Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri – Recipient of 55th Jnanpith Award in 2019

Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, popularly called Akkitham is a Malayalam poet, writer, freedom fighter, social activist and social reformer. He is the recipient of India’s highest literary honour, the Jnanpith Award in 2019. He got this award at the age of 93. Government of India previously honoured him with Padma Shri in 2017. He is a recipient of multiple literary awards – Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry in 1971, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and Odakkuzhal Award in 1973, Aasan Prize in 1994, Lalitambika Sahitya Award in 1996, Vallathol Award in 1997, Ezhuthachan Award in 2008 and Vayalar Award in 2012. His words are so simple and lucid, which make him a common man’s poet.

He worked in AIR for three decades since mid-1950s

Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri hails from Kumaranallur of Palakkad district. He was born in 1926 at Amettikkara village into a conservative higher class family. During his childhood days he studied Sanskrit, Astrology and Music. Though he pursued his higher studies, he discontinued it and started his career as a journalist. He became the editor of Unni Namboothiri magazine, and also became a social activist in those days. He also worked with a few more publications before he joined AIR Kozhikode station in 1956 as a script writer. He was transferred to Thrissur station in 1975, and was promoted as editor, where he worked till his retirement in 1985.

Akkitham gained recognition as a writer in the early 1950s

He authored more than 43 books since 1950s. Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam – one of his early published works is widely regarded as his celebrated book. Belonging to the genre of Khandakavya, the book won the Sanjayan Award in 1952. He predominantly wrote poetry, and has also published plays, essays, literary criticism and short stories. Some of his major anthology collections in poetry include – Arangettam, Kalikkottilil, Nimisha Kshetram, Idinju Polinja Lokam, Balidarsanam etc. Upanayanam and Samaavarthanam are his published essays.

He has also done translation works, and authored children’s books too. Sree Mahabhagavatham is his translation work. He is known for promoting Vedic works, and was formerly associated with Anaadi, a literary initiative to popularize study of Vedas. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Malayalam writers in modern era.

Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. He is the 6th recipient of Jnanpith Award from Malayalam literature, following G. Shankara Kurup (winner of first Jnanpith Award in 1965), S. K. Pottekad (1980), Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (1984), M. T. Vasudevan Nair (1995) and O. N. V. Kurup (2007).

2. His poetry work – Irupathaam Noottaandinte Ithihaasam is widely regarded as the first perfect modern poetry belonging to Malayalam literature. The author is best known for this work.

3. He is the author of very popular poetry verse, “Velicham Dukhamaanunni, Thamasallo Sukhapradam”. It belongs to his masterpiece work – Irupathaam Noottaandinte Ithihaasam.

4. He came into contact with a few communists during 1948-1949 period, which influenced him to write, “Velicham Dukhamaanunni, Thamasallo Sukhapradam” and its famous verses (quoted above). But after its release, he was called a hater of communists, though he had a good relationship with EMS.

5. Akkitham Narayanan, well-known Paris-based Indian painter is his younger brother.

6. As a social activist and reformer, he closely worked with Yogakshema Sabha, which made attempts to bring reforms in the lives of Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala.

7. His poetry work – Balidarshanam received Kerala Sahitya Academy award in 1972.

8. He is a Gandhian, and has been involved in freedom struggle movement and social activism.

9. While working with Akashvani (AIR), he anchored the program, Gandhi Margam for long 18 years.


(Visited 792 times, 1 visits today)


A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *