Kunhain Musliyar was the Birbal of Malabar. Birbal was the minister of Emperor Akbar who was known for his mastery of satire. The Musliyar received his education at Ponnani Juma’ Masjid.
He was critical of the superstitions and evils in the society and openly criticized the misdoings of the authorities. There are not much authentic records regarding his life, but his jokes remain evergreen in the hearts of people.
Although his tool was satire, it had plenty of food for thought. His jokes were full of wisdom and scholarship. He was no mere entertainer, rather a well versed scholar and an imaginative poet too.
Kunhain Musliyar is also associated with Mangattachan, the Hindu who belonged to Nair community. Many of the incidents in Musliyar’s life is associated with his Hindu friend. The two of them were the symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood.
His most famous work is the Kappa Pattu, or the Ship Song which was even translated into European languages. Surprisingly, it is a philosophical treatise on the meaning of life. The poet was inspired to write it when Zainudhin Makhdum, the Thucydides of Kerala, tired of Musliyar’s jokes, asked him whether he was trying to make a ship out of Man.
Kunhain Musliyar has also sang many poems in praise of the Holy Prophet.