Nataraja Guru (Malayalam:നടരാജ ഗുരു)(Dr. P Natarajan) was a direct disciple of Narayana Guru, a sage and social reformer of India. Nataraja Guru founded Narayana Gurukulam, a worldwide contemplative community based on the teachings of Narayana Guru. He translated into English and wrote commentaries on all the major works of Narayana Guru. He has also written on a wide variety of subjects, employing throughout a protolinguistic or structural approach.
Nataraja Guru was born in 1895 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. His father, Dr. Palpu, was a contemporary and follower of Narayana Guru. After completing his initial schooling in Trivandrum and Bangalore, he went to Kandi, Sri Lanka for matriculation. He completed his Masters degrees in Geology and Zoology at Presidency College, Madras and bachelor's degree in Education at University of Madras.
Meeting Narayana Guru
He first met Narayana Guru at his home in Bangalore. After completion of his studies Nataraja Guru met Narayana Guru again in Kerala and expressed his wish to be admitted in the latter's Ashram. Narayana Guru explained to him the difficulties associated with the path of a renunciate (Sanyasin) but later admitted him in the Ashram convinced of his earnestness. Initially Nataraja Guru stayed in Advaita Ashram, Alwaye and later at Sivagiri, Varkala.
While at Sivagiri, Narayana Guru appointed Nataraja Guru as the Principal of Sree Narayana English School in Varkala. Nataraja Guru's complete dedication and revolutionary ideas to transform the school (with support from Narayana Guru himself) irked some of the power hungry disciples of Narayana Guru. This was a hindrance to the proper implementation of those ideas.
Establishing Narayana Gurukulam
Then he left for Ootacamund, a hill town in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu popularly known as Ooty, where Swami Bodhananda, one of Narayana Guru's foremost disciples, had an Ashram. In 1923 Nataraja Guru founded Narayana Gurukulam at Fernhill, near Ooty, the land for which was a gift from one of Nataraja Guru's friends. Narayana Gurukulam is an institution devoted to the contemplative study and propagation of Narayana Guru's teachings. Nataraja Guru stayed there for four years teaching a few children, mostly orphans. Narayana Guru visited Fernhill once and gave valuable advice to Nataraja Guru. Due to financial crisis and misbehaviour of many inmates the Gurukulam was closed down in 1927.
Meeting Narayana Guru again
Nataraja Guru went back to Varkala and stayed with Narayana Guru for a few months. Narayana Guru's health was deteriorating and he was taken to different places for treatment. Nataraja Guru accompanied him in many of those trips, during which both exchanged many ideas and Nataraja Guru's many doubts were cleared by Narayana Guru. Narayana Guru was helpless at that time to accommodate Nataraja Guru amongst his disciples. So he gave him 1500 Indian Rupees and asked him to go to Europe for higher studies.
Life in Europe
With London in mind, Nataraja Guru boarded his ship from Colombo. However, he changed his plan while aboard and landed in Geneva. After some initial struggles he got a job in Fellowship school in Gland, near Geneva. While teaching Physics there, he mastered French and started his preparation for his doctoral thesis in Educational Psychology. He registered at the renowned Sorbonne University in Paris. One of his mentors was the famous French Philosopher Henri Bergson. Natraja Guru was also influenced by the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He travelled between Geneva and Paris quite often and submitted his thesis after 5 years titled "Le Facteur Personnel dans le Processus Educatif (Personal factor in Education)". It was based on the concept Guru-Shishya system of teaching. The thesis committee approved his research and awarded him D.Litt with triple honors. While in Geneva, Nataraja Guru wrote a series of articles titled The Way of the Guru in the The Sufi Quarterly, which depicted the life and teachings of Narayana Guru. This attracted the intelligentsia of Europe including Romain Rolland. These articles later became part of his work The Word of the Guru. During Nataraja Guru's European stay he had met Gandhi and Tagore.
In Ooty again
Nataraja Guru returned to India in 1933 and tried to find a teaching job, in search of which he travelled throughout India for two years. Failing to find a proper teaching job, he returned to Ooty and re-established the Narayana Gurukulam. He stayed in a tin-shed for 15 years and spent that time to study the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and works of Narayana Guru. During that time, a Scottish man named John Spiers became Nataraja Guru's first disciple.
Nataraja Guru believed that science had unwittingly followed Marxism into a materialist desert and that stung by the horrors of the Inquisition, western science had turned its back on metaphysics for hundreds of years. According to him, ideas, memories, emotion and time, among other major categories, are metaphysical entities that have transcended every effort a being reduced to material existence. Matter itself is seen to be brimming with energy as soon as you look beneath the surface.
A counterbalancing backlash has occurred recently in which religious and other metaphysical ideas, no matter how divorced form reality, are being embraced as a welcome escape from uncompromising materialism. For a sensible philosophy free of prejudice, which can open the road to further process in human thought, a balance must be struck between physics and metaphysics. Each must support and verify the other.
Returning to the United States in 1950 to finish his biography, "Word of the Guru" based on Narayana Guru's life and philosophy, he met World Citizen Garry Davis aboard the S.S. America who was returning from Europe after founding the World Citizenship Movement. The two formed a lifelong association with Davis traveling to India in 1956 at Nataraja's invitation with the first World Passport following Davis' declaration of World Government, September 4, 1953. The result of that collaboration was Nataraja's "Memorandum on World Government" considering world citizenship and government from a wisdom perspective and association with the new government as its "World Education Coordinator". (See www.worldservice.org/documents). The Memorandum introduced for the first time, the mention of "geo-dialectics" as "the application of pure dialectics which reveals dualities to human events."
Followers of Nataraja Guru assert that the latter had established a basis for such an advance, presenting an overarching scheme to integrate all aspects of reality under one roof. Any meaningful philosophy, according to Nataraja Guru, must have some version of an absolute idea or value implicit in it. After presenting his own absolute system Nataraja Guru investigated several prominent strains of philosophy, including the rationalist and the materialist, to identify the absolute element hidden within each of them. Totalitarianism and absolutism are shown to be totally antithetical, the former being highly exclusionary while the latter embraces every possibility1.
An Integrated Science of the Absolute
An Integrated Science of the Absolute is a two volume book of Nataraja Guru written after 50 years of study of Science and philosophies of East and West. In that Nataraja Guru had formulated a unitive science, wherein all disciplines of human questing could find a common ground. He called it as the Integrated Science of the Absolute (Brahmavidya), where modern science and ancient spiritual wisdom could meet and merge like two opposite poles of a magnet. It has, at its base, Darsana Mala, a book of hundred Sanskrit verses composed by Narayana Guru. Written under the influence of Upanisadic thought, Darsana Mala is believed to be the very “epitome of all visions of truth”. Nataraja Guru believed that his mentor’s “Visions of the Absolute” are fully validated by modern science. He believed that Brahma-vidya is not just an eclectic synthesis of varied scientific disciplines into a systematic whole but a Master Science that embraces every branch of science, every human interest.
- The Word of the Guru: Life and Teachings of Narayana Guru
- Vedanta Revalued and Restated
- Autobiography of an Absolutist
- The Bhagavad Gita, Translation and Commentary 
- An Integrated Science of the Absolute (Volumes I, II)
- Wisdom: The Absolute is Adorable
- Saundarya Lahari of Sankara
- The Search for a Norm in Western Thought
- The Philosophy of a Guru
- Memorandum on World Government
- World Education Manifesto
- Experiencing One World
- Dialectical Methodology
- Anthology of the Poems of Narayana Guru
References and sources
- Works of Natataraja Guru
- Autobiography of an Absolutist by Nataraja Guru - Gurukula Publishing House - 1989
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