To Sir, with love: A final adieu
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." - Henry Brooks Adams
Selfless love and care, commitment, discipline, readiness to help, upright, always stand up for truth, and spirit of nationalism…. though isolated but these words resonate in one's mind because they describe one man – Dr Vedagya Arya, a teacher in St Stephen's who had become an institution in himself. These are not mere words; he lived them and taught hundreds of students to chart their own destiny.
Someone has rightly said that everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. It appears so true when one thinks of Dr. Arya. He left an indelible impression on his students. Learning was a treat with him in Stephen's. Apart from being a truly eminent scholar, a great educator, a man of vision, extraordinary leadership and having tremendous positive energy, Dr Arya had a sensitive and warm approach. He took a keen interest in the well being of his students.
His informal way of teaching and talking about other topics besides studies broadened and shaped the students' vision.
Festivals celebrated at his place ensured that students from outside Delhi didn't miss their homes. The sumptuous jalebi and samosa after Holi festivities are remembered even today by his students. Although he taught Sanskrit and Hindi yet he knew most of the students by name and was respected by all.
Dr Arya was born in 1926 as Naga Ballayya Rao in a Telugu speaking family in Hyderabad. His spirit of quest made him leave home at a young age of 15, he traveled on his own all the way to North India and studied in a Gurukul. While in Hyderabad he was involved in the anti-Razakar movement.
From Gurukul, he shifted to Amritsar to study and took an active part in freedom struggle. He participated in demonstrations and was also involved in transporting explosives across the region on his bicycle during the freedom struggle. During his stay in Amritsar, he was quite influenced by Arya Samaj teachings and proudly wrote his name as Vedagya Arya.
Later he shifted to Delhi topped, the Delhi University as a Hindi and Sanskrit scholar and joined St Stephens college as a lecturer in 1952 where he taught for 42 years. His spirit of nationalism after independence led him to join NCC and he became a Major where he did few stints on the Kashmir border along the Naushera Sector.
After retirement from Stephen's, he was settled in Roorkee. He had done significant research on Saraswati river and Ram Setu.
His students just want to say, "Thank you, sir, for the memories which will never fade, thank you for believing in me when I did not believe in myself. You were an incredible educator and a friend that only comes along once in a lifetime."
Sanjay Kumar studied at St. Stephen's College and has dedicated his life to serving the society through socio-spiritual movement 'Art of Living'. The above mentioned piece is written in memory of his teacherwho passed away at the age of 90 recently.