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K R Narayanan's final act of charity
George Iype in Kochi | November 09, 2005 23:12 IST
Last Updated: November 09, 2005 00:17 IST
The last time former President K R Narayanan was in his home state of Kerala was in February, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for realising his last dream, perhaps - dedicate his ancestral home for the study of ayurveda and siddha.
Dr Singh came down to inaugurate the ancestral home turned into the Navajyoti Karunakaraguru Research Centre for Ayurveda and Siddha at Uzhavoor village, Narayanan's birthplace in Kerala's Kottayam district.
Narayanan's modest, four-room tiled house at Uzhavoor, where his sister K R Gowri and brother K R Bhaskaran stayed was perhaps the only property he financially helped his siblings with.
"He had helped us build this home. So after constructing this house, I prepared its documents in his name," Gowri had told rediff.com in February. But Bhaskaran and Gowri did not want to keep the home to themselves. "I wanted to give it to the public for a just cause in the name of my famous brother," Gowri said.
So when she told Narayanan about gifting the only property the family had to Santhigiri Ashram, which runs two Ayurveda hospitals in Kerala, the former president was elated.
Narayanan talked to the Ashram officials, and within months, the former president brought in Dr Singh to hand over the keys of his modest home for setting up an ayurveda and siddha research centre.
Dr Singh had lots of praise for the Narayanan family. "This is a noble gesture by a gracious family, which is doubly significant because of the purpose for which the building is being used - the promotion of our traditional systems of medicine, Ayurveda and Siddha," he said at the inauguration.
"Just as Narayanan symbolises human achievement through intellectual endeavour, Ayurveda and Siddha represent the pinnacles of Indian traditional scientific enquiry in the area of healing. Today's event is truly a homage to our tradition of giving primacy to knowledge," Dr Singh pointed out.
"Knowledge is all about giving and, through this gracious act, this family has reinforced our belief in the Indian tradition of the gift of knowledge, which is the greatest gift of all," he added.
Their neighbours in Uzhavoor say the dedication of their ancestral home for ayurveda research was typical of the Narayanan family.
"The greatness of the Narayanan family members is that they always remained poor and they did not want to earn out of the high offices that the former president occupied," said Keshavan Kutty, a close aide of the Narayanan family in Uzhavoor.
He added that the decisionof the Narayanan family members to gift the little property they all owned together for a noble cause showed their dedication and service for the people and the nation.
When he became the President of India in 1997, Narayanan had taken a Lincolnesque journey to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Born in a thatched hut in a poor dalit family, the man who was elected India's tenth president had overcome innumerable economic and social hurdles to ascend to the highest office in the land.
And early this year, by dedicating his ancestral home to the Shantigiri Ashram, Narayanan showed to the world the extraordinary life he lived-that he lived for the society and the nation.
K R Narayanan on rediff.com: