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    Brief Biography on
    Navajyothisri Karunakara Guru

    (Mantra to Attain Liberation)

        When I look back on my early life, the family I was born into, and my neighborhood, I realize that my environment was one of ignorance. Neither in my home nor in my mother, was there any knowledge worth mentioning. I do not remember my father, he died early. From the neighbors, I knew that he was an extremely devout man. My mother was not particularly pious. My maternal family as a whole was not pious.

        In childhood itself, I had certain spiritual experiences. I never confided such matters to my mother or anyone else in my family. There was a family shrine. Our family's religion consisted of paying a couple of visits to the temple. That was all. My maternal grandmother used to take me with her to this temple. I was generally reluctant to return after prayers. Once, when we came out of the shrine with my grandmother holding my hand, I had an urge to tell her that I would stay back. At that point I heard a voice, I do not know from where. My feeling was that the goddess in the temple spoke. The voice said: "These are ignorant people. Don't disclose this matter to them." Thus I never divulged my ‘experiences’ to them.

        Around the time of the shrine incident, in fact from the time I can

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    remember, there was always present a form within me, filling me as it were. Words came from this form, and I thought this was so in everyone's case. My body was like a mike, a mere instrument through which that form spoke. I remember this experience continuing till I was nine! Then it stopped. Only after it stopped did I begin to play and talk like a normal child. Till then I never talked properly. Not that I did not know how to talk. My people thought I had some defect in my tongue. They made offerings at temples and observed several vows. As I did not have normal speech, I was not sent to school either.

        At the age of nine, I went to a ‘kudippallikoodam,’ a traditional village school where children learn to read and write by practicing on sand. I studied for three years. For nearly two years, I stayed with my mother and stepfather. My stepfather was a drunkard and created noisy scenes. After two years in that house a decision formed in me that I should join an Ashram. Due to this hidden desire, I wore a string of beads maintaining the pretext of a contemplated pilgrimage to Palani.

        One night my stepfather came home drunk, swearing and cursing, and created a scene. I left the house and went to sleep in the open verandah of a prayer hall close to the house. Next morning I went to my teacher, and told him that I wanted to join an Ashram. He thought for sometime and then went out to meet people seeking information, taking me with him. We met a person who spoke of Agamananda Ashram in Kaladi. He was however

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    not sure if children were allowed to join. Nevertheless my teacher took me to Kaladi and left me at the Ashram.

        When I enquired, they said they did not accept children. They had no facilities for bringing up or educating children. I walked from there to the Alwaye bus stand. It was evening by then: I noticed two men who were applying oil on their body and getting ready for a bath. One of them said to the other: "Let us bathe at the Ashram ghat."

        I followed these two men and reached the Advaitashram, founded by Narayana Guru. I recognized it as an Ashram from the look of the place.

        The Head of the Sivagiri Ashram, the late Sankarananda was present there. I met him and spoke to him. He said, "All right, we will see what can be done tomorrow morning. Stay tonight."

        Next morning he spoke to me and gave me permission to stay there. He called the Secretary of the Ashram and put me in his charge. My Ashram life began that day. I lived at Advaitashram for two years. Then I was moved to Sivagiri and its other subsidiary institutions. In all I was associated with Narayana Guru's Ashrams for seventeen years. In this period there were several incidents, which people thought certain flaws in my character were responsible for. I did not quite know how such situations developed. There was no mistake on my part, which could have given rise to those situations. Still I had to go through a great deal of agony. I felt acutely that life was passing me by. I had not had any spiritual experience. I had not even met

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    anyone with ‘experience.’

        While I was in this state of despondency, I found a Guru. Within two and a half years of my initiation I had certain ‘experiences.’ I continued at Sivagiri and its branches for two more years. During this period I had to face a lot of hardship and hostility from associates. These people began to make false allegations against me. I had to undergo a lot of this while at Aruvippuram. I was then moved back to Sivagiri.

        Although I had mystical perceptions, lack of education was a handicap. I could not understand many things which I could otherwise have grasped through reading. At Sivagiri they had tried to give me an education. I was totally disinclined, and probably because of that resistance could never get involved in formal education.

        After Aruvippuram, when I came back to Sivagiri, I grew tired of certain tendencies in my associates, and wanted to leave. I returned all the keys to those in authority and went to my Guru, with the intention of staying with him.

