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Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, an asset to Malayalam literature

Read below a small life sketch of the great poet Changampuzha Krishna Pillai. He was a born poet, wrote more than forty thousand lines within a short span of life, creative period being about 25 years. His pastoral elegy,'Ramanan' was very popular, liked by all categories of people.

Changampuzha Krishna Pillai is one of the most popular poets in Malayalam , second only to Kunchan Nambiar in bringing poetry to the common people. Acclaimed as the most admired advocate of 'Romanticism' in Malayalam, his prolific writing capabilities enabled him to write more than 40 thousand lines of verse in more than 500 titles, compiled in about 44 volumes. The simplicity and the literary elegance of his poems were unrivaled in his time and still is. No doubt, he was the most coveted poet who earned a matchless reputation in his short life span. He had also written more than a dozen works in prose. His most oft quoted line is:
"My biggest failure is having sincere heart in a phony world."

Born on 11th October,1911 at Edappally, presently part of Kochi City, coming under the Ernakulam District of Kerala State, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai had his elementary education there itself. He completed his school education at Aluva and Ernakulam. College education was from Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. Later, after working as a clerk in Military Accountant's Office at Pune and at Kochi, he went to Chennai for studying Law, which he could not complete due to financial problems. He later worked in a press at Thrissur. It was during this time he wrote many of his works, though he had started writing even when he was a student. He had to study his own poem at the B.A. Honors class, a rare experience, indeed.

Even though he had only about 25 years of creative period in his life, he became an epic poet, without writing any epic poem following the conventional norms. His legendary pastoral elegy, 'Ramanan' was sold more than 1,00,000 copies, a record that still stands firm in Malayalam. Famous Malayalam critique Prof. Joseph Mundassery who was the first Education Minister of Kerala State and also the first Vice Chancellor of Cochin University, was highly impressed reading 'Ramanan', and wrote his own introductory remarks for its 15th reprint praising the elegy.

Changampuzha's other famous works include Vazhakkula, Divyageetham, Yavanika, Bashpanjali, Manaswini, Sankalpakanthi, Devageetha, Spandikkunna Asthimatam, Udyana lakshmi, Patunna Pisachu, novel Kalithozhi and others. He was a close friend of 'Edappally Raghavan Pillai', another great poet of his time. 'Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishath', an organization of Malayalam literary workers had its first convention at Edappally. Changampuzha worked hard for its success.

Changampuzha started a career as a clerk in Port trust. He could not continue there due to health and personal reasons. He took up another assignment at a Printing Press (Mangalodayam) at Thrissur. He got married and became a father of three children. He started suffering from tuberculosis and became bed ridden. Finally in 1948 he died at the age of thirty seven. His body was cremated in the compound of his house at Edappally. A appropriate monument has been erected there, which is visited by the lovers of Malayalam language.

Changampuzha Smaraka Grandhasala, established in 1950 as most suited monument to the great man of letters in his native place, now enjoys an unrivaled reputation as a cultural centre with diversified literary and cultural activities. It could win the award for best library in the State twice. Now the library possesses more than 35 thousand books and with separate reference section. It has a membership strength of about 1500. It subscribes to almost all major Malayalam and English news papers and magazines. This library used to function also as the Kanayannur Taluk Reference Library.

The library houses an art wing giving training in music, dance, painting and drawing, percussion instruments, string instruments, etc. More than six hundred students make use of these trainings, while the library and its reading room are made use of by hundreds of people everyday.

Another living memorial for this great son of Malayalam language is the Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram located with in the Changampuzha Park at Edappally. It has become a venue of cultural and literary activities almost throughout the year.


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