Abdul Kalam – A Life to be Celebrated

July 27, 2015 at 8:28 pm 6 comments

As I observe the outpouring of condolence and grief at the passing of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam I realize that his life is one to be celebrated. In life and in death, President Kalam stands out as a towering personality.

Apart from his poverty- to-Presidency story and his tenure as undeniably India’s most popular president, what is it that makes his life so special?

kalam3First of all I realize that a lot of my friends (and a lot of everyone’s friends) have either met President Kalam or know of someone who has met him. Yes, Abdul Kalam was a people person; he reached out everywhere.

I have had the honor of meeting him (and having my work performed in his presence) on three occasions; once in Lexington KY and then in Seattle WA where we had a private audience with him and then at a reception held in his honor at the residence of the Consular General of India in Houston.

He was dear to anyone that went in for higher education; he was an inspiration to all school children. He was and is viewed as a man that blazed forth the torch of inspiration – almost leading you to a guaranteed growth path – full of hope.

It didnt matter whether he offered namaaz or whether he read the Gita each day. All that matters is that there is probably not a single soul in India who would utter a word against him. Isnt that a rarity? Any celebrity has adversaries. Not President Kalam who was dear to one and all. There is thus no surprise that every other post on Facebook feed (or for that matter, anyone’s FB feed) is about him.

His love for Art Music (Karnatic Music in particular) was something that has been talked about in the media. Yes; in his speech in Lexington, when he talked proudly of Indian cultural heritage he did make a mention of the Vaggeyakaras of South India – Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri(gal). Yes, in a characteristic Tamilian manner he referred to Sastri as Sastrigal (in a speech in English).

He quickly struck conversation in Tamil with my then 13 year daughter in Seattle when we presented him with a recording of the Indo Colonial Music of Dikshitar (Vismaya). “unakku Dikshitar pidikumma ma? enakku Tyagarajar taan ma pidikkum. ‘yandaro mahanubhavulu”. (Do you like Dikshitar? I like Tyagaraja the most”).

He stands out tall in his death. What an enviable way to leave one’s body behind? No prolonged hospitalization; no illness; no accident. No premature death; he had lived a full life. He was doing what he loved best until his last breath. He was teaching; imparting knowledge. It is an undeniable fact that the body ages – and the death bed images of most people are vastly different from portraits taken in their moments of greatness. President Kalam looked no different at the time of his death than he did during other great moments in life.

In fact, he was never ever past his prime.

Such a life is to be celebrated. His death in fact reminds  me of the last section of the movie ‘Dreams’ by Akiro Kurusawa where the death of a ripe old person is actually celebrated by the entire village.

Yes, we are all proud to have been acquainted with this well lived life in one way or the other.

Kanniks Kannikeswaran

July 27, 2015

Entry filed under: Indian Classical Music, Politics, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bharath Karur  |  July 28, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Brilliant Write Eashwar.

  • 2. Ravi  |  July 28, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Great write up, Kannicks.

  • 3. Sumathi Srinivsan  |  July 28, 2015 at 9:37 am

    You have my thoughts in beautiful words “not a single soul in India who would utter a word against him. Isn’t that a rarity?”. At this time when being an Indian that runs through the veins of every Indian in India or abroad, each of are engulfed in sadness. Your blog in tribute to a great soul is well written. RIP to the great Dr.Abdul Kalam

  • 4. Nate Natesan  |  July 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Highly evolved person
    Spiritual score of avarage Jones we meet us say 100.
    Swami Vivekananda say 1000
    (Hard to find anyone at score 125 say)
    Dr. Abdul kallam, I can believe he is at 1000
    Two slokas come to my mind
    From Baja govindam by adi Sankara
    Baja Govindam baja govindam
    Govindam baja mudamathey
    Samprapthey sannidhiye kale
    Nahi nahi rakshathi dukraj karane
    Dr Kalam’s prowess in secular learning is legendary. He also constantly searched for truth or God as appealed to by adi sankara.

    Bhagwad Gita ch 2 sloha 64
    Raga dvesha viyuktsis tu vishayan indriyais charan
    Atma vyasur vidhey Atma
    Prasadam Adigatchati
    A self-controlled man free from likes and dislikes, living in this jungle with full control over his sense organs, gets real Prasadam, peace or enlightenment.
    I think he fits the bill. Lived in more than jungle as President and came out unscathed.

    Nate Natesan
    Founder and CEO Swacch Devalaya.

  • 5. Jaishree Rao  |  July 29, 2015 at 1:11 am

    well said!

  • 6. Shiva  |  July 31, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Great writeup.. thanks for sharing


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