Who was Poonthanam?

published on February 17, 2008

Poonthanam who as per Marxist Conspirators who never existed was born about four hundred years ago in a village called Angadippuram in Kerala. Near by is the Thirumandan Kunnu Bagavathy temple which is the family goddess of the Zamorins who ruled over a part of Kerala now called Malabar.

Poonthanam is not his name but the name of the Namboodiri family he belonged to. His name seems to have been forgotten in antiquity. At a very young age Poonthanam started visiting the temple at Guruvayoor and became a staunch devotee of Lord Guruvayurappan-the presiding deity. He got married and had a son. On the child’s first birthday when a great feast was being arranged the child fell in the boiling rice and died. From then on Poontanam became a perennial visitor of Guruvayur. Poonthanam did not know Sanskrit and so decided to express his innate feelings in chaste Malayalam. One of the greatest poets of the time was Melpattur Narayanan Bhattathippad who later wrote one of the greatest books of that era named ”Narayaneeyam” Melpattur was also a great devotee of Guruvayurappan. It is told that initially when Poontanam requested help in editing his poetic work “ Sri Krishna Karnamrutham” from Melpattur he refused saying that he never read works in Malayalam. Melpathur started suffering from rheumatism immediately and that night the Lord appeared in his dream and told how the lowly Malayalam works of Poonthanam were more dear to him than the Sanskrit works of Melpathur. There are several tales of Poontanam the great devotee and his Lord Guruvayrappan.

Poonthanam was possibly one of the greatest fore runners of Bhakthi cult in Kerala and his greatest work was Jnana Pana, Loosely it can be translated as “Pot of Knowledge”. But “pana” here is not pot but a style of folk poem. This is written in a common man’s language and in a common man’s verse. It preaches the greatness of repetition (singing) of the Holy God’s names. In between Poonthanam wrote about the world he saw and the world he wanted to see. Some people term it as the “Bhagavad Geetha of Malayalam”

Njanappana the famous devotional poem is the work of this famous poet who now is being declared ‘NEVER EXISTED’ by the Marxist conspirators.

Apart from its devotional and poetic merits, it is well known for its simple Malayalam — easy to follow even for an uneducated person. Hence it is very popular among the masses. Jnanappana or the Song of Divine Wisdom, a rare treasury of transcendental knowledge and its relevance in day-to-day life, is written in a simple, unassuming style.It is full of comments of contemporary lifestyle in the perspective of the short lived nature of life as well as its pleasures.

Poonthanam’s mission, in retrospect, was a historical necessity for the revival of the Bhakti movement in Kerala. To combat moral and social degradation and political violence consequent to Portuguese rule in Kerala, the poet laid a new emphasis on the doctrine of Bhakti as the best means of attaining salvation. Spontaneously, poetry came in handy for Poonthanam to preach and popularise the keertana form of Bhakti.

As a `Basha Kavi,’ or a vernacular poet, Poonthanam succeeded in elevating Malayalam as a popular medium of devotional literature; he deified tradition by using vernacular at a time when Sanskrit and Manipravalam were dominant in the literary horizon of Kerala. Poonthanam’s influence on the masses has been wide and profound on account of his literary skill marked by beauty of expression, simplicity of language and elegance of style.

Poonthanam could easily deliver the message of devotion in pure and simple language at the doorsteps of the uneducated masses. Besides `Jnanappana,’ the poet’s zeal for Malayalam and devotion for Lord Krishna found supreme literary expressions in other poems — `Santhana Gopalam,’ `Sri Krishna Karnamrutham,’ `Noortettu Hari,’ `Kuchela Virutham’ and a host of melodious songs in praise of Lord Krishna and other deities. Poonthanam’s life was a saga of absolute faith and total surrender to the Lord of Guruvayoor.

While Poonthanam was an inspired Malayalam poet, Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri was a profound Sanskrit scholar. Once, Bhattatiri in contempt of Malayalam, refused to edit `Sri Krishna Karnamrutham’ of Poonthanam, causing displeasure to the latter. On the same day of this incident, the paralytic disease of Bhattatiri, cured earlier by God’s grace, re-emerged in virulence. Lord Krishna, appearing before Bhattatiri in dream, declared: “To me the bhakti (devotion) of Poonthanam is far more pleasing than your vibhakti (scholarship).”

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