Online Gujarati Vishwakosh (Encyclopedia) Opening a window on the world in Gujarati language.

Dasputra translated this article based on the story written for MID DAY by Shailesh Naik on January 2, 2022.
January, 2022 by
Google is an ocean of information and knowledge, but it serves mostly English-speaking world. Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust (GVT), after decades of efforts, published 25 volumes to distribute worldly knowledge in the Gujarati language.  It took years and the Trust succeeded spectacularly in its formidable goals but in the modern age, to distribute such material and keep updated is a challenging task. So, the GVT got back to work again and succeeded in transforming the printed books into a digital, online version.

Lovingly comparing GVT with the Shri Jagganathji Chariot, GVT accomplished the Herculean task of digital transformation of this ocean of knowledge to the world Gujarati community.  Overcoming many technical obstacles and seven years of tireless efforts have brought the printed pages to your home screens. Rich with more than 25,000 articles on so many varied topics will satisfy the thirst for knowledge of Gujaratis not just in Gujarat but Gujaratis all over the world.

It is a matter of enormous satisfaction that the Online Gujarati Encyclopedia that was released in the first week of December of 2021, has already been visited and appreciated by over 100,000 visits in the first 30 days! The enthusiastic reception by the community also indicates the gujju respect and desire for learning.

Worldwide knowledge bank in Gujarati

Discussing Gujarat Vishwakosh and the digital version of it, Ahmedabad based Padmashri Dr. Kumarpal Desai, managing trustee of Gujarat Vishwakosh said he has been associated with this institution from the beginning. The idea that “Gujarat must have its own encyclopedia” was coined by Padmabhushan Dr.Dhirubhai Thakar and he began his work at the age of sixty-seven. At that time, we took the aid of knowledge lovers of all kinds. We call it Shri Jagganathji’s Chariots – everyone coming together to pull for the cause. We have – Teachers, Acharyas, Sadhu-Sants, Scientists, and Engineers, researchers and merchants all collaborating in helping this organization and its project. In that sense, this is a creation by the people of Gujarat united by the desire to preserve, protect and propagate their precious heritage. It is an expression of love and pride of their mother tongue – Gujarati. It took 22 years to produce the twenty-five volumes – each of about one thousand pages for the estimated project cost of Rs 3.5 crore. Additionally, 10 volume children’s encyclopedias and more than one hundred books have been published. Then came a time where I felt that this material should be made available online. There exists an encyclopedia in the Marathi language which was supported by the government. Bengali, Odia, and Hindi language encyclopedias also exist but none was available for Gujarati-speaking people.  That was the reason he thought that this treasure should be shared online for Gujaratis everywhere.

Seven years of intense efforts

Talking about the seven-year efforts of digital conversation, he mentioned the team members – Purvin Desai, Anurag Jhaveri, Dakshesh Patel, Laxman Galsar, Jyoti Dhandhukia, Kalpesh Patadia, Stella Christian, Honey Shah, and Alka Mehta. They worked eight hours a day on the digitization project. The arduous work was also laden with challenges. Creation of tables, creation of small boxes, representing chemistry symbols and mathematical equations, settling on fonts , and orchestrating everything, etc. But traversing all the difficulties and after seven years, 25,000 articles comprising of 8,360 on arts, 8,083 scientific, and 7,640 social sciences articles were digitized. There are 7,647 short biographies, 5,063 long articles, 2046 translated articles, 12,000 illustrations made available online with a word count of 17,350,000. It is an admirable attempt to bring knowledge of every subject or issue in the Gujarati language. A special emphasis has been given to highlighting the Gujarati language, literature, culture, historic figures, institutions, and achievements of Gujaratis in various fields. You can find Shri Umashankar Joshi, P. L. Deshpande, Satyajit Ray, and Shakespeare on these pages. Vast subjects like Ayurveda, Vastu Shastra, plant diseases, radars, and information on frogs can be obtained through these articles. For the very first time, these and many such subjects are covered in Gujarati language and made available in one place in Gujarati. To avail the vast ocean of knowledge in Gujarati, all one needs to do is go to www.gujarativishwakosh.org. One can search by topics, personalities, or articles. In addition to covering all these subjects, constant updating and upgrading are underway. The website facilitates installing of Gujarati font on your electronic device be it an Android or Apple device.

Warm reception

Inaugurated in the first week of December 2021, in its first week, it has been visited by 60,000 people from all over the world says chief technological officer Purvin Desai. In addition to India, people from USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands, France, and Singapore among other countries have searched on subjects as wide as poppy seeds/plants, civil disobedience movements, Premanand, history of aboriginal people, civil law, and medicine.

Welcoming the online version of the Vishwakosh, author and senior correspondent Bhikesh Bhatt said “So much material in Gujarati is probably being offered for the very first time. It can be called an ocean of knowledge that is easy to use. It has information even about world-famous libraries. It is a feather in the Viswakosh cap to have fulfilled Dhirubhai Thakar’s dream”.

Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust, GVT was established in December of 1985, and it conducts many literary activities such as publishing VISHVAVIHAR monthly magazine. Gurjari Digest, a quarterly magazine that originated in the US, is now published by GVT. It has a VISWA – wing for women inspired by Dhiruben Patel. The trust is planning on publishing NARIKOSH – documenting the achievements of women in various fields from politics to literature and from industries to arts. “Bruhad Natyakosh” is a compilation of all the important Gujarati plays written or produced, and an encyclopedia of science is also under planning stages.  Most significantly, it has accepted guardianship of the Gujarati Lexicon website that was the brainchild of late Shri Ratilal Chandaria. Under the leadership of Dr. Kumarpal Desai, his team has brought the world to our fingertips via computers, laptops, and cellphones. If you have a question or suggestion, you can write to the Vishwakosh Trust at vishwakoshonline@gmail.com

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