When P.V. Kane Honoured P.K. Gode

P.K. Gode lived in a fortunate period which not only recognised his contribution but valued and celebrated it. The highest point in Gode’s productive and distinguished life arrived on May 18, 1949. He was honoured by the redoubtable Mahamahopadhyaya Pandurang Vaman Kane in a public function held in the BORI premises in Poona.
When P.V. Kane Honoured P.K. Gode
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PROFESSOR VISHVA BANDHU SHASTRI was another close friend of P.K. Gode. As the Honorary Director of Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute, Hoshiarpur, he had been a lifelong admirer of Gode’s work. This was the high pedestal on which he had placed Gode: 

 "I am a great admirer of Dr. Parashuram K. Gode…he has set an example of ideal devotion to Sarasvati…dedicating to her exclusive servicemore than one-half of every twenty-four hours that he has had at his disposal. And, all this he has done most patiently, unassumingly and silently. It is a matter of great rejoicing that the mid-night oil that he has burnt, so profusely, paying its price in maximum self-surrender, has produced an exceptionally bright light… He is at once the envy of and the beacon for the hundreds upon hundreds of the very inquisitive fellow-workers in his varied field who would fain follow in his footsteps but wonder…how this hero of their hopes had managed to mould his pen to turn out the five centuries of his extremely learned papers." [Emphasis added]

Their friendship dated back to forty years. Each time Vishva Bandhu travelled to Poona, he would invariably visit Gode and spend quality time in his company. Their discussions revolved mostly around their respective scholarly endeavours. 

When the aforementioned two volumes of Studies in Indian Literary History were published, Vishva Bandhu immediately landed in Poona in 1954 and volunteered to publish a volume of Gode’s remaining papers. This task was completed in 1961 with the publication of the first volume of Studies in Indian Cultural History. Dedicating the volume to Vishva Bandhu, this is how Gode extols him: 

"Prof. Vishva Bandhuji stands in the front rank by virtue of his scholarship and capacity to organise scholarship and direct it in productive channels as vouched by his unremitting toil in the cause of his Institute during the last four decades. His name "Vishva Bandhu is very significant as he has proved to be a benefactor or Kalyanamitra…Ever since my contact with him forty years ago, my esteem for his good work and high regard for the work done by his brother-workers under his inspiration has been increasing more and more."  

To our present age of transactional relationships where marriages shatter faster than fleeting friendships, this seems like a fake exercise in mutual back-scratching. That this degradation has infected the Indian society — hallmarked by warm relationships even with strangers — is all the more tragic. As early as 1942, this is how George Orwell had portrayed his own society: 

"We are all drowning in filth. When I talk to anyone or read the writings of anyone who has any axe to grind, I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Everyone’s thought is forensic, everyone is simply putting a “case” with deliberate suppression of his opponent’s point of view, and, what is more, with complete insensitiveness to any sufferings except those of himself and his friends… "  

But the Indian society of 1942 was largely uncorrupted. Thus, this quality of deep, lasting and meaningful camaraderie was actually the zeitgiest of the era. It was truly pan Indian. In Gode’s neighbouring Karnataka state, we notice a similar mien in the bond between say, T.S. Venkannayya and A.R. Krishna Sastri. Its most moving expression is given by D.V. Gundappa who was attached to both of them and they in turn, to him. This is what he reminisced after both of them were long gone: “Where can I find the likes of Venkannayya or A.R. Krishna Sastri who could enlighten me in an instant about the nuances of the Kannada language or revel in their profound insights about our literature?”    

Awards, Accolades, Tributes

P.K. GODE WAS FORTUNATE to live in a time where his contribution was not only recognised and valued but feted. At every turn, his pan-Indian scholarly brotherhood heaped lavish praise and honoured him multiple times in different ways and on varying platforms. The towering educationist and scholar K.V. Rangaswami Aiyangar memorably summed up Gode’s Dīkṣā when he wrote: 

"Mr. Gode is still under 60. His research work has been done not as a leisured University Professor, but in intervals of leisure snatched from his heavy daily work as the Curator of a great manuscript library and a member of its instructional and training sides."

Incidentally, Rangaswami Iyengar was the only scholar-friend who read every single paper that P.K. Gode published and sent him valuable feedback. 

In January 1943, Gode received the Distinguished Services medal from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. He was nominated as Associate Member of Ecole Francaise, Honorary Editor of Annual Bibliography of Indian archaeology, Honorary President of Cultural Committee of Argentine, Honorary Editor of Indian Journal of Science and Letters and Member of the Editorial Board of the Studi Italiani di Science e Lettere, to name just a few. 

The highest point in Gode’s productive and distinguished life arrived on May 18, 1949. He was honoured by the redoubtable Mahamahopadhyaya Pandurang Vaman Kane in a public function held in the BORI premises. Kane paid a spirited tribute to Gode’s outstanding services to Indology. The felicitation lasted for more than three hours and became the talk of the Poona of that period. Local papers covered the event extensively and wrote glowing editorials extolling the life and contributions of P.K. Gode. There is an interesting sidelight to this. In his acceptance speech at the function, Gode extensively quoted the Yogavāsiṣṭha. Writing about this in the first volume of his Studies in Indian Literary History, this is what he says: 

"I had occasion to point out the remarks of the Yogavāsiṣṭha on abhyāsa (practice) to the audience at a function in my honour held on 18th May, 1949 at the B.O.R. Institute with M.M. Dr. P.V. Kane in the chair. Though no students in the audience approached me to learn the details of these remarks, some professors approached me next day and took down the exact verses from the Yogavāsiṣṭha quoted by me at the function." [Emphasis added]   

Gode was clearly aware of the laxity that had already dawned in Indology by that time. 

To be continued

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