City Sunday

Sivagiri, a pilgrimage to the abode of brotherhood

By Pradyu M

Anybody visiting Kerala during the winter vacation must make a visit to Sivagiri mutt which is a very famous pilgrim centre and anybody irrespective of caste, religion and race can visit this beautiful and divine spot where the greatest of Kerala reformers and one of the greatest saint and philosopher the nation had seen, Sree Narayana Guru, spent his final days preaching the world the message of  ‘one caste, one religion, one God for mankind ‘ and this is the place from where the Guru left for the heavenly abode and his body buried at the maha samadhi mandapam atop the Sivagiri hill.

The Sivagiri hillock, a beautiful place with blessed with natural splendour, stands tall as a beacon spreading the great philanthropists’ message of universal brotherhood.

In Kerala many years ago there was a decline in moral standards of society -was untouchability and caste systems prevalent separating human beings. Sree Narayana Guru was born when these wrong practices were at a peak in Kerala. He devoted and dedicated his entire life to educate people and bring on the principle of one caste, one religion, one God for humanity. The Guru established a healthy social system in Kerala and discouraged bad practices and unwanted traditional customs, superstitious practices and rites. He laid stress on education and declared it as the basis of social progress.

He was a scholar of great understanding of the ancient Indian texts like Vedas and Upanishads and he was proficient in Sanskrit and Tamil besides Malayalam. The guru was a social and spiritual Revolutionary and the preachings and teachings of the Guru gave the philosophy of unity and importance of Oneness among humankind.

The current problems faced by the world -religious conflicts, casteism, terrorism and atrocities on nature can be put to an end if we follow and practice the preachings of Gurudevan.

The Sivagiri mutt was established in the year 1904 and Guruji consecrated an idol of Goddess Saraswati. The Saradha temple was designed by the Guru himself and is unique in its structure. It emphasises the Gurus idea of gaining knowledge and spreading knowledge. It is octagonal in shape and has large windows which normally in most Hindu temples are not found. The Sivagiri pilgrimage was conceptualised by the Guru and his disciples. The saints advised his disciples, while planning the pilgrimage, that it should focus not just on worship and prayers but pay attention to eight subjects – education, cleanliness, piety, organized endeavour, agriculture, trade, handicrafts and technical training. Even today, during the pilgrim days, the mutt schedules workshops, seminars and conferences on the subjects and experts from all around the globe participate and share their wisdom with the thousands of pilgrims who come to pay obeisance to the great Guru.

This year, the Sivagiri mutt will witness the 87th Theertadanam (pilgrimage) and it started on December 30 last year. Every pilgrim season the mutt invites great personalities that include the President, Vice President, Prime Minister,  national and international leaders.

Several dignitaries such as Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Dr Zakir Hussain, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Dr Abdul Kalam,  Narendra Modi, the Dalai Lama, are some of the great dignitaries who participated in the pilgrim congregation in the past. When most pilgrimages in our country are focused on worship and rituals the Sivagiri pilgrimage is unique as it blends spirituality with knowledge gaining and imparting.

Sivagiri mutt is 44 kilometres north of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala.

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