Guru of my Mind, Heart and Soul

Author: 
Rajeev Doshi

Rajeev Doshi retired as Senior Intelligence Officer from the Department of Customs and Central Excise. Upon superannuation Rajeev lives in Petlad Gujarat with his wife Arti. Rajeev began his career with Food Corporation Of India in 1972 before joining the Central Govt in 1982. Most his education took place in Bhuj, Gujarat. He’s very proud of his school, Shree Swami Narayan Vidhyalaya, Bhuj.

It was year 1966 when I joined Shree Swami Narayan Vidhyalay, Bhuj in 5th Standard. The school was offering education up to class 11 which was then known as S.S.C., Secondary School Certificate. As the school was run by Shree Swaminarayan temple, Bhuj, the religious foundation, it was holding the reputation of being number one in character building.

Rajeev Doshi attended the Shree Swami Narayan Vidhyalay at Bhuj, Gujarat.

There were three sections to each class thus making twenty one classes in all. When I joined the school, there were nearly 900 students from standard 5th to standard 11th. In those days even bicycles were not allowed in the school. All students had to walk from their residences to the school. For the students from eighth standard onwards, it was compulsory to join either National Cadet Corps (NCC) or National Service Scheme (NSS). In short, the school was designed to make the students physically strong, socially responsible citizens, with exemplary moral character.

It was in the same year, Shree Mukundray Dholkia, joined the school as our new Principal. We rarely got a chance to see him on the campus except during the mass prayers on Saturdays. The Principal appeared to have a towering personality when we used to see him once in a while walking in Jodhpuri Khadi jacket, broad folded-bottom pants, shining red shoes and Gandhi cap.

He wore golden-rimmed glasses and sported a big thick moustache which gave him sort of ruthless appearance. The first sight reminded us of an ‘Angrejo ke Jamane’ ka Jailor, sorry, Head Master. And that was true also as he had served as Principal in Sir Alphard High School, a British school in Bhuj, till 1957 where discipline was parmount.

He was nearly sixty five when he came over to our school. As a student of 5th standard, I was too young to judge his character fully but yet, we all definitely knew that we had to keep a safe distance from him. Of course, we were afraid.

In the very first mass prayer meeting he gave us a new slogan. It was,” SSV, SSV, we are the students of SSV”. He used to say it loudly and exhorted us to repeat the same loudly and clearly after him. Of course, I was not that keen to understand the purpose of that slogan but definitely felt energised on every shout.

After three years, I was promoted to 8th standard. Our Principal used to teach us English literature and poetry. It was then that I really met him when he came to our English class. Authority sounded in his voice and his utterances of poetic words reminded me of Manna De, the playback singer who sang his songs with his deep and booming voice. When he used to express the meaning of the poetry, the stone face used to turn calm like still lake water. He used to get lost in the eternal world of words, taking us with him on the journey. It was like a winter, wind, flowing smoothly but penetrating our minds. His presence was so soothing that we wished to be under his shadow forever.

In our religious scripts, it is mentioned that those who gave birth to us are our First Parents, God almighty is our second parent and Guru is our third Parent. It was the first time that I realised that the man, slowly, silently but profoundly took the place of my third parent.

I started to love him but never could admit until one early morning when we were swimming and enjoying ourselves in the cold waters of the nearby Hamirsar Lake.

We suddenly heard a very familiar voice calling out loudly, saying, “Hello boys”. To our surprise, Our Head Master was standing there on the steps of a bridge, in a swimming costume. We were stunned to see him dive and then swim over to us. It was amazing to see him swimming so vigorously at his age. We wanted to react to his greetings but his reputation was preventing us to step forward.

He could realise our hesitation and thus smiled and came close to us. He asked us to forget that he was our Head Master at that moment and also ordered not to follow any school rules in the lake. Gradually with his encouragement, we could open up with him. We discovered a whole new side of his personality: full of laughs, jokes and fun.

From then on it became our routine to enjoy swimming with him daily at Hamirsar Lake. His occasional absence made us feel miserable. We could learn by that time that his wife (Guru Maa) had left for her heavenly abode before he joined our school. He had only one daughter who too was a scholar like him. His younger brother Shree Kundanlal Dholkia was a known activist in the freedom struggle and was first Member of Legislative Assembly from Kutch in Independent India.

Days passed and we became so habitual of being with him for whatever possible time. He used to discuss our plans for the future, used to give his valuable guidance and suggest better opportunities for our future careers. Finally, the day came when we wrote the Secondary School Certificate exam and successfully completed our high school education. We were given a grand farewell for our onward college education. He too was now very old by now and he also decided to retire in the same year. He had taken our school to great heights. The reputation of building character was exalted to number one in the entire Kutch.

After leaving the school, we all friends decided to see him and went to his house for the first time. His immense joy was flooding through his eyes on finding us at his door. We were welcomed like esteemed guests. We talked a lot, giggled and smiled over many subjects.

Finally I dared to tell him as to how we used to fear his presence in the school and about his nickname, which we had given to him. He laughed loudly for a moment. Then with brief silence, he said, “I always loved you all like my own sons but always behaved strictly to test your metal to make you all to be a winner in all fields of life: with the discipline, inner and outer health and walking on the right path”.

Right after I joined service, he left for his heavenly abode. On that day each and every student, past or present, of Shree Swami Narayan Vidhyalay had tears flowing from his eyes.

Today, whenever my family performs any Pooja at home and during the course of Pooja when the Pandit asks me to recall the name of my Guru, his Divine face emerges from my heart, smiling and showering his blessings on me.

Comments

Excellent narration. You are very fortunate to have the pleasure of such an ideal teacher. Teachers have the ability to etch a great human out of ordinary. One word of a great teacher is enough for the Reformation.
Proud to be a teacher myself.

Excellent narration and great tribute from an ardent student who almost followed respectfully and lead an exemplary life.....

It's great idea to create such a website where we can cherish our past. I too had taken a chance to pay homage to my beloved teacher whose influence has built my character.

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