"Thus Spoke a Teacher: The Reflections of My Master"
Dr Aniruddha Babar
On September 30 2020 at 6 O'clock, with sunset, my father departed for further journey in the creation. I have no intention to write anything emotional in his memory nor do I find it necessary to remember the moments I lived with him, but what I think, it is necessary to share some of his teachings which I feel has universal value in the interest of my students, colleagues, friends, followers and the people. The relationship that i have shared with him for 35 years of my life was an extraordinary one.
We lived a life together more like a Master and a Disciple than Father and a Son. Therefore, my view and approach to his life and departure is different.
Despite having lived a childhood and youth marred by poverty, struggles and sheer darkness Father always had belief in education which ultimately took him to serve the RBI the apex Bank in India from where he retired at senior position. However, despite witnessing his personal and professional achievements, i always found him a totally "detached" person. He developed an ability to examine life. He always used to quote Socrates- "An unexamined life is not worth living". He would often say- "The real wealth that my Son will inherit is the knowledge that i have accumulated through experiences and Books. This will help him to be a Free Man". He built a library at our home in Mumbai. Even in his final days he was more worried and heavily concerned about the fate of his Books, collection of manuscripts, his written notes than his family, wife, Son or anything else. In 2019 when i visited home during Christmas he expressed his contentment about my work in Nagaland. He wanted to visit Nagaland, wanted to live here- teach here, wanted to build one big library and study center in Nagaland. He believed that only knowledge can bring light in the struggling life of our Naga students and the people. He had compassion for entire world, he was worried about poor Africans, he had concern for suffering of people, he would get very disturbed with the news of riots, caste violence, social discrimination, he was well informed and positively concerned about the socio-economic-educational and political condition of our Naga people. He was basically a Man who introduced me to the practical meaning of "Universal Compassion".
When generally people are more concerned and attached with own family, clan, caste, tribe, religion, language, culture he became de-caste, free man and lived like a free man till his last breath. His attitude was that of a medical Doctor or a Scientist, he would always strive to figure out solutions to the problems. He played an equally important role in my PhD research as well. I still remember his advice- "There will be no value to your work, if the knowledge that you have accumulated during your research is not put to the best use for the people among whom you live and will continue to live". He and of course my Mother supported my work here. Father always believed in the possibility of "Universal Brotherhood". He valued human relationships, human values and human character more than any religious, social or political dogma. In my case, i have never been given any formal/informal religious teachings.
Both Father and Mother had opinion that a child should unconditionally be set free to discover his / her own calling. Though born Hindu, Father lived a spiritual life, Mother as well. This taught me a great lesson in life- "Spirituality actually begins where religion ends". The freedom at home inspired me to study Bible, Vedas, Upanishads, Qoran, Geeta, The Tripitaka and other religious teachings including that of Jewish, Zoroastrian, Sikh and Jain tradition which actually helped me to discover a "Unifying Principle" that govern my personal and social life. At social level, being a progressive man with scientific temperament and social awareness Father successfully held the social legacy of the thoughts of ”Phule-Shahu-Ambedkar". Undoubtedly, he was a reputed scholar of Ambedkarite thoughts and Philosophy. Most of the time during our debates he would always warn me with carefully chosen words- "Never believe or follow my words just because i am your Father. Study, Test, Examine everything in life with your own intellect then only decide whether to accept or reject." His advice has been helping me throughout my life. He would always encourage me to write commentaries on Books that i read. I remember how carefully he dissected Karl Marx and introduced me to the futility and hollowness of his Philosophy. He said, "Babloo (as i am being called at home) remember, Man does not live by the Bread alone. He has other needs including spiritual and emotional needs too which Mr Marx ignored. Violence breed Violence. Bullet can never bring justice or peace. Revenge Politics of Marx is not a solution to this world. It is the wisdom of Buddha and the forgiveness of Christ that the world needs, never the "Violence" and "Revenge" of Karl Marx."
He was also a practitioner of number of healing techniques like Reiki and Acupressure. He was a serious practitioner of Vipassana Meditation technique too. He helped many people to get cured of their emotional and physical ailments. He had a strong belief in "Self Healing Powers" of human body. He would always tell me to have an absolute faith in Body's healing capacity. According to him, everything that is necessary to heal body, mind and consciousness is abundantly available within us and the Mother Nature. "There is nothing to look outside, everything is inside us". He would say with strong conviction. As i went on living my life, i found evidences supporting his teachings. "Mother nature has been so kind to us". He wrote in his Diary in April 1973.
