Friday, February 3, 2012

The roar of the ocean is still

SreeNair | 10:02 PM |

              Professor Sukumar Azhikode who has been fighting cancer for over an year now ,died on the early hours of Tuesday ,the 24th of January 2012,at Amritha hospital following a brief spell of 45 days of hospitalisation.He has turned 85 on may 12.His mortal body was cremated at the historic crematory at Payyambalam near Kannur ,in deference to the wishes of his relatives, with full state honour.

             Azhikode was a literary critic, writer, philosopher, orator, teacher and journalist rolled into one and a conscious-keeper of our ages. His career as critic and orator spanned six decades.He has been the recipient of highest literary honours.His prominent work Thathwamasi (1984) had won him the Central Sahitya Akademi and the Kerala Sahithya Akademi awards and the prestigious Vayalar Award. His acclaimed works include Purogamanasahityavum Mattum, Mahatmavinte Margam, Aasaante Seethaakavyam, Guruvinte Dukham and Sankara Kurup Vimarshikkapedunnu.

The Hindu in the obituary said" An intellectual giant, a great humanist, a cultural guru, a committed secularist, a champion of human rights and a sentinel of social values, he gave expression to his ideals through more than 35 books, thousands of articles and countless orations — all laced with grace, dignity and humour. As a literary critic, he upheld the timeless values of the classics. His range was wide, ranging from Indian philosophy, Vedas and Upanishads to the subtly nuanced pure literary criticism. His writings on poetry gravitated towards sociological and cultural criticism. "

Sukumar azhikode was a multi-faceted intellectual property in the public domain whose tribe has steadily been getting effaced from Keralas socio-political and cultural space.

Azhikode was being revered as an erudite scholar and teacher who had extensive mastery over Indian mythology and philosophy.He was  an iconoclastic literary genius.He was a votary ,a disciple and last in the line of of those who continued the legacy of great social reformers like Vakbhatananda(1856-1928), Sree Narayana Guru and Mahatma Gandhi. He was a philosopher, an avaricious reader and a true Gandhian.Azhikode had been a pillar of intellectual vitality , a profound orator and philosopher in Kerala.An unparalleled academician and teacher, Azhikode had served as chairman of the National Book Trust (NBT) and as member of the executive councils of Kerala and Kendra Sahitya academy. Azhikode also edited a couple of dailies. He headed the Malayalam Department of Calicut University and later retired as its Pro-vice chancellor.

An ardent Gandhian till the end of his life, Azhikode was close to the Congress in his early life and in the 1960s he even unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls as its candidate. But later, he stood , a vehement critic of the congress as he thought that Congress was distancing from its vision.Towards the end he chose to bend towards the Left camp and wanted to be their mentor ,without compromising on his Gandhian convictions.

He embellished the Malayalam print with his prolific columns penchantly  airing his thoughts on varied issues of politics,social, and cultural with religious fervour and authority.He was well versed in Sanskrit and classical literature and had deep understanding of western philosophy and literature.He stood for the integration of the best from  the Oriental and Occidental cultures.

In 2007, Professor Sukumar Azhikode declined the Padma Shri award , as he rightfully felt that such awards were against the Constitution. “The Constitution says everyone should be treated as equal. Giving such honours at different levels, the State discriminates between people. I see the Padma Shri conferred on me as an opportunity to expose this discrimination,” he had said.

BalaChandran Vadakkedathu writes in Madhyamam."The invincible male presence that intervenes in Azhikodes speeches is 'Raman'.SriRaman is the most resplendent imagination in our hearts.Raman does not identify with any single religion or cult.Raman is the root of humanity."

