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Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru (born 1854- died 1928) was a great sage and social reformer of India. He transformed the social face of Kerala.

His father was a Sanskrit scholar and an Ayuervedic doctor. He was married but after a few years he became a wandering ascetic.

A new phase began in the Guru's life in 1904. He decided to give up his wandering life and settle down in a place to continue his Sadhana (spiritual practice) he choose Shivagiri, twenty miles to the north of Tiruvanantapuram. Goddess 'Amba' became his deity of worship.

Next, he started a Sanskrit school in Varkala. Poor boys and orphans were taken under his care. They were given education regardless of caste distinctions. At Varkala a temple for Anjengo (Anjaneya) was built. Temples were built at different places - Tiruchur, Kannanur, Tellicherry, Calicut, Mangalore. A temple was built for Sharada Devi in 1912, at Shivagiri. Worship at such temples helped to reduce to a large extent superstitious beliefs and practices.

In 1913, he founded an Ashram at Alwaye. It was called Advaita Ashram. This was an important event in his spiritual quest. That Ashram was dedicated to a great principle - Om Sahodaryam Sarvatra (all men are equal in the eyes of God). This became the motto of the new Ashram.

When Narayana Guru attained the age of sixty, his birth day was observed throughout the west-coast from Mangalore to Sri Lanka. Between the years 1918 and 1923 he visited and taught in Sri Lanka. In 1921, a Conference of Universal Brotherhood was held at Alwaye. Again in 1924, a conference of all religions was held at Alwaye. The Guru stressed the need for a Brahma Vidyalaya for a comparative study of different religious faiths. An institution called Narayana Gurukula was established at the Nilgiris.