Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Unforgettable Teacher

By V.V.B. Rama Rao

(Professor Rama Rao has suggested that we write about our beloved teachers. We begin with his memories of Acharya Ronanki. It is hoped that other readers of the blog will help sustain this fine thread of memories. -RKS)

Renowned as Acharya Ronanki , Ronanki Appala Swami was a polyglot. He was one of the diggajas (eight elephants standing in the seven diks) who made Vizianagaram, the seat of the PoosapaTi rajahs of fame, in Andhra. A product of Banaras Hindu University, he couldn’t make it to a high grade and had to settle down to be a teacher. But his voracious reading and thirst for acquiring knowledge of the European languages sent him to the priests of Western origin staying in the citadel city and the treasure house of books acquired by the renowned Rajas of Vizianagaram. He mastered not only Greek but also French by self-study alone. It has been my great good fortune to be taught by him during my four years of study at Maharajah’s College. In 1958 he became the Head of the Dept. of English. His classes were unforgettable: he would recite long passages from The Aeneid and The Iliad from memory. English poetry was his love but he especially liked Baudelaire and Paul Valery in French. T.S. Eliot he loved most, and often mentioned Eliot’s lines ending with ‘Humility is endless.’ He made me buy Dundo’s French Grammar, when he saw me as his colleague in 1957. When I was appearing for my additional degree in English language, he gave me on his walks the books I should read from the library he equipped. When asked for a tip to be at the top in the exam, all that he said was “Gossip intelligently”. I did and was at the top in the University exam in Special English. He it was who inspired me: I never took his remark “You are ambitious” amiss. He still appears in my dreams in his sola topi, reciting Baudelaire in our English class at the undergraduate level. His remark to a colleague behind my back: “the fellow knows English”. Here is poem in his honour: a tribute from a headstrong pupil of his:

To My Teacher RAS A

“… there was light! Not His alone!

It’s more of his revelations – apocalypses

His exegeses and exhortations caused

It’s not mere charisma either – it was effulgence

A polychromatic phantasmagoria

All his erudition, charm and commitment

-Cheeks bedewed with tears of gratitude thoughtful

I remember, pay him homage

His Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and Sanskrit

Held us captive, enthralled, roaming in regions ethereal

A veritable heaven it was, listening to his renditions

Of Homer, Virgil, Baudelaire, and Valery,

Cerevantes, Milton, Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti

His puny figure in starched suit

–Sitting in his chair, not standing before the lectern

His calves twisted round one another

His sola topee drew smiles - never was it risible

Whoever laughed at the matted hair on the pate of a rshi!

The impeccable tie knot never displayed conceit.

He was our RAS but we gave him another A

For He was Rasa, the elixir of life

Our text had always been an excuse

It was always a springboard to the Divine

(To our Professor at Vizianagaram R. Appalaswamy)

Dr V.V.B.Rama Rao, D-94 NTPC Shorya Bldg. Plot C-55 Sector 33 Noida- 201307
Email: Phone 011 2697 5732 Mobile: 09910726313

1 comment:

vejayanandch said...

RamaRao garu,
I am vejayanand s/o Sri C.K.Chowdary
Dewan to Sri PVG Raju,garu (1968 to 1974)
As student of MR college I am very much fond of Sri Appalaswamy garu.
I still remember those days I used to spend my time till 10 in the night with Sri Appalaswamy garu.
Every day is a lesson to me .He teached how to face and live life in a horizantal way.