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Vodeyshankar, Gowrishankar

VODEYSHANKAR, GOWRISHANKAR (1805-1892), native minister of the state of Bhaunagar in Kathiawar, Bombay, was born on the 21st of August 1805, of a family of Nagar Brahmins. He rose from being a revenue officer to be state minister in 1847. His success in this capacity was such that on the death of the reigning chief, in 1870, he was appointed joint administrator in concert with a British official. The experiment was in every respect successful. Under the simple and economical forms used in native states, improvements suggested by British experience were introduced. The land revenue was based on a cash system, the fiscal and customs systems were remodelled and tree planting was encouraged. The town of Bhaunagar received the great boon of the Gowrishankar Waterworks, on which six lakhs of rupees were spent. The Bhaunagar state also warmly pressed for railway communication with the continent of India, and thus began a movement which has spread a network of railway lines over the peninsula of Kathiawar. The British government rewarded these many services of Gowrishankar with the distinction of C.S.I, in 1877. He helped to establish the Rajkumar College at Rajkot, for the education of native princes, and also the Rajasthanik Court, which, after settling innumerable disputes between the land-owning classes and the chiefs, has since been abolished. In 1879 Gowrishankar resigned office, and devoted himself to the study of the higher literature of that Vedanta philosophy which through his whole life had been to him a solace and a guide. In 1884 he wrote a work called Svarupanusandhan, on the union of the soul with Deity, which led to a letter of warm congratulation from Max Miiller, who also published a short biography of him. In 1887 he put on the robe of the Sanyasi or ascetic, the fourth stage, according to the Hindu Shastras, in the life of the twice-born man, and in this manner passed the remainder of his life, giving above ten hours each day to Vedantic studies and holy contemplation. He died, revered by all classes, in December 1892.

See Javerital U. Yajnik, Gowrishankar Udayashankar (Bombay, 1889).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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