The BJP on Friday described social reformer Sree Narayana Guru as a great “Hindu sanyasi”, stoking yet another controversy in Kerala.
“Kerala’s biggest contribution to the world is the great Hindu sanyasi Sree Narayana Guru. He, who had reformed Hindu dharma, was the greatest revolutionary as well,” the BJP’s Kerala unit said in a Facebook post even as the state celebrated the birth anniversary of the 19th-century reformer, who was from the backward Ezhava caste.
The post comes days after BJP president Amit Shah tweeted Vaman Jayanti greetings on the eve of Onam. The tweet had raised eyebrows, with many saying that Onam is celebrated as a cultural and harvest festival by all communities in Kerala and should not be given religious overtones. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had sought an apology from Shah for ‘defaming’ Kerala and Keralites.
The post by the Kerala BJP read, “While raising a voice against false beliefs, Guru tried to ensure that such attempts are not against swadharma. His life is a lesson for the pseudo progressive forces which have little qualm in rejecting their own society and its culture. We should fight against any attempt to take Guru away from the national mainstream by distorting his philosophy. It should be noted that those who try to embrace Guru’s legacy had once ridiculed his thoughts.” The first national conference of the Jan Sangh was held in Kozhikode and the venue was named after Narayana Guru, it added.
CM Vijayan said Narayana Guru never wanted to be confined to a particular religion or caste. “He had anticipated that certain quarters would try to lock him in a particular religion. Hence, Guru had made the historic declaration ‘we have no caste’ a century ago. Certain quarters want to create a division in society over Guru. This is an attempt to take Kerala to the dark age,” he said, while inaugurating the Sree Narayana Guru Jayanti celebrations at the reformer’s native place in Thiruvananthapuram.
State Congress president V M Sudheeran said Narayana Guru had fought to liberate people from the clutches of caste and religion, hence it would be an insult to describe him as a Hindu sanyasi. “The fascist force, which does not have any reservation on dividing people along caste lines, does not have the right to pronounce the word Guru,” said Sudheeran.
State BJP spokesman M S Kumar said, “Narayana Guru has always been a Hindu sanyasi. That is why he had consecrated temples in Kerala and created the guru-sishya parampara,” he said.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi on Friday recalled Sree Narayana Guru’s “thoughts, teachings and fight against injustice”, and hailed him as a “social reformer” who led a movement against casteism.