“Narayana Guru’s ideas are more relevant than before”

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Author Vinaya Chaitanya translated the works of poet and philosopher Narayana Guru into English. It’s called “A Cry in the Desert”.

Narayana Guru is known for leading a reform movement against caste injustices in Kerala, where he was born. Many thought his philosophies of egalitarianism and coexistence were ahead of the times.

Sree Narayana Guru Jayanti will be observed on September 10.

Chaitanya has spent nearly 35 years, or half of his life, compiling the writings of Narayana Guru in Malayalam, Tamil and Sanskrit into this 352-page document published by HarperCollins.

These include translations of ‘Darsana Mala’, ‘Atmopadesa Asatakam’, ‘Advaitha Deepika’, ‘Shiva Shathakam’, ‘Swanubavageethi’ and ‘Anukamba Dasakam’ but also various hymns and social instructions of the philosopher.

Chaitanya was drawn to the ideas of Narayana Guru from an early age.

“I spent almost 40 years in his ashram in Kanakapura under the direction of his successor, Nataraja Guru. I was fascinated by the poetic nature of his lyrics,” the 70-year-old says of why he wrote this book, his second translation of the works of Narayana Guru. The first was in Kannada, titled “Narayana Guru Sampurna Krutigalu”.

He thinks the ideals of Narayana Guru are more relevant today than ever and says, “When asked what caste he belonged to during a census, he replied ‘I am human’. This is an important lesson today as our country tears itself apart in the name of religion.” All religions promote peace and unity and Narayana Guru married us to embrace the message he shares

The translation process made him understand the importance of having a purpose in life in constant evolution. “Man is of one caste, one religion and one god / Of one belly, one form, without any difference,” Chaitanya quotes the famous words of the philosopher.

Chaitanya is currently translating the works of the 12th century poet and saint Allama Prabhu.

*“A Cry in the Desert” is priced at Rs 499 and is available online and in bookstores.

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