Save Sir – Every Student’s Favourite Teacher

 I passed my matriculation from SPH High School and we shifted residence to Gholwad. I often go to Bordi from Gholwad for a number of reasons. Every time I cross the main gate of ‘Sharadashram’ on my right, I invariably glance at a closed window. The window is closed now. However once upon a time, not only would the window of that room be open, but also its door would be wide open for anyone to saunter. I guess the door would not close even during the nighttime. It would be open for all, students of Sharadashram, of Bordi high school, past students, parents- everyone was welcome here. This room with open doors and windows was once the residence of our most beloved and revered teacher, the epitome of vigor, Guru S.R.Save. During his relentless service of forty-two years, to Shardashram, this room was his constant and loyal companion. This window of his room that faced the roadside was his connection with the outside world.  When I saw it closed, I felt that since a window is called a ’gawaksh’ and ‘aksh’ means eye in Sanskrit when Save Sir left the room it grieved for its faithful partner. By remaining permanently closed, the room must have closed its eye in the sorrow of bereavement. 

S.R.Save alias Shri Sakharam Ramchandra Save, originally from Bordi had studied up to Matriculation and also held CPEd and STC qualifications. He worked as a teacher in the school from 1943 to 1974. He was immensely dedicated to his work as a teacher. He was the founder and secretary of the Alumni Association called as Maji Vidhyarthi Sangh, Camping Ground, and managed Sharadashram very efficiently. He remained a bachelor all his life. However, he was an affectionate father to tens of hundreds of the children who came to his school.  He was élan, enlivenment personified! He was the one and only S.R.Save Sir! Unparalleled and supreme!

I know a few details about Save Sir’s personal life. He had three brothers, the eldest was Late Shri Gotyabhau, the second was Shri Gajubhau, Save Sir was the third of the siblings and the fourth brother was Khandu Bhau. He probably had two sisters one who lived in Vile Parle and the other who stayed in Vasai. Save Sir would visit his sister who lived in Parle during festivals. Incidentally, when I met him once, I mentioned that I too stayed in Vile Parle. Therefore, after that when he came to Vile Parle he called me up and said that since he was at his sister’s place, he was going to visit my house too. One evening, Sir actually came to my house in Mumbai, and sanctified it with his presence. I consider his visit as one of my most cherished and precious memories.

This is that room where  late, S R Save sir stayed ,during his service period in the High School and Sharadashram.

     Pratap Save was the son of Late Shri Gotubhau. He too rendered exemplary service to the school. Unfortunately, he met a premature death. Malatibai Save is the daughter of one of the founders of Bordi High School, late Shri Atmarampant Save. She retired as the headmistress of the Bordi School. She was my class teacher when I was in the D division of the eight standard. It was my first year as a student, in the school and so was Malatibai’s as a teacher! Another person who rendered yeomen’s service to the school but met an early death was Shri Arun Gopal Save. We were together in school from our standard eight to matriculation and even in the Chatrapati Shivaji College, Satara for two years. His untimely demise ended a blossoming, enthusiastic and scholarly career. I mentioned these members of the Save family to stress upon their contribution to academics and their role in the development of Bordi school. I was closely acquainted with Gajubhau from 1965 to 1970. That was when I was staying in the Late Tatya Saheb Churi Vasati griha ,Dadar,our Community Hostel,for college going students initially as a student and later as the rector of the hostel.. Gajubhau was strongly connected with our Somwanshi Kshatriya Sangh. He knew Late Padmashri Bhausaheb Vartak well.They were good friends. He would attend all the functions arranged by the S K Sangh.. He would address the gathering on such occasions. He was among those rare people from our community at that time, who had stayed in the United States of America for a long number of years and had explored a large part of that country. He was eager to share his experiences of America with the members of his community. As I was a student from the Bordi School, he would speak to me freely, without inhibitions. His daughter Dr. Pratibha Save was a well-known medical practitioner in our society. Her husband was also a doctor and both of them  had earned a lot of reputation in the United States. Today neither is this couple nor Save Sir’s brothers are alive. 

When any of his past students remembers S.R.Save, they fondly remember him as “Oh! Indeed our beloved Save Sir.” How did Sir become so popular among his students? He did not have any  extraordinary academic qualifications in education. He was only a matriculate with CPEd and STC certificates. Yet he was the most admired teacher of our school. He was very close to his students yet there was always a feeling of respectful love in our minds for him. There would always be a deferential distance between the teacher and the taught. None of the students ever took undue advantage of the closeness with Save Sir. Of course, he was shrewd enough not to allow anyone to do so.  

      This is the pic. of Save Sir’s room from the within. The famous radio place is  the shelf above, on the left side.

       He practised a different method of teaching, which was unique to him. He would teach us in a playful manner without making us feel the burden of learning. He had developed an exceptional method of teaching. Even while teaching difficult topics he would never make us feel overwhelmed by the complexities of the subject. He would present his subject in a seemingly lighthearted manner so as not to make his students feel nervous. During his classes, we could experience the various facets of his personality such as his humour, his wit, his prompt responses and his positive frame of mind. His lectures were a perfect amalgam of knowledge, infotainment and energy. Students were eager to attend his classes and were drawn towards his charismatic personality. He was a sportsperson during his younger days and had an athletic built. He had a fair complexion, a clear commanding voice, a smiling countenance and clarity of speech. He had a bold and beautiful handwriting that would adorn the blackboard and was visible to the backbenchers too, as he taught the class. We all looked eagerly forward to his classes.

     Another picture of late SAVE SIR,  .

I am not aware of the characteristics of a good teacher explained by principles of psychology or education. I can speak from my experience that …when a teacher approaches his taught with the affectionate feeling, a mother has for her child, and considers the student as one’s own child the students are automatically drawn towards that teacher. Save Sir was the embodiment of affection and compassion. Whenever he he⁷lped anyone, he never made the one seeking help feel overburdened by a sense of obligation. He never felt that he was doing someone a favour when he helped the person. He considered helping others as his preordained mission. He never discriminated among students that someone belonged to Bordi, or the other stayed in Sharadashram or belonged to a certain caste or community. He treated both the rich and the poor students with similar love and understanding. The child may be clever or a slow learner, it was enough that he was a student for Save Sir, to hold him close to his heart. He would be vigilant to find out whether the child required his help. Students intuitively understood the love and affection Save Sir had for them. That was why he was so popular among his students when he was alive and remains so; even now, that he is no more.      

      The day scholars who lived in the village would get to enjoy Save Sir’s company only during classes or on the playground. Those who lived in the hostel – Sharadashram were privileged to be in his company for the entire twenty-four hours of the day. Sharadashram was home to children who came from different parts of the country, speaking different languages and following different religions. They were students of different capabilities and choices. It was indeed a herculean task to look after these children of diverse backgrounds and capabilities. Nevertheless the sacred trio Bhise, Chitre and Save mentored these children with utmost care and affection and paved the way for their successful lives and careers. It is difficult to express in words their contribution in shaping the future of the children. They looked after difficult children, whom even their parents found  difficult to manage. They became parents to these truant children. Save Sir developed an innate feeling of affection and sacrifice, towards his students as he stayed at Sharadashram in the company of Chitre Guruji, who was can be compared to Sage Sandipani. The Bordi High School was known to many because of the fame ,Sharadashram had earned, while Sharadashram was known all over the country, because of the popularity of Bordi High School. They shared a reciprocal recognition. The role of Save Sir in bringing laurels to the school and to Sharadashram was a major one. 

I was fortunate to be in Save Sir’s class from 1954, the year when I joined Bordi School. He taught us History and Geography. History was his favourite subject. He would actually make us imagine that we were present in that historical period which he would be teaching and make us witness the events of the past. He had contributed to India’s struggle for freedom and had even courted prison for the cause of independence. It was a treat to listen to him while he taught us history.  He was also the in charge of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) unit of our school. He together with Nana Malekar, another of our teachers, would be with the students on the ground for their sports classes. Save Sir was an integral part of all the activities and projects conducted by the school. He was aware of the fact that he was not highly qualified but he never allowed the feeling of inferiority to infest him. He wholeheartedly taught the students and looked after their needs beyond just academics. He never disappointed any student who approached him for some help. That was why students yearned to be in his company. He was an idol for his students, adored by each of them. Save Sir was particular about being available for students at any time during the day so that they would not hesitate to approach him. He was also careful that students felt that they could easily confide in him about any matter they were bothered about,whether it were related to studies or even personal affairs. Sir had proved a very trusted and helpful confidant for every student who was in any difficulty. The students who resided in Sharadashram remember that his doors would be open to all, even in the middle of the night. 