As far as i remember, Father was a big time rebel. He was also a critique of religious politics maintained through systems, rituals and Karmakandas. However, there have been times when he could not live what he taught. I often used to ask him, "Father, since you have discovered the truth, why do you still get involve in Family religious rituals and perform them"? His reply was unforgettable. "Son, your Father is still chained. He still thinks about innocent emotions of his simple relatives, brothers, sisters, clan and village. But, I want you to be free, as free as light. When i am gone, take a call, take a stand, and do not perform any ritual. Break the chains". When he departed i was not with him. At my Aunty's place at Burma camp his words were ringing in my ears. The moment Mother called me and shared news of Father's departure to the next journey, not a single drop of tears gathered in my eyes. That was a life changing moment, not because i lost a father but because of the sudden realization that now i have to live by his teachings and work for the people. Now i have to take the long, tough road all alone.
By the time i reach Home next day, the last rites have already been performed. The remaining rituals were required to be performed by me. I was fully determined to not to perform any ritual. I told Mother about the wish of a father. She listened, understood, agreed but advised me to perform rituals/karmakandas considering Family/clan obligations. I felt defeated and extremely guilty for the first time in my life. I decided to perform rituals without shaving my head which was necessary obligation. My unshaven head was a positive response to the wishes and teachings of a Man who never believed in any kind of rituals. My heart and mind was lost in the words of father. "There is no hell or heaven after death of a body. We are the creators of Heaven and Hell on Earth through our thoughts and actions. No ritual, no prayer can take our soul to heaven or save us from hell. It is unconditional LOVE, COMPASSION and SELF AWARENESS alone can help us to live like a human. The major concern that all of us should have is about how to live like a human being, how to be more loving and kind, how to be more compassionate, caring, understanding, helpful and truthful. Once our body dies, our essence continues to live on as a part of cosmic energy. We continue to live on eternally! Nothing dies in this creation Son". As I offered his "ashes" with the first light of the morning to the Arabian Sea i found myself at peace. "Father loved Ocean so much. He now merged with Ocean-his beloved. Nothing else matters."
I thought. A final goodbye to a Man who made changed in world with his thoughts. Father cultivated minds of so many young Boys and Girls throughout his life as a thinker, writer, positive orator and public intellectual. His intellectual legacy is safe. People may forget his name or face but the legacy of his ideas and thoughts, his wisdom will continue. He was a man who advocated Justice, Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. He was a man who saw a dream of Universal Peace and Brotherhood, and believed that Man has immense capacity to love and care for each other. He always maintained that the solution to all problems in the world lies in "Evolution of Man". He had great hopes in the "Future Man".
"Why are you scared, come up, climb." Father shouted. We were hiking through the mountain range surrounded our village in Karad, District Satara of Maharashtra. I was six or seven years old then. Crying with fear. He climbed down, sat, took my little hand in his arms and said, "Do not be coward, climb. In future you will be climbing bigger mountains but Babloo i will not be there to see that. So let me see you now". He left my hand, climbed up and disappeared.
After two decades i found myself in Nagaland. While coming from my Data collection Trip i lost myself in the majestic charm of distant mountains. "Am i allowed to climb them"? Mesmerized by the beauty of mountains i asked my source. He stopped a Car, burst into hearty laughter, "This is a land of Free people my friend, nobody will stop you, go ahead, explore and learn as much as you can." We both burst into laughter as he revved the engine.
I feel values and wisdom of my father will live safely in the jungles, hills, mountains and the people of Nagaland. This is the place where father wanted to come, this is the place where i have been living and shall take my final breath. Every awakened person have to choose his battlefield and i have chosen mine.
"Love is a language of creator and creation. If you are able to discover where your heart is you will be successful. Yashaswi Bhava!” (Vithal Bhau Babar, Birthday Card to Babloo, May 31 1997)
(Dr Aniruddha Babar is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tetso College in Dimapur of Nagaland)
October 04 2021