Guruvayur Saints

The most famous among the Guruvayur saints was Melpathur. He was born in Melpathur illam near Tirunavaya, famed as the theatre of the Mamankam festival. He was married to Achuta Pisharodi's niece and settled in Thrikandiyur.

Bhattathiri was affected with rheumatism and searched for a remedy. Ezhuthachan, a well known Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar told him - "meen thottu koottuka" (start with fish). Bhattathiri took it in the proper sense decided to present the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu starting with the fish, as narrated in the Bhagavatham in a series of Dasakas ( Groups of ten slokas) . He reached Guruvayur and 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 the ailments and sufferings. He composed his work in one hundred dasakas on the Kali day. This work is known as Narayaneeyam after which he recovered fully and regained happiness.

Narayaneeyam is in praise of Lord Narayana (Vishnu) on the equation between NARA and NARAYANA. Narayaneeyam is a summary of the Bhagavatha and its parayana (reading) confers great benefits; it is an effective faith therapy. It makes one God-conscious , it concerns mainly about our present life - Aarogyam (health and freedom from diseases) and saukhyam (happiness).

To Guruvayur also, Narayaneeyam is of utmost importance. No work of this magnitude has ever been dedicated and addressed to the deity of any other temple in India. It offers to the devout devotee an opportunity to visualise and worship Mahavishnu by reading it or listening to its rendition. It will shine and conjure up at Guruvayur in the heart of posterity. The Devaswom celebrates the Narayaneeyam Day every year with great enthusiasm and splendor.

Poonthanam and Melpathur were contemporaries. Poonthanam was the family name, his personal name is not known. He married a heiress at 20, but for a long time , they had no children. Poonthanam began to propitiate the Lord of Guruvayur. A son was born to him in 1586. He called for a celebration and everybody known was invited , but the child died an hour before the ceremony. Grief-stricken Poonthanam sought refuge at Guruvayur and started praying with the puranic story of Kumaraharanam . By this time Melpathur had also come to Guruvayur to cure his rheumatism.

Gradually Poonthanam become enlightened and realised - while little Krishna is dancing in our hearts, why do we need little ones of our own?. Poonthanam spent the rest of his life of 90 odd years reading the Bhagavatham and singing the Lord's glories in simple Malayalam. He composed 'Bahsakarnamritham', a devotional work. The Anandakarnamritham (dance of ecstasy) was his last contribution to devotional literature

Villwamangalam II was Prince Manavedan's spiritual mentor. Villwamangalam is the name of the illam in which the saint was born. He settled in Parur near Aluva. Like his ancestor, he also joined the order of the Thekkemadam at Thrissur. He was also a peripatetic religious traveler and had also the miraculous gift of seeing the Lord in person as distinguished from the idol. There is hardly no temple in Kerala that has not coined some story associating with his name. Almost every one of them reflects his divine insight and special equations with the presiding deity.

He spotted Lord at many places like in Vadakkunnathan's temple in Thrissur, Vaikom during the Ashtami festival. Ettumanoor temple was built to mark the sighting of Shiva. He sighted seven Bhagavathis near Cherthala and installed them in separate shrines of their own. Tiruvarpu Krishna temple has the story of his finding an the idol from muddy backwaters. He saw the image of Ananthasayi in the jungle near Trivandrum and as directed by him, the Raja of Travancore built a shrine to house it. This shrine is today known as Shri Padmanabha Temple. He stayed at Ambalapuzha and chief Brahmin become his disciple. At last he arrived at Guruvayur where prince Manavedan become his disciple

Kururamma was born in 1570 in the village of Parur, near the house of Villwamangalam. Her maiden name was Dhatri . By marriage she became Kururamma, the senior-most lady of the Kurur illam in the village of Adatthu near Trichur. She was a childless widow and settled in Guruvayur as a devotee. Thanks to Poonthanam, she adopted Unnikrishna of Guruvayur as her son. She lived with him, fondling him, playing with him, chiding him when he became naughty and weeping at his childish freaks. The song of "Kani kanum neram" is generally attributed to her.

Kururamma completed the mission of devotion by asserting the right of women, on her own, to spiritual evolution and eventual salvation by chanting the holy name.

Prince Manavedan of Calicut was born in 1595 and had early education in Sanskrit. He wrote Purvabharatha Champu in 1643.

He might have been familiar with Melpathur and Poonthanam during his time. Later he became the disciple of Villwamangalam II. With his devotion to Lord and guidance of Villwamangalam, he saw the Lord as Unnikrishna , standing under the Elajhi tree on the way from the Palace to the temple. The present Koothambalam is located at this spot. The Prince wrote a series of eight dramas for Krishnanattam . The Krishnanattam began to be staged in the temple regularly as an offering to the Lord.

Further, the Zamorins' subjects and friends of other Principalities vied with each other to invite the troupe to their place as a mark of devotion to the Lord. Thus the dance-drama, Krishnanattam , became yet another medium to spread the fame of Guruvayur all over Kerala. There is a memorial built for Manavedan in the Panchajanyam Guest house compound

Kunjhikkavu was known as Raman in his childhood. He learnt Puranas through his mother's daily parayana (recitation ) of Ezhuthachan's works and learnt Sanskrit on his own . He formerly began his puranavayana in his illam and slowly become famous as a philanthropist and mystic. He possibly followed the Chaithanya cult. Very often he forgot this real world, he looked at every women he met as a Gopi of Vrindavanam. He started circumambulating and prostrating before animals. He used to take whatever he wanted from Sreekovil. Kunjhikkavu was more famous for his puranavayana. The particular place in Guruvayur temple where he used to sit for puranavayana is still known as Kunjhikkavu's corner.