«Edited by Govindjee Urbana, Illinois, USA and Shyam Lal Srivastava Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India i The Cover A photograph of Krishnaji (Dada), 1980 ...»
I have some anecdotes to share with the readers of this tribute to Dada; he accompanied me on a United Nations (UN) assignment to Shimla (formerly, Simla), Himachal Pradesh, with an overnight halt at Chandigarh (Punjab) on the way. [During the British Raj, it was their summer capital; it was also called “Queen of the Hills”.] Needless to say that a group of students and professors from the Punjab University called on him as the news of his visit became known. We were taken good care of in the University Guest House while those known to him came to share their experiences in their capacity as teachers or students. We had a similar experience at Shimla where he was reverently invited to deliver a guest lecture. I was leading a team of sociologists, consultants and field investigators in Himachal Pradesh for a United Nations (UN) sponsored project. Dada was unhappy with our choice of a senior sociologist but appreciated my honest admission of wrong selection. When my father-inlaw (Gopalji) was suddenly struck by acute food poisoning during our Shimla visit, Dada immediately made appropriate decisions.
Two more incidents at Delhi remain etched in my mind. We once went to meet the Secretary to the Government of India who headed the Department of Higher Technical Education. The protocol demanded that we take a security pass and that the receptionist inform the official about us. Although many senior bureaucrats in India are known for their vanity and, as some would say, “nose-in -the air attitude”, the officer hurried down two flights of stairs and touched Dada’s feet (to show his respect to him), while reprimanding the receptionist for not informing him early enough. Another incident was at an office where a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a large Government establishment was housed; this officer was once Dada’s student at Allahabad University, who seemed to have forgotten all the help he had received from Dada, and made him wait outside his office for a very long time. Dada, without raising his voice, commented in an effective and tactful manner, on this behavior, which I am sure this CEO would not have forgotten easily. To this day people who knew Dada talk about him with respect and gratitude as an outstanding academician and an able administrator who brought the best out of even the average student.
In the evening of his life, it seems that the “roar of the lion” had mellowed down. The death of Dada’s younger son (Ranjan), at the prime of his life, in a car accident, left a young widow (Poonam) and two small children (Tanima and Sanket) to be looked after; this sudden loss of his son had taken its toll on his life. He took charge of this very sad and unfortunate situation and did whatever was possible for him to do to rehabilitate the heart-broken family. The sorrow that had engulfed him was visible on his face as well on the way he interacted with the others. Family dynamics also weighed on him heavily dragging him in financial obligations which were not of his making.
His failing health and demise was, truly, the fall of an institution.
Memories of a person like Dada can never be obliterated.
In spite of the family and financial responsibilities, Dada maintained a side to his personality which he retained till the end of his life. Among many others, I am able to recall a few instances during his assignment as Advisor to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s enterprise, the ambitious Vedaland (similar in a remote way to Disneyland) to be set up at Noida, a town in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. A Canadian illusionist Mr. Doug Hennings was hired to work along with Dada and was staying on the same Campus in the Ashram (abode of spiritual gurus) at Noida. Doug Hennings was asked to perform a few tricks which he did by taking a few coins and adding many more with a flick of his finger. Dada told him that if he could do the same trick with higher denomination rupee notes it would solve many of his problems. Later an audience was arranged with the Maharishi himself.
After introductions, Mahesh Yogi invited me to join the project. To this, Dada remarked afterwards to me that the working time in the Ashram was erratic, stretching late in the night, that there is always a danger of losing one’s wife though one may retain his job!
During our visit to Lucknow to attend a function to celebrate the birth of his grandson Sanket (son of Raj Ranjan, Dada’s second son), Dada was sitting close to the feet of his wife, affectionately called Bhabhi, due to lack of space; he whispered, jokingly, to me that at times these gestures, no matter how unintentional, help to please the wives. He added that experience had taught him this mantra and that it may be useful to me as I was recently married.
I end this tribute by paying homage to this unforgettable wonderful human known to most as Dada, the universal Dada.
My Childhood Memories of Badé Nana (Professor Krishnaji) and Nani (Shrimati Bimla Asthana) Nandini Sinha 7929, Tyson Oaks Circle, Vienna, Virginia 22182, USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org I may not have spent much time with Badé (elder) Nana (grandfather from mother’s side) and Nani (grandmother from mother’s side) in comparison to the rest of the family members, but as a young child, I always felt what loving souls they were. (Actually, they were grand uncle and grand aunt, but in our tradition, they are considered grandfather and grandmother.) I have memories of them from when I was only 6 year old; this is when we lived in a house in Hauz Khas, New Delhi. I, especially, remember the day when I graduated from the Kindergarten to go to Grade 1. Badé Nana made me feel like I had really accomplished something and what a big girl I had become. This still puts a smile on my face when I think of it.