He elucidates further on Azhikodes concept of Raman."Ghandhiji has never thought of Raman as historical entity, instead for him Raman was a myth.But Ghandhiji wanted to transcend this myth in to a consummate embodiment through his experiments with truthful life.Having overwhelmed with this idea Azhikode proclaims that ' Raman is universal'.His proclamation came in the wake of India being  tormented on the demolishment  of Babari Masjid and the Ayodhya imbroglio.'Who is Raman?He is the guardian and benefactor of the whole universe. Rama loved Ivan,Shabari Rakshsas,aborigins, birds and animals on this earth.Rama compassioned with those driven out to the peripheries.Azhikode says that Raman is referred to as 'Anandha Vardhanan' in Ramayana. Azhikode profusely rebuffed them who spew venom on the name of Raman."

He notes "Valmiki says that when others are in sorrow Raman is sad.Raman was ferried by an inferior cast Guha on to his journey in to the forests.The same Rama is making his hands as a pillion to Sitha.This Raman cannot live in political slogans.We are silent on the real Rama.But whenever the virtual or mirror frame comes in ,we pounce at its defense.The virtual always are meant for failure".

Azhikodes Raman is not a Rama of politics,not a Rama of religion.

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              Sri.V.G.Thampi a thinker and established writer says.
"To know a teacher is like touching a fire.Those who touch a true master will at once get transcended.He gets rived inside. The mender delivers another life to the life.Though a strict Ghandhiyan he was more influenced by Nehruvian ethics of legitimacy,secularism and democratisation of values.He revelled in the mood of an agitating youth rather than in a broody sacrificial,meditational and tranquil life of a saint.He remained apolitical so that he could not be institutionalised.The thunder of unpredictable and unexpected outbursts on the stage appealed and made the audience lively. He deliberately kept his speeches refilled with youthfulness."

Sri.V.J.Thampi further adds " Azhikode used to say that while on stage butterflies flutter inside him.The garden of words in him is the merchandise of the butterflies."

Azhikode's discourses were the torrents of words gushing out ,radiant with truth and bucolic humor.He was a man with a tough and hot self-righteousness.He could not bear a slightest dint to his fame.At times he let others to believe that he is overwhelmingly enjoying his publicity and charisma true to him.He with undaunted temerity points out that the Indian President will be in oblivion with in days when she passes away,but he will be remembered for years.

Azhikode was a great teacher and philosopher In his class room.He taught his pupils to pick out the best in them ,the best in them which they alone can do in this world. He taught them to face destiny with masculine strength and not to succumb and get vanquished unceremoniously.

His dreamt of a new Kerala ,a new India for which he toiled through out his life.

              There are few masters who have been so much loved,hated,adored and revered like Azhikode.He fought with his peers.He showed exemplary fortitude on the face of vilifications and rebuffs.He was loved by Keralites as a great teacher and philosopher with indomitable self esteem.But as with great men,Prof.M.K Sanu observes :"He could not take his potential to full fruition.Equally note worthy is the way he contradicted himself all through his life."

Azhikode opened his mind in an interview:" I had a prick of scruple in writing Thathwamasi.It was a book tobe digested by the scholars and the intelligentsia.That was a small sin.I cleanse myself by speaking to the ordinary men .This was done by Sri.Budha.He spoke in Pali." He adds: "These are only simple truths and not the jabbering of an arrogant".

He says his criticism is 'adhoc'.When an issue comes he criticises.He adds: "When there was arduous friendship between us ,I criticised Marar.When Mundassery and me were as thick as thieves ,I criticised him.Criticism is issue based."

The demise of Sukumar Azhikode has left an unimpeachable vacuum in Kerala's public space. He was a great writer, a focused critic, a voracious orator-an orator of extraordinary calibre.Sukumar Azhikode was a Bhishmacharya in the literary horizon of Kerala. He will be remembered as one of the greatest literary critics, philosophers and thinkers in India.

Rumour, in this instance, did no more than justice to the truth; and over the sickbed many confidences were exchanged, and clouds that had been growing for years passed away in a few hours, and as fond mankind loves to hope, for ever.
(Tales and Fantasies by Stevenson, Robert)


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