A View of Santhigiri Ashram

A View of Santhigiri Ashram
Lotus Parnasala and Sahakarana Mandiram , Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Paradigm shift in Indian Spiritual discourse on Dharma

Gurucharanam Saranam
ICPR National Seminar on Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru: Paradigm shift in Indian Spiritual discourse on Dharma .
Date: 22,23,24 August, 2017     Venue: Santhigiri Spiritual Zone Auditorium


Wisdom tradition of India is based on the idea of an underlying unifying spirit unity that sustains the whole and was able to postulate and maintain that all realms of existence are continuous and parts of the whole – the physical, the vital, the mental and the spiritual. It also indicates the philosophical idea that the most profound explication of Brahman as eternal purity is independent of matter/ spirit and freedom. Such a tradition has been able to relook human progress and a humane world characterized by the rediscovery of a new understanding of spirituality based on human sustainability. Unfortunately, the modern world order has made an extreme effort in emptying the sacred character of the human subject and also the cosmos and made it to become profane leading to humanity into an unprecedented crisis. The shaping of the present rationality within a span of the last 200 years or so was able to bring forth a number of negative  phenomena in science, techniques, art, ideas on development, philosophy, literature and practically in all spheres of social and cultural life. The criteria of instrumental rationality have found its wide application in all spheres of human activity: in science, techniques, economy, organization of collective life, our attitude towards the other. Be that as it may, it is significant to note that that there has been an upward understanding of the indispensable role of spirituality in nurturing and nourishing positive attitudes and values among humans. Nonetheless, the rising wave of religion induced animosity and fundamentalism all over the world has turned out to be an impregnable challenge that seems to engulf the whole humanity. It has created across the world intolerance, hatred and unhealthy competition causing thereby much disservice to the goal of religion and spirituality.

Despite India having the richest spiritual philosophies and knowledge systems, social segregation and superstitious belief systems and practices attributing to religion has done irreparable damage to the positive social evolution. The gross dichotomy between dharma as ideal and dharma as praxis in social, political and cultural life of the people ultimately contributed to foreign enslavement over centuries both mentally and culturally. Even after seventy years of independence, India has not been able to achieve desired material progress and social unity. Even today, social segregation suffused with notions of superiority and inferiority have been attributed to religion and sustained by religious beliefs, practices and worship systems. Nevertheless, India’s cultural legacy and religion continue to be the only unifying force and the ruling idea of ancient Indian thought is unity in diversity and not uniformity. 


Several Gurus and Acharyas took birth in India to restore dharma by eliminating the superstitious beliefs and practices based on religion and the resultant social segregation which is otherwise not the culture of this tradition exalted by Vedas and Upanishads. However, it has been a tragedy to find that these seers could not fulfill their mission and restore equilibrium by eliminating the basic deviations and distortions that ever caused social disintegration and made human life vitiated. Moreover, many of them confused the real meaning of dharma as constituting the distinctive duties of the four Varnas and the four Ashramas so that the term Varnashrama dharma has been misconstrued and looked upon as the Sanatana dharma. What they have lost sight was dharma as reflective morality. As Brihaspati and Vyasa put it, one has to depend on rational understanding of the social situation before coming to a decision regarding what is moral and what is not. Dharma, therefore, is not merely tradition or custom, but also truth and reason. This dichotomy between dharma as an ideal and dharma as praxis has ever been an unresolved dilemma in Indian societies.

It is in this context that the revelatory spirituality of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru assumes global importance. Guru’s teaching is a revelation on the unanswered riddles in spirituality and religion. During the occasion of Guru’s spiritual fulfillment in 1973, it was revealed to him that due to an error occurred to a great Kalantharaguru in the Manu Parampara, there occurred lapse in Kaladharma or Yuga dharma which was instrumental in getting arrested the succeeding spiritual progression and social evolution. Thus, despite the sacrifice of great souls, humanity could not be guided to a vvirtuous life visualized by great Acharyas. Guru’s teaching signifies the necessity of overcoming the overwhelming cultural undercurrents of the Error and the Curse for proper spiritual development and thereby an effective evolution of the society leading to the development of the country.

Guru’s teaching marks a break with the existing notions on the ontology of dharma. The revelatory spirituality of Guru has thus brought to human knowledge for first time in known spiritual history that the eclipse of dharma and non- observation of yugadharma had been the singular and the fundamental causation of the lingering miseries, violence, greed and vices in humans and society. Guru draws attention to the basic truth that it was because the spiritual and material life of humans were not in conformity with the dharma of the present yuga, there has been violence, wars, injustice and absence of peace. It is significant to note that none of the past seers has made such an observation regarding the inalienable nexus between Yugadharma and human well being. It is this position of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru that makes his teaching distinctive that calls for a paradigm shift in the existing dharma as exemplified in the faith, worship and practices of Hinduism.

