TUMAKURU: With PUC-II exams a month away, most children are buried in books while their parents are running helter-skelter making sure they get to their tuitions on time and ensuring they study. Tensions are running high in most households due to the significance of the upcoming exam. In Tumakuru, however, a lot of students are not so worried. Reason: They have an exceptional teacher who has taught a number of researchers across the globe, who have now carved a niche for themselves. Not only them, he has even taught Tumakuru MLA GB Jyothiganesh and former MLA Dr Rafeek Ahmed. Meet 90-year-old Garani Seetharam, one of the oldest teachers in the country. This nonagenarian wants to teach until his last breath. Since 1954, his elder brother, GRS Raghavachar, who founded the Vijaya BEd College in Bengaluru, has guided him on how to teach students. What his brother taught him has been etched onto his mind. Interestingly, his father, Ranghachar tutored the late (shivaikya) Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt in Sanskrit.
“The swamiji would come on his horse to our house to learn. He would playfully twist my ears. After completing my MSc in Physics, I started teaching in a PUC College run by the mutt. Seeing my ability to teach, the swamiji asked me to teach engineering students at the Siddaganga Institute of Technology, where I taught for nine years,” says Seetharam.It was in his second year of MSc that he got the chance of a lifetime. He got to work under Nobel laureate CV Raman between 1967-70 for a project titled 'Physics and Physiology of Colour and Vision'.With such credentials, he was bound to go further. He established the Sarvodaya Educational Society in 1974. Despite being the secretary and also the administrative officer of the institution, teaching was always his passion and the cornerstone of his life. “The examples he provides help us grasp concepts easily. He makes sure we have understood before he advances further in the lesson,” says Anusha Parameshwarappa, a PUC-II student from Tiptur.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training has accorded him with the best teacher award twice for his innovative teaching methods. However, to Seetharam, his greatest achievement is the success of his students. He has taught thousands of students who have made a name for themselves in the country and abroad. Altogether 17 of his students are currently researchers in Munich in Germany. All of them have fond memories of Seetharam or AO sir as he is fondly known. His former students all remember him with warmth. One of his former students, Rajesh Setty, a serial entrepreneur based in California USA, says,"Thanks to the wisdom, love and blessings of Seetharam sir, I passed my PUC exams and secured second rank in the state. I also cleared the Common Entrance Test and secured the sixth rank in the state. I am eternally indebted to Seetharam sir. He is an inspiration to me."At 90, most people prefer a quiet life. However, Seetharam is bristling with energy. He says he will teach until god gives him the physical strength to."My idea of god is nothing but energy. It cannot be seen, created or destroyed, but can be felt mentally,” he says.
Ardent cricket fan
When he is not busy making sure that his students are thorough with what he teaches, Seetharam follows cricket matches religiously. He played club-level cricket matches for 20 years in the past and was also acquainted with the Indian cricketer G R Vishwanath, who would play cricket in Tumakuru. He also likes Vijay Hazare. As of today, he likes Virat Kohli.