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Guruvayoor
Guruvayoorappan

Dwetha Narayaneeyam
(About Narayana by Narayana)

There are many legends associated with Guruvayoor temple. Stories of Janamejaya, Vilvamangalam, Kurooramma, Panamaram, Manjula, Poonthanam etc are just few of the many colourful characters associated with these legends. None of them are as colourful as that of Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiripad. An extremely intelligent and talented Brahmin youth, initially spoilt by self esteem and materialistic ways, suffering from physical discomfiture and turning into spiritual ways following sound advice and producing a masterpiece. The second half of the story, extremely touching and artistic, was enacted in the Guruvayoor temple premises.

Bhattathiripad, though well educated by the standards of the period, was not interested in the prescribed routines of an ideal Brahmin. True to the modern trend he considered talent and knowledge to be a precious merchandise to be sold at the best available prize. Naturally he landed in the Royal courts of the princely states of Kerala. But, as the saying goes, the God had other ideas. He was afflicted by extremely painful arthritic condition at about the age of twenty seven. Therapeutic efforts failed entirely and by the time he decided to turn to the mercy of the Lord, he was a total wreck, not even able to walk without support. He reached Guruvayoor temple accompanied by his younger brother.

It was then that he had received an advice from the great Malayalam Poet, Thunchathu Ezhuthachan (considered as the "Father of Malayalam Language") to "start with fish". To the ordinary ear this might have sounded as an advice for a non-vegetarian diet, a taboo for a Brahmin. However Bhattathiripad understood it in the right sense. The suggestion was that the poet should compose a work narrating the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Fish, Turtle etc... Melpathur, who knew all Puranas so well, straight away embarked on the project, assisted by his brother. Thus happened Sreeman Narayaneeyam. It is said the deity eagerly listened to his work daily and responded with occasional comments. He even helped him once by giving a vision of the fierce sight of Narasimhavatara, as the poet could not figure out how the incident was.

The theme closely follows Sree Maha Bhagavatham. One can safely say Narayaneeyam is a concentrated essence of the famous epic. However, the poet has used his liberty quite often. Take for example, Radha. The eternal symbol of selfless love does not appear in Bhagavatham. Having read from Chilappathikkaram and Geetha Govindam, Bhattathiri must have thought her to be too good to give a miss.

The last chapter is a gem of a narration of the deity from head to foot. The legend has it that after 99 chapters Guruvayoorappan had appeared in front of the poet and he was cured of his nagging ailment. Then on the 100th day he wrote about the vision he had.

It is believed that careful reading of Narayaneeyam can cure painful conditions like Arthritis. People follow the ritual with the same faith as undergoing a physiotherapy/Yoga treatment. There is no better cure than faith for the deadliest of diseases even.

Whatever that be, it is a recorded fact that Melpathoor lived a healthy life for several decades after completing Narayaneeyam.

There has been several attempts to translate Narayaneeyam into Malayalam. Though few of them are laudable works in themselves none have succeeded in achieving two contrasting aspects. While retaining the literary beauty of the original, one cannot bring it into reasonably simple Malayalam.

Balendu has attempted a translation (in Dravida metres) only to bring out the content of the great work. Almost like melting the butter and taking only the Ghee. Hence the title "Neythiry" (Neytiri) meaning a lamp fuelled by Ghee.

Excerpts from the work can be seen as PDF document (click here)
Neythiri Website: www.bhashanarayaneyam.com (click here)

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