|Tributes to Kamat||.|
My Best Friend K. L. Kamat
Eulogy by Vikas Kamat
Notes from a tribute given at a condolence meeting for K. L. Kamat
Some of you might consider it inappropriate that I refer my father as my best friend. Bappa, as I called him, was truly a great man, worthy of my worship. But ever since I reached adulthood, he has treated me as a friend, and we were really like close friends. Further, for the last five years we have been team-mates on a large project, the Kamat's Potpourri website.
Bappa never shied away from learning from youngsters. In fact, I feel that he learnt more from youngsters than from peers. He was an ocean of talent, and I am an immature, ordinary son, yet he treated me as an equal, sharing his ideas and honoring mine. Bappa was friends with everyone -- from the milk-delivery man to patients of leprosy, everybody was his buddy. He exhibited the same sincerity and keenness to learn about the tribals, rag-pickers, and vegetable vendors as he did to study (via photography of interviews) the geniuses and scholars. He didn't have this equal-treatment policy to follow an ideal or anything; that was his true nature. This morning a friend told me Kamat not only photographed the cross-dressers condemned in India as the Khojas (ಖೋಜ), but sent them copies of the photographs free of cost. I am not at all amused. To most of us they are transsexuals and discards of the society, but for Bappa they were fellow humans, friends, and his equals.
"Work is Worship" -- numerous Hindu saints have preached, yet we see few who find God in their vocation. Bappa was not a religious man (not ritualistic anyway), but he displayed amazing devotion and dedication in every task he performed, and I must say that I am a witness to a man reaching God through Karmayoga (The Hindu philosophies describe two other paths to reach God - Jnanayoga, the path of Knowledge and Bhaktiyoga, the path of devotion). Humbleness, courage, character, patience, vision, self-reliance, and an eternal hunger for knowledge are some of the qualities Bappa possessed more in quantity than in most men.
It is true that Bappa was a man of extreme discipline and it was difficult for ordinary mortals to live or work with him. Hence we see that almost all of his work has been accomplished single-handedly by him. His monumental documentation of twentieth century India (most of which has remained unpublished) is done without any infrastructure or institutional support. Bappa was a one-man-institution.
I consider it a great privilege that I had an opportunity to be friends with Krishnanand Kamat. He was an extraordinary and eccentric man (he is the only man I know who'd not charge the government for his professional services; he's the only one I know who could study the clouds for weeks together, and he's the only one I know who raised cockroaches), and worked till the last day and last hour -- he passed away suddenly with a cardiac arrest, his suffering lasting less than five minutes -- leaving behind hundreds of unfinished projects. In his death I have lost a great dad, a true friend, and the captain of my ship.
Bappa's greatness lies not in his award winning books, not in his memorable photographs or his gigantic website, but in his austere living, and for showing the world that an ordinary man without infrastructure or resources can still do extraordinary things in life by sheer determination and dedication to duty.
|Kamat's Potpourri K. L. Kamat Remembering Kamat|