A bachelor, Azhikode (86), had been undergoing treatment for cancer for the last few weeks at the Aamala Cancer Centre here. His condition turned critical three days ago and the end came in the small hours, hospital sources said.
A quintessential critic in speech and writing, Azhikode's had been a powerful voice in the intellectual discourse in Kerala. An outstanding academic and teacher, Azhikode had served as chairman of the National B
ook Trust (NBT) and as member of the executive councils of Kerala and Kendra Sahitya academy. A recipient of high literary honours including the Kendra Sahitya Academy award, Azhikode hit national headlines a few years back by declining to accept Padma Shri holding such honours went against the spirit of Indian Constitution which saw all citizens as equal.
Though a towering literary figure he never confined himself to scholastic themes alone but kept on boldly expressing his views and concerns on a wide range of topics of contemporary concerns including the day-to-day politics and politicians. An ardent Gandhian till the end of his life, Azhikode was close to the Congress in his early life and in the 1960s even unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls as its candidate.
But later, he distanced himself from the Congress and moved close to the Left camp without compromising on his Gandhian convictions and the Nehruvian vision of a liberal and just social order. A deep scholar and an acclaimed authority on Indian thought and literature, his magnum opus Tatvamasi, an intellectual exploration of the eternal wisdom of the Vedas and Upanishads, is a widely appreciated work.
Azhikodes major critical works like Asante SeethaKavyam, a detailed textual study of poet Kumaran Asans Chinthavishtayaya Seetha (Seetha immersed in thought) are considered as classics of modern Malayalam literature.