Multifaceted scholar Prof S K Vasanthan has been selected for this year’s Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, a top literary award presented by the Kerala Government.
Vasathan had an illustrious literary and academic career. Literary critic, teacher, speaker, translator, multi-linguist, artist, sculptor, research guide, novelist, short story writer and cultural historian are among the many roles he has adorned.
Born at Edappally in Ernakulam on November 17, 1935, Vasanthan maintained close contacts with legendary poets Changampuzha, Edappally and Vyloppilly as a boy. They were his father’s friends as well. Naturally, he was also able to enjoy their works in a more dynamic fashion.
Currently living in Thrissur, Vasanthan is fondly addressed by people close to him as ‘Vasanthan Mash’. His habits have never changed over the years. Vasanthan is always seen attired in a sparkling white shirt and ‘mundu’; takes a regular walk and still engages in reading and writing.
A soft-spoken person, Vasanthan, however, is known for his sharp and clear presentation of ideas while teaching. Also a Left-leaning intellectual, Vasanthan prefers vegetarian food habits and a simple lifestyle.
Vasanthan’s favourite writers are Vyloppilly and Vallathol. ONV, Leelavathy and M K Sanu were his teachers. Justice Kurien Joseph and former minister K Babu are among his students.
After his preliminary education at various schools in Edappally and colleges in Ernakulam, Vasanthan earned post-graduation in Malayalam and English as well as a PhD on ‘Contributions of dynasties in Malayalam literature’ from Kerala University.
He prepared the reference book ‘Kerala Samskara Charitra Nikhandu’, for the Kerala Bhasha Institute, which is still a major source of knowledge for students and teachers. A dictionary of Kerala's literary history, the book is unique for its presentation of meanings as well as explanations of various terms. This work earned Vasanthan the K Damodaran Award. Vasanthan also won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2007 for his contributions to literary knowledge.
On the academic side, Vasanthan was a faculty at Sree Sankara College and Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University for 36 years. He was also an assistant editor at Kerala Bhasha Institute for a year. Vasanthan was a research guide at Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Sankara Universities; a board member of various universities; general council member of Sahitya Akademi and a member of the editorial board of Writers’ Directory of Sahitya Akademi.
Other posts occupied by Vasanthan include president of the Vyloppilly Smaraka Samithy and publication officer of Vallathol Vidyapeeth.
Major works by Vasanthan include a translation of ‘Jean Christophe’ written by Romaine Rolland based on Beethoven’s life; ‘Appan Thampuran – Oru Padhanam’; ‘Padinjaran Kavyamimamsa Malayalikalku’; ‘Nalappattu’; 'Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishathinte Charithram’; ‘Nammal Nadanna Vazhikal’; ‘Kavyanuseelanam’; ‘Praasavadam’; ‘Cherussery Pranamam’; ‘Pazhaya Then’ (collection); Arakkillam (novel) and ‘Ente Gramam Ente Janatha’ (novel).
Vasanthan had earlier won awards such as the C P Menon Award; Akasavani Award; Sahithya Akademi Puraskaram in Thunchan Memorial essay competition; Chintha Award; Kerala History Association Award; K Damodaran Award; Sahitya Akademi Vygnanika Sahitya Award and Sahitya Akademi Award for overall contributions (2013).