12.2.7 : BHATTATTIRI
Bhattattiri (1560 ? - 1650 ?) known for his lofty devotion and erudite scholarship is the author of nArAyanIyam, a Sanskrit work containing 1036 four-line verses in different metres turning out to be a masterly epitome of the SrImad bhAgavatam containing 18000 verses. The fervour of devotion and the poetic grace demonstrated by the author throughout have contributed not a little to the popularity of the work as authentic as Vyasa’s Bhagavatam for purposes of divine merit . Born in Meppathur in Kerala, he was recognised as a prodigy in Sanskrit literature and grammar by the time he was sixteen. He is the author of forty major and minor works. nArAyanIyam is his magnum opus. The circumstances in which it came to be composed form a contributing factor to its importance as a devotional hymn. His Guru who turned him into the path of bhakti was struck by paralysis in 1587. Bhattattiri took the illness on himself and then sat before the Lord in the temple of Guruvayoor for 100 days continuously composing this great poem, about ten stanzas each day. The subject was the sports of the Lord Vishnu, with special emphasis on the descent as Lord Krishna. On the 100th day he was cured of his illness and he must have also received on that day a blissful darSan of the Lord of Guruvayoor, namely Krishna. The devotional sentiment coupled with the highest philosophy that he imports into his poem has moved millions of devotees from his time to such an extent that even in modern times there are thousands of households, especially in the southern part of the country, who would not sit for their main meal of the day until they have finished recitation of at least one chapter of this great devotional hymn.The conflict about the antithesis between the impersonal and personal facets of God would vanish if one studies nArAyanIyaM carefully and understands how Bhattattiri can extol both the facets to the skies equally strongly.
For more on Bhattattiri and for a selection of 36 shlokas from Narayaneeyam,