Lalithambika Antharjanam

Lalithambika Antharjanam

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Category: Literature

Lalithambika Antharjanam Profile

  • Name:
  • Lalithambika Antharjanam
  • Spouse:
  • Narayanan Nambudiri

Lalithambika Antharjanam Biography

Lalithambika Antharjanam was a popular writer of Malayalam and social reformer. She has contributed Malayalam literature through novels, poems and short stories. She is most known for her work, ‘Agnisakshi’ for which she won Kerala Sahitya Academy award and Kendra Academy award for the years 1976 and 1977 respectively. Another noted work is her autobiography - Aathmakadhakkoru Aamukham. Born in Nambudiri (Brahmin) caste, she was one among those ladies who fought against social evils and problems faced by ladies of their caste. She was against many of traditional principles that existed in their social system that bind Brahmin ladies in chains and through her significant works, she fought against them. Her works exposed hypocrisy, violence and injustice with which women were treated in Nambudiri society. Her novel ‘Agnisakhi’ based on a married Brahmin woman needs special mention. She was influenced by Gandhi’s thoughts and social reforms by V. T. Bhattathiripad.


Lalithambika was born in 1909 at Kottavattom near Punalur, Kollam district in a conservative Brahmin family. She was given primary education only. Yet she learnt to read and write - an achievement among Brahmin ladies of Kerala during early 1900’s. She was not allowed to study in school and no contact with outer world. In 1926, she was married to the farmer Narayanan Nambudiri. After marriage she lost her contact with outer world forever and she had to live in closed rooms and working kitchen following Hindu traditional house wives. This frustration led her to secret writing and thus she became a well known writer, contributing a lot to the world. Agnisakshi was influenced by her own life and later it was made as a movie by Shyama Prasad, with Shobhana doing the title role.


As per Nambudiri custom, only elder male of a family was allowed to marry from his caste while the rest contracted sambandhams with women from other castes, particularly Nairs. This trick was done so that inherited property won’t go outside. This rule’s end result was that many ladies of Nambudiri families remained unmarried throughout their lives and as per rules even sun rays can’t touch their body. Such ladies used to lead a miserable life and in case she goes out, she needs to cover herself fully with a palm umbrella. Similarly low caste women were not allowed to wear blouses in front of high caste men. Born in high caste or low, a woman’s wife was miserable. Such systems existed in Kerala till early 1900’s. Through her writings, Lalithambika criticized all these social evils faced by both upper caste and lower caste woman.   


Her significant works include - Adyathe Kathakal, Takarna Talamura, Kilivaathililoode, Kodumkatil Ninnu, Moodupadathil, Agni Pushpangal and Seetha Muthal Satyavathi Vare.  

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Updated: October 08, 2013


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