Kerala's legendary poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri dies at 94

Kerala legendary poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri dies at 94
Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri

Palakkad: Renowned Malayalam poet and Jnanpith winner Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri passed away on Thursday morning. He was 94.

He was undergoing treatment for age related ailments at a private hospital in Thrissur for the past few days. He breathed his last around 8.10am.

Akkitham, a native of Kumaranallur in Kerala's Palakkad district, had been active in the national movement led by Mahatma Gandhi against the British-rule and was an active member of the Yogakshema Sabha. He had authored over 40 works, including poetry, short stories, plays, translations and essays.

Akkitham was conferred with the Jnanpith award, the country's highest literary honour, in September. He was the sixth writer to bag the Jnanpith Award for Malayalam literature. He had also received Padma Shri, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Ezhuthachan Award.

Akkitham's works include Irupatham Noottantinte Ithihasam, Balidarashanam and Dharma Sooryan.

The poet was instrumental in heralding modernism in Malayalam poetry.

A true Gandhian, social reformer, journalist and an iconic example of simplicity, Akkitham had been a man who wore many hats with aplomb besides his gifted literary life.

Born on March 18, 1926, in a traditional Namboothiri (Brahmin) family, Akkitham had trumpeted his arrival to Malayalam literature at the age of eight by penning his first poem.

As a child, he was interested in painting and music. He studied Vedas, English, Mathematics and Tamil.

He joined Zamorin's Guruvayurappan College, Kozhikode as an Intermediate, but dropped out due to illness. Later, he became the printer and publisher of Unni Namboothiri, a publication that was released by Thrissur Mangalodayam Press.

He later gained recognition as poet, essayist and editor in his decades-long life besides taking part in social reform and renaissance movements. Gandhian spirituality and its hallmark of humanity are the essence of Akkitham's poetry.

He had close association with literary legends T V Bhattathiripad, Uroob and Edassery, and was a member of the editorial board of Yogakshemam and Mangalodayam magazines.

He had also acted in popular plays Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku and Koottu Krishi.

Akkitham had also worked in All India Radio, from where he was retired in 1985.

He had also served as the vice-president of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi, vice-president of the Kochi Changampuzha Memorial Society, director of the Kottayam Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham, president of the Tapasya Kala-Sahithya Vedi, president of the Kadavallur Anyonya Parishad and secretary of the Ponnani Kendra Kala Samiti.

Sridevi Antarjanam was his wife. Children: Parvati, Indira, Vasudevan, Sreeja, Leela and Narayanan. Renowned painter Akkitham Narayanan is his brother.

Other main works of Akkhitham are Pandathe Melsanthi, Idinjupolinja Lokam, Manasapooja, Vennakkallinte Kandha, Manasakshiyude Pookkal, Bhagavatam (translation, three volumes), Selected Poems of Akkitham, Kalithottil, Nimisha Kshetram.

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