As Orissa Academy of letters observed the birth centenary of Binode Kanungo, the venue at Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya witnessed who’s who of Bhubaneswar based intellectuals hear with rapt attention eminent men of letters paying glowing tributes to the famous freedom fighter who after independence, instead of running after power like others, devoted his entire life for real emancipation of people that he thought could come only through the strength of knowledge. The 40 volumes of Gyanamandala(encyclopedia) and the three volumes of Shishu Gyanamandala (children’s encyclopedia) and the 53 other titles he authored on various science-centric, intricate but inspiring subjects were therefore written in his mother tongue Oriya in lucid and simple words.
He personified quest and conscience, said eminent author Das Benhur, speaking on the occasion as the chief speaker.
After the Academy Secretary Bijaya Nayak presented a scholarly introduction interlacing it with quest culture of Orissa spanning from Sarala Das to Gopal Praharaj to Binode Kanungo, Das Benhur discussed Kanungo from a hitherto unknown perspective. Depicting his days under the strict guidance of his maternal uncle Prof. Artaballav Mohanty, he dwelt on how his teacher, the great Gandhian Alekh Prasad Das had inspired him into the mission of knowledge. Das had tried to author an encyclopedia, which had failed to fetch a sponsorship, because to the high net worth publishers of the day, his academic qualifications were too meager to host him as an encyclopedia author. Kanungo knew that his teacher’s endeavor to write an encyclopedia was driven by his desire to enrich the common man with modern knowledge to help him evolve to a worthy citizen. This was, perhaps, Benhur said, the undisclosed inspiration behind Kanungo’s decision not to depend on commercial publishers for the encyclopedia he authored. So his consciousness that a knowledgeable society can beget a desirable democracy not only led him into the world of quest, but also made him follow his conscience in discarding political ambitions for creation of the necessary storehouse of knowledge for his fellow beings. As such, Binode Babu was an epitome of quest with conscience, he said.
Addressing the audience, chief guest Santanu Kumar Acharya held that Kanungo had epitomized letters and science, a unique quality that he alone had developed, in the process of his determination to share knowledge with his fellow beings. When the state government had killed the Utkal University project of encyclopedia, it is Kanungo, who defeated all odds to produce the Gyanamandala, the people of Orissa are so proud of.
Sahadev Sahu, former chief secretary of Orissa inaugurated the special edition of the Academy’s journal Konarka on Kanungo, the immortal seeker and sharer of knowledge. He was consciously contributing to democracy through his mission of distribution of knowledge, in people’s own language, he said.
Presiding over the function, Academy President Ramachandra Behera described him as personification og endless quest for knowledge and more knowledge while committed and eager to transmit whatever knowledge he was acquiring to the people of his state.
The State Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 2 crores to proceed with the unfinished works of Kanungo.