|In emotion and content Poonthanam was on a par with Melpathur Narayana Bhattadri.|
True Devotee: The home of Poonthanam
Poonthanam’s popular poems are ‘Bhasha Karnamrutham’ ‘Kumara Haranam’ or ‘Santhanagopala Pala’ and ‘Njanappaana.’ The last song written in simple Malayalam, depicting wisdom, is his greatest work. Primarily these are devotional outputs in Malayalam creating a greater awareness of Krishna bhakti among the common people. This touching narrative has a unique devotional appeal.
Poonthanam’s life was not a bed of roses. It had its ups and downs. He married an heiress at the age of twenty and for a long time they had no children. He placed his faith in Lord Guruvayurappa and propitiated Him, and his joy knew no bounds when a son was born to him in 1586.
When the child was six months old, Poonthanam decided to celebrate his Annaprasanam – introducing the child to cooked rice. The auspicious date was fixed, friends and relatives were invited. On that special day, Poonthanam’s wife bathed the baby, dressed him with new clothes and put him to sleep on a mat tucked with a clean white sheet. It was custom among Nambudiri women to cover their body with a white cloth.
The lady who went in first to see the baby inadvertently covered the baby with her cloth. The women following her also did the same. With the result the baby died of suffocation. This tragic event triggered Poonthanam’s bhakthi quotient and he spent the rest of his long life reading the ‘Bhaghavatham’ and totally immersed in singing the glory of the Lord, in simple Malayalam.Divine presence
Poonthanam was a contemporary of Melpathur Bhattadri, author of ‘Narayaneeyam.’ In those days, Malayalam was not considered equal to Sanskrit and did not receive much acceptance in learned circles. Melpathur also held the same view. Poonthanam had submitted the draft of Njanappana to Melpathur for his comments. But the latter flatly refused and asked Poonthanam to learn Sanskrit before writing anything worthwhile
Melpathur was at that time composing the ‘Narayaneeyam’ and the day after he met Poonthanam, when he came to offer dasaka or ten slokas to the Lord, he could not utter a single word. A small boy in his teens appeared before Melpathur and pointed out mistakes after mistakes in all the slokas composed by him. Melpathur with a start realised that the boy was not an ordinary human being but a divine presence. When Melpathur fell at the feet of the boy, there was a celestial voice saying ’Poonthanam’s bhakti is more pleasing to me than Melpathur’s vibhakthi’ (means knowledge and Sanskrit grammar). Melpathur asked for Poonthanam’s pardon and mended his arrogance by reading carefully all the works of Poonthanam.
Legend also speaks of how Guruvayurappan in the guise of Mangattachan, the zamorin’s minister, came to Poonthanam’s rescue when the poet, on way to Guruvayur, was waylaid by bandits.
As he became old, Poonthanam’s activities were restricted and he spent most of his time in meditation and reading the ‘Bhagavatham.’ He is said to have been taken to the Lord’s abode in a pushpaka vimana.
The works of the great poet Poonthanam were quite exceptional, inspiring man to realise the values and principles that make his sojourn on this planet more meaningful and purposeful. Even today, ‘Krishna Krishna’ the song composed by Poonthanam is regularly sung in the early morning pujas at Nambudri homes in Kerala.