Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru (1927-1999) is a fully realized Guru, who has opened a new path for the spiritual transformation and deliverance of humanity independent of all religious dogma. It has been defined that ‘a Guru, who is commissioned by God, is God’s medium to actualize His Will. Therefore, the human Guru has in him an element of divinity due to this commission. Guruship does not end with the physical departure of founder Guru. The office is one and continuous. What the successors say and do is legitimized by virtue of their office’. Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru once mentioned that His path is Vimochana Matam, i.e. the Liberating Dharma. A few aspects that make this Guru Parampara different from other guru traditions may be surmised thus:
For the Guru, God is Parabrahman, the Supreme Light. There is no second God. His light pervades in everything and everyone. God is known only through his Creation. One should live in accordance with the divine order accepting the Will of God. Guidance comes from God through the medium of Guru, and liberation comes through Guru’s grace. For the Guru Parampara the Word of Guru or Guruvani is Veda. It serves as the Holy Scripture for the followers. The Word of Guru is equated with Truth, Truth with Guru and Guru with God.
A seeker cannot evolve spiritually without a Guru. Self-effort in the form of yoga, meditation, visit to temples and other religious places does not elevate the soul spiritually if one is without a realized Guru. Guru, however, accepted the existence of various spiritual entities that inhabit the cosmos. However, they are not to be worshipped in this age as these divinities seek rebirth in Kaliyuga to work out their own liberation through the divinely commissioned Guru in order to be guided to Satya Yuga, the age of spiritual perfection. Therefore, Guru rejected the worship of such spiritual entities and religious lore that promotes sectarian concepts of God. According to the teachings of the Guru, the Trimurti gods including Brahma were gurus of bygone cosmic ages who came for the spiritual guidance of humanity. However, their spiritual incumbency in this age is disowned.
Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru did not favor the concept of maya which postulates that the world is an illusion and rejected the equation of individual soul with Brahman as exemplified in the Vedantic aphorisms such as ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman) and ‘Tat Twam Asi’(You are That). He said that jeevatma is only a reflection or the ray of the Supreme Light, not the Supreme itself.
The Guru’s idea of creation differs from the puranic myths, which mention that god Brahma is the Creator. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru reveals that every solar system(s) in which all living beings have their abode is created through the medium of Archetypal Manus, who are said to be the first self-projection of God and through whose ideation or sankalpa manifests the visible universe consisting of planetary units and stellar systems. Because of this, the Indian rishis calculated the age of the cosmos in terms of Manvantara after the name of Manus. A Manu is God manifest, the primordial Purusha mentioned in the Vedas and Upanishads, the divine entity who creates our local universe consisting of twelve zodiacs, twenty seven stars and nine planets. This Manu, therefore, is not to be related with the author of Manusmriti, one of the dharmic treatises in Hinduism.
The great rishis have said that God is pure Consciousness and Light indefinable. However, God transforms Himself into a Cosmic Person (i.e. Manu) wishing to create our universe. Various divinities, humans and other sentient and insentient beings in the solar system get evolved through a long process of cyclical evolution by the limitless potential of knowledge and action potential (jnanashakti and kriyashakti) and ideation (sankalpam) of this Cosmic Person..
The pathetic religious discords today arise owing to the ignorance about this natural spiritual order. Every sect claims that theirs is the only way to God or the true path, which produces discord and conflicts in the society. Numerous gurus, seers and prophets of different caliber come for different duration such as 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 or 5000 years according to the socio-spiritual condition of a society. Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Sri Buddha, Mahavir, Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Guru Nanak and others were great preceptors who appeared for such spiritual renovation during historical intervals. This process of spiritual renovation goes on until the end of a cosmic age that has the length of billions of years. The spiritual evolution of humanity is not limited to 2000 or 5000 years. Therefore, no prophet or guru can claim to be the final messenger of God or the only way to God. It is this spiritual culture or character of Indian spirituality known as Sanatana Dharma (the eternal spiritual order) that makes it eternally relevant, vibrant and tolerant to other religions.
Although not subscribing to the tenets of established religions, Guru’s Liberating Dharma teaches a follower to respect all world teachers and their sacrifices in a deserving manner since they belong to the brotherhood of mahatmas who came for the spiritual reformation of humanity at various historical intervals. However, their mission remains incomplete, which is evident from the present conflicts and civilizational crisis, which necessitated a spiritual renewal by another World Teacher. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru is that World Teacher presiding over this spiritual renewal.
Guru disapproved the hierarchical caste system and opened the path of spiritual redemption for all irrespective of their caste or religious identitities. The followers of Guru belonged to all castes and occupations especially the marginalized communities. While repudiating caste system, Guru, however, said that Varna concept, wrongly misinterpreted as jati (caste) is the classification of human temparaments (vasana) based on the quality of one’s thoughts and actions. Varna of a person cannot be determined based on birth in a particular family or community. Sometimes, in the same family itself one can find all Varna types.
There are no formal rituals for initiation into the faith of Guru. Anyone with faith in Guru, irrespective of religious and caste status, can join the faith. The only ritual formula for all spiritual performances and lifecycle ceremonies is the chanting of the divine Guru mantra that was revealed from the Light. Verses from texts like Guru Gita and mantras from Upanishads extolling the glory of Guru and Almighty God is also recited for the purpose of worship.
The Ashram of Guru is regarded as the sacred place of pilgrimage. To live in accordance with the guidance of Guru is more important. To make willing sacrifices for the protection and perpetuation of guru paramapara is an essential ingredient of the faith. All Vedic rituals superintended by brahmins through tantra and mantra and worship of devi-devas are rejected in favour of direct guidance from the Guru. After the physical departure of founder Guru, guidance comes through the anointed preceptors with the power of visionary faculties or ‘seeing’.
Remembrance of God by chanting the sacred Guru mantra and leading ethical life as householders helping each other is the path of karma and dharma suggested for the householders. Guru established a self-reliant model of commune life, where all believers lived under one roof engaged in different occupations so that it reduced the burden of life by way of cooperative living. The sanyasis are required to live in accordance with God’s will as socially responsible persons, not as recluses who live detached from community life. Although there is a group of sanyasis and brahmacharis belonging to both genders in the Ashram, Guru did not want sanyasis to wander aimlessly as mendicants. He was opposed to such meaningless renunciation. The sanyasis of Guru supervise the community life. The members of the commune engage in self-sustaining enterprises with a vision to help society with exemplary products and services.
According to the Guru, the society and government should be guided by the wisdom of an all-knowing sage who functions by the Will of God. Guru was concerned about the wrong direction of society, of the painful conflicts and social disunity. Guru believed that only through the spiritual upliftment of householders, especially women, the desired spiritual renaissance can take place in the world. Guru gave importance to bhakti (devotion) and self-sacrifice for the divine cause in order to change both the quality and structure of social life. The basis for social regeneration advocated by Guru is essentially spiritual, ethical and family oriented. Guru personally guided householders in every aspect of life and life-cycle ceremonies. A new guru parampara is born with a divinely commissioned Guru to guide its social and religious life. Guru’s message is not merely of liberation but also of social action.
Guru initiated a unique spiritual performance known as Gurupooja or Pitrusudhi by which the devotee is freed from inauspicious karma of ancestors, the bad and good deeds of one’s past and present lives and also from the consequences of erroneous religious practices handed down by ancestors. This is a purely contemplative spiritual intercession performed by the incumbent spiritual head for releasing the devotees from negative karmic and spiritual influences. After a few generations, several mahatmas and other high souls waiting for rebirth in this age will be born in the families thus purified. With that, the spiritual renovation of humanity would be complete.
During His search for truth, Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru met Khureshia Fakir, a Sufi sage, who lived near Beema Masjid at Thiruvananthapuram. The ancestors of Khureshia Fakir belonged to Pathan tribe of Afghanistan, hence he was also known as Pattani Swami. This Sufi master was instrumental in awakening rare mystical experiences present in Guru. After few years’ association with Khureshia Fakir, Guru established Santhigiri Ashram near Pothencode. In the year 1973, after a series of spiritual experiences and fulfillments, Guru’s supreme spiritual status and extra ordinary divine mission were revealed to the disciples by the Radiance of God. On 6th May, 1999, Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru merged with the eternal Light of God. The present head of Santhigiri Ashram is Her Holiness Sishyapoojita Amritajnana Tapaswini, who is empowered by the Guru to spiritually lead the Guruparampara.
Guru founded a universal spiritual path based on the faith in the Oneness of God and Humanity in fulfillment of the wishes of great rishis, sages and prophets who came in the past. The teachings of Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru deal with the questions of spiritual evolution, spiritual hierarchies, cosmic time order, astral pollution, soul transmigration, purification of karmic, ancestral and spiritual errors, and the possibility of spiritual intervention from time to time in the spiritual evolution of humanity. The path of Guru can be referred as Jnana Margam – founded on the monotheistic principles of Sanatana Dharma.