Teacher to Students and Father to the Language
Ezhuthachan was a great poet. A prolific writer, his best known works are the transcreation of Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Other works include Harinama Keerthanam and Irupathinalu Vritham, both believed to be composed as texts for his disciples, Kaivalyanavaneetham Kilippaattu, the transcreation of a Tamil work by Thandavaraya Swamikal of Tanjore, Devi Mahatmyam, Sri Mahab hagavatam Kilippaattu and Chintaratnam, a Vedan tic treatise in verse. It was through these works that he revolutionized the Malayalam language that in his days was a mere variant of the Dravidi an colloquial parlance. He virtually created a new language by his judicious assimilation of Sanskrit words and structural modification of syntax. The grateful people of Kerala regard him as the father of the Malayalam language. His works brought the epics within the comprehension of the common people and made people familiar not only with the stories but also the philosophical content of the Vedas and the Upanishads through dialogues between characters as well as the author's own reflections and narrations. Ezhuthachan adopted the genre of poetry known as the Kilippaattu in which the Kili (a parrot) is the narrator.
Thunchath Ezhuthachan re-wrote the two great epics "Ramayanam" and "Mahabharatham" in Malayalam. Ezhuthachan's works were no mere translations. They are creative works that retell the time honoured epic stories in a style that is entirely original. The influence of the Bhakthi movement, which had gained strength in the 16th century, is clearly visible in Ezhuthachan's Ramayanam and Mahabharatham. The 16th century saw many great poets and composers who followed the path of devotion and loving surrender to God. Thulasidas, Soordas, Kambar, Namadev and Chaithanya are some of the great examples.
His favourite method of narration had a touching simplicity that is all its own. The poet summons a singing bird, a parrot and requests it to narrate a given story. The parrot sings the whole saga chapter by chapter. The parrot becomes quiet and calls it a day when one chapter is over. The poet summons it affectionately for the next chapter. The relation between the poet and the bird is that of the master and the pet generally. But some times the pet becomes the teacher and the master becomes the pupil. It is an altogether fascinating literary partnership. This form of naration is known as Kilippatt - the song of the bird. On his return from Tamilnadu, Thunchan wrote Kaivalyanavaneethan, which is a transcreation of Thandavaraya Swamikal of Tanjore. The work is in Ezhuthachan's favourite Kilippatt style. This was followed by, "Chintharatnam" a work on Vedanta, the ultimate in Hindu philosophy. It was after these early forays into literature that he set out on the major works for which he is famous today. It is possible that he might have written some more works which have been lost.
In olden days Ezhuthachan's Ramayana was recited in various tunes which at times provided even qualification for the marriage of the young ladies. Children, while reciting it, studied how to pronounce words correctly. Even now, in the month of Karkitakom "Ezhuthachan's Ramayana" is read as a religious rite. Both laymen and scholars adored him in his time and ever after. Many of his philosophical passages are always quoted as poetry and as guidelines in life.
His three great works, "The Adhayathma Ramayanam" , "The Mahabharatham" and "The Bhagavatham" mark the climax of not only his literary venture, but also of his spiritual evolution. He had a band of disciples whom he taught under the Kanjiram (Nux Vomica) tree that you see in the campus. The leaves of this legendary tree are not bitter !.