It is said that "marriages are made in heaven", but the game is also to be to played hereunder. There is a paradox hiding within this situation in which we have to recognize the perfect equality of man and woman as members of the human species, as also that the game, when it involves sex interests, has necessarily to be played with two reciprocally different or complementary counterparts.  Thus, there is basically a conflict between man and woman, when viewed horizontally.  When viewed vertically, they belong together for the fulfilment of life.  Sex is sin when viewed in one of these basic perspectives; but Sri Krishna himself says that Kama, or passion could be viewed under the aegis of the Absolute and therefore he himself in his person, in principle, represents this value (Bhagavad-Gita VII, 11). 
In the famous dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, the latter is told that it always the same Self-happiness that is involved then a wife loves in husband, or vice-versa.
Narayana Guru in his Darsana-Mala (VIII.7), also underlines this basic relationship.  We have therefore to view this all-important question, both in his basic perspectives as well as in a realistic, work-a-day sense. 
The Quran makes perhaps the boldest attempt to view the matter closely from both these perspectives at once.
Hinduism, on the other hand, has suffered from the original vice of giving different rights, based on the discrimination between Aryan and non-Aryan.  Narayana Guru, in the Smrti (code) - indirectly taken cognisance of by him at the instance of Atmananda, a disciple of his, who actually wrote it - abolishes such invidious, racial or other discrimination and, like the Gita (IX.32), confers perfect equality of status to all men and women, while admitting a basic reciprocity between them (Smrti, X.261 ff.).

When the question of starting a Gurukula was first mentioned to Narayana Guru, about the year 1923, one remembers how, before the sentence was finished the Guru interrupted the present writer and said that in the Gurukula marriage should not be obstructed.  At the same time we find that in composition called Ashrama, laying down the articles of association of an institution, such as the Gurukula called by him the Advaita Ashrama - he stipulated definitely the condition that the institution should have separate places for men and woman. One another occasion he supplemented this by saying that boys and girls in a coeducational institution could come together when both of them stood to again by such association, but that they should be separated as soon as their relation degenerates in to dualistic levels of double loss.  One may recognize the subtle dialectical spirit in which he viewed this problem of mixed life.
Thus, marriage and sex should be viewed in a normal and natural perspective, and the institutional life regulated in such a way as to yield maximum happiness for the parties concerned, while minimizing possible nuisable situations.

The myth of Adam and the apple is being questioned by youth in revolt the world over at the present day.  Catholic priests are demanding permission to get married.  The thousands of Buddhist nuns, when shorn of their secondary sex embellishment, become an eyesore in the light of the freer morals of today.  Woman do not like not to treated as chattels and are clamouring for a kind of mechanistic equality with men which is adding other error instead of taking it away.  Men and women can be seen to be built differently for occupations that are natural to functions as bread earners or nursing mothers.  The duality here cannot be overlooked without double loss to both.  On the other hand, experiments recently made by heterodox or unconventional communities have revealed that promiscuity, as with some animals, does not yield the happiness arising out of a stable and monogamous companionship, within reasonable limits (see Life Magazine, Vol.47, No.6. p 46 ff.)   These limits must accord with basic instincts, going hand in hand with that intelligence which distinguishes homo sapiens from mere animals.  Monkeys do not have national libraries.

We have compared the relational life between men and women dynamically and openly to such games as, say football.  The ball is the central object of interest, and the game consists of seeing that the ball does not attain one goalpost or the other so as to stop the game.  The goalkeeper on each side sees to this, and there are successive rows of forwards, halfbacks, and fullbacks on either side.  The ball should not go outside the boundaries without penalty to the one who caused it.  Touching the ball is a foul, except in the limited way allowed to goalkeepers.  All obey the whistle, and cornering and offside-play are against the rules of the game.  Most deceptive of all the foul plays is the offside, where men or women go and dominate on a side where they do not belong, often with the connivance of some member of the opposite side.  The referee, better called the umpire in cricket, does not take part in the game directly himself; he is an impartial onlooker.  The overall value implied in the game is the joy of sportsmanship, independent of the winning side.  The fullbacks, the halfbacks and the forwards are grades within participants, symmetrically conceived as belonging to either side.  The toss is the element of chance, and the centre forward is more important than his comrades of the right or left wing.  These structural features give for our purposes a sufficiently convenient frame of reference to discuss sex and marriage relations within the Gurukula.  This takes for granted that men and women have a reciprocal, complementary, compensatory and cancellable relationship, which has to be kept in mind for making healthy, natural and normalized rules for the playing of the game between the sexes - involving mere companionship or even marriage, which latter should not be ruled out when conceived under the aegis of the Absolute Value of human happiness.  First and foremost, therefore, we have to think, in theoretical terms at least, of what a normalized relation between the sexes within the Gurukula is to be.  St. Paul is credited to have said somewhere that when you are married you should behave as if unmarried, and vice-versa.  Love or affection within the Gurukula must avoid partial favouritisms of every kind, and one's own children should not be treated differently from any other's children.  The least discrimination would be a violation of the basic principle of equality.  The paradox here is evident and, having admitted it, if we are asked to give the picture in detail of a human couple conforming to perfect normative requirements, we can only cite the case of Siva and Parvati as outlined in the one-hundred memorable verses of Sankara - in each of which the paradox could be seen be abolished to the extent humanly possible.  Like word and meaning, Parvati and Paramesvara represent a central human value, as the first parents of humanity.  A better normative model cannot be proposed by us, but the norm is so perfect that only approximations to it could be expected in actual life.  The possible approximations, on the side of men and women respectively, could be visualized as in the football game as consisting of three sets, with a right and left wing, and with the goal-keepers bringing up the positive and negative limits - the positive being more natural to men, and the negative to women, although exceptions can also prove the rule.

No game is ever played without errors, which are quite human, and the forgiving of which is praised as divine.  The here-and-now perspective of sex morality gives a cross-section view of the total situation over which Absolute Goodness or Happiness, through intelligent living, is the numerator factor or omega point.  The prophetic religions have laid stress on the day of judgement and the commandments, while pagan religions have tended to be less strict, allowing more room for human mistakes. Prophetic and pagan tendencies have to balance each other, and in doing this we have to take into account both the ontological here-and-now perspective, as well as the teleological and more idealistic viewpoint.  The latter is the vertical reference, and the former is the horizontal referent.  These two parameters intersect at the point of their normative origin as a reference to all right morality.  The negative limit of the vertical parameter is the alpha point; both the alpha and the omega points have got equal dignity under the aegis of the Absolute.  They can both be normalized and renormalized, so as to yield by cancellation a constant, which sees no difference in terms of Absolute Value, wherever placed in the total vertical parameter.  A father's function is necessarily positive; and a mother's function is necessarily negative in this sense, when correctly understood.  The dignity that Absolutism confers, whether on the functions of motherhood or fatherhood, is always the same.  Thus, the game can be played with permissible errors, when it pleases Allah to pardon them.  An error once committed cannot be corrected afterwards.  Such errors could be considered irregular, but not void.  For intentional errors referring to the future, all should remember that the Absolute Consciousness at the omega point, whether called Allah or Jehovah, knows all human frailties.  When falling within the scope of such frailties, pardon is normal, but a hard-boiled criminal must pay his penalty one way or the other in the interest of the general good of all.  It is the conscience of the umpire or referee that can blow the whistle.  The laws themselves have to be derived from a high source "oceans apart", as Rousseau puts it in the Contrat Social, (Bk. II, Ch.7.)     

A word to the wise and good sense must always prevail, without crude obligations or punishments.  Time is a great healer in such matters.  Absolute Generosity is the regulating principle here, and this is a qualification required of all heads of all Gurukulas and their branches, whether men or women.  The highest head can be the umpire and the arbitrator herein in such matters, without the counting of majority votes.  Narayana Guru set the precedents for such matters when he was alive.

The Gurukula is primarily meant as a home for tyagis (renouncers), as understood in the Gita (XVIII. 2, 11, 12 and 40).  Tyagis can be, in principle, married or unmarried.  When tyaga, or renunciation, attains to the high pressure or white heat of Absolutism, we have the full-fledged sannyasin.  Both the Gita and Narayana Guru refer to the distinction between tyaga and sannyasa as referring to the lower and higher limits, respectively, of the possible degrees of renunciation within the scope of the Gurukula way of life.  The Brahmachari (acolyte), the grhastha (married man) and the sannyasin (man of full renunciation) could all conform to this Gurukula way of life without contradiction or conflict, if all should agree to put Absolute Value as their goal for ever.  For legal purposes, however, for keeping the Gurukula properties from getting mixed-up with family properties and thus complicating issues, a senior sannyasin, fulfilling the qualifications recommended by Narayana Guru in his composition called Ashrama, could be chosen to fill the place of headship of the Gurukula and, as far as possible, even of its branches.  In exceptional cases, a woman sannyasini of the same qualifications could belong to the same hierarchical succession, and thus become head; but the tragic case of Hypateia as a wisdom teacher of Alexandria should be kept in mind as warning in such matters.  It is found to be more normal for elderly women to be occupied with the care of children, not excluding general educational and nursing activities, so as to give them the quiet and the peace that they naturally desire when they are of advanced years.  This, however, does not rule out the possibility of a woman as a head of a Gurukula branch, or even as head of the whole.  Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant, and many others in modern life, are examples of such founders of big spiritual organizations.  The name of St. Theresa of Avila could also be mentioned in this connection.  Sannyasa taken by young people is fraught with dangers of an unstable equilibrium, and immature women wandering in the streets as sannyasinis do not do any honour to society, in which they have often only a great nuisance value as misfits, or those who have lost their proper vocation.  Narayana Guru discouraged all such premature claims to sannyasa, and fixed the age of sixty and beyond as safe enough for such a vow to be stable and natural. (Smrti V. 131 and X. 260)

Classical examples of true love between men and women such as could be held up as examples, include those of Abelard and Heloise, the Nouvelle Heloise of Rousseau, the case of Dante and Beatrice, and of Goethe's Gretchen.  Cosette and Marius and Sophie and Emile give other more normal examples of man-woman relationships based on pure love.  Kalidasa's Sakuntala, and Shakespeare's Tempest and the story of Nala and Damayanti, with Savitri and Satyavan, afford other examples of ennobling love between man and woman.  To put an impediment to such a noble urge would be outside the scope of a properly conceived Gurukula life.  As with Heloise and her Paraclete, the noble woman in love with a man could still live within the precincts of a Gurukula with separate sections for men and women, each complementing the work of the other, and each imbibing high ideals or teaching them.  One provides, however, for occasional errors and accidents, for which an intelligently conceived Gurukula organization must provide contingent aids to save the situation from being more nuisible than necessary.  Thus, a maternity ward, a children's crèche, a pre-nursery school and nursing home are normal provisions to be made to meet possible contingencies.  A nursing home for the superannuated and the sick could also be provided, at least in one of the Gurukulas.  Burials are to be without gravestones, and graveyards should become orchards or gardens, as indicated in Narayana Smrti.  Children born within the Gurukula could be brought up as a common charge of the whole.  When, however, the ends and means of livelihood of the parents involve other matters than those within the Gurukula, it is better that such couples establish homes outside the Gurukula, without necessarily being excluded from the spiritual consolations of the Gurukula.  Married Protestant pastors or priests of the Greek or Syrian Orthodox Church are examples in point here.  In cases of promiscuity of sex relations, the Koran contains the precious hint of the iddat, which is of a duration of weeks or months.

Outside of accidents of this kind due to promiscuity, which can always be regularized when not void, by formalities such as witnessing, arbitration etc., all other accidents could be considered as coming within the scope of the Will of God, who is all-knowing and all-kind.  Forgiveness is the highest of all divine attributes.  When not within the scope of such accidents, it is possible to think also within the scope of a companionate marriage, in which a woman might be allowed to keep company with a man, not necessarily with a view to progeny, but only in order to compensate and cancel out the negative tendencies found in woman against the positive tendencies found in man.  An emotionally frustrated man or woman could add to the nuisance value found in any society.  Such companionate marriage has been tried in America, but has not been popular.  The form need not be ruled out in the Gurukula, but monogamous stability for a reasonable period seems normal.  Marital holidays, long or short, could be envisaged hereunder.  Regularization could be based on practical considerations, or in the name of the Will of God.  The Head of the Gurukula shall act as a referee or umpire in all such matters.  We have necessarily to travel from precedent to precedent cautiously in such matters, without violating overall principles such as stated in the Narayana Smrti, or an equally authoritative book acceptable to other religionists.  Man can be a natural mate for woman, or vice-versa, without brute sex coming into the picture at all.  Such is the picture to be held up as a model to regulate marital and sex relations within the Gurukula life.  A prescribed form will help the Gurukula inmate to take his/her position correctly in such matters vis-à-vis the Gurukula so as to avoid legal or other complications possible in the future.

The Absolute is All-Merciful and Great.       


Sex is sacred when viewed in its correct perspective.  Otherwise it tends to have at best only a nuisance value. To ask any human being to be free from sex directly or indirectly would pose an almost impossible problem.  It would largely depend on the person or persons concerned. The New Year Message of 1970 and that of 1971 have cleared the ground on such an enigmatic question, but the clarification of the more specific question of married persons still belonging to the Gurukula (Narayana Gurukula, literally, 'family of a guru'. A Vedantic teaching institution founded by Nataraja Guru) is intended now.

There is nothing irregular or extraordinary for a father and a mother, a brother and a sister to live together in the Gurukula as a glorified family based on discipleship in the context of wisdom. It is open to all to avail themselves of this way of living. The Valmiki, Kanva and Sandipini (ancient gurus) Gurukulas or Ashramas have given us hoary and correct precedents herein.  When an Ashrama gives primacy to Advaitic wisdom teaching, the term 'Gurukula' becomes adequately applicable to it.  That place where one gets ready to make the final effort (Shrama), in view of ultimate freedom or emancipation from suffering while preparing for Self-Realisation, comes under the more general term 'Ashrama' ('up to the limit of making spiritual effort').

Sakuntala was brought up in the Ashrama of Kulapathi Kanva. Sita gave birth to twin sons in the Ashrama of Valmiki, even without the approval of the then King Rama, who had banished her; These classical examples and many others referred to in the Upanishads give valuable precedents on this question. Women students like Gargi and Maitreyi had the benefits of coeducational education in a manner perhaps better understood then, though the latter was a rishi's (sage) co-wife.                            

The trend in modern times is not to consider the fruit as forbidden any more. The Pope himself is faced with this problem, and thus a clarification of this question is both topical and imperative. Monastic orders, whether Jain, Buddhist, Christian or Hindu have more or less rigid attitudes herein. Sometimes exceptions prove the rule and unwritten laws are better than those rigidly laid down by authority.  Some conjugal relations could be irregular but not void because of it. Sometimes we might have to avoid the lesser of two evils which might both be possible or probable. Without being dogmatic on such a delicate subject this message only aims at indicating some subtle guidelines derived from both the ancient wisdom of the East as well as from scientific notions becoming more and more acceptable to the modern West.

It should be sufficiently clear from the two previous messages under reference that Narayana Guru stood for normal against a form of rigid or sterile life based on vows treated mechanistically and dualistically, as in the case of many monastic orders. Sannyasa (the status of being a Sannyasi, a 'renouncer', who is normally celibate) should not be given light-heartedly to immature young men whose sex instincts might still be operative in the full force of vitality, as it should be in the best of them. Many promising young sannyasins have died premature deaths by repression of sex urges. This and similar sad disasters must warn us and clearly tell us that sublimation would be better than repression of sex. Even if such young and premature sannyasins should survive such a dire disaster as death, they will have to do so by facing Death with a capital letter, in principle at least, as young Nachiketas in the Katha Upanishad is said to have done in three instalments before attaining to the fully Vedantic life of a true Brahmachari (one who follows the way of the Absolute). There are thus three portals of the house of the God of Death through which a Brahmachari has to pass before entering the final of the four ashramas known to Upanishadic wisdom. When Narayana Guru forewarned us against the dangers of premature sannyasa, and saw at the same time that married life could be normalized and included within the life of an Ashrama, he was only correctly toeing the line of the wisdom tradition of India. Buddhistic and Jaina standards have deflected from this ancient verticalized track with which we have now to catch up in revalued modern terms.  The Gurukula movement has to profit to the maximum from experiences of more modern times at home or abroad, as well as from the precious lessons once learnt during the long history of this ancient land.

The Ramayana (an ancient epic) speaks of the trouble that started with the mistake that Ravana made in respect of Sita. Iphigenia had to be sacrificed by Agamemnon, her father, because of the trouble that started with the beautiful Helen of Troy. Medea and Jason had such marital rivalries in the face of which two of their screaming sons were put to the sword by their own mother. Subrahmanya had the trouble of vanquishing the demon chief interested in the beautiful damsels of Indra's paradise.  Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and God had to chase them away as if functioning as a policeman. Bhima had to kill Kichaka in a fully polygamous or polyandrous context of the proto-historic context of the Mahabharata (another epic).

Sex jealousy is at the bottom of the tragedy of Othello who killed Desdemona when passion possessed him.  Promiscuous communities, especially when steeped in poverty and dirt, need police intervention in the mornings when the sanctity of the marital bed has been violated. The front pages of the newspapers of any big city often contain pictures of disasters, big or small, due to the development of triangles of jealousy in the relations between men and women. When dirt, poverty and sex brawls are put together, we get slums or ghettos of different grades of nuisance value. The kitchen is most often the epicentre where, even in otherwise respectable families, trouble starts overtly or tacitly with sensitive or hysterical women and their megalomaniac or sadistic paramours or husbands. Endless are thus the ramified instances that we could cite, from the days of Sita and Savitri to the present day, where we see in an illustrated newspaper that even in a free and modernmost drop-out community, the child is seen crying while holding to the apron of its mother and asking, in its hunger, for which of her lovers she is preparing the morning breakfast.

Man and Woman have different functions in life but they have the same rights to seek wisdom or the fulfilment of their lives for happiness, the common goal for which all strive at all times anywhere. A reciprocity, a compensation, a complementarity and a final cancellability of counterparts is implied in their relationships. Biologically speaking, they manifest an ambivalence.  When correctly related to each other, the resulting value would be doubly profitable, but otherwise there will result double loss to both and for all involved. Narayana Guru laid down, as a general rule, that men and women live separately. In other words, they have to play the game of Gurukula life from opposite sides of the court. Every game has what is called fair or foul play, and when one of the teams involved does not respect the whistle of the umpire, the joy intended in the sport gets compromised. No player is to play offside. Promiscuous dribbling of the ball is never more enjoyable than what all children will agree results when the teams are properly divided and one side wins the toss.

Although seeking wisdom may not be like a game, the community life of men, women and children together needs some minimum ordering in order that slum conditions may not prevail within the Gurukula.   Pregnant women need protection and meditative inmates like peace and quiet from screaming children near their huts or rooms. Sick people might have to be segregated. Decent burials might have to be guaranteed, at least for those who die in harness working long years in the Guru cause.  Illegitimate children should not be abandoned. Women or girls might need protection or privacy from perverted individuals likely to molest them. Widows, orphans and the aged or blind should be given succour or shelter. Travellers from distant lands could be treated with the deference due to them in a generous spirit. Various other services could be rendered to fellow men, without duplicating what states are normally expected to do. Ends and means in life could be matched correctly within a structure or four-fold hierarchy of life-values covering the total amplitude or spectrum within the limits of the possible significant human values treated inclusively. Respecting the rules of the game and the structural ground on which the game is to be played are equally important for securing maximum benefit out of the game called Gurukula life in terms of one and all. With Siva as the archetypal male and Parvati as his feminine counterpart it would be possible for all persons who love peace, purity and renunciation to lead a common Gurukula family life creating surplus-value momentum, both self-propelling and retroactive, as the movement expands. When basic imperatives in life are overlooked, the movement can come to a standstill, tending to become sterile, effete or extinct. Sometimes when standards fall low, one or several ships of the flotilla may have to be scuttled by general consent.  Such are some of the necessities or contingencies through which the Gurukula ship must weather the storm to cross the ocean of relativistic cyclic life, steeped in uninteresting or humdrum purposelessness, living an existence of doubt or suffering.              

Men and women have separate retiring rooms in travel stations. Orthodox Hindus do not treat the sexes in terms of a mechanically conceived equality, but treat women as antar janam  (inside people). In Islamic practice, zenana and mardana (men's and women's quarters) are kept distinct by a purdah (a thin curtain, to be understood in principle). In modern coeducational boarding schools various forms of mixing are at present tolerated.  The 'drop-outs' or 'flower people', as a new generation of youth are sometimes called, push the freedom one step further, shocking some, but approved of by others or at least condoned or connived at by the general public.  The possible varieties of such mixing or promiscuity are endless. It is for us now to find a marital middle path in this important matter. Evil is accentuated when a dualistic approach is allowed.  A unitive solution is to be sought herein.

The delicate duality implicit herein cannot be explained more clearly than in the words of the greatest of poet-seers of India, Kalidasa, who put the following question into the mouth of King Dushyanta speaking to the female companions of Sakuntala on the most delicate subject of the latter's possible marriage. The alternative implied and his own final decision to have a questionable form of marital union, conventionally called the Gandharva form of marriage, still leaves the mind unclear on this point.   The Immaculate Conception of Christ does not clarify the issue any better. It is Kalidasa again on whom we have to depend for a full elaboration within the scope of the eight cantos of this epic, Kumara Sambhava, (The Birth of the War God).  The alternative types of marital relationship in the case of Sakuntala will become evident when we scrutinize carefully the words of the King here. He alludes first to 'vaikhanasa vrata', a dualistic form of celibacy binding on her, rigidly and conventionally. As a second alternative, there is a less dualistic form of mystically erotic relationship applicable to the simple and natural lives of deer 'with intoxicated regard'. Whether male or female, which latter conforms to a more unitively conceived form of marital felicity.  Translated freely, the verse of Kalidasa under reference here reads:

'By this (your female friend) is it decreed that, with Eros' function banned, she should live up to the eventuality of being given away (in marriage)?
Or rather is she, to the ultimate limit, to live like the young female fawns in the company of her drunken-eyed male companions?'