I remember visiting Nana and Nani when they lived at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. Even though the Ashram was located in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, that city was not developed like it is today;
thus, the Ashram always seemed like we’re going to some faraway place with stretches of empty land in between.
I remember Badé Nana used to live quite a disciplined life. He had a fixed time in the evenings to meditate and the visiting kids were asked to keep quiet for one hour. I don’t remember if he meditated in the mornings too because obviously no kid would be up at 5 in the morning. And the other thing he would do was to have only fruits for dinner.
Once we visited them especially because it was Badé Nana’s birthday. We arrived at the Ashram a day before. By “we” I mean me and my grandparents Gopalji Nana and Nirmala Nani. My parents (my Mom Rita; and Dad Shekhar) and I actually resided in Muscat then. I used to visit my grandparents almost every summer vacation.
Let me not digress. On the day of Badé Nana’s birthday (I have no clue what year it was but I must have been about 8 or 9 year old), I wanted to give him something as a gift as birthdays were synonymous to birthday gifts! So after pondering for a while, I went out to the backside of the house which was lined with trees with pretty red flowers. Needless to say that I was too small to reach the flowers which were still hanging off the branches; I had no option but to pick the freshest of the flowers that had fallen on the ground. I picked them up and made a bouquet out of them and presented it to Badé Nana. He was extremely happy to receive this gift, and hugged me and pecked me on the cheek. He was always very affectionate.
Badi Nani, who has also passed away, was loving and affectionate in her own ways but not as outwardly as Nana. She was always taking care of the children. My first memory of her is from Hauz Khas days when I was only 5 year old. My brother (Nitin) was just born, so my Nani (Nirmala, my mother’s mother) was busy taking care of my Mom (Rita) and brother, and my Mom was obviously fussing over my newly born brother. Thus, Badi Nani would take care of me; she would feed me in the afternoons; I remember that she used to give me huge morsels of khichdi and I would complain and try and talk while I had food in my mouth. I’m so glad that she was able to attend my wedding with Tanu, in February 2006, and to give me her blessings. Before that she had visited us a couple of times in Gurgaon and Delhi and she used to sleep in my room at night. After she took her night medicines, we would chat for about half an hour or so before she fell asleep. Her other pastimes during the day included watching TV and knitting. I’m sure all the grandchildren and even some adults own at least one if not more of her hand-knitted sweaters. Badé Nana and Nani, we love you both.
The Krishnaji Family. Front row (left to right): Chitra, Bhabhi (Bimla), and Meenu (Ira).
Back row (left to right): Dada (Krishnaji), Ranjan and Deepak.
W e present below photographs related to the life of Professor Krishnaji (Dada to many). Figures 1-9 have been provided by his students; these provide a glimpse of his academic life. Figures 10-84 have been provided by members of his extended family; these depict not only his life, but of his wife Bimla Asthana (Bhabhi to Govindjee and Jiya to Shyam Lal, the two editors of this book) and their own.
Fig. 1. Krishnaji (left) with Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru (Nehruji), the first Prime Minister of India. Nehruji was very much interested in Krishnaji’s research that dealt with Radar technology for the Defense of India. Under the leadership of Krishnaji, the Department of Applied Physics (now known as J.K. (Juggilal Kamlapat) Institute of Electronics & Telecommunication) was established. His first laboratory of “Experimental Microwave Spectroscopy” was inaugurated by Nehruji. Photo, 1956. (Source: Govindjee’s Archives) Fig.2. University of Allahabad MSc Final (Physics) Class of 1959. Left to right:Front row: K.P. Tiwari, Shankar Swarup, K.C. Banerji, A. Mohan, Rajendra Singh, K. Majumdar, K. Banerji (Head), Krishnaji, V.D. Gupta, Y.P. Varshni, Hari Mohan, B.K. Srivastava. Second row: B.S. Mathur, G.K. Tandon, G.S. Shukla, P. Chand, S. Chandra, R.N. Bhargava, A. Mansingh,
B. Raj, R.S. Bhaduria, B.S. Rawat, M.G. Bhattacharaya, V. K. Sarin, A.K. Pant, N.N. Bharthakur, Jag Darshan. Third row:
S.T.H. Abidi, S.C. Verma, H.R. Pandya, R.P.Tiwari, B.M.S. Kashyap, J.P. Singh, L.C. Gupta, S.K. Bhatnagar, C.M.
Gupta, R. Yamadagni, J.S. Bisht, H.N. Pradhan, A.K.Banerji. Fourth row: B.K. Agrawal, A. Chatterji, S.N. Verma, M.N.
