People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 05

January 29, 2012

Sukumar Azhikode Passes Away


EMINENT Gandhian writer and orator, Sukumar Azhikode, who was a former chairman of the National Book Trust (NBT), passed away in a private hospital in Thrissur on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 morning after prolonged illness. He was 85 and suffering from liver cancer. He was shifted to the hospital on December 9 from another hospital where he had been admitted on December 7 following a fall in the sodium level in his blood.


He was cremated in Payyambalam in Kannur the next day.


Azhikode was a major presence in the cultural world of Kerala for the last six decades and flamboyant orator. In 1984, he was awarded the Sahitya Academy Puraskar for his most well known work Tatvamasi. He also served as pro-vice chancellor of the University of Calicut.


The oratory skill of Azhikode was praised by eminent Malayalam novelist and Jnanpith award winner late Vaikom Muhammed Basheer as the “roar of the ocean.” He was zealous about all aspects of life, literature, philosophy, politics, governance and civic responsibility. He was a studious teacher and was well versed in the Vedas and Upanishads.


Tathvamasi has won 12 awards including the Indian Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahithya Akademi Award, Vayalar Award and the Rajaji Award. In January 2007, he refused to accept the Padma Shri conferred on him, stating that such honours were against the constitution.


Azhikode was the founder and president of Navabharathavedi, a socio-cultural organisation. He also worked in several newspapers including Varthamanam, Dinabandhu, Malayala Harijan, Desamitram, Navayugam and Dinaprabha.  His major works include Aasante Seetakavyam, Ramananum Malayalakavitayum, Mahatmavinte Margam, Purogamanasahityavum Mattum, Malayala Sahityavimarsanam, Vayanayute Swargathil, Malayala Sahitya Patanangal, Tatvavum Manushyanum, Khandanavum Mandanavum, Entinu Bharatadare, Azhikodinte Prabhashanangal, Azhikodinte Phalitangal, Guruvinte Dukham, Aakasam Nashtapetunna India, Pathakal Kazhchakal and Mahakavi Ulloor.


Born at Azhikode in Kannur, Sukumar Azhikode graduated in Commerce in 1946. He then completed a course in training, a post-graduate course in Malayalam and Sanskrit, and won a doctoral degree in Malayalam.


He was influenced by Guru Vagbhadananda, a leader of the renaissance in Northern Kerala. As staunch Congressman from the very beginning of his career, he went to Wardha and met Gandhiji. Later he contested an election for the Talasseri Lok Sabha constituency against Jnanpith winning writer S K Pottekkatt. At that time a strong anti-communist, he joined the protest against the first EMS government. However, in the latter half of his life, he came very close to the Left parties and especially the CPI(M). Once he even remarked that he would like to die a Congressman, but that the Congress would itself die before him. He fearlessly fought against all evils in the field of culture and staunchly worked against the communal and fascist forces.


Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy described his death as a big loss to culture. CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said in a statement that this was the loss of a fighter who fearlessly stood against all injustice in the country. According to opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, the demise of Azhikode has created a big gap in the cultural field, while defence minister A K Antony described Azhikode as a corrective force.