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Gopinath Kaviraj, Mahamahopadhyay


Gopinath Kaviraj, Mahamahopadhyay (1887-1976) Sanskrit scholar and philosopher, was born in Dhamrai village on 7 September 1887, posthumous son of Vaikunthanath, a scholar of philosophy. His ancestral residence was in the district of tangail. The family title was 'Bagchi' and 'Kaviraj' was a title given to him.

After passing the Entrance examination from Jubilee School, dhaka Gopinath went to Kolkata for higher studies. Shortly afterwards, he left for Jaipur from where he obtained the BA degree. In 1913 he completed his MA from Allahabad University. The next year he started his career as a librarian at Saraswati Bhavan in Benares. While serving in Benares, Gopinath gained some knowledge of epigraphy and ancient civilisation and for some years did research on ancient history.

In 1924 Gopinath became principal of sanskrit college in Kolkata. However he soon grew disinterested in teaching and retired, devoting himself to philosophy and religion. Earlier, in 1918, he had been initiated by Vishuddhananda, a famous tantric and philosopher ascetic.

While still a student Gopinath had started contributing to different magazines. While serving at Saraswati Bhavan Library, he edited many books on religion and philosophy, writing scholarly introductions. He had deeply studied all branches of Indian religion and philosophy. He also knew pali and had profound knowledge of Buddhist philosophy. In his later years he devoted himself to the study of Kashmiri Shaivism in which he found the root of Indian philosophy. He believed that this tantric philosophy would bring freedom to all human beings.

His students and disciples included Acharya Narendra Dev of Sanskrit Vidyapith in Benares, Pundit Sitaram of Akhanda Mahayoga Sangha and Dr Ram Adhikari. Gopinath wrote many books in sanskrit, Bangla and English, among them, Xri sri Vishuddhanand Prasabga, Tantric Sadhana, Bharatiya Sadhanar Dhara, Sri Krishna Prasabga, Mrityubijvan O Karmarahasya, Tripurarahasyam, Goraksasiddhantasamgrahah, Sahityachinta, Saraswati Bhavan Studies, Aspects of Indian Thought.

In recognition of his erudition and scholarship, Gopinath was conferred different titles and degrees: Mahamahopadhyay (1934) and Padmabhushan (1964) by the Indian government, DLitt (1947) by Allahabad University, Sahitya Vachaspati (1965) by the Uttar Pradesh government and Deshikottam (1976) by Visva-Bharati. Gopinath died on 12 June 1976. [Satyanarayan Chakraborty]