An Ocean of Compassion: Revered Chitre Guruji

Respected Guruji,

When I first met you, I was a student in the prime of my youth. At that time, you were enjoying the twilight period of your life. Now that I am trying to write about you, I am experiencing the dusk of my life. I feel that akin to your name Krushnarao, I can see you like the all-pervading, omniscient Lord Krishna. I am so elated, so excited yet so confused that I am unable to decide what I should write and how I should express the profound feelings, I have harboured in my mind about you. For me as a student, it was an easy job to understand your personality as just my teacher and a teacher to many students like me. However, I realise that then ignorance was bliss! Now that I have started to know more about you from numerous students, relatives, colleagues, parents, from memoirs penned by locals I am overwhelmed by the enormity of your personality described by them. Awestruck by your persona I am unable to gather myself together to write about you. I do not know how I can capture your multifaceted personality and your divine aura in my feeble words. In my childhood, I was fortunate to have such an illustrious person like you as my teacher. Nevertheless, I had not realised the magnitude of my good fortune at that time. Now that I have realised the enormity of you divine character I am so mystified and am groping for the most appropriate words to describe you. I now feel what Arjun must have felt after he recognised the true significance of his friend Lord Krishna- the omnipresent deity. On first comprehending the all-pervasive persona of Lord Krishna whom he knew only as a very close friend, Arjun was so befuddled. He was bewildered. The moment of epiphany that his friend was the creator of the universe perplexed him. Sant Dnyaneshwar has aptly described Arjuna’s bemused condition in the following words, ”O Lord! I am frightened at the sight of your enormous persona. I hardly possess the capacity and the strength to comprehend this hugeness. It was much better to know you as just a friend, philosopher and guide!’

Guruji, as I write about you, my feelings are similar to Arjuna’s feelings. My confusion is the same as Arjuna’s. Yet I am determined to write about you in whatever small measure it is possible for me to do so.

A minuscule sized bird like the peewit or lapwing tries to empty the vast ocean with its tiny beak. She may not be able to drain away all the water but with all her efforts, she may be able to empty a pot full of water. Even then, she will feel so blessed because she is aware of her limitations. I feel like that bird trying to comprehend the ocean of your greatness.

Guruji, you loved your students unconditionally. You had the rare magic of simplifying concepts and transferring them in the minds of your students. You were like the great Guru Dronacharya!

You were a sage who affectionately developed in your students, immutable values and ethics and equipped them with skills, which would make them ready for their future.

We have heard of the Lady with the Lamp, Florence Nightingale who visited her patients in the military barracks during the night with a lantern in her hand. Armed with a lantern, you would take rounds of Sharadashram and be vigilant that all your students slept well in the night, ensuring that no one had any problems. Like the great sage Sandipani, even late in the night, you would go from student to student ensuring that each one was comfortably asleep.

You were like the generous warrior Karna, one who sacrificed his all and yet chose to remain away from any publicity.

You were also like Mahatma Dadhichi, who contributed immeasurably to the development of the institution and education society in which you served.

Saints have been described as those who are capable of being harder than wajra-the weapon wielded by Lord Indra and softer than tender flowers. You are similarly a stoic yet tenderhearted sage.

You have withstood the pangs of poverty in your childhood and struggled hard to get education. You were not self satisfied with just educating yourself but yearned to spread knowledge to all the people in the society. Inspired by this lofty aim, you came to Bordi and created history with the help of likeminded teachers like Acharya Bhise and Save. Like the great sage Bhagirath who brought the sacred Ganges from heaven to this world, you brought the sacred river of knowledge to Bordi.

I can also see in you the dedicated shishya Eklawya because like him under the tutelage of Acharya Bhise, you immersed yourself in all the academic and social activities, which he undertook. You remained in the background and took the entire responsibility of carrying out all the projects launched by Acharya Bhise.

In you, I can see a spiritual traveller deeply influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, which made you fearless and devoted to the cause of education. You are a relentless seeker of knowledge, fiercely duty bound, uninterested in worldly riches and capable of any sacrifice for the cause of education. You are an amalgam of rare virtues.

You never believed in rituals and never had blind faith in traditions. In bhakti –devotion, fidelity you discovered action or karma. You believed that to fulfil one’s duty, to follow the predestined course with devotion is in itself karma yoga. You could seek divinity in the surroundings where you worked. Your work was worship.

You were a god sent angel who brought to the people of Bordi and Gholwad and their future generations, the elixir of knowledge that helped to free the entire society from the shackles of ignorance.

You preserved your wife’s paithani that she had worn during your wedding ceremony for your entire life. In your last wish you expressed that the paithani should accompany you on your final journey to your pyre and be offered to the fire along with your body. Your stoicism was beyond any comparison.

Guruji, you were a blend of so many greatnesses. The service you have rendered through the medium of education is an exceptional one. All through your life, you have always attempted to scale greater heights in all that you undertook to do. Your life blossomed in multiple ways. I sincerely feel that you have been a saintly teacher without requiring the paraphernalia of a saint such as applying vermillion or singing to the tune of cymbals. You were like the alchemist using the philosopher’s stone, which transforms all base metals to gold.

From the year 1921 to 1957, until you turned sixty, Guruji, you actually taught students for thirty-six years. You were adept at teaching English, Sanskrit and Mathematics. You would be engrossed in teaching while the students would be immersed in learning. You spoke in a loud, clear voice that would reach each and everyone.  You always ensured that every student followed what you taught before going further. It is so incredible to note that in your entire tenure you have never enjoyed a single day’s leave. You engaged classes even during the vacations. Though you retired from the job, you continued to contribute your knowledge to the students in the school and hostel. Your fame as an exemplary teacher had spread everywhere in the Bombay region. We have heard that teachers from Mumbai region flocked to attend your lectures during teachers’ conferences.  All the students who had the good fortune of studying under your guidance were certainly very blessed. I am proud to be one among them.

Guruji, your dedicated service carried the name and fame of Sharadashram everywhere across the country. This was the fruit of the penance made by the divine trinity of Bordi -Bhise, Chitre and Save. Even though, meritorious students were preferred for admission in our hostel yet those who were known to be mischievous and pranksters were welcomed too. By the time they left the hostel, they were transformed into responsible good citizens. You chose to admit children who were motherless on a priority basis. Once their wards were admitted to Sharadashram, the parents were rest assured that they were is safe hands. Just as a mother does not keep an account of the hardships she undergoes for her children, similarly you became the mother of all your students without ever counting your suffering and hardships. We will find neither your efforts documented in any report nor would anyone have photographed them. Yet the memories of your relentless hard work are indelibly etched in the minds of your students. These memories are proof of your dedicated service. When there would be a sudden outbreak of fever and twenty to twenty five students would suffer at a time, you would be at their service in the middle of the night and nurse them tenderly. Dr.Pathak and Dr.Churi would help you in looking after the students who would be unwell. You would regularly write to the parents to inform them of their children’s progress. You would discuss the related issues with the parents and their wards. Parents considered you, Chitre Sir, as almost God almighty, as you were the architect of their children’s destiny.

Chitre sir, 3rd from right, last row, standing.

In your thirty-six years of service, you worked on a meagre amount or even without any remuneration. For all these years, you took up the responsibility as superintendent of Sharadashram but never charged a single paisa for shouldering this responsibility. After your superannuation from school service, you continued to be in charge of Sharadashram for which you accepted a paltry amount of two hundred rupees a month. You were vigilant about the requirement of each student. Despite your small income, you were always willing to help any student, colleague or villager in need. Many a times you have extended your helping hand even before the one in need asked for it. In the Mahabharat, Karna was known as a generous person who would never disappoint anyone or send any mendicant empty handed. People had to appeal to Karna for help, but I know of innumerable examples of those whom you helped even before they had asked for it, knowing that they were facing difficult times. I remember that I had come to take your blessings before going to Satara for further studies in Bhaurao Patil’s College. You had assured me that if at any moment I required any monetary help I should inform you without hesitating. I feel that in spite of your limited earning you must have given away thousands of rupees to those who approached you for help. The receiver had to abide by two rules, firstly since the amount was in the form of help it should not be returned and secondly the person should not mention the help to anyone. Guruji, your munificence is unparalleled!

