G. Sankara Kurup, better known as Mahakavi G, 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. With part of the prize money he established the literary award Odakkuzhal in 1968. 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.
After completing his education, Kurup worked as the Malayalam teacher in a secondary school in Thiruvillwamala in 1921. Later he became a teacher in the Government Secondary Teacher Training Institute near Trichur. He worked as the Malayalam Pandit in Maharaja's College, Ernakulam, and retired as Professor of Malayalam from the College in 1956.
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 essaysâ€”in all about 40 works in Malayalam. He also translated the RubÃ¡iyÃ¡t of Omar KhayyÃ¡m, the Sanskrit poem Meghaduta of Kalidas, and the collection of poems Gitanjali 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 â€œbard of scienceâ€ who explores the role of science in achieving the human potential.