Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi –A Savant in Search of Truth
By Ramcharan Hattiangdi
December 15th, 2021, marks the centenary of Gopal Shankar Hattiangdi’s birth, in Bombay, to Umabai and H. Shankar Rau. He grew up in the salubrious environs of a bungalow in Delhi, ‘Arcadia’ villa in Simla, and ‘Vasudev Bhavan’ on Laburnum Road in Bombay, under the tutelage of his father, H. Shankar Rau, B.A., C.I.E., who served in the Ministry of Finance, then as Member (Finance) of the Legislative Assembly of India (1929-1931), and later as Controller of Currency, the Reserve Bank of India, prior to seeking early retirement to serve nobler causes.
Gopal had a brilliant academic career in matriculation, graduate, post-graduate, post-doctoral studies, Sigma Xi and Phi Lambda Upsilon at the then Royal Institute of Science in Bombay, and at the University of Southern California, U.S.A. After a brief stint at the U.S. Office of Naval Research, Washington, he joined Lever Brothers, India, as a covenanted technical officer in 1949, and rapidly rose from Chief Chemist to Senior Company Executive at Hindustan Lever.
In recognition of his excellence in the domain of science and technology, Dr Gopal Shankar Hattiangdi, Ph.D., D.Phil. (h.c.), D.Litt. (h.c.), was elected, in 1960, into the fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, London, U.K., and, in 1963, into the fellowship of the Indian Academy of Sciences. In 1964, he was conferred the Dr K. L. Moudgill Prize and Citation by Dr Zakir Husain, (then) Vice President of India. His professional honours included the fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry, U.K., the Indian Chemical Society and the Bureau of Indian Standards.
He was an honorary Chairman or Member of numerous Technical Committees and Scientific Advisory Boards of the Government of India – Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Directorate General of Technical Development, Directorate General of Health Services, Bureau of Indian Standards, University Grants Commission, et al, from 1953 to 1976.
Gopal was a keen sports enthusiast, having played cricket in school, bridge and carom at HLL tournaments in which he won several awards. He was an avid photographer and, in the 1940s, he processed prints at home. His passion for music, which he shared with his sisters, Radha R. Saletore and Krishna R. Kodical who learnt to play the sitar from Ustad Mohammed Khan, culminated with taaleem of Hindustani classical vocal music under Ustad Aman Ali Khan. While pursuing post-doctoral studies at the U.S.C., he recorded a 3-minute, 78 rpm analog disc.
In the realm of science and technology, Dr Gopal S. Hattiangdi published 1 book, 8 monographs and 48 research papers in India, the U.S.A. and the U.K.
His deep spiritual quest was guided by H.H. Swami Anandashram, which inspired research into the lives of spiritual masters, the Vedas and the Upanishads. His discerning exegeses of the subtle essence of venerable Sanskrit treatises offer lucid perspectives in the form of 28 books and booklets, many of which are accessible perennially for posterity on this website.
The author of this piece, Shri Ramcharan Hattiangdi, is the third generation of the Hattiangdi-kars of Laburnum Rd., Mumbai. Much like his father, Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi, Ramcharan focused on chemical technology at the University of Bombay, where he secured his post grad. degree with distinction in 1969. He has worked as a senior executive in Voltas Ltd. in India and the U.A.E.; later as Marketing Manager at Mobil Petrochemicals International in India and in Europe, and still later as Sr.Consultant with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, Riyadh. He counts travel, reading, sport, art, photography, music and spiritual pursuit as his abiding interests.
Mentioning his youth, he notes that his father, and grandfather (Shri H.Shankar Rau) laid stress on “education and excellence, discipline, punctuality, respect and service to elders, simplicity, integrity, prayer and dedication” as guideposts in his early life. He further adds “By Lord Bhavanishankar`s divine will, our family and I have been blessed by our three Swamijis, who have uniquely graced our residence on more than one occasion. May He and They continue to guide us to Bliss."