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Prof. Prithvi Nath Kaula

First Kashmiri world renowned library scientist

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

PN KaulaIn our country the tradition of maintaining big libraries as a store house of knowledge was prevalent even in ancient times. These libraries were considered to be the treasure of knowledge and wisdom.

In ancient India we had a university at Takshila (Peshawar) which was the first in the world of its own kind established in 700 B.C. with about 10,500 students from different countries on its rolls. It had the provision for teaching 60 subjects in its compus. It also had a very big well equipped library to cater the needs of its students. Then in Magadh region we had the Nalanda University with a very big library which was established in the 4th century B.C. This university had a big collection of rare books and manuscripts where the learned scholars from all over the then known world used to come for their academic pursuits and to quench their thirst for knowledge. Alexandria in Egypt also had one of the biggest libraries in ancient times, which was subsequently destroyed in the 7th century by one of the caliphs of Arabia during one of his campaigns on the simple logic that if the books in this library contain all that what is written in the holy Koran then it is of no use to keep them and if they do not contain all that what is written in the holy Koran than to read them in a great sin. Now no body knows what treasure of knowledge was stored in that world famous library of Alexandria.

The libraries all along have played a key role in developing the over all mental faculty of the human beings. They are generally regared as the excellent centres for self learning and self teaching. Many people rose to great heights in their life simply by studying in the libraries. In Kashmir, which was once a seat of higher learning Srinagar city alone had 22 well recognized libraries to spread the message of light and learnng to the different parts of the world.

Although the libraries were in existence in our country from times immemorial, but there was no system of arranging the books in them in a proper manner. The system for arranging the books in an orderly way in the libraries and properly cataloguing them into various heads was evolved for the first time by an American expert Tewy in the 19th century. Another American expert Dickinson was called by the authorities of the Punjab University, Lahore in the beginning of the 20th century to organise the library of the university in a proper manner based on the methodology adopted by Tewy. 

Prof. Kaula with high hopes and expectations left for Madras from the Kashmir Valley in August 1945, but when he reached the campus of the Madras University he found to his utter surprise that Prof. Ranganathan under whom he had to work had already taken premature retirement from the university service due to politics. The man to whom Prof. Kaula wished after entering the department of library science taking him to be Prof. Ranganathan was actually Prof. Thomas a great snob who was officiating in place of Prof. Ranganathan then and was obviously allergic to him. This folly on the part of Prof. Kaula naturally created further complications for him in his admission as the normal process of admission was over by that time and there was no scope for any new admission in the department Prof. Kaula had to run from pillar to post in an entirely new environment for his admission and ultimately with great difficulty he somehow succeeded in getting himself enrolled in the department of library science there as a student.

Prof. Kaula then with a letter of introduction went to Prof. Neelkanth Shastri’s place for advice who was a well known authority on the Tamil history. Prof. Shastri gave certain tips to Prof. Kaula and also advicee the latter to keep all the information given to him as a closely guarded secret else his career would be completely ruined. He also provided the residential address of Prof. Ranganathan to Prof. Kaula with a strict warning not to disclose the same to anybody.

Prof. Kaula then started paying secret visits to Prof. Ranganathan’s residence to take lessons from him. Soon he developed a very close and cordial relationship with Prof. Ranganathan and became his most favourite student. In the meantime Dr. S. Radhakrishnan who was the Vice Chancellor of the Benaras Hindu University then came to Madras and requested Prof. Ranganathan to join the Benaras Hindu University to reorganize the department of library science there Prof. Ranganathan with great hesitation accepted this offer and joined the Benaras Hindu University. He then asked Prof. Kaula to accompany him. Prof. Kaula then left his course at the Madras University half way through and after staying in that city for about 45 days went to Benaras and did his post graduate diploma course in library science from the Benaras Hindu Unviersity under the able guidance of Prof. Ranganathan in 1946 and was placed in second position in order of merit.

