One more thing ! ......

on Teachers day 2015 !

It is Teachers day again !

If I close my eyes I can see a vivid picture of my school days .

In Guntur MGH School it is the first classroom on the left as soon as you enter the main gate! In Kurnool Municipal High School my class room was behind the main block in a row of class rooms in a shed. In Kakinada PRC School it is a pucca building with one more floor. The first room on teh ground floor is that of office and the Head master. The Third form A section was the last room on the ground floor. We were always in section 'A" because we were Sanskrit students.

There is an even more vivid picture of some teachers.

First is Madam Sughandavalli a teacher who knows everything it seems! Then Vaddiparti Subbarao garu, Fakir Raju garu both maths teachers . And then there was Annarama Sarma garu with a brilliant complexion, happy round face and a fully shaven head with a mostly white stubble, mellifluously reading Slokas at the top of his voice !

There were other teachers too !

We seem to have been blessed by an abundance of teachers who added dignity to the office they occupied.

My teachers remembrance starts with Ramanayya "Mastaru".

It was probably a family connection, with some of my senior siblings too having been associated with him. He is the first teacher I remember because I went for tuition with him in my "first form" or the sixth class. I would go to his house in the morning then walk to the MGH School in Guntur ! Why I went for tuition I do not remember. Probably because my elder sister seemed to be always ahead in her class with double jumps etc and I was moving only on year to year basis ! The most interesting thing I remember about that tution is not the teaching. It is the play ground next to his house.

It turned out that the time I went to tution was also the time of a RSS Sakha meet on that play ground with all of them in khaki half pants and white shirts ! I was certainly fascinated by the "Daksha " "Aram" drill ! But Ramanayya "Mastaru" remains forever in my memory as my first teacher , teaching maths !

In the subsequent transfers we moved from Guntur to Kurnool for one year and after that moved to Kakinada . I joined the PRC High School in third form. That was mid way through the year around October / November.

At PRC high School there were two teachers who had immediate impact on us. First is Annarama Sarma garu the Sanskrit teacher. He would read the Slokas in such beautiful tone which is totally mesmerizing. More importantly he would explain the meaning and context in a way that you will never forget.

The first sloka I learned in my third form is

" తే శతం హి వయం పంచ
స్వకీయే కలహే సతి|
ఆన్యెస్తు ఖలహె ప్రాప్తే
వయం పంచోత్తరం శతమ్ ||

This famous advise of Dharmaraja "we are five they are hundred " has been for ever etched in my mind. Later it became a management mantra too!

Annarama Sarma garu was Sanskrit teacher for me and my sister . Since we joined the school midway through the year we had a special attention from him and ever since we became only closer.

When we had another transfer to Rajahmundry and came back on transfer to Kakinada again this time as college students, Lo we came to know his son G Annapurniaha garu as a Physics lecturer in the college. Our respect and association with him continued.

The second impact teacher was Sugandhavalli teacher. Her full name is Y Sugandhavalli. She was our class teacher in the Third form. I still remember her lessons about independence movement, about how the British would arrest Gandhi etc. For a child's mind her actions in explaining the events created an awe and aura about Gandhiji ! And from that time onwards that story of Gandhi held a fascination.

Years later when I went to University of Minnesota , I would walk across the Mississippi river to the west Bank and visit the Ames South Asian library and look up the archives of New York Times to see how those events were seen by others. I must have read through the editorials of NY Times in the immediate aftermath of Gandhi's shooting many times. Reading all about Gandhi in the old chronicles was thrilling !

We lost touch with Ms Sugandhavalli. She for ever remains a ebullient chirpy presence in our hearts !

It is quite normal as children , for us to fall in love with our teachers in School. It is not often that you develop very close contact with your college teachers. But our mid term transfers , and the difficulties we had to go through, brought us closer to some teachers.

This happened again when my father moved from Rajahmundry to Kakinada. I was mid way through my BSc program. So when we came to Kakinada , parts of the Sanskrit curriculum, " Chandraloka" to be precise , was already completed at PR College. I was to be left high and dry !

The Sanskrit lecturer was Sri Bhashyam Appalaacharyulu garu. He told me not to worry and asked me to come to his home on the weekends to learn this book separately !

And I went for almost ten weeks. The end result is that I stood first in the college for the languages part because of Sanskrit . He was proud of my achievement and when I went to meet him in the lecturer's room he introduced me to other teachers saying that "his student" came first in the college. He moved on to become a great speaker on spiritual front. My parents too became his followers !

Many years later when my mother wanted to put together a " short form of Sundarakanda" or "Sankshipta Sundarakanda" , I went to him to request him to give his blessings. Then he gave me an hour long oration in Telugu. I took notes as he spoke. I had it translated and printed the same as the "inner meaning of Sundarakanda" !

Here was a teacher who taught me Sanskrit in college. The teaching left indelible impression. I might have taken Sanskrit for scoring marks. But Sanskrit became a passion because of him ! Years later I went and met him as the Chairman and Managing Director of ECIL. His joy was as great as the time I met him when I came first in the college ! He became a spiritual Guru for our family !

These are the three teachers that shaped a large part of me .

The teacher who introduced me to the beauty of Sanskrit namely Garimella Annarama Sarmagaru.

The teacher who introduced the independence movement and Gandhiji namely Ms Y Sugandhavalli

And finally the teacher in Sanskrit who ensured that Sanskrit remained for ever part of my passion namely Sri Bhashyam Appalaacharyulugaru.

It is a very pleasing thought to remember that I had their blessings and encouragement.

I am grateful forever for their blessings !

|| om tat sat ||