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Of songs, stories and social messages

IMAPCTFUL Jayanti S Ravi and her team performing at Aravind Eye Hospital.   | Photo Credit: mamp06lead3

The stage was set and lit in an iridescent blue. A life-size image of Dr. G. Venkataswamy loomed over the setting at the GVERI Research Institute in Aravind Eye Hospital this Friday evening. Walked in Dr. Jayanti S Ravi, Gujarat’s Labour Commissioner to pay a musical ode to a man whom she had never met. She started off with a shloka from Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem, Savitri: A legend and a symbol, and for the next two hours, juggled across genres -- singing songs, reciting shlokas, narrating stories, sharing experiences and reading out from the book ‘ Infinite vision’ that encapsulates the life of Dr.V, the founder of Aravind Eye Care Syste, (AECS). Jayanti’s son Adit Ravi, an IIT-an played magic on the flute and Chaitanya, another student summed up beats on the tabla. The Aravind family members, their friends, employees, ophthalmologists and experts from various fields of social work sat through the presentation, a beautiful blend of music and stories.

Titled ‘ Dr.V – the fountainhead of Universality, innovation, determination and fraternity’, the musical rendition was prepared by Jayanti over the past few months. Jayanti revealed she had never met Dr.V but delved deep into books on him and his journal writings to understand various aspects of his personality.

She read out an episode from Infinite Vision of how the shriek of a woman giving birth to a child and later her tragic death in the course of the delivery affected Dr.V as a child and made him want to become an obstetrician. Citing it as the first seed sown in the mind of Dr.V towards universality, Jayanti seamlessly weaved ‘ Vaishanava Jana to…,’ a song by Gujarati poet Narsinh Mehta, into the subject. “The song was a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi and talks about universal love and compassion. These were the same qualities that drove Dr.V to gift vision to the world later in his life,” she paused to explain. Drawing parallels between his characteristics and that of the other leaders in real life and heroes from mythology and history, Jayanti added interesting anecdotes and stories to the narration.

Moving on to a doha of Kabir that insists on seeing the goodness in others, she also gave the audience self-assessment exercises in-between the presentation. Talking about how determined Dr.V was in his goal to provide affordable and quality eye-care to the poor, she sang ‘ Oli padaitha Kanninaai...,’ by poet Subramania Bharati. “The song talks about the importance of having a clear vision in life.” Explaining how Dr.V was a believer of team work and cooperation, she sang one of M.S. Subbulakshmi’s songs, ‘ Maitreem Bhajata…’ Apart from these, Jayanti also shared some of her own experiences in the field of public service and in all, she sang in five languages – Sanskrit, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi, including a verse from Guru Granth Sahib. She finished the discourse with a befitting quote from Savitri, which Dr.V used to read every morning.

Dr.V’s sister, Dr. G. Natchiar, the Vice Chairman Emeritus, AECS described the presentation as an encore of the days she spent with him. “I felt as if I was walking with Dr.V holding his hands, reliving every moment I spent with him,” she said. Dr. Usha Kim, Chief Orbit, Oculoplasty and Oncology; Director-Training mid-level ophthalmic personnel, said, “I was transported to a different world. It was reinforcement for us to follow the steps of Dr.V even more passionately.” Dr. Haripriya Aravind, Chief, Cataract and IOL Services, said, “I felt freshly inspired and energized to continue the good work we do with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.”


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Printable version | Nov 23, 2021 6:51:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/of-songs-stories-and-social-messages/article6567493.ece

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