Kozhikode/Palakkad: Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, popularly known as Akkitham, the renowned poet of simplicity, who died on Thursday at the age of 94, was one of the legends in Malayalam literature.
Born to Akkitham Vasudevan Namboodiri and Chekkor Parvathy Antharjanam on March 18, 1926, Akkitham belonged to the Amettoor Akkithath Mana (now “devayanam”) in Kumaranalloor of Palakkad district in Kerala.
Akkitham did his schooling in Kumaranalloor High School and did his Intermediate at Zamorins Guruvayurappan college in Kozhikode.
He studied Rigveda, Sanskrit and Jyothisham and married to Sreedevi Antharjanam of Alampilli Mana in 1949.
His wife died in March 2019. The couple had two sons and four daughters. However, one son and three daughters are no more and Akkitham left behind his son and a daughter.
A well-known and popular literary figure in Malayalam, Akkitham was a poet, essayist and editor known for simplicity and humanitarian values. In honour and recognition of his valued contribution to the Malayalam poetry, he is better known as `Mahakavi’ (great poet) Akkitham.
Akkitham started his career as a Journalist by working for “Unni Nambudhiri”, a magazine by Namboodiri organization. He then worked for two other magazines, “Mangalodayam” and “Yogashemam”.
Later he joined the All India Radio (AIR) as `Script Writer’ in 1956 and worked in Kozhikode AIR station till 1975.
He then moved to AIR station in Thrissur and worked as Editor of “Vayalaum Veedum” programme and retired from service there.
Stepping into the world of literature in his 20’s, Akkitham’s literary work gained attention after he bagged the `Sanjayan’ award in 1952 for his poem, “Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam”.
His poetic work, “Balidarsanam” fetched him the ‘Kendra Sahithya Akademi’ Award in 1973. In recognition of his literary contribution to the Malayalam literature, he was awarded with the prestigious ‘Vayalar’ award in 2012.
His translation work of Srimad Bhagavatham is considered one of his valued works. This great translation work of the Sreemad Bhagavatham from Sanskrit is a voluminous work that comprises 14613 verses running into 2400 printed pages.
Known for bringing in social reforms, Akkitham was instrumental in bringing in reforms in the orthodox Namboodiri community.
Demonstrating his unwavering struggle against untouchability which dominated the upper class of Kerala, Akkitham participated in the “Palaiyam Sathyagraha” in 1947. As an active member of the Yogakshema Sabha, the veteran poet took active role in setting up Vedic Study Centres.
Among the prestigious literary awards Akkitham bagged during his 70-year long literary journey include the ‘Aasaan’ Award, the ‘Vallathol’ Award, the ‘Lalithambika Sahithya’ Award, ‘Odakkuzhal’ Award, ‘Krishnagaadi’ Award, ‘Nalapad’ Award, ‘Ezhuthacha’n Award, ‘Padmaprabha’ Award, ‘Moorthi Devi ‘Award and the highest honour of ‘Jnanpith’.
In all, Akkitham has published as many as 45 works, which include 32 collections of poems, one short story, one collection of essays, 7 translations and 4 lists of books.
The “Mahakavi” (Great Poet) of Malayalam had visited the UK, USA, Canada and France for attending literary seminars and “kavisammelanams”.
The epithet, “Mahakavi”, attached to his name is befitting in its true spirit for this literary genius.