(Homage to Shri Kailash Nath Kaul by son Anupam & grand-daughter Shruti emphasizes rock-solid stature of Indian social system founded on spiritual thought)
His parents named him KAILASH. Neither of them lived long enough to see their eldest son live to that name, embodying every virtue that symbolizes lord Shiva, strength of character, tranquility in emotions, epitome of integrity, purity of thought and above all an infinite capacity to absorb and detoxify ill will whenever he encountered any.
Kailash Nath, little Lallan to his parents, and father, grandfather and great grandfather to the rest of us, was a man so humble, that one may just pass by without noticing, but such was his persona, that the briefest of interactions, would leave an everlasting impression of a personality towering several feet taller than his frame of 5 feet 2. He was magnetic, he was charismatic, and he was very very endearing. We all lead our lives through an odd mix of friends and adversaries, and struggle to keep a healthy positive balance. His slate was clean on one side, he only had friends and loved ones.
Any life spanning almost a century would have its share of trials and tribulations, ups and downs. His life too had these in good measure, but where he differed was the manner in which he translated the tribulations into personal strengths and the gains for sharing with others. Born in a joint family of lawyers in the small east UP town called Fatehpur, he had a childhood disciplined and regulated by strong traditions. But fate intervened, through a series of setbacks to his parents, who failed to cope with them, and both departed this world leaving a family of five orphaned siblings among who Kailash was the eldest at 13 and the youngest sister a toddler. The childhood transformed into adulthood under the oversight of uncles and aunts. With perseverance, that became his key strength throughout life, he graduated, began his professional career in the army postal service at the handsome salary of Rs 40 and brought his family of five to live together and supported their growing up and their education. Fate chose to test his resilience once again, and he lost two of his grown up siblings, a brother and a sister whom he adored.
He settled his own marriage, at the age of 30 to a bride 12 years his junior. They built a beautiful relationship that lasted 66 years till 3 days ago. But he also had other duties to perform. He sent his younger brother to study in England. He got his younger sister married into a very respectable family. Later, he also oversaw the wedding of a sister and brother in law.
Six of us, a son and five daughters came into his life. We did not know then, but recognize today how tough it is bringing up even one or two kids. Together they brought all six of us up, showering so much love and affection and giving us each all the attention, encouragement and the resources we needed to pursue whatever we wanted to. It appears a miracle, today, how without any financial background and living on a government salary, we lived a princely life style, replete with a Standard Vanguard car bought way back in 1962.
The responsibility of living as a family of eight was a pleasure for him and for us. Breakfast and dinners were always together on the dining table. On the 27th March 2014, six hours before he said goodbye, he was on the dining table forcing his unsteady hands to his mouth, ensuring the family bond one last time.
He did well professionally and rose to be a senior class 1 officer in the department of Posts. For many peers, his progress was envious, but his persona, his integrity and honesty, for which he was an example, and conduct with all colleagues senior or junior, earned him genuine respect and great regard, manifested most in the framed citations he would receive on a transfer. The key posting of SSPOs Lucknow for 5 and a half years is a record which surely may remain even today. For us kids his success meant huge British built bungalows with vast gardens, fruit laden trees, terrace parties, and the occasional mushairas that the poet Hazrat, the takhallus that he had given himself, would organize at home. Amidst a glitterati of urdu shayars- Bekal Utsahi, Noor Lakhnawi, Hazrat with his inimitable mazayiah shayari always looted the loudest and prolonged wah wahs and mukarrars.
His position combined with his benevolence also meant support to many relatives and their families in periods of need and distress, as well as giving employment and livelihood to a large number of under-privileged people from urban and rural background. All of them, including some who rose to prominence, pledged their gratitude for life. Many used to turn up at family occasions such as weddings long after he had retired.
Despite the romanticism and wit that he exuded, fitness and discipline were second nature to him. For 50 years till he received his pacemaker at 88, he walked a mandatory 6 Kms every day, no matter what the weather or place he was in. This also included rising at 4 in the morning, which continued till his last day. The goal to remain fit and the sense of discipline translated into a new and rigorous routine after retirement, by which time he had developed a great affinity to spirituality. Under the tutelage of a blind guru in Dehradun, he painstakingly learnt, the word-by -word interpretation of the Bhagwad Gita and then forced himself to memorize the entire book in pure Sanskrit, a feat compounded by the fact that his medium of education was Urdu and he could barely read Hindi well. Once the Geeta was mastered, he added huge portions of Ram Charit Manas to his repertoire of Gyan. Blessed with an amazing ability to retain in memory every event of his life, every person he met, every book that he had read, he did not require referring to the books and instead the daily routine included a 4 hour recital of the Geeta or Ramayana based on a monthly calendar he had devised for himself.
While he kept showering love and affection all around him, many of his own loved ones departed during the long life span. This included his siblings, brother Hrideya and sister Shashi, many cousins and then the heart wrenching passing away of the apple of his eye, his beloved eldest daughter Ela. That event tested his capacity to endure, but like every time he emerged, stronger, rock steady like the Bhishma Pitamah, while lesser mortals like us could only wonder at his capacity to continue to find meaning in life after such devastating events.
One route he found, that gave him a lot of emotional enrichment, was physically supporting several institutions, orphanages, blind schools. One tenth of his pension was dedicated towards these.
For our mother, Madhuri he was a friend, philosopher and guide and in later years also an obedient child, never questioning her decisions even for what he would eat, or wear or where and when they would travel. They were great company together, and had several things to talk and discuss every day even after 66 years of staying together. For his children, Ela, Lekha, Raman, Alka, Anshu, Gulu as well as others who he treated like his children, that includes our Chhaya mausi, he was like a a bunyan tree. He seemed to have a multitude of branches that embraced all of us at the same time into his loving being endlessly.
For his grandchildren, Shalu, Shitu, Chinu, Bablu, Shruti, Leechu, Bulbul, Chiku, Parv, Sanya and Dadu, he is one of the most influential people. Not only did they all love him dearly, but they saw him as a role model. His presence even though miles away, gave them so much strength that irrespective of where they were he was always there blessing them and protecting them. His love for them, so unconditional and selfless, that even though he may not have approved of some of their decisions or things, all he had to offer was never ending love, his assurance of being there to listen, to comfort and to help.
For his sons in law he was like a second father, and all of them loved him and regarded him no less than their own father.
For all his friends, he was great socialite. People just took pleasure to be in his company. For many he was a benefactor, known or unknown.
To his God, he was an ardent and unquestioning believer.
His belief in the cycle of rebirth and karma was complete. We hope all his investments in this life of good deeds, love and affection, benevolence, support to the needy, the incessant jaap of Ram naam, and above all the warmth that he spread all around him pays him dividends not only in the next life but in many lives to come. It will be a privilege Mr Kaul, to be born your son and daughters again.