|Birthplace:||Ramdas, Punjab, India|
|Death:||Died in Chandigarh, Punjab, India|
Son of Labba Mal and Mathura devi
|Managed by:||Private User|
About Mulk Raj
My Father—As I knew Him
(Shri Mulk Raj, B.A.B.T, 1.1.1901 - 14.12.1983)
He belonged to a nondescript small town, Ramdas, in Amritsar district of Punjab. He lost both of his parents as a small child, youngest of the four brothers. He managed to do graduation, and earn a bachelor of teaching degree, mostly with the help of friends and by winning academic scholarships. He stood third in the state in intermediate examination in the medical stream. He joined the MBBS course at Lahore, but had to forgo his ambition to become a doctor because of the financial constraints.
He chose teaching as his calling, but was also involved in social causes and the freedom struggle.
He started his first job in Dharamkot, but was sacked and permanently debarred from doing government job as he was found to take part in burning the British Union Jack. Thus he had to work all his life in private institutions, mostly of Arya Samaj. In 30’s when the Nizam of Hyderabad was doing forcible conversions of Hindus to Muslims, he joined the agitation against it and served a jail sentence there was six months.
He was deadly against the practice of untouchability, very much rampant in India in the pre-independence days .During those days, there used to be separate drinking water wells for high and low castes. I remember as a child that he made it a point to get water for our household from the well meant for the low castes.
He was a passionate teacher without expectation of any monetary rewards. He paid special attention to the students from the weaker sections of the society and to those with poor academic performance. Very often he would bring such children to stay with us for weeks and months. My mother had to reluctantly cook food for them also.
My father never went to any Mandir or gurudwara. He did not observe any religious fasts or undertook pilgrimages or performed irrational rituals or offered prayers at such places. As far as I know, none of his three sons had the traditional ‘mundan’ ceremony- the Hindu custom of shaving the first crop of the head hair at a religious shrine.
Yet he believed in moral values such as honesty, truth and fair play. Actually he was an idealist of sorts. When one of his brothers died at a young age leaving behind a widow and three small children, he tried his best to help them financially, although we ourselves could hardly make both end meet.
He was rebellious by nature, never toeing the lines of powers that be, if he found that injustice was being done to his juniors or students. Thus he
always had perpetual fights with the management, resulting in either he resigning himself or being sacked. As a result he never had a steady job.
He was a ‘vagabond’ at heart. He got restless staying at one place continuously. He would go to one city or the other ostensibly to do this or that. He would go to stay with relatives or friends even uninvited. Another fad was writing letters to known and lesser known people without even expecting their reply. Although he knew that they will not write back, he still used reply paid postcards!! Even locally, he would walk for miles to call on acquaintances for no reason.
He possessed extraordinary intelligence- maybe had an IQ of a genius. He could solve difficult mathematical problems mentally, and had a tremendous memory. He regaled everyone by reciting Urdu couplets. Above all, he was extremely optimistic. He would often quote- if winter comes, can spring be far behind? He believed in daughters’ higher education which was quite uncommon in the time of my two elder sisters in 30’s, 40’s. He would beg/borrow to get his children the highest education.
Despite his intelligence, my father was a ‘failure’ if the success means name, fame, high standard of living, status and acquisition of wealth. He lived a simple life—never caring about his dress, never wore a wrist watch and never had a bank account. He left behind no house or immovable property. He once told me that his calculations revealed that his average monthly income during his working years turned out to be just Rs 75 per month.
He had a ‘noble’ death- dying peacefully of a heart attack within minutes while on a morning walk in Chandigarh. He did have coronary heart disease a few years prior to death, but he was never confined to bed or suffered from any infirmity. He died walking which was his first love.
Dr Raj K. Sarin