Sooranad Kunjan Pillai

Sooranad Kunjan Pillai
Born (1911-11-26)26 November 1911
Sooranad, Kollam, Travancore
Died 8 March 1995(1995-03-08) (aged 83)
Education M.A.(Eng), M.A.(Mal), M.A.(San), D.Litt.
Spouse(s) Bhagavati Amma
Children 3 daughters and a son.

Sooranad P. N. Kunjan Pillai was a historian, researcher, lexicographer, poet, essayist, literary critic, orator, socio-cultural leader, grammarian, educationist, and scholar of the Malayalam language. In 1984 he received the Padmashri award for his contribution to Malayalam literature and education.


He was born to Neelakanta Pillai and Karthiyanipillai Amma on 26 November 1911 in Sooranad South in Kollam district. He married Bhagavathi Amma (of the Panniyarathala family in Jagathy, d. 2007) in 1935. He is survived by three daughters and a son.


He received his schooling in Thevalakkara Malayalam School, Chavara English School, and later joined the Thiruvananthapuram Arts College. He earned his master's degree in English in 1933 and subsequently received his Master's in Sanskrit (1934) and Malayalam (1935). He also specialized in Archaeology.

Positions held

He started his professional career as an English teacher in St. Joseph School, Trivandrum and retired from government service in 1971 as the Chief Editor of Malayalam Lexicon, University of Kerala, which he entered in 1953. He served as the Secretary of Text Book Committee; Travancore State Manual Assistant (to Sadasya Tilakam T K Velu Pillai); Assistant Secretary to Government for Education; Honorary Director, Kerala University Manuscripts Library; Member, Indian Historical Records Commission, Member, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Kerala, Editor, Kerala Archives News Letter Board, Chief Advisor of Navasahithi Biographical Encyclopedia. He was a member of the Phd Evaluation Board of University of Kerala,He served as the President of Sahithya Parishad; Exe.Member of Central Sahitya Akademi, Kerala Sahitya Akademi, History Association; President, Kanfed; Editor,Journal of Indian History; Member of the first Jnanpith Award Committee.


Kunjan Pillai wrote books in English and Sanskrit in addition to Malayalam. He also had some knowledge of Tamil and Hindi. He published his first work Smashanadeepam (Collected Poems) in 1925 when he was still in school. He has prepared more than 150 textbooks for high school classes. He has written more than 1000 forewords for the books of many contemporary writers of Malayalam. He has also written the Malayala nikhandu (Malayalam Dictionary).

Major works

  • Amba Devi (Novel) 1930
  • Kalyana Sowdam (Novel) 1936
  • Smashanadeepam (Collected poems) 1930
  • Hridayarpanam (Collected poems) 1971
  • Ratnasamragyam (Stories)1948
  • Sourabhan (Stories)1947
  • Panchathantrakathamanigal (Stories)
  • Prachinakeralam (Biographies)1931
  • Veeraraghavashasanam (Biography) 1954
  • Thiruvuthankoorile Mahanmar (Biographies) 1946
  • Swathi Thirunal Maharaja(Biography)(English)
  • Malabar in the Eyes of Travellers, 1940
  • Sahithyabhooshanam (Collected Essays)
  • Kairali Pooja (Collected Essays) 1962
  • Pushpanjali (Collected Essays) 1957
  • Mathrupooja (Collected Essays) 1954
  • Kairali Samaksham (Literary Criticism)1979
  • Bharathapooja, 1983
  • Bhashadeepika, 1955
  • Jeevithakala, 1939
  • Krisishastram
  • Thirumulkazcha, 1938
  • Thiruvuthankoor - Kochi Charithra Kathakal, 1932
  • Malayala Lipi parishkaram- Chila Nirdeshangal, 1967
  • Sree Sankaracharyar (Biography) 1945
  • Hridayaramam, 1966


He was given the title 'Sahithya Nipunan' by Kochi Maharajah. In 1984 he was honoured with Padmashri by Govt. of India. He received the Fellowship of Kerala Sahithya Academy and was made a Fellow of the History Association. He was honoured with D.Litt by the Meerut University in 1991 and University of Kerala in 1992. He received the Vallathol Puraskaram in 1992 and the first Ezhuthachan Puraskaram instituted by Govt. of Kerala in 1994. His many contributions to art, society and culture and services rendered to the people of Kerala, India and the Sanskrit and Malayalam languages resulted in the bestowing of the second highest civilian award, the 'Padmashri' award to him in 1984.


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