The school began in 1921 in a rented house, which belonged to Shri Bajirao Purandare. Initially the school started with Acharya Bhise, Atmaram Save and you and had twenty to twenty five students. Your salary would be paid from the amount collected as students’ fees. The school was not recognised or aided by the government. Your remuneration was so limited but none of you complained or held any grudge. In fact, you voluntarily accepted to be paid less. Today this school is celebrating its centenary year. During these hundred years, the school has prospered in a many ways. Today, the campus offers multifarious opportunities of education. It has opened the doors to all for pre primary to post graduation, professional, technical and computer learning. These facilities benefit not only the local students but also students from the neighbouring state of Gujarat who prefer attending school and college on this campus. The campus witnesses more than seven thousand five hundred students every day. As the school flourished so did Gokhale Education Society. During these hundred years, the Gokhale Education Society has undoubtedly contributed to the educational as well as overall developmental needs of the locals of Bordi and nearby villages. The Society developed because of the contribution made by its students and alumni. The contribution of dedicated, perceptive, upright teachers and colleagues like you cannot be overlooked. However, when you were serving or even after you had retired you never publicized your contribution and service to the school in order to seek name and fame. In fact, when the Gokhale Education Society offered you life membership of the Society you humbly refused it saying that if one performs the tasks assigned to one with dedication how can one accept a reward of any kind for it. You felt it was your life mission decided by fate. When you were about to retire at the age of sixty, Bhise Sir had suggested that you apply to the Society, for an extension. You humbly turned down that suggestion too. Nevertheless, the Society knowing your temperament and worth made an exception to their rule. You were allowed to continue with your mission of imparting education even after retirement without making any request for it. Such dedication, such selfless service of which you are an epitome, is unimaginable in the present times!

Guruji, you once said that,” I was fortunate to live life on my own terms; I astutely followed the values I cherished all my life. The times are changing; the values are not the same. I do not believe in compromising with one’s principles because the demand of the time changes. I will follow what Bhise Guruji asks me to as part of my allegiance to obedience. However if there is a clash of principles I will express what I staunchly believe to be right. This is my motto.” The best part of this is that even Bhise Sir did not object or feel offended by your stand. You have expressed the gist of your life in these two sentences. You, who were always calm, saintly, loving and supportive, would never hesitate to take a stern, uncompromising stand if there was a clash of values. Your ethics would never allow you to remain submissive if you came across any kind of injustice done to anyone. In this connection, I wish to share one incident in my life. I took admission in Bordi School in the year 1954. You were the headmaster of the school. I had received High school Scholarship. Owing to my family’s weak financial condition, I had applied for the freeship that the school could have granted me. My father, Appa, met you one day to request you to consider my application.  You assured my father that you would do everything within your capacity to help me. It was an unwritten rule followed by the Society that if a student received one scholarship she or he should not be considered for a second one. Therefore, the Society had turned down my application. However, you strongly pleaded with the management that if a particular student was remarkably good and was facing a financial crunch such a student must be made an exception of and considered for more than one schemes for financial assistance. You placed this point in a meeting with the Management Council and helped me get the benefit of freeship too. You never mentioned the hard work you undertook for helping students like me to anyone nor take credit for the same. Some other member present in that meeting reported the proceedings of the meeting. That was how we came to know of your efforts to help us. Whenever there occurred issues that challenged the principles and values you believed in you would never hesitate to stand by them.  In the present times when people selfishly grab recognition for things they have not even done, it is difficult to find people of your values and integrity. Guruji, you are among those divine creations rarely found today! 

Guruji your entire life is an illustration of purity and patience. After successfully completing your studies and receiving an Arts degree from Mumbai University in 1920, you decided to become a teacher. You were determined not to accept a government job even if you could have easily got one. You wished to work independently, protect your academic freedom. You did not want any restrictions while working. You were in search of such a school, which would support your liberty. You came to know about this school at Bordi, which was run by some idealist teachers of Gokhale Education Society, who worked with a mission of spreading education for all. Therefore, you came to Bordi. You found yourself in the company of likeminded zealous teachers and you started working in the Bordi School. That marked the beginning of a new history. The divine trio- Atmarampant Save, Acharya Bhise, and Guruvarya  Chitre created a wonderful new world. The people of this area worship you as Gods. The river of knowledge that originated from you has now prospered and branched into several tributaries. As time passes, it is thriving and shall soon become an ocean of knowledge. Acharya Bhise dreamt that every deserving adivasi child who enters the Bordi School at the pre primary level must get the opportunity of studying up to the Ph.D. level without having to venture out of Bordi. Today this dream has come true. Had you been present today, you would have been elated to see Principal Prabhakar Raut, an accomplished alumnus of the Bordi School, who received your blessings and values, unstoppably driving this divine chariot forward.