If divine intervention, either in the from of an immaculate conception or of such an ideally normalized version as the birth of Ganesha or Subrahmanya in Hindu Puranic (legendary) lore, is to be ruled out, we shall be left with three alternatives of regular married life: one in which the contracting parties are united in the form of a mutual social contract with a magistrate witnessing it; or one in which the priest represents the witness in the name of the Absolute. Registered marriages serve the former purpose while religious marriages conform to the latter case. The verse from Kalidasa cited here indicated a third intermediate alternative by analogy with what prevails very naturally and beautifully among the fawns of the groves of the Ashrama of Kanva. The question of a formal rite of marriage does not arise in a pure state of Nature. There is nothing here that one should rigidly accept or reject. The innocent fawns belong to the world of normal nature and what is decreed by Nature itself is its sanction and no question even of right or wrong morality arises at all. No fruit is to be forbidden or recommended either by God or by the devil, as in the case of Marguerite in Goethe's Faust. Sakuntala's case comes nearest to this model that Kalidasa must have kept in mind. To give further details of how such a model human marriage could take place, he has written this immortal masterpiece of a royal personage committing a fully human error within the pure precincts of an Ashrama where absolute standards of marital or sex morals have been preserved by Kanva-Guru-Kula-Pathi (Kanva, the Guru and head of the Gurukula). A detailed study of this epoch-making work alone can give us any further directives for our guidance in the matter of a model for a marriage within the Gurukula

It is true that all men or women cannot be said to be like Dushyanta or Sakuntala, who have their respective Ashrama or Kingdom, with which alone presupposed, could such a most natural or normal absolutist marriage take place.  Even such an objection would lose its force when it is stated here that this model could at least serve for the Gurukula as a practical as well as a theoretical reference or referent in the matter of regulating married life within the Gurukula.

Sex in animals is free from prudery. The dedicated life in the context of natural erotic mysticism does not agree with the languishing of lovers in the marital bed. The sanctity of the marital bed of a Rishi or a Paramahamsa is not to be light-heartedly questioned.

We could think of the correct court or playing field with its structural limiting lines and the rules of the game treated as normalizing or re-normalizing reference-counterparts to make natural marital relations possible in the over-all context of a super-morally or mystically conceived way of life in which sex would at least not be tabooed as altogether out of place.

Irregularities are always to be expected as much as the miracles of a perfectly lived married life. Because of the possibility of error in human life we cannot consider sex relations as totally prohibited. Pardon is always possible, given the generosity implied in the Absolute.

If the Gurukula life is to be treated as a game, it has to presuppose a ground, at least schematically visualized, on which alone it can be played. Like sacred groves or dedicated islands, every place has its value by the numinous value due to its past history or its future purpose. Whether such a presence that one feels is called a vibration or an atmosphere of calm or reverence, there is definitely such a factor which distinguishes - or ought to distinguish - a Gurukula from any sundry locality, whether in a slum or classy part of a town; whether in a forest or a palace grounds. Calmness and cleanliness with kindness to animals, domesticated or half-wild, and plain living can only heighten the contemplative value of such a place. One has only to read carefully between the lines of Kalidasa's description of Kanva Ashrama where Sakuntala lived, dressed in bark garments and hair only oiled from what was obtained from some nuts that fell from some trees in the Ashrama grove. There is a memorable verse therein which demands close scrutiny, which would reveal to anyone intuitive enough the suggested meaning to be seen, as it were, between the lines where the markings on the playing field or the ground on which Gurukula life is to be played are clearly revealed to the intuitively trained and penetrating person capable of grasping the lakshanartha (the total indirect meaning implicit in what is known as dhvanyartha, which is a kind of analogy having the status of a super figure of speech).

'Schematismus' is the term Kant used for this kind of protolinguistic structurally dynamic schematic ground on which life in a Gurukula can be visualized as normalized between a reference or, a referent as existing between the perceptual and the conceptual aspects of the total situation.

Tantra is a discipline beginning to be understood by moderns that deals with this same idea, although tantra, mantra and yantra must be treated as presupposing one another. (Such matters have been too many times discussed by us elsewhere that going into them here would be superfluous). (See under 'Saundarya Lahari' on this website)

Those factors or features that together constitute the special vibrations or atmosphere that distinguished Ashrama life on its proper grounds have been referred to by Kalidasa in a systematic and graded order. Our task is therefore made easy because, instead of inventing our own postulates in the matter, we could treat of this most subtle of subjects by extrapolating or interpolating what is revealed adequately by modern science and what hoary traditions of the Rishis has taught us long ago.

Relativity theory and quantum mechanics with its various spaces, numbers and structural representations have such factors as parameters, perimeters, curves, dimensions, references, limits, constants, time-like space and space-like time - sometimes requiring double correction in a back-to-back arrangement. These employ the same formal language as was known to the Rishis of the Upanishads, to master poets like Kalidasa, to critical philosophers like Sankara and further down the line of Gurus to the date of Narayana Guru.

As King Dushyanta stops his hunting and finds himself in the precincts of a typical Ashrama of ancient India, the first appreciative appraisal of its value or significance is the value called shanti or peacefulness that prevailed there. Next he hints in the same breath, as it were by the question 'What is the purpose of this?' He answers the question himself by saying alternatively, 'Or, the doors of possibilities in life are found in principle at every place'. In other words an Ashrama is a place where intentionalist opportunity gets a chance for fulfilment in a universal and generalized context. Each man or woman is placed in a universally concrete environment, within the frame of which he could work out his own salvation intelligently. The highest Good or Happiness must be such a goal.

After this preliminary appreciation of peace and then removing his ornamental clothes in submission to the humility that befits the calm Ashram life, he enters into the Ashram precincts. A classically perfect verse sums up the four aspects of the life there conforming to the quaternion structure which the Mandukya Upanishad postulates when it says, 'Ayam atma chatushpad' (This Self is of four limbs). What applies to the Self here would apply equally well to what could be referred to as the Absolutely Metaphysical Non-Self. The Self and Non-Self have one-one correspondence between them, and when they are subjected to double correction or normalization, we have a central unitive reference for use as an instrument of research of great beauty and fecundity in revealing truth. The relevant verse, translated freely, would read:

'Corn is (seen) falling from the parrot-granary-mouth of the tree hollow.
By confidence, fawns are not dispersing as they are seen to remain, enduring noise.
There is a thin film of oil under the trees, bearing evidence of ingudi nuts having been cracked on stones,
And the path to the water-source is seen traced by markings from water-drops from the tips of bark garments.'
(I, 13)

The atmosphere or the vibrations of a Gurukula cannot be touched upon more delicately, methodically and in due order of graded importance, and totally or globally than by what Kalidasa has been able to do here.

Shanti is the first and foremost desideratum for contemplative life besides the non-ostentatious submissiveness before entering into the Gurukula precincts.
We can glean the following four features that should characterize a Gurukula or Ashrama that Kalidasa pictures for us protolinguistically and schematically implicit in each of the four peculiarities seen by him as he enters the grounds:

1. The reference to parrots gathering grains in the hollow of a tree: The implied suggestion here is that the Gurukula has a self-sufficient abundancist economy, in which food is made available through nature, as with the lilies of the field or the birds of the air.

2. The thin film of oil on the stones is to show a schematic dividing line separating percepts from concepts, form from name, unostentatious simplicity that is proper to high thinking, and a host of allied features associated with Gurukula life.

3. The fawns that are not startled or perturbed by noises such as that of cars or chariots refers to the ignoble strife outside, in contrast to the calm confidence inside, felt even by deer that are easily startled. This puts a limiting circle on the numerator or conceptual side of the Gurukula atmosphere, well above the 0-point.

4. The water-source would be a value factor on the negative side, placed below the 0-point as indicated in the figure below. The dripping water-drops trace perimeters circumscribing the structural unit whose total form can now be globally visualized in broad and general outlines.

5. The personality of Sakuntala and that of Dushyantha will reveal themselves as the play unravels to represent the descending negative dimension, participating at the 0-point where the horizontal and vertical parameters intersect.            

Schematically we could give visual form to what we have stated in the following structural language (See figures on page sixteen).

What we have clarified so far does not answer directly the question of how ordinary families with, say, a husband, a wife, and children, could be fitted correctly into the life of the Gurukula. The degree of dedication of the whole family as a unit or ensemble to the ideals expressing articles of faith or patterns of behaviour involved in the dedication, has first to be guaranteed. When such a radical decision has been taken voluntarily in the name of seeking happiness through wisdom of the Absolute, as understood in the case of the Narayana Gurukula, it would be possible to place the group as a unit within the four walls of what constitutes Gurukula life, conceived as conforming to various degrees of dedication - all coming within the scope of the total structure of the Absolute. The sanctity of the marital bed around which the particular family regulates its life will be a consideration based on which they could be given legitimately central or a peripheral position, vertically positive or negative, within the Gurukula fold. Besides recognizing the lines with reference to which the Gurukula game is to be played, it has also to be underlined here that the appreciation of the vertical minus value aspect is of primary importance in the matter of affiliation to Gurukula life. This aspect could be referred to in terms of the bark garment that Sakuntala is made to wear by Kalidasa. In other words, Peter is at least as important as Paul in the biblical context.

As seasons fit without conflict into the year; and as twilight hours of sun or moon, rising or setting, can merge into a streak of magenta in the aurora borealis; and as various chakras or adharas in yoga coexist in the yogi's consciousness; and as all polygons could be comprised within a circle; and as multiplication and division could cover addition and subtraction; and as parameters and perimeters, correlates, conic sections, ellipses, parabolas and hyperbolas are all capable of being fitted together into what constitutes microcosm as well as macrocosm, unitively treated according to a possible theory of Unitive Science - it is possible to so arrange the community life of the Gurukula so that monastic and married life proper to men or women could be adequately accommodated together to secure the over-all purpose of human happiness and peace without inner or outer conflict.

As disciples of Narayana Guru let us respect his indications contained in his composition called "Ashrama", and what he indirectly indicated in his Smriti, as also other suggestions and hints given to the present Guru. Further, let us today take the bold step of resolving that married life should be accommodated normally within Gurukula life without compromising the highest standards of monastic life. In respect of the actual modus operandi of the decision about marriages taken above, further precedents and publications can be expected to regulate them year after year. 

(Note: a final paragraph dealing with day-to-day administrative matters has been omitted.)



Higher wisdom or realization can come to rare individuals among human beings who may be said to have tuned themselves to the Absolute.

The time-honoured alternative to others is of establishing bi-polar relations with a master who has already attained to the awareness or attitude implied in Self-realization. As the understanding of the attitude is not possible by the usual didactic methods of learning and teaching which are mostly based on an a posteriori, pragmatic, empirical, or logical approach, the only way to get it is through a global intuition which has its favourable conditions. By means of a subtle rapport and a mutual personal adoption between the seeker and the teacher, the personality becomes better adjusted to the absolutist way and will be able to absorb something of the master's attitude to the seeker when all the conditions required for transmission of the teaching are present together.

Mistrust and disadoption between the two concerned in such a bi-polar wisdom situation would tend to make the search futile.

The wavering mind, caught between rival interests has to be steadied. This can be accomplished only by a body and soul affiliated to the context of wisdom.

The whole-heartedness of the affiliation requires that the whole man, which does not exclude the physical, is made to comply or bend as it were, to listen to the Word of wisdom represented by the personality and attitude of the Guru.

A disciple has to be uncompromising like his Guru. Pampering of both body and mind is to be abolished to gain a full absolutist state of intense light within. The way whereby contemplation becomes actually established may be a slow one, but the attitude of the aspirant has to be whole-hearted and drastic.

The relativistic context of time and becoming, with a duration tending to be historical rather than pure, is not the proper world of the contemplative. The contemplative seeker should therefore live in a neutral middle position of detachment between the two extremes of time's pointer as it indicates opposingly to the past or the future. He is balanced and neutral, as it were, between the rival tendencies involved.

When one has succeeded in eliminating the horizontal tendencies adhering to the Self, and it is thus purified, the very Self asserts itself and grows into power or perfection by double assertion and double negation.   In the process, if one again rests peripheralized in interests, one might become some sort of a distorted absolutist in the deprecatory connotation of the term. In the name of institutional forms of holiness we have examples of distorted personalities with ego exaggerated or awry in one sense or another. These pitfalls have to be avoided by the aspirant to contemplative life. The ego should not be allowed to suffer bloating, warping or distortion.

