Thirunalloor Karunakaran

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Thirunalloor Karunakaran
Thirunalloor Karunakaran
Thirunalloor Karunakaran
Born (1924-10-08)8 October 1924
Kollam, Kerala, India
Died 5 July 2006(2006-07-05) (aged 81)
Kollam, Kerala, India
Occupation Poet
Nationality  India

Thirunalloor Karunakaran (8 October 1924 – 5 July 2006) was a renowned poet, scholar, teacher and leftist intellectual of Kerala, India.[1][2][3][4][5]


Early life[edit]

Thirunalloor (variously spelt in English as Thirunelloor, Thirunellur and Thirunallur) Karunakaran – 'Thirunalloor', his family name, and 'Karunakaran', his given name – was born in the village of Perinad in Kollam (Quilon) district in Kerala to P.K.Padmanabhan and N.Lakshmy. He started learning Sanskrit in the traditional way before joining primary school and was associated with the working class political movement early in his life.He published his first book-the Malayalam translation of a poem by Oliver Goldsmith- while in school. During student days he wrote several poems, lyrics and articles in periodicals and made his mark during the Pink Decade in Malayalam poetry.By the time of his joining college his close contacts with Communist leaders like R.Sugathan and M. N. Govindan Nair had made him a staunch sympathiser of the Communist party.[6]


After taking his BA degree in History from S N College, Kollam, he worked as a tutor there for a brief stint. Soon he joined University college Trivandrum for post graduate studies in Malayalam where he did some advanced study of Kerala history under Prof. Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, famous historian and scholar who was a major influence in his intellectual life. After taking his MA in Malayalam he joined the government service as college lecturer and taught at Government Arts College and University College. He served as a member of the Kerala Public Service Commission for 6 years. Later he worked as the editor of Janayugam, a weekly cultural magazine of the Communist Party of India. In 1973 he visited the Soviet Union as a member of the delegation of Indian writers who participated in the Afro-Asian Writers Conference held in Kazakhstan.[6]

Awards conferred on him include Asan Award (1984), Vayalar Award (1988), Muloor Award (1992), Abudabi Shakthi Award, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award for lifetime contribution (2000) etc.[6]

Final years[edit]

Though he lived in the city of Trivandrum for more than three decades he chose to spend the rest of his life in his native village Perinad on the banks of the scenic Ashtamudi lake which had been a constant source of inspiration for his poetry.

He died on 5 July 2006 at his residence in Quilon. He was buried without any customary religious rites or ceremonies, as he had wished.[7] During his last years he was engaged in writing a long poem titled 'Seetha' (Sita) reinterpretting the Ramayana legend.

A three-day-long cultural festival called 'Thirunalloor Kavyolsavam' is held every year from 1 May (International Workers' Day) on the banks of the Ashtamudi lake in Quilon to perpetuate his memory.[8][9]

Painting based on the poem "Rani" by Thirunalloor Karunakaran. Artist:Chirayinkeezhu Sreekantan Nair

Writings and philosophy[edit]

Having studied Marxism and Indian philosophy in depth he formed a unique vision of his own combining the best aspects of both and this vision is the central illuminating force of all his poems. In many of his poems he depicts the physical and spiritual experience of collective human labour as a creative process of self-assertion and self emancipation of mankind. Tharisu nilangalilekku (To the barren fields), Parayudappukar(The Granite crushers), Adyathe Theevandi (The First Train)Kayamkulam Kayal(Kayamkulam Lake) bear the stamp of this vision.[10][11]

The Ashtamudi lake and the life on its shores was a key source of inspiration for his writings and his poetry abounds with varied themes, characters and imagery taken from this rich repository. He wrote, with equal ease, short lyrics dealing with soft transitory feelings and moods as well as long narrative poems having diverse characters and complex social situations.[12][13][14]

Several of his works, like lyrics written for various media and artforms like 'Kadhaprasangam' and stageplays, as well as marching songs, articles and writings in Sanskrit, are yet to be compiled. This includes the Sanskrit translation of Kumaran Asan's Chandala Bhikshuki and studies in Indian aesthetics.[13][15]

Thirunalloor was an atheist, who believed that the Indian philosophy is essentially materialistic and areligious and he strongly called for a critical evaluation of the Bhagavad Gita and the philosophy of Shankaracharya (Adi Shankara) to expose their darker sides. He said that Shankaracharya was a supporter of the caste system and the Bhagavad Gita was an open sanction for violence.[16]



  • Samagamam (Long poem)
  • Manjuthullikal (Collection of poems)
  • Premam Madhuramanu Dheeravumanu (Long narrative poem)
  • Soundaryathinte padayalkal (Collection of poems)
  • Rani (Long narrative poem)
  • Rathri (Long narrative poem)
  • Anthi Mayangumbol (Collection of lyrics)
  • Tashkent (Long narrative poem)
  • Thirunalloor Karunakarante Kavithakal (Collection of poems)
  • Vayalar (Long narrative poem)
  • Greeshma sandhyakal (Collection of poems)
  • Puthumazha (Collection of poems for children)
  • Meghasandesam (Translation of Meghaduta by Kalidasa )
  • Omarghayyaminte Gadhakal (Translation of Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam )
  • Gypsikal (Translation of Gypsiesby Alexander Pushkin)
  • AbhijnanaShakunthalam(Translation of Abhijnanasakuntalam by Kalidasa )


  • Malayalabhashaparinamam Sidhanthangalum Vasthuthakalum (A study on the origin and evolution of Malayalam language )
  • Oru Mahayudhathinte Paryavasanam ( The Mahabharata retold through an independent angle)
  • Praacheena Bharathathile Bhouthikavaadam (Translation of In Defence of Materialism in Ancient India by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya)
  • Anusmaranangal (Collection of articles)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ A History of Indian Literature, 1911–1956, Sisir Kumar Das
  2. ^ Kairaliyude Kadha, N. Krishna Pillai, SPCS, Kottayam
  3. ^ Malayala Kavithasahithya Charithram; M. Leelavathy, Kerala Sahithya Akademy, Trichur
  4. ^ Sahithya Varaphalam: M. Krishnan Nair.
  5. ^ Mathrubhumi Daily(Editorial, 7 July 2006) ;Calicut
  6. ^ a b c Obituary reports on Thirunalloor Karunakaran published in various news papers on 6 July 2006
  7. ^ -Thirunellur laid to rest
  8. ^ The 2008 and 2009 issues of Abhivaadanam the festival bulletin of Thirunalloor Kavyolsavam
  9. ^ -Thirunalloor Kavyolsavam from today
  10. ^ Grandhalokam Monthly;(April 2002)Kerala State Library council;Trivandrum
  11. ^ Kerala Kaumudi Daily(Editorial, 6 July 2006);Trivandrum
  12. ^ Sahithyalokam Trimonthly; January–March 1985;pp 41–45;Kerala SahithyaAcademy,Thrissur
  13. ^ a b Articles and features on Thirunalloor Karunakaran published in various magazines and journals in July 2006
  14. ^ -An Idealistic Ordeal[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Bhashaposhini Monthly; May 2004;pp 6–12 Kottayam
  16. ^ PachaMalayalam Monthly; January 2005,pp18-24; Quilon

External links[edit]