SPH HighSchool Teaching & non-teach staff of 1954. Prin. Chitre sir 4th from right, first row, sitting.

Principal Raut has taken tremendous efforts to expand the institutions on the Bordi campus. He mentioned that when he was trying to get some donations for the expansion work he had contacted some past students of the school. He did not face any problems while approaching them for financial help because the past students and parents were happy to respond to an appeal made by the institution to which Bhise, Save and Chitre belonged. They would happily send the amount requested of them. This was nothing short of a miracle. Nevertheless, how could it happen? This happened because of your efforts to unite minds, your selfless love for your students. You won the hearts of all those who came to you. Principal Prabhakar Raut reminisces, whenever a guest, a parent or past student appeared at Sharadashram, no matter the time, you would inquire after him personally. If it was mealtime and the guest had not taken his meal, you would take the guest to the dining room and feed him. If the guest had had his meal, you would insist that the guest accept at least a cup of tea. So many new buildings have sprung up on the Bordi campus but assuredly, the foundation stone of each one of them was laid long back by the virtuous, courteous, affectionate demeanour of Chitre Guruji. Apparently, that one cup of tea Chitre Guruji offered has garnered so much of support for the institution.

Guruji you and Acharya Bhise were like the teacher disciple pair of Nivruttinath and Dnyaneshwar. You respected Acharya as your elder brother and Guru. You always followed Acharya Bhise’s instructions while managing Sharadashram. However, you also voiced your different opinion firmly when it was required. In the Quit India Movement of 1942 Mahatma Gandhi had given the slogan, ”Karenge,ya marenge-Do or Die’. Bhise Sir had immersed himself in the struggle. He told you that since he was participating in the struggle you should not involve yourself in it. You should stay back and take care of the school. In fact, you wanted to respond to Mahatma Gandhi’s appeal and participate in the struggle for freedom. Nevertheless, you obeyed Acharya’s orders and decided to stay back and look after the school. You had told him, “I have decided to remain away from the movement only because you asked me to do so. Many revolutionaries will visit this place. I may happen to meet them. I may be arrested. If this happens, I will not ask for pardon. Otherwise your wish is my command.”

Your silent, discreet contribution to the freedom struggle was remarkable. Fortunately, for the students and the school, you were not arrested. Acharya Bhise had declined to accept any of the honour and titles conferred upon him, even the Best Teacher National Award at the hands of the President. You followed his footsteps and never accepted any awards or prizes.

Principal Prabhakar Raut referred to another instance when you had stood firmly by the voice of your conscience. Dhanabai had donated to the school in the name of her mother. The Society and School were indeed much indebted to her for her generosity. She was treated with great respect all through her life. Her word could never be turned down. An adivasi woman worked at Dhanabai’s place. Her son was studying in the high school. Unfortunately, he secured less marks in one of the examinations. He was marked failed and would have to repeat the class. Dhanabai heard of this. Actually, she had encouraged that boy to attend school. She wished that children of the economically weak and marginalised social groups should get education and progress in life. It was with this motive that she had given a large donation to the school. Naturally, she wished that the boy who had failed should be able to study further. She mentioned this to Principal Bhise. Since Principal Bhise was busy, he asked Chitre Guruji to look into the matter and find out if anything could be done to promote the child. Guruji, you rechecked the child’s answer sheets and marks and concluded that he could not be declared as passed. You were in a dilemma. Had you allowed the child to pass that would be against your conscience? If the child failed, there was a possibility that Dhanabai would be furious. Therefore, you requested Dhanabai to spare some time for a meeting. You went to her place and very humbly told her,” I am unable to change the boy’s result from fail to pass.” You briefly explained to her the situation and without waiting for her response handed over your resignation. Dhanabai was taken aback. She realised that her insistence was of no use if the school was going to lose a very devoted and ideal teacher. Dhanabai was an equally principled lady. She took the resignation and tore it to pieces, congratulated you on your honesty and allowed the boy to repeat the previous class. This incident is quite a small one, but it is an example of your uprightness and dutiful nature. We bow before you for your loyalty towards your work. All your life, you were softer than a flower but could be harder than Indra’s weapon-wajra when it came to safeguarding your values.

You were Krushnarao Mahadev Chitre, born on 31 August 1897. Since it was the auspicious day of Gokul Ashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna your mother named you after the deity. However, all through your life, you were more of Guru Sandipani than his disciple Lord Krishna. You carried forward the mantle of the Guru with utmost sagacity and dedication. Like the Sandipani Ashram of yore, Sharadashram also came to be known for its education. Clad in white khadi attire with a small napkin thrown across the shoulder you would move around with a beaming, serene countenance and a lean physique. You ate very sparsely and you were an avowed vegetarian. You were the embodiment of the principle of simple living and high thinking, a personification of ‘healthy mind in a healthy body.’ You were a generous hearted motherly figure and all your students knew you as the modern sage- guru.

You did not merely read the writings of Swami Vivekananda but you imbibed his philosophy. In fact, you lived Swamiji’s teaching in the real sense. In your life, you practised the lessons in spirituality given by stalwarts like Ramkrishna Paramahans and Vivekananda. The essence of Swamiji’s teachings was to create generation of young, illustrious, dazzling, honest Indians who would make their motherland proud. You followed these principles and inspired your students to do the same. Students who graduated from Bordi School could make a mark for themselves and stood out in the crowd wherever they went. Your divine precept and noble practice made this difference.

Guruji, you were the headmaster when I joined our school in the year 1955. However, you conducted classes for us only during our free periods, or in the absence of our Sanskrit and Mathematics teachers. You retired in 1957 and so I could not learn from you in regular classes. The few classes you conducted in the absence of other teachers were our Midas touch moments as they transformed us into nobler humans.

I remember once when Dugal Sir was absent you had come to our class to teach us English. Among other things, you taught us William Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘The Solitary Reaper’. I have no words to describe the manner in which you explained the poem to us. As always, there was pin drop silence in the classroom. Before moving further in your lucid style, you ensured that every student had understood the previous part of the poem. We thoroughly understood the poem and were thrilled by the experience. When Dugal Sir resumed he inquired about the portion completed during his absence. When he came to know that teaching ‘The Solitary Reaper’ was already completed in the class he appeared a little unhappy. He did not say anything but on the third day when he came to the class, he appeared very cheerful. He declared that he would be teaching ‘The Solitary Reaper’ again. He had taken permission from Chitre Guruji for it. Initially we could not understand the reason behind his elation. He explained to us that the poem was one of his favourite ones. During his student days, he had contemplated on the poem and wished to share it with his students. Thus, that day Dugal Sir taught us the poem again. He created before our eyes the Scottish countryside, the hilly highland locale, the full-grown farm waiting to be harvested and the solitary young reaper girl slightly bent over holding the stalk of the grain in one hand and a sickle in the other. The lonely, skittish highland girl appeared in front of our mind’s eye and the memory stays with us even today. We experienced a miracle! Your memories are inseparably united with this divine experience. The reason behind recollecting this occasion is to find out who was the greater teacher between the two of you. On the one hand is the headmaster who permitted a junior teacher to teach the poem once taught by him and on the other there is the junior teacher who approached the headmaster to be allowed to teach the poem already taught by the headmaster just because he deeply wished to? I feel both of you are great teachers! Both of you shared the same purpose; you jointly stood for the cause of enlightening the students. I seek your blessings!

I wish to share another memory in this context. After Dugal Sir’s rendition of that poem that day, I had unknowingly developed an urge to visit the Scottish highlands some time in my life and experience the expanse of fields but I was not getting an opportunity. A few years ago when in our tour to Europe, England was included in the package, I managed to extend the tour by two days and make a detour to Scotland. In the evening, as I stood on the side of a hill watching the golden barley fields, I was fondly searching for the young highland lass with a sickle in hand reaping the field. The seventy five year old memory when I was in the D division of the ninth standard with Dugal Sir engrossed in teaching us ‘The Solitary Reaper’, flashed across my mind. I also remembered Chitre Sir who gave him the necessary permission to teach an already taught poem. It is incredible how a superb teacher like you can impress his students’ minds for so long.

A similar incident took place when another teacher was on leave. You taught us Geometry for a few days. You were the headmaster at that time. Yet you would be in class a few moments before the class began. You would come to the class balancing carefully the Geometry text, compass box, ruler and a chalk case in your hands. You could have asked some teacher or anyone from the support staff to carry these things to the class. You never did that. This apparatus was required while drawing a circle on the board. You insisted that the circle should be a proper round and so you never drew a circle without a compass. While drawing a straight line you made it a point to use the ruler. Guruji we have learnt from numerous teachers in school and college. However, no one was so meticulous as to use a compass or a ruler to demonstrate the figures in the class. You impressed upon us the need to be ‘Mr. Perfectionist’ as you were!

The ‘holistic’ development of students is not a new expression. Even in your times, Guruji it was a clichéd term. It hardly communicates any meaning today. Nevertheless, our school and Sharadashram have actually accomplished this multi- dimensional progress of the students. You cultivated refined students not by merely preaching goodness but by actually practising ideal behaviour and creating an impact on our minds through small incidents.

I remember an occurrence when I had just joined school in the eight standard. The daily morning prayer in the Gurudakshina Hall was over and students were going to their classes in small groups. As I was walking, I noticed a small bundle of currency notes lying across the fence. I jumped the queue and went closer. I picked the packet and without opening it, tucked it in my pocket. I ran up to your office. You had reached your office by then. I pulled the notes out of my pocket and handed them to you. I said,” I found these while returning to my class after the morning prayer in Gurudakshina hall.” You did not know me because you were not teaching my class. You asked me my name and class, gave me an appreciative pat on my back and asked me to go back to my class. I almost forgot this incident by the end of the day. The next day after the usual prayer, you called my name and asked me to come in front of the assembly. I was confused and frightened not knowing what had happened. Why was the headmaster singling me out in the assembly? You narrated the previous day’s occurrence to everyone and congratulated me for my truthfulness. One sentence, which you spoke that day, has been etched in my memory indelibly. You said, “Ten rupees is not a big amount. What is of more significance is the demonstration of honesty and goodness behind this child’s act. We must remain true to one’s conscience. I felt so ecstatic as all my teachers and friends were admiring me for my integrity. Eventually, I forgot this incident after our school days ended. Later in life, I came across this ‘ovi’- expression in the Dnyaneshwari.

दीपकलिका धाकुटी बहुत तेज प्रकटी तैशी सद्बुद्धी ही येकुटी म्हणो नये.

Even if the lamp is tiny its flame glows bright,

Wise and benevolent thoughts always come to light (they cannot be ignored or undervalued)

Guruji, with your blessings I was able to work at the highest post in an internationally ranked top corporation. I faced a number of alluring situations but I could stand strongly against compromises. I never lost my balance. The only reason I could win over all these weak moments was the unfailing memory of that instance when you put me before the prayer meeting and lauded me for my honesty. Now when I often remember these instances I congratulate myself for having had the moral courage to surmount all temptations.

Sharadashram was home to a variety of students. Some were mischievous, naughty, and rebellious or even had a destructive mentality. You paid special attention to such students. You tested them, observed them, counselled them so that they improved and returned to the right path of life. You suffered a lot in this process. I wish to quote an example in this respect. Once when the daily chores were over and everyone had retired for the night, three boys stole coconuts from the trees and ate them. The night watchman noticed this but the students were unaware. They were under the impression that no one had seen them. The next day the security guard informed you about the incident and reported the names of the three students. That morning during the prayer assembly, you raised this issue of the coconut theft and asked the errant students to raise their hands. No one raised one’s hand. Evening during the evening prayer, no one owned up having stolen the coconuts. You continued appealing to the students for two days in a row but when even on the third day no one admitted having stolen the coconuts you declared, “I am going on a fast. I will not have food or water because I feel that I am responsible for the theft.” No sooner did you make the announcement we were shocked to see three boys get up and admit their theft. Tears were rolling down their cheeks. Your morals and values had won. When a teacher becomes a mother for his students, only such a Guru can bring about a transformation in his disciples. Guruji, in his Pasaydaan, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has prayed,

‘ईये खळांची व्यंकटी सांडो तया सत्कर्मी रती वाढो ‘

‘Let evil be purged from the vicious and  the measure of their good deeds rise.’

