The Anāsakta Karma of P.K. Gode

P.K. Gode undertook his lifelong scholarly penance in the spirit of what the Bhagavad Gita describes as Anāsakta Karma or the path of Detached Action. Gode spent generous sums of money from his own pocket to send his latest research papers to scholars both in India and abroad. This eventually created a situation where scholars and researchers began to anticipate when his next output would reach their table.
The Anāsakta Karma of P.K. Gode
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The Anāsakta Karma of P.K. Gode

P.K. GODE ENDURES as a superb example of Anāsakta Karma (or the path of Selfless Action) that the Bhagavad Gita expounds upon so compellingly. In what would shock — and sound unbelievable to —  most people today, Gode spent generous sums of money from his own pocket to send his latest research papers to scholars both in India and abroad. This eventually created a situation where scholars and independent researchers began to anticipate when his next oven-fresh output would reach their table. This is the unspoilable fruit of carrying on sustained work measured not in years but decades. 

Prodiguous Contributor and Editor

P.K. GODE ALSO SHARED two other traits common with his contemporary scholar-stalwarts: multidisciplinary multitasking and institution building. Thus, apart from his regular duties as Curator of BORI, apart from consistently publishing research papers, he distinguished himself as an indefatigable editor and prodiguous contributor to an eclectic range of journals. And apart from these, he seeded and built institutions.

In his lifetime, Gode edited more than ten thousand pages of scholarly research material related to various topics in the field of Indology. On numerous occasions, the editing work was a collaborative effort with scholars of the eminence of R.D. Ranade, S.M. Katre and V.S. Sukhtankar. To give just a whiff of the flavour of this contribution, Gode was involved in editing the ambitious Sanskrit Dictionary on Historical Principles endeavour started by S.M. Katre, its Chief Editor. Gode also wrote 400 book reviews and scores of forewords and prefaces to various publications and books. 

And when he had time to spare from all this hectic work, he edited the Oriental Literary Digest, founded the New Indian Antiquary and Review of Philosophy and Religion — all monthly journals. In 1944, he cofounded the Indian Philological Association with S.M. Katre.

Indeed, there was no scholarly journal, magazine or university publication that did not have the fortune of being graced by P.K. Gode’s essays. In a memorable speech that Mahamahopadhyaya P.V. Kane delivered in 1946, he listed a total of 44 such publications that were active throughout (unpartitioned) India. P.K. Gode regularly contributed to more than 90 per cent of these. In no particular order, these include, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, The Indian Antiquary, B.C. Law Journal, The Journal of the Ganganatha Jha Research Institute, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Indian Culture, The Journal of the Oriental Research, Karnataka Historical Review, Poona Orientalist, Journal of the University of Bombay, Journal of the Mythic Society, Calcutta Oriental Journal, Yoga Monthly, The New Indian Antiquary, New Indian Antiquary Extra Series, Journal the Tanjore Saraswati Mahal Library, … Gode also wrote standalone papers as well as multipart essays on the same topic. The minimum page count of his average research paper was 15. 

But Gode had still not had enough. He edited and contributed to several thick Commemoration volumes celebrating the contributions of his senior contemporaries. Notable Commemoration volumes include those dedicated to P.V. Kane, B.C. Law, F.W. Thomas and Denison Ross. He singlehandedly edited two volumes entitled V. S. Sukthankar Memorial Edition, totalling about a thousand pages. It was Gode’s loving tribute to  Sukhthankar for whom he had Himalayan reverence. 

The Prismatic Ocean of Gode’s Research

NOW, FOR THE MAIN COURSE. For starters, even a casual glance at the titles of P.K. Gode’s research topics reveals variety, novelty, quirk, sprawl and eclectics. While I’ve mentioned a few titles at the beginning of this essay series, here’s a more ample and varied selection: 

  1. Date of Ganitamrtalahari of Ramakrsna

  2. Date of Jvaratimirabhaskara of Kayastha Camunda

  3. Date of Kankali Grantha

  4. Ayurvedaprakasa of Madhava Upadhyaya 

  5. Who was the Guru of Anandabodha ? — Vimuktatman or Atmavasa?

  6. Rasa-Kaumudi, an anonymous work on Alamkara 

  7. Rare Manuscripts of Subbuticandra’s commentary on Amarakosa

  8. Identity of a Manuscript of Dhanurveda in the Govt. Mss. Library at the B.O.R. Institute

  9. Vyavaharamanjari, an Unknown work of Bhojaraja on Dharmasastra

  10. Identification of historical and Geographical Names in the Laksmanotsava, a Medical Treatise composed in A. D. 1450  

  11. The Nature and Contents of a Lost Medical Treatise by Kharanada (multipart series)

  12. Use of Guns and Gun-powder in India from A. D. 1400 onwards (multipart series)

  13. Akasabhairavakalpa, an unknown Source of Vijayanagar History

  14. Some Notes on the History of Tea

  15. The Indian Bullock-Cart: Its Vedic and Pre-Historic Ancestors 

  16. The Role of the Courtezan in the Early History of Indian Painting

  17. The Testimonials of Good Conduct to Warren Hastings by the Benares Pandits

  18. The Hindu Nose-Ornament, its Past and Present (multipart series)

  19. Sangitakamalakara, an Unknown Work on Music mentioned by Kamalakara in His Commentary on the Harivilasakavya

  20. Antiquity of some Iconographic Verses about the Mahalaksmi of Kolhapur occurring in Works on Architecture — Before A. D. 1200

  21. Some Notes on the History of the Fig (multipart series)

  22. Some Sanskrit Verses regarding the Manufacture of Rose-water

  23. Some Notes on the History of Indian Dietics with Special Reference to the History of Jalebi

  24. Studies in the Regional History of Indian Paper Industry (multipart series)

  25. Some Provincial Social Customs and Manners mentioned as Duracaras (multipart series)

  26. Studies in the History of Indian Cosmetics and Perfumery (multipart series)

  27. History of Canaka (gram) as Food for Horse (multipart series)

  28. Some Estimates of the Indian Physician

  29. On Annotators and their Trade

  30. Govindamisra, the Rajaguru and Mantri of Gajapati Prataparudradeva of Orissa and His Works 

But I’m not yet done. In the next episode, we’ll look at the kind of inestimable value embedded throughout Gode’s astonishing scholarly corpus. 

To be continued

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