Widely regarded as a harbinger of new line of thought after the towering literary legacy of the triumvirate poets, G. Sankara Kurup with his large volume of work, phenomenal ideas and inimitable style has left an indelible imprint on Malayalam literature. G. Sankara Kurup entered into the arena of literature at a time when literature was flaring up with romanticism and Marxian ideology.
Known throughout his life as ‘G’, the great poet was born on June 3, 1901 at Nayathodu near Kalady, as the son of Nellikkappilli Varieth Shankara Warrier and Vadakkini Veetl Lakshmikuttyamma. When the poet was five years old, his father passed away and it was his mother’s resilience and hard work that helped tide over the crisis.
G was raised under the strict discipline of his uncle Govinda Kurup, a Sanskrit Pandit as well as an astrologer, who forbade the poet from playing games or making friends. The loneliness thus induced helped the poet forge an irrevocable bond with nature and that has significantly influenced and moulded the poet. It is this influence which is reflected immensely in his works and earned him the name as a mystic poet. G was taken into the world of knowledge by this uncle who taught him lessons from Sanskrit and also verses from Raghuvamsha.
G completed his schooling till fourth standard from a primary school in Nayanthode village and continued his studies till seventh standard from a school at Perumbavoor. In those times, completing seventh standard qualified one to teach in primary classes. However G joined a school in Muvattupuzha to prepare for Vernacular Higher Exam. After successfully passing the Vernacular Higher Exam, he prepared for the Malayalam Pandits’ examination and passed it in flying colours. However his thirst for knowledge never subsided and he passed the Vidwan examination as well.
He started his official career as soon as he passed the Vernacular Higher Exam. G was just 16 when he joined as the head master of Kottamathu Convent School and in the later years he served in many schools. He served as the Malayalam Pandit at Thiruvilluamala High School in 1921. In 1927 he served as a teacher at Thrissur training school and then in 1931 he served as a lecturer at Ernakulam Maharajas College and later retired as a professor in 1956.
G’s first anthology ‘Sahitya Kouthukam’ was published in the year 1923 which includes his poems from 1917 to 1922. The second part of this collection was published in 1925, the third in 1927, while the fourth was published in 1930. One of his works titled ‘Suryakanthi’ published in 1946 with a preface by famous playwright Kainikkara Kumara Pillai is widely regarded as a noted work. ‘Poojapushpam’, ‘Nimisham’, ‘Navathidhi’, ‘Ithalukal’, ‘Pathikante Paattu’, ‘Muthukal’, ‘Anthardaham’, ‘Chenkathirukal’, ‘Odakkuzhal’, ‘Vishwadarshanam’, ‘Madhuram Soumyam Deeptham’, and ‘Sandhya Ragam’ figure among the important works of the poet.
Of these, Odakkuzhal earned him the renowned Jnanpith award in 1965 and was translated and published in Hindi as ‘Bansuri’. Kendra Sahitya Academy has published G’s important works in English under the title “Selected Poems”. Many of his poems have been translated to Russian as well.
One of G’s works titled ‘Meghachaya’ is a translation of the Sanskrit poem ‘Meghasandesham’ of Kalidas while ‘Vilasalahari’ is a translation of the Persian poem Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám. He has also translated the collection of poems ‘Gitanjali’ by renowned poet Rabindhranath Tagore into Malayalam.
Gadhyopaharam, Lekhanamala, Rakkuyilukal are some of the major articles penned by G. He has also contributed immensely in the field of children’s literature. He also served as an editor of a journal of Sahitya Parishad and the later years also saw him publish a periodical titled ‘Thilakam’. ‘Anthivenmukil’, which was published in the magazine Manorajyam was the last poem penned by G.
On February 2, 1978, the litterateur who ushered in a new era and made unsurpassable contribution to Malayalam literature breathed his last.