In today’s world, most of us are divided into two camps: religious or atheist, whatever that or both mean.
In fact, during my stay in Kerala this year, a young lady asked me with a certain concern in her eyes, whether I was a “devotee”. In not so many words. But I got her drift and elegantly sidestepped.
I cannot belong to anything at this age, having too long indulged in an utter freedom of spirit. I have no evidence that intangible things exist but I have never failed to be charmed by manifestations like love, faith and the like. Indeed, even things like those emotions we deem negative or destructive, are they not delightful when viewed in the arts?
Thus, I am untouched whether in a “hallowed’ place of “Science” or of “Religion”. More lucidly I do not really know much of either but I do not see how being in a place causes me to automatically become something.
I do not become a scientist by spending hours in a place devoted to science nor a religious person by loitering around on the premises of a place that has religious overtones.
Permit me one more small digression to explain my enchantment with the ambience. I grew up in an Ashram in Puducherry. Even earlier, as a very small child, weekends and other holidays were often spent in a Buddhist Ashram in Bengaluru.
These places are, now, of course, very different. But, in those days, they resonated with a sweet serenity.
The grounds of the the Amrita School of Arts & Sciences are full of smiling young faces, boys and girls exuberant in artistic and professional output, dedicated staff solemn in their duties, and, at the helm, a very sincere being: Dr. U. Krishnakumar.
It is difficult to identify him as helmsman because he is always dressed very simply. Ever smiling, he goes about the day, moving around and always deeply engaged, be it with the plants in the Institute’s kitchen garden or in more academic or administrative matters.
I was honoured to spend a small time with him in the kitchen garden near which there was the above water purifying plant. He explained how it purifies an enormous amount of water and supplies it to the premises.
In the garden he worked shoulder to shoulder with the youthful immigrant labour employed there – all sporting happy faces, bathed in this experience. This is in contrast to the general situation of these immigrants for, outside of here, they are often much like immigrant labour all over – a rather maligned and exploited lot.
Dr. U. Krishnakumar is now working to integrate the experience of the students with a wholesome exposure to organic farming.
In a nice twist of serendipity, the School adjoins a Muslim Madrassa and expresses all that is India when the twin sounds of the Institute’s little temple sweetly harmonise with the prayer calls of Islam. And, not far off, elegant churches overlook and merge with this symbiosis.
Truly a place for young souls to grow and progress to the best of humanhood.