If we should think of social duties, it can be of items which are free from the relativistic taint. The good work of a Good Samaritan in the Bible is disinterested and correctly altruistic, while many good-intentioned works in the name of religions suffer from relativistic taints or partialities which have no real spiritual value.

The Absolute is a wonder and is adorable as the most supreme of human values. The wise Lao Tzu says:

'Like a baby that has not yet learned to smile
Listless as though with no home to go back to
The multitude all have more than enough;
1 atone seem to be in want.
My mind is that of a fool-how blank.
Other people are clear;
I alone am drowsy.
Other people are alert;
I alone am muddled.
Calm like the sea;
Like a high wind that never ceases.
The multitude all have a purpose;
I alone am foolish and uncouth.
I alone am different from others
And value being fed by the Mother'.

The wise man is likened to the child sucking the Mother, Nature, or the Absolute. This Supreme Absolute is that about which nothing can be predicted. It is usual in the context: to describe the Absolute as a mother.

The circulation of the subtlest of contemplative thinking takes place by a kind of alternating figure of eight process within consciousness. When such an alternating process occurs between the poles that are horizontal and vertical at the same time the resulting event tends to refer to the purest aspects of contemplative life. When cultivated properly by self-discipline, the Word and its meaning would meet and merge into one meaning referring to the Absolute which is the real subject and object of all wisdom. The norm that has to guide our interpersonal relations is the ever-abiding awareness that 'the other man's interest is even mine; what is beneficial to oneself should be beneficial to the other also'. The ethical core of Narayana Guru's teaching is:

'All acts aiming each man's self happiness must spell
At once the happiness of the other fellow-man.'
Jesus said, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself '. Narayana Guru endorses it. Treating, thy neighbour as thyself implies the equation of the Self with the non-self. Guru-wisdom rests not only on our realization, but its application in our own ethical life. Just as intense pain in the tip of one's toe would suffice to upset the balance of the whole person in suffering, so the subtle reciprocity implied in the slightest discrimination made between favourites or enemies can bring unforeseen quantitative or qualitative effects. Consequences flare up into a general conflagration. The sum total of human suffering consists of small sparks of partiality shown by men somewhere or other, at-one time or another. The general cause of war should be thought of in this way.  Like one spark setting fire to the neighbouring faggot, the continuity of the process of evil effects is to be imagined as operating ceaselessly in the world of human relations. Clashes of clan with clan, time-old feuds, racial, national or other rivalries, jealousy and bickerings between disciples, all work together to keep the flames of the inferno constantly fed with incessantly burning fuel.

When the dualistic attitude is once abolished and generosity spreads evenly like sunlight without distinction, on all human beings, even on the publican and the sinner, that kind of generosity belongs to the context of the absolutist way of life and in the context of Self-realization, is very important to keep in mind. The Self can itself become the worst enemy of the Self. Let us learn to make our self its own best friend, to raise the Self by the Self.

Petty interest in utilities or pragmatic interests have to be transcended, and they have to be replaced by higher interests of a pure spiritual order before one could arrive at the full term of contemplative life.

When the Christians took up arms against Saracens both were right and both were wrong, which is the same as saying that neither were right nor wholly wrong or without any justification. To get round this double-edged situation a new yet time-honoured kind of unitive approach in reasoning is required. Narayana Guru shows this very clearly to us.

Do not forget that while a zealous follower of a certain faith or cause is highly conscious of the importance of his own mission, his tendency to find fault with the honest faith of others acts itself at the same time as a subtle veil.  The full recognition of the fact that the other man is just like oneself in his own zeal for the particular value or course that he prefers to call his own is absent.   There is easy vertical adoption and difficult horizontal recognition of the values involved in rival courses or faiths which could be reconciled only when looked at unitively.

What prevents this unitive vision is the retrospective orientation of the psyche, which is often filled with the dross of personal reminiscences which result in regret or regression of the spirit harmful to a healthy psychic life.   Reminiscent moods are often signs of mental debility. As a corrective we should free ourselves from attachment and avoid references in the first person.  Be endowed with firmness and zeal. Let us not be moved by success or failure. Remember the teaching of the Gita. The actor who is passionate, prompted by desires for benefits, who is greedy, violent-natured, maladjusted with moods of exaltation and depression is called affective-passionate. The actor who is a misfit, crude, stubborn, deceitful, malicious, lazy, despondent, procrastinating, is called the dark.

Bearing all these in mind, let us search our own hearts and make sure that our dedication to the Guru and his wisdom-teaching is made in the spirit of a true consecration of our body, mind and self.


BRAHMA-VIDYA, which is both the subject matter and the object-matter of Vedanta or Advaita philosophy (Non-dual Wisdom of the Absolute) has been called "the fairest flower of the Tree of Wisdom" by a well-known Western authority. The Upanishads themselves refer to it as sarva-vidya-pratishta (the basis of all knowledge). India can claim no other heritage so great and precious. It is but natural therefore that the larger world should look to India for some initiative in this matter especially after Indian Independence. In the interests of the unity, peace and security of the world the message of Brahma-Vidya needs to be revalued and restated and presented to suit the needs of today and tomorrow.

Bharati, the Goddess of Wisdom known in India, has to be presented to the larger world as 'Visva-Bharati'. Unfortunately however, many of India's sons and daughters are turning away from Her in favour of other outside values which have merely a closed and relativistic status. The open dynamism implied in Brahma-Vidya is thus being lost to many of the present generation of Indians.
A proper Brahma-Vidya Mandiram or Institute of the Science of the Absolute is thus an idea that deserves the support of all to whom the wisdom heritage of India is still dear.

THE NEED OF A GURU: The place of a Guru in the context of Wisdom teaching should or ought to be well enough understood in India.

The Guru and the Sishya (the teacher and the disciple) are inseparable counterparts in any wisdom teaching. Without personal affiliation to Guruhood, wisdom-transmission from one to the other will not take place. Further, Brahma-Vidya demands truthfulness, Brahmacharya (walking in the way of Wisdom) and Gurukula-vasa (life in contact with a Guru in a fraternity called the Gurukula). Such intimate bi-polar relations with a Guru who is well qualified, together with the transmission of the Wisdom in vertical succession through generations called the parampara sampradaya are some of the other implications and presuppositions of the teaching of Brahma-Vidya known from the most remote times.
If it be asked if real Gurus do exist in modern times - which is a question that is natural and pertinent - the answer is in the affirmative. The question itself has to be understood as fitting the context of perennial Wisdom, which is synonymous with Brahma-Vidya. One could with equal justice put the question whether there are real rulers now as there were in olden times such as Rama, or whether there are real husbands and wives such as Sita. Given the true seeker for Wisdom there will not be lack of real teachers corresponding to it just as no flower can normally lack a ray of the sun to open its petals. Such an answer is fully valid because both the question and answer have to belong to the same context of Wisdom.
There has never been the lack of Gurus in India: India has never lacked Wisdom teachers. In this respect India's soil has ever been a favoured one. From the most remote times a succession of Gurus have been born on its soil, the present time being no exception. From the days of Adi Narayana, the first prototype of all Gurus, through Vyasa and Sankara down to the latest of them in Guru Narayana we have been blessed with a never-ending line whose course is still to run. Given a true sishya it will never be for the lack of a proper Guru that he goes without Wisdom teaching in any generation. The sishya has to seek him earnestly and wholeheartedly to find him. If he knocks it shall be opened to him. The teacher makes his appearance, historically too, when there is need for him, as promised in the Bhagavad Gita.

Not far from Cape Kanyakumari the extreme southern tip of India, between the years 1854 and 1928 there appeared a Guru called Narayana whose life and teachings conformed to the spirit of the Upanishads and who was in every way a personification of the Wisdom of the Absolute. Born of humble parents, he was steeped in the culture and spiritual heritage of India in its full sense, coming roughly one thousand years after Sankara and establishing an Advaita Ashram on the shores of the same river in which the original Sankara, while bathing himself, took Sannyasa and taught Advaita, there arrived another Guru of great learning and purity of life. Millions of people flocked to take the dust off his feet and the masses instinctively recognised him as a Guru and even a Jagat Guru come to guide humanity in its dire need. His name has already become a household name in that part of the country and at the present time his message is spreading by virtue of its own intrinsic value to many parts of the world. In the well known motto that he gave to his followers 'Man is of One God, One Faith and One Family' which is day by day becoming the popular spiritual slogan of the masses in South India where his influence is felt, he succeeded in transferring to the masses an intellectual and a moral enthusiasm for the same Truth which was implied more philosophically in Advaita Vedanta. His samadhi is being observed as a public holiday in Kerala and as a partially public one in the neighbouring parts. His influence is a potent integrative force which is bringing together the Malayalam, Tamil and Kanarese-speaking people of this region, and his message is also spreading beyond the seas in South-East Asia, Europe and America at present.

BRAHMA VIDYA AS A FULL-FLEDGED SCIENCE: Apart from having been able in his lifetime to touch the life of the masses in a historic sense, the best contribution of Guru Narayana has been to have re-stated in revalued terms the Upanishadic teaching. He did not favour in this matter much reliance on analogy or parable as all traditional scriptures largely do, but wished to bring Brahma Vidya to the full status not only of a positive philosophy but of a Unified Science with its own method, theory of knowledge and scale of values.  His two major compositions, the Atmopadesha Satakam (Century of Verses on Self-Knowledge) , and his Darsana Mala (Garland of Visions of the Absolute), reveal to the critical Vedantin of our time how this almost impossible task has its foundations at least properly laid by this last and most recent of Vedantic    teachers.

THE IDEA OF A BRAHMA-VIDYA MANDIRAM: Many attempts have been made in recent years to establish a centre of Vedantic teaching which would state the case of Brahma-Vidya in a modern scientific form suitable to our times. Here the forces of orthodoxy and heterodoxy need to join hands, inspired by one great purpose. Understanding the science from the traditional angle has to go hand in hand with the ability to explain it in the light of modern knowledge. Neither punditry nor mere academic profession suffices here. A new generation of dedicated men and women has to come forward, inspired by the great work and its significance. Such wisdom has been known to be parampara-praptam (to be attained by hierarchical succession) in the Gita, which could be considered, next to the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras, as the greatest of canonical source-books for its propagation. In other words such an Institute has to be in a setting known as a Gurukula (a family of the Guru) where, like sons and daughters, a fraternity of wisdom-seekers can be nurtured and educated in a spirit in keeping with the ancient forest schools of India but with a revised programme and methods adapted to modern conditions.

A GURUKULA FOUNDATION ALREADY EXISTS: It was the wish of the Guru Narayana who attained Samadhi in 1928 that no memorial of the usual static type would be built for him but that instead an institute of Brahma-Vidya which will bring the light of wisdom to future generations should be established.
The taints of ancestor worship (pitriyana) and the relativistic implication of a mere ritual place of adoration, were thus to be bypassed according to such a wish of the Guru in favour of a Brahma-Vidya-Mandiram.
At present at Sivagiri, where the Guru attained Maha-Samadhi, there stands an impressive monument called the Maha-Samadhi Mandiram. This monument is not fitted for actual instruction in wisdom. Built at a cost of several lakhs of rupees as an expression of the loyalty of the people of Kerala mostly, it is more of a memorial to the Guru than a seat of learning. The present Brahma-Vidya Mandiram is to complement this edifice as an actual seat of learning if possible from the larger public, in recognition of the Guru as a Wisdom-Teacher rather than as a religious head. Wisdom gains primacy in the present undertaking. There is thus no duplication of effort and the last special wish of the Guru himself is only being fulfilled by it.

