In spite of Adhi Sankara , who has himself composed large number of great devotional stotrams , being born In Kerala and in spite of the Bhakthi movement which was full swing in neighboring Thamizh Nadu lead by the Nayanmar’s(Shaivism) and Azhvars (Vaishnavism) , the Bhakthi movement in Kerala started only at the end of 15th centaury. Ofcourse Kulashekara Azhvar who wrote Mukunda Mala in Sanskrit and several other Tamil works belonged to Kerala. This Bhakthi movement of Kerala was lead by four great poets viz Thunchathu Ezhuthachan, LeelaShuka called as Bilwamangalam Samiyar , Meppathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Poonthanam.While Bilwamangalam and Meppathur preferred to write in Sanskrit , Thunjathu Ezhuthachan and Poonthanam preferred to write in Malayalam. Sri Krishna Karnamrutham of Bilwamangalam who was one of the pioneer of Krishna Bhakthi movement , reached the hands of the savants of Bhakthi movement of Bengal and he became popular throughout India. But the other great writers were known only inside Kerala. It was the great savant and Harikatha exponent of Tamil Nadu Brahmasri Sengalipuram Anantharama Deekshithar who popularized Narayaneeyam, the master piece of Meppaathur in Tamil Nadu. The other two did not get the popularity that they deserved among the devotees outside Kerala because , Malayalam was not understood outside Kerala. In spite of that many people did hear about The Adhyathma Ramayanam kili pattu of Ezhuthachan and the Jnanapana of Poonthanam.
I have recently taken up the translation of some of the great works of Poonthanam,. Poonthanam was not his name but the name of the Nambudiri family that he belonged. We do not know his real name. Though he did learn Sanskrit, some how, he was more interested in Malayalam. He used to live in a village called Keezhathur near Perinthalmanna of Kerala which was not very far away from Guruvayur. He used to be a devotee of the mother Goddess of Perinthalmanna, who also happened to be the Kula Deivam of the Zamorin kings. He was not blessed with a child for a long time after marriage. Then a son was born to him. The child passed away under tragic circumstances on its first birthday. Being a great devotee and a great philosopher , he decided to go to Guruvayur. From that time onwards he became an ardent devotee of Guruvaurppan. It was at this time when Meppathur Narayana Bhatathiri , a great sanskrt scholar and an ardent devotee of Guruvayurappan was writing Narayaneeyam in Guruvayur. Poonthanam also started writing his great works at that time. Most of the works of Poonthanam were in Malayalam , few in simple Sanskrit and four of them in Tamil. Even in Malayalam he took up for his writing using the Pana style which was similar to the blank poem, with very less rules governing it and written using the conversational Malayalam rather than the Malayalam of the scholars , which was mostly Sanskrit. Some of the great works that he wrote were Jnana Pana, Kuchela Vrutham Pana , Santhana Gopalam Pana, Bhasha Kasrnamrutham and Kumara Haranam Pana. Out of this Jnana Pana was a work of extreme devotion to Lord Krishna , with Advaitha philosophy in simple language so that it can be understood by the common people . Bhasha Karnamrutham was prayer songs addressed to Lord Krishna. Then he also several stotras addressed mainly addressed to Krishna, but also addressed to Shiva as well as Goddess Parvathi.
There are many stories about how Poonthanam was recognized by Guruvayurappan himself. It seems once when he was reading Vishnu Sahasranamam, instead of reading Amara Prabhu (the eternal lord) , he read Mara Prabhu(Woodden Lord) It seems Meppathur who heard that laughed at him. It is believed that the voice of Guruvayurappan from inside the temple ,told Meppathur, that he would prefer to be Poonthanam’s Mara Prabhu rather than bring Meppathur’s Amara Prabhu. Another story tells how Meppathur refused to edit the manuscript of Poonthanam on Bhasha Karnamrutham, saying that it did not have Vibhakthi. That day night, Meppathur became very sick and the Lord came in his dream in told him that Poonthanam’s Bhakthi was more dear to him. There is also a story of How Once Guruvayurappan saved Poonthanam from robbers in the guise of the Minister of Zamorin. It seems Poonthanam presented him his ring and next da, it appeared in the sanctum sanctorum of Guruvayur temple and the priest was ordered to return it to Poonthanam,. Poonthanam lived to the ripe old age of 92. When he became unable to go to Guruvayurapan temple, the Lord himself came to Poonthanam’s house and asked him to build a temple for him there. Poonthanam constructed the temple on the left side of his home and called him Vamapureswaran. It is also believed that the Lord personally came to take Poonthanam to heaven. I am very happy to be able to translate the following works of Poonthanam in to English:-
2.Bhasha Karnamrutham http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2012/11/bhasha-karnamrutham-of-poonthanam.html
3.Anjana Sridhara Krishna http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/k22.htm
4.Ambadi Paithal http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/k21.htm
5.Hari Stotram (108 Hari ) http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/v108.htm
6.Saptha Swara Keerthanam http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Matangi_saptha_swara_Keerthanam
8.Neeyathre Govinda http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2013/02/poonthanams-neeyathre-govinda-malayalam.html
10.Maya Varnanam (Tamil) http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2013/02/poonthanams-maya-varnanamtamil.html
12.Dwadasa Nama Keerthanam http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2013/02/dwadasa-nama-keerthanam.html
13.Dasa Avathara Stotram http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2013/02/poonthanams-dasavathara-stotram.html