Today i would like to introduce Mahakavi P. Kunhiraman nair to you. A famous poet in kerala, who has received national awards for his literary excellance. If you want to see the beauty of Malayalam, If you want to know what Kerala is , what its culture and Tradition is, you need to turn your eyes to this person…
When keralites started forgetting their culture and imitating the west, this man with no fear told:
“Chenthenginte chuvattilirunnu naam soda kadam vaangunnu” – we are borrowing soda sitting under coconut trees….
“Vedippokayozhiyunna naal Hitler alla Gandhijiyaan sathyam enna padham europe padhikkum” – when the gun fire ceases, Europe will have to learn that Gandhiji is the truth and not Hitler.
Kunhiraman nair, born in kanjangad had a unique address :
“P.Kunhiraman Nair, Keralam”. He used to get mails wherever he is, with just this address. This proves how much he was unified with the state.
In modern times, if you want to know how a poet should be, his life stands as a great inspiration. Kunhiraman nair never took ownership of anything. He was a wanderer, with his life mostly spent in the banks of River Nila(bharathappuzha). It was a journey in search of the Nithya kanyaka -Kavitha(Ever-Virgin Poetry) in his own words. He wandered thoughout kerala with his pocket full of toffies and dry fruits. He used to give them to street children and in turn would ask them to bless him………..:)
He used to drink beedi upside down, with its thicker end in mouth…..(resembling the nature of world) and his old Jubba(kurta) had a thousand eyes – in his own words – by the sparks of beedi.
Poetry was at his command always. In his biographies (three of them – “Kaviyude kaalpadukal” –footprints of a poet, “Enne Thirayunna Njan” – Me in self enquiry, “Nithyakanyakaye Thedi” –In search of Ever-Virgin), he poetically depicts instances when he had to create extempore poems. One such incident is when Swami Chinmayananda visited Kollengode. He was asked to present “MangalaPatram”. He had no choice but to recite a slokam at once. Swamiji appreciated him calling him “Kavi Maharaj”.
He was a true lover of nature. In his poem and prose, romantic symbolism is in its peak. Let me take just one example from Soundaryapooja – “Worship of beauty :
“Yuvaavaay Vruddha gaganam
Samudram ponchilambitt thullum
- The old sky became young, and the earth became kanyakumari (Little girl).
And the ocean became a naughty boy playing wearing golden ornaments”
Many of his lines cannot be translated because it is so much related to the individuality of kerala, its festives, food, art forms, local dialects, etc etc…
This doesn’t mean that he was a regionalist. He had a great vision on India too. He says “ Infact India and Kerala are not two, Ganga and Nila are not different, Sivaji and Pazhassiraja are the same”. He was a true nationalist. During Indo-China War he painfully wrote:
“Tharikkilla Manam thellum
Marikkum njan ninakkayi
- My mind wouldn’t shiver, Nor will it faint in the warfront.
I will die for you oh goddess of Blissful Ideal//
In personal front some take him as a failure. He had 3 marriages, which accidently came in his path. He didn’t go behind it. Neither he stayed in any of these places for long. He was like wind, not stopping anywhere.
He was awarded national sahitya academy award. After the ceremony, when we went to receive the cheque, he had to put his signature. Official present there, refused to give the cheque, as his signature was in Malayalam. P. became furious and threw the cheque back at the official saying “ I have come till here because of this language, and if you cannot accept that, I don’t want your money..”
Only after the official agreed for his will, did he receive the money.
His life and work Inspires generations. All the modern problems we face today came in his poetry long back. He was against profit oriented mechanization. He warned repetedly on pollution and other various issues. But we didn’t hear it at all.
But now, when a generation is growing up who are facing an identity crisis, they and forthcoming generations will have to start the pilgrimage to their culture from the memories of P. Kunhiraman Nair.
P. still cries loudly for us:
“Aaruvaan vilikkunnithenno njan ellam nedi aatmaavu nashtappettorabhayaarthiyaam marthyan” – “Who is calling? Me, the immigrant human, who earned everything but lost his Soul”.