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Malayalam Poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri Dies at 94

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Renowned poet and last year’s Jnanpith Award winner Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri died at a private hospital in Kerala on Thursday morning. He was 94.
Hailing from Kumaranallur in Palakkad, Mahakavi Akkitham was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Thrissur for the past two days before his health deteriorated on Thursday.
Author of over 40 works including, poetry, short stories, plays, translations and essays, Namboothiri was renowned for introducing modernist poems in Malayalam literature. He was the sixth writer to bag the prestigious Jnanpith Award, the country’s highest literary honour, for Malayalam literature. He was conferred the honour at his residence in September. Apart from the Jnanpith, he is also receiver of fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Ezhuthachan Award.
Born to Amettu Akkithathu Manayil Vasudevan Namboothiri and Checkur Manaykkal Parvathy Antharjanam, the late poet did his schooling in Sanskrit, astrology and music, but dropped out from college. His wife Sreedevi Antharjanam, died on March 13, 2019. His younger brother is Akkitham Narayanan, a noted painter.
Namboothiri started to use his career as a platform for his social activities while he became the editor of Unni Namboothiri magazine. He also worked as assistant editor at Mangalodayam and Yogakshemam magazines. After serving the All India Radio (AIR) from 1956-1975 at the Kozhikode station, he was transferred to Thrissur. He was also associated with literary initiative that popularised the studies of Vedas, known as Anaadi. Namboothiri also promoted Vedic studies in Thirunavaya, Kadavallur and Thrissur.
Namboothiri’s literary work Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, a Khandakavya, won Sanjayan Award in 1952 and is one of the first truly modernist poems in Malayalam literature. His other notable literary works include poetry anthologies such as Balidarsanam (The Vision of Bali), Idinju Polinja Lokam, Arangettam, Kalikkottilil, Nimisha Kshetram, and Amritaghatika.
Featuring amidst the writings in prose are Upanayanam and Samavarttanam, two collections of essays. His translation of Srimad Bhagavatam, Sree Mahabhagavatham is composed of 14,613 verses and covers over 2,400 pages.

Akkitham had been involved in social reform activities and associated with Yogakshema Sabha, through which he has strived to bring reforms in the lives of the Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala. He is also associated with Paliyam Sathyagraha, a peaceful protest against untouchability in 1947.

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