Poonthanam’s profound yet simple ‘Jnanappana’, which traces its origin back to the 16 century, is as dear to Malayalis as Ezhuthachan’s ‘Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu’.
Legend has it that the seer poet’s humility and unflinching devotion prompted Guruvayoorappan to prefer the poem to Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri’s ‘Narayaneeyam’.
Jnanappana, comprising 360 lines in verse form, has now been translated into English by A.R. Narayanan retaining the form, its unique pana meter and the substance of the original.
A septuagenarian management consultant, Mr. Narayanan says he has always found the poem captivating, more for its effortless expatiation of Indian philosophy, literary value and its take on human predicament.
“The greatness of the work is its perennial relevance and comments on everyday human existence. The poet has been able to capture the phenomenon of life in every detail in 360 short lines,” says Mr. Narayanan.
The translation, titled ‘Chalice of Knowledge’, was recently released by noted jurist V.R. Krishna Iyer at a function in Ernakulam.
“Malayalam has plenty of scriptures, but few have been translated into other languages. My effort is to introduce them to non-Malayali readers,” says Mr. Narayanan, who leads an active literary life at 73.
He is currently working on the translation of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and ‘Harinamakeerthanam’ into English.