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Guruvayoor Temple  

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The expression “Hantha! Bhagyam Jananaam!”, comprising the last words of the opening sloka of this great work, Srimad Narayaneeyam, has become the watch-word of Guruvayoor, because devotees of Guruvayoorappan believe that Narayaneeyam, known as the “Gospel of Guruvayoor” is identical with the Lord. They consider themselves extremely fortunate and blessed even to have been able to have a Darsanam of the Lord, who is the same as Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness. One can find the above-cited words inscribed right at the entrance of the shrine.

The image of the Lord at Guruvayoor, believed to be of divine origin, is said to have been worshipped by Vasudeva and then by Lord Krishna Himself at Dwaraka. Before the divine ascent of Lord Krishna, He had instructed Uddhava, His devotee and minister, that this image would come floating when Dwaraka would be engulfed by the sea, after His departure. At his behest, Guru (Brihaspati, the Deva-guru), along with Vayu (the Wind-god), looked for a suitable spot which was located by Parasurama, and as instructed by Lord Siva, installed the same at the present location, which later came to be known as “GURU-VAYU-OOR”, meaning the place of Guru and Vayu, the sanskritised name being “GURU-PAVANA-PURAM”. As the Divine ascent was at the beginning of Kali-yuga, the temple is believed to be about 5,100 years old. As the image had its origin in Vaikuntam, the divine abode of Lord Vishnu, devotees consider this shrine as Vaikuntam on earth, or Bhooloka-Vaikuntam.

The following story stands testimony to the antiquity and divine origin of the image of the Lord at Guruvayoor.

Long time ago, in the period Swayambhuva Manvantharam, King Suthapas, along with his spouse Prisni, desirous of begetting a child, performed penance for twelve thousand divine years before the idol of Lord Vishnu, given to them by Lord Brahma. Immensely pleased by their devotion, the Lord appeared before them in the form of Lord Vishnu and asked them to seek a desired boon. Filled with great joy on seeing the comely divine form that appeared, Suthapas prayed thrice with considerable desire: "It would be good if a son equal to Thee is born". The Lord, lover of devotees that He is, stated thus: "Only I am equal to Me. Therefore, I shall Myself incarnate as your son, in order to fulfil your desire. Since you have repeated your prayer thrice, I shall be assuming the aspect of your son in three births." Saying thus, the Lord disappeared. Not long afterwards, the Lord manifested Himself under the name,"Prisnigarbha", son of Prisni and Suthapas.

It is the same couple who were born as Kasyapa and Adithi in the next birth. They also worshipped and prayed to the same idol of the Lord as in their previous birth. Thereafter, Adithi, who was very sad at the plight of their sons, the Devas, being tormented by the Asuras, observed the austerity known as "Payovratha" (details of Payovratha are given under the commentary of Sloka 2, Dasakam 30 which deals with the Vamana Incarnation) and, as a result of that, the Lord manifested Himself as their son, Vamana.

Later, the self-same couple, in their third birth, was born as Vasudeva and Devaki in the city of Mathura. Sage Dhoumya presented them with the same idol of the Lord, which was worshipped by them in the earlier births. Owing to the force of habit or "Vasana", Devaki and Vasudeva worshipped that idol again with unstinted devotion. The Lord manifested Himself as their son, in this, their third birth also. It was to remind them of the story of the two earlier births, that the Lord manifested Himself with the insignia of Lord Vishnu when He was born as their child, Sri Krishna.

After the slaying of Kamsa, the Lord Himself installed and consecrated His own idol, the very same divine idol, which, in times gone by, was given by the Lord to Brahma, by Brahma to Prisni-Suthapas, then to Adithi-Kasyapa and then to Devaki-Vasudeva. That idol became the object of worship of all, including the Lord. Later, at the time of the Ascent of the Lord, at His own behest, the idol was recovered and reinstalled at the present location at Guruvayoor by Guru (Bruhaspati or Jupiter) and Pavana (Wind-god) for worship by those born in Kali yuga! Hantha! Bhagyam Jananaam! Fortunate indeed are those born in Kali-yuga!

Srimad Narayaneeyam

SRIMAD NARAYANEEYAM is the story of Lord Narayana. It is a work consisting of 1036 slokas or verses, divided into 100 dasakams or chapters, each dasakam consisting of approximately 10 slokas. Composed by Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri, it is a condensed version of Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam, which consists of 18,000 slokas authored by Veda Vyasa (Bhagavata-artha-sangraha). It is said that the work has the blessings of Lord Krishna or Guruvayoorappan, the presiding Deity of the shrine of Guruvayoor.

As the story goes, the author, Melpathur Narayana Bhattatiri voluntarily transferred onto himself, the ailment of paralysis from his Guru and relative, Trikandiyur Achuta Pisharoti ritualistically, in order to save him. In the process, he himself became a paralytic. He then got himself carried to the shrine at Guruvayoor where he could take shelter at the feet of Lord Krishna and get divine intervention.

As he was continuing to suffer from excruciating pain due to his malady, he sought advice from the celebrated contemporary poet, Thunjath Ezhuthatchan, who suggested that Bhattatiri should “start with the fish”. Bhattatiri, being quick to understand the implication of this suggestion, viz., that he should compose a hymn in praise of Lord Guruvayoorappan giving an account of all His sportive incarnations beginning with the incarnation as fish (Matsya-avatara), he sat at the feet of the Lord and composed this great work, a dasakam a day, with ardent devotion. At the end of the hundredth day, when he had completed all the one hundred dasakams, it is said that he had a glorious vision of the Lord and he was completely cured of his ailment. Bhattatiri composed Narayaneeyam when he was twenty-seven, completing it on November 27, 1587.

This work, composed in praise of Lord Krishna, and which is said to have received divine intervention at different stages, is considered to be a short and sweet substitute for Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam and is recited by devotees all over the world as a general prayer and also as a panacea for all ailments causing impairment or loss of motor function of nerves. Innumerable devotees flock to the Guruvayoor temple and offer worship to the Lord, reciting this hymn of prayer in the firm hope, belief and trust that they would be cured of their ailments.

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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Last updated on 31-03-2007