Gurudevan's association with Sivagiri in Varkala in south Kerala dates to 1904. Varkala used to be known as the southern Benares. A lover of nature and places radiant with natural beauty Narayana Guru built a hermitage on made a hermitage on top of the Sivagiri hill and stayed there. He grew some plants around the place. That solitary hill began to attract public attention ever since Gurudev appeared there.
In course of time the government granted the Sivagiri hill to Gurudevan and the people gave some of the surrounding places to him as gifts. Later Sivagiri grew into the nerve centre of Sree Narayana movements.
At first an elementary school was established there. A night school was also founded for the illiterate people of an untouchable caste. Lots of people came to Sivagiri to have a darshan of Gurudevan.
Gurudevan's prathishta in April 1912 of the goddess Sree Sarada at Sivagiri, ranks as the most remarkable among his consecration of temple deities, and occupies a distinguished place in history.
Foundation for it had been laid in 1909. The same year he composed the poem "jananee navarathna manjari".
According to the Indian concept, the goddess Saraswathy is the prime goddess of knowledge. But there are very few temples in Kerala with Saraswathy prathishta. Sivagiri Sarada Mutt was planned and designed by Gurudev who took a particular interest in it. Ordinary temples do not have windows. Gurudev called this temple, which is octagonal in shape, Sarada Mutt. Here unlike in other temples, there is no nivedyam (offering of food to the deity) or abhishekam (pouring oil, ghee and such on the idol). Devotees can worship the goddess by reciting hymns. The idol of Saraswathy seated on white lotus is the symbol of "knowledge blossoming on whiteness or purity".Gurudev performed the pratishta of the deity at Sarada Mutt on the full moon day in April 1912.
In connection with that event, grand conferences and festivals were conducted for four consecutive days. Sree Narayana Guru introduced original and novel perceptions about temples, departing from traditional ideas on the subject. He shunned tantric rituals. There is no similar temple in India.
"It is not necessary to build temples in the old style by spending a lot of money" he ordained. Further, he also advised not to spend money on festivals and fireworks.
"In temples there should be spacious rooms where people can sit comfortably and take part in discourses. There must be schools attached to all temples. There should also be amenities attached to the temples to train children in various trades. The money that comes to the temples as donation must be spent in such a way that the poor people benefit from it. It is not desirable to make ponds near temples for the worshippers to take bath. It is not possible to keep the ponds always pure. Therefore bathrooms are to be constructed with an arrangement of small pipes so that the water will fall from above the head." From these words we can clearly understand the progressive nature of Gurudev's concept of the temple.
The Sarada Consecration Committee had Dr Palpu as its president. Kumaran Asan was secretary.