«Edited by Govindjee Urbana, Illinois, USA and Shyam Lal Srivastava Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India i The Cover A photograph of Krishnaji (Dada), 1980 ...»
Some memories of my research days are still fresh. I remember the day when three prime ministers [two of them future prime ministers] honored us with their presence. They were Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri and Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru was especially curious to know how microwave research could be translated into tangible projects for the betterment of the country. Our Lab was a renowned one and it goes to Krishnaji’s credit that he could secure the presence of the leaders of the country who recognized the link between research and development.
Throughout my career through many institutions, Krishnaji remained a pillar of support. I have always sought to emulate his teaching style. He combined within him attributes of an encouraging teacher, a rigorous researcher, an enlightened supervisor and last but not the least an extremely good human being. He was almost like a parent to me and my relationship with him grew from strength to strength till the day he left for his heavenly abode.
Professor Krishnaji and His Influence on My Academic Career Satya Prakash Khare Physics Department, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut-250005, UP, India (Home address: B99 Shastri Nagar, Meerut-250004, UP, India) Telephones: (91)121- 276-0159 (Home) and (91) 98-977-032-92 (Mobile) E-mail: email@example.com I am pleased to have an opportunity to record my reminiscences of Professor Krishnaji. (From here on, the title of Professor, for Krishnaji, is implicit in the text that follows.) There are very few teachers who create a life-long impression on your mind. Krishnaji was one of them. For me, he was the most respected and best teacher.
I joined University of Allahabad in 1952 as an undergraduate student and it was my good fortune to have him as one of my ‘Gurus’ in the very first year of my studies. Right from day one, I became an admirer of his teaching skills and his affection for all of us.
In my post-graduation in Physics, I opted for ‘Electronics’ as a special paper, primarily because it was taught by Krishnaji. In addition to Physics, he taught me much more including the ‘teaching methodology’. Besides being an excellent teacher, he was a scientist of international repute. He had formed a strong ‘Research School of Microwaves’ at the University of Allahabad, and had developed several new experimental techniques. Although he never wrote a doctoral thesis for himself, many students obtained their doctoral degrees under his able supervision, and later occupied eminent positions in different parts of the World. He inspired me to adopt teaching and research as a profession and to give my best to my students.
During my post graduation, I learned a lot from the research activities of Krishnaji’s group. Right after my MSc examination, this knowledge helped me to successfully face an interview, conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) of India. I was selected by the Commission as “Class One” Gazetted Officer. I did join the post, but soon realized that it was not ‘my cup of tea’. My desire to become a teacher and researcher became stronger. After a few months, I resigned from my government job, and returned from Calcutta (now Kolkota) to Allahabad to join the University as a Research Scholar.
A few months later, I was accepted as a Faculty Member in the Department of Applied Physics. This department offered a three year MSc (Tech) course in Electronics and in Communication Engineering.
During my post graduation in ‘pure’ Physics, I had only one course (paper) in Electronics. But, now I was expected to teach three courses (papers) dealing with Electronics and Radio Communication. Indeed, a very difficult task for me! It was at this time that Krishnaji, who was in-charge of the Applied Physics, encouraged me to accept the challenge. With the blessings of all my former teachers, I was able to teach quite well, and I was happy that it was appreciated by the students. In the very first year of my teaching, my students did so well in their examinations in my course that the external examiner transmitted this information to Krishnaji. He was kind enough to disclose to me that he had received wonderful comments about my students’ performance. It was indeed a very satisfying experience for a novice teacher like me.
I recall that every year after the ‘Holi’ festival, our visit to Krishnaji’s home was a must and we were always greeted with warmth and affection by him and Mrs. Krishnaji.
After my doctoral degree from the University of Allahabad, under the able guidance of Professor S.N. (Satyendra Nath) Ghosh, who was then the Head of the Department, I moved away not only from the University of Allahabad, but also from the field of ‘Electronics’.
I joined the Department of Applied Mathematics, at Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland (UK) as a post doctoral research associate.
After three years at Belfast, I moved to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Goddard Space Flight Center, USA, where I worked for two years. During these 5 years (3 in Ireland and 2 in USA), I used ‘Quantum Mechanics’ as a tool to study collisions of electrons with atoms and molecules. Although I wanted to return to India, it was difficult to consider teaching Electronics at the University of Allahabad—I was, by now, far away from the field of Electronics.
While I was at NASA, I was offered an Assistant Professorship in Physics, at IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Bombay (now Mumbai). I understand that this position was given to me not only because of my academic record, but due to my research in the field of atomic collisions. I joined IIT (Bombay), but during this period I, unfortunately, had minimum contact with Krishnaji. After about two years of my stay in Bombay, I received an offer of Professorship from the newly-started Meerut University; I moved to Meerut to be closer to my home in Allahabad. While at Meerut, my interactions with Krishnaji increased again; he was frequently invited to Meerut to conduct examinations or deliver special seminars to our students and faculty. In addition, I would visit him, to pay my respect and seek his guidance, whenever I was in Allahabad, my hometown.
