Sukumar Azhikode, veteran Malayalam writer, orator, scholar, Gandhian, former pro-vice-chancellor of Calicut University and ex-chairman of the National Book Trust, died at a private hospital here on Tuesday.
He was 85. The end came around 6-35 a.m.
He was shifted to the hospital on December 9 from another where he had been admitted on December 7 following complications from a fall in sodium level in blood. According to doctors, he suffered from cancer of the right lower alveolus.
“He sought treatment for paraplegia (an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities). And was diagnosed with extensive bone and skull metastasis (spread of cancer to other parts of the body),” said Sreekumar Pillai, a member of the team of doctors that treated him.
A major presence in the State’s cultural world for more than six decades, Azhikode was an intellectual giant who was passionate about all aspects of life, literature, philosophy, politics, governance and civic responsibility.
Azhikode's most famous work is 'Tatvamasi' (1984, Malayalam), an authoritative book on Indian Philosophy, Vedas and Upanishads.
‘Tathvamasi’ has won 12 awards including the Indian Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahithya Akademi Award, Vayalar Award and the Rajaji Award. In Jan 2007, he refused to accept the Padma Shri conferred on him stating that such honours were against the Constitution.
He was the founder and president of Navabharathavedi – a socio-cultural organisation. He has also worked in several newspapers including ‘Varthamanam’, ‘Dinabandhu’, ‘Malayala Harijan’, ‘Desamitram’, ‘Navayugam’ and ‘Dinaprabha’. He was chairman of the National Book Trust between 1993 and 1996.
His major works include ‘Aasante Seetakavyam’, ‘Ramananum Malayalakavitayum’, ‘Mahatmavinte Margam’, ‘Purogamanasahityavum Mattum’, ‘Malayala Sahityavimarsanam’, ‘Vayanayute Swargathil’, ‘Malayala Sahitya Patanangal’, ‘Tatvavum Manushyanum’, ‘Khandanavum Mandanavum’, ‘Entinu Bharatadare’, ‘Azhikodinte Prabhashanangal’, ‘Azhikodinte Phalitangal’, ‘Guruvinte Dukham’, ‘Aakasam Nashtapetunna India’, ‘Pathakal Kazhchakal’ and ‘Mahakavi Ulloor’.
Sukumar Azhikode graduated in Commerce in 1946. He then completed a course in training, a post-graduate course in Malayalam and Sanskrit, and a doctoral degree in Malayalam.
His dissertation, ‘Malayala sahitya vimarsanam’ (Literary criticism in Malayalam language), is well-known.
He was a teacher at Rajas High School, Chirackal, St. Aloysius College, Mangalore and Devagiri College, Kozhikode and later a principal at SNM Training College, Moottakunnam, and a professor and
Pro-Vice Chancellor at Calicut University. He retired in 1986. After his retirement, he settled in Thrissur.
Thrissur plunges into grief
Azhikode had made Thrissur his home after retirement. He initially lived at Viyyur and later relocated to Eravimangalam.
The body was taken around 8:30 a.m. from a private hospital, where he died, to his home at Eravimangalam.
Cooperation Minister C. N. Balakrishnan, Therambil Ramakrishnan, M. P. Vincent, MLAs, and Collector P. M. Francis were among those who arrived at the hospital to
pay their last respects.