Vallathol Narayana Menon

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Vallathol Narayana menon
Born(1878-10-16)16 October 1878
Died13 March 1958(1958-03-13) (aged 79)
Occupation(s)Malayalam Poet, translator
Known forPoetry, Indian independence activism, social reform, revival of Kathakali
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1954)

Vallathol Narayana Menon (16 October 1878 – 13 March 1958) was a Malayalam poet and one of the triumvirate of modern Malayalam poetry, along with Asan and Ulloor. The honorific Mahakavi was applied to him in 1913 after the publication of his Mahakavya Chitrayogam.[1] He was a nationalist poet and wrote a series of poems on various aspects of the Indian freedom movement. He also wrote against the caste system, the tyranny of the British and Brahmanas and other social orthodoxies. He founded the Kerala Kalamandalam and is credited with revitalising the traditional Keralite dance form known as Kathakali.

Early life[edit]

Vallathol was born in Chennara, Mangalam, Tirur, in Malappuram District, Kerala, as the son of Kadungotte Mallisseri Damodaran Elayathu and Kuttipparu Amma.[2] He did not receive any formal education but was trained in Sanskrit language, first under the Sanskrit scholar Variyam Parambil Kunjan Nair and then under his own uncle Ramunni Menon, who introduced him into the world of Sanskrit poetry. Ramunni Menon also taught him Ashtanga Hridayam, a medical treatise, and young Narayana Menon soon began helping his uncle in medical practice and teaching.[2] He also trained for a year under Parakkulam Subrahmanya Sastri and Kaikkulangara Rama Variar in Philosophy and Logic.[2] He married Vanneri Chittazhiveettil Madhavi Amma in November 1901 and shifted to Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. He worked as manager in the Kalpadrumam Press in Thrissur from 1905 to 1910.[2] During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate. From 1915, he started working in Keralodayam newspaper and later joined Amrit Ritesh, a journal published from Thrissur.[2]


He started writing poems from the age of twelve. Kiratha Satakam and Vyasavataram were his earliest published works.[2] He won Bhashaposhini magazine's poetry award in 1894.[2] His poems began appearing in Bhashaposhini, Kerala Sanchari and Vijnana Chintamani magazines.[2] His first major literary ventures was a rendition of Valmiki's Ramayana into Malayalam, the work of which started in 1905 and took two years to complete.[3] Unlike some of his contemporaries, Vallathol did not have any acquaintance with English language.[4] He earned the title Mahakavi after the publication of the Mahakavya Chitrayogam in 1913. Chitrayogam conformed to all the principles of a traditional Mahakavya and was divided into 18 Sargas. The story of Chandrasena and Taravali, taken from Kathasaritsagara, was the theme of this poetry work.[5] Vallathol portrayed the protest of Parvati against Siva in the work Gangapati (1913) and of Usha defying her father for the sake of her love in Bandhanasthanaya Anirudhan (1914).[4] In 1917, the first of his eleven-volume work Sahitya Manjari (A Bouquet of Literature) was published. These volumes, published from 1917 to 1970,[4] contain his collected short romantic poems dealing with a variety of themes.[6] Many of these poems earlier appeared in P. V. Krishna Variar's Kavanakaumudi magazine. His khanda kavya on Mary Magdalene titled Magdalana Mariam paved the way for a new tradition in of Christian symbolism in Malayalam.[6] The poet's own struggle with deafness from his early twenties features in the work Badhiravilapam.[3] Other celebrated short poems of Vallathol include Sishyanum Makanum, Virasinkala, Achanum Makalum, Divaswapnam, and Ente Gurukulam.[3]

A 1978 commemorative stamp of India in honour of Vallathol

In addition to subjects from nature and the lives of ordinary people, Vallathol's opposition to the indignities of the caste system and the injustices suffered by the poor are common themes for many of his poems.[7] He is also regarded as the greatest nationalist poet of the language.[8] He was one of the triumvirate poets of modern Malayalam, along with Kumaran Asan and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer. Literary critic K. M. George has noted that, together with Kumaran Asan, Vallathol was "responsible for bringing about a revolutionary change in Malayalam poetry in the [nineteen]-twenties. Asan concentrated on social themes and Vallathol championed the national movement; yet both made very significant contributions to the khandkavya, ie: the short poem of the lyrical type."[9]

The title "Kavisarvabhowman" was conferred upon him by the Maharaja of Cochin.[10] He was awarded Padma Bhushan title, India's third highest civilian award, in 1954.[11]


Vallathol is credited with revitalising Kathakali. He played a prominent role in setting up the Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy, near the banks of Bharathapuzha River. The revival of the art of Kathakali in modern Kerala was mainly due to the efforts of Vallathol and the Kerala Kalamandalam.[3] He stimulated the world's interest in this art during his tours abroad between 1950 and 1953.[12]

Involvement in Nationalist movement[edit]

Vallathol was a nationalist poet writing in the Malayalam language.[8] He actively participated in the Nationalist movement. He attended the all India Conferences of the Indian Congress in 1922 and 1927 and rejected a royal honour bestowed upon him by the Prince of Wales during his India visit in 1922.[13][14] Vallathol remained a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and wrote the poem "Ente Gurunathan" ("My Great Teacher") in his praise. At the same time, he felt attracted by the Communist ideology and wrote poems praising the achievements of the Soviet Union.[3] He wrote several patriotic poems hailing India's nationalist movement.[7]


The following is a list of works published by Vallathol Narayana Menon.[15][16] The bibliographical details of subsequent editions are used wherever the details of the first edition are not available. Kerala University published a bibliography of the author in 1978 titled Vallathol Bibliography.[17]


Year Title Publisher Notes
c. 1896 Vyasavatharam (Periodical) Manipravalam poetry
c. 1896 Kirathashathakam (Periodical) Manipravalam poetry
1896 Sallapapuram Pattambi: Vijnana Chitamani First work published as a book; collection of 40 Manipravalam verses co-authored with Vellanassery Vasudevan Moossath; written under the name Kozhiparambil Narayana Menon; published by A. Raman Moossath[18][19]
1899 Rithuvilasam Kavanodayam[20] An imitation of Kalidasa's Ritusamhaara; 2nd edition of the book published by Vidya Vilasom, Calicut in 1922
c. 1901 Parvati Padadi Kesanta Stavam Written for Parishkarabhivardini Nadaka Sabha[20]
1906 Tapati Samvaranam Rasikaranjini Vanjipattu; Published in the 1906 July–August (ME 1081 Karkhidakam-Chingam) edition of Rasikaranjini; never published as a book[21]
c. 1910 Badhiravilapam Kottakkal: Lakshmi Sahayam
(2nd edition)
1st edition in c. 1910; 2nd edition in 1917; 3rd edition by K. Vasudevan Moossath in 1920 printed at Mangalodayam, Trichur
1913 Ganapathy Kunnamkulam: A. R. P.
(2nd edition)
originally published in Kavanna Kaumudi in 1913; published as a book with an introduction by P. V. Krishnan Nair;[22] 2nd edition published in 1920
1914 Bandhanasthanaya Anirudhan Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. Originally published in Athmaposhini in c. 1913[23]
1914 Chitrayogam Kottakkal: Lakshmi Sahayam Manipravalam poetry
1915 Oushadhaharanam Trichur: Mangalodayam Kathakali aattakatha
1916 Vilasa Lathika Trichur: Mangalodayam With an introduction by Koyippilli Paramesvara Kurup
1917 Oru Kathu athava Rugmiyude Paschathapam Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. Originally published in the March–April 1914 (ME 1089 Meenam) edition of Kavanakaumudi [24]
1917 Rakshasakrithyam Kilippattu Trivandrum: S. V.
1918 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 1 Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. 14 poems
1919 Randaksharam Trivandrum: Saraswathi Vilasom Khanda kavya
1919 Sishyanum Makanum Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. With an introduction by K. M. Panikkar in English
1920 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 2 Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. 12 poems; with an introduction by Kuttipuzha Krishna Pillai
1921 Magdalana Mariyam athava Paschathapam Prayashcitham[25]
1922 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 3 Trichur: Vidya Vinodini With an introduction by P. Sankaran Nambiar in English
1926 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 5 Trichur: Mangalodayam
1928 Vishukkani Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam
(3rd edition)
First edition in 1928;[26] 3rd edition in 1941; 10 poems
1929 Kochu Seetha Trichur: Mangalodayam With notes by Kuttikrishna Marar
1931 Kavyamritham Quilon: Sreerama Vilasom 2nd edition; 17 poems
1932 Kairali Kadaksham Vol.1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 Trivandrum: V. V. Pub. House Short poems for children
1934 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 6 Trivandrum: B. V. 3rd edition; 15 poems
1935 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 7 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 19 poems
1935 Veera Sringala Trichur: Sundarayyar & Sons
1936 Achanum Makalum Cheruthuruthi: Mangalodayam With an introduction by C. S. Nair
1936 Kairali Kandhalam Trichur: Sundarayyar & Sons 14 poems
1942 Saranam Ayyappa Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam
1943 Indiayude Karachil Palghat: Vellinezhi With an introduction by T. C. Narayanan Nambiar
1944 Divaswapnam Calicut: P. C. Brothers 10 poems
1944 Ente Gurunathan Palghat: Vellinezhi With an introduction by O. M. C. Narayanan Nambudiripad
1944 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 4 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 6th edition; 13 poems; With an introduction by Kuttikrishna Marar
1944 Sthree Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 7 poems; with an introduction by E. M. S. Namboodiripad
1948 Prakrithiyude Manorajyam Alleppey: Vidyarambam Prakrithiyude Manorajyam and Ulloor's Akkare Pacha combined in a volume titled Randu Tharangal
1949 Komala Sisukkal Trivandrum: Balan With an introduction by Mathew M. Kuzhiveli
1949 Padmadalam Trivandrum: Kamalalaya 15 poems
1950 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 8 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 12 poems
1950 Onapudava Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 3rd edition; 14 poems
1951 Bappuji Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam With annotations by Ullattil Govindankutty Nair
1951 Russiayil Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 5 poems; with annotations; based on the 1951 journey to Russia
1956 Abhivadyam Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam With annotations; 9 poems
1959 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 9 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 17 poems with annotations; published posthumously
1960 Dandakaranyam Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Originally published in 1910 in Kavanakaumudi; with annotations
1962 Bhagaval Sthothramala Cheruthuruthi: Mangalodayam 2nd edition; With an introduction by E. V. Raman Namboothiri
1962 Nagila Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam With an introduction by P. Damodaran Pillai
1962 Vallathol Sudha Vol.1, Vol.2 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Collection of poems in two volumes; compiled by Kuttipuzha Krishna Pillai
1964 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 10 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 17 poems; published posthumously
1965 Khanda Krithikal Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 12th edition; With an introduction by P. V. Krishna Warrier; Collection of 15 works
1968 Allah Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam With an introduction by T. Ubaid; and a note by C. H. Mohammed Koya
1970 Sahitya Manjari Vol. 11 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam 25 poems; published posthumously; with an introduction by C. Govinda Kurup
1975 Vallatholinte Padyakrithikal Vol. 1 Kottayam: S.P.C.S. With a biographical note by C. P. Sreedharan and an introduction by E. V. Raman Namboodiri
1975 Vallatholinte Padyakrithikal Vol. 2 Kottayam: S.P.C.S. With an introduction by N. V. Krishna Warrier
1988 Vallatholinte Khanda Kavyangal Calicut: Mathrubhumi
1994 Kavya Manjusha Calicut: Poorna Collection of 10 poems and a study on Kochu Seetha; with an introduction by S. K. Vasanthan
Triyamam Manipravalam work co-authored with Vellanassery Vasudevan Moossath; probably lost work[27]
Keechaka Vadham Kaikottikalippattu; probably lost book[28]
India Chakravarthi Yogakshema Kummippaattu Co-authored with Manavikraman Ettan Raja and Oduvil Kunhikrishna Menon
Paralokam Palghat: Vellnezhi With annotations


Year Title Publisher Notes
1906 Panchatantram Trichur: Kerala Chintamani Translation of Panchatantra in Manipravalam; with an introduction by Oduvil Kunhikrishna Menon; Originally written in 1901 for Parishkarabhivardini Nadaka Sabha
1909 Sri Valmiki Ramayanam Trichur: Kerala Kalpadrumam Translation of Valmiki Ramayana; with an introduction by Appan Thampuran in Malayalam and Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran in English; later editions in seven volumes: Bala Kaanda, Ayodhya Kaanda, Aranya Kaanda, Kishkindhaa Kaanda, Sundara Kaanda, Yuddha Kaanda, Uttara Kaanda
1910 Unmatta Raghavam Trichur: Kerala Kalpadrumam Translation of Bhaskara's Unmatta Rāghava
1917 Markandeya Puranam Edapally: Kurumoor Narayanan Battathirippad Translation of Markandeya Purana
1919 Urubhangam Translation of Bhāsa's Urubhanga
1920 Madhyamavyayogam Calicut: P. Vasudevan Namboothiri Translation of Bhāsa's Madhyamavyayoga; with an introduction by P. V. Krishna Warrier
1921 Bhadravatharam Pana Trivandrum: B. V.
1922 Abhisheka Natakam Translation of Bhāsa's Abhishekanataka
1922 Pancharathram Kunnamkulam: A. R. P. Translation of Bhāsa's Panchratra; with introductions by Pallathu Raman and Nalapat Narayana Menon
1923 Vamana Puranam Trivandrum: B. V. Translation of Vamana Purana; with an introduction by M. Ramavarma Thampuran
1924 Purana Kavya Manjari Vol. 1 Ottappalam: Kamalalaya Published by V. N. Nair; translation of Sanskrit poems
1925 Svapnavasavadattam Trichur: Mangalodayam Translation of Bhāsa's Svapnavasavadattam; originally published in Sadguru monthly magazine
1926 Padma Mahapuranam Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 Trivandrum: B. V. Translation of Padma Purana in three volumes
1926 Purana Kavya Manjari Vol. 2 Ottappalam: Kamalalaya Published by V. N. Nair; translation of Sanskrit poems
1926 Purana Manjari Trivandrum: Kamalalaya Compilation of ancient poems
1926 Matsya Mahapuranam Trivandrum: B. V. Book Depot Translation of Matsya Purana
1936 Abhijnana Shakuntalam Calicut: Mathrubhumi Translation of Kalidasa's Abhijnana Shakuntala; with annotations by Kuttikrishna Marar
1937 Purana Kavya Manjari Trichur: B. V. Translation of 41 ancient poems by various authors; published by K. R. G. Menon; with an introduction by V. Unnikrishnan Nair
1945 Kapata Keli Trichur: Mangalodayam Translation of Vatsarāja's Hasyacudamani
1946 Karpuracharita Bhanam Trichur: Mangalodayam Translation of Vatsarāja's Karpuracarita Bhana
1948 Tripura Dahanam Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Vatsarāja's Tripuradahana; with an introduction by C. Kunhan Raja
1948 Rugminiharanam Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Vatsarāja's Rukmiṇīharaṇa; with an introduction by P. S. Ananthanarayana Sastry
1951 Bodhisattva Apadana Kalpalata Trivandrum: Travancore University Translation of Kshemendra's works in four volumes; with an introduction by E. V. Raman Namboothiri
1952 Gramasoubhagyam Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Hāla's Gāthā Saptaśatī (700 poems); with an introduction by E. V. Raman Namboothiri
1955 Rigveda Samhita Vol. 1 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Mandala 1 of Rigveda
1956 Rigveda Samhita Vol. 2 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Mandalas 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Rigveda
1957 Rigveda Samhita Vol. 3 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Mandalas 6, 7 and 8 of Rigveda
1958 Rigveda Samhita Vol. 4 Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Mandalas 9 and 10 of Rigveda
1978 Samskrita Nataka Tharjamakal Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Collection of 10 Sanskrit plays: Svapnavasavadattam, Panchratra, Urubhanga, Madhyamavyayoga (Bhāsa); Abhijnana Shakuntala (Kalidasa); Hasyacudamani, Karpuracarita Bhana, Rukmiṇīharaṇa, Tripuradahana (Vatsarāja); Unmatta Rāghava (Bhaskara)
1981 Mathangaleela Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Translation of Matanga Lila; written in 1904 for Kadalai Manaykkal Namboothiri; first published in 1981
Portia Vivaham Play; translation of a story from Merchant of Venice;[20] probably lost book[28]