Only after three years of my professorship at Meerut University, Krishnaji proposed my name to become a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India. With my credentials and his blessings, I was elected as a fellow of the Academy in 1972. In 1986, he advised me to seek an election to become the President of the Physics section of the Indian Science Congress Association. Since my tenure of the Presidency of the Indian Society of the Atomic and Molecular Physics had just completed at that time, I agreed to run for the Science Congress position. Krishnaji had not only proposed my name for it, but wrote personal letters to the voting members. I won the election, by a good majority, to become the President of the Physics section of the Science Congress in 1987; I know that it was the influence of Krishnaji over the physics community of India that was responsible for this. In January 1988, I presided over the Physics section at the Platinum Jubilee of the Indian Science Congress, held at Pune, Maharashtra. Earlier, in the same winter, I was offered a professorship at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Banaras (now Varanasi); I joined BHU in December, 1988, but due to personal family reasons, I had to return to Meerut, only after a brief stay at Varanasi.
In 1991, Krishnaji came to Meerut, for 3 days, to participate in the annual convention of the National Academy of Sciences. These 3 days gave me an opportunity to discover a different personality that he had now; he was now an active member of the Meditation School of Shri Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He was now spending a good deal of his time at Maharishi’s Ashram, but his love for research in physics was still with him. He was carrying out research on Vedic Sciences and had students working on topics related to them.
Although I don’t remember meeting Krishnaji after 1991, yet my attachment and respect for him had never decreased. One morning in August of 1997, I heard that he has gone to his heavenly abode. It was a shocking news to me as well as to all his admirers. Although he is no more with us, his teachings will always be in our hearts. The research school he had started at the University of Allahabad now resides in a large number of cities in India and abroad, i.e., wherever his students or his students’ students are located. His message to us was simple: be a good human being, and serve your society with all humility. This message will continue to inspire us forever.
A Humble Student’s Homage to Professor Krishnaji: Some Cherished Memories Suresh Chandra Department of Physics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi-221005, UP, India E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org H ow do I write a short memoir about a man like Professor Krishnaji who had played many key roles in shaping my life?
What do I write? No words can describe him completely. He was a real “Guru” with immense compassion and great competence. Many of us, who were a part of his research group, never thought of him merely as their research supervisor or a great teacher but we proudly considered ourselves as a part of his “family”. That is why many of us address him as Dada (a common word by which the elder brother of the family is addressed in Allahabad) and the real younger brothers of Professor Krishnaji addressed him the same way. In what follows, I will address him as Krishnaji, or Dada, leaving the title aside. He was a friend, a philosopher, a guide, a role model and an enlightened torch bearer to all his students. He was a true embodiment of all that is good in life. I have no intention of highlighting his academic achievements and how he established the first Microwave Research Laboratory in India entirely on his own with meager resources. I have also no desire to bring back the nostalgic memories of the days when he dominated and actively participated in creating a vibrant academic ethos at Allahabad University. Krishnaji is a man of history as he ruled many hearts through his selfless deeds. The greatness of Krishnaji laid in nurturing the youngsters, who came in his contact, and motivating them to overcome the difficulties smilingly and ungrudgingly, a hallmark of his character. So, what I write below are only a very few of my sweet memories of my personal contact with that great man over a period of nearly forty years. Similar stories are shared by many of his students.
My faint and first indirect association with Krishnaji started when I joined BSc in Allahabad University as a young fifteen year old boy in 1953. I, as a young entrant in the University, heard stories about this respected teacher with great reverence as narrated by our seniors.
The message was loud and clear that he was the person to approach in case of personal difficulties even if you do not know him personally.
It was afloat that every young person, the moment he introduces himself as a student in difficulty, can be sure of getting a patient and sympathetic hearing from him. Many of my friends did approach him with a variety of apparently mundane problems like no place to stay, no money to pay fee, need for a tuition or a part time work to partially support studies, fee-waiver, monetary/health problems of their family, and rough (or unfair) treatment on the part of the University Administration. He solved or resolved the problems of most of the students. And if not, he used to inculcate enough strength in the young minds to be able to face the problems boldly. It was a great solace to know that there was some God like “Guru” to take care of young students in need. His doors were always open. My turn came much later when I really entered through these doors and peeped into his citadel of nobility.
I came in close contact with Krishnaji in 1956 when I joined his MSc (Final) Class with specialization in Electronics. I was mesmerized by his style of delivering the lectures. I was so impressed that I took a resolve to become a part of his “research group/family” after passing my MSc. I still cherish the memory of his soft steps with which he used to walk in our “Practical Laboratory Class” to attend to our difficulties. A hush of wave of reverence would appear to have passed by as he entered the room. He would sit on a stool and attend to our difficulties. He immediately used to know the “problem and the solution” but never told us directly. Instead, he would “guide us to uncover” the problem ourselves and to feel the satisfaction of having done so. He was the real ‘Solver” but the “Learner” was given the privilege to have the illusion of having solved the problem. That was his greatness and that was his uncanny way to teach the method of analyzing the ticklish technical problems (the same method he applied whenever we approached him with our personal or family problems). During one of his laboratory visits, I had the “scare” of my student’s life by making a silly careless act. Krishnaji was attending to a problem of my friend working next to my table. In those days, most of the Electronics experiments were performed using Vacuum Tubes/Valves (not transistors or Integrated Circuits). I carelessly pulled out a valve which flew out of my hands onto the floor and broke with a bang. I was scared to death because getting replacement of any component was difficult in those days in India.
But this great teacher did not even turn his head towards me (what to say of scolding) and kept on attending to the problems of my friend.
After some time, he called the laboratory attendant to bring a replacement valve for me. Then he came to me and quietly taught the correct way of pulling out the valve and putting it back. Subsequently, he walked away quietly, as if nothing had happened, leaving in us a more deeply engraved reverence and awe for him.