Sanskrit students of the late Prof. Dr. S. Revathy pay tribute to a dedicated educator, scholar and researcher.
Educational institutions require keen teachers, especially in the study of Sanskrit polemical works. The students of Sanskrit at the University of Madras were fortunate to have witnessed a rare combination of scholarship and flair for teaching in the late Professor Dr. S. Revathy (1959-2014), who was noted for her in-depth knowledge of Advaita Vedanta and Navya-Nyaya.
Armed with a Bachelor's Degree in Sanskrit from Queen Mary's College, Chennai, she completed her Masters Degree, M.Phil, and Ph.D from Madras University. An outstanding student and research scholar, Dr. Revathi's dream to popularise Sanskrit came true when she was appointed a lecturer in the Sanskrit Department of the Madras University, wherein she served for 27 years - as lecturer from 1987 to 1995, as Reader from 1995 to 2003 and as Professor of Sanskrit from 2003 onwards.
Hailing from a Vaishnavite family, she believed that religion and philosophy are twin branches of the same tree. In an illustrious teaching career spanning over two decades, she had presented over 100 papers at national and international seminars, published over 50 research articles, four books and a monograph. Some of her well known, published titles include ‘Three Little Known Advaitins’ (Doctoral Thesis), A critical edition of Bhagavad Gita with commentary Padayojana by Ramachandendra, A critical edition of Upadesa Sahasri of Sankaracarya with commentary Padayojanika by Rama Tirtha, and a monograph titled, ‘Manamala of Acyutakrishnandatirtha.’ She co-authored the text Vedanta Samgraha of Ramaraya Kavi along with Professor Dr. R. Balasubramanian and this was published in 2012. Her research articles covered some rare topics such as Criticism of Buddhism by Mimamsaka, Review of Purvamimamsa doctrines by Jayanta Bhatta.
She always remembered with humility, her guru, Professor Dr. N. Veezhinathan, and followed in his footsteps as a committed teacher eager to continue his legacy. She was sought after by other scholars to exchange or present her views and knowledge, to review and evaluate research works in the field of Nyaya, Advaita, music, dance, sculpture, philosophy, pure language. Fluent in Sanskrit, English, Tamil and Telugu, and with a Siromani degree in Advaita, under her able guidance, 17 students were awarded Doctorate Degrees in Sanskrit.
A multi-talented person, she was ever willing to devote extra time to help her students and took on the role of friend, philosopher and guide. The number of Sanskrit books in her collection was a testimony to her thirst for knowledge. She set high standards in learning and teaching, and continued to delve deep into the language -thanks to the unwavering support she received from her husband, Mr. Sukumar, and two sons.
Her outstanding contribution to Sanskrit research and teaching was recognised through the 'Ram Krishna Sanskrit Award' in 2002 from Saraswati Visvas, Canada, followed by 'Krishna Tatacharya Endowment Award' in 2003, Bangalore. Nominated by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, she attended the 14th World Sanskrit Conference at Kyoto University, Japan in 2009. In 2010, she received the 'Certificate of Appreciation' for exemplary contribution to society and preserving India’s cultural and spiritual heritage from Sringeri Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharati Theertha Mahaswamigal Sacred 60th Birth Year Celebrations Committee, Chennai. The University of Madras awarded her the 'Academic Achievement' award in 2012.
The sudden and untimely demise of Dr. S. Revathy on February 5, is a great loss to scholars of Sanskrit and scores of students, who had the opportunity to listen to her deep, resonating voice expounding the subtleties of Advaita and Nyaya philosophy. Her admirers and well wishers will always remember her as one whose every breath spelt Sanskrit.