By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Narayana Bhattatiri, NArAyaNa BhattAtiri, Naaraayana Bhattaatiri
Nārāyaṇa Bhattātiri lived in A. D. 1560-1625. There can perhaps be no better example than that of Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭātiri to prove that a chance utterance from a great soul can lift a person from the ridiculous to the sublime. Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭātiri is more well- known as the author of the immortal epic poem Nārāyanīyam. He was born at Meppattur in the Kerala State in A. D. 1560. His father was Mātidatta, an orthodox brāhmaṇa of great erudition, from a famous Nambudiri family.
During his early youth, he appeared to be more a profligate than a prodigy which he certainly was. A chance remark of re-probation from Acyuta Piśaraḍi, converted the young Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭātiri into a remorseful but earnest disciple of that great man of profound learning and wisdom. In course of time, Nārāyaṇa became a pundit in his own right. He had been appointed as the court pundit of the king Devanārāyaṇa of Ambalapura. He is said to have passed away at the ripe old-age of 106 in A. D. 1666, though some scholars do not subscribe to this view.
Formation of Nārāyaniyam
When his guru fell a victim to paralysis, Nārāyaṇa, being a devoted disciple, took upon himself that fell disease, thus freeing his master from the same. However, unable to bear the torments of that disease, he started visiting the temple of Lord Kṛṣṇa at Guruvāyur near Trichur, also in the Kerala State, by being carried to that place. For one hundred days he prayed to the Lord, spontaneously composing 10 verses each day, dealing with the daśāvatāras or ten incarnations of Lord Viṣṇu. On the last day he was totally freed from that debilitating disease. The compilation of these 10 verses formed Nārāyaniyam. A devoted recitation of his Nārāyaniyam is believed to free one from diseases and bestow good health.
Overview of Nārāyaniyam
Nārāyaniyam is in ten cantos, the total number of verses being 1036. They are in different meters.
Other Literary works by Nārāyaṇa Bhattātiri
Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭātiri was a great scholar in several fields of traditional learning. Eighteen works are attributed to him. Some of them are:
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore