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Aug 29, 2005
An opportunity to serve Sanskrit

“If there is one thing I denounce the West for, it is the concept of banks and interest. Yes, you can quote me—I am closer to Islam in this respect. Money as an end measure of attainments is ruining everything. Our governance, commerce, farming and relationships are all drifting away from the reality that can work without conflicts. We are fooling ourselves with what is progress. We will face the wall soon.” That was Professor M A Lakshmi Thathachar quoted in the concluding paragraphs of GoodNewsIndia’s article on him two years ago.

At Mekote near Mysore in Karnataka, where he had laboured close to 30 years on the 15 acres given by the state to build his dream Academy of Sanskrit Research, Thathachar might have fancied himself immune from the pulls of money-driven India today. He was unaware how prophetic his words were; he was to be given a taste of the times.

On May 20, 2004, an unlawfully convened meeting passed a dubious resolution removing him as the Director of the Academy. The origins appear familiar. A senior staffer wanted the pay scales to be upgraded with cars and other allowances to be provided to him. Ever the frugal man, Thathachar refused to commit himself to a recurring high expense. As it was, he was spending most of his time finding sponsors to fund the ongoing research and was aware that funds could always dry up. Besides a corporate culture was anathema to him.

Trouble brewed for months with intrigues worked out with politicians. The Academy could provide a sinecure for a political flunkey. Thathachar openly blames the marauding ways of an ex-Prime Minister’s family in Karnataka. The way it works in India with politicians is that they will first break the law to suit their convenience and it is up to you to mobilise the press and the courts to set right the wrong. Not many have the skills, money or the stomach for a sustained struggle. Certainly, the Professor, now 69, is not trained to take on boors.

So the Academy is adrift and in the hands of adventurers who covet the lands and hope for government grants. The Academy site hangs pathetically and still cites Thathachar as the director and features his photograph. He bristles on being told this and is writing to demand that his name not be associated.

The Professor was in deep despondency for close to an year and withdrew from circulation. From GoodNewsIndia’s point of view however, the development is neither fatal to his core causes nor one without a promise. In 2003, he had dreamed of setting up a Gurukulam on his retirement from government service. Now the set-back can be a springboard to realising that dream sooner.

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