A Tribute to My Institute - Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram

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Of Flowering, in the Garden of Virtues

In his celebrated novel - The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran says we tend to speak when we are not at peace with our thoughts. I would agree with him, but only on the point of speaking, as I feel that when I am at ease with my thoughts, I encounter an overwhelming desire to write, an inexorable urge to convert the song of the heart into a dance of pen on paper. It was exactly such a serenity I found under the blessed arches of my institute, Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, and as this peace settles onto the eaves of my heart, like fresh dew, it breaks the light of my thoughts into a rainbow of unforgettable experiences. I narrate here my journey, of blossoming in the beautiful garden of virtues.

A Lucky Break

It was a lucky break that propelled me, one Friday evening, out of the monotony of running a rat race; a luck that was inspired by the hands of my most revered Father. Kurian Kachappilly. He had replied to my e-mail inquiry and had invited me to visit the department. When I met him at the reception, he had the most peaceful demeanour, a meditative look that had an instant attraction to it. I had arrived at the opportune moment of admissions; a brief chat with Fr. Kurian was motivating enough to push me into a loop with our ever-approachable dean Father. Saju Chackalackal, who with his compulsive interlocution mixed with endearing humour created a magic on me and in no time, I was in the class of M.A. Philosophy as full-time student. The flood gates had opened for me...

A Memorable Example

            When I enrolled for my philosophy course, I was swimming against the tide. I had left behind a professional life that I had gotten used to. I had taken a course where no lucrative career options were visible. I had taken a step ignoring the advice of my own family and friends. All of this made me very nervous on the first day, and just when I was yearning for a shot of inspiration, came our most beloved Fr. Saju with the blessed candle in his hand. He had conceived this illustration to show us all the responsibility that philosophers have in society. With his lighted candle, he lit the raw candles that was in the hands of us students and then spoke the memorable words, “As teachers, we will provide you the spark, but each of you, being the candle, should take this spark and be a light for the rest of the world.” It was an unforgettable demonstration that had sealed the deal, for me at least, and I have never looked back since then.

From Standing-out to Outstanding

            It was right on the first day of my class that a ‘never-before’ experience dawned upon me. I knew I had enrolled in an ecclesiastical institute, but never expected to be the “only lay person” in a class of 66 students, where everyone else came from a priestly background. My heart had an initial rattle of insecurity, “Will I not have a friend’s circle to discuss and debate with?” I had always shied away from attention, but the way I stood out from the rest of the class here, firstly by coming from an engineering background, then having left behind a lucrative I. T. profession, then having a non-Catholic singularity, all this soaked me into a limelight that I had never asked for. Nevertheless, it had an advantage of its own. What was a momentary discomfort in the beginning, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Had it not been for the slightly-excessive attention of my professors and mates, I would have probably withdrawn into a shell and relegated myself to an island of self-study. What was standing out as an embarrassment in the beginning, turned out to be an outstanding advantage later on.

Re-living the culture of the Garden City

            I am a product of Bangalore, and through my own eyes, I have seen this city evolve. From being a warm, silent town, decked in greenery and known for its hospitable culture, it has, today, burgeoned into a noisy metropolis, that fills the lungs with dark smoke and hungers for opportunities unmindful of the greed that is eroding its humanitarian foundations. Dharmaram sits right in the heart of this city, yet its environs speak a silent language that reminds me of the yesteryears Bangalore. Every single day, as I enter its campus, its gentle green winds touch my heart and soothe it; its history stands tall in memory of the great city that it is so proudly a part of. I never fail to convey my heartfelt gratitude to the ‘garden of virtues’ for saving, so lovingly, the last surviving figments of a once garden city.

Take a Bow, for you enter the temple of universal wisdom

            The staff and students of DVK have an all-embracing vision, and this was apparent right from my first day here. I was heartily invited to be a part of their family and I have savoured every moment of it. Right from the camaraderie of the classroom, to the kind-hearted support staff at the office and the library, they uphold virtues of universal love in their every interaction. Just like their syllabus, their approach towards life too is secularly universalistic. Every time I address a classmate as ‘brother’, a current of universal brother-hood flows through my veins. I would love to have more religious diversity in the classroom, which I guess is just a matter of time. The philosophy department flung open its gates to the outside world barely three years back and the word has just started spreading.
            Having spent time in the close quarters of religious folks has imparted a precious insight to my life. A degree in philosophy is mandatory requirement for their religious ordination, yet they respect the subject for its own standing. They take studies as conscientiously as their other religious duties. Their disciplined lifestyle, giving equal importance to work, play and pray along with studies, is something my careless lifestyle should learn from. Their practice of a morning prayer before the classes adds so much of sanity to the rest of my day. Even their small act of bowing before entering the class makes me realize that I am part of a sacred tradition, in a sanctified place.
Finally, their aspect of taking up a religious life, of putting the service to society ahead of their own personal ambitions, has touched my heart somewhere and inspired me to be a far less selfish person than I naturally was.

The Message of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram

I can clearly contrast this way of life with my own experience studying at an engineering institute. The students there had taken the course with their own choice, yet they felt compelled to study by force. The respect towards subjects was only with a view of building a career in it, and not for the love of the subject itself. The students constantly felt the pressure of competition and earning marks was more important than understanding the subject. Attending classes was considered a big drag, and most of the studying happened in coaching classes outside. All this had corrupted the idea of education in me, and it is finally at the doorsteps of Dharmaram that I found the real meaning of how an institute can be a temple of knowledge. I wish this attitude could magically travel into the other corners of this country and infuse a new lease of life into the dying tradition of real education.
DVK’s motto stresses on Devotion to God as the supreme form of wisdom. In my days spent here so far, I have seen God in the form of wisdom and my devotion towards education has supremely multiplied. Though I spent only a brief period of two years in the institute, yet it occupies a large share of memorable experience of my academic life. I am really proud of having been a part of this wonderful institution and I wish many more deserving people get to experience a similar uplifting in the days to come.


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