Prof. Prithvi Nath Kaula
First Kashmiri world renowned library scientist
By Dr. B.N. Sharga
In 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
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
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.