In Reverence

Reading Time: 6 minutes

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः 
गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥१॥
Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vissnnur-Gururdevo Maheshvarah |
Gurureva Param Brahma Tasmai Shrii-Gurave Namah ||1||

Here’s an inspiring tribute to all teachers by Shernaz, as part of the special feature. She talks about exemplary teachers, from a child to those who dedicated their lives, while on jobs or post retirement. A Different Truths exclusive.

Come September and our educational institutes, big and small, gear up for Teachers’ Day. It is the day to celebrate those important people who have made a huge difference in our lives; they have inspired, steered and led us with their intuitive wisdom by being our guiding lights.   Most of us are aware that this is erstwhile President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday.  Rather than have his students celebrate it for him , he asked that the day be designated as Teachers’ Day nationwide.  Our salute to him and other luminaries of India, who have been great educators or the force behind spectacular achievements by those under their wing – T. Krishnamachari, Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Asima Chatterjee, Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, Pullela Gopichand, Mahavir Singh Phogat, to name a few. Going further back in history we have Ved Vyas, Chanakya, Aryabhatta, Swami Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and scores of others who contributed immensely to the field of education and helped define our country.

Many of us have been fortunate to have had teachers under whose wise nurture we grew into who we are today. They directed us and supported us on that crucial journey of life which is the benchmark of success for every resultant journey. Teachers help form our character, cultivate our talents and foster our future by awakening our imagination, instilling a love of learning, leading us to think for ourselves and inspiring us to have the courage of our convictions. Really great teachers are augmenters and facilitators. Teachers are categorised as good, superior, mediocre and bad. And then there are unconventional teachers for whom their profession goes beyond the bounds of duty. It is a fervent ardour; a profound awakening of compassion within; a vision and a struggle of endless self-sacrifices.

Amid horrifying reports of the unthinkable cruelty of certain teachers towards their tender wards, there are those who become the bedrock of our rapidly disintegrating educational system. With their courage, sensitivity, compassionate encouragement, friendliness, indomitable and a blazing desire to make a difference, they become a sanctuary in whom we can repose our trust; in what others term as the scum in the pond, they see the latent seeds of lotuses and create ways to make them bloom. Their actions speak the gospel of love and light.

Today, let us celebrate some wonderfully inspirational and unconventional teachers, changing lives one child at a time, with quiet resolve, wrestling all odds and hurdles. They are the heroes, the solid bastions of society, the true patriots who uphold the dignity and right to schooling of the deprived and neglected children of Chacha Nehru’s dream nation. For those under their tutelage they are angels and fairy godmothers who help transform these kids into well-rounded adults fuelling their ambitions with hope, creating of learning for them to travel on. With deepest respect and appreciation I salute them.

Young Babar Ali, a student who has been teaching the underprivileged from the age of 9, believes “that if you are passionate about something you can achieve anything. Age, finances, other hurdles, they just don’t matter and eventually, everything works out.” He is from Murshidabad in W. Bengal. Inspired by Swami Vivekanand, he was hailed as the youngest principal, in 2009, by the BBC. He was sixteen years old then.

Aditya Kumar the ‘Cycle Guruji’. From 1995, children living in the slums of Lucknow have this angel riding 60 to 65 km daily on his bicycle to provide them free education. “Wherever I got students I would sit and teach — by the roadside, in parks, near slums. I had a board on the cycle, and students would just read it and stop me. I was one of them, I understood what it was to be poor and without support.”

Arvind Gupta an IIT Kanpur electric engineering alumnus quit his job at Telco, to bring his love for science and learning to the children. He has travelled to more than 3000 schools demonstrating fascinating science experiments through toys he makes from trash, sparking the imagination of his awed students. He explains, “I work with children. Whatever I see that children can do, whatever I see that brings a gleam into the child’s eye that is the work I do.”

Roshni Mukherjee is the lady who provides free online education through her platformExamfear.com. She uploads videos on YouTube to teach students through them. In her words, “There is a lack of quality education, at the same time it is quite expensive which makes it unaffordable for many parents. Therefore, the motto was to provide free education while maintaining good quality. I wanted to reach students in remote areas, I wanted to reach students who can’t afford expensive education, I wanted to reach the parents who want to guide their kids to help them learn. I knew the Internet has a solution to everything. An online platform was the best option to reach people.”

“Good afternoon everybody, donating for education is the ultimate form of charity,” rings out Prof.Sandeep Desai’s voice as he travels on the local trains of every single day. His charitable organisation Shloka develops and runs schools in Maharashtra and rural Rajasthan. This is how he collects money for his outstanding cause.

