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Poonthanam (Malayalam: പൂന്താനം) (1547-1640AD) was a famous devotee of Guruvayurappan, who lived in Keezhattoor in (Malappuram district), Kerala, India. He was a famous devotee of Lord Krishna (Guruvayurappan). He is remembered for his masterpiece, Jnanappana which means ‘the song of wisdom’ in Malayalam. Poonthanam was the family name, his personal name is not known.

Early life:

Poonthanam was born in 1547 in the month of masi on the day of Aswini, at Keezhattoor, near Perinthalamanna in Malapuram district,into a Namboodiri Brahmin family. He married at 20, but for a long time, they had no children. He began to propitiate the Lord of Guruvayur by reciting the ‘[Santhana Gopalam]’ and a son was born. He called for a celebration and everybody known was invited, but the child died an hour before the Annaprasanam ceremony.Grief stricken, Poonthanam sought refuge at Guruvayur and started praying with the puranic story of Kumaraharanam. The heartbroken Poonthanam, it is said, was consoled by Guruvayurappan himself, who lay down on his lap, for a moment, as a child. He considered Lord Krishna as his son and achieved enlightenement. In the Jnanappana he writes: “While little Krishna is dancing in our hearts, do we need little ones of our own?”. Poonthanam spent the rest of his life reading the Bhagavatham and singing the Lord’s glories in simple Malayalam. His magnum opus, the Jnanappana, was composed during this period. His house, the Poonthanam Illam is now under the Guruvayur Devaswom.


Poonthanam preached Namasmaranam, or the constant remembrance of the Lord’s name, as the only way to reach Him. He emphasised the futility of material existence and advocated instead service to the Lord through the Nama japa, or recitation of the names of the Lord, as the path to moksha. At the end of each verse of the Jnanappana, the nama japa of ‘Krishna Krishna Mukunda Janardhana,’ stresses Poonthanam’s emphasis on nama sankeerthanam.


According to legend, Poonthanam left this world in his body in 1640. When he announced his departure for heaven, he invited anyone who wanted to to join him, which all the villagers declined. Ultimately, only a maid who had been nursing his ailing wife joined him on his heavenly journey.

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