During those days, Bordi had many playgrounds but we were unable to buy expensive kits and other material for games such as volleyball or cricket. We would play volleyball in the school premises and participate in the tournaments arranged during Dasara and Diwali. Save Sir would watch us playing. Whenever he met us either in the school or in the village, he would inquire whether we were well equipped for the games. He would ask us if we required anything such as nets or balls. When we approached him with our demands, he would take us to the storeroom situated behind Jawahar block and open the room for us. He would then ask us to pick freely what all we required. The inmates of Sharadashram would previously use this material and so it would be termed as used or old. However, it would be excellent for our use. In this way, Save Sir would provide us all the equipment we needed for our games without making any further inquiries. During our school days we did not have to buy any sports material for cricket or volleyball, because of Sir’s help. If we were required to shell out money for it, we could never have played those games. We may not have excelled as sportspersons but having played these games, we could build a healthy body, which has stood us in good stead for our entire life. The credit for our healthy existence is undoubtedly Save Sir’s ! Probably when Sir was young, he did not get the opportunity of playing these games due to his economic condition. He must be deriving vicarious pleasure while watching us play those games, which he could not.

In those days, students would come to Sharadashram from many parts of the country such as Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Surat, Baroda, and Ahmednagar. It was difficult for all the students to get admission in Sharadashram. Students were admitted after considering the challenges the parents faced while keeping them at home. Mischievous, truant boys were also allowed here. The parents were convinced that when such naughty boys came to Sharadashram, they were about to turn a new page of their life and be transformed under the tutelage of Bhise, Chitre and Save. Sometimes the parents would send the children especially for disciplining them in the Sharadashram way. When Vijay first came to school, besides studies, he would play a lot and especially play cricket. If he did not have a regular bat, he would make use of the coconut palm leaf in place of a bat. This Vijay later became known to the whole world as the great cricketer ‘Vijay Manjrekar’. It was a treat to listen to Save Sir’s narration of the anecdotes   about Vijay. It was due to the exemplary diligent guidance and affection of the sacred trio that Vijay could scale great heights.

Admissions to Sharadashram were decided on a ‘first come first served’ basis. However, it is necessary to note that the management always specially accommodated on a priority basis,children who had lost their parents,especially the mother. This is in itself a very commendable gesture and speaks for the magnanimity of the management. Children who had lost their parents got the opportunity to live with the teachers who took care of their needs, as their parents would have. That is why they remained connected to Sharadashram and especially with Bhise, Chitre and Save for their entire life. The viaticum of love and belongingness, which Sharadashram provided them with, helped them all through their life. One of the past students has very aptly expressed his feelings in the following words. He wrote in a Souvenir ,” Whenever we return to Sharadashram from Mumbai, our feelings of joy are akin to those of a girl who comes from her in law’s place to visit her mother’s home.

Save Sir did not have a family. However, the children in the school and especially the resident students of Shardashram were like his own children. He treated all of them alike. Only vegetarian food was allowed in the Sharadashram kitchen. Chitre Guruji insisted on this rule. Those children who were used to having non-vegetarian food would occasionally sneak away to eat such dishes. Save Sir knew about this and he requested Chitre Guruji to relax the ‘vegetarian only’ rule for just one day in a year .After some persuasion Chitre Sir relented and agreed on one condition that  the food should not be cooked in the Sharadashram kitchen. A separate fire should be prepared and the food be cooked and eaten away from the Sharadashram dining hall. Save Sir took the initiative and requested the Patil family, which was staying close by to arrange this feast in their premises. They held this party once, every year. Sir would be in the company of the children for the whole day, chitchat with them and crack jokes. The tradition continued for many years. Even after so many years, many students yet remember the party day and have often shared their fond food memories with me. 

Sir was not only the students’ most adored teacher, he was himself a sports person. It is true that the one who plays games is a sportsman but the true characteristic of a sportsman is the person’s sportsman spirit. Sir was a thorough sportsman in this sense. He had kept a radio set in his room. In the period of 1955-56, just a handful of people owned radio sets. The television was yet a remote possibility. Hence, during the cricket season students would crowd outside Sir’s room, to listen to the commentary being aired on the radio. Everyone was allowed in the gathering even if some did it at the cost of bunking their classes. Sir never made us feel conscious or guilty by inquiring whether we were gathered there because we had a free class. When he returned from his class, he would ask the students for the recent score and update his information. Then he would join us in the carnival of cricket. Only a person with a true sporting spirit can behave in this generous manner.

I vividly remember another incident related to his liberal outlook. In 1956, we were in the ninth class when the Summer Olympic Meet had begun in Melbourne, Australia. As usual, India aspired to win a gold medal in hockey. The final match was going to be played that afternoon, between archrivals India and Pakistan. It was going to be a very interesting match, nothing short of a war on the playground. India had won all the previous games without allowing any team to make a single goal against them. We were attending our classes in the afternoon and we knew that the commentary was being aired in Save Sir’s room. However, because Sane Sir was teaching us in the class we were compelled to sit in the class. Sane Sir was engrossed in teaching but our minds were thinking about the result of the hockey match that was going on. We were mulling over the possibility of India defeating Pakistan and winning the gold, finally. We were eager to know what was happening on the playfield and could hardly concentrate in the class. At that moment, Save Sir entered the classroom, asked Sane Sir to spare a minute and gave all the students the exciting news that India had won the match. The mood of the class suddenly changed into a jubilant one. Everyone clapped hard and welcomed this wonderful news. From that moment, the memory of  the hockey match of 1956 in which Indian hockey player Balbir Singh who made the single winning goal and won the gold medal for our country, is etched indelibly on my mind. I yet recollect Save Sir’s enthusiastic and ecstatic face while he was breaking the news of India’s victory to the students. Sane Sir was the headmaster of the school and was known to be a strict disciplinarian and hot tempered. Only Save Sir could perform the daring feat of intruding into Sane Sir’s class and talking about something that was not even remotely connected with academics. What made him do it was his sportsmanship, immense pride for his motherland, and above all his  popularity amongst his students!!

I have very pleasant personal memories of Save Sir. I would like to share a     memory related to the economic condition of my family when I was in school. The incident touched my heart and has remained with me forever. As we were NCC cadets, we would perform drills and exercises under the supervision of Save Sir. We would also undertake ‘shramdaan’ activities.  Once we were marching in a file to Babhle tank for social work, enroute Holi, Kondiya Tank. We happened to march past my house on the right. It was a modest shack with a simple thatched roof. One of my friends in an urge to tease me exclaimed loudly to the group, “Look, this structure on our right is DV’s home.” In those days, students used to address each other by their initials rather than their names. So Arun was called AG while Prabhakar was known as PA. Save Sir had heard the boy’s comment but he did not say anything at that moment. Later he summoned both of us during the lunch break, He asked the boy, “What did you say when we were passing in front of his house?” The boy instantly realised his mistake and put his head down in shame. He did not say anything. However, I will never forget that one sentence Save Sir spoke on that day. He said, “Look, do not worry about the plain house in which Digambar stays today. He may not be able to live in a house like yours at present. However, only remember that in future not even the gates of the University will let you in, in which Digambar will enter as a student.” I was immensely hurt by this incident especially because it had revealed my weak financial condition to everyone. I was smarting under the pain of this unpleasant incident. Save Sir had showered his blessings on me by expressing his confidence in my academic success. Good wishes coming from a pure soul like our loving and honest Save Sir would never go in vain. I knew that his words would be proved true some day or the other. His confidence in me made me courageous. Actually, given our financial condition, I could not have even imagined going to a college. The day when I graduated from Chatrapati Shivaji College, Satara, Ismail Yusuf College, Jogeshwari and entered the portals of the world famous Indian institute, UDCT, (now ICT) as a student of the department of Chemical Technology, I was reminded of Save Sir’s words which he had uttered after that incident. I got an admission for B.Sc. (Tech) and I was in tears while entering the porch of that institute. Save Sir’s words reverberated in my ears, his blessings had come true. I also remembered and felt sorry because unfortunately, that mischievous friend who had teased me had joined his family business and was looking after his petty shop in the village. Once, I happened to meet Save Sir in Bordi while I was pursuing this course. I reminded him of that incident which had taken place during our NCC days.  Even Sir remembered that incident. He smiled heartily as usual.

I was surprised that he remembered it vividly because he must have taught tens of thousands of students during his long teaching tenure of forty two years. Each of his students is bound to remember him because he touched each ones’ heart by his affectionate kindness. It was surprising that Sir remembered his students and their names. I was one of the fortunate students whom Sir remembered so well. He always kept track of my progress even after I left school. He would inquire about what I was up to when we met. He would also ask about my progress to my friend Rajabhau Damankar. Rajabhau used to tell me about it.

One day I received a letter scripted in his beautiful handwriting sent to my Parle address. I did not need to open the letter to find out from whom it had come. The handwriting itself revealed that it had come from Save Sir.  I was very curious to find out why Sir had sent me the letter. He had sent me his appreciation and congratulated me for being appointed at a key post in my company, which carried much responsibility. Rajabhau had visited my office, perceived my position of authority. He related all this to Save Sir, which gladdened Sir. It was a pure soul’s natural response that I feel is manifested as affection. “You are appointed at a responsible position in your Company. You have now become the Chief Manager. This news has brought me great joy and made me prioud. I wish that you progress in leaps and bounds.” It was a very short letter appreciating my achievement and blessing me for the future. It brought tears to my eyes. Whenever I am reminded of Save Sir’s fatherly figure and his generosity, I bow in respect to his memories. 

Save Sir continued to be in touch with his students. I feel that I was specially blessed because he took interest even in the progress of the next generation of my family. My niece Swati, my elder brother Shrikant’s daughter made it to the SSC Board merit list. Save Sir did not forget to send a letter of congratulations for her achievement at my brother’s Goregaon residence. The good deeds which we perform in the past life, blossom in the present in the form of such virtuous teachers. Students are blessed to be in their company.

The present Zonal Secretary of Gokhale Education Society, Palghar Zone and my childhood friend, Shri Prabhakar Raut told me about an incident, which throws light on Save Sir’s generosity and unadulterated affection for his students. This was in the month of June, when Prabhakar Sir had just returned from Nasik and had taken up the responsibility as Headmaster of Bordi School. Save Sir specially came from his residence in Chafa Wadi to Prabhakar’s house to congratulate him for becoming the Principal. He said,” It is good that a past student of the school has taken up responsibility as the head of the institution. Now I am confident that under your leadership the school will progress phenomenally. My blessings and best wishes to you for the work you have undertaken.” Sir spoke from the doorstep, did not even enter the house .He even refused to have tea. Unfortunately,he passed away in the next few months. In this manner, a great teacher had expressed his firm conviction in the capacity of his student and blessed him so generously. The disciple also turned out to be so devoted and competent that under his leadership the school and the entire institution soared to great heights of academic achievements. Prabhakar Sir proved the words of his teacher to be correct.

When I received his letter, Rajabhau and I went to meet him at his Chapha Wadi residence .Coincidentally another person who was Save Sir’s classmate had come there from Africa. He was an industrialist and had earned a lot of property in Africa. Save Sir introduced him to us and gave us this information. Sir praised me a lot in front of the guest and I felt a little embarrassed. He patted me on my back and complimented me for my achievements. He inquired about my new position and the responsibilities that came with it. However, I felt that the usual lively spirit of Save Sir, his wholehearted laughter was missing. His dynamism and vigour seemed to be eclipsed. While taking leave, I touched his feet in obeisance. I left feeling that I had not been able to meet the true, usual Save Sir. Something was missing. Chitre Guruji had passed away recently. Did Save Sir grieve for his guru? On the other hand, was it that because he had now severed his contacts with Sharadashram he was saddened and hence lost his luster? We returned home with a bagful of guesses. In the next few months, we received the sad news of Sir’s demise. That night Sir went to sleep, never to wake up. Death stealthily took him away. A great, enlightened soul, an ideal teacher, a true patriot, a lighthouse for his students, passed away in the dark night.

Sir may no longer be physically around, but he has carved a permanent place for himself in the hearts of his students. We will never be able to repay the fatherly affection he showered upon us and mentored us in our adolescent days. The alumni association has named the camping ground ‘S.R.Save Sir Camping Ground ‘to commemorate his contribution to the progress of young students. A bust of Save Sir is erected at the Camping Ground site, which is a befitting monument to his monumental contribution, to our lives.

Save Sir passed away. All through his life, he showered his blessings upon us, encouraged us even for the smallest of achievements and inspired us to go ahead. He has left for us his good wishes and a huge treasure house of affectionate memories. He is immortal in the hearts of his students.

The Sanskrit subhashit says,

                  “मनसी, वचसी काये, पुण्य पियुष पूर्णा .

                 त्रिभुवनमुपकार, श्रेणीभीः प्रीणयन्तः,

                परगूण, परमाणुन्, पर्वतीकृत्य नित्य॔

                 निजहृदी  विकसन्ति,संती संता कियंतः?….” 

नीतिशतकम् ५३/२२१

He whose mind, speech and body overflow with the nectar of his good deeds, he who has obliged many in numerous ways, he who magnifies the smallest of virtues in others and experiences true happiness while appreciating others is a righteous person and a rare one. Save Sir was one such person –our most favourite teacher and a quintessence of uprightness.

We were fortunate to be tutored by such a divine teacher. I bow down in respect to the holy memories of Save Sir.

      SAVE SIR MEMORIAL, Maji Vidyarthi Sangh,Bordi High School.

This is the third article in the Marathi to English translation series.
Late S R Save Sir ,an elan, enlivenment personified!
Unparalleled and supreme!!
Our most favourite teacher and quintessence of uprightness!!!
We were fortunate to be tutored by such teachers.
Please enjoy reading this story to enjoy the lucidity of the English language.
May give your valuable feedback in the space, provided at the bottom of this article. Thank you very much,

Thanks to Dr Anjali Kulkarni Patwardhan, Prin.N B Mehta College Bordi, for the excellent English translations.