Guruji your moral, ethical behaviour has transformed several of your students’ lives. Many of the Sharadashram inmates were tempted to pilfer things but you always found out students with such a bent of mind .You treated them not with punishments but with love and understanding. Your affectionate demeanour won over your students’ hearts. These students would never succumb to wrongdoing. 

Guruji, we were successful in our school and college examinations because of your teaching. We may have forgotten the inputs we got from classes but we can never forget the education we received from your moral behaviour. This has helped us to sit the examination of real life successfully and we yet continue to do so. We were extremely fortunate to have teachers like you in our impressible stages of life.

The armchair Guruji used to rest on after coming back

I have already mentioned your contribution to my efforts for getting a freeship. I now feel that especially after that incident you were closely watching my academic progress. However, I was not aware of it. The eight standard examinations were over. I had secured good marks in all the subjects. However, I had lost the Principal’s prize instituted by the school because I had secured less than seventy percent marks in English. In all other subjects, I had secured marks above eighty percent. As I was glancing through my result sheet with mixed emotions of joy and regret, your peon asked me to meet you after school. When I came to your office, you had already left for your residence. You had left a message for me to meet you at your home. I was very nervous, and could not guess why you had asked me to meet you. I was more anxious about the meeting because you had asked me to meet at your home. You resided in the room above Sharadashram. I somehow gathered myself together and climbed the staircase leading to your door. You must have heard my footsteps and you ordered me to enter. I entered your room and as I turned right, I glanced at the huge oil portrait of Swami Vivekananda on the wall. I felt that Swami Vivekananda was bestowing his blessings on me. You offered me a chair and without any preliminary talk you gave me a copy of Wren and Martin. Until you gave me the grammar book, I had no idea why you had called me. In a very soft voice you said,” You lost the Principal’s prize because of scoring less marks in English. We will have to improve your English language skills. During the vacation, you should solve the exercises, which I have marked in this book. You may come to me anytime during the vacation for getting the work checked. We will have to solve the remaining sections during the next year.” Now I realised your reason for calling me. I was in tears. You had already taken a review of my academic progress from my class teacher. As a visionary, you had realised that securing low marks in English was not a temporary loss but would lead to a larger failure in the future. You had given me the book with the condition that I would repeat the exercises until I achieved a completely error free performance-not one spelling or grammar mistake. Initially I had to repeat the exercises many times but gradually I made good progress. After I completed the exercises on letter, essay and story writing, your appreciation boosted my confidence. It helped me to secure better marks in English, which were more than what I secured in my mother tongue, Marathi. The perception of English as a language and medium of communication, which you developed in me not only helped me in my student days but also in my career. That day’s experience of your kindness and understanding has been a unforgettably divine one for me.

अंगीकार केला ज्याचा नारायणे, निंद्य तेही तेणे, वंद्य केले!

Whatever Narayana (God) received and accepted

He made sacred even the censurable.

You were like Narayana to me. Once you took me under your wings, you took great efforts to help me improve myself. I was not a particularly outstanding student, but I was hard working. There were many intelligent students in my class. I am aware that you took keen interest in me because of my family background.

Current office of Prin. P.A. Raut sir, where Guruji took his last breath. Souvenir cupboard of Chitre Guruji can be seen.

Before I conclude, I wish to share one more memory. I had returned to Bordi for a vacation, from Satara after completing my First Year Science examinations. I visited Sharadashram to meet you, to share my experiences in Satara. I mentioned that I was going to appear for the IIT Powai entrance examination in May. This institution had come up in Mumbai, only a couple of years ago. I had no idea of the syllabus or paper pattern. I had only my college syllabus for preparation. When I told you this, you inquired if I needed any help or guidance. I said that I did not want any help. Ignorance was bliss. Therefore, I hardly bothered about the syllabus, examination or preparation. In fact, in my Satara College even completing the regular syllabus was a challenge. There was no one who could guide me for IIT preparations. Chitre Guruji tore a piece of paper and wrote a letter. He put it in an envelope and wrote down the address –

To- Shri. Vasant Dikshit, Khandke Building No.3, Opposite Plaza Cinema, Dadar, Mumbai.