Year Title Publisher Notes
1904 Arogya Chinthamani Health; Health; based on Kaikulangara Rama Warrier's Arogya Kalpadrumam; 2nd edition published by Yogakshemam, Trichur in 1926
1928 Grantha Viharam Trichur: Mangalodayam Literary criticism; collection of 44 articles published in Keralodayam and Atma Poshini; compiled by Kuttikrishna Marar
1964 Prasangavediyil Cheruthuruthi: Vallathol Granthalayam Collection of 12 speeches
1978 Vallathol Kathukal Kottayam: DC Books Letters to K. M. Panikkar; compiled by Kavalam Narayana Panicker
1986 Vallatholinte Grantha Nirupanangalum Prasangangalum Calicut: Mathrubhumi Collected speeches and articles from the books Grantha Viharam (1928) and Prasangavediyil (1964); with an introduction by Kuttikrishna Marar
Arjuna Vijayam Sanskrit play;[20] probably lost book[28]
Garbha Chikitsakramam Health

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zarrilli, Phillip (2004). Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where Gods and Demons Come to Play. Routledge. pp. 30–31. ISBN 9780203197660.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Vallathol Narayana Menon". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e A. Sreedhara Menon (1982). The Legacy of Kerala. DC Books. p. 77. ISBN 9788126437986.
  4. ^ a b c Sisir Kumar Das (1 January 1995). History of Indian Literature: 1911–1956, struggle for freedom : triumph and tragedy. Sahitya Akademi. p. 206. ISBN 9788172017989.
  5. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti, Volume 2. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1185. ISBN 9788126011940.
  6. ^ a b Nalini Natarajan, Emmanuel Sampath Nelson (1996). Handbook of Twentieth-century Literatures of India. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 185–186. ISBN 9780313287787.
  7. ^ a b Cir̲pi (1991). A Comparative Study of Bharati and Vallathol. Kolam Veliyeedu.
  8. ^ a b Raman Varadara, Raman Varadara Staff (1993). Glimpses of Indian Heritage. Popular Prakashan. p. 138. ISBN 9788171547586.
  9. ^ George, K. M. (1972). Western Influence On Malayalam Language And Literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 75. ISBN 9788126004133.
  10. ^ "Indian Who's Who 1937-38".
  11. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  12. ^ Sayed Jafar Mahmud (1994). Pillars of Modern India, 1757–1947. APH Publishing. p. 129. ISBN 9788170245865.
  13. ^ Malayalam Literary Survey, Volume 13. Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 1991. p. 26.
  14. ^ K. M. Pr̲abhākaravāriyar (1978). Poetry and National Awakening. Mahakavi Vallathol Birth Centenary Celebrations Committee. pp. 1–58.
  15. ^ Govi, K. M., ed. (1973–2020). Malayala Grantha Soochi: A Retrospective Bibliography of Malayalam Books Volume 1 to 9. Kerala Sahitya Akademi.
  16. ^ Vallathol Narayana Menon (1975). Vallatholinte Padyakrithikal. Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  17. ^ "Vallathol Bibliography". Kerala University Library. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  18. ^ Govi, K. M., ed. (1974). Malayala Grantha Soochi: A Retrospective Bibliography of Malayalam Books. Vol. 2. Kerala Sahitya Akademi. p. 870.
  19. ^ "Vallathol's book recovered from British Museum". The Times of India. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  20. ^ a b c d Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer. "അധുനാതനകാലം". Kerala Sahitya Charitram.
  21. ^ Nair 1962, p. 69.
  22. ^ Nair 1962, p. 146.
  23. ^ Nair 1962, p. 152.
  24. ^ Nair 1962, p. 155.
  25. ^ Magdalana mariyam: adhavā pasthāpam prāyaschitham (2006, 2011). ISBN 9788126412495, OCLC 9788126412495
  26. ^ Nair 1962, p. 309.
  27. ^ V. Unnikrishnan Nair (1962). Vallathol (in Malayalam). Calicut: Mathrubhumi. p. 12. അപ്രാപ്തയൗവനനായ നാരായണമേനോനും മധ്യവയസ്കനായ വാസുണ്ണിമൂസ്സും തമ്മിൽ വളർന്നുവന്ന മൈത്രിയുടെ സാക്ഷ്യംവഹിക്കുന്നവയാണ് ത്രിയാമ, സല്ലാപപുരം എന്നീ പേരുകളിൽ പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കപ്പെട്ട രണ്ട് ലഖുകൃതികൾ. നിർഭാഗ്യവശാൽ ആ പുസ്തകങ്ങൾ ഇന്ന് കിട്ടാനില്ല. ഒരു രാത്രിയിൽ ആ രണ്ട് സ്നേഹിതന്മാർ തമ്മിൽ നടന്ന സംഭാഷണമാണ് 'ത്രിയാമ'യുടെ ഉള്ളടക്കം.
  28. ^ a b c V. Unnikrishnan Nair (1962). Vallathol (in Malayalam). Calicut: Mathrubhumi. pp. 15–16. അക്കാലത്തുണ്ടാക്കിയ കൃതികൾ മിക്കതും ഇന്നു നഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടു പോയിരിക്കുന്നു. അവയിൽപ്പെട്ടതാണ് ഷെയ്ക്സ്പിയറുടെ 'വെനിസ്സിലെ കച്ചവടക്കാരൻ' എന്ന നാടകത്തിലെ കഥയെ അവലംബിച്ചെഴുതിയ പോർഷ്യാവിവാഹം എന്ന നാടകവും അർജ്ജുനവിജയം എന്ന വേറൊരു നാടകവും, തപതീസംവരണം എന്നൊരപൂർണ്ണ സംസ്കൃതകാവ്യവും, കീചകവധം കൈകൊട്ടിക്കളിപ്പാട്ടും മറ്റും.

External links[edit]