Dr. Gokulananda Mohapatra

Born :- 13-Nov-1922
Died :- 10-Jul-2013
Place of Birth :- Village of Kuansa, Bhadrak

Reputed scientist and famous science fiction writer in Odia Dr. Gokulananda Mohapatra was born on November 13, 1922 in the village of Kuansa in Bhadrak district to parents Bijayagobinda Mohapatra and Phuka Devi. Kalinga Award winner Dr. Mohapatra has made significant contribution to the rich inventory of Odia literature with over 95 science fiction and children science books during his hectic career. His creations include stories, novels, travelogues and linguistics. His attempts through almost all his writings were exclusively aimed at popularizing science in Odisha and enhancing the scope of science education.

After completing his primary and secondary education in local schools, he received a bachelor's degree in science from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack and then did his post-graduation in science from the University of Calcutta. He later received a Ph.D. from Utkal University. Later, he also pursued FIC (Fellow in Chemistry) degree at Brandeis University (Boston).

During his stay in Calcutta, Gokulananda was nspired by Bengali writers who wrote science fictions and on various science topics to write in Odia. His Atomic Bomb was published in the journal Shankha in 1955, making it the first modern popular scientific write-up in the Odia language. Later, Adhunika Bigyanku Alaktata’ra Sahajya was published in the same journal, which laid the foundation of his career as a science-writer. Eminent poet Mayadhar Mansingh and eminent singer Balakrishna Kar praised him and encouraged him to keep writing such write-ups so that the children and the reading public as a whole could be enlightened on scientific facts unknown to them. During this time, he was broadcasting scientific information on the Oriya program of the All India Radio (AIR) Calcutta.

Following the completion of his post-graduation course at the University of Calcutta, he joined the science faculty at Ravenshaw College as a demonstrator. While in Calcutta, he cherished a dream to build up an organisation to promote science. So came up the ‘Bigyan Prachar Samiti’ in August, 1949 with some of his friends, associates and interested people. Over time many teachers, professors, doctors, engineers and scientists became part of the organisation. His first book, Bigyana Bismaya (Wonders of Science), was published in 1949. The book is a collection of 48 articles, such as Durabikshana, Mahajagatika Rashmi, Penicillin, DDT, Krutrima Hira, and Paludrin. The articles were written in simple and intelligible language so that the young student and the layman could understand it.  Some of his most famous books published in the sixth decade include Bigyana’ra Krutitwa (1950), Paramanuboma’ra Abiskar (1951), and Pruthibi Bahare Manisha (1954). His other fictional works (novels) include Krutrima Upagraha, Suna’ra Odisha, Nischala Pruthibi, Chandra’ra Mrutyu, Madhyahna’ra Andhakar, Nistabdha Godhuli, Chaturtha Parisara, Udanta Thalia, Samayara Phaata, Mrutyu – Eka Matrutwara and Mrutyu Rashmi. Pruthibi Bahare Manisha is his first novel. His story books on science themes include Udanta Thalia, Chaturtha Parisara, Bigyana Bichitra, Bigyanara srestha Abiskara and E Jugara  Srestha Abiskara

His book Bigyana’ra Drushya (Odia translation of CV Raman's book ‘Aspects of Science’) was published by the National Book Trust in 1958. Gokulananda caused a stir in Odia science literature by writing a textbook entitled Intermediate Chemistry. He has authored about 80 books that include essays, short stories, poetry and drama and provide lucid reading to the readers. Besides, he wrote 20 textbooks.

Dr Mohapatra has written two travelogues – Nila Chakrabala Separe and Paschatya Smruti –that portray his experience of living in the United States. Gokulananda Bigyana Bichitra, published in 1987 represents various interesting aspects of his creations. Gokulananda has written many fascinating science stories for children, such as Kie Beshi Bhari, Chhabi Kemiti Katha Kuhe and Chini Kemiti Hue.

The bigyan Prachar Samiti had its first mouthpiece - Bigyanaloka - published in 1976 with Dr. Mohapatra as its editor. Dr Mohapatra was entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a book on scientific glossary in Odia after he was appointed the first Director of the Orissa State Textbook Preparation and Publishing Institute. Based on this project, the definitions of various departments in science were prepared and published.

His Baigyanika Gyanakosha is an invaluable contribution to the field of science information and education. It was published in two volumes in January 2005. The 1340-page encyclopaedia features a series of images and photographs of various things in science in alphabetical order. Baigyanika Sabdakosha, a science-based dictionary, is another memorable work accomplished by him. He also served as chairman of the Bigyan Prachar Samiti and editor of the Bigyanaloka, its mouthpiece.

Dr. Gokulananda Mohapatra was honoured with the Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award in 1986 and the Kalinga Award in 2010 for his outstanding contribution to the field of science literature and promotion of science respectively. He was also honoured with the Parija Samman and the Sarala Samman.


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