We had a teacher in college by name Professor PK Vishveshvaran, whom we called the “Walking Encyclopaedia”. Anyone of the students had a query on any issue, she would go to this teacher and he always had an answer. If he did not know the answer, he would neither guess nor fake an answer but accept that he did not know. Further, he would commit to find the answer and get back to the student. It was in the early eighties, where computers and the internet was non existent.
Most of us were in awe of this professor. He was a simple, down to earth and a knowledgable professor, who had no pretensions. He was accessible to everyone and always willing to help. I have not yet met a teacher in my life, who is so endearing. He used to keep a radio in his room and listen to music and news from around the world. His room consisted of open shelves and he used to meticulously maintain reference materials in a very haphazard manner, which only he could retrieve. But the best part was that he could retrieve any information within minutes from a maze of shelves, registers, books and papers.
I have learnt a lot from this teacher in my life. He is like a role model for me in many ways. The first learning is that he led a very simple life and was always willing to share his knowledge with others. Hence, one could learn that simple living and high thinking is easy to admire but difficult to imbibe. Further, the belief that the more you share your knowledge with others, the more you learn and grow in life is something I learnt from this wonderful human being.
The second learning I got from this Guru was that he never aspired for any recognition. He was an absent minded professor in letter and spirit. He used to dress very casually and mingled very well with students and everyone else. One would never get impressed with his dress or his looks. His hairstyle would be strewn all over. He never dressed to impress. On the contrary, you will wonder whether he could be a master of his subject by the way he presented himself. However, the moment you interact with him for a few minutes, you realise what a reservoir of knowledge he was.
The third learning I had from this lecturer was that he was a life long learner. I have seen him from my college days till he lived.,I have always seen him curious and enthusiastic. He had the memory of an elephant and the inquisitiveness of a child. He always had questions to ask and did not hesitate a second to say – ‘he did not know” ? I have always been humbled by his presence and humility.
Sometime back I came to know that he was admitted to a ICU after a slip . His nervous system had been impacted. As soon as this information spread, students from all over the world prayed for him and were generously contributing to support him to recover. The prayers were answered by God within 24 hours and he became conscious and did recover. I did realise that a wonderful human being like him should never suffer from any disease or injury. God was kind to listen to the prayers but he did not survive for long.
I also recall that he attended every alumni meeting of the college and remembered me and my wife from our college days. He would recall the name of the place where I first started my career thirty six years ago and reminded me of the post cards he used to write to us. He took the three books written by my wife and promised to read them and send his feedback and review again through a post card. I recall he said – I will send a snail mail as I am not yet used to emails.
Unfortunately, he died last year. What a great human being he was ? I pray to God to help us learn from his humility and be s better human being.
S Ramesh Shankar