        "I am tired of living at Sivagiri," I informed my Guru, "I have come to you after giving back all the keys." The Guru was silent for a while. Then gave me a rupee and four annas and said: "Now go to Sivagiri. There is no one there."

        A meal cost six annas in those days at the Grand Hotel in Thainpanoor. My Guru asked me to buy myself a meal and take a bus to Varkala. This

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    instruction was very distasteful to me, as I had already given away my responsibilities and said goodbye to Sivagiri. But then I couldn’t think of slighting my Guru's word. I decided to go to Sivagiri before going anywhere else.

        I remembered my family too. I remembered how they lacked an understanding of spirituality. Many of those who took care of me, were the offspring of generations who led befouled lives. To return to such a family would have only added to my distress and made me feel more sick of life than I was feeling already. I reached Sivagiri. I was washing my feet at the well, when Swami Kaivalyananda, who was the Treasurer heard me and called me in.

        "The daily pooja -worship- at the samadhi -place of death of a famous person- has not been done till now," Kaivalyananda said, "Go open the temple and light the lamp. Do whatever has to be done, and then come."

        I did what I was told to. After the supper of rice gruel at night he called me inside the front porch of the Sarada temple and asked me to sit with him.

        "Don’t you understand? There was no dearth of people at the time you left," he said, "There is no one now. It is so sad. This is what happens when people like you who work hard leave. Don’t go away again. People are here for different reasons. They have not necessarily come here on a spiritual quest. You should not do this again. I hope you understand. You should not

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    even let such a thought enter your mind again."

        He narrated his experiences in the famous Satyagraha at Vaikom, a political and religious passive resistance movement for temple entry in Kerala. Then he explained the way of life at Sivagiri in all its aspects and intent. I thought I would never leave Sivagiri again. What struck me above all in the whole experience was how right my Guru was, when he said, "There is no one at Sivagiri. Let there not be any obstruction in the routine there." With this incident my devotion and love for my Guru increased. The feeling that I should be attentive to what he said and carry out his bidding became stronger.

        Days passed. There is a water channel outside Sivagiri. My Guru came and sat by this water course and sent word for me. I came out to meet him.

        "You will have a change from here," he said, "but don't leave Varkala." He took out a rupee and gave it to me. His words came true very soon. I had to leave Sivagiri. My staying on at Sivagiri on my Guru's word, till he indicated a change, had deepened my faith and firmness of mind.

        After leaving Sivagiri I decided to stay at Varkala, as my Guru suggested. He was on a journey at that time. There was no point in trying to find him. I decided to wait for him at Varkala.

        When I left Sivagiri, an acquaintance who was personally fond of me gave me a plot of land. This person belonged to Varkala and was devoted to Guru. I built a small thatched hut and set up my Ashram. When more than six

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    months passed without any news from my Guru I went looking for him at his usual haunt on the beach in Trivandrum. Luckily for me he was there.

        "You have not had any experience of mystical perceptions. Is it not so?" He asked me. "Now you shall go back only after getting it." He allowed me to stay with him. Days passed. From there he took me with him to Takkala. The day would be spent wandering in the forest and on the hills. Towards the end of the day we would go to the precincts of the Takkala court. My Guru had some disciples who worked in the court. They would occasionally join us for the night.

        I used to be puzzled by my Guru's behaviour. He would ask those disciples, "Do you know who he is?" I knew nothing of what he said.

        He would praise me lavishly at times and tell them, "You don't know him! He is a big fellow."

        My Guru did this several times. His praises did not go to my head anyway. Instead I wondered why he praised me so.

        It was my fourth day at Takkala. Nine of us were lying on the ground in a row. It was around three o’clock in the morning. Suddenly I felt the whole World in a whirl and my body like a grain of mustard which was being torn apart. My Guru gave me a slap and asked, "Hey, did you get scared?"

        "No, not in my heart of hearts!" I replied. "Ah! There is hope, then," my Guru said. Even so I was like one who had lost his senses. When I walked on the road, I would see approaching vehicles, but could not realize that I had

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    to move aside. I was like a madman. My Guru sent for Parameswaran Pillai, another disciple of his, and instructed, "You must take leave from your office for a few days and take care of this fellow."

