Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!

Balamani Amma: Poetess Of Motherhood

Balamani Amma is one of the distinctive individuals who made an imprint on Malayalam literature. With nearly 500 poems to her name, she has become one of the most revered poets of all time. Her uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon’s book collections awakened the poet within her. Balamani Amma put into words the tenderest feelings of motherhood and womanhood in her style.


Balamani Amma was born on 19 July 1909 to Chittanjoor Kunhunni Raja and Nalapat Kochukutti amma in Punnayurkulam, Ponnani taluk, in Malabar.At the age of nineteen, she was married to Mr V.M. Nair. He was very supportive of her career as a writer. Mr Nair was the managing director and editor of the Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi and later worked as an executive in the automotive industry. She relocated to Kolkata with her husband after getting married.

The couple had three children, Kamala Surayya, Dr Sulochana Nalapat and Shyam Sundar. The eldest daughter Kamala Suraiya was an Indian  English poet and Malayalam writer nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1984. Balamani Amma passed away on September 29, 2004, after five years of battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Source of Inspiration

Balamani Amma was able to get through the educational hurdle by being mentored and trained by her uncle, Nalapat Narayana Menon, a remarkable Malayali poet. As a result, she began writing poems at a very young age. Her uncle, Nalapat Narayana Menon and poet Vallathol Narayana Menon were influential in helping her build her poetry empire even though she lacked formal education.

Her Works

Balamani Amma has authored more than 20 poetry collections, several prose works and translations. In 1930, her debut poem ‘Kooppukai’ was published. ‘Nivedyam’ is a collection of poems  Amma wrote between 1959 and 1986. Her acclaimed works include ‘Muthassi’ and ‘Nivedyam’. ‘Lokantharangalil’, an elegy composed in memory of her uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon, is among other well-known compositions. Her notable poetic collections include Kudumbini (1936), Dharmamargathil (1938), Sthree Hridayam (1939), Prabhankuram (1942), Bhavanayil (1942), Oonjalinmel (1946), Kalikkotta (1949), Velichathil (1951), Avar Paadunnu (1952), Lokantharangalil (1955), Sopanam (1958), Muthassi (1962), Mazhuvinte Katha etc.

Reflection of Gandhian Thoughts

The couple relocated to Calcutta at a period, when the liberation movement was gaining momentum, and her writings reflected Gandhian ideology.M. N. Karassery, a writer and critic, identified her as a Gandhian and felt that her works should be revisited when people consider Nathuram Godse to represent Indian nationalism.

The  Mother/Grandmother Of Malayalam Literature

Her contributions have earned her the names Amma (Mother) and Muthassi (Grandmother) in Malayalam poetry.In her early poetry, motherhood was portrayed from a fresh angle. Balamani Amma was a voracious reader of Indian mythology, and in her poems, she regularly questioned preconceived notions about the place of women. Her writings combined the ideas and stories of legendary figures while presenting women as strong people living regular lives. Her poems on social issues discuss interconnectedness among people, national conflicts, aspects of Indian culture, and a reconstruction of Puranic mythology in contemporary consciousness.

Critics view

Akittam Achuthan Namboothiri called her “prophet of human glory”.According to Ayyappa Panicker, the Malayalam poet and critic, her poems reflect three main areas of concern the role of women, the state of society and the upward urge of the human spirit. For K Satchidanandan, Balamani Amma’s poetry can be seen as an exploration of the “Jungian concept of collective identity”.


She received her first honour when Parikshit Tampuran, the former King of Kochi, gave her the Sahitya Nipuna Award. She received numerous literary accolades and awards, including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Muthassi (1963), Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Muthassi (1965), Asan Prize (1989), Vallathol Award (1993), Lalithambika Antharjanam Award (1993), Saraswati Samman for Nivedyam (1995), Ezhuthachan Award (1995), and N. V. Krishna Warrier Award (1997). In 1987, she received the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian decoration in India.

Balamani Amma Award

The Kochi International Book Festival Committee founded the Balamani Amma Award, which offers authors a monetary award. Google commemorated Balamani Amma with a Google Doodle on July 19, 2022, the 113th  day of her birth.

Amma served as an inspiration for later Malayalam poets. Due to her way of expressing love for her children and grandchildren in her poems, she earned the designations ‘Amma’ (mother) and ‘Muthassi’ (grandmother) in Malayalam poetry. Because of her great contributions to Malayalam literature, Balamani Amma lives on in the hearts of readers even today.

Credits and Reference