Dr. Prabhudas Bhupatkar – A Tribute
Dr. Prabhudas Bhupatkar, Dasukaka to us, the son of Aavadabai, the elder sister of Bhausaheb (son of Shriram Bhikaji Jatar) was a person from the old school with timeless values. He was born on 13 April 1913 and passed away on 2 June 1986. The present generation may not be in a position to fathom how relevant those values are even today. His classes were a model of discipline. He was strict as a person and as a teacher and his voice, in no small measure, was an indication of it. He was a no-nonsense teacher and was always straightforward in his dealings. He never practiced the art of evasion when speaking about any matter, whether professional or related to socio-political issues.
Dasukaka was my first cousin, that is, his mother Aavadabi, as we fondly called her, was Bhausaheb’s elder sister and indeed close to him. Aavadabai died in October 1945. It was in January 1946 that my father Bhausaheb retired from service and came over from Nagpur to settle down in Pune. Bhausaheb’s was like a second home to Dasukaka. We (my elder brother Balu and I) followed in March 1946, when we came from Nagpur at the end of our Standard V school term to join Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya, Pune. Those days, matriculation was after passing Standard VII (English), which is roughly equivalent to Standard XI. The syllabuses in Nagpur and Pune for Standard VI (now Standard X) differed widely and except for Sanskrit and English, the standards in Pune were much higher. So, who else could we turn to except Dasukaka?
Dasukaka was a model teacher. His knowledge of the subjects that he taught was phenomenal. He was very strict about both the time of start and of finish of the tuitions and of the attentiveness of his pupils. His perceptions were clear and it was a Herculean task for him to get us to the standards of Pune. Although he was our first cousin, we dare not take any liberties or take him for granted. He motivated us no end. I do not think he read any books on how to motivate his students. It came to him naturally and his very presence and sincerity I now feel is what motivated us. It was certainly a hard task and we passed our matriculation examinations with flying colours. I wholeheartedly attribute our success to Dasukaka. Later Dasukaka taught Hindi to my spouse Sarala in S. P College. Her impressions are vivid. Apart from his strictness, she says that there was such clarity in Dasukaka’s perceptions, knowledge and delivery that hardly anyone ever thought of bunking his classes. If one attended his classes, the students said that one did not have to prepare separately for the examinations.
Dasukaka’s family and we stayed in the same house. Although his family had a separate kitchen, the closeness was everlasting and the memories sweet. This brought us together and there were cherished moments to share. There were some tender portions behind his hard exterior. Dasukaka was good scholastically and the horizons were wide open for him to choose any lucrative career. I remember him telling us that he chose the teaching profession because he was dedicated to it. He started as a schoolteacher and attained the highest in his profession, that of the head of the Department of Hindi and a guide for PhD.
I cannot end this small tribute without narrating a very practical side of Dasukaka. I once asked him his views on the donations that students had to make for admissions to engineering and medical colleges. It was with trepidation that I awaited his advice. The year was 1981. Ethical standards and values were changing fast. There was open discrimination based on caste and reservations did not always give preference to merit. After explaining the ethos as it obtained in the country then, he told me, “Sudhir, on principle, I am against payment of any money apart from the normal fees. Nevertheless, considering the environment as it obtains today, I would advice that such payment is not amoral and does not compromise ones values. I always said that we must have principles. However, success in life would comes depending on what principles you adopt”! His words are no doubt prophetic.
Contributed by Sudhir. Maj Gen SCN Jatar (Retd.)
Related Reading: Sindhutai Joshi (Dr. Bhupatkar’s sister and an achiever) and a write up on Dr. Bhupatkar by his daughter-in-law