TEACHING PERSONNEL AVAILABLE: More important than land or buildings which forever have been set apart for this purpose next to the Samadhi Hill at Sivagiri, Varkala, Kerala State, India, is the question of teaching personnel of the proper kind and of wisdom seekers who will be willing to be students. The Gurukula movement which was started in 1928 by a Sat Sishya of the original Guru Narayana, in 1923, has within it already a nucleus of teachers and disciples who have dedicated themselves to the cause in terms of a life-time. Headed by Nataraja Guru, who can truly be said to be the best-known successor of the original Guru, there is a group of well-educated Sannyasins who have each their own Gurukulas in different parts of the world both in the East, South East Asia and in the West. They include John Spiers, the immediately next disciple of the parampara, who is well versed in Eastern philosophy generally and edits from Bangalore the Gurukula magazine  called 'Values'. There is Swami Mangalanda who is well known in the Malayalam speaking area as a leading Vedantin and public speaker. Nityachaitanya Yati has been teaching philosophy in the Universities of Madras and elsewhere and is a whole-time follower of the Gurukula movement. Dr. Marc Gevaert of Belgium and Harry S. Jacobsen of New Jersey have each their wisdom centres of which they are heads with a body of disciples in each place. The Gurukula movement is day by day expanding in geometrical rather than arithmetical proportions and will need a central Brahma-Vidya Mandiram in a few years, towards which the present project is only a natural stepping-stone. There is thus a growing body of qualified men of all nationalities, both Eastern and Western who will be available to make the undertaking a working concern.

THE CHOICE OF THE PLACE: It is true that there are many places that could be thought of in India as the fit locality for an institute of this kind. There are however certain inner considerations which favour the choice of Varkala (ancient Janardana) for the purpose. Just as the Ganges and Benares are linked and fashions and Paris are inseparable, so Varkala has its particular claims which cannot be altered for innate reasons. Dakshina-Murti, the archetypal Guru of proto-Vedic times, and Sankara too of the historic period have to do with the South. Between Kanyakumari and the Mount Kailasa there has been a dialectical interplay of values in the course of Indian spiritual life whose course cannot be deflected easily. That an actual Guru of the quality and stature of the Guru Narayana selected this place for his own Samadhi, is sufficient reason for disciples at least, rather than the general public, to prefer this place as in keeping with svadharma in spite of rival claims of many other places which might be more suitable or attractive. The place has been actually sanctified by the life of a Rishi, Muni or Guru of modern times. This is an asset that no money can buy
This choice however need not necessarily exclude other similar foundations for the same purpose being established, each with its own aspect of importance, whether spiritual or practical. When one model has been established, even on a smaller scale, it becomes easy to duplicate the model on a larger scale in any number of places, just as plants have to go from a miniature nursery to the whole area to be planted later on. Such is the idea we have in mind when starting such a highly spiritual undertaking.

THE APPEAL OF JANARDAN: The prehistoric place of pilgrimage called Janardan is situated in an undulating countryside overlooking the cliffs which jut into the Arabian Sea about twenty miles north of the capital of Kerala, Janardan enjoys  sea breezes and the amenity of rare mineral springs that rise on hillsides to run gurgling onto the palm beach by the famous kaolin and peaty red cliffs that served as a landmark for Greek manners of ancient history. The temperature is roughly that of the human body through day and night and through the seasons. The distant rumbling of the sea, the canals and backwaters, give a unique antique setting to Varkala which is the more modern name for this charming seaside resort. About three miles in the interior is the Sivagiri hill where the impressive granite memorial to the Guru at present stands. Across the paddy field in the valley that separates it from the next hill of equal height is a plot of land already owned by the Gurukula movement, of about an acre in extent, dominating a whole hillock which seems to be destined to supplement and thus fulfil the wish of the saint who dreamed of this project first.  Plenty of spring water is available for storage by pump at the foot of this very hill and the silver gleam of the sea is visible from the top where the building is to come. Accessible by canal, road and rail, this place seems to enjoy by dint of providence most of the natural amenities for a Wisdom Institute.

WORK ALREADY STARTED:  Earth work on the top of the  hillock chosen has already been started after a regular contour  map has been prepared by professional surveyors under the  direction of Sri K. K. Krishnan, formerly of Malayan service.  Enough ground on the top is available for a fairly big building to house an assembly hall to seat one thousand, a balcony space for a library of all source books for comparative religion and the Science of the Absolute. There will be a cellar providing for miscellaneous amenities, the most important of which is a safe vault and archives, cloakroom etc, emergency kitchen, bathrooms and sanitary fittings for both occasional visitors and residents such as librarians, visiting professors, or secretariat clerks etc. A portico and roads leading up and steps by which pedestrians could come and go without disturbing the quiet work of the students will all be provided. The hillock with the dominating buildings will be laid out terraced with parapets and gardens, fountains, etc. according to good taste.

THE USE OF THE BUILDING: Many well-endowed institutes of this kind are seen to have become places where all original work becomes numbed by rules, committees or red tape, whose dead weight of formalities often kill the living and growing creative spirit of such a place. It is necessary therefore that this does not happen in the present case. The hall for seating a thousand will be used once annually at least for the Gurukula Convention or a Vedanta Conference conceived on an All-India and inter-religious and International basis. Other Conventions are possible in between these annual ones, which latter have become already a permanent feature of the Gurukula Movement
A visiting professor of university status or a learned Sannyasin could live in the building, off and on, for long or short periods, imparting higher instruction in Brahma-Vidya. There should be one or two smaller classrooms in the balcony or above the platform of the hall where smaller meetings, classes or courses could be conducted. The library located on the balcony floor with full French doors, opening out into the outer air all round will give a quiet place for the study of source books of all traditions, cultures, and religions from a comparative and unitive point of view. The work of publications such as translations and editions of valuable works in Sanskrit or other languages could also be undertaken as occasion presents. Student seminars could be arranged to create interest in Brahma-Vidya and allied subjects under the guidance and presence of an actual Guru who will be both a Srotriya (well-instructed in the Sastras) and Brahmavit (knower of the Science of the Absolute).  A university chair of Brahma-Vidya could be instituted here and it would attract research students from far and near. Such are some of the uses that we could envisage for preventing the institute from degenerating into a mere dead letter. Preference will be given to people who live the life of spirituality rather than to mere pundits or professors. The existing Gurukulas must be considered as feeder institutions in this matter and more could be started in different parts of the country or the world.

PLANS AND ESTIMATES: Detailed plans and estimates for the institute have been ordered. Meanwhile a rough blueprint of the proposed buildings, has been prepared. Excluding the terrace, which will be of pre-stressed concrete, and the ground-floor or the cellar, there will be two other floors in between. The first will be the floor of the Assembly Hall for One Thousand, the second floor will be a balcony combining a balustraded outside terrace going all round the amphitheatre where partitions could be made for rooms for special sections removable for big meetings. At the northern end there will be a portico with two rooms above and another two rooms flush with the third floor of the balcony and balustrade. On the terrace there will be a glazed chapel-like room for meditation or worship, individual or in group. A water tank at the very top and a terrace garden are possibilities as also a well-laid garden all round with terraced lawns, fountains etc. The cost of the whole plan is expected to come to five lakhs of rupees on first estimate.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS: The Prospectus of the Narayana Gurukula Foundation presents the details of the origin and status of that body and the present Brahma-Vidya Mandiram will be considered as being constituted under its auspices but will have a separate committee of its own with the Head of the Gurukula at the time being as the Head of the Central Committee. This body shall meet at least once a year, at Varkala during the Christmas-New Year Season. No notice or quorum will be needed for this fixed annual general meeting. Besides the Head of the Gurukula there will be a full-time disciple of the Gurukula Foundation who will be appointed as the Recording and General Secretary of the Institute. There will be other members and office bearers chosen every three years, or for life, according to their interest in the undertaking and their help. As far as possible they will represent a cross-section of the various departments and interests implied with due respect to regional or religious representation. The number of such members shall not exceed twenty, in all of whom four shall be active working members of the Central Committee. The other committees shall be (1) Academic or Teaching Committee, (2) Building Committee, (3) Finance Committee. The functions of the committees shall be consultative, advisory and directive. The properties shall be earmarked and set apart for the purpose of the Institute only and shall vest in the Head of the Gurukula under by-laws framed and approved from time to time by the Central Committee. The Head of the Finance Committee shall act as Treasurer to the Institute Trust thus made.


(ESTD. 1923)

The Narayana Gurukula Foundation is a Guru-disciple foundation according to Indian (Hindu) tradition, based on parampara or vertical hierarchical succession, for teaching unitive understanding and universal brotherhood, which is non profit-sharing and open to all without distinction of race, sex etc. who seek in living terms the Wisdom of the Absolute (Brahma-Vidya), of which the Guru Narayana (1854-1928) is a model and exemplar. This is founded by the successor-disciple of this original Guru with his consent in 1923. The Greater Gurukula, with its organization, the Yellow Fellowship, is meant for a larger circle of lay disciples who wish to conform to the Gurukula way of life by accepting its motto of  'One Caste or Race, One Religion and One God', with the vow of non-killing (Ahimsa) without full Guru-disciple commitments applicable to whole-time disciples.                                         

DECLARATION by Nataraja Guru, Varkala,
Jan. 1st, 1956.

This is to let it to be known generally, and in particular to those interested in the Gurukula Foundation, that I, Dr. Natarajan, also known among my disciples as Nataraja Guru and more plainly to be known as Natarajan), being the Head and Founder of the Narayana Gurukula Foundation, Varkala P. 0., T. C. State have this the 1st Jan. 1956 overtly adopted Sannyasa (pattern of life of a man of renunciation) as understood in the Indian contemplative tradition. This is in spite of the fact that I have since 1923 been a thyagi (relinquisher of benefits of effort), and even received in 1926 the yellow cloth from the Guru Narayana, expressly given to me in recognition of my life-long dedication to the Guru cause. The sannyasa (renunciation) at present assumed, after crossing my sixtieth year of life, is meant to confirm the thyaga (relinquishment) and to be a more open and objective re-dedication of the same life of detachment in a maturer form, as implied in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII. 49), and as laid down and permitted in the Narayana Smriti (Code of Life written under the direction of Guru Narayana verse 131 Sri Narayana Dharma P. 56)

I further desire by this declaration and this re-dedication to make it known that having now fully conformed to the requirements of a sad sishya (true disciple) of Guru Narayana, I can claim in principle all abstract and concrete privileges and rights that accrue normally in favour of such a disciple in Hindu Law as supported by Narayana Smrithi and the older Yagnavalkya Smrithi. The Guru-Sishya parampara sampradaya (method of vertical hierarchical succession of Guru by Disciple), expressly envisaged in the Will and Testament of the Guru Narayana has hitherto been vitiated by certain flaws* and setbacks in the process of succession of the very first recognized disciple of the line and further compromised by wrong registration of the body of disciples according to English Trust Law which is now recognised by the highest authorities as totally repugnant to the spirit and functioning of the foundations of the type of Ashrams or Mutts and the like. Even the original spirit of the teaching of the Guru Narayana has been violated and deflected from, as pointed out already in my Declaration dated 1st Jan. 1953.

* Extract from Judgement of O.S. No. 127 of 1954.  Attingal sub-court: '...but it has to be borne in mind that Swamiji (Guru Narayana) himself is not a party to Ext. V what Sri Bhodananda could do at the best -if that could be done at all- was only to clothe the Sangham with all the Powers he was clothed with by Ext. III. The right which the Sangham has obtained under Ext. III and V is only one of management, and Ext. II, Will, does not improve that situation.'