The unique “Under the Bridge School” of shopkeeper Rajesh Kumar Sharma, fondly called ‘masterji’ is the upshot of an unfulfilled dream. He had to drop out of in Aligarh because of financial constraints so he decided to pass on his knowledge to slum children to enable them to go forward and realise their goals. A lone missionary of his cause in 2005, today he has a battery of inspired volunteers from all professions, to teach in his school.

Abdul Mallick swims through a river every day to reach his students. This primary school teacher could easily ride a bus which would take three hours to cover the distance of about seven miles but swimming gets him faster and on time to his students so he takes that route! Talk about arduous commitment!

For more than twenty years, Vimla Kaul, a retired teacher went from park to park in Delhi, imparting education and vision to underprivileged children who could not attend school. She has transformed lives and continues to do so enthusiastically even as an octogenarian. She finally has a building where she can now teach her kids without hassles.

Anand Kumar is well known for his ‘Super 30’ programme. He coaches students for IIT-JEE exams. He asserts, “To crack the target one should have a thirst for achieving it, next come positive thought and passion.”

Kamlesh Zapadiya, a primary school teacher from a remote village in Rajkot has made learning fun for children from class 1 to 10. Innovatively, he has converted the entire syllabus in a quiz format, likening it to the famous quiz show (KCB) Kaun Banega Crorepati, so that children don’t have to cram textbooks for exams. To give this dream a form he had to travel daily to a cybercafé 20 km away.

Classes on Wheels is the brainchild of Fr. Jose of Don Bosco Institutions. It is an e-education bus initiative that started its journey in January 2012. Chitra Don Bosco director Fr. Maria Julian, implemented this idea. This Chitradurga classroom on wheels is a refurbished bus fitted with desks and chairs to enable children to learn computers using laptops. In all, 10 laptops are provided to children from government schools for learning the basics of computers. The best thing about the bus is that all the consumed by the bus is generated by solar panels provided by SELCO. “Even the response from teachers in rural areas is favourable. Government school teachers from various areas are inquiring about the programme schedule. We are receiving a rousing welcome everywhere we go,” said the priest. Talking about the student response he says “They are eager to learn and curious about the programme.”   The project is funded by the Don Bosco institutions.

There are more such shimmering lamps glowing with the strength of altruism, spreading radiance around them. They amaze, inspire and enlighten us as they nurture and fortify the future generations of our country. As Henry Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity, and can never tell where the influence stops”. May their benevolent influence never stop, till every child in our country is educated!

Let us rejoice that there are magnificent souls like those cited above. As teachers ‘they take hands, open minds and touch hearts’ not just of their students but all whose lives they touch in passing. Theirs is the work of heart and of the soul. They mould intellect, they ignite the spirit and teach others to dream and reach out for those dreams. These torchbearers light fires that will spread their warmth and inflame other lives setting them on the path of knowledge. Their names scripted on minds and spirits will keep gleaming forever.   

With this, my tribute to our dearly loved Mathematics teacher, I pay homage to all great teachers

To Mr. D. S. Prajapat

Your pyre
grew cold years back;
the ashes have scattered
your students remain shattered.
Blown hither and thither
the winds of fortune did us wither,
yet no blustering gale
how furiously it blew,
could shake the core values
imbued in us by you

Algebraic formulae, theorems
trigonometry, algorithms…
you made it all seem so easy
the toughest appeared breezy
under your guidance sure;
but we cherish you more
for your steadfast dedication
your genuine, humble disposition.

Penning this I have no regrets
I couldn’t pay my last respects.
For I didn’t wait
till you were stiff and cold –
the reverence I hold
for you dear Sir,
in my eyes you saw
written in letters of gold.

Today, in this my final call
I speak for us all
We* love you, Sir,
The taller among the tall.

*Old students of St. Joseph’s E. T. High School, Bulsar

Author’s Note: All material about the teachers mentioned in bold, have been compiled from online sources.

©Shernaz Wadia

Photos from the Internet

#Teachers #TeachersDay #UnconventionalTeachers #LoveOfTeaching #ExceptionalTeachers #TeachersThatGoAnExtraMile #TeacherOfToday #TeachersWhoTeach #DifferentTruths

Shernaz Wadia

Shernaz Wadia

To Shernaz Wadia, reading and writing poems has been one of the means to embark on an inward journey. She hopes her words will bring peace, hope and light into dark corners. Her poems have been published in many e-journals and anthologies. She has published her own book of poems "Whispers of the Soul" and another titled "Tapestry Poetry - A Fusion of Two Minds" with her poetry partner Avril Meallem.
Shernaz Wadia
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