Bhatnagar, Tuhi Ram, A.K. Mukerji, Chaman Lal, Rajeshwar Singh, Jawahar Lal, G.K. Kapoor, Yogendra Prasad. Fifth row: Support group: Ganga; Shiv Harakh; Kanha; Kallu; and Munna Lal. (Source: R. N. Bhargava) Fig.3. Krishnaji (right) receiving the prestigious Sir C.V. (Chandrasekhar Venkat) Raman Award from Indira Gandhi (Prime Minister of India) for his pioneering basic research on Microwave Spectroscopy, Microwave Transmission and Solid State Physics. Photo, 1976.
Fig.4. A group photograph after the reception of the wedding of Abhai Mansingh with his wife Kalpana. Left to right: Ranjan, Deepak, Dada (Krishnaji), Usha Saran (Krishnaji’s youngest sister-in-law), Bimla (Bhabhi), Meenu, Kalpana and Abhai Mansingh; the child in front is Chitra. Photo was taken in Fatehpur, UP; January, 1965. (Source: Abhai Mansingh) Fig.5. A group photograph taken at Krishnaji’s 60th birthday celebration. Sitting (left to right): Ramji Srivastava, Dina Nath, Suresh Chandra, Krishnaji (with garland), Baikunth Nath Mishra, Govind Saran Darbari, and Shyam Bihari Lal Srivastava. Standing (first row): Gajendra Kumar Johri, Prem Prakash Srivastava, Nabin Kumar Narain, Suresh Chandra Srivastava, Gopal Krishna Pandey, Pradip Kumar, Vinai Krishna Agarwal, and Vinod Prakash. Standing (second row): A. K. Srivastava, Mohan Swarup Sinha and Ram Kripal. Photo, 1982. (Source: Pradip Kumar) Fig. 6. An informal photograph with the former Vice Chancellor of Allahabad University, Ram Sahay (of the Indian Administrative Service, IAS). Left to right: Ram Sahay, Uma Shankar Srivastava (USS) and Krishnaji (who had served as Pro-Vice Chancellor with Ram Sahay), and children Shibu, nephew of SLS, and Umang, grand-son of USS. Photo, 1983.
(Source: Shyam Lal Srivastava, (SLS)) Fig. 7. A photograph taken during the inauguration of the National Seminar on Electronics for Teaching and Mass Education, New Delhi. Left to right: Krishnaji, unidentified, Ashoka Chandra, unidentified, Honorable Minister Shiv Raj Patil (the then Minister of State, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India), Uma Shankar Srivastava, Harish Chandra Khare, Raj Narain Kapur and Shyam Lal Srivastava. Photo, May 1986.
(Source: National Academy of Sciences, India) Fig. 8. A photograph taken during the 47th annual session of the National Academy of Sciences, India, at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (MP). Kedareshwar (K.) Banerjee addressing the gathering. Seated (left to right): Pratap Narain (P.N.) Srivastava, Uma Shankar Srivastava, Krishnaji, Palliakaranai Thirumalai (P.T.) Narsimhan, and Basanti Dulal (B.D.) Nagachaudhuri. Photo, 1977. (Source: National Academy of Sciences, India) Fig. 9. A photograph at 90th birthday of Neel Ratan Dhar, an internationally renowned chemist at the University of Allahabad. The photo shows Krishnaji (left) congratulating Dhar (with folded hands), Employees of the National Academy of Sciences, India, are in the back row.
From left to right: Nankulal, Ishwar Din Shukla and Radhey Mohan Srivastava. Photo, 1982. (Source: National Academy of Sciences, India) Fig. 10. Top row (left to right): Bireshwar Prasad Asthana (Dada’s uncle, Katghar– walé Chacha), Vishveshwar Prasad (Dada’s father, Babuji), Sidheshwar Prasad (Dada’s uncle, Patna walé Chacha). Middle row : Shanti Jijji (daughter of Bireshwar Prasad; Dada’s elder cousin, Jijji), Katghar-wali Chachi (Dada’s aunt; wife of Bireshwar Prasad), Dada (Krishnaji), Amma (Savitri Devi, Dada’s mother; in her lap is Dada’s sister Malati), Patna-wali Chachi (wife of Sidheshwar Prasad); Bottom row(left to right) : Girish Chandra Asthana (Shivji Bhaiya, Dada’s elder cousin), Gopalji (Dada’s brother), Rameshwar Chandra Asthana (Ramji Bhaiya, Dada’s cousin) and Jagdish Chandra Asthana (Munna Bhaiya, Dada’s cousin). Photo, ~1930. (Source: Family archives) Fig. 11. A photograph of Dada’s father Sri Vishveshwar Prasad.
Photo, ~ 1930. (See ‘Amma and Babuji—Our Life at Allahabad’ (edited by Govindjee), printed by PDQ Printing, Urbana, Illinois,March, 2007) Fig. 12. Left to right : Dada (Krishnaji), Dada’s mother Savitri Devi; in her lap is Malati; Gopalji is sitting on the floor.