You said, ”You meet this person. He is my nephew and works in IIT Powai. He will guide you.”  This was a great opportunity for me. I could not have asked for more. Within the next couple of days, I went to Dadar and met Vasantrao. As it was a Sunday afternoon, he was in his casual wear. A bespectacled lean figure with a serious disposition, he was sitting in a chair. He asked me to sit down. After tea, he asked me a few searching questions to gauge my preparation. From his appearance, I estimated that he could have been a clerk or office superintendent in IIT. I wondered how he could ask me such technically difficult questions. He appeared dissatisfied with my preparation. However, he did not mention it. He encouraged me to appear for the examination. He told me to continue with my preparation. Since there were only fifteen days to go, he advised me to concentrate on my studies. He warned me that since the IIT paper pattern was different from the University examinations, I should be careful. He also promised to meet after the examinations. I had realized that he was not happy with my groundwork. I thanked Mr. Dikshit and left. I appeared for the examination but as Mr. Dikshit seemed to have concluded, I was not successful. Therefore, I did not meet him again. I forgot this incident and my meeting with Mr. Dikshit. I pursued further studies in Chemistry and became a graduate. After that, I joined UDCT for post-graduation. However this is not very significant. What I have to write further is more important. Twenty-five years after this incident, Chitre Guruji passed away. After the sad demise of Chitre Guruji, a collection of articles entitled ‘Smruti Manjusha’ was published in his honour. Since I had contributed to the book, I received a copy of the book. I read some articles about Mr. Dikshit written by his family in that book. Mr. Dikshit had also written about Chitre Guruji, his uncle. I was surprised by what I read there. Mr. Dikshit, whom I had met in 1960, was like a dazzling jewel in the Chitre family. From his matriculation examination to all the examinations in which Mr. Dikshit appeared, he had always topped the list and won gold medals. He was a brilliant person. I feel that Mr. Dikshit could have been second to only C.D. Deshmukh. He was a genius par excellence. Even Sane Guruji has respectfully mentioned Dr. Dikshit in his book Sudhe’s Patre (Letters to Sudha). Now I feel bad that I failed to understand the importance of Dr. Dikshit, as an eminent faculty in IIT. Had I known this earlier, I would have met him again to fall at his feet. I was in the company of such a distinguished person for few hours. I am beholden to Chitre Guruji for sending me to such a great person. I will never forget those golden moments. Vasantrao passed away a few years ago. I humbly bow to his memory.

Guruji, your touch illumined our lives for some moments. I deeply wished that my children should receive your blessings. In 1981, I had brought my two sons who were quite young to seek your blessings. Though your health was quite feeble, and you had become frail, the affectionate smile and the closeness on your countenance were the same. You patted my children’s back and bestowed your invaluable blessings on them. I remain eternally indebted to you, for granting my wish.

S.R. Save Sir left Sharadashram in 1985 against your wish. A forty five year old relationship between the two of you was cleaved. This separation took a toll on both your body and your mind. You left for your heavenly abode on 23 June 1985. A ‘samadhi’, which watches the school from a distance, has been built to consecrate your memory for posterity. It will continue to inspire all of us.

I am a humble traveller, crossing this world. It was my good fortune that we met you on the premises of Bordi School. I am sure that you are invisibly present wherever one finds knowledge, humility and reason. You are present in the company of those who nurture talent and selflessness. Wherever one finds creativity, where one experiences compassion, one will find you. You dwell in the company of Goddess Saraswati. I bow down to you in respect.

Tomb of Chitre Guruji by Arabian sea.

In the words of Saint Dnyaneshwar,

तू कारुण्याचा आदि , सकल गुणांचा निधी

विद्या सिंधू निरवधि

येणे माने महंतु, वरि आम्हा लागी कृपावंतु 

-Digambar Raut

Your humble student

  • I wish to acknowledge Prin. P.A. Raut’s contribution for giving me precious information that is included in the article. I am also thankful to the inputs I received from the book Smruti Manjusha 
  • I am also obliged to Dr. Mrs Anjali Patwardhan Kulkarni, Principal, N B Mehta college, Bordi, for the excellent English translation offered of the original marathi article. “कारुण्य सिंधु ,चित्रे गुरूजी“.