Autobiography of an Absolutist

Autobiography of an Absolutist

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Book Specification

Item Code: NAC642
Author: Nataraja Guru
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 9788124605646
Pages: 820 (33 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 Inch X 6.0 Inch
Weight 1.30 kg

Book Description

Back of the Book

Value Dynamics

Ranging from sense pleasures to the supreme peace of Self- realization there is a series of values, important or negligible, to the extent that bipolarity is implied in their inter-relations. Now if we should reduce this scale of values in an orderly fashion as being neither transcendent nor immanent, neither perceptual nor actual, we can see that we, in ourselves, represent a golden ladder of values as given to our contemplative imagination.

From the simple relation with a piece of bread to the supreme happiness of Self-realization we have within us a Unitive Principle which is neither within nor without. The various objects of interest with which we are surrounded enter into this self-consciousness in the form of value-factors, emergent and neutralized at various levels as they float, rise, change or circulate in a certain organic or living manner. It is to this aspect of contemplative life we refer when we use the expression Value Dynamics.

From the Jacket

Nataraja Guru’s guruhood is pure and philosophically correct, making as few concessions as possible to relativistic or social notions. He is a guru of absolutist truth. It is too rare to be popularly understood. It is not the popular conception of the Upanishadic or the a4ramic pattern. It is a new form of guruhood, made for a really global world. The Guru Narayana did the initial spadework here in breaking through the fixed Indian orthodox patterns, as far as he was able in his own lifetime to do so, without entirely destroying the background. His work was experimental, and his success showed the way to the one disciple, Natarajan, to plunge ahead on a wider and entirely universal scale. Nataraja Guru therefore has grafted guruhood on to a global background. For this work the absolutism of guruhood has to be stressed more than the religious or even the conventional yogi aspect as known to India.

Nataraja Guru never wanted a following, least of all of blind believers. He only asks for reasonable understanding of the pure principles for which he stands and not in any cloud- soaring sense either, but in immediately applicable relationship with any or every given actual situation; nor in works but in understanding alone.

His discoveries in the field of philosophy open up a new age in human understanding. Through his genius, for the first time clear sense emerges out of the hitherto baffling expressions of Indian thought, while the ways of Indian spirituality cease to be a mystery. So at one stroke minds are cleared and much delusion and superstitions trickery in the philosophic-religious field are destroyed. How bold and wonderful is his genius in restating yoga as a modem perennial science of dialectics applicable in all fields!

All this sheer original creative labour is of lasting benefit to humanity. As an explorer and conqueror of the high Himalayan peaks of religious psychology and philosophy only vaguely and awe-fully beheld from below, but never climbed before — with the notable exception of preliminary surveys by the Guru Narayana — the name of Nataraja Guru will be forever gratefully remembered, either alone or coupled with the Guru Narayana, as the greatest Guru- philosopher or Absolutist of our time.

Let us, with all others in a unitive company, join in happy gratitude before the Light of the Absolute which shines with a clear and steady brilliance through all the bewildering facets of his rich personality whether as a man, friend or guru. Let us greet him, as befits his name, Nataraja, Auspicious Dancer in the pure realm of the Absolute, with all the deep reverence that one may reasonably offer to another.


Through you we call to vision all the Gurus of the past,
From the challenge of the Vedas to Vedanta’s counterblast;
From Mohenjo-Daro’s Yogi seated underneath the tree,
To Narayana the Guru from all caste-delusion free.

Through you we know the Buddha, Tiruvalluvar as well,
Great Sankara the expounder, and hundreds more to tell.

Through you we know the Gurus of ancient Greece and Rome,
Pythagoreans or Stoics, with all we feel at home.

Eckhart, Jalalludin, Plotinus, Lao Tzu,
Learned Vyasa of the Gita, we know them all through you.

Though each did write in varied scripts, their teaching is the same;
Like you as Absolutists, they are outside time and name.

Through you we know the secret of their method and their way
Of revaluing the Wisdom grown stagnant in their day.

By your dedicated life for fifty years and more
You have raised on high the teaching of those Gurus gone before.

By your writings and your travels in many a distant land,
You have taught true Guru Wisdom so that all can understand.


NATARAJA Guru insisted on calling himself an absolutist. The terms “absolute” and “absolutist” became very much discredited the European world after the Second World War because of wrong identification people made of absolutism with totalitarians like Hitler. Even if an absolutist is not equated with a totalitarian, many may associate it with an element of egotism or agressiveness. Hence it is necessary to give here the meaning Nataraja Guru attributed to the terms “absolute,” “absolutism,” and the “absolutist.” To Nataraja Guru, the Absolute is fully identified with the highest wisdom source, which is none other than the very foundation of values. In 1955 when the late John Spiers started publishing the magazine Values as an organ Nataraja Guru’s contemplative institution, the Narayana Gurukula, the Guru wrote an article on values for the very first issue. His thoughts were as follows:

Wisdom is the highest of human values. The Absolute, whose mystery it is that Wisdom will unravel, is not a thing, an entity or even a mere reality. Neither by logical reasoning nor mere philosophical speculation, however systematic, methodical, or correct that be reached. If the Absolute is not conceived as a human value, it would remain a mere abstraction. It could never quench the eternal thirst for knowledge abiding at the core of human nature.

However, when the notion of the Absolute is filled with a living human content it becomes a matter of absorbing interest above all other interests. These other interests become like small change before the supreme Gold Coin of Absolute Wisdom. It is in this see that the title of this new magazine should be understood.

The word “values” covers all things that are good, beautiful or true, from the most commonplace to the most sublime. The actual or relational world which is in front of everyone is a feast of varied values. The hunger for values itsell has different degrees or kinds.

When a clear-sighted man knows what he wants he is able to select unitive values belonging to every department of life in which he lives and moves. A science of norms in absolute or contemplative values guides each man to select and adopt as his own that unitive value which will give him peace or happiness without coming into conflict with the larger happiness of all life. Thus man threads his way through a tangled network of values from which he is called upon to select at every given moment.

Through values that are still steeped in the domain of drab necessity, the eye of the contemplative is raised through intelligent appreciation of a unitive scale of values to that highest of states of the spirit in which the Self rests on itself and finds the Absolute Value of all in oneself.

Certain terms which Guru uses are his own English equivalents for Vedantic terminologies. For instance, he uses the term “unitive understanding” which in his mind is the same as Advaita Vedanta. Where other people prefer to use the word “unified” he always wrote “unitive,” again meaning Advaita.

John Spiers started publishing Values to provide the Gurukula with an official outlet, and at the same time he used it as a ploy to induce Nataraja Guru to write an article for each issue, month after month. The Guru’s habit of writing for Values continued even after the magazine became extinct in the year 1971. All his major books, except The Word of the Guru and The Integrated Science of the Absolute, came in the form of articles in Values. Although he was writing with the intention of giving the Gurukula students a systematized series of lessons covering every aspect of Eastern and Western philosophy, he was rather reluctant to write about himself. Nataraja Guru was very assertive and even vehement in expressing his candid opinions with the intention of weaning off Wisdom from the sloppy or shady overgrowth of relativism with which many scholars, Eastern and Western, were distorting the teachings of true Masters, but he never thought of putting his own intimate thoughts in black and white. Seeing this subdued withdrawal from the public gaze, John Spiers made another ploy. First he pleaded with the Guru to write his autobiography. When he found that the Guru was not enthusiastic, he threatened to write his biography himself for the benefit of the world. When Nataraja Guru saw John’s seriousness in wanting to write his biography, he decided to do it himself. He did not want his inner life to be guessed by another person. So the guru started writing his autobiography to be serialized in Values. The present book is a collation of those articles edited by Edda Walker and Nancy Yielding.

