The nārāyaṇīyam (pronounced naaraayaneeyam or IPA: [nɑːrɑːjəɳiːjəm]) condenses the Bhagavata Purana into 1034 verses, divided into one hundred dasakam, or cantos. The work occupies a very high place in Sanskrit literature, both because of the intense devotional fervour of the verses, and because of their extraordinary literary merit. Thenārāyanīyam is one of the most popular religious texts in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and devout Hindus often recite it together in festivals and groups.
Nārāyanīyam is the story of Lord Narayana. It is a work consisting of 1034 slokas or verses, divided into 100 dasakams or chapters, each dasakam consisting of approximately 10 slokas. It is a condensed version of Bhagavata Purana, which consists of 18,000 slokas authored by Veda Vyasa. It is said that the work has the blessings of Lord Krishna or Guruvayoorappan, the presiding Deity of Guruvayur.
Narayaneeyam narrates a series of episodes from the Bhagavata Purana, choosing the most pious of the lot. The incarnations of Vishnu are traced with piety, Bhattathiri transforms the episodes into solemn prayers, pouring out his soul in total supplication before the Lord. The final dasaka, Kesadipaada Varnanam, embodies top-to-toe picture of little Krishna in all grace and glory .
Both as a poem and as a devotional hymn, Narayaneeyam occupies a very high place in Sanskrit literature.
Narayaneeyam is the master piece of Melpathur and is the most widely read of all his works.The poet depicts the image of Lord Guruvayurappan, in exemplary terms - "Sammohanam Mohanal Kantham Kanthinidhanathopi, Madhuram Madhurya Dhuryadapi, Soundaryotharathopi Sundaratharam"
The ‘Parayana' of Narayaneeyam is believed to possess the wonderful power of healing afflictions, both mental and physical, of the devotees. The "Nithyaparayana” of Narayaneeyam will enable the devotees to attain " Ayurarogyasoukhyam”.
Narayaneeya Sapthaham ( the recitation of Narayaneeyam and explaining the meaning to the public) is conducted in Guruvayur temple by Devaswom on the Narayaneeya Dinam and by others as offerings. It is done for seven consecutive days from early morning till 6.10 pm in the evening. Narayaneeya Sapthaham has started in Guruvayur in the early 50's. It takes about 5 hours to read the slokas and about 45 hours for explaining the slokas.
The day on which Narayaneeyam was completed, 28th Vrichikam, is celebrated by the Devaswom as Narayaneeyam day. Discourses and debates on Narayaneeyam written by Melpathur take place. Special functions are held at Melpathur Illapparambu also.