SreeNarayanaGuru As a social Reformer

As a philosopher and social developer

SreeNarayanaGuru As a social Reformer

Postby gopu » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:47 pm

Soul and body are bound together and interdependent. The well-being of one is essential for the well-being of the other. Hence Sree Narayana Guru gave equal importance to the spiritual and materialistic sides of life.

On the materialistic side, money is quite important, and an essential factor of life. Though there was economic growth among the people, the Guru saw that it was not utilized properly. So he issued the following declaration through ' Vivekodayam.'

'People are enamored of pomp. In various ways they are ostentatious, as in dress, dwellings, ornaments and feasts, etc. The scale of celebration seems to be the criterion for assessing a person's status in society. Innumerable are the families ruined by this vanity. The following procedure would help the Hindu community to ward off economic ruin'.

Wedding Rites

In those days, marriages of Ezhavas and Nair communities were performed by proxy. The bridegroom's sister was authorized to give new clothes to the bride, tie the thali (a flat heart shaped gold pendant) around her neck and bring her to the in-law's house. The presence of the bridegroom at the ceremony was not compulsory. This method led to fraud and impersonations and many other complications. The Guru suggested a more rational and dignified ceremony.

'When the proposal is made, the prospective couple shall be brought to a public place like a temple, or prayer hall by the parents, and be allowed to meet and talk to each other'.

'The final decision about the marriage shall be taken fifteen days after this meeting. After thirty days, the wedding may be solemnized.”

Friends and relatives may be informed of the marriage, but the number of participants for a wedding should not exceed ten — the bride, the groom, their parents, one companion each for the bride and the groom, a priest, and an important man of the locality. An elder of the village can act as the priest. The priest should hand over garlands to them, with his heart brimful of the thought of God. The bride and groom shall garland each other.”

'The bridegroom can tie a thali around her neck, and walk around the lighted lamp thrice, hand in hand, and repeat the marriage vows. (written in simple Malayalam by the Guru.)

'The function is to be held at a public place like a temple or prayer hall or even a school, and the marriage should be registered in the book kept for the purpose.

'Some parents are keen on spending lavishly for the wedding. They are advised to deposit the money in a bank, and give the passbook as a wedding present to the couple. The money will be useful to them to plan their future. Nothing more need be done with regard to marriage.

'Those who can't find peace of mind unless they get an occasion to celebrate may please observe their sixtieth birthday in a big way. Having lived for sixty years, they might have in the meantime saved some money. On no other occasion should there be expensive celebrations. Extravagance leads to penury and sorrow”.
Thanks
Gopu

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"ഇല്ല ജാതിയിലൊന്നുണ്ടോ, വല്ലതും ഭേദമോര്‍ക്കുകില്‍, ചൊല്ലേറും വ്യക്തിഭാഗത്തി-, ലല്ലോ ഭേദമിരുന്നിടൂ."
--------- ശ്രീനാരായണഗുരു---------


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Re: SreeNarayanaGuru As a social Reformer

Postby gopu » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:47 pm

Funeral Rites

'The kith and kin of the deceased shall pray for ten days to the deity of their choice, after bathing early in the morning. Not more than one rupee is to be spent for buying incense, etc. for these ten days. More good may come from earnest prayer for the eternal rest of the departed soul than by ritually offering handfuls of rice as per the instruction of an ignorant priest. (The Guru had composed verses to be chanted at the time of funerals.) It will be a worthwhile act if the money intended for arranging feasts in the name of the dead, is donated for some charitable cause.

In these hard times, it would be laudable if the discerning among the community, by observing this code of conduct, set an example and thus save the ignorant also.

This declaration should be repeatedly read and digested by the followers of Sree Narayana Guru.'

This declaration clearly shows that the Guru was totally against any feasting and festivities, and elaborate and wasteful rituals. As the community grew richer, he compromised about celebrations. In a letter of instructions to the Secretary of the SNDP Yogam, he writes, 'The new pattern of marriage rites recommended has been put into practice only by a few progressive- minded people. The celebration and elaborateness of the arrangement may vary according to the status of the persons concerned. But the ritualistic part should be the same everywhere. Necessary steps may also be taken towards that end.'
Thanks
Gopu

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"ഇല്ല ജാതിയിലൊന്നുണ്ടോ, വല്ലതും ഭേദമോര്‍ക്കുകില്‍, ചൊല്ലേറും വ്യക്തിഭാഗത്തി-, ലല്ലോ ഭേദമിരുന്നിടൂ."
--------- ശ്രീനാരായണഗുരു---------


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Re: SreeNarayanaGuru As a social Reformer

Postby gopu » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:48 pm

Divorce and Remarriage

The same letter of instruction includes the Guru's ideas on divorce and remarriage of widows and divorced women. The Guru approved of these. But on the person of a woman who remarries, there should be nothing reminiscent of the dead husband or the divorced spouse. The remarrying woman should not wear the previous thali, at the time of the second marriage and after.