        So Parameswaran Pillai took leave from his job and I was left in his charge. During the day he would take me to all the sacred places in that region. I was able to see the deities and other subtle beings abiding at such spots. It was the same case when I visited the samadhi -place of death- of Peerukkannu Sahib at Takkala. There is a hill named after Kattuva Sahib. Padmanabhapuram Palace is on the way to this hill. We rested at two places while going to Kattuva Sahib Hill, one of which was the abode of a spirit known as Kalliyankattu Neeli, lady who died previously and was being worshipped. My Guru was with us. When we reached there Guru asked us to sit and meditate. As I was meditating I heard Parameswaran Pillai telling Guru, "Swamiji, she has come."

        "Ask her to leave," Guru responded. I awoke from my meditation and realized that this conversation was about Kalliyankattu Neeli. Neeli was a yakshi, low deity.

        Guru asked me then, "Did you see something?" I had not seen anything.

        "All right. This means dark powers will not appear before you. That is good," Guru said. "I'll make this fellow do something now." I could not make out what my Guru was planning for me at that time. Guru praised me a lot, and then got up and started walking. We followed him. He asked me to

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    pick up a potsherd that was lying on the road. I did as I was told to. We walked on for sometime and arrived at a Hindu shrine. It was a well-kept and functioning temple with a wall around it. When we reached there, it was around three o'clock in the afternoon. The Guru sat down near this shrine and made us all sit with him. After a while he pointed towards me and told Parameswaran Pillai, "Take this fellow along and show him the whole temple."

        The sanctum sanctorum was locked. But there were several idols installed within the walls of the temple. Signs of worship offered were evident on them, they were anointed and they had flower garlands on them. We returned to the Guru after seeing all this. "Have you seen the whole shrine?" Guru asked me.

        "Yes, I have. Clean place. There are few places in Tamil Nadu so well kept and clean. Isn't it!"

        "Did you like it?"


         Guru: got up and walked into the shrine, beckoning me to follow him. When we got in, he told me, "Go from one end to the other and spit on all the idols"

        I felt a little upset and hesitant. I was a Hindu by faith. Besides I had been worshipping these deities from childhood. How could I actually spit on them now? Yet I knew I could not slight my Guru's word. I obeyed him.

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        His next instruction was to kick on the feet and chest of the idols. Even that I obeyed.

        "Go! Get the potsherd," he told me, "and bring your urine in that." I did as he told me.

        "Pour a little," Guru ordered, "over the head of each idol."

        After doing that I felt a sudden dread. "What have I done? "I asked myself, "Was it right?"

        The Guru returned with me to where, the others were waiting for us. We sat down with them. He then gave us a detailed explanation of the shrine incident. It was all about the principle underlying the practice of using what is discarded by a sanyasin -renouncer-, as also the offerings made to a deity. The sweat or the material emanations of a sanyasin will have some kind of miraculous or spiritual power.

        "All these powers were stuck here and were suffering," Guru convinced us, "They have been set free today."

        We then resumed our journey to the Kattuva Sahib Hill. I had certain visionary experiences there. Guru interpreted them for me. We refreshed ourselves on the fruits and water we had carried with us, after which we started back. All the while the Guru was narrating stories of sanyasins -renouncers-, highlighting their great works. It was then that I realized an important truth. There is a great deal more to what we have traditionally heard about spiritual people. We came back to Takkala. Just as we were

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    turning away from the road to where we were camping, Guru pulled away my clothes and gave me a tattered rag to wear. After I wore it he gave me a hit and ordered me to run off. I found myself wondering as I took to my heels: "Where am I to go?"

        My experiences on the way were tremendous. What I experienced at Sucheendram and Kanyakumari is difficult to express in words. By that time I had a stubborn desire to get back to my Guru. So I resumed to Takkala. I had in the meanwhile come by money for clothes without asking for it.

        Inner experience had been very rich, beyond words. On my return when my Guru heard what I had to say, he hugged me and wept.

        "Go wherever you like," he blessed me, "You will get whatever you need."

        He wanted me to go to Trivandrum immediately. We took a bus from Takkala and reached Trivandrum and from there I started for Varkala. Guru went to Vallakkadavu, a beach in Trivandrum which was a haunt of my Guru, Khureishi Fakir.

