Nalapat Narayana Menon – The poet of tears
A great Malayalam author from 20th century, Nalapat Narayana Menon is best known works – Paavangal, a translation of Victor Hugo’s classic French novel Les Misérables, and the elegy Kannuneerthulli. A great philosophic poet and social activist, he is best known for his translation works as well. On 7th October, we celebrate his 130th birth anniversary, and it’s my humble tribute to one of the great authors who made a significant contribution to Malayalam literature in the first half of 20th century.
A brief note on Nalapat Narayana Menon’s early life
Nalapat Narayana Menon was born on October 7, 1887 in Punnayurkulam of present-day Thrissur district of Kerala. He completed his education in Kunnamkulam, Kozhikode and Thrissur town. He learnt Sanskrit and philosophy. He had a brief stint as a manager of a press. He acquainted with great poet Vallathol Narayana Menon when he was 18, and it made a great impact on his life. Since then he too started writing poems similar to triumvirate of modern Malayalam literature. Later he authored the life history of Vallathol Narayana Menon, Dayananda Saraswathy, Swami Vivekanandan and Ramanujan. His early works were related to philosophy.
Nalapat Narayana Menon as a social activist
Not only he was a very popular writer and translator, he was also known for his contributions for national renaissance that started during that period. He visited Mahatma Gandhi at two occasions when he reached Kerala for a visit, and sought his advices as well. A follower of Gandhi principles, he propagated the great messages of Charka and Khadi too. He also closely worked with Brahma Vidya Sankh and Arya Samaj.
Kannuneer Thulli – A tribute to his wife
Heartbroken with the unexpected death of his wife, he wrote a Vilapakavyam titled, Kannuneer Thulli, which is regarded as his masterpiece original work. The work is a beautiful combination of human emotions like sorrow and thoughts. He pictures personal sorrows as world agonies built on the base of truth, through this work. Kannuneer Thulli and Chakravalam have been translated to English.
He was very much inspired by the works of Tagore. He also respected the ideologies of Lord Buddha. Apart from poems, he also authored plays. He authored one book in Ottan Thullal, Daivagathi. Chakravaalam, Sulochana, Veshu Ammayude Vishari, Nalapattinte Padya Krithikal, Saapathyam, Nimitha Sashtram and Arsha Njaanam are his major works. He left this world on October 31, 1954 aged 67.
Read a few more articles on some of the stalwarts of Malayalam literature belonging to different eras. Click on the images in the gallery to read