The Guru condemned polygamy and polyandry in the same letter, 'In certain places, a man has more than one spouse or conversely a woman has more than one husband. Steps may be taken to end such shameful relationships.'

Among those who follow the matrilineal system of inheritance there should be legal provision for setting apart, a portion of one's earned assets for the legally wedded spouse and offspring.'
Thanks
Gopu

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"ഇല്ല ജാതിയിലൊന്നുണ്ടോ, വല്ലതും ഭേദമോര്‍ക്കുകില്‍, ചൊല്ലേറും വ്യക്തിഭാഗത്തി-, ലല്ലോ ഭേദമിരുന്നിടൂ."
--------- ശ്രീനാരായണഗുരു---------


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Re: SreeNarayanaGuru As a social Reformer

Postby gopu » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:48 pm

Traditional Customs Stopped

In addition to the reformation of wedding and funeral rites, the Guru completely stopped certain meaningless and silly customs practiced in the name of tradition. He found that these rituals drained away a vital part of the society's wealth, which can be put to better use.

The silliest and most expensive of such ceremonies was ' Kettukalyanam' or 'Minnukettu. This was a mock marriage conducted before a girl attained puberty. A thali was to be tied around the girl's neck, by a boy or sometimes a grown-up man as a symbol of surety for the girl's marriage in the future. This mock marriage had absolutely no binding on the bride or groom in future.

When a girl was about five years old, an auspicious day would be fixed for the ceremony. Relatives and friends were invited as if for a real wedding. A venue would be prepared, suitably decorated and beautified. When the relatives arrived, a boy among them would be requested to act as the bridegroom. Sometimes a sort of group marriage was arranged, with one bridegroom tying the thali on a number of girls (each girl had a separate thali) or each girl could have a separate bridegroom according to convenience. The ceremony was naturally accompanied by sumptuous feasts. After the festivities were over, the bridegroom walked away with his people, taking his fees of new clothes, sweets and a few coconuts. The bride continued to live with her parents as if she was unmarried. She would remove her thali. A proper match would be arranged for her in due course. There was no objection for the mock bridegroom to remain her husband, if he was suitable.

Lots of money was being wasted away for this meaningless custom in the form of jewelry, new clothes, decorations, feasts, etc. The amount speni was an index of social prestige and status. The Guru saw how this ridiculous custom was ruining families. He had to work hard to stop this. In the initial stages there was strong opposition from orthodox families as the non-performance was a social stigma and brought a sense of shame and inferiority to the family. The SNDP did intensive propaganda against this and gradually the opposition mellowed. During 1911, in a well-to-do household at Neyyatinkara (Trivandrum district) the Guru had to step in personally and ask the parents to stop the function. All the arrangements had been made already. After quite long arguments, they obliged and this was the last reported incident of Minnukettu (Kettukalyanam) among the Ezhavas.

Other two expensive customs were puberty celebrations and seemantham (or pulikudi). Puberty celebrations were just a public declaration that a girl had reached marriageable age. Pulikudi was performed during the first pregnancy of a woman. This was something similar to the seemantham of South India. The juice of five different kinds of sour fruits like tamarind and lime were mixed together and fed to the pregnant woman, first by the husband, and later by the parents and other relatives, amidst the chanting of mantras and other rituals. The main idea of this function was said to be the purification of the fetus. Anyway Guru found only wastage of hard-earned money in these functions, and he strongly forbade this; his followers obliged because the word of the Guru had become the rule of life for them, and they were certainly benefited by that.

The most important social reformatory action of the Guru was against liquor consumption. On his 60th birthday, he gave the message to the people 'Liquor is poison, do not make it, do not give it, do not drink it.' This policy has become very effective among his people who were mostly toddy tapers by profession. They gave it up willingly, following the Guru's advice and took up weaving. This measure has helped to stabilize the economy of the whole community. Not only the economy but the morale and dignity of the people also were uplifted by this single measure.
Thanks
Gopu

[email protected]

"ഇല്ല ജാതിയിലൊന്നുണ്ടോ, വല്ലതും ഭേദമോര്‍ക്കുകില്‍, ചൊല്ലേറും വ്യക്തിഭാഗത്തി-, ലല്ലോ ഭേദമിരുന്നിടൂ."
--------- ശ്രീനാരായണഗുരു---------


Malayalam Fun|SreeNarayanaGuru|AMIE Study
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