After completing this course Prof. Kaula went back to his native place Srinagar from Varanasi and joined the D.A.V. College there as a trained librarian in 1946. He then for better future prospects applied for the post of librarian in some better institutions for higher emoluments. In the meantime India became independent on 15th August 1947 and large scale communal riots broke out in the earstwhile Punjab province due to which the traditional link of Kashmir with the rest of India was completely cut off. All the trains were cancelled and every thing came to a grinding halt. In this atmosphere of turmoil, turbulence and uncertainty Prof. Kaula got an appointment letter from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani to join the service there. With great difficulty Prof. Kaula somehow managed his air journey from Srinagar to Delhi in that abnormal atmosphere and then took another four days from Delhi to reach Pilani to report for his duty as most of the trains were running late with long stoppages at different places where rioters used to enter the compartments to carry out their selective killings. Prof. Kaula then joined the Birla Institute of Technology and Science as a librarian on a higher scale than what he was getting in D.A.V. College, Srinagar.

Sir Morris Gwyer a retired High Court judge was the Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University in 1947. He invited Prof. S.R. Ranganathan an established authority in Library Science to the Delhi University to reorganize its library on modern lines and to formulate the syllabus for starting the Master’s degree in Library Science in the university. Prof. Ranganathan then called Prof. Kaula from Pilani to join the Delhi University. Prof. Kaula then on the advice of his Guru and mentor resigned from the post of librarian from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani and joined the Delhi University on a lesser scale as junior library assistant. He did not disclose it to any body not even to his father or else his father might scold him for committing this blunder.

Prof. Kaula then did his Master’s degree in Library Science in 1949 from the Delhi University and stood first in order of merit as the other two candidates could not get through. He thus became the first person in the whole world to have this unique honour with the blessings of his revered teacher Prof. Ranganathan as by that time the Master’s degree in Library Science was not even available in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge of England.

Prof. Kaula then in November 1950 went on deputation as librarian to Delhi College with a higher start in the lecturer’s grade to properly organize its library. Prof. Kaula also worked for a brief period in the ministry of labour government of India during the tenure of Gulzari Lal Nanda as the Labour Minister in the central government When in 1958 the University Grants Commission sanctioned the post of Reader in the department of Library Science of the Delhi University Prof. Kaula once again became the first person to be appointed on this coveted post. But unfortunately his father Pt. Damodar Kaul could not see his son achieving this unique distinction as he died two years earlier in 1956 at the age of 54 years at Srinagar, Kashmir while in service.

While working as a Reader in the department of Library Science of the Delhi University Prof. Kaula had a chance meeting with Veni Shanker Jha in 1960, who was the Vice Chancellor of the Benaras Hindu University then. Prof. Jha offered him the post of Librarian in the B.H.U. which Prof. Kaula politely declined saying that he could only consider the proposal when he would be placed in the professor’s grade and that too with two advanced increments to which. Prof. Jha subsequently agreed. Prof Kaula thus became the Librarian cum Professor in the department of Library Science of the B.H.U. without any formal application or interview in 1960.

He single handedly reclassified and recatalogued over 3,00,000 volumes of books of the university library, which was indeed a great task for any individual to be ever performed. It was described as a very big achievement by his professional colleagues.

Prof. Kaula in 1971 became the Librarian and Head of the department of Library and Information Science of the Benaras Hindu University. He functioned on this post upto 1979. He then got the promotion and became the Dean of the Arts Faculty of B.H.U. He retired from this post in 1984 after attaining the age of superannuation. After his retirement he became Professor Emeritus of the Library and Information Science in 1985 under the scheme of the University Grants Commission for five years upto 1990. He then migrated with his family from Varanasi to Lucknow and settled down in C-239, Indira Nagar.

While as a student of Library Science at the Benaras Hindu University during 1945 – 1946, Prof. Kaula contributed three papers to the Seventh All India Library Conference held at Baroda. He then after going to D.A.V. College Srinagar as a Librarian promoted the library movement in the whole Jammu and Kashmir state and published about 108 articles in various journals of Kashmir. His poems on libraries and the library movement had great impact on the people’s mind and developed in them a great interest towards the libraries. He then in 1949 published the first concise history of modern Kashmir under the title Tasvir - e –Kashmir. In the same year he drafted a plan for the reorganization of the library of the Jammu and Kashmir University on the invitation of its Vice Chancellor. Then on the invitation of the then secretary of education of the Jammu and Kashmir government he prepared an exhaustive plan for the modernization of the Sri Pratap Public Library, Srinagar.