In these circumstances it so happens that by virtue of my openly adopting Sannyasa, the Narayana Gurukula Foundation gains a revised status in a factual, just and normal manner as being the earliest established body of disciples of the Guru Narayana as envisaged in his own Will. I finally desire also to make it clear by this declaration that by openly assuming Sannyasa to-day I have in legal parlance suffered 'civil death' and that all properties and rights, both abstract and concrete, that vest in me shall go after my life to my chief disciple, chosen from among my first-degree disciples, whom I hereby reserve the right to nominate by Will when thought opportune. In other words, natural blood relations shall have no claims whatsoever on the properties in my name. Any gifts made to me or the Gurukula Foundation are absolutely unconditional ones with no strings attached nor any return benefits implied in them, to be treated as Dakshina (pious offering) to be used in a just manner for the Foundation as known in tradition. (For further clarification of these and various other points see the Gurukula Memorandum published under my authority in the Gurukulam Magazine of Varkala, December
1955 issue).

Being a short statement concerning the
(Est. 1923)
Officially released by Head and Founder of the Gurukula, Dr. Natarajan, at Varkala, T. C. State, on 1st Jan. 1956.

The 'Narayana Gurukula', also hereinafter referred to more shortly as the 'Gurukula' or 'Gurukula Foundation' or the Foundation) is the name of an institution conforming to what is well-known in the traditional life of India from most ancient times and which is also sometimes referred to as 'Mutt' or 'Ashram'* It consists of a Guru (spiritual preceptor) and Kula (family consisting of his disciples who together constitute a spiritual family) headed by the teacher of wisdom.


*  'Mr. Justice West in a classical judgement...has pointed out that The Hindu Law like the Roman Law and those derived from it recognizes not only corporate bodies with rights of property vested in the corporation apart from its individual members but also juridical persons and subjects called 'foundations'. The religious institutions called 'mutts', choultries and other establishments obviously answer to this description of foundations in Roman Law'. Cf. §p. 43 'Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust' II, by Bijan Kumar Mukerjea' Judge of the Supreme Court of India (Calcutta, 1952).


In the present case they together follow the teachings and conform to the way of life represented by the Guru
Narayana of South India (1854 to 1928), who in his own life-time taught contemplative wisdom recognised as Advaita Vedanta (non-dual philosophy) or Brahma Vidya (science of the Absolute), which is not other than Atma-Vidya (Self-knowledge), conforming to the spirit of the Upanishads and following the general lines of the teachings of Sankaracharya (788 A. D.), though in a somewhat revised, restated and revalued form. Thus the foundation unlike the 'Trusts' known in English Law* conforms to a special type of institution particularly belonging to the Indian background from most ancient times.

* 'A trust in the sense In which it is used in English law is unknown in the Hindu system pure and simple' Ibid, pp 199 - 200.

The present Gurukula was founded in the name of the original Guru Narayana by his sat-sishya (true or direct disciple) now recognised by his own growing circle of disciples as Guru Nataraja, belonging to the parampara (vertical hierarchical line of succession) of the original Guru Narayana. Otherwise also known as Dr. Natarajan because of his western education and travel, this disciple has now attained to the full status of a sannyasin (man of renunciation), having as early as the year 1926 received from the Guru Narayana the yellow cloth expressly given to him as a token of his dedication to the Guru's ideals while at Colombo.

He has thereafter consistently led the life of a celibate disciple and thyagi (relinquisher), severing connection with his family and residing in the Gurukula itself and thus suffering what is called 'civil death' (1) as one dedicating himself to the propagation of the teachings of the Guru Narayana in terms of a whole lifetime.


* Justice Mukherjea explains 'civil death' as follows: 'It follows that neither he nor his relations can succeed to the property held by the other. If he acquired any property subsequently it cannot be inherited by his natural relations but passes on his death to his spiritual heirs Including his chela who is recognized as his spiritual son'. Ibid p 330. 


In order to doubly and overtly ensure his status as a sannyasi in conformity with the Narayana Smrithi ** code of conduct written under the guidance and direction of Guru Narayana) and in the spirit of the implications of the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Dr. Natarajan has on the 1st January 1956 decided publicly to re-dedicate himself as a sannyasi declaring himself as such in the presence of his disciples and the public interested in the Gurukula Movement.
(cf. Relevant announcement after the event on P. (1) here.)


** See verses 133, together with 226 and following, on the nature of Sannyasa as understood in the Narayana Smrithi as also two articles explaining the institution of Sannyasa as understood in the Gurukula, published in Malayalam in the 'Gurukula Magazine', published at Varkala, Oct-Nov and Dec issues of 1955.


It is the life-desire and intention of the present founder of the Narayana Gurukula, now called Guru Nataraja, to preserve and propagate the original teachings of the Guru Narayana together with the way of life that the Guru Narayana represented in its purest form by the time-honoured method known as the Guru-Sishya parampara-sampradaya - the method of vertical hierarchical succession of Guru (teacher) by Sishya (disciple). This method, further, is what may be seen to be envisaged in the will and testament* of the Guru Narayana, written at Varkala before his passing away. It will be noticed therefrom that, by founding the Narayana Gurukula, his sat sishya (direct disciple), Guru Nataraja was only anticipating the desire and intentions of the Guru Narayana himself.


* Cf. Will of the Guru Narayana, text of which, as published in the Gurukulam Magazine of Varkala,
Feb. 1953 issue, page 22, also on P. 22 below.


The Gurukula was first established at Coonoor, Nilgiris, with the blessings of the original Guru Narayana while he was still living in 1923 and conducted in Varkala also in the year 1926. This was prior to the formation of any other body of disciples of the Guru Narayana.

The primary object of the Narayana Gurukula foundation, as has already been indicated above, is that of promoting or propagating, irrespective of race, 'caste' nationality, sex or creed etc, among the people at large that body of exact knowledge known as Advaita Vedanta
(non-dual wisdom) in its various forms, indicated above. (See Section I). It attempts to preserve in its purest form the way of life of the original Guru, Narayana, for successive generations to emulate or follow. As corollaries to the above, if we add the principle of Ahimsa (non-hurting of fellow beings), and the open, universal and unitive outlook in life implied in the motto 'One Caste' (or race) 'One Religion', (or faith) 'One God' (or supreme Goal) as formulated by the Guru Narayana, all the main ideals objects and aims that the Gurukula may be said to represent or stand for may be said to have been enumerated. These ideals and objectives are sought to be attained through the medium of the spiritual family or fraternity which is the Gurukula foundation.


The Gurukula foundation represents a body which is a juridical person represented by the Head of the Foundation, who is the Guru for the time being. The Foundation is both 'charitable' and 'public' in character as understood in law. In India it is more usual to refer to such an establishment as a dharmasthapanam* (foundation for the advancement of a righteous life).


* 'In the Hindu system religion and charity overlap each other and do not admit of any differentiation. They are both Integral parts of 'Dharma' or the rule of righteousness.' Justice Mukherjea (Ibid 15)


It is charitable in as much as its funds without any reserve are applied to religious or educational purposes or for helping the needy spiritually, morally and in so far as is incidental to and in keeping with the primary purpose of the Foundation, to what might pertain even to the physical well-being of persons with whom the foundation is in organic contact. The Foundation is not a profit-sharing body but its Head and its first degree disciples are thyagis (or relinquishers) who willingly give up luxuries in life and conform to a simple mode of life in which 'plain living' is as far as possible combined with 'high thinking'.

The foundation is a 'public' one inasmuch as admission to it is not confined to any arbitrarily determined or statically circumscribed group of individuals*. 


* The fundamental difference between a 'private' mutt and a 'public' one is discussed on page 308 of Justice Mukherjea's book, cited above, of which the relevant portion reads as follows:
'By private Mutt should be meant those institutions where the Head or Superior holds the property, not on behalf of an indeterminate class of persons or a section of the public, but for a determinate body of individuals, namely the family and descendants of the grantor.'
The close resemblance that the Gurukula family bears to a natural family should not lead us to mistake it for a private Mutt. (This supplementary remark is meant to correct any wrong impression regarding the character of the Gurukula left by reading para 10 on page 3 of Pamphlet No. 1 published in Varkala in connection with the Centenary of the Guru Narayana, 1954-55.)


Through an indeterminate and dynamically growing and open group of first-degree disciples selected by the Head or the Guru on the basis of certain spiritual qualifications the Foundation is meant to benefit finally the public at large. The Foundation has thus a 'public' character both in its end and in the means adopted to attain the end.

The Narayana Gurukula is a Foundation that derives its status in law from Art 19 of the Indian Constitution by which in 19 (1) it guarantees freedom to acquire hold and dispose of properties involving concrete and abstract rights.

By Article 25 of the Constitution there is guarantee of freedom of conscience and free profession and practice and propagation of religion and Article 26 further provides that an institution of the type of a Mutt has freedom to manage its own affairs: Sections B and D of Article 26 make the status of a Foundation like the Gurukula or Mutt clearer than ever before. Further, recent judgements pronounced by the Supreme Court of India have thrown ample light on obscure aspects in regard to the status of such foundations, their autonomy and freedom from outside interference*.


* 'The Mutt or the spiritual fraternity represented by it can legitimately come within the purview of this article (i.e. Art. 26 of the Constitution declared a judgement on behalf of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on March 18, 1954 - Reported in the 'Indian Express of March 18, 1954).
The same judgement has the following further elucidation:  'Under Art. 26 B therefore, a religious denomination or organisation enjoys complete autonomy in the matter of deciding as to what rites and ceremonies are essential according to the tenets of the religion they hold and no outside authority has any jurisdiction to interfere with their decision in such matters. Of course the scale of expenses to be incurred in connection with these religious observances would be a matter of administration of property belonging to the religious denomination and can be controlled by secular authorities in accordance with any law laid down by competent legislature '


These pronouncements succeed in saving the institutions like the Gurukula foundation from being led to unnecessary litigation by those who claim interest in the affairs of the Foundation who, according to English Law, have too easy a right of dragging the institutions of the nature of trusts into prolonged sufferings of litigation and consequent drain of funds intended for benefiting the public more directly.

The Gurukula Foundation proper has to be distinguished from its affiliated and ancillary adjuncts which might be indirectly affiliated to it through bye-laws or other relations. A shrine or temple present in a Gurukula is only ancillary to the main purposes for which the Foundation stands and any worshipper who frequents the shrine cannot claim direct interest in the institution. The Guru who is the Head of the Institution and the fully dedicated first-degree disciples together form the innermost core of the Gurukula organization. The second-degree disciples who might belong to the Greater Gurukula or the Yellow Fellowship* or other affiliated formations of the Gurukula Movement form only the peripheral aspect of the organization.


* For clarification of these aspects of the Gurukula Foundation there are two pamphlets published in connection with the Narayana Guru Centenary Celebrations in Sept. 1953, with a translation of the same into Malayalam inserted in the Gurukulam Magazine, Varkala, of September 1953, pp 37 to 48.


The relation between the central Foundation and the affiliated peripheral aspects of the movement is regulated by various by-laws depending on the nature and merits of each case based on certain differences in principles between the two aspects of the organization. Both these aspects however have a common Head in the Guru of the Foundation for the time being. Even this peripheral aspect of the Gurukula organization merges imperceptibly into the larger Gurukula movement, which comprises the whole of the public without any limitation. The supreme example, together with the teaching of the Guru in its pure form, as represented in the person of the Head of the Foundation is meant to radiate outward from him as its centre representing as he does in himself the Good of All and the General Good.

