"UNNI KRISHNAN Manasil Kalikkumbol Unnikkal Matru Venamo Makkalai? ... " ("When the divine child Krishna dances in my heart, Is there any need to have other (human) children?")
So rings a vibrant verse of Krishna-consciousness, a song of grace, born out of a blissful state of oneness and union with the Supreme. "Jnanappana" (Song of Wisdom), a devotional poem in Malayalam comprising the foregoing lines, was composed by poet Poonthanam. He wrote this soulful poem after a transforming spiritual experience following the tragic death of his child. The irony is that the father in Poonthanam lost a child and the poet devotee in him rediscovered divine child Krishna (Unnikrishnan), to be idolised by succeeding generations of devotees.
Poet Poonthanam (1547-1640), a Namboothiri Brahmin was born near Perinthalmanna in the present Malappuram district of Kerala. A contemporary of Meppathur Narayana Bhattatiri, the celebrated author of `Narayaneeyam,' Poonthanam was a great devotee and a recipient of the grace of Lord Guruvayoorappan.
Legend goes, though Poonthanam and Melpathur were great devotees of Lord Guruvayurappan, Poonthanam, a great poet, who wrote his verses in the vernacular, was famous for his bhakthi where as Melpathur, an erudite scholar and great poet in Sanskrit was known for his vibhakthi. The Lord was partial towards Poonthanam than Melpathur. Melpathur used to laugh at Poonthanam's Sanskrit reading and recitation. One day Poonthanam was wrongly reciting "Padmanabho Maraprabhu",which means Lord of trees in Malayalam. Melpathur openly laughed at Poonthanam and corrected saying, Padmanabha is not Maraprabhu (Lord of trees) but Amaraprabhu (which means Lord of immortals in Sanskrit). Immediately, there was an asareeri (celestial voice) from the inner shrine, "I am also Maraprabhu" (Lord of trees).
According to another legend, Bhattathiri had presented Poonthanam a ring that Poonthanam always wore. Poonthanam used to go through a forest to Guruvayoor to have the darshan of the Lord. One day he got delayed when he started. As a result of starting late, it was twilight and he was still walking in the forest. Three robbers waylaid him. The robbers started searching him. Poonthanam was very scared and prayed to his Lord. Suddenly there was sound of horses. Hearing the noise the robbers ran away. The minister of Guruvayoor was coming accompanied by his soldiers. Poonthanam thanked the minister for his timely help and begged him to accept a gift as a token of gratitude. The minister asked for the ring that Poonthanam was wearing. Though Poonthanam knew that it was given to him as a token of affection by Bhattathiri, he decided that he should give him the ring. Accordingly he removed the ring and gave it to the minister. The minister went away and Poonthanam reached Gururvaayoor safely. That night, the temple priest had a dream. The Lord appeared in the dream and told him to remove the ring in his foot and return it to Poonthanam as it was his. The next day, Poonthanam came into the temple after his bath. The temple priest promptly brought him the ring that he had found on the Lord's feet and returned it conveying his dream. Poonthanam was speechless! Only now, did he realised who had come as the Guruvaayoor minister.