“When I shed a drop of tear
soaked in compassion for others
a thousand universes drawn in my heart
When I spend a smile from my lips
wetted with my love for others
the gentle, ever pure moonlight fills my heart.
I knew not till date
of this divine rapturous enlightened flow
thinking again and again of this knowledge denied
shattered in mind, I weep.”
- wrote Akkitham in ‘Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam’ (Epic of the 20th Century), a poetic masterpiece that has been termed as one of the first works that heralded modernism in Malayalam poetry.
Akkitham Achuthan Namboodiri, the philosopher-poet believes in the ultimate power of love. He advocates for a universal love towards everything that exists in Nature, a sort of leitmotif that resonates all throughout his poetic creations.
Undoubtedly Malayalam’s very own poet, the nonagenarian’s well-known works were recently translated into English by bilingual writer and poet P K N Panicker and published as ‘Selected Poems of Akkitham - from God’s Own Country’.
Brought out by Authors Press, the book, while seeking to shed light on the poetic life and works of one of the greatest poets in Malayalam, is also part of an ongoing effort by the translator to ensure that “Malayalam writers, their writings, their perception of world events and the Kerala culture is accessible to the world to study and appreciate.”
This rare collection subtly serves to portray a poet whose avowed ideals and poetic musings have been misunderstood many a time. Once an active advocate of various social reforms, Akkitham was also conscious of the underlying fact that - to quote Panicker - “his vision was not born out of any political philosophy or class war, but the result of deep-rooted learnings from his childhood.” This was what spurred Akitham on to look at life and society from an altogether different perspective from that of his peers.
Maybe that is why Akkitham, while elaborating on his own poetry, once said, “Happiness is merely a process of erasing sadness. There is only one remedy for pain and sadness - and that remedy is Love.”
In one of his poems ‘Science’ rendered on an anecdotal note, we are casually thrown into the company of a seemingly superstitious gentleman who is accosted by one with an avowed scientific bent of mind, only to have the tables subtly turned on him. Originally titled ‘Sasthram’ from the 1991-released Sparsamanikal, the poem revolves around an incident in the life of the world-renowned scientist Louis Pasteur.
In his long and fruitful life, the 92-year-old has penned hundreds of poems in addition to bringing out a collection of short stories, essays and plays.
He has won many awards and titles including honours from the Kerala Sahithya Academy and the Kendra Sahithya Academy. In 2017, he was bestowed with Padma Shri.
Akkitham is one who believes in the coexistence of the physical and the metaphysical in a seamless web woven by the universe itself. Rather than attempting to arrive at a scientific backing of all that is there to comprehend, he is one who accepts the truth for what it is. Such an utter lack of scepticism is what makes it difficult for a section of readers and critics to slot him into any one particular category.
Like his close associate Jeevan Kottavattam points out, “Akkitham has lived and still lives as a true Gandhian, wearing Khadi and not being ashamed of it. He is the vanishing Indian tribe who recollects the pathos of the freedom movement of the nation. Gandhian, yes. But he is also entrenched in the culture of this country. Thus even at this ripe old age of ninety, he involves himself with the organisation of Yajnas.” A living poetical paradox indeed, far ahead of his times.
■ Kerala Sahithya Academy Award 1972
■ Odakkuzhal Award 1973
■ Kendra Sahithya
Academy Award 1973
■ Writers Co-operative
Society Award 1975
■ Ulloor Award 1994
■ Asan Award 1994
■ Lalithambika Antharjanam
■ Vallathol Award 1996
■ Krishnageethi Award 1997
■ Kerala Sahithya
Academy Awrad 1998
■ Krishnashtami Award 2000
■ Sanjayan Award 2003
■ Padmaprabha Award 2003
■ Abuddabi Malayali Award 2006.
■ Panthalam Keralavarma Raja Sahithya Award 2006
■ Jnanappana Poonthanam
Sahithya Award 2006
■ Kabeer Samman 2007
■ Balamaniyamma Award 2007
■ Ezhuthachan Award 2007
■ Samastha Kerala Sahithya
Parishath Awrad 2008
■ Vagbatananda Award 2009
■ Moorthidevi Award by
Jnana peedam 2011
■ Vayalar Award 2012
■ Naalappadan Award 2012
■ Tagore Award 2012
■ Padma Shri 2017
■ ‘Sahithya Nipuna’ with gold medal by Government Sanskrit College, Thripunithura 1973
■ ‘Sahithya Ratna’ Title with gold medal Government Sanskirit College Pattambi 1973
■ ‘Fellow at the Department of Education’ Government of India 1978-1982
■ ‘Panditha Ratnam’ by Viswa Samskritha Prathishtan Kochi 1990
■ ‘Senior Fellowship’ Kerala Sahithya Academy 2006