Biography of Vallathol Narayana Menon

A major modern Indian poet who along with Kumaran Asan and Ulloor forms the trinity of modern Malayalam poetry, Vallathol sang of Indian nationalism in his poems. His beautiful verses urged the masses to espouse the freedom cause by inspiring unity among the various communities. His songs in praise of his country also depicted the various turmoils engulfing her under the British rule to awaken millions of Indians to the glory of their motherland.

Born in Chennara village (Kerala) in October 1878, Vallathol was mainly involved in the study of Sanskrit and the Ayurveda system. He began writing poems in Sanskrit and Malayalam from a young age. After becoming the manager of Kerala Kalpadrumam, a publishing house, he translated the Valmiki Ramayana. Though he became totally deaf in 1909, this affected neither his literary pursuits nor his journalistic career. In 1921, he met Gandhi and came to regard him as his teacher. His dream of establishing a Kathakali art-centre came true with the founding of the Kerala Kalamandalam in 1930. The Madras Government made him 'poet laureate' in 1948. From 1950 to 1953, he visited a number of countries abroad including Poland, Soviet Union and China participating in important functions and meeting leaders. He received a golden 'Manihara' from the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru during the silver jubilee celebrations of the Kerala Kalamandalam in 1955. The Nehru Peace Prize was conferred posthumously upon him by the Soviet Land in 1966.

Of his many poems devoted to the nation's cause are To the Motherland (1917), Salutation to the Mother (1918), The Puranas (1918), My Ingratitude (1919), This Way, This Way (1921), Unity Before Everything Else{1924), Our Reply (1925), The Blood Must Boil (1933), and Please Forgive us, Mother (1941). Higher and Higher (1923) was a panegyric on the Indian National Congress flag that he saw as a symbol for India's freedom and progress. Peasants' Song (1919), inspired by Gandhi's philosophy of ahimsa, is a call for peace. A tribute to Gandhi emerged in the form of My Master (1922). Our Mother (1949) was written on the first death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.