Sree Narayana Gurudevan is the greatest social reformist Kerala had ever seen. Kerala, described by Swamy Vivekananda as “the mad house of India”, was having at that time a caste-ridden society characterised by oppression of the members of lower castes, inequality in social freedom and dominance of upper castes. In short, all the Hindu castes from Eazhavas downwards were alone victims of social disabilities. The great contributions and influence of Gurudevan helped Kerala, as compared to the rest of the country, to attain impressive developments in education, political enlightenment, communal harmony and religious tolerance,.
Gurudevan, by name Nanu in childhood days, was born to Sree Maatanaasan and Kuttiamma at Chembazhanthi ( a viilage at the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram) on 14th Chingam 1031 Malyalam era corresponding to 28th August 1855 A.D. The social scenario in those days was Eahavas were prohibited to enter temples, denied permission to study in Government schools, forbidden to enter Government service and disallowed to walk in public roads. Though Eazhavas suffered from these discriminations, some of them behaved with discrimination towards lower castes of Parayas, Pulayas, Kuravas etc. Nanu even during his childhood days disobeyed advices of elders and used to keep company with children of lower castes and visit their houses.
His educated father and uncle taught him primers in Malayalam and Sanskrit. He also acquired essential knowledge on indigenous medicine before joining the Gurukulam at Karunagappalli run by Kummambilli Raman Pilla Aasan. At that period he stayed at Varanaapilli taravaat and got himself involved in writing poems and participating in noble and spiritual activities. Greatly impressed by his capabilities his Guru directed him to impart his knowledge to his fellow pupils.
On his return to Chembazanthi he engaged himself in teaching children, which made him known as Nanu Aasan. Though he was keen to lead a life as teacher and ascetic his relatives forced him for a marriage. As he was reluctant to continue the married life he left the place after a short period.
He then wandered as an Avadhoota and lived in forests, caves, seacoasts, sparsely populated habitats etc. These travels kindled his spiritual pursuits and enabled him to understand the intricacies of human miseries. He was also fortunate to meet Shanmukhdas, who was known later as Chattambi Swamikal. His acquaintance with him helped to meet Ayyaswaamy, one of the great Siddhayogis, who taught Nanu Aasan the basic tenets of yoga-vidya.
While he was staying in a cave, called Pillattatam, in Marutva mala for tapass he was attracted by many because of his yogic power. But he did not stay there for long and visited many holy places and spiritual men in the Southern India. When he was fully enlightened he realised that his own mission in the world is based on the dictum that ‘acts that one perform f