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An Introduction to Śrīmad Nārāyaṅīyam

Chith K. Puram

Śrīmad Nārāyan.īyaṁ is probably the best condensed version of Śrīmad


Bhāgavataṁ.1 Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri has condensed 18,000 verses
in Srimad Bhagavatam to 1034 verses in Srimad Narayaneeyam. It consists
of 100 chapters and was composed as a prayer to Sri Guruvayoorappan or
Lord Krishna.
At the end of Dwapara yugam Lord Krishna told his minister and great
devotee Udhavan that it was time for Him to go to His abode. Udhavan
pleaded Him not to go. Lord Krishna gave the famous Udhavopadesam
(advice to Udhavan) and asked him to retrieve a bimbam (idol) of the Lord
that would be floating in water when Dvārka goes under water. With this
Lord Krishna left for Vaikuntam.
As was told by the Lord, Udhavan saw a bimbam floating in the sea.
He jumped into the sea and picked it up. With the help of Guru and Vāyu
he found a place and built a temple at that location. The bimbam was
consecrated appropriately in the temple. Because the location was chosen by
Guru and Vāyu it was known as Guruvāyūr.
Many devotees worship Sri Guruvayoorappan on a personal level. At the
temple, early in the morning He is worshipped as a child whereas in the
evening He is worshipped as an adult. Reading Srimad Narayaneeyam at
Guruvayoor is considered to be very auspicious and is very popular.

Melpathur Nārāyaṅa Bhattathiri


Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri was born in 1560 C.E. (Malayalam year
735) in Tirunaavaaya, Kerala which is a well-known pilgrimage center. He
was initially tutored by his father, priest, and brother in Vedas and saastras.
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Copyright
c 2010 Chith K. Puram • krsnakrpa@gmail.com

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At the age of around twenty, he married the niece of Trikkantiyur Achyutha
Pisharody who was a well-known scholar at that time. Although Melpathur
had good training in Vedas and saastras, initially he led a life of a householder
without using his talent or knowledge.
Achyutha Pisharody had come to know about Melpathur’s talent and
therefore nudged him to use his talents for the better. Melpathur realized this
and requested Achyutha Pisharody to accept him as a student. Melpathur
studied Sanskrit grammar and saastras under Pisharody’s tutelage. Both the
student and teacher became proud and fond of each other.
During that period Achyutha Pisharody was bedridden with arthritis.
The ailment was very severe and Melpathur took good care of his guru.
Doctors could not cure the ailment and it was found that this ailment was
due to the effect of karma of the previous janmams. Among other rites
prescribed was Karmavipaakam daanam. The recipient of this daanam was
to receive the ill effects of the donor. Nobody would accept the daanam
because of they were afraid of the ill effects associated with it. Melpathur
willingly received the daanam and Achyutha Pisharody was cured of arthritis.
Soon Melpathur started showing symptoms of arthritis. It became so
severe that he could not even do his daily religious rites. Finally he decided
to go to Guruvayoor and do a bhajanam to Lord Krishna. At the age of
26, on the day of Thiruvonam (day of Vaamanavataram) Melpathur with
his younger brother left for Guruvayoor. In addition to daily prayers for
bhajanam, he had decided to sing of the glory of Lord Krishna in his own
way.
Every day he composed ten slokams, which constituted a chapter. Since
he was debilitated, his brother wrote the slokams. The theme was that
of Srimad Bhagavatam in a condensed form. Initially the suffering due to
arthritis was manageable. After the first few days it was so intense that he
ended each chapter with a plea to Lord Guruvayoorappan to cure him. On
the 99th day he had completed whatever he had intended to write based on
Srimad Bhagavatam. That night, Sri Guruvayoorappan revealed His Form
to Melpathur. The next day Melpathur composed another eleven slokams
which became the 100th and final chapter beginning with the famous “Agre
pasyāmi ...”.
Melpathur completed Srimad Narayaneeyam on 28th day of Vrischikam in
Malayalam year 762 (as denoted by the kaliyuga date āyurārogyasaukhyam.)
He was completely cured of his arthritis and remained a great devotee of
Lord Guruvayoorappan till his death at the age of 86. Melpathur has written

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several Sanskrit books that have won the acclaim of scholars.

Śrīmad Nārāyaṅīyam
As mentioned earlier, all the major stories and philosophical discussions con-
tained in Srimad Bhagavatam are included in Srimad Narayaneeyam. The
stories have been presented with Bhakti and poetic beauty. Many a time,
Melpathur talks to Sri Guruvayoorappan at a personal level. He has used
sounds, words, and meters to convey the emotion that is appropriate for the
story. Some of the most popular examples of this are kaaliyamardanam and
raasakreeda.
The stories and verses are so beautiful that one can read them again and
again. It is believed that reading Srimad Narayaneeyam will cure the reader
of his/her ailments as it did for the author. His prayer (verse 3.7 of Śrīmad
Nārāyan.īyaṁ) essentially was the following.

vidhūyakleśānme kuru caran.ayugma.m dhṙtarasaṁ


bhavaks.etraprāptau karamapi ca te pūjanavidhau
bhavanmūrtyāloke nayanamaṫha te pādatulasī
parighrāṅe ghrāṅaṁ śravaṅamapi te cārucarite

The author is requesting the Lord to remove his ailments so that he may
use his legs to reach Lord’s temple and his hands to do pūja to the Lord. He
will also be able to see the Lord with his eyes, smell the tulasi that was used
to worship the Lord and his ears will hear the beautiful stories of the Lord.
Let us all pray the same!