Both the Guru (preceptor) and the Sishyas (disciples) conform to the pattern of life of the religious bhikku or mendicant so that squabbles for rights to wealth or comfortable living are out of place in the Gurukula Foundation in principle. If need be both Head and members have to prove their preparedness to live by begging as is normal with Sannyasins or even Thyagis. This does not however mean that legitimate conveniences for a quiet life of contemplation should not be provided in the various Gurukula residential centres. There should be maximum generosity and fair play on the part of the head in such matters, and the disciples have to behave like brothers and sisters between themselves.

There is a subtle dialectical reciprocity regulating the relation between the Guru and the disciples about which only tacit unwritten laws and usages that are healthy, sane and just, built up within the Foundation itself, can be mostly possible. Slogans such as 'All for One and One for All' and 'From each according to his ability and to each according to his need' express aspects of the subtle reciprocity that we have referred to. All these matters are fairly understood in the Indian tradition. Further there must be maximum dependence between the disciple and the Guru and minimum dependence between disciple and disciple*.


* J. J. Rousseau in his 'Contrat Social' touches upon this subtle prerequisite for harmony between a ruler and his subjects by pointing out that the relations of the members of the state between themselves should be as small and that the dependence or relation between them and the head of the state as great as possible. See Chapter VII,
Contrat Social.


Uniformity among the disciples is not the ideal, but 'unity in variety'. The Head has absolute powers in regard to permitting or disallowing or vetoing any proposal, including the power to disinherit or dismiss disciples without assigning reasons, and for admitting disciples even when a majority of disciples are against such an admission. The total nature of the interest and risk that each disciple is prepared to take for the Foundation may be said to be one of 'unlimited liability'.

The Foundation is a juridical person represented in all matters by the Head. He is the highest executive authority although he is allowed to delegate such authority conditionally and partially for specific functions to his immediate disciples who might be acting as his subordinates in administering institutions that make up the foundation.

The Headship of the Foundation is both 'office' and 'property' and, unlike a trustee in English Law, the Head of the Gurukula as also the first degree disciples are beneficiaries, with some responsibilities of a trustee in the case of the Head. The Head thus enjoys the rights of a 'limited owner' although answerable as a trustee in the general sense for maladministration. Unquestioning submission to the Head and obedience of his orders is always normally expected from disciples and willingness to be transferred at short notice is a minimum requirement from them. Succession to the properties left by the Head or the disciples is regulated by the principle in Narayana Smrithi, Verse 284, which itself is based on Yagnavalkya Smrithi Chapter II verse 137 (Quoted by Justice Mukherjea)*.


*The heirs to the property of a Brahmachari  (life-long-student), a Yati (Ascetic) and a Vanaprastha (hermit), are respectively: the preceptor, a virtuous pupil, and a religious brother residing in the same holy place.' (Ibid P. 318)


Discipleship cannot be claimed as a matter of course, but there must be evidence or record expressly stating that a disciple has been admitted to such discipleship. No-one other than one so admitted has the right to sue the Head for maladministration or injustice on the basis of interest; and indirect interest, such as worshipping in a temple found connected with a Gurukula Foundation does not give any such right to any member of the public as in English trust law*.


* 'A shrine or a temple present in a mutt is not a necessary part of it; it is only ancillary to the main purpose for which the mutt is established and the presiding element in the mutt is always the Mohunt or the spiritual preceptor' Justice Mukherjea, Ibid p 329.


Succession to Headship is on the principle that the most direct, virtuous, wise and loyal of the disciples succeeds to the previous Guru. The present Founder Head, however, reserves the right to make a will in favour of a disciple that he freely chooses from those available before his death. In cases of similar succession after this first successor so nominated the regular first-degree disciples will have right to elect the best from among themselves after the model set in the Will of the original Guru Narayana himself. For serious failings or miscarriage of the objects or the Foundation the Head can even be deposed as implied in the final clause** of the Will of the Guru Narayana giving full right to the general body of all disciples to do so.


** For the text of the Will of the Guru Narayana see Gurukulam Magazine, published at Varkala on Feb 1953, also below in this document.


The requirements of a disciple of the Gurukula Foundation is regulated by what is implied in the Upanishadic or Vedantic way of life, which has a large body of unwritten laws, conventions, and tradition behind it. These need not be outlined here, as they are found formally treated in the Narayana Smrithi expressly written at the direction of the Guru Narayana. Further clarifications will be found in Vedantic textbooks such as the Vivaka Chudamani of Sankaracharya and in the other sruthis and smrithis, as subject to the corrections applied by the Guru in his own teachings. The Head of the Gurukula has full right to interpret the implications of such conditions, rules, or usages and in no case will the interpretations violate the general spirit and trend of authoritative teaching in these matters. Outside interference in such matters is not to be recognized or allowed.

The administrative Head Office of the Gurukula Foundation will be located at the Narayana Gurukula, Varkala. Now T. C. State (Kerala State in formation), which will be the official seat of the Head of the Gurukula. Branches in various other provinces and districts will be administered under the authority delegated by the Head or directly by the Head himself as thought desirable by him in each case and from time to time. There will be a hierarchical succession of disciples each of whom may be appointed for each branch or for the administration of the affairs of the Gurukula within each district, province or sub-division thereof. The properties, if any, of the Gurukula Foundation will consist of those personally gifted to or acquired by the Founder-Guru or his successors, or through demise of disciples who have merged their properties in the Gurukula according to the rule of succession already referred to, found in the Narayana Smrithi, V 283, and supported in the Yajnavalkya Smrithi, Chapter II, Verse 137. As far as possible the properties of the Foundation proper thus belonging to the Gurus and the first-degree disciples will be administered apart from affiliated or connected properties belonging to the Greater Gurukula aspect of the Foundation; but when law and justice permit, there is no objection to the latter properties also being absorbed into the Foundation proper for being applied for the purposes originally intended, as the merits of each case requires.

The Will of the Guru Narayana already referred to has a final provision by which, in case there is grave failure due to maladministration on the part of the Guru or Head of the Gurukula of a particular period, the general body of all disciples have the power to intervene, and set right matters by fair and just methods. As a further elaboration of this general provision it is here recommended that a general convention be held of all who have claims of discipleship, at least once in ten years, in which such a matter will be reviewed after due notice in the papers.
A group of three arbitrators - one to be selected by the General Body of the Convention; one to be selected by disciples in power; and one by those who are against those in power - will constitute a private court of arbitration and the findings of such shall be enforced by even a court of law when appealed to.

In all matters of dispute or lack of clarity in implications, interpretations, meanings or doctrines herein and to supplement this Memorandum, the following texts are recommended :

1. The Will and Testament of the Guru Narayana, printed in the Gurukula Magazine Varkala on page 23 in the Feb. 1953 issue, and below in this document.
2. Narayana Guru Centenary Celebration Pamphlets Nos. I and II (translated and printed in Malayalam in the Gurukula Magazine Varkala Sep. 1953).
3. The Narayana Smrithi compiled and written under the direction of the Guru Narayana - especially the final section on Sannyasa - see below in this document.
4. Bijan Kumar Mukherjea, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India: 'Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust', Calcutta 1952.
5. Various announcements and articles officially published from time to time in the three volumes of the Gurukulam Magazine, Varkala for the years 1953, 1954, and 1955. 
6. Declaration by Dr. Natarajan made on the 1st Jan. 1956 to be published on that date. See beginning of this document, section (1).

by Narayana Guru 

Translated from the original Sanskrit, revealing the plan and intention of the original Guru.

In the Asrama proposed there should be a Guru
Learned, saintly and generous-minded
Who treats all with equanimity, calm dignified
Who is in control of his sense-attractions

Altruistically inclined and compassionate to the needy,
Who is truth-speaking and able,
Given to good conduct and prompt
In all matters necessary to do.

Having accepted the leadership of such a one
Should be constituted an auspicious assembly,
Whoever comes to such a man
Shall all consider themselves as brothers.

As in this case even here, likewise
For women and for men, separate, for each
Should be created in different places
Schools as well as Asramas always.

For each of these there should be head
Each one of them well qualified;
And all these treated together
Shall be known as Advaita-Ashrama.

The first verse lays down the need of a Guru who will be the Head for all matters. The rest of the two first verses enumerates the qualifications of the Head chosen, which included promptness or efficiency as a necessary item

The third verse suggests that disciples will come to such a man, and when there is good number of such disciples a body is naturally formed who will conduct themselves as members of the same fraternity.
The fourth verse is devoted to branches and insists that the organization of the branch should follow the model of the original. It further lays down that men and women should have separate Ashramas. This process of spreading the foundation or fraternity should go on forever unhindered.

The heads of branch Ashramas treated as organic part of the mother Institution and conceived together with all their members as one body will be named the Advaita Ashrama.

This composition came directly from the Guru when he established the Advaita Ashrama in Alwaye and had a Sanskrit school there under his personal supervision about the year 1920. It is valuable to the Gurukula disciples now as the intention of the original Guru and the broad lines on which he conceived a Gurukula organization are clear from it. Further extracts and documents will give more definiteness to the same. The monarchical pattern implied here should be noted. The Guru was not a believer in institutions based on mere brute majority without inner harmony and it is therefore that he is content with laying down fraternity as the requisite for the running of the institution here. He often spoke distrustfully of counting votes with show of hands The Quakers have meetings whose decisions are recorded by a clerk, without quantitative treatment of votes. Healthy precedents here have to be developed suitable and in keeping with the spirit of discipleship.

Although the Assembly alluded to here is of disciples, well-wishers and advisers could be present for help in matters where secular expertness may be involved. Sympathisers and members of the Greater Gurukula could be co-opted to serve on special committee as needed.

As understood in the ancient Yajnavalkya Smrithi (code), the rights of succession to the property of a Yati or Sannyasi are recognized to be vested In the parampara or vertical succession only and not in any outside person or body. In Verse 283 of the Narayana Smrithi, written at the instance and direction of the Guru himself, this principle of succession is categorically laid down as follows:

'The properties of a yati (Sannyasi) should devolve in favour of his Guru or (conversely) the mutt (institution) of the Guru in favour of his own disciples only and not in any other for any reason whatsoever. (Cf. p. 115 Sri Narayana Dharmam, Verse 283, Varkala, 1957)

The relevant part of the ancient law of Yajnavalkya accepted here by the Guru and still recognized by Hindu tradition is:

'The heirs to the property of a Brahmachari (lifelong student), a Yati (ascetic), and a Vanaprastha (hermit) are respectively: the preceptor, a virtuous pupil (sat sishya) and a religious brother residing in the same holy place', (Quoted on p. 318, 'Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust' by B. K. Mukherjea, Calcutta, 1952, originally from Yajnavalkya Smrithi II, 137). 

About the right of women to become Sannyasinis, the following is found in the Narayana Smrithi, p 108:

'A woman with santhi (calmness) and other sadhanas (such as the four recognized qualification of nitya-anitya viveka (discrimination between the lasting and the transitory values in life), passionlessness (vairagyam), samadi-shatkam (the six qualities of peace, endurance etc.), is fit for sannyasa just the same as in the case of men.' (v. 261)

The right of a man to take Sannyasa of his own accord after attaining 60 years of age is recognized in the Narayana Smrithi, p 57, as follows:

'One who has fulfilled all his obligations in proper manner, if he should wish to renounce his responsibilities, he could do so of his own accord after attaining his sixtieth age.' (v. 131)

(translated from the Malayalam)

'This Will is being executed by us so that all religious and charitable institutions such as temples, sannyasi mutts, schools, industrial workshops etc. which belong to us and which are at present in our full possession and management, together with all movable and immovable properties pertaining thereto, should be inherited by Bodhananda, chief disciple residing at the Sivagiri Mutt which is the headquarters of all our charitable institutions, who has been this year formally ordained with water ritual according to usage on the eleventh day of Kanni (about September). During our lifetime these establishments and properties attached to them shall still be vested in me under my full rights of possession and management, and only after my life shall this instrument come into force. If it be deemed necessary in the meanwhile to make partial or wholesale changes in this Instrument we reserve full right to do so. After the term of our life the above-mentioned religious-charitable foundations and all other establishments belonging to them, together with any future properties that might come into our ownership hereafter, shall be taken possession of by above-mentioned Bodhananda, and after the term of life of the said Bodhananda the right of succession to these properties and establishments shall vest in a sannyasi chosen by majority from among the disciples who constitute the parampara (vertical hierarchical succession) of disciples, and in this manner this succession right shall continue to be vested always in this parampara way. Further it is laid down here that there should never come about any setback to the purity of the objectives or to the sustained progress of the said religious-charitable establishments whatever, even for once, and in case there is noticed any misdirection that might take place, then the remaining members of the said body (or bodies?) of disciples have full power to control the situation in legitimate manner.
(Sd) Narayana Guru.

Note: The first person plural 'We' is used as usual with the Guru. 'Dharma-sthapanam' has been translated 'religious-charitable establishment', as nearest equivalent. Ashramas could include Gurukulas. At the end of the text the ambiguous reference to body (or bodies?) of disciples is not without justification and is found in the Malaya- lam text itself.
The English equivalent of the year and month given above are only approximate to the lunar calendar which obtained in Kerala at the time.

N. B. The stress on the absolute one man succession according to Hindu tradition of the Parampara
Sampradaya is quite clear in this document.
Many existing organizations at present in the name of the Guru give only scant respect to this feature. Hence the justification for a proper Gurukula constituted in keeping with the Will and intentions of the original Guru Narayana.

(Translated from the Malayalam)

This is the Will, executed on the twenty fourth day of the month of February of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine at Chemmaruthi Pakuti in the Muttappalam Desam in the Srinivasapuram locality by Nataraja Guru, a Sannyasi residing at Narayana Gurukula, son of Dr. Palpu, sixty four years of age.

This Will is being executed so that John Spiers, residing in the Narayana Gurukula at Kaggalipura, Bangalore South District, who is my successor and chief disciple and one who has adopted the Sannyasin way of life, should inherit all institutions run on Gurukula lines including all mutts or Ashramas, together with all properties pertaining to them after my lifetime. During the term of my life all rights pertaining to these mutts and Ashramas, together with all properties thereof shall remain vested in me and only after my lifetime shall this Will come into force. I reserve full right to alter or nullify this instrument. After the term of my life all the above said mutts, Ashramas and all movable and immovable properties belonging to them and all properties that hereafter come to be mine shall be taken possession of by the said John Spiers, to be administered by him and after his lifetime the suc cession rights of all these mutts, Ashramas and properties shall vest in Swami Mangalananda and Yati Nitya Chaitanya respectively, who belong both to my parampara (vertical hierarchical succession) of my disciples who have been duly nominated by me this year on the first of January. In this manner this succession right shall and should endure in this parampara way always. There should never, in respect of even one of the religious-charitable establishments above mentioned, under the administration of any one of the Sannyasis occupying at the time as the Guru, any setback or deflection from the pure aims or to the sustained progress as indicated in the
Memorandum published together with announcements made each year, as made known. In continuation of the same and if any such misdirection should be seen to take place, then the remaining disciple members shall have every right in legitimate manner to control and set matters right. This Will is being executed voluntarily by the sad-sishya (true disciple) of our original Guru Narayana in order to respect his final wish as expressed by him which was to perpetuate a way of succession conforming to the Guru- Sishya Parampara of teacher-disciple way of continuity through generations, and is being recorded under his full initiative and responsibility.

Sd. Nataraja Guru. (Registered at the Varkala Sub-registry)


The full-fledged branches after an interim period shall conform to the principle and model set by the Head or Centre Institution at Varkala. Interim arrangements could always be ordered by the Gurukula Head In case of newly founded branches till they become stable. An authorized representative who has become a disciple may be helped by a local advisory committee during the interim period. A certificate of affiliation will be issued after the interim period when greater conformity will be required.

The main records of each branch will be a logbook in which important events will be entered date-war by the person in charge from time to time. Special circumstances, if any, justifying any action of the person in charge, shall be duly explained therein. A daybook of accounts reflecting the finances of the institution with helpful remarks under each entry wherever such will clarify matters further should be maintained.

These records read together should give a correct picture and idea of happenings visible or calculable in the Gurukula.

Once a year before the annual convention at the
Headquarters in Varkala, a statement of affairs and transactions, with accounts, must be sent by each branch to the Head Office for incorporation in its general report. Quarterly statements may also be called for by the Head Office at its discretion. A standing-orders book is also to be maintained. The names of office-bearers etc. must be made known at least annually.

The Greater Gurukula and the Yellow Fellowship which Is meant for part-time or lay disciples will have a register opened and maintained for them at each branch. The list of members and the dakshina (token gift) shall be sent to the Head of the Gurukula each year at least before the last day of each Christian year sufficiently early as to reach him by the 1st. Jan. of the next year. Duplicates will be required so that an approved copy may be filed at the branch itself. The branch itself may hold Annual Conventions on the lines of the General Convention of the Headquarters to regulate clarify and find agreement on all matters of importance. No quorum will be required nor notice to each member for any measures adopted under the guidance of the Guru of the branch or head office on the 1st. January at the most important sitting of the Convention there, which will be on the morning at ten on that date each year. A paid or honorary records clerk may be appointed wherever necessary.

In case the Gurukula fails to function it shall merge with any original trust that might survive at the Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala. This contingency however is not expected to arise and what actually happens by the will of the Absolute might be the contrary.

The Head of the Gurukula at Varkala Narayana
Gurukula will have all powers of the Head in case the Head is not available at the spot. He could deputise for him in all matters of usual administration.

N. B.
a) The properties of the Gurukula form a Trust according to Indian (Hindu) tradition as explained in the Gurukula Memorandum above.
They are vested absolutely in the Head of the Gurukula; at any time in question he will appoint regional heads from among his chief disciples from time to time who will hold properties and legally represent him in each branch region as deemed suitable from time to time. In case of his own absence from Headquarters at Varkala the head of the Varkala region will have full authority to hold office and deal with property representing him legally in all matters of routine administration.

b) No next of kin of the founder or any office or property holder of the Gurukula Foundation as such can have any voice or right in the Gurukula affairs, nor can they claim any rights, as also outside members of the public, unless according to the spirit and scope of the rules and precedents of the Gurukula itself which is an autonomous body.

c) The basis of the organization itself being thyaga (renunciation), it goes without saying that no sharing of benefits or profits are envisaged as a matter of individual right. All give up in the interests of the whole and the Foundation as a whole will help those in special need. 'From each according to his ability and to each according to his need' is the principle involved besides equality and justice, based on Truth. Mechanical methods of counting heads or votes are discredited in favour of a spirit of give and take on all occasions. All gifts are supposed to be freely made and accepted as dakshina to the Guru as unconditional offerings to be used with his full discretion with no artificial strings attached nor personal expectation of any return benefit for oneself.


The short piece which appears below was written by the Guru in 1962, and treats of the enigma of the Universal value of Guruhood as embodied by Narayana Guru. What was applicable to the Guru Narayana may be seen to be at least as applicable to the disciple, the Guru Nataraja.

The notion of a Guru is an enigma to modern man. In the West, people in respectable company will not use this word because, to the ordinary man there, it would suggest a mystery-man belonging to the world of magic or hocus-pocus where pseudo-science thrives. The Yogi and the mystic associated with oriental thought and spirituality have in them some element which makes the respectable society man or even academic people raise their eyebrows in wonder or mistrust when such names are suddenly brought up in conversation. There are, of course, a smattering of people who are disposed in the opposite way and nourish an enthusiasm for oriental spirituality.
In India which is the one country where, from the Himalayas to the Cape this one word, above all others, is supposed to be traditionally understood, we are at present witnessing a strange phenomenon. Those who have come under the influence of the West and have been struck by the triumphs of modern science and technology, and who fill the ranks of the educated middle and upper stratifications of Indian society at the present day, have developed a strange attitude towards all that was once taken for granted. Some of them go to the extent of being more royalist than the King himself in the repugnance they exhibit for higher spiritual subjects as well as values. They out-do their counterparts in the West. It is easier any day to hold a pleasant conversation with a Westerner on such subjects than with a young man or woman of India who has had even a superficial veneer given to his Western educational finish. The poorest and the unsophisticated, however, whether in the North or in the South of India, are the only custodians of the precious heritage of which even the modernized ones may often be heard to boast, off and on, when advantageous to them. Drab utilitarianism verging on low practical vulgarity often passes for high rationalism or virtue in our time. The well-dressed and England-returned young man who is successful in life often cultivates the wrong attitudes and vices that have spelt the fall of Western Civilization.

The Guru Narayana presents to the rising generation of present-day India a challenge as well as an enigma. Both rightist and leftist ideological adherents alternately claim him and quote his words to their own advantage. This in itself is not a bad sign; but when they fail to recognize in the Guru the veritable Guru-quality which is the one distinguishing feature of Guruhood so well understood by the masses of India through the thousands of years of its history, the situation is nothing short of a tragic one. The Guru Narayana must be looked upon as a veritable teacher of Wisdom, and thus belongs to mankind.

The Gurukula is a foundation devoted to Absolute Wisdom teaching. A Guru as its Head lives with his disciples to make it into a family based not on blood, but on the love of knowledge. Men and women normally live separately. Marriage is not to be obstructed, but all disciples irrespective of sex, race or religion, kind to life and generous in disposition, live a dedicated life of Thyaga (renunciation) without lucrative or sensuous motives, as Vidyarthis (wisdom seekers) free from relativistic affiliations. Thus it is a corporate body, owning properties for its free and exclusive functioning to fulfil its high purpose. Its total structure reflects that of each sub-unit, to make a central Gurukula of all Gurukulas united by the same overall purpose of securing the Good of All and the General Good without conflict whether internal, external or intrinsic. Succession to the Headship is with absolute discretionary powers to admit or refuse disciples follows the vertical hierarchical pattern known as Parampara on the Indian soil. (These principles are already clearly outlined in the Will of the original Guru Narayana, as in his other writings known as the 'Ashrama', the 'Smriti' etc., for which please see above). The integrity of such a unique body, though not unknown to cultured Indian minds, sadly needs to be defended again so as to safeguard it against internal as well as external dangers, of which red lights are still coming into evidence even now with their alarming warnings. This message is meant to fulfil the function of reaffirmation of the solidarity of the Gurukula and its re-dedication so as to re-integrate it as a self-sufficient, self-propelling, auto-adjusting, self-regulating retroactive double-sided cybernetically balanced economic unit, cancelling at each stage getting with spending, one against many, surplus numerator value against the negative drag of necessity, in its progressive function of saving humans from the ocean of relativism (samsara) which is its main purpose - to help them cross over to the Absolute shore beyond. Further features of this body are its non-competitiveness, its impersonal anonymity, its unlimited liability and all-out co-operation between man and man, without counting of share-based votes and without money or sensuality as leading motives. Ends and means cancel out neutrally here. 'From each according to his ability and to each according to his need' is the guiding rule. Thus Salvation, Samadhi, or Nirvana can spell the same freedom of non-duality.