Naini Mata, Engineering Education and the Amrapali Institutes
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Some things are best kept private in silence at the time they happen but with passage of time one may reveal them as in this note, seven years having passed. Before we begin with the stated topic, it is necessary to say a bit about myself and my involvement in all of this
From childhood, I have been interested in the spiritual and mystic side of life. As completion of high school neared, the question arose in the family as to what career I should take up. My father was interested in an army or administrative career for me. It was the best practice in the family. However noting that such careers do not permit freedom to travel or choose places where one would live and work, I was against it.
Therefore, I joined a program in engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology. During some training programs in industry, I was aghast at the confinement in narrow cabins or shop floors in high walled security compounds that engineers had to spend eight hours or more a day in. To me it seemed like a prison for slaves. My soul was not born for it. Therefore I decided then and there to continue studies up to doctoral level in USA or Canada. It would give me an opportunity to travel that I looked forward to much when younger as also lead to an academic job later where one has the freedom to move about on green university campuses. It may bring less money than some other pursuits, but money has never been a priority for me in life. I have repeatedly turned away from opportunities for more money all through life, if it implied compromising ethics, freedom and environment of living. That is how I ended up being a professor and scientist in some of the finest universities on our planet.
Through a life full of many events and adventures, many a time, I came close to grave danger but all those times a mysterious force, a loving hand, saved me from trouble. I recognize that now as the Love of God in His various facets and manifestations, a prominent one among them being Naini Mata, the goddess of Nainital because I had spent my childhood in Nainital. However on my part a debt remained. I left Nainital early in childhood and although returned on brief visits, I had not made any contribution to the beautiful district of Nainital over which the goddess presides. My educational contributions in both science and mysticism had been in the wider world. In 2008, I realized that although I could make spiritual contributions to the district all through my life, it would not be possible to do much on the technical side beyond the age of sixty and here I was, already 58 years old.
I rushed to the internet to check the status of engineering education in the district of Nainital. I could not find any institute or university involved in that in the district as existed at that time, except for a restricted effort in Bhimtal, but there was one that had begun in this direction. It was called Amrapali Institute of Technology and Sciences or AITS for short. Immediately I sent a letter to their management with my resume, that I would be happy to come to the Institute and serve them in a senior capacity towards improving technical education in their Institute, while in my heart in the District of Nainital.
While humans believe that they do whatever they do, it is only the spiritual who realize that behind it all is the mystic power of God and the numerous gods and goddesses through whom this power flows. In Nainital it is Naini Mata or Goddess Nanda often accompanied by her younger sister the goddess Sunanda in times of peace, for while the goddess Nanda surrounded by her lions is ever ready to go to war on evil, her sweet sister Sunanda surrounded by lotuses prefers to take care of the well being of her human children in times of peace. The mystic secrets of how Naini Mata organized the development of the district beginning in 1840 , as appropriate for the modern age, soon after Queen Victoria ascended the throne in England has been revealed in earlier posts of this blog. The goddess had to involve the British for this for the Indians of the time had no technical skills to develop a hill district.
By the 1900’s Nainital town and the surrounding district had been developed to the best standards in the world as existed at that time. It was time now for the goddess to train her Indian subjects in engineering skills too, so that they need not depend on foreigners from far away. Unfortunately, there was not a single place for engineering education in all of South Asia at that time. Soon after, the goddess inspired a conference in Nainital in 1908 of educationists and administrators of that time as to how to begin it in India. As a result of this conference the first institutes of engineering began to be established in India at HBTI in Kanpur and the Thomson College in Roorkee. Thus began technical education in India too.
However in my survey in late 2008, I found that while technical education had become widespread throughout India there was hardly any to speak of in Nainital District itself except AITS and that is how I entered the picture. My letter had been sent and soon after the goddess entered the hearts and mind of the management of the Institute to come all the way to Jaipur and to ask me to come and join them. The Institute is largely looked after by the son of the founder - Professor Sanjay Dhingra. The father himself had other educational work to take care of in distant Modi Nagar. Two other partners who were roped in were One Mr. Monga with background in Timber business and familiar with land acquisitions required to set up the Institutes. One more was a cousin Mr. Narendra Dhingra roped in to help. The latter two had nearly no previous background in education so the task of developing these Institutes fell largely on the shoulder of Professor Sanjay Dhingra. It was he who came all the way to Jaipur to organize my appointment at AITS and I readily agreed. He asked me what salary I might need and I mentioned that was irrelevant for in my heart was service for my goddess mother except for facilities as required for my work such as dedicated transport, adequate office and furnished accommodation in secluded green area that had become my life style since the age of forty or so. Nevertheless, Sanjay was generous and urged me throughout my stay as to why I do not claim expenses even as he does but I replied that it was not necessary.
