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My Best Friend K. L. Kamat

Eulogy by Vikas Kamat
March 07, 2002
Page Last Updated: January 03, 2018

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 His  monumental documentation of twentieth century India (most of which has remained unpublished) is done without any infrastructure or institutional support.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.

See Also:

Pictures from Kamat's Life
Remembering Kamat

Kamat Selecting a Transparency for WebsiteThe Skillful HandsKamat Breaks Open a Coconut for CookingThe Late Night RestaurateurKamat Buying VegetablesKamat Carries Money in a Book!Fatherly Figure Kamat with best friend Nakul Redkar
Kamat on his Dollar a Day Travel Tour of America Photograph of Kamat in his Lab. taken by a customerK.L.Kamat (extreme right) with his SiblingsKamat Brings Vegetables HomeThis one makes the cutThe Kamats at their residence in BangaloreKrishnananda KamatPhotograph of Kamats Doctorate of Philosophy
Portrait of Krishnanand KamatMourners reading Kamats old lettersKamat as College Student, Kanara College Kumta 1955Graduate Student, Karnataka College Dharwad, 1956K.L. Kamat Graduating in 1957.K.L. Kamat - from his Passport, 1961Learned to wear a necktie in USA, 1962.Kamat the Fullbright Scholar, New York, 1963
Light-hearted personK.L. Kamat at WorkIndian Head in  American HatKrishna in Jinnah CapScientist K. L. KamatKamat Always Travels with his CameraK.L. Kamat in Tirathgad ForestK.L. Kamat in his Lab.
Vikas Gets a Joy Ride on Krishna`s ShouldersKamat Making a Photo AlbumKamat with Colleagues, PlasseyAdmirers of Kamat Gathered for 75th BirthdayA Father and his ChildThe Kamat BrothersThe Kamat CoupleKamat Making Flat Indian Bread (<i>chapati</i>)
Kamat after his Doctorate in 1965Kamat with EldersKamat`s DiariesK.L.Kamats Father Laxman KamatThe Lighting CeremonyExhibition of some of Kamats PhotographsPicking Slides for Kamat.comSinging Kamats Glory Sung by Students of MES College
Kamat Photographing Waves at KarwarThe Kamat Couple in OotyK.L. Kamat  Photographing a TempleK. L. KamatWalking Tall -- Krishna being honored in hometown of HonavarPoetic Tribute to Kamat

Kamat's Potpourri K. L. Kamat Remembering Kamat

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