Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiripadu

Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri(1559-1632), third student ofAchyutha pisharadi, was a member ofMadhava of samgramagrama's Kerala school of austronomy and maths. He was a mathematical linguist (vyakarana). His most important work, Prkriya-sarvawom, sets forth an axiomatic system elaborating on the classical system of Panini. However, he is most famous for his masterpiece, Narayaneeyam, a devotional composition in praise of Guruvayoorappan[srekrishna bhagavan] that is still sung at the temple of guruvayoor.

Sri Bhattathri was a Namboothiri brahmana from Melpathur, on the north banks of Bharathapuzha river, close to a holy town called Thirunavaya, famed as the theatre of the Mamakam festival. Bhattathiri's father was Mathrudattar, a pandit himself. Bhattathiri studied from his father as a child. Learning Rig veda (adhyayanam) from Madhava, Tharka sastra (science of arguments in Sanskrit) from Damodara, Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar) from Achyutha pisharadi, he became a pandit by the age of 16. He married Achuta Pisharati's niece and settled in thrikandiyoor.

The Narayaneeyam is a devotional Sanskrit work, in the form of a poetical hymn, consisting of 1034 verses (called 'slokas' in Sanskrit). It was written by Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and gives a summary of 14,000 verses of the Bhagavatha puranam. Narayaneeyam was written during the year AD 1586.

Bhattathiri's vyakarna (sanskrit grammar) Guru, Achyuta Pisharati, was struck with paralysis. Unable to see his pain, by yogic strength and by way of gurudakrishna, Bhattathri is said to have taken the disease upon himself and relieved his guru. To relieve Narayana of this disease, ezhuthachan, a Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar hinted- "meen thottu koottuka" (start with the fish). On the face of it, the suggestion would seem offensive to an orthodox brahmin, who are strict vegetarians. However, Bhattathiri, understanding the hidden meaning, decided to present the various incarnations of Lord vishnu starting with the fish, as narrated in the Bhagavatham in a series of Dasakas (Groups of ten slokas). Upon reaching Guruvayoor, he started composing one dasaka a day in the presence of the Lord. The refrain in last sloka of every dasaka is a prayer to him to remove his ailments and sufferings. Everyday he sang 10 shlokas on sri guruvayoorappan. Each set of 10 poems ends with a prayer for early cure. In 100 days he finished his compositions. On 27 November, 1587 when he finished the last dashakam ("Ayuraarogya Sowkhyam") he was cured. The 100th canto composed on that day gives a graphic description of this form of the Lord from the head to the foot. On that day he had a vision of the Lord in the form of venugopalam. He was 27 then. He was a propounder of purvamemamsa, utharamemamsa and vyakarna.

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