Prof. Kaula in 1951 while on a deputation as the Librarian in the ministry of labour and employment, government of India started systematic bibliographic and documentation work for the first time in the various libraries of the central government. In the same year the government of Jammu and Kashmir offered him the post of Inspector of Libraries, which was first of its own kind in the Jammu and Kashmir state then. In 1952 in the loving memory of his teacher and mentor Prof. Kaula launched the establishment of the Ranganathan Endowment in Library Science. He then in 1954 drafted the Library Development Plan and the Library Bill for the then Delhi state.

Prof. Kaula between 1953 and 1955 functioned as the editor of Sharada a journal of the Kashmiri Pandit’s Association, Delhi. He then in 1962 published the first classified personal bibliography in India under the caption Malviyana of Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya. In 1967 while at Cuba he established a research centre in Library Science and at Havana as a UNESCO expert in the UNESCO Regional Centre in western hemisphere he very ably designed the Analytico - Synthetic classification of medicines. He has published about 50 books and monographs, 43 bibliographies, 500 articles, 500 book reviews besides 6000 items of news and notes uptill now.

Prof. Kaula was the member of the Council of Indian Library Association from 1949 upto 1953 and again from 1956 upto 1962. He was managing editor of Annal’s, Bulletins and Granthalaya of the Indian Library Association from 1949 upto 1953. He is editor of Herald of Library science from 1962, of Granthalaya Vigyan from 1970 and of International Information Communication from 1982. He was secretary of the Ranganathan Endowment for Library Science from 1952 upto 1961. He was general secretary of the Delhi Library Association from 1953 to 1955 and than from 1958 to 1960. He was its Vice President from 1956 to 1959. He was an expert member of Indian Standard Institution from 1957 to 1962; and from 1965 upto 1998. He was the vice president of the central government Libraries’ Association from 1958 to 1961. He was the member of the review committee of U.G.C. on Library Science from 1961 to 1963. He was the president of the Federation of Indian Library Associations in 1974 and became its Chairman in 1986. He was elected as the president of the Indian Library Association in 1996 for a term of two years.

Prof. Kaula was the Chairman of the Council of Literary and Adult Education from 1971 upto1985. He was an expert member of UNESCO Advisory Group on the compatibility of a higher degree in the Library Science; He also functioned as the Chairman and member of the panel which was constituted by the University Grants Commission for Library and Information Science from 1973 to 1975. He was also the Chairman of the Cadre Review Committee and Carriculum Development Committee of the UGC. He has been the visiting professor of 30 Indian universites and the universities in Jarusalem, Israel, Fedral Republic of Germany, GDR, Hungry, France, Vatican, Spain, Iran, Egypt, Russia, U.K., USA, Thailand and USSR. He was consultant on Library Science to various international organizations, national associations and government bodies. He is an international member of the American Bibliographical Institute from 1983. He is the patron of Kaula Endowment for Library and Information Sciences since 1975 and Kaula International Gold Medal Annual Award through an International Award Committee since 1975 besides an expert for the Ranganathan Kaula Gold Medal for Library Science for Indians since 1980.

Prof. Kaula was also invited to deliver a lecture by the Advanced Study Institute in Information Science. Pittsburg, USA and International Summer School for the training of librarians, Copenhagen (Denmark). He also visited several other countries in Asia and Europe like Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Hungry, Belgium, Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Puru, Jamaica, and Yogoslavia.

Prof. Kaula has attended the International Conference on Library Science at Tel Aviv in 1971, World Conference of Librarians at Brussels in 1977, Conference of South East Asian Librarians at Bangkok in 1978, First Regional Conference on classification in Library Science at Konigstein in Germany in 1979 and First International Conference in Information Sciences at Cairo in Egypt in 1982, Besides all this he also attended various seminars and conferences organized by FID, IFLA, UNESCO and ISO from time to time.

