Translation of Narayaneeyam
Translated by P. R. Ramachander
Bhagawatha Purana is one of the 18 Puranas and deals with all the nine major incarnations of Vishnu as well as a few minor incarnations. This book has 12 chapters and 18,000 stanzas in these 12 chapters. Chapters one to nine of this book deal with several incarnations of Vishnu. But the tenth chapter deals exclusively with the life and greatness of Lord Krishna. Though originally written in Sanskrit, this great epic has been translated in almost all major Indian languages.
Narayaneeyam is a 1036 stanza summary of Bhagawath Purana by a great poet of Kerala called Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri who lived in between 1559-1632. The name Narayaneeyam would either mean "A book written by Narayana (the author's name)" or "A book written about Narayana the God".
Bhattathiri was born as second son in a Namboodiri family of Kerala. He mastered the Vedas as well as the art of literary composition, as per the custom of those days he married the daughter of Sri Achyutha Pisharodi and later became his devotee as well as student. When his Teacher as well as his father in law was suffering due to rheumatism, Narayana Bhattathiri prayed to God and got the disease transferred to him. This disease was very severe in his case and he suffered a lot. When he consulted Thunchathu Ezhuthachan who was a great writer and translator of Ramayanam, he advised him to write touching (starting) from the fish. Bhattathiri understood that this meant that he has to write starting from the fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He then went to Guruvayur and started writing a summary of Bhagawatha. Daily he wrote one chapter consisting of ten verses (his younger brother took it down) and planned to write one hundred chapters.
Though he did not mention any thing about his sickness and suffering in the first two chapters, the third chapter is essentially a plea by him to Lord of Guruvayur to cure him, in one verse, he says that he may not be able to continue what he was doing. From then on, in the last verse of every chapter, he made a plea to God to cure him.
The first 36 chapters dealt with various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and chapters 37-88 deals exclusively with the story of Lord Krishna. Chapters 89-99 dealt with the extolling of Vishnu as a primeval God as well as several philosophical concepts. The last chapter is a mellifluous description of the lord from head to foot. It was completed on 27-11-1587 as denoted by the last words of the great work, which also means, long life, health and happiness. People believe that when reciting the last Chapter Melpathur was able to see Lord Guruvayurappa before him and once he completed this chapter he got completely cured of his disease.
Millions of devotees in the past few centauries have benefited by the recital of Narayaneeyam and very many of them have got cured of their diseases especially those caused by Vatham (Rheumatism).
There are very many commentaries available for Narayaneeyam in Malayalam, Tamil and English. There are also few web sites devoted only to Narayaneeyam. One of them contains, the entire text, with word by word meaning: www.narayaneeyam-firststep.org
Due to its availability, as well as my belief that such great prayer books can be read in any language, I have not given the text of Narayaneeyam in my translation.
Another great translation attempt is www.bhagavadgitausa.com/NARAYANEEYAM.htm
Yet another translation is spiritualspacewarriersonline.blogspot.com/2009/05/narayaneeyam-english-translation.html
I have consulted all these translations but mainly depended on the Vanamala interpretation of Narayaneeyam in Malayalam published by Guruvayur Devaswam Board.
I am sure some of may ask, why one more attempt. I believe that the personality of the translator is deeply reflected in any translation. And so mine which is in simple free verse and not a word for word translation would be another addition whaich I am sure would help the reader understand the great work in a better way.
When I started the translation I wanted to translate twenty stanzas per day and complete the entire translation within 50 days. Things were going on all right but when I was translating the chapter 67, where Lord Krishna disappeared to put an end to the pride of the Gopis, my translation from Chapter 60-67 also disappeared for which I could not find any reason. Then I thought that it was to put an end to my puffed up pride that God did it. I started the translation again and completed my first draft on the 60th day.
With the permission of my Guruvayurappan, I would like to call this translation as"Rama Narayana translation". I am giving this name because I am Rama and am translating a work of Narayana.
May the readers pardon me if I have committed any mistake.