It is not for us to say whether the Gum’s autobiography reads as a classic. Hopefully, the intelligent reader will find in it an outstanding work which unravels not only an absolutist vision of life, but also much of the history of twentieth-century India and the contemporary world of the Far East and the Far West.


Preface vii
Prelude xi
1. My Earliest Memories 1
2. Trinity College, Kandy 12
3. Adolescent Ideals and Hero Worship 25
4. Glimpses of Guruhood 38
5. Academic Life in Colonial Style 50
6. Sex and Ideals 61
7. The Tao and My Destiny 71
8. Finding My Svadharma 81
9. Ultimate Surrender to the Guru 95
10. Trials of Discipleship 105
11. Weaning from Relativism 118
12. From Home to Homelessness 128
13. The Birth of the Gurukula 137
14. Fernhill: The Hard Years 148
15. A Hungry Man’s “Love Affair” 161
16. Reaffirming My Svadharma 174
17. Passage to Europe 187
18. Chance Brings Me to Geneva 198
19. The Criminal Conscience of an Honest Man 206
20. I Settle in a Swiss Lakeside School 214
21. Walking the Corridors of the University 227
22. In Europe Between the Wars 236
23. Holidays on the Continent 245
24. European Winter Tours 253
25. The Close of my First Chapter in Europe 262
26. Homecoming and After 273
27. Adventures in Job-hunting 282
28. Chequered Patterns of Indifferent Fortune 295
29. Occupational Vacuity Gets Filled 306
30. The End of the Second World War and After 316
31. Geneva Once More 324
32. Atlantic Crossing and After 334
33. After the World Conference of Religions at New York 345
34. I Make up for My Neglected Education 356
35. Second Visits to Europe and America before Returning to India 367
36. I Return to India to be Recognized as a Guru 378
37. The Guru Centenary Coincides with My Sixtieth Birthday 389
38. Dialectical Dragons and Near Murder 396
39. Wanderings and Encounters with Providence 402
40. A Holiday Cruise to Europe 410
41. Art Reflections and Happy Hobos 417
42. European Contacts Old and New 429
43. Searching for a Gurukula in the South of France 437
44. Summer Dreams in Italy 449
45. Eventful Escapades Across Europe 460
46. In Good Old England Again 472
47. Rare Gifts From the Tao 482
48. In India Again 494
49. The Magnum Opus and Call of the Island 504
50. Festivals and Forewarnings 510
51. Autumnal Depressions and After 516
52. Hospital Life Without Tears 523
53. Still to Turn the Corner 531
54. Turning to the Prospective 542
55. Bolder Flights into the Unknown 551
56. Prophets, Idols and Hippies 560
57. The Role of Protolinguism in Unifying Science 575
58. More thoughts on Hippiedom 586
59. Intimate Meditations 590
60. A Visit to Moscow 599
61. Time and Springtime in Belgium 607
62. Contacts with Hippies and Highbrows 616
63. Hippie Adventures in England 624
64. Iceland, the Nordic Paradise 634
65. At the New Jersey Gurukula 644
66. With Professors and Dropouts in Chicago 652
67. The Benares of the Dropouts 660
68. Trips in Inner and Outer Space 668
69. Californian Midsummer Orgy 676
70. Strange Meetings in Honolulu 683
71. Crossing the Date Line 690
72. Globe-circling 698
73. Busy Days in Malaysia 702
74. Midnight Cheese and Other Problems 709
75. Problems Solved and Unsolved 715
76. Mysticism and Travel Twilights 721
77. Two Kinds of Resources and Initiatives 727
78. Colour Film Language 732
79. The Game Between Men and Women 738
80. Coincidences in Keral 748
81. At the Tomb of the Mother of Sankara 753
82. Absolutist Community Problems 756
83. Wandering in the Realm of Kalidasa 761
84. Reveries of a Solitary Pilgrim 765
85. Gurukula Movement Broadens Out 773
86. From the World Parliament to Tholpetty 778
87. Summer Sessions at Ooty 784
Epilogue 789
Index 794

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