|G. Sankara Kurup, popularly
known as 'G', was born on 3 June 1901. Nellikkappilli
Sankara Warrier was his father and Vadakkani Lakshmikutty
Amma was his mother. Both belonged to respectable
but low-income Hindu families in Nayathode village
near Kalady, in Central Kerala, the birth place
of Sri Sankaracharya, the renowned philosopher
and religious reformer. G's uncle was a good Sanskrit
scholar and astrologer. In 1931 G married Subhadra
Amma from Purathu Veedu in Thiruvanchikulam, capital
of the old Chera empire.
Losing his father at an early age, the boy Sankaran
was extremely anxious about his education. His
uncle Govinda Kurup and mother were, however,
able to give him both home and school education
in Sanskrit and Malayalam only. Subsequenly, he
passed the Malayalam Pundits' examination which
brought him a teacher's post. Later in 1926, he
passed simultaneously the Preliminary and Final
Vidwan examinations of Madras University, winning
a first class and the first rank.
By self study he mastered English, Bengali and
Hindu and so got direct access to the literature
in these languages. Tolstoy's 'What is Art?' was
an eye-opener for him. Among his poetical compositions,
some will suggest the influence of Mahakavi Vallathol,
some other of Tagore. Some will show acquaintance
with English poets like Shelley and Wordsworth,
and also with Persian poets. The writings of Tagore
and Gandhi shaped his ideas of comprehensive humanism,
and at the same time fired his spirit of nationalism.
Nevertheless, in everything that G said and wrote
his individuality was clearly evident.
His career began in 1921 as a Government School
teacher. In 1936 he entered Collegiate serviced
and retired as a Professor in 1956. Then for two
years he was Producer in the All India Radio Station,
Trivandrum. From 1958 to 1960 he was 'Sahitya
Salak' in the same station. A member of the Samasta
Kerala Sahitya Parishad, he was also editor of
its journal from 1944 to 1959.
He was its President from 1956 to 1957 and of
the Kerala Sahitya Academy from 1966 to 1957 and
of the Kerala Sahitya Academy from 1966 to 1968.
He was editor of the Kairali and was founder-editor
of the Thilakam. He was an honorary member of
the PEN and of the National Book Trust of India,
and was President of the Bharatiya Sahitya Parishad.
During all those years, poems, dreams and essays-mostly
poems-poured abundantly from his pen. There are
about forty publications to his credit. Four phases,
somewhat mixed, may be observed in the course
of his poetic evolution, namely romanticism, mysticism
or symbolism, nationalism, internationalism or
humanism. All these stages are seen in 'Odakkuzhal'
(The Flute), a collection of poems which won the
Bharatiya Gnanapeetha Award.
His interpretation of nature which is unique in
Malayalam literature, may be seen in 'Sandhya
Taram' (Twilight Star) or 'Suryakanti' (Sunflower).
Tagore's influence is seen in poems
| like 'Ente Veli' (My
Marriage) and 'Pushpa Geethi' (Song of Flower).
'Azhimukham' (Harbour Mouth), 'Rakta Bindu' (Drop
of Blood) and the like express G's intense nationalist
spirit. 'Eka Lokam' (One World) and the drama
'Irittinu Mumpa' (Before Darkness) show his international
In 'Pathikante Pattu' (Song of the Wayfarer) his
universal humanism finds expression. In 'Nimisham'
(Moment) and 'Viswa Darshan' (Vision of the Universe)
G has very felicitously interwoven the explanations
of cosmic phenomena according to ancient Indian
culture and modern science. Many poems are lyrics,
while 'Moonnaruviyum Oru Puzhayum' (Three Streams
and a River), his longest poem, is a balled, a
simple story of the poor, in one hundred and seventy-two
Besides original compositions, he has translated
into Malayalam, 'Meghadoot', 'Rubayyat' and 'Gitanjali'.
His 'Muthum Chippiyum' (Pearl and Oyster) is a
collection of essays on the Persian poets. In
the midst of all these G has given to children
also books of simple verses like 'Ilam Chundukal'
(Young Lips) and 'Katte Va Kadale Va' (Come Wind,
Come Sea). G's speeches are famous for their fluency,
substance and rich imagery, like his poetry.
Honours came to him in recognition of his talents
and achievements. The Samskrita Sadas and the
Maharaja of the erstwhile Cochin State awarded
him the titles of Sahitya Nipunan and Kavithilakan
respectively. He got the Krishna Kalyani Award
from the Kerala Writers' Co-operative Society,
and in 1963 the Sahitya Academy Award from the
President of India.
In 1965, for the first time, the Bharateeya Gnanapeetha
Prize was given to G. The President confered on
him the title of Padmabhushan and nominated him
as a member of the Rajya Sabha. The Soviet Land
Nehru Award came to him in 1967. In 1968 he was
invited to Russia by the Award Committee and the
Soviet Writers' Association and to Germany by
German writers. His poems have been translated
into other Indian languages, English and Russian.
He believes in socialism, but by evolution. His
attitude towards religious and social conventions
is Gandhian and unorthodox. But he is no atheist,
as is shown by the name Guruvayoorappan Trust
which he gave to his endowment for encouraging
young writers. He thinks that while our educational
system closed the doors on our old culture and
talents, it did not open adequately the way for
us for the new scientific and technical progress.
He has very simple habits and pleasant social
With his words and deeds he had inspired many
promising writers, and brought home to the public
the beauties of nature, the joy and pride of being
an Indian. He sang of the glory of freedom, of
the sanctity of the struggle for it. In Malayalam
poetry he experimented boldly and successfully
with new forms and gave the lead to the rising
generations. In the history of Malayalam poetry
these years will be known as the Age of G.