Papaji – Dwarika Nath Kaul
How shall one remember a father, an uncle, and a friend who was at once a man of high principles, intellectually sharp, very human, and simple? How had all these qualities coalesced in one man always mystified the people who knew him? His personality shined in every important phase of his life. His laughter was invigorating and infectious and he loved to be among his family and friends. He took the hard and rough of life with equanimity and discipline.
Papaji was born in a large family in Srinagar in 1920. His father, Pt. Sudharshan Kaul, became to be the senior most non-English police officer in Jammu And Kashmir state. Papaji was a shy and an introverted boy who minded his books diligently. In fact, he was found to be a very brainy child, who went on to do brilliantly at his studies. After high achievements at State High School and Sri Partap College he went on to attend Government College, Lahore, which was considered to be the Oxford University of India those days. He graduated M.A. in English with distinction from it . Due to the untimely death of his father, at the age of fifty-four, he returned to Kashmir and plunged into taking care of his family. After a short stint as a lecturer in English in Sri Partap College, he qualified in the Kashmir Civil Service and joined the state police force. He steadily progressed through the ranks, ending his career as the Inspector General Of Police of the state. He distinguished himself by his brilliance, discipline, and character. Being highly principled he was much feared at his work, both by his subordinates as well as by his superiors, though for different reasons. Being among the few non-bribe taking officers in the state made his superiors uncomfortable with him, and his intellectual stature and high-mindedness made them nervous. It took a lot of character and tenacity those days to maintain one’s principles.
He called his job as a “thief catcher”, which he said he did to make a living. For nurturing his soul he immersed himself in the world of literature and philosophy. He read widely and eclectically. He wrote many articles during and after his police career on important subjects, some of which were published in his book “Reflections On Police, Society, And Allied Subjects.” He was an aficionado of both English and Urdu literatures. He could quote with equal fluency and panache a Shakespeare or a Ghalib. Some times one wondered whether his intellect was wasted in police, when he could have contributed at a higher level in an academic or a national level planning job. He would have made a fine ambassador for India to a foreign country or been utilized for other high intellectual type of positions but our Central Government often does know who its stars are. Alas, a high-level resource was left unused.
He lost his wife, Pyari, in 1976, when she was only fifty-two. This inflicted a deep wound in his life which he was never able to heal. But his perseverance and discipline prevailed and he spent the rest of his life absorbed in books and meeting his relatives and friends. He had wanted to continue living in Kashmir after his retirement in his house called “Simriti,” named by him in memory of his earlier life, but the war in Kashmir forced him to move to New Delhi. This adjustment was necessarily laced with trauma.
In the family life with him we enjoyed his sharp wit, humor, moral support, and practical advice. He was peripatetic, often walking many kilometers to see his relatives and friends, which also satisfied his life-long need for physical exercise . His tastes were fine and sparse. Overdoing was not his style. He endeavored to be a wholly independent man, which given the nature of life, was not easy. He many times let the ugly aspects of life get the better of him, turning him into a pessimist. But he was a staunch realist and believed in a pragmatic approach to solve life’s problems.
Today we mourn him but tomorrow we will miss him. We will miss his strength of character, his trustworthiness, his his wise counsel, and the sharpness of his mind. He was one of the beacons of light in our family and that light will endure for many years to come. The legacy he leaves behind is our treasure.
Sufffern, New York