The Education of a Titan

P.K. Gode was homeschooled by his father till he was ten years old. He underwent rigorous training in Sanskrit and English. Later in life, he had the fortune of learning under top-notch scholars and teachers of that era including P.D. Gune, V.S. Rajwade, Pandit M.P. Oak, and R.D. Ranade. He was deeply influenced by them and imbibed their discipline and research methods.
The Education of a Titan
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The Education of a Titan

LIKE ALMOST ALL STALWARTS of the New Indian Renaissance, P.K. Gode too, was sculpted by profound forces in his childhood and formative years. He was born on July 11, 1891 in Deorukh village, Sangameshwar Taluk, Ratnagiri District. The person who gave Ratnagiri (literally: mountain of gems) its name must count as a truly wise soul. For centuries, it continuously produced gems — Kanhoji Angre, Balgangadhar Tilak, P.V. Kane, G.S. Sardesai, Shripad Damodar Satwalekar, Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve and B.R. Ambedkar. It also produced the Islamic terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. 

Sri Krishnaji Govind Gode (1861-1930) homeschooled P.K. Gode till the third standard and gave him a solid grounding in English language and grammar. He also gave him rigorous training in Sanskrit. In Gode’s own words, this is how his father educated the young lad: 

My father was a devoted reader of the Kesari edited by Lokamanya Tilak and the Sudharak edited by Principal Agarkar. Though not a Sanskrit Pandit he compelled me to commit to memory the entire Amarakosa and many Subhasitas. He had collected a cupboardful of Marathi books of the serious variety including many Marathi translations of the works of English writers like Herbert Spencer and others. He used to compel me to read these books though I could not understand the value of their contents.

This quality of childhood education was characteristic of the era. P.K. Gode’s (senior and junior) contemporaries like P.V. Kane, Satwalekar, G.S. Sardesai, et al., underwent a similar education at home.

In 1900, P.K. Gode enrolled in the Agashe English School at Ratnagiri and then moved to the Rajapur English School where his uncle, S.B. Gode was the Headmaster. This uncle, in Gode words, was “a disciple of Shri Kaka Maharaja Puranik the saint of Dhopeshwar…and never took his food daily without reading one chapter of the Adhyatma Ramayana. Many of his students including myself followed his example by reading Marathi devotional works like Gurucaritra etc. I used to visit Shri Kaka every Saturday afternoon to hear his discourses on Ramayana.” (Emphasis added)

P.K. Gode developed a keen interest in Sanskrit at that age and it became an abiding love throughout his life. He began to master the language by diligently practicing the lessons given in Dr. R.G. Bhandarkar’s Sanskrit Readers, which were wildly popular back then. It was in his honour that the renowned Bhandarkar’s Oriental Research Institute (BORI) was founded in Poona. P.K. Gode would go on to play an important role in the institution since its inception. 

He studied high school at Samartha Vidyalaya, Kolhapur and New English School, Poona. In 1916, P.K. Gode graduated from Fergusson College, Poona with a high second class majoring in Sanskrit and English. Two years later, he cleared his M.A. from the same college in the same subjects. 

Two elements stand out in his educational journey. 

The first is the loving care and unstinted encouragement that Gode’s elder sisters showered on his education. The eldest sister Smt Banubai Sahasrabuddhe and her sister Smt Malatibai Karve personally oversaw and supported Gode’s education in Poona till his postgraduation. It could not be otherwise. Their father Krishnaji Govind Gode had infused this love for learning in all his children. In the deeply orthodox Maharashtrian milieu of an era that frowned upon women’s education, Krishnaji had sent his daughters to college. On several occasions, P.K. Gode pays moving tributes to his sisters and has dedicated his compendium, Thirty Years of Historical Research to them. This is how the dedication reads: 

TO THE LOVING MEMORY OF MY PARENTS

Krishnaji Govind Gode (1861-1930) 

Rukminibai Code (d. 1938)

AND

SISTERS

Banubai Sahasrabuddhe (d. 1931) (Wife of Rao Bahadur Dr. D. L. Sahasrabuddhe, M.Ag., D.Sc.)

Malatibai Karve (d. 1944) (Wife of Prof. R. D. Karve, M.A.)  

In the same volume, he movingly writes about his two elder sisters, “to whom I owe an irredeemable debt as they encouraged me to carry out all my educational aspirations at great sacrifice to themselves.” What he leaves unsaid is the exact nature of their sacrifices, which we can only guess but not fully grasp. Not all experiences can be captured in words. 

The second element is the quality and eminence of the teachers who taught Gode right from school all the way upto his M.A.  He meticulously records their names and that list reads like the who’s who of the world of scholarship that existed in the Maharashtra of his time. Here is a partial list: V. B. Vijapurkar, V.M. Joshi, J.S. Karandikar (editor of Lokmanya Tilak’s Kesari), P.D. Gune, V.S. Rajwade, Pandit M.P. Oak, and R.D. Ranade. P.K. Gode records how “in respect of academic outlook and research habits I have received direct inspiration from Prof. Ranade, Prof. Gune and Prof. Rajawade.” 

No student could have asked for better Gurus.    

Among these, Gode was directly mentored by Prof P.D. Gune continuously for a decade (1908-18) and exerted a powerful influence over him and shaped much of his career. It is best to hear this story in Gode’s evocative words: 

…the main credit for my study of Sanskrit Literature during the School and College career must be given to the late Dr. P. D. Gune, M.A., Phd., Professor of Sanskrit, Fergusson College and the Secretary of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute between 1915-1922. I first came into personal contact with him in 1908 and since that time up to his premature death in 1922 at the early age of 39 years our contact became deeper and deeper. He was my teacher of Sanskrit in the New English School, and later in the Fergusson College, Poona, from which College I passed my B. A. examination with Honours in Sanskrit in 1916. 

Gode repeatedly invokes the names of these Gurus in the prefaces to his collected works and other stray essays that he has written. Each invocation is laden with gratitude and veneration. Indeed, gratitude is one of the hallmarks of Gode’s personality, a trait we will examine in some detail later. 

To be continued

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