        Mystical perceptions kept coming to me for the next six and a half years. It was a process of knowing step by step later perceptions illuminating the earlier ones. At the end of the first five and a half years itself people who were closely associated with me also started getting mystical perceptions. After seven years and three months, on the first of the month of Vrischikam, three persons came to the Ashram after the morning bath, as if to offer worship. In the same month there was a sudden increase in

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    popularity, and visitors started pouring in daily in hundreds.

        People started informing me that it was enough to tell me about their diseases. They would be rid of the disease almost immediately. I never did anything special for them, except praying. After seven months men and women alike, all who were visiting the Ashram started developing the faculty of darshanam -internal or spiritual visions. Sometimes ten and sometimes fifty, those who got this perception were many. This happened inspite of their lack of understanding of this experience and lack of knowledge as to how to develop it. Unusual as it was, this became a subject for discussion among people. What is more, all these people found all their prayers being granted. I was not doing anything that could be responsible for all this.

        Three years passed like this. People started showing increased love and respect. Among those who had the faculty of darshanam, three persons, a female and two males, began to excel. They started handling and managing many matters. The female was an adult and so was one of the males. The other male was just a boy. For almost a year this situation continued. Then some of what they said, began to be inaccurate. When they erred frequently for a period of time I felt that they themselves were responsible for these faults. In fact I chastised them severely and even caned them. That did not improve them. Their readings became more and more erroneous, and consequently hardships increased. A variety of difficulties arose in numerous ways.

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        Earlier, if a cure for a certain illness was predicted to take place by a certain date through a certain prescription, it would have happened ten days before time. Now an illness could not be fully cured even after the foreseen time. This erroneous trend became worse, and soon three fourths of what was being seen was of no use. I kept scolding the three persons with darshanam -spiritual visions- for all this. Around this time, the visitors also started turning slightly hostile.

        The Varkala College was completed in this period. Teaching had just started. The Ashram was on the college route. Boys and girls used to go by in groups. It was common for boys to tease girls. Sometimes girls escaped this teasing by coming into the Ashram. Some of them got in to the habit of visiting the Ashram and asking for prasadam, blessed remnants of food, probably because they chanced to listen to my conversations with people. Boys also started coming. In the process the boys began to see certain changes in some of the girls who visited the Ashram. They interpreted this as due to some deception or black magic on my part. This impression became widespread among the college crowd. From them it spread to the shopkeepers in the market place and among nearly four thousand households in the neighboring areas.

        I began to search frantically for the cause of this hostility. There was no chance then of tracing it.

        Basic to the Hindu worship is the worship of the Trimurti -Brahma, Vishnu

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    and Shiva. In spite of doing all that is prescribed in this system, there was neither relief nor release from the crises. This impasse lasted for a whole year. Even the persons endowed with darshanam -spiritual visions- were going through difficulties without any relief. Eventually we received an asariri -spiritual revelation from the Almighty- which instructed me to stay away at a place where I could not be seen by even two persons at a time. I did not make a move. The instruction was repeated after two months, forbidding further stay at the Varkala Ashram.

        I had built a small hut on the outskirts of Trivandrum, near Pothencode, with thatch and tapioca stem and called it Santhigiri. Someone had been appointed to light a lamp there daily. When the second warning came, I realized I should not continue at Varkala. I left immediately for Santhigiri. Its neighborhood was practically unpopulated in those days. One could live in peace. Nearly seven months passed.

        After moving to this place, when eventually permission for further work came and work commenced tentatively, a woman patient lodged in the Ashram at that time jumped into the well and died. The people of the surrounding areas suspecting foul play or pretending to suspect it, gathered around the Ashram bringing still others in trucks and cars. At one point, the strength of the mob went up to five thousand. They chanted obscenities and were violent. It was a carnival they celebrated, with the police making their powerful presence felt. This misfortune turned out to be a trial necessary for

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    vindication and so beneficial. All seekers and those who became inspired by them, have had to go through similar experiences in the past. Such experiences are due to the two errors we discussed earlier. These matters are being demystified and given in clear terms in this book. At least now, people should not feel that they have not understood. Children of the future generations should act from this knowledge.

        Under the present circumstances faith, like an unhusked coconut rolling about here and there, is difficult to understand.

        Just before moving to Pothencode, something had happened. In Mel Katakkavoor in Vakkam is a cave Narayana Guru had used. The owner of the land where the cave was situated approached me for advice. "The cave is in ruins," he told me. "Should we do something about it?" he asked.

        "Light a lamp daily," I suggested, "for six months."

        Six months later a radiance arose from the cave that was visible to people within a radius of at least four miles. When this happened the land owner wanted to convert the cave into a shrine for worship. Construction of the shrine was under way, when I received the directive to move to Pothencode.

        At the time of this injunction, two of the three endowed with darshanam -spiritual visions- were given two lines of invocative chant:

    Om Sri Karunakara Guru Parabrahmane namah.

    -I postrate to Karunakara Guru who resides in the final plane of evolution-

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    Om Sri Karunakara Guru Satyapradaya namah.

    -I postrate to Karunakara Guru who is immersed in truthfullness-

        "Chant this," they were told, "make this potent with chanting." I had not allowed this chant, as it happened to include my name and I thought this was not correct.

        Early one morning I was waiting at Katakkavoor railway station. A group of young men came that way after attending a festival at a nearby temple. It was a hooligan crowd booing and generally making noise. The train came in the meantime and I was trying to get in. One of the young men then came and slapped me, pulling away my upper cloth.

        I had somehow forgotten an important warning. Three days earlier there had been an asariri -words from God- forbidding me to go out for three days. On the first two days, I did not move out. On the third day, I went out forgetting the warning.

        It was three days after this incident that I started for Pothencode, acting on the directive to move away from Varkala. Those who were hostile, spread a rumor that I was driven out from Varkala. Everyone believed it, since I was not seen around the place. They had no way of getting to know the truth.

        After nine months at Santhigiri I received another directive from the Light forbidding me to do anything for a period of two and a half years. But nine months after this directive the Trimurti -Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva- and the spirits

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    under them gave me permission to start treating the sick who came for help. Thus work began again. Almost immediately the number of the daily visitors went up to nearly three hundred.

        Within a period of three weeks sixty sick persons were healed in the Ashram premises itself. At that time there was no shelter to lodge people. There were no other facilities either. People who came to stay rested and slept on the grass. They were exposed to both the heat of the sun and the cold of the night. They chose to ignore these hardships out of devotion.

        Within three months, however, an impasse developed like the previous one at Varkala. The sick could not be cured fully. Very little of what was seen at that time in darshanam proved useful. At this juncture, we received a command that we should chant the lines given to us, just as I was leaving Varkala.

    Om Sri Karunakara Guru Parabrahmane Namah

    Om Sri Karunakara Guru Satyapradaya Namah

        Thus this chant came to be used for prayer and sankalpam -mind prayer for onself or for intercession. And people with severe diseases began to be healed. Again there was a directive. I was to withdraw from such work for three and a half years. Work was stopped accordingly. Then I was asked to go on a journey. We set out as a group of four, including a child of ten. This child had had her first experience of darshanam -spiritual vision- just before the journey. She had also lived in the Ashram for some days. None of those who had darshanam, regularly was asked to join us on this trip.

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        There was a reason for not taking them. I had begun to suspect something. Certain powers at the level of the devas -‘gods’ misconceived by the Hindu tradition as spiritually liberated souls- were misleading us. This was what happened even in the earlier impasse. In fact it grew clear now that the signals received from these powers were false. They seemed to thwart us deliberately. It was decided to refuse the guidance of these powers. I had a feeling that only the voice that emanated from the white radiance was to be followed. Soon after I decided so, the voice spoke affirming my decision. Eventually this whole trend was put in the right perspective with a revelation from an epiphany of Krishna. Its relevance has not diminished till today.

        During that journey the ten-year old child, would see in spiritual visions beforehand, all about each temple we were going to visit. We traveled up to Madras. In three months we returned, having achieved more than we expected to. On our return journey, a site was spotted for an Ashram in Kallar and it was established. While we were there, many events which are happening now and which are yet to happen were foretold. It is still forbidden to make these revelations known. After this there had been a series of intimations from 1973 to 1979. They were found to be true and of great moment. Some of their contents are to be made known to the World. I shall disclose them here.

    Next Chapter: Paths in Hindu Worship

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