A Guru Who Lives On Eternally

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A rare blend of mastery of both Sanskrit literature and grammar, and of English Linguistics and Literature he was. Equally well-grounded in Sanskrit and English he was the fount of all knowledge. Born on 18 November 1944 and brought up in Kasargod, Kerala on traditional and orthodox lines, he joined MA English at Madras Christian College, Tambaram, and won his MA Degree with good credit in 1966. Soon, he was absorbed into the staff. His penetrating insight comparative, into both Sanskrit lore and legend, and English Language and Literature, his shrewd judgement of both the Occident and the Orient, he had a balanced outlook on life and work. He was seldom prominent in conversation, but was very willing to listen. He pointed out that if you remained silent for long hours at a stretch, you would automatically imbibe knowledge and understanding. Thus, he was receptive and reflective. He advised with analytical care whoever approached him. Thorough and sound was his knowledge of stylistics and the criteria of good English speech and writing. Deep was his appreciation of Shakespeare, Milton, Charles Lamb, King James’ Version of the Bible and on and on to Mr. T.S. Eliot, modern novels to go no further.

Eventually, he won his Ph.D in Sanskrit Aesthetics, for examining the concept of Pratibha. This man of parts, little wonder, rose to be the Head of the Department of English, MCC, Tambaram. After repeated requests from his American confrere Dr. Michael Lockwood (Professor, Philosophy at MCC), he visited the Harvard University in 2005, on their invitation, and gave lectures on Metaphysics and Epigraphy. He had a calm clipped compelling well-modulated voice culture. In collaboration with Dr Lockwood, he published tracts on Literature, Pallava Sculpture, Grantha, evident tokens of long patient research.

Dr Bhat had a subtle or elfin sense of humour, appealing to the mature adult. His talented, accomplished wife was an asset to him right through a partnership of idyllic bliss. She built him a warm, cosy nest radiant with her benevolence. They were, indeed, fortunate in each other. In their differences, they complemented each other. She has been his inspirer to success, companion, friend in calm times and a consoler in distress. She is a First rank-first class holder of MA Degree (1973) from the University of Madras. She worked for several years as a Professor of English at Meenakshi College for Women, Kodambakkam, Chennai. Kumari Radha, as she then was, had been his student at MCC. She received a Doctorate in English from the University of Madras in 2006.

Dr. Bhat was a generous, insistent host and Mrs Radha Bhat a discreet, enthusiastic hostess of charm and grace. They were blessed with two gifted daughters who followed a brilliant son. All the three children have done them proud. Touch wood!

“There are wonders in true affection….full of enigmas, mysteries and riddles…marriage is such that THEY BECOME ONE so that both become two.” The famous Norwich Physician Thomas Browne (1605 – 82)’s words stayed well-vindicated by Mr and Mrs A. Vishnu Bhat. As a wedded pair, they were a role-model for younger folk. Both have class, style and poise. There was a story-book quality about their home which I have been privileged to visit regularly since 1975.

The Bhats have been warm-hearted without being sentimental towards guests, visitors and friends; considerate without being fussy. Alake Vishnu Bhat was a man of the first water as a guru, friend, consultant and advisor. God’s good man! I shall cherish and treasure his memory till my time is come.

Based on a tribute by a friend
P.R. Krishna Narayanan