Honouring Gifts: In Memory Of Dr. Arun Kumar

Posted by Ragunath Padmanabhan on Jun 23, 2015
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“Peedampalli Vaidyar” (the healer of Peedampalli) as he was known, was a reputed healer. His real name was Sri.Vellingiri. He had learned the art of healing from his father. His father had learned from his father. And he from his father. And he from his father. And he... well, per available records, Sri. Vellingiri was the fifth generation healer of his family. There still is a street named Vaidyar st in Peedampalli. Like all his ancestors, he too concentrated on healing and did not bother about his family’s security. He never worked for money and simply did not bother. When one of his wealthy patients offered a piece of real estate in the middle of Coimbatore city. Sri.Vellingiri simply laughed and said, “What will I do with it?” and did not accept it. Its value today would be a million dollars. In time, one of the daughters got married and had a son.

They named him Arun Kumar, the ‘son of the sun’.

Arun grew up as a normal kid and when it was time to choose his career path, he promptly chose a bachelor’s degree in holistic healing that comprised Naturopathy and Yoga. No one had asked him to.

Unlike his classmates, after finishing his graduation, he sought out more teachers to learn a variety of healing systems like Acupuncture, Qi Gong, Craniosacral Therapy. He also sought out many places like the Osho ashram to learn different creative healing techniques. In 2010, he attended one of our Naturopathy health camps as a volunteer. 6 months later, one of our friends got into a serious illness. With just a basic training in Naturopathy, we were in a dilemma of not wanting to get into allopathic treatment and not knowing how to proceed with Naturopathy. We sought help from many people and Dr. Arun was one of them. It was then we came to know him more closely.

Dr. Arun had a very open face. He looked directly and always smiled genuinely. He asked simple questions, remained very calm while we rested and answered, he went around us – soft stepped, measured, purposeful. Whether he held a hand or administered a therapy, it was so gentle and precise. His behaviour was unhurried as if the current patient is the only person he has to see that day. His observations and suggestions were always simple and practical. He had a knack of zeroing in on the nature of the problem and had a repertoire of easy interventions. All of us felt that we had entered a zone of healing when we were with him. Most people said after their first meeting that they had finally found a healer for their family.

We started referring many of our family and friends to him. Soon, pretty much everyone we know had had more than one appointment with him. They all came away deeply cared for, some experienced life changing healing and everyone in turn referred him to their family and friends.

While many people knew him as a doctor, to us he had become a friend, mentor and guide. He slowly opened up and shared with us that his dream is to live in a small farm, grow his own food, care for cows, elders and neglected kids, have a small healing clinic in the farm and live the rest of his life that way.

With a wide range of patients, many wealthy ones among them, and a growing reputation, he could have devoted some time to tap into his network, to befriend people, to attend parties and conferences, to project himself in a certain way... and thereby could have worked on his dream. But he never wanted to be anyone other than a healer. He carried the same personality everywhere.

We used to talk among ourselves that we have a special person among us and we need to figure out ways to support his journey.

We knew that he, with his family, led a middle class life. We told one another that whenever we came across anything that he might need, we will support him. We introduced him to people who could build an institution around him. We explored many farm lands that might be suitable for his dream. We did a little bit and expected him to act smart, use the opportunities and pave his own road. He just remained a healer.

Meanwhile, he had married and had an adorable son. He wanted to secure their future and when the chance came, applied for a government job and got it. But in a few months, he said he that he found it to be very difficult continue in that position because there was too much corruption. He said that corruption is not good for this health. He meant it literally. But he kept his government job in a rural area in the morning and his hospital job in the city in the evening.

For about five years, every Sunday he had also been offering his services at a place for kids with different mental ailments in Chennai. Kids with highly violent behaviour would regularly hit him. In a few minutes, they would calm down and listen to him.

Since last Sunday, he had been travelling in trains continuously for four days. Many people had booked appointments with him for 11th June. He had no bad omens. He didn’t know.

