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Sankaranarayana Menon

Sankaranarayana Menon
Sankaranarayana Menon Chundayil

(1929-02-15)15 February 1929
DiedJune 6, 2023(2023-06-06) (aged 94)
OccupationKalarippayattu teacher
SpouseSoudamini Amma
  • Sankunni Panicker (father)
  • Kalyanikutti Amma (mother)
AwardsPadma Shri, Kerala Folklore Academy Gurupooja Award

Sankaranarayana Menon (February 15, 1929 – June 6, 2023) popularly known as Unni Gurukkal was a Kalaripayattu gurukkal or teacher from Chavakkad, Kerala, India. For his contributions in the field of Kalaripayattu, he has won several noted awards including Kerala Folklore Academy Award and India's fourth highest civilian honor Padma Shri.[1]


Menon was born in 1929 on 15 February, to Mudavangattil Sankunni Panicker and Chundayil Kalyanikutti Amma, in a family of Kalaripayat experts at Niramaruthur near Tirur in present day Malappuram district of Kerala.[2][3] In 1955, family came to Chavakkad in Thrissur district.[3] His family were traditional leaders of the army of the king of Vettathunadu in Malabar.[4] In 1957, the family established a Kalarippayattu school called Vallabhatta Kalari in Chavakkad.[3][5]

At the age of six, Menon started learning Kalaripayattu from his father Sankunni Panicker.[4] He made his debut at Mudavangad Kalari at the age of fourteen.[6] He became a Kalari gurukkal (teacher) at the age of 16.[7]

Unni Gurukkal spread Kalaripayattu, an Indian martial art from Kerala, outside India and started branches of his Kalaripayattu school in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates]], France and Belgium.[7][1] His team, which has performed Kalaripayattu in over 50 countries, also performed Kalaripayattu during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dubai.[7]

He died on June 6, 2023.[2]

Personal life

His wife Soudamini Amma is from Malappuram, from the Ozhur Kozhissery Punnakal family.[3] Menon married Saudamini, at the age of 33.[4] Their sons Krishnadas Gurukkal, Rajan Gurukkal and Dineshan Gurukkal are also Kalaripayattu practitioners. [7] He has also a daughter.

Awards and honors

  • Padma Shri 2022[1]
  • Kerala Folklore Akademi Gurupooja Award 2019[7]
  • Kerala Kalamandalam Silver Jubilee Award[7]
  • Nehru Yuvakendra Award[7]
  • Suvarnamudra Award[7]
  • Indian Kalaripayattu Association Lifetime Achievement Award[7]
  • Then Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam honored Unni Gurukkal on National Sports Day[8]


  1. ^ a b c "An ambassador for Kalaripayattu worldwide". The Hindu. 26 January 2022. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b "പത്മശ്രീ ശങ്കരനാരായണ മേനോൻ അന്തരിച്ചു; വിട പറയുന്നത് കളരിപ്പയറ്റിന്റെ പെരുമ വിദേശരാജ്യങ്ങളിലെത്തിച്ച മഹാൻ". Janam TV (in Malayalam).
  3. ^ a b c d "കളരി ഗുരുക്കള്‍ക്ക് പത്മശ്രീ തിളക്കം". Southlive (in Malayalam). 26 January 2022. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Heart in Kalari, even at 93 for this Kerala gentleman". The New Indian Express. 5 December 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Meet Sankaranarayana Menon, A 93-Year-Old Martial Arts Expert Who Was Conferred Padma Shri". IndiaTimes. 27 January 2022. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  6. ^ ലേഖകൻ, മാധ്യമം (26 January 2022). "ചുവടുതെറ്റാത്ത കളരി ഗുരുക്കൾക്ക് പത്മശ്രീയുടെ ആദരം | Madhyamam". (in Malayalam). Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "അടവു തെറ്റാതെ ഉണ്ണി ഗുരുക്കൾ; നവതിയിൽ പുരസ്കാര നിറവ്". ManoramaOnline (in Malayalam). 13 January 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  8. ^ "കളരിപ്പയറ്റ് പെരുമ വാനോളമുയർത്തി ഉണ്ണി ഗുരുക്കൾ; തേടിയെത്തി പത്മ പുരസ്കാരം". Manoramanews. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
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Sankaranarayana Menon
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