The Seminar is purported to focus on the following topics:
1. Sanatana dharma and Yugadharma.
2. Dharma: Spiritual Progression, Material Fortune and Social Evolution 3. Worship Systems of Hinduism: Compatibilities and Incompatibilities
4. Yuga Dharma and Social Change: Metaphysical Assumptions
5. Dharma as the Ethics of Human Rights 6. Dharma as Legality and Reflective Morality
7. Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru: Vision and Mission
8. Revelatory Spirituality and Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru 

Contact Conference Coordinator : Dr. Gopinathan Pillai (email: gopikgopi@yahoo.com)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

India Has a Unique Role in the Spiritual Guidance of Humanity

The Word (Guruvani) of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru

“Islam and Christianity are prophetic religions which do not have a long history. Besides, there is a deviation from the time of Moses. Also these two religions have more or less performed their functions, in their respective paths. The changes brought about by the Christian and Islamic presence in India were considerable. The Christian British bettered the lot of the lower castes and educated them. They started getting sufficient to improve their physique. Some from among these sections identified themselves with the occupying suzerain and became part of the new religious and educational institutions. They soon participated in the governance and outstripped the Brahmins in cleverness. Those who embraced Islam practiced it as a rigorous discipline. They relied on physical aggression at times and expanded the areas of their influence. Still, the majority of them are disadvantaged as they came from these Hindu communities which were uncultivated in the finer graces of religious culture. However elevated these religious groups might have become through education and affluence and however long they might have stayed close to political power, there is something lacking. The refinement of Sanatana Dharma is that it comes with a virtuous way of life combining cleanliness, tidiness and humility envisaged in the Hindu way of life.
The Sanatana law has come to mean a mixing of myths and legends of the ancient past and more recent stories up to the propounder of the Gita. All these are put together with an eagerness to establish Advaita. Those who spout this Advaita, non-duality, are often unsympathetic to neighbors and even to their own brothers and sisters. We are talking all the time. Vedanta degenerates into pedantry. That is why a correction is difficult in this path. 

As far as Islam and Christianity are concerned conflicts and consequent divisions occurred within them even as they were coming up. This divisive tendency had led to disasters. It is not yet time for another coming (of a prophet or great soul), bringing peace and rejuvenating these faiths. Besides, other paramparas have not been able to go deep into spirituality as the Sanatana or perennial law of the Manvantara system. It is a matter of divine intervention. Such depth of spirituality as this is difficult to find elsewhere. And so is such extensive history and religious culture. Still more significantly, the responsibility of working for the remaining time period of this Manuparampara is vested in the Dharma of the Hindus. The Manuparampara is the means to impart the Law of the Supreme to the world. Therefore the essence of all religions inheres in this system. An alternative to this way cannot evolve easily in the world.

India is a land of great wisdoms and great civilizations grown over vast periods of time. It should, therefore, strive to establish the perfect culture willed by the Almighty. Not only Christians or Muslims alone, all religions ought to heed this. Though each world religion is essentially part of a totality, each has been separately ennobled by many great men from time to time with their self-sacrifice and effort which have given rise to different customs and traditions. Many such traditions are visible in Hinduism itself. It is doubtful if any other religion is enriched to this extent. In order to mold life in keeping with this Age -the Kali, theologians and all believers of various religions should assess this Kali and its composite culture - the samkara mentioned in the Gita. This is a process to be achieved by the present and future generations...

A reorganization of our society, of our country, is required. All of us, believers, should free ourselves from the destructive effects of the caste system. We should overcome ethnic and religious differences. All children of this land should come together in humility and in devotion to God. That is the way to reorganize. This will give us the strength of mind, and power. The community that could contribute greatly towards this reorganization is the Brahmin community. In them intelligence, skill, ability and shrewdness blend as it were. They should give up their varnasrama caste trappings completely and lay the foundation of a composite—samkara—culture, the culture that is meant for Kali, indicated by the author of the Bhagavad Gita. They should unite with others to build a complete society, totally free from caste or class. They should not be distracted by the differences seen today. The pattern of having one mode of worship for themselves and other modes for the rest should change first. Instead of securing tantric rites people should be firm in the experiential worship of the Divine. Those who strive wholeheartedly for this should lead others who lack awareness. If we do not do this, the births of great souls would be diverted elsewhere away from our ethnic stream. The focus of redemption will move away and we will be left in a complex of Karma...” (Quoted from the book ‘A Dialogue on Human Prospects’ by Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, published by Santhigiri Ashram)
 (Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru (1927-1999) is the Founder Guru of Santhigiri Ashram at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala)