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Aksharaslokam, from its early days, had been an art practiced primarily by the Namboothiri community. Many took it up as a serious hobby in life. It is no longer a monopoly of the community, though their participation is sought after, perhaps because of their better pronunciation and diction as a result of their strict oral Vedam recitation and learning, at least till recent times.

The participants (any number) set forming as circle and one recites a "Slokam", a four line verse in one of the Samskritham metres (Vritham). The one to his left then recites one which begins with the first letter of the third line of the previous Slokam, and this process continues on. Any one who fails to do it (pass) three times, is out of competition. The one that outlasts everyone else is the winner.

Any delay during one's turn is not considered good. Greatness lies not only in remembering hundreds of Slokams, but also in choosing good, meaningful and sweet ones and also in reciting it clearly and melodiously. Some competitions used to take a very long time, days sometimes. Though the art deteriorated a few years back, there had been a revival, owing mainly to the untiring efforts of Prof. N D Krishnaunni who motivated and trained his students and friends, and organised "Aksharasloka Sadass" in educational institutions, many homes, during special occasions, in Aakaasavaani (All India Radio), etc. he organised the "Akhila Kerala Aksharasloka Parishath" started a magazine "Kavana Kouthukam" containing only poems, and could get this art form included in the annual School Youth Festival.

- K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad

Some of the Namboothiri Aksharaslokam experts are introduced here:


K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad never participates in any Aksharaslokam competition. He seldom takes part in any "Sadass" as well. Yet the future of the art form Aksharaslokam lies in him and his students. He has chosen the role of a teacher, an "Aacharyan", for saving this art.

The Gurukulam, the ancient form of school where the student-teacher relationship is almost the son-father type, which he conducts in his house at Peruvanam has produced about 200 Sloka professionals so far. These young artists now constitute a majority of participants in competitions (and of course, the medallists) and performances through out Kerala. (See "Kundoor Smaaraka Sadas").


"Catch them young, and teach them Slokams" was first mooted in 1982 by Veliyath Balan Menon of Oorakam, and with the support of K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad of Kunnathur Padinjaredathu Mana, the "Kundoor Smaaraka Sadass" was born on "Vidyaarambham" day in October that year, named after the local pure Malayalam poet, the late Kundoor Narayana Menon. The Sadass is patronised by eminent persons such as N D Krishnanunni and Kunhunni Master.

Starting with just 4 or 5 students, it soon grew to 10, and boasts of 60 regular students now, and many more taking short courses during summer vacation. Till year 2000, more than 200 students would have got trained. Its students have performed creditably well in state-level competitions such as the three at Guruvayur (Naaraayaneeyam, Poonthaanam and Ekaadasi), and the ones at Thrissur, Irinjalakuda, Pala and Wadakkancheri. During the past 18 years, they have amassed 27 gold! The Sadass has its own annual state-level competition and gold medal.

The Sadass is a registered charitable society. With the parents of all the students as members and an annually elected Executive Committee, has always had only K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad as its President.

The students are taught a large number and variety of Slokams, to memorise and deliver in the best and most pleasing manner. The quality of Aksharaslokam, and not the numbers, has declined these days, perhaps owing to the tight academic pressure at school, the inevitable "tuition" culture and the invasion of television, laments its virtually permanent President Narayanan Bhattathiripad.

In his classes much stress is made on proper pronunciation of letters and words, which is essentially the most important aspect in Aksharaslokam. His scholarship in Vedam has proved to be of great help to him in knowing the right pronunciation and training wards to pronounce properly. It is really a feast to the ear to hear his students speak Malayalam with the proper accent, which is quite unusual presently. Then the recital aspects of each metre is taught, mainly, the pauses ("Yathi") and long and short vowels. The students learn the subtle aspects of voice control to express "Bhaavam" or feeling afterwards.

Many of his elder students, nowadays, help him in coaching younger ones. Thus he has carefully planned for the tradition to prevail, even after his retirement.

He has been role model for many other teachers in this field. He has supplied them with the study materials meticulously prepared by him. Many have studied (and copied) the techniques employed by him in training students. If there are "Kalaries" (ie., training centers) throughout Kerala now the credit substantially goes to Bhattathiripad.

With his untiring effort, one hopes, that the art form Aksharaslokam will survive the onslaughts of modernism and prosper to the good of Kerala, Keralites and Kairali, the language Malayalam of Kerala.


The audience will be able to appreciate the Slokam only if the performer himself knows the meaning well. One should be careful in pauses; Incorrect pronunciation by a performer is the most detrimental - thus spoke K P C Anujan Bhattathiripad regarded by most "Aksharaslokis" as the best stylist amidst them. His performance brings out not only the meaning and the Bhaavam (feeling) of the piece, but an interpretation of the poetry in it. Many a time the audience, spellbound by the richness of his voice and the depth of Bhaavam in his recital, may forget to reach this level.

He has been a role model for most of the newcomers to this field. He has won a gallery of gold medals and prizes in many competitions, the most noteworthy being the rolling trophy presented to him permanently after his being first in Aksharasloka competition in three consecutive years by the Aksharasloka Samithi of Madras.

K P C, as he is fondly called by his peers, is a simple man quite sentimental and his eyes become moist when he reminisces the bygone great masters of this field.

(1 and 2 - Compiled by : N S Madhavan)


Known simply as V S N among Aksharaslokis, Velliyaatt Narayanan Namboodiri is from Ammadam, 10 km southwest of Thrissur. He used to recite poems beautifully, with purity of pronunciation and appropriate pauses. He came into the Aksharaslokam scene following the "KPC" style, and continued that way. He has several gold medals to his credit. After graduating in Electrical Engineering from Government Engineering College, Velliyatt Narayanan has worked as engineer in various levels before taking up the Chief Priest's post of the Guruvayur temple and later of the Thrissur Paaramekkaavu temple. He died in 2003 at the age of 62.


He was attracted to this field through his father, Sankaran Namboodiri, who was not only an expert Aksharasloki, but an expert Rigvedam scholar too.

He has a good capability for Vrithaanuvritham recitation as well as in rhyme (Praasam), though not the best in single letter (Ekaaksharam) competitions. He has a good diction and understanding of the meaning and is quite pleasant to listen to.

He had received gold medals at state-level as well as in competitions in connection with Guruvayur Ekaadasi, Naaraayaneeyam and Thrissur Pooram, and at Irinjalakuda. He had also stood first in competitions organised by Malayalees outside Kerala, and participated several times in Aakaasavaani (All India Radio) and Dooradarsan (T V) programmes.

He does not compete now-a-days, either due to old age or to make way for the younger generation some of whom he teaches now.


Called "Naangalam", he belongs to Brahmamkulam near Guruvayur and is of the traditional Aksharaslokam school. His deep voice lends a serious atmosphere in the audience. He is not equally comfortable in all Vrithams (metres). He had participated in a number of competitions and received several prizes and a gold medal, and is now totally retired from the field owing to old age.


Parameswaran is equally proficient in reciting the Vedams and Slokams. Even during train journeys, he recites aloud from the Vedam and prostrates. He is ever ready to participate in Aksharaslokam, any time, any where, among young ones or adults. He has a stock of more than a thousand Slokams, and renders them well. Since Vrithaanuvritham was not practiced during his early years, it cannot be said that he was proficient in every Vritham equally well.

His strong base in Vedam recital has given him an excellent pronunciation. Winning or coming first in competitions was quite immaterial to him. Propagation and growth of Aksharaslokam was important to him. He wrote many Slokams and even published a collection of them. His Illam is in Kottappady near Kunnamkulam.


"Aalakkaattoor" has an amazing ability to keep the audience spellbound with his attractive style of rendering Slokams with excellent diction and other necessary qualities. He shone in the field for about 20 years since 1960, participating in a number of important competitions and winning seven gold medals. Being around 70, he does not particpate in events anymore, although he is still capable of. He hails from Cherusseri near Thaikkattusseri in Thrissur Dist.


Belonging to Kottappady near Kunnamkulam, Sankaranarayanan Namboodiri is one of those who have a keen interest in this art, and would not miss the slightest opportunity to participate or at least to listen and enjoy. Nicknamed "Pattaalam" (army) for having been a Poojaari in the Army, he has many qualities like a pleasant recitation style, a good stock of verses, ability for Vrithaanuvritham recitation, and no particular desire for becoming first or winning medals. He is still active in the field.


He is never tired of reciting Slokams in his nice style. He can easily handle both Sanskrit and Malayalam Slokams and is comfortable even with rare Vrithams like Prithwi, Shikharini and Mathebham, with thousands of Slokams in his repertoire.

He is also a poet, commentator ("Vyaakhyaathaavu") and translator, and has written Vyaakhyaanams for "Chandrotsawam", "Unnuneeli Sandesam", etc. and has a taste for lampooning Ilamkulam Kunjan Pillai. He is scholarly yet humble, but sorrowful, which might be why he became mentally deranged. He came from Porkkulam, also near Kunnamkulam.


Hailing from Oorakam in Thrissur District, his forte is his extra-ordinary memory, with a stock of thousands in most of the common Vrithams. With all humility he is said to have confessed that he remembers more than seven hundred verses even in the rare Mandaakraantha Vritham.

Only when compelled, he may participate in competitions. In spite of his low voice, he had come out first in several competitions. He is out of this field now.


Jathavedan is not only a good Aksharasloki, but he is a poet also, and that too in pure Malayalam. He remembers a large number of verses, and their meaning also. He is only rarely seen these days.

(3 to 11 - Compiled by : K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad)


Sankaran started at a very tender age sharing the stage with his father Maadambi Jathavedan Namboodiri (vide No. 4, above) and grandfather, and much enjoyed by the audience.

For three years in a row, he got the first place in the State Youth Festival. When he grew up, he bagged gold medals in the Thrissur Pooram, Guruvayur Ekaadasi and Irinjalakuda, and several prizes in local competitions. He participates in Aakaasavaani and Dooradarsan programmes and is presently employed in V T B College in Sreekrishnanpuram, Palakkad Dist.


Sivanandan is the son of Subrahmanian Namboodiri and Umadevi Antharjanam of Meledath Mana, nephew of Maadambi Sankaran Namboodiri and cousin of Maadambi Jathavedan Namboodiri (No. 4, above), and was naturally attracted to this art through his uncle and cousin. He has won gold medals and other laurels in the competitions in connection with Guruvayur Ekaadasi, Thrissur Pooram and Vijayadasami at Wadakkancheri, and in the Samskritham Aksharaslokam competition in memory of Govindan Embranthiri and organised by Aksharasloka Parishath, as well as in many local competitions. He too participates in the AIR and Dooradarsan programmes. Sivanandan teaches in the U P School at Punchappadam in Palakkad Dist.


Seema is the daughter of Meledam Subrahmanian Namboodiri and wife of Avinjikkaatt Rajeev, and lives in Mumbai. She used to stand first in local and district-level competitions even in her early years. She was awarded a scholarship for Aksharaslokam by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), to be guided by Maadambi Jathavedan Namboodiri. She had earned "A-Grade" at state-level in Youth Festivals, both in the regular and Samskritham categories. She had participated in AIR and Dooradarsan programmes.

(12 to 14 - Compiled by : V M N Nambudiripad)

Kozhikode District


Narayanan Namboodiri started participating in Aksharaslokam programmes only after his retirement from Government service in 1984, and has been a permanent member of Kozhikode Aksharasloka Samithi. He was presented with a shawl as a recognition for his contributions, by the P C Ettanunni Raja Aksharasloka Samithi, and was thereafter elected the Samithi President for the year 2000 - 01. He lives with his wife and has a daughter.


An expert Aksharasloki, he is a Yajurvedam scholar, and is engaged these days in Bhaagavatha Sapthaaham recitation ("Paaraayanam") and discourse ("Prabhaashanam"). He has a preference for Samskritham Slokams. He was awarded certificates of excellence, won many laurels and topped in many a stage. He participates in AIR programmes. Kozhikode Akharasloka Samithi presented him with a shawl in 1999. He lives with his wife and has a son.


Chief priest (Melsaanthi) of Kozhikode Thali temple, Krishnan Namboodiri has a beautiful style of reciting Slokams. Apart from participating in AIR programmes, he has won many laurels in Aksharaslokam. He has a wife, two sons and two daughters.


Hailing from Narikkuni Village of Kozhikode district, this Samskritham teacher of Sivapuram school, is a storehouse of Slokams in Samskritham. No wonder, since Aksharaslokam has indeed been a tradition in the Kesamangalam Illam. His daughter has won several awards in the State Youth Festivals.


He has won many laurels in Aksharaslokam programmes, and participated in AIR programmes. His father was not only an expert Aksharasloki but a magician and Vedam scholar too.


Employed as a temple priest, his musical recitation is pleasant to listen to. Participates in "Sadass" and in AIR programmes. He has a wife and a son.


A retired teacher and a member of Kunnummal Bhagavathy Kshethram Aksharasloka Samithi, he has participated in many "Sadass" and competitions, and won prizes. His wife is a Hindi teacher and they have three children.


Belonging to Cheruthrikkovil Illam, he works in the office of the PWD at Koilandy. He has a preference to devotional ("Bhakthi") Slokams. A member of Kairali Aksharasloka Samithi of Kuttiadi, he has won awards in the annual competitions of the Kozhikode Aksharasloka Samithi, and participates in AIR programmes as well as many other "Sadass". He and his teacher-wife have a son and a daughter.

- It will be appropriate now to mention those Aksharaslokam experts of the Kozhikode area who are not alive.

24. KARUMALA NANDI NAMBOODIRIPAD, Karumala Illam, Balussery
26. EDOLI SANKARAN NAMBOODIRI, Near Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode

(15 to 26 - Compiled by : T C Narayanan Namboodiri)

Kannur District


Wife of Narikkot Mekkat Govindan Namboodiri, her venue is usually temples during festivals. Vrithaanuvritham is her favourite mode. She particiupates in AIR programmes of the Kannur station.


This Aksharaslokam expert is the wife of Vishnu Namboodiri and is from near Niduvappuram Sreenaaraayanapuram temple. Their son is learning Jyothisham and Samskritham.


Wife of temple priest N M Sankaran Namboodiri, she prefers devotional verses and the Slokams from V K G's "Avilppothi".


She is the wife of Narasimhan Namboodiri of Padinjaare Kallampilly Illam, and, along with the other three Antharjanams (Nos. 27 to 29), is a member of Niduvappuram Sreenaaraayanapuram Kshethram Aksharasloka Sadass, and participates in Kannur AIR programmes.


He was the gold medalist in 1971 in the Naaraayaneeyam Aksharaslokam competition organised by Guruvayur Devaswam. Performs in AIR. Belongs to Cheruvalli Illam.


The eldest daughter of Sivaramagovindan (No. 31), twice reached the state-level in the Youth Festival and got "A-Grade". She frequents AIR, Kannur.


This 70 year old is another storehouse of beautiful Slokams. He writes poetry in Malayalam and Samskritham. He belongs to Perikamana Illam.

Wayanad District


This Aksharasloki is a senior medical officer in Aayurvedam and at the same time a temple Thanthri too. His two daughters had received high grades in the Youth Festival of 2000 - 01.


Belonging to Payyannur, and a high school teacher at Neervaaram, he represents Wayanad district in Aksharaslokam.

(27 to 35 - Compiled by : P Krishnan Namboodiri)

Awarded prizes by TVM Aksharasloka Samithi
Taken part in several Dooradarsan, AIR Sloka Sadass
Won awards in school-level competitions
Won awards in college-level competitions
38 G K Horakkad (G Krishnan Namoothiri) Founder Secretary and driving force behind the Thiruvananthapuram Aksharasloka Samithi yes      
39 Mrs Devaki Antharjanam (w/o G K Horakkad)   yes yes    
40 K Govindan Namboothiri   yes yes    
41 Dr K Eswaran Namboothiri   yes yes yes yes
42 Dr K Krishnan Namboothiri   yes yes    
43 C S Sreekumaran Namboothiri   yes yes    
44 Gowri Antharjanam   yes yes    
45 Saraswathi Antharjanam   yes yes    
46 C S Manoj   yes yes    
47 C S Rajeev   yes yes   yes
48 C S Sajeev         yes
49 A S Prasanth   yes yes yes yes
50 A S Praseeda   yes yes yes yes
51 N S Madhavan (Naamangalath Mana) Founder Treasurer of Thiruvananthapuram Aksharasloka Samithi. Originator of Thiruvananthapuram style of rendering Slokas. yes yes    
52 K M Devi     yes    
53 N M Arya   yes yes yes yes
54 N M Hari   yes yes yes  
55 N S Jayasree   yes yes    
56 P A Harinarayanan   yes yes    
57 K Sankaranarayanan Namboodiri (Kongorpilly Mana)   yes yes    
58 Chandramana Sreedharan Namboothiri Master of Ekaakshara competitions (now retired) yes      
59 Sreekanth Namboothiri (Pala)   yes      
60 Vishnu Namboothiri (Thottakkaad)   yes      
61 Adithi Antharjanam          
62 V Mini       yes yes
  NOTE : More informations expected        

(38 to 62 - Compiled by : N S Madhavan)


Born in Veloor Illam of Kuttamperoor village in Alappuzha district. In addition to Aksharaslokam, his expertise spreads to Jyothisham, literature and singing of Kathakali Padams. He has received several awards for Aksharaslokam. He has set apart a good part of his life for the growth, promotion and propagation of Aksharaslokam. He prerfers Samskritham verses.

He has presented Aksharaslokam in many courses organised by CCRT, in New Delhi, Kurukshethra of Hariyana and Udaipur of Rajasthan.


He has recited Slokams in many Sadass and written and published Slokams in periodicals. He is a member of the Akhila Kerala Aksharasloka Samithi of Thrissur, and former secretary of Kerala Varma Smaaraka Aksharasloka Samithi of Haripad. Organiser of Aksharaslokam - 1990 at Haripad.

Used to act as Judge for Aksharaslokam in the Kerala University and Mahathma Gandhi Univeristy Youth Festivals.

A Professor of English, Dr Namboothiri hails from Vyrasseri Mana, Vettuveni, Haripad.

(34 to 37- Compiled by : V M N Nambudiripad)

| Article No:35.1 | Last update of this article:10th August 2004 |
Article by : K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad, et al
Address : K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad, Padinjaredath Mana, Peruvanam, PO : Cherpu - 680 561, Thrissur Dist. Phone : 0487-2343681

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