Translation of works of Poonthanam , a leader of the Bhakthi movement of Kerala

published on February 19, 2013

In spite  of Adhi Sankara , who has  himself composed large number of
great devotional stotrams , being  born In Kerala  and in spite  of the Bhakthi movement which  was full  swing in neighboring   Thamizh Nadu  lead  by the Nayanmar’s(Shaivism)  and Azhvars (Vaishnavism) , the Bhakthi movement in Kerala started  only at the end of 15th centaury. Ofcourse Kulashekara Azhvar who wrote Mukunda Mala in Sanskrit  and several other Tamil works belonged to Kerala. This Bhakthi movement  of Kerala  was lead by four great poets viz Thunchathu Ezhuthachan, LeelaShuka called as Bilwamangalam Samiyar , Meppathur Narayana
Bhattathiri  and Poonthanam.

While Bilwamangalam and  Meppathur  preferred to write in  Sanskrit , Thunjathu Ezhuthachan  and Poonthanam preferred to write
in Malayalam. Sri Krishna Karnamrutham   of Bilwamangalam who was  one of the pioneer of Krishna Bhakthi movement  , reached the hands of the savants of Bhakthi movement of Bengal and he became popular throughout India. But the other great writers were known only inside Kerala.  It was the great savant and Harikatha exponent of Tamil Nadu  Brahmasri  Sengalipuram Anantharama Deekshithar  who popularized Narayaneeyam,  the master piece of  Meppaathur in Tamil Nadu.   The other two   did not get  the popularity that  they deserved among the devotees outside Kerala  because , Malayalam   was not understood
outside Kerala. In spite of that many people did hear    about The Adhyathma Ramayanam kili pattu of Ezhuthachan and the Jnanapana  of Poonthanam.

I have recently taken up   the translation of some of the great  works of
Poonthanam,. Poonthanam was  not his name but the name of the Nambudiri family that he  belonged.  We do not know his real name. Though he did learn Sanskrit, some how, he was more interested  in Malayalam. He used to live in a village called  Keezhathur   near Perinthalmanna of Kerala which was not very far away from Guruvayur.  He used to be a devotee of  the mother Goddess  of Perinthalmanna, who also happened to be  the Kula Deivam of the Zamorin kings.

He was not blessed  with a child  for a long time after marriage. Then a son was born to him. The child passed away  under  tragic circumstances  on its first birthday.  Being a great devotee  and a great philosopher , he  decided to go to Guruvayur. From that time onwards he became an ardent devotee of  Guruvaurppan.

It was at this time  when Meppathur Narayana Bhatathiri , a great sanskrt
scholar   and an ardent devotee  of Guruvayurappan was writing Narayaneeyam in Guruvayur. Poonthanam also started writing his  great works at that time. Most of the works of Poonthanam were in Malayalam  , few in simple Sanskrit and four of them in Tamil. Even in Malayalam  he took up for his writing  using  the Pana style which was  similar to the blank poem, with  very less  rules governing it and written using the onversational Malayalam rather  than the Malayalam of the scholars  , which was mostly Sanskrit.   Some of the  great works that he wrote were  Jnana Pana, Kuchela Vrutham Pana , Santhana Gopalam Pana, Bhasha Kasrnamrutham and Kumara Haranam Pana. Out of this Jnana Pana was  a work of
extreme devotion to Lord Krishna , with Advaitha philosophy  in simple language so that it can be understood by the common people . Bhasha Karnamrutham was prayer songs addressed to Lord Krishna.  Then he also several stotras addressed mainly addressed to Krishna, but also addressed  to Shiva   as well as Goddess Parvathi.

 There are many   stories about how Poonthanam was recognized  by
Guruvayurappan himself. It seems once when he was reading Vishnu Sahasranamam, instead of reading Amara Prabhu (the eternal lord)  , he read Mara Prabhu(Woodden Lord)  It seems Meppathur  who heard that laughed at him. It is believed that  the voice of Guruvayurappan  from inside the temple ,told Meppathur, that he would prefer to be Poonthanam’s Mara Prabhu rather than bring Meppathur’s  Amara Prabhu. 

Another story tells how Meppathur refused  to edit the manuscript of Poonthanam on Bhasha Karnamrutham, saying that  it did not
have Vibhakthi. That day night, Meppathur became very sick   and the Lord came in his dream in told him that Poonthanam’s Bhakthi was  more dear to him. There is also a story of how once Guruvayurappan saved Poonthanam  from robbers in the guise of the Minister of Zamorin. It seems Poonthanam presented  him his  ring and next , it appeared  in the sanctum sanctorum of Guruvayur temple and the priest was  ordered to return it to Poonthanam.

Poonthanam lived to the ripe old age of 92. When he became  unable to go to Guruvayurapan temple, the Lord himself came to Poonthanam’s house  and asked him to build a temple for him there. Poonthanam constructed the temple on the left side of his home and called him Vamapureswaran. It is also believed  that the Lord personally came to take Poonthanam to heaven. I am very happy to  be able to translate   the following
works of Poonthanam in to English:-


2.Bhasha  Karnamrutham

3.Anjana Sridhara Krishna

4.Ambadi Paithal

5.Hari Stotram (108 Hari )

6.Saptha Swara  Keerthanam

7.Ghana Sangham

8.Neeyathre Govinda

9.Moola Thathwam

10.Maya Varnanam (Tamil)

11.Guru Sthuthi

12.Dwadasa Nama Keerthanam

13.Dasa Avathara  Stotram

14.Vasudeva Sthuthi (Tamil)

15.AShtakshara  Keerthanam

                     When we realize that Poonthanam has to his credit more than
60 devotion drenched works, what I have attempted to translate and bring to your attention is a very small Part of his work. I request all the devotees to go through my translations  and  pass it on to  all their friends who would be interested  so that people outside Kerala come to  know about one of the great leaders  of Bhakthi movement  of Kerala, May Lord Guruvayurappan  bless you

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