“You are so lucky to have lived with him.” “You are so lucky that you have seen him first hand.” “You are so lucky to have been educated by him personally.” “You are so privileged to be the epitome of his vision.”
Who is this “he”? A rockstar, maybe? Perhaps a movie star par excellence, or an extremely good looking man; A performer who swayed everyone all the time, or an educationist who inspired everyone?
He was all of the above, for sure. But more importantly for me, he was… Is… my grandfather.
Personally, I remember him as all of these things and much more.
Sure, he was a philosopher: He had gone into Vaishnavite literature and had composed many songs based on the philosophy stated there; He admired Thiruvalluvar and explained through music and lyrics the philosophy of the Thirukkurals.
Knowing him personally, he may have done the same thing with Kabir’s philosophy, had he been a North Indian or Tagore’s philosophy had he been a Bengali or Rumi’s philosophy had he been well versed in Persian. Essentially, to him, it was the philosophy that mattered, not the language or source of the wisdom.
He believed in Do-ing: He admired Thyagaraja for his musical compositions and Subramania Bharati because of the patriotic passion in his lyrics. So much so that he named his foundation, Tyaga Bharati, a name that combines the essence of ideologies.
Most people know him as the man who had made it his mission to impart basic human and humane values to children through music. To me, though, he also was the loving Grandfather who wrote and composed songs just for Me.
All grandparents ask questions like “did you brush your teeth?” and “did you wash behind your ears?” Mine would simply set these questions to rhyme and tune and make up a little song just for me as he went along!
It may sound clichéd, but the fact is that he was my friend, companion and guide. Do I miss him? Of course, I do. Even today, in all areas of life, I try to question what he would have felt and make my decisions based on that. Don’t we all always have role models, whom we look to for guidance, either by reading or imagining what they would have done? My grandfather, whom I called Appaji, is this role model.
An amazing fact is that many people, family and friends, who have not met him personally, do the same thing to validate their choices.
This is how I believe he has left behind a better world, by making the world a wee bit more human and humane.