Akkitham: The Tale of a Legendary Poet Who Challenged Left-Intellectualism

Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri (born 18 March 1926), popularly known as Akkitham, is a Malayalam language poet. He was born in 1926 to the couple Akkitham Vasudevan Nambudiri and Chekoor Parvathy Antharjanam. (Woman belonging to Nambudiri community is generally referred as Antharjanam) at Kumaranallur in Palakkad (Palghat) district of the southern Indian state of Kerala and lives there. His house, originally called Amettoor Akkithath Mana, is located at Kumaranelloor of Palakkad district in Kerala. He is a well known Malayalam language poet, essayist, editor and a highly decorated literary personality among contemporary Malayalam writers. Fondly known as Akkittam, his literary works began to gain wide attention in the early 1950s.

Among his works so far is a milestone poem that brought him the Sanjayan Award in 1952. Titled Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam(Epic of the 20th Century), this poetic masterpiece of Akkitham is reckoned by many in the literary filed as the one that heralded modernism in Malayalam poetry. In all, some 45 collections of his poems, plays and short stories by him have been published. Another noted and award-winning poetic work of Akkitham was Balidarsanam (Vision of Bali), which fetched him the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973. Other noted poetic works of Akkitham included Arangettam, Nimisha Kshetram, Idinju Polinja Lokam, Amritaghatika, Akkithattinte Teranjedutta Kavitakal, and Kalikkottilil. Upanayanam and Samavarttanam are his noted essay works. He also won the Vayalar Award in 2012.

But for this octogenarian poet, his translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam is his life’s most valued work. Comprising 14,613 verses, the translation runs over 2,400 printed pages.

Apart from his poetic pursuits, Akkitham also has a keen interest in bringing social reforms relevant to the time. As a member of the Yogakshema Sabha in Thrissur, Akkitham was instrumental in bringing about certain social reforms among the Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala. He also was very much active in the efforts to promote Vedic studies in association with the famous Vedic Study Centres at Thirunavaya, Kadavalloor and Thrissur. Akkitham also took efforts to achieve the proliferation of Vedic studies among non-Brahmins. A vociferous spokesperson against untouchability, Akkitham demonstrated his unwavering support by participating in the Paliyam Sathyagraha (peaceful protest) against untouchability in 1947.

He is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Aasan Prize, Vallathol Award, Lalitambika Sahitya Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Odakkuzhal Award, KrishnaGeedhi Award, Vayalar Award, Nalappad Award, Ezhuthachan Award and the Moorti Devi Award of Jnanpith Award Committee.

After his school education he had his college education also, but did not complete his degree. However he did get exposition in several other fields which include Sanskrit, Music, Astrology and even drawing and painting. Akkitham actually started his career as a journalist. It was through a small magazine called ‘Unni nambudiri’, a magazine brought out by the Nambudiri Organization working in those period. Also he worked with two other magazines, ‘Mangalodayam’ and ‘Yogakshemam’ as Assistant Editor. Later in 1956 he joined All India Radio, Kozhikkode as a script writer and continued there until 1975. Then he shifted to Thrissur to work as the Editor of the programme, ‘Vayalum Veedum’ (Paddy field and Home) in AIR Thrissur. He was having a major assignment with ‘Anaadi’, a magazine brought out for popularising Vedas and related issues.

Akkitham’s contributions to Malayalam literature are innumerable as well as remarkable. The three small Epics, ‘Irupatham noottandinte ithihasam’, ‘Desa sevika’ and ‘Balidarshanam’ have attracted the attention of almost every lovers of Malayalam literature. More than 18 collections of poems have also come out from his creativity. ‘Saagar sangeeth’ by C,R. Das has been translated into Malayalam by Akkitham in the same, ‘Sagara sangeetham’.

‘Unnikkinavukal’, Oru kula Munthiringa’ and ‘Kalikkottilil’ are three collections of poems for children. Two collections of songs and a collection of stories by name ‘Avathalangal’ have also come out in his name. ‘Upanayanam’ and ‘Samavarthanam’ are two collections of articles. He has tried his creativity in drama also and has brought out one by name ‘Ee ettatthy Nunaye Parayoo’. This drama has been in several school stages, presented by school students during their anniversary celebrations.

Some of Akkitham’s poems has been selectively included in the compilation, ‘Akkithathinte Theranjedutha Kavithakal’ (1986).

His brother Akkitham Narayanan is a world-famous painter and sculptor settled in Paris and son Akkitham Vasudevan is an eminent artist lives and works in Vadodara.

From the biography of Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri