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Balakrishna Panikkar V. C


 V.C. Balakrishna Panicker (1889 - 1912) was a journalist and poet who died at a very young age of 24, making a mark in all the fields he stepped in. During this brief life he produced numerous poems, slokas, plays, articles and translations, some of which like An Elegy and Viswaroopam have made him immortal among lovers of Malayalam poetry.

VC belonged to the erstwhile Calicut district, parts of which are now in Malappuram district. He was born on 1st March 1889 at Oorakam-Keezhmuri near Vengara. His family name was Vellaatt Chembalancheri. Though he belonged to a poor family, some who found out his capabilities , advised his father to take him Mankavu palace in Kozhikode and it was the four years he spent there in the heady company of literary giants that molded the young VC into a romantic poet and a self-confident person. He honed his skill in classical versifying with the  a translation of Ettan Thampuran's Sookhtimukhtamanimala and a hagiographical work entitled Manavikrameeyam. He also contributed articles to periodicals like Manorama (Calicut), Rasikaranjini and Bhashaposhini. He was introduced to the best of English pre-romantic and romantic poets and became an ardent admirer of Wordsworth and Thomas Gray.

V.C. is now remembered mainly for his two long poems, Oru Vilapam (A Lament) and Viswaroopam. The influence of Gray's Elegy is evident in V.C.'s Oru Vilapam. The description of nature in Viswaroopam is more mature and restrained.

 V.C. was also an accomplished prose writer. He was editor of journals such as Kerala Chinthamani (Trichur), Malabari (Tirur) and Chakravarthi (Kochi). He is today remembered for his bold editorial which he wrote on 26th October 1910 against the externment of Swadeshabhimani editor Sri K. Ramakrishna Pillai from Travancore. He accuses the courtiers of the Travancore palace, Saravana and Sankaran Thampi of having conspired to charge Pillai with treason after he had attacked their rapacity. The 21-something Editor makes a prophetic statement : ' Posterity will acclaim Mr. Pillai as a great hero of Travancore'. He argued convincingly that Travancore had externed not Mr. Pillai the individual, but the Editor of Swadeshabhimani. The Editor is a representative of the public and therefore, externing him without notice or a trial is against public interest.

V.C. showed remarkable understanding of the political undercurrents in Travancore and Cochin and expressed his views boldly through his editorial. He would have matured into a powerful political commentator at a time when India's freedom struggle was about to be unfolded with Gandhi's return to India from South Africa in 1915. But VC passed away three years before the Gandhi era was to begin. He died on 20th October 1912 died of tuberculosis at the age of 23.