G Sankara Kurup (3 June 1901 – 2 February 1978) was the first winner of the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award. He won the prize in 1965 for his collection of poems in Malayalam Odakkuzhal (The Bamboo Flute, 1950). With part of the prize money he established the literary award Odakkuzhal in 1968.
Kurup published his first poem, called Salutation to Nature in 1918, while still a student. Apart from 25 collections of poetry, Kurup also wrote verse dramas and collections of literary essays—in all about 40 works in Malayalam. He also translated the Rubáiyát(1932) of Omar Khayyám, the Sanskrit poem Meghaduta (1944) of Kalidas, and the collection of poems Gitanjali (1959) of Rabindranath Tagore into Malayalam. Indeed, one often speaks of the influence of Tagore and Gandhi on the humanism and nationalism of Kurup. He has also been described as a “bard of science” who explored the role of science in achieving the human potential.
He was also the recipient of the Soviet Land Nehru Award, in 1967, and the Padma Bhushan in 1968. His poetry collection Viswadarshanam won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961 and Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1963.