Cherusseri Namboothiri (1500 AD) is the author of Krishnagatha, which is used for daily recitation as an act of worship of Krishna during the Malayalam month Chingam (August - September) by the devout Keralites, especially women. The sonorous poetry Krishnagatha depicts the exploits of Lord Krishna. It is said that the author was inspired by a lullaby sung by a mother to put her child to sleep. He followed the same metrical pattern for his composition. It is in Krishna Gatha, that we see a diction, which is similar to that of the present day. The theme deals with the story of Lord Krishna. The sweet and tender aspects of maternal love are wonderfully portrayed in this work. This work has been respected by the people of Kerala similar to Ezhuttacchan’s Adyatma Ramayana (Ezhuttacchan is known as the father of modern Malayalam literature). Cherusseri’s importance lies in his clear inclination towards native tongue, by which his poetry became popular among the people of Kerala.
The author of ‘Krishna Gaatha’, Cherusseri Namboothiri - is well known to Keralites. It is presumed, hailing from the Namboothiri illam (residence of Namboothiri community) known as Cherusseri or Punam in Kurumbranaatu Taluk in Northern Kerala, he lived there sometime around the year 650 in Malayalam calendar. There aren’t much details recorded in history about the life of this poet. But if his ‘Krishna Gaatha’ is studied carefully we cannot ignore the fact that Cherusseri was a poet of deep aesthetic sense. More than that, few lines in the opening stanzas clarify that he was a court poet in the palace of the king Udayavarman, who then ruled the Kolaththiri Dhesam:
“ Paalaazhi maaruthan paalichchu porunna
Kolathu Nathan Udhayavarman
Aajnaye cholliyaal ajnanaayullava njaan
(When the king who rules the Kolath dhesam commands, the ignorant me pretend to be a talented one…)
Doesn’t these lines proclaim his position as the court poet? Cherusseri Namboothiri’s living period has been decided based on the historical record of King Udayavarman’s period of reign. Other than ‘Krishna Gaatha’, ‘Bhaaratha Gaatha’ is also considered to be Cherusseri’s composition. ‘Krishna Gaatha’ is written in a melodious metre known as ‘manjari’. As there are lengthy beautiful descriptions with lavish use of adjectives throughout the poetical work, the composition is quite interesting and enjoyable. Feelings of passion, devotion, humor, and warmth are all discovered in a superior level, singly in natural style and with equal measure. Based on ‘Bhaagavatha Puraana’, it is inexplicable as to how well the entire life of Krishna including his attainment of heaven is discussed with so much devotion in this composition. It was not with as much boldness in language, but with gentleness in language that Cherusseri won the heart of Keralites and became the pride of the soil of Kerala.