In 1968 Prof. Kaula was invited by the state department of the US government to deliver a series of lectures in the various American universities.

The prestigious Pra Mandi Beneficio Medal was given to Prof. Kaula in 1975 by Jao Pauto of Brazil for his outstanding work for the promotion of civilization, peace and human understanding for the creation of better world in future. He was honoured with Deutsche Bucheria Medal of German Democratic Republic in 1981 for his contribution in the field of Library Science. He got the International Roll of Honour Plaque from the American Bibliographical Institute for his distinguished work. He was honoured by the Fetschrift Committee in 1974 for his dedicated work in the field of information science.

In honour of Prof. Kaula an endowment entitled Professor Kaula Endowment in Library and Information Science has been instituted on 13th March, 1975 on the occasion of this great library educator’s 51st birthday. Since then this endowment has awarded Kaula Gold Medal and a citation to 19 distinguished professionals of the world for their outstanding contributions in the field of library and information science. This endowment has also institued. Ranganathan – Kaula Gold Medal since 1980 for Indian Librarians and information specialists.

Prof. Kaula married Kamla (b – 1925) in 1950 at Delhi, who is the daughter of Pt. Harihar Nath Kaul and granddaughter of Pt. Bhola Nath Kaul of Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). He has two sons Rajiv and Anil besides three daughters Sangeeta married to Pt. Satish Kumar Zutshi of Jabalpur, Neeraja married to Dr. Vinay Krishna Tankha of Reeva and Namita married to Pt. Jawahar Bhan the son of Pt. Prakash Narain Bhan of Kolkata.

Prof. Kaula’s elder son Dr. Rajiv Kaul was born in 1958 at Delhi. He did his M.B.A. from the Benaras Hindu University. He then went to America for higher studies and did his M.S. from the Roosevelt University, Chicago. He then came back to India and did a job for sometime in Uptron Computer Company. He then again went back to America and did his Ph.D. in secret information from the Southwest Missoric State University, New York. Now he is Professor in the same university. He is married with Sangeeta the daughter of Pt. J.K. Raina of Ujjain. He has two daughters. Ritika and Sharika.

Prof. Kaula’s younger son Anil Kaul was born in 1962 at Varanasi. He did his B.Sc., M.Com. and M.B.A. from the Benaras Hindu University. He is working now as a senior manager in the Gujrat Port trust at Delhi. He is married with Dr. Babita Chrungoo. He has a son Prabhav.

Prof. Kaula is a versatile personality who has made outstanding contributions in the entire domain of library and information science. He is one of the many eminent personalities, which the fertile soil of Kashmir has produced. With his memorable work he has achieved the distinction as a giant brain of the humanity. He has now achieved world wide recognition in the field of library science. He is a distinguished academician, a prolific writer, an inspiring teacher par excellence a humanitarian of a very high order, a great philanthropist and above all a saint with a missionary spirit in his profession. His mother Mrs. Posh Kuji Kaul died in 1998 at Lucknow at the age of 94 years.

Prof. Kaula because of all these qualities of his head and heart has become a legend in his life time. The Lucknow Doordarshan Kendra has made an exhaustive documentary film in 2004 on the life and works of this moving encyclopedia of library and information science. The President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam gave him Padma Shree award on 30th June 2004 in a glittering ceremony in the darbar hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan at Delhi for his outstanding work in the field of education.

Prof. Kaula stands as the Pole Star on the library map of the entire world to guide and light the path of literary giants of the future generations. His blue pages are found in International who is who (London). The dictionary of International Biography (London), “Men of Achievements (Cambridge), who is who in the world (New York), who is who in Asia and Far East (London), Times of India Year Book and who is who (Mumbai). He is a creator and generator of thoughts and preacher of the ideals of librarianship. He is an aposte of leadership qualities with a towering personality and a storehouse of tremendous knowledge with a scholarly attitude and total dedication to his subject. In short he is matchless in his profession and takes pride in serving the same. According to Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances, if there is any reaction both are transformed.

Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga
 

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