It was an accident at 4:45am at a train station. No one knows how it happened. We were told that he somehow slipped and got under the train. It could happen to anyone. Yet, many of us are going through the different things that the mind does in such a situation. We are trying to find some reason, some theory, some meaning... and yet we know that there are none. It was a random thing.

I sat with that word for a long time. Random.

It means, “Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective”.

The mind refuses to believe that Consciousness, being at a higher level of existence than atoms and cells, could be subject to randomness. We feel that laws of physics should not apply to consciousness and it should be governed by some higher order, some logic with purpose. It should not happen this way, completely senseless and random. There again, the word.

Many people felt that this is unfair. Many of us are looking skyward and asking what happened and why.

Had it been a chronic illness or a natural disaster or simply old age, then in spite of the grief, we would at least know what happened and why. But this, at age 35... there is anger and frustration.

I also have another perspective. It emerged over the last few days while I was swinging between reality and denial with many periods of silence in the middle.

I feel that we do not fully understand or appreciate what a gift we are and could be to each other. I am not given to such language or observation. This darned soul has pulled these words out of my mouth.

It was fully within our capacity to elevate our feelings for Dr. Arun to the next level. Every single person who contacted us upon hearing the news said that he or he had been deeply touched by him and wanted to do something. Many of them said they had been thinking for some time to simply connect with him beyond being his patients. The same intention, understanding and movement of energy that we are all displaying now were present before too. We could have figured ways to pull him out of his middle class constraints and helped him setup his farm clinic. We had the intention but did not act enough in a timely way. We waited in the name of not intruding in his personal space. We did not even arrange for a gathering of friends touched by him to explore how we could support his journey. We all felt something of a kinship with him, wanted to engage with him but were caught up in our own busy-ness.

He had mentioned that he would complete five years of visiting Chennai on weekends this July. With a six day work week and a new family, he said that he wanted to find a way to hand it over to someone else and free up his weekend for family. With a little help, he could have done it a little earlier.

I feel that randomness is a result of allowing many unnecessary things (that appear to be necessary) to continue to push us around making room for many unexpected events, including accidents. If it is a random good, we are not ready to receive it well. If it is a bad one, we don’t know how to make sense of it and deal with it.

We need to pay more attention to our genuine feelings for others and honour them without wasting time. It doesn’t matter if it is small or big, we should act at the earliest opportunity. Beyond biology, life needs to be governed by pure intentions and matching actions. If we do not honour the necessary then the unnecessary will invite randomness because no one is sincere, concentrated and happy indulging in the unnecessary. In an apathetic mood, sometimes we slip. Sometimes it can be fatal.

What Dr.Arun needed was complementary friends. He simply did not want to be anyone other than a healer. But we acted in a way that is common to our age: An individualistic outlook. We expect people to be financially smart first and then a healer, a teacher, an artist, a scientist, a farmer... We define “smart” as a way of thinking and living that helps a person accumulate material wealth. The assumption being, with material wealth in place, anyone can then pursue their calling. All the evidence says otherwise. If one is busy being smart, there is no room to offer genuine value to others. So genuine and generous people like Dr.Arun decide to play their role and simply trust the universe and accept anything that happens. Like a government job filled with corruption or tiring train journeys. In spite of his constraints, he never stopped being himself. We came to know from the hospital that he had enrolled himself for organ donation a few years back and hence both his eyes were donated to light up two people’s lives before his body was sent home.

Let us take this tragedy to resolve within ourselves that we will pay closer attention to each others’ gifts and journeys. And arrange our days, rituals and affairs in ways that help us create a special space around. In this space, we shall not miss to smile, inquire, commune and act in innumerable ways to be in sync with each others’ needs and dreams. We are designed to complement one another.

To bring this intention to focus, let us gather to honour Dr. Arun and figure out ways to help his family, ways to continue his legacy and ways to create a space for mutual healing and nurturing.  

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Comments (5)

  • Pavi wrote ...

    Thank you Ragu for this moving tribute and reflection. Though I didn't have the opportunity to meet Dr. Arun I've heard so much about him. What a luminous being. Deep gratitude for honoring his legacy in this forward looