathered together in this book.

Narayana Guru had been a fiercely independent and original thinker from childhood. Warned not to have contact with other castes and with untouchables, he would slip out of his home to embrace them and then secretly touch his family members, observing no ill effects. His inner pulse beckoned him to withdraw from the social activities his family expected of him and, at the inception of adulthood, he ascended a nearby mountain to live alone in a cave with a view over the southern tip of India meditating continuously until an overwhelming vision of unity dawned within him. In its brilliant light, he realized that life, in all its variety, was a single overarching principle in which every iota was interconnected with every other.

Before long, he descended to the villages and temples of the vicinity bearing his new name, Näräyana Guru - meaning. essentially, the human guru - and began demonstrating a way of life that paid no heed to the existing feudalistic stereotypes and the tyrannical laws that promulgated them. He lived as a free human being in a world without barriers, and swiftly the populace became inspired by his infectious spirit.


A guru is a teacher of wisdom. Narayana Guru is a guru. Wisdom refers to finalized knowledge. It is more than mere reason prevailing at a given place at a particular time. It arises from contemplation. Wisdom has been compared to a great river, which flows silently through time. Teachers of such wisdom have enriched human traditions everywhere. Such teachers, have been held in high esteem and honoured in different ways in different contexts. Their teachings have influenced generations through myths or legends, theologies or mysticism, religion or philosophy. Whatever the form, they have always had a perennial content and message for humanity. The wisdom that they teach leads one to appreciate values that are universal. It is this knowledge of value appreciation that distinguishes Homo sapiens from the rest in the animal kingdom. Without such wisdom, society will drift without norms or standards, and social units will become stagnant and steeped in the mire of relativism. It is then that the influence of an absolutist teacher raises the standards - ethical and spiritual.

A long line of such teachers have walked the soil of India from the most ancient times. The present (fourteenth) Dalai Lama may be seen as an exemplar of this universal outlook that characterizes wisdom, or unitive understanding. We must also not forget that there are many unknown, unsung representatives of this wisdom always on this earth. That they are not known does not diminish their stature in any way. Also, guruhood has nothing to do with institutional pomp and paraphernalia.

Nārāyaṇa Guru (1854-1928) was such a guru. In himself, he represents the guruhood of mankind. His message is summarized in very simple terms, in his own words: Man is of one kind, one faith and one God. While representing the perennial teaching, he was fully awake to the transactional realities of his time. He decried the caste system as unscientific, and encouraged inter-caste marriages and inter-dining (in a society which forbade such practices.) The Guru's message, printed in his own autograph and distributed by followers on the anniversary of their association for Universal Brotherhood, reads: 'Whatever may be the differences in men's creeds, dress, language, etc.- because they belong all to the same kind of creation, there is no harm at all in their dining together or having marital relations with one another.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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