Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri


Although volumes can be written about this devotee-poet, who will be remembered forever for his contribution of composing this great devotional work, only a very short historical background is given here for the sake of brevity.

The author, Melpathur  Narayana Bhattatiri, was an erudite scholar in Sanskrit, well-versed  in the choice of words which make the work highly rhythmic and flowing, with a very high literary value, comparable to any of the compositions of classical Sanskrit poets. 

Bhattatiri has authored many works in Sanskrit, major and minor, totalling about forty, which can be classified into different groups, viz., sastric or technical, Prabandhas or narratives, Prasastis or panegyrics and devotional hymns or Stotras.  In the first category, fall the Prakriya-sarvasva, Apaniniya-pramana and Dhatu-kavya, which are books on grammar.   Mana-meyodaya is a philosophical work on Purva-mimamsa. Among his narrative writings, the Ramayanam, Maha-bharatam and Bhagavatam written in Champu style (prose and poetry mixed) are renowned.  Some of the Prasastis devoted to some rulers (of the small principalities which comprise the present Kerala), are said to have been written much against his own wishes.

Among the devotional hymns, Srimad Narayaneeyam is the major work. The devotional fervour of this work is extremely high and  the exposition of the Vedanta philosophy, especially in the last ten chapters, has no comparison.   The ruling sentiment is Bhakti  or devotion to the Lord, which serves as the means for attaining the four Purusharthas or  values of life, viz. Dharma  (righteousness), Artha (worldly prosperity), Kama (desire for sensual enjoyments) and last, but not the least, Moksha (emancipation from worldly ties). Totally devoted to the path of devotion and mentally committed to the task of inspiring the readers over and above the immediate need of curing himself of his ailment, he took upon himself the stupendous task of epitomizing Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam describing the sportive incarnations of the Lord, ending up every chapter with a fervent appeal for help.


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