photo credits: CC-BY-SA-3.0
language of expression: Malayalam
occupation: author, poet
student of: Nilakantha Somayaji
Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan (pronunciation, Malayalam: തുഞ്ചത്ത് രാമാനുജൻ എഴുത്തച്ഛൻ, Thunjathu Rāmānujan Eḻuttacchan) was a Malayalam devotional poet and linguist from around the sixteenth century. Today he is known as the father of modern Malayalam language – the principal language of the Indian state Kerala and the union territory of Lakshadweep – and its literature.Ezhuthachan was born in Trikkandiyoor, near the present day Tirur municipality. After the birth of his daughter, Ezhuthachan became a monk and wandered throughout southern India before finally building his monastery at modern day Chittoor, Palakkad. But at the same time another group believe he was a celibate throughout his life.Ezhuthachan's contribution to the Malayalam language is widely considered as unparalleled. He brought massive changes and standardisation in the language through his works. He translated the two Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, to Malayalam for the common man with the mingling of the Sanskrit and Dravidian languages.According to historians and linguists, Ezhuthachan refined the "style" of Malayalam language and it was during his period that Malayalam literature attained its "individuality" and Malayalam became a "fully fledged" independent language. He also brought the language to the level of the non-Brahmins's understanding. Ezhuthachan used Malayalam language to challenge the prevailing social conditions. He is known for using his literary works as a powerful tool against the rule of privileged. Ezhuthachan is also considered as a significant voice of the Bhakti movement in Kerala.Ezhuthachan's other major contribution has been in establishing an (51 character) alphabet system equivalent to Sanskrit instead of Vattezhuthu, the 30-letter script of Malayalam.The highest literary honour awarded presented by the Government of Kerala is known as the "Ezhuthachan Puraskaram".Sooranad Kunjan Pillai was its first recipient.
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