There are three famous stories of Naranath Bhranthan that I oft remember and quote whenever I get a chance. The stories appear in the legendary Aithihyamaala, a collection of legends compiled by Kottarathil Sankunni. The story of the madman of Naranath comes in Parayi Pettta Panthirukulam.
Here I am only retelling the story of that madman; the way I tell.
The first story is the activity of the Bhranthan. Daily he used to roll up a gigantic rock up a hill . If he started in the morning , by noon or so he could make it to the top of the hill. Once he reaches the top without a second thought he would push the rock down. The rock would reach the bottom rolling all the way on the slopes of the hill. Meanwhile, the madman would clap his hand and enjoy the fall of the rock. The myth says that people who looked at this activity perceived it as empty and a purposeless one. Such a futile work could only be done by someone who is mentally derailed. Rightly so the man was called “Bhranthan” (Mad man) and hence his name. The message of his action could only later be decoded by the onlookers. It said of the actions of human beings which are like rolling the stone up and then pushing it down. How useless the action of humans are. Whatever the crazy mind tries is all for the downfall to reach the same old ground level, only to be repeated again in a cyclical manner again and again. The lesson from the madman reached far and wide and hence his full name. Madman of Naranath.