I am glad to present the article “From Soka (Sorrow) to Sloka (Divine Hymn)”. It is about a poet named Poonthanam. The soka i.e. sorrow which attended him changed him to become a great devotee and by corollary a great poet composing Sloka (divine hymn).
The poet hailed from Kerala, the God’s Own Country. Outside Kerala, many people may not be aware of this great poet whose poems have inspired scores in to the realm of Bhakti towards Lord Guruvayurappan, the presiding deity of Guruvayur. In modern parlance, it is a romance of love between the Lord and his devout Bhaktha.
Guruvayur is an abode with scores of devotees experienced miracles like Poonthanam, Bhattathiri, Kruramma, Manjula, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Sengalipuram Anantharama Deekshitar etc., even an elephant (Guruvayur Kesavan) expressed bhakti towards the Lord. Such is the greatness of Guruvayur. The offering to the Lord of this temple is unique which you cannot find elsewhere and yes that is the chanting of divine Srimad Bhagavatham. If one can visit this temple and sincerely prays all their wishes will be granted and more than that they will be elevated in their devotion.
I have heard in my child hood song with the refrain
“Krishna Krishna Mukunda Janarthana Krishna Govinda Narayana Hare…” But I didn’t know that it is sung at the end of Poonthanam’s famous poem “Jnaanapaana” or “Njaanapaana” which oozes with pure bhakthi, wisdom and knowledge. I hereby thanks Sri V. Ramachandran of Mumbai who was instrumental in writing this article about Poonthanam. Myself and Ramachandran are friends since our school days and we used to visit Guruvayur often when we were in Coimbatore which are still memorable. I also take this opportunity to thank Sri Ramachandran’s parents Sri Venkataraman and Smt Lakshmi Venkataraman who are ardent devotees of Lord Guruvayurappan and who inculcates bhakti to many through Guruvayurappa Bhakta Samajam in Coimbatore.
My sincere thanks to Major Sri V. Venkat Narayanan whose continued support in doing the necessary corrections and adding the necessary rangoli work wherever required despite his pre-occupation.
I also happened to have a brief chat with Dr. U. R. Giridharan who had carried out the colossal translation of Jnaanapaana to Tamil christened aptly as “Gnaana Virutham”. Dr. Giritharan who hails from Kerala was raised in Tamilnadu and is endowed with a sublime knowledge of Sanskrit, Malayalam and Tamil. He has translated many masterpieces in Sanskrit and Malayalam in to the regional languages. You can read his translated works in the following portal which is a treasure trove.
The Jnaanapana or Njaanapana song is available in the youtube and I sincerely recommend all readers to hear the Jnaana-paana song by going through the following link or you can buy music CDs which you can get in any leading music store.
Let me not stand in the way of your enjoying Poonthanam and the legend behind his Jnaana-Paana. Happy reading and hearing ! Warm Regards AV Devan 31-3-2011 Chennai