December 2019
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Poet Akkitham bags ''Jnanpith Award'' in Literature
Kozhikode: It is a proud moment for the people of Kerala, the book lovers in particular, as Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri popularly known as Akkitham, the poet of simplicity in Malayalam literature, has been awarded with the highest honour in literature in the country, ''''Jnanpith award'''', the official declaration of which was announced in New Delhi on Friday. The 93-year old literary genius of North Kerala is known for writing from the heart. Akkitham is the sixth Malayalam poet to receive Jnanpith award, and bring the glory to Kerala after G Sabkara Kurup (1965), S K Pottekad (1980), Thakahi Sivasankara Pilla (1984), M T Vasudevan Nair (1995) and O N V Kurup (2007).

Born on March 18, 1926 in Amettikara near Kumaranalloor in Palakkad district to Amettu Akkithathu Manayil Vasudevan Namboothiri and Checkur Manaykkal Parvathy Antharjanam, Akkitham, is known for a simple and lucid style of writing in Malayalam literature. But for this Nonagenarian 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. Srimad Bhagavatam is the composition of sage Veda Vyasa on the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Akkitham is a recipient of several awards including Padma Shri, Ezhuthachan Award, the highest literary award of the Government of Kerala, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry, Odakkuzhal Award, Vallathol Award, Vayalar Award and Aasan Prize, besides many other honours. 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 the poet have been published. After schooling in Sanskrit, Astrology and Music, he did college education but did not complete his graduate degree course. He started his career as an editor of Unni Namboothiri magazine, which he used as a platform for his social activities. He also worked as an assistant editor at Mangalodayam and Yogakshemam magazines. In 1956, he joined the Kozhikode station of the All India Radio (AIR) where he served until 1975 after which he was transferred to the Thrissur station of the AIR. He was also associated with Anaadi, a literary initiative for popularising studies of Vedas.

Akkitham has been involved in social reform activities and through his association with Yogakshema Sabha, he has strived to bring in reforms in the lives of the Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala. The Poet was associated with various centres in Thirunavaya, Kadavallur and Thrissur, for the promotion of vedic studies. Apart from his poetic pursuits, Akkitham has also been associated with various social reforms and civic -oriented activities. An active member of the Yogakshema Sabha, Akkitham played a crucial role in bringing about certain social reforms among the Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala. Akkitham also took efforts to achieve the proliferation of Vedic studies among non-Brahmins.

A vociferous spokesperson against untouchability, he demonstrated his wholehearted support in the Paliyam Sathyagraha against untouchability in 1947. A literary guru for most of the literary well-knowns of Malayalam, including the Jnanpith award winner M T Vasudevan Nair, Akkitham''s literary works date back to 1950. Since then his works also brought him recognition, gradually elevating him to the status of an accomplished writer in Malayalam literature. The recent and valuable additions include the Ezhuthachan awad, the highest literary award by Kerala Government, the Padma Shri by Government of India and now the highest literary recognition of the country, the ''Jnanpith''.

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