Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri

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Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri (Malayalam: മേല്പത്തൂർ നാരായണ ഭട്ടതിരി; 1559–1645), third student of Achyuta Pisharati, was a member of Madhava of Sangamagrama's Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics. He was a mathematical linguist (vyakarana). His most important scholarly work, Prkriya-sarvawom, sets forth an axiomatic system elaborating on the classical system of Panini. However, he is most famous for his masterpiece, Narayaneeyam, a devotional composition in praise of Guruvayoorappan (Krishna) that is still sung at Guruvayoor Temple.

Birth and education[edit]

Bhattathri was from Melpathur, on the north banks of Bharathapuzha River, close to the holy town of Thirunavaya, near Tirur, that was famed as the theatre of the Mamankam festival. Bhattathiri's father was Mathrudattan, a pandit himself. Bhattathiri studied from his father as a child. He learned the Rig Veda from Madhava, Tharka sastra (science of arguments in Sanskrit) from Damodara and Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar) from Achyuta Pisharati. He became a pandit by the age of 16. He married Achuta Pisharati's niece and settled at Thrikandiyur in Tirur.

He was one of the last mathematicians of the Sangamagrama school, which had been founded by Madhava in Kerala, South India and included among its members: Parameshvara, Neelakanta Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Achyuta Pisharati, Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Achyuta Panikkar. It flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries and the original discoveries of the school seems to have ended with Bhattathiri.

It seems that he had a younger brother named after his father.One of the manuscripts of Narayaneeyam says that it was copied by the author's yonger brother Matrdatta. The Melputtur family is now extinct and is said that it was merged into the Maravanceri Tekketattu family. [1]


The Narayaneeyam is a devotional Sanskrit work, in the form of a poetical hymn, consisting of 1036 verses (called 'slokas' in Sanskrit). It was written by Bhattathiri in 1586 AD and gives a summary of 18,000 verses of the Bhagavata Purana.

Pisharati has been affected by rheumatism. Unable to see his pain, by yogic strength and by way of Gurdakshina, Bhattathri is said to have taken the disease upon himself and relieved his guru. To relieve Narayana of this disease, Ezhuthachan, a Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar hinted- "meen thottu koottuka" (start with the fish). On the face of it, the suggestion would seem offensive to an orthodox Brahmin, who are strict vegetarians. However, Bhattathiri, understanding the hidden meaning, decided to present the various incarnations of Vishnu starting with the fish, as narrated in the Bhagavata Purana in a series of Dasakas (groups of ten slokas). Upon reaching Guruvayur, he started composing one dasaka a day in the presence of the Lord. The refrain in last sloka of every dasaka is a prayer to him to remove his ailments and sufferings. Every day, he sang 10 shlokas on Sri Guruvayoorappan. Each set of 10 poems ends with a prayer for early cure. In 100 days he finished his compositions. On 27 November 1587 when he finished the last dashakam ("Ayuraarogya Sowkhyam") he was cured. The 100th canto composed on that day gives a graphic description of this form of the Lord from the head to the foot. On that day he had a vision of the Lord in the form of Venugopalan. He was 27 then. He was a propounder of Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa and Vyakarana.

The Cakorasandesa which was earlier than Narayaneeyam also refers to rheumatic patients going to the Guruvayur temple.Worship in the Guruvayur temple is considered to be sure remedy for all diseases.[1]

Friendship with Poonthanam[edit]

While Narayana Bhattathiri was composing Narayaneeyam in Guruvayur temple, Poonthanam had also come there to worship Krishna. One day he took some of his Malayalam poem to Bhattathiri to correct them but was dismissed with the haughty remark that Poonthanam didn't know the correct meaning of words.After that god himself intervened by saying that he preferred Poonthanam's bhakthi than Bhattathiri 's scholarship.And then Narayanabatta apologized to poonthanam and they became friends.[1]


He wrote on diverse subjects including scientific ones.His works are:

  • Narayaniyam
  • Kriyakrama or Asvalayanakriyakrama
  • Prakriyasarvasva
  • Sripadasaptati (Supposed to be his last work)
  • Dhatukavya
  • Svahasudhakara
  • Matsyavatara
  • Rajasuya
  • Astamicampu (fine description of Astami festival celebrated in the month of Krithigai (Nov-Dec) in the Shiva temple at vaikkam in north Travancore.
  • Dutavakya
  • Subhadradharana
  • Pancalisvayamvara


Under the patronage of Cochin Vira Keralavarman (1601-1615 A.D) Melputtur wrote the Gosrinagaravarnana and Virakeralaprasasti.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d The contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit Literature; K.Kunjunni Raja; University of Madras 1980; pages 119 to 152
  2. ^ The contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit Literature; K.Kunjunni Raja; University of Madras 1980; page 164

See also[edit]