The Institute had begun admitting students three years prior to that and the first batch was to graduate in 2010. When I arrived at the Institute I was aghast at the mess the place was in. The building was partially unconstructed, unsecured, equipments being stolen, students rebelling and indulging in fights as young persons will when not channeled in positive directions, no sense of order at all. A computer science faculty member was sharing a room with one from English and so on. There was neither nay department, nor any office of the Institute. Students were being asked to go sit in any class and few were taking place. The central office of the group of Institutes sent me printed forms called Transfer Certificates as required in high schools but not university level education and the class timings were also organized as high school class periods of 45 minutes each. No one here had any idea of what university level technical education is. Much of the faculty was young graduates and the senior ones were from sciences etc. not engineering. There was construction rubble all over and in the corridors too where a series of constructed but unoccupied rooms lay with no one knowing what to do with them. Nevertheless, the buildings were of good quality, thanks to the dedication of Mr. Dhingra and a very competent expert, Professor K K Pande who had contributed to the design but left before my arrival.
But with grace of the goddess, I was able to fix it all within a year beginning with ethical education to students in a fatherly manner, training the faculty in teaching methods, organizing offices and furniture for them, fixing labs and central offices, appointing deans, heads of departments, foreman, faculty in charges, organizing a developmental conferences, time tables, and administrative procedures. fixing corridors, gardens and pathways around the building and so on and cultural activities for students ending with a grand farewell party for the first batch that graduated in 2010. I had become sixty years old now and it was time to bid goodbye to it all, leaving its future fate in the hands of the gods even as Naini Mata left the fate for her beloved district in the hands of those who followed the British. For while the gods intervene they give freedom to their human children too with a saying from South Asia – Ab sanwar lo ya bigad lo, tumara hai – or to quote from my book, Mystic pathways to peace, love and happiness,
“Like a gentle mother, who allows her offspring to play and mess about in a yard, even trample down her precious beds of painfully nurtured flowers, Mother Earth too allows her children that freedom. It is because of that we have filthy oil spills, scarred and strip-mined patches of land, mercilessly logged forests, spills of chemical wastes from our factories, filthy slum habitations of Latin America, European Gypsy camps, slums of India and Indonesia with rape and hunger infested refugee camps of the world. These ugly scars and spots on Mother Earth do not for a moment mean that Mother Earth is ugly. It is just a temporary thing, like the flowerbeds trampled upon by unruly children. When the play is over and children back in bed, mother would come around and fix those flower beds and forests once again. Like every good mother, Mother Earth is stern from time to time. When she gets angry, she shakes her bosom like an earthquake, roars like a hurricane or thunders like the floods drowning her children into a corner stool as temporary punishment.”
I do feel that the Mother was pleased with my effort, for soon after I returned, she granted me the honor of naming one of the most sacred Mountains on earth as Sunanda Devi Mountain. It had earlier been called Nanda Devi East. Perhaps with this my name has entered the eternal records of heavens, the heavely abode of the goddesses Nanda and Sunanda, for as long as the Himalayas stand. While in Nainital too she looked after me as every loving mother would look after her beloved child who has come from far to visit her in old age. The Senior most and most powerful administrative officer of the district and neighboring districts ( I G Ashok Kumar, came to visit me and left his contacts and numbers to say they were at my beck and call for any need that may arise as was the senior most police officer of the District.
Every month I climbed the hill to pay my regards to Naini Mata at her shrine besides the lake and while in Naintal she arranged the grandest lodging for me to stay each and every time – The Raj Bhavan – a place that was built for Queen Victoria, were she to visit India as the Empress of the district while she lived and used as summer residences for governors since. It is a large facility in Nainital and has buildings and rooms for other select guests who might be chosen for stay.
From a parallel hill, Babaji Haidakhan her beloved son was always by my side. I had last visited his ashram in Haidakhan in 2007. The ashram provides free meals and rooms for all who choose to visit just as in Sikh Temples from voluntary contributions. I had mentioned that the lunch could be improved if Dahi (yoghurt) was added to it if they could manage the funds beginning with a small contribution myself then. A training and placement officer of the Institute who had been visiting the place insisted on coming along with me on the new visit. On the way, I stopped our car and said, we need to buy glucose biscuits for the dogs. This officer was disgusted and remarked,
“I have been so many times to the ashram, but I have never seen any dogs.”
When we arrived at the ashram the dogs came running out and jumped and squealed in delight all over me to get the biscuits. In the temple room the priest handed me the tray of Bhog, Prasad to carry to the mess where all had gathered for lunch and waiting. A grand lunch was served and a yogini ran out to get a can of dahi that was still not a part of the lunch. It was a small one but she poured it out herself in plates of all sitting for lunch and a hundred and one persons had gathered the, more dahi she served, the more was left in her can, In the end she sent it to the kitchens for the staff.
Jai Mata ki
Jai Baba Haidakhan