Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Pallathu Raman

Just as Mahakavi Kumaran Asan who raised his voice against injustices and caste discrimination, Pallathu Raman’s was a powerful voice that was heard all throughout Kerala.

Pallathu Raman was born on 07 October 1891 in Thrissur. His father was Pallathu Ikkoran and mother, Lakshmi. In ME 950, Sakthan Thampuran accorded special privileges to four ezhava families, and Pallathu family happened to be one among them.

Pallathu had his primary education at the St. Thomas School, Thrissur.  While undergoing his matriculation, at the age of 19 (ME 1086) he got married. The bride was Devaki, daughter of Padeeril Makkunni Adhikari of Ponnan Taluk.

Pallathu began his career as a teacher at Ollur Primary School near Thrissur.  Later he moved to Chittoor High School. In 1917 he was appointed lecturer in Madras government. He was transferred to Victoria College in 1920. In the same year he was appointed member of the Government Textbook Committee. Even after retirement from teaching, he continued as a member in the Board of Studies of the Government of Madras. It was during this period that he published Kohinoor Padavali in his own printing press at Palakkad. The padavalis comprising compilation of poems by ancient and modern poets received much appreciation. Pallathu’s Amritha pulinam was selected as a reader for school final classes.

Pallathu Raman took to poetry at a very young age. He had a talent for writing poems.  His first poems were published in Kerala Chintamani. The poem Keerthi published in Kavana Kaumudi in ME 1085 brought him fame and laurels. Poems like Chitrasalabhathinodu, Leela, Indiayude danam, Nisakaala chinta, Lokagati, Vanambadi, Mullamottinodu were published in Kavana Kaumudi.

Mishrakanthi is one of his idealistic works. It was inspired by the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru. It was aimed at promoting inter-caste marriages. When language, idealism and theme came together it turned out to be an excellent work in literature. At a time when injustices in the name of caste were at its height in Kerala, Pallathu wrote poems that directly attacked the inhuman system. Such an approach can be seen in all his works. 

Much before jeevan sahityam (realistic literature) and purogamana sahityam (progressive literature) took shape, Pallathu perfumed society with progressive and revolutionary ideas. In his work Kalachakrathin thirachil we find the working class dreaming of a better future.  In Harijanabalan, the poet speaks out against untouchability. In Chuttikagadha he exhorts the readers to work hard and reminds them that only through tireless striving can one achieve greatness in life. Ravanaayanam portrays Ravana’s greatness and Rama’s limitations.

The poet had deep affection to Western literature. Among the English poets, he admired Wordsworth the most. His poetry collection Prakritivilasam is a translation of Wordsworth’s selected poems.

Pallathu Raman contributed extensively to Malayalam drama, poetry and novel. Though it was in poetry that he made his mark, no less was his contribution as a prose writer. He received the title of Mahakavi and a gold medal from the Kochi Maharaja in 1946.

Pallathu’s novels include Amritapulinam, Vanabala, Vilasakumari, Rajasthanapushpam, and Kohinoor.  His poems include Sooryakanthi, Purogamana Ganangal, Kattupookal, Udayareshmi, Bharatakokilam, Swagatham, Swanthantriyabhiksha, Madhura swapnam, Pushpavarsham, Kalakallolam, Irittile velicham, Bharata bandhu. And, his plays – Sree Chitra Asokan, Ravanaputhran, Arivaal.

A period in which poets wrote poems employing the structure laid down by Sanskrit scholars to show off their intellect to obtain ‘Mahakavi’ titles, Pallathu Raman took a different path. He used poetry as a weapon to struggle against injustices in society.

Mahakavi Pallathu Raman died on 25 July 1950.

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