Servo Do Ideal
(Servant of an Ideal)

 

By Sadanand Bhatkal

Dr. Gopal Shankar Hattiangdi, sadhak, scientist, pracharak, writer - a versatile personality – will have achieved a score of 80 on 15th December 2001. It is difficult for a contemporary like me to adequately analyse the life and work of Gopal’s four score eventful years. There is no compelling reason for my attempting a brief assessment of the tremendous achievements of this Tikakar. We both are driven by an urge to seek the truth though it may be in different ways.

It will be useful to rely on the bio-vitae of Gopal instead of trying to present an impressionistic overview. The fact file starts:

Born: 15th December 1921

Education: Bharada High School (1932-1936)

However, the important point to note is his stay in New Delhi and Shimla for nearly ten years during his childhood. The influence of Mahajans of the two capitals on young Gopal must have certainly been responsible for moulding his personality. This was under the watchful eyes of H. Shankar Rau who was a role model for everyone who aspired to be a gentleman, an efficient administrator, diligent volunteer and/or a builder of ideas. Gopal’s mother Umabai must have been equally inspiring. Bharada High School was in those days known to impart liberal education.


The literary output of Gopal is a Hattiangdi family tradition. Those of us who have gone through the earlier files of the “Kanara Saraswat” have noticed that articles written by H. Narain Rao, H. Shankar Rau are brilliant in prose, accurate in facts, lucid in language and educative in content.


Gopal’s academic career spans over a decade and a half - first (1936-1949) in the prestigious Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science. Later, his research work took him also to the University of South California. He earned his Ph.D. at a very young age with his thesis, “Science and Technology”

A little known fact: Gopal had prepared a report on the chemical industry at the request of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in early forties (1942-44). Pandit Nehru was the (then) Chairman of the National Planning Committee of the Indian National Congress. The committee had produced reports on every important facet of National importance. The eminent economist Prof K.T. Shah was the general editor of the series.


1949-1976 were for Gopal eventful years in many ways. On his return from the United States where he had further opportunity for study and research, Gopal joined Hindustan Lever. During this period he made noticeable contributions for the organization, for the industry and for the country.


A book on ‘Vanaspati Industry’ was published in 1958. Eight useful monographs were written and forty eight research papers got published in scientific periodicals – some of these in prestigious journals of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He was invited to join several Technical Committees and special advisory boards of the Government of India, CSIR, ISI and others. He was appointed as chairman on some of these. He was also admitted as a Fellow of several institutions like Indian Academy of Science, Indian Chemical Society, Bureau of Indian Standards, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Arts, and admitted as a Member of American Chemical Society and American Association 0f the Advancement of Science.


His father H Shankar Rau’s contribution to the Shri Chitrapur Math and particularly his association with His Holiness Swami Anandashram are well known. It was but natural that Gopal was drawn to this institution and took an active part in its activities. He made a distinct contribution in his own way, especially after HSR’s demise in 1957. ‘Pandurang Pandurang’ and ‘ Fifty Years of Bliss’ were both released in 1965. The latter is a monumental work recording the history of the Math during the half century and serves as an authentic document useful to students of the history of the community.

 
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Gopal received recently from Swami Sadyojat Shankarashram the “Shrimat Anandashram Award for the lifetime achievement”. The citation describes him as ‘Student of Science, seeker of truth and servant of God”.

Amongst the three his being a ‘seeker of truth’ is the most trustworthy and valuable aspect of Gopal’s life and personality. His study of the Vedic texts as well as other books of wisdom – ancient or modern were influenced by the samskaras he was exposed to during  his youth, as also by the guidance he received from H.H. Swami Anandashram. His quest for truth led him to delve into the Bible, earning a Diploma for Bible History. But most importantly his scientific approach enabled him to define a methodology before undertaking any re(search) - be it of Vedic hymns , poems of saints and the several subjects he has handled in five published books and twenty pocket books and many unpublished scripts . While we know about his translation of 10552 hymns of Rig-veda, few are aware that Gopal had prepared an index of over 30,000 words for a Konkani- English Dictionary.


I stayed very near Gopal’s residence - ‘Indra Kunj’ - on Laburnum Road. There was a time when we met every week. For Gopal, a visit to Anandashram Colony would not be complete unless he graced C/2 apartment. At least a few of his booklets were published by me and I am sure that I have provided some useful material for some others. Krishna Kurwar was a common friend whom both of us held in love and respect. Gopal’s latest publication is dedicated to the memory of Kurwar, who helped the production of almost all of his work since ‘Fifty Years of Bliss’.


I was immensely pained (and deeply hurt) - when Gopal did not remember Sadanand - a bookman and a close friend when he immersed 70 files of the English translation of Rg-Veda richas in the Arabian Sea.


What stands out eminently in the voluminous literature Gopal has made available to us is the music, rhythm and form of each phrase that he uses. He uses always ‘the appropriate’ word. Dictionaries and the Thesaurus must be his constant companion, though he is fully conscious that they can also deceive and mislead you. It is not just an intuition but the grasp of the meaning of the meanings that help you to choose a word. Each word that he uses is meaningful and pregnant. I recall an incident when his use of word ‘pontiff’ in a certain context brought forth critical reactions from some persons who were ignorant of semantics.


Gopal is a loner. His two invaluable companions are his partner in life Malini (married 1945) and Words. Sanskrit has provided us with the words and phrases that envelop myriad nuances of nature’s wealth, and human experiences and aspirations. English is equally rich in this respect. Gopal is fascinated by these words. To borrow a phrase used by a literary critic to describe a literary genius. Gopal can be said to be ‘a treasurer and a prodigal of words’.


Gopal is guided by the motto: Vidya Gurunam Guruh. It is this quest of knowledge that is the foundation for his search of truth.


There are few persons in this world who have talent. Fewer still who can develop erudition. Those who are blessed with both can be said to have the touch of genius. These are the few ones who contribute most to our cultural development. The voluminous literature that Gopal has made available has enriched our cultural world, inspired several amongst us, and certainly produced many gems that one would like to cherish. Most of it will retain its value and will be found useful by generations that follow.


On his 80th birthday, we pray that the Almighty and the Guru bestow Their Blessings on him.

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Books by Gopal Hattiangdi

Pandurang Pandurang (1965)

Fifty Years of Bliss (1965)

Pashu Puraan (1967)

Thus Spake Our Guru (1966)

Guru- Gita (1966)

Gayatri (1967)

Dharma (1968)

Prayers (1969)

Hymns of illuminations (1969)

The Reality (1969)

Lyrical Wisdom of Shankaracharya (1970)

The Absolute (1970)

Guru Droha (1971)

Vedic Divinities (1972)

The Nectar of Dharma (1986)

Saraswati (1987)

Meditations and Musings (1990)

Perennial Philosophy (1995)

Beneath A Spreading Ashwattha Tree (1996)

Anandi-Ananda (1999)

Dhimahi (2000)

A Student`s Guide to the Rg Veda (2000)

Observation & Oddities

Parijnana II – The Unknown Phenomenon

Aphorisms from the Rig Veda (2002)

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The writer (born 1922), a personal friend and contemporary of Dr Gopal Hattiangdi was, since 1946, one of the main driving forces behind the Popular Book Depot and Popular Prakashan, Mumbai. These institutions made their distinctive contribution by printing a wide range of books and published material which made a significant impact in the field of education. He was actively involved with publications like Indian Publisher and Bookseller and Indian Writing Today. He has written poems, and also worked as a popular newspaper columnist. Shri Sadanand Bhatkal was also sometime President of the Kanara Saraswat Association. Mumbai.


(This article written to mark Dr.Hattiangdi`s 80th birthday, is extracted, with permission, from the KSA archives.)