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Odisha Eminent Personality – Binod Kanungo – An initiator of encyclopedia movement in India and Odia Encyclopedia Jnanmandal  #ବିନୋଦ_କାନୁନ୍‌ଗୋ #୧୦୨ତମ_ଜନ୍ମବାର୍ଷିକୀ #ଜ୍ଞାନମଣ୍ଡଳ #ପ୍ରଣାମ #BinodeKanungo #102ndBirthAnniversary #Jnanmandal #Legend #Odia #Odisha #Respect (article by Gorvachove Pothal )

Binod Kanungo’s Early Age & Career :-


Binod Kanungo is a renowned Oriya author, freedom fighter, Gandhian, educator, social reformer and celebrated compiler of the Gyana Mandala, which is the greatest encyclopaedia in the Oriya language. He also won the Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award for his travelogue Runa Parishodha (1983). He was also a veteran freedom fighter and notable educationist. He was awarded with India’s fourth highest civilian honour “Padmashree”. He died on 22 June 1990.

Binod Kanungo was born on 6 June 1912 at village Mallipur (Kishannagar) in Cuttack district of Odisha. He was the only son of Keshub Chandra Kanungo and Peera Dei. He had his primary education at village Naganpur and secondary school education at the famous Ranihat Highschool, Cuttack, of which he was the first ever student. Later he got a scholarship to study at Ravenshaw Collegiate School. However, in 1930, when he was in Class-X, Mahatma Gandhi’s call inspired him to leave his studies and join the Indian Freedom Movement.


                     Binod Kanungo was a freedom fighter, Gandhian, author of the popular Odia Encyclopaedia Jnanmandal, initiator of encyclopaedia movement in our country, erudite scholar, journalist, popularizer of science, social reformer, crusader against illiteracy and ignorance and the architect of a remarkable movement for spreading enlightenment among the people in the post-independence era.

                     Binod Kanungo was an institution by himself — scholars have hailed his mission as a “national work”, “fundamental work in language and literature and a “valuable contribution to human society”. His single handed contribution to democratization of knowledge has few parallel in India.

                   Binod Kanungo was a pioneer in field of popularization of science. His Popular Encyclopaedia, 40 volumes of which have so far been published, contains hundreds of educative science articles. Besides these, Kanungo has made a valuable contribution to our Children’s literature and had written nearly a hundred small books for children. One is simple charmed with the treatment of very difficult subjects made intelligible to the young mind. Written with simplest Odia, the treatment of the subject is such that it grips the interest of the readers and is certainly entertaining reading for the children. Original in its technique, each book, in its own imitable way removes a long felt need in this domain of children’s literature in Odisha. Even complicated scientific facts are explained vividly and rendered intelligible to young mind with allegorical description. The style and the illustration are at once attractive and instructive. With a view to making the story simple and within the grasp of children, Kanungo has used imagery from everyday experience with great success.

While celebrating the birth anniversary of this noble man, we the people of Odisha shall rise to the occasion of paying our utmost respect and remembering his invaluable contribution.

src Gorvachove Pothal
src Gorvachove Pothal

Thus spake they:

1. Shri Biju Patnaik, who was Patron-in-Chief of the National Encyclopedia Centre and an intimate friend of Kanungo had said — “Kanungo was one of the most interesting and multi-faceted personalities of our times. In his endeavour to free people from the poverty of knowledge, he undertook the stupendous task of compiling ‘Jnanmandal’ which is regarded as one of the best edited encyclopaedias in Indian languages. Undoubtedly, his single minded devotion and insatiable urge for knowledge enabled him to accomplish this monumental work, despite heavy odds. I have no doubt that Binode Kanungo will be remembered for all time to come for hissignificant contribution to the field of human knowledge.”

2. While complementing Kanungo on the occasion of the publication of the 40th volume of the Odia Encyclopedia Shri Rajiv Gandhi had said — “In every country, we have remarkable individuals, who have done much for the enlightenment of their fellow human beings. Shri Binode Kanungo is one such outstanding scholar. The Odia people will long be beholden to him for this monumental Odia Encyclopaedia.”

3. After visiting the Jnanmandal Reference Centre and meeting Late Shri Kanungo, Shri Pranab Mukherjee (Now President of India) had said — “No word is sufficient to express the state of mind when I entered into this hall, which is the storehouse of knowledge in the real sense of the term. Knowledge is stored here and that is why no word can express the achievements of the great organiser.”

4. Noted Gandhian and former Governor Shri R.R.Diwakar had described the work as ‘Jnan Jajna” when he visited the centre in early 1980’s — “I have seen encyclopaedias in many languages, but I had no occasion to meet at encyclopaedic man, who could not only understand but write on various subjects with, ease and felicity. This is a fundamental work in language and literature, just as there is fundamental work in science and applied science. The inspiration which is operating here is the urge to share his knowledge with his brethren and at present and with generations to come. I wish him full success in this “Jnan Jajna”— to nobel work of spreading knowledge.”

5. This is what Prof. Hiren Mukherjee said — “A visit to Jnanmandal today has been a remarkable experience, it is nothing short of amazing that one dedicated man, with a few equally devoted assistants can undertake and also perform a stupendous literary project. Shri Binode Kanungo has, it appears, only one aim in life and that is to bring all knowledge to every door in so far it is possible to condense the ever widening departments of knowledge. For this purpose work goes on and it is a sheer joy to see the numerous files on different subjects neatly stacked and being continuously added to and amended.”

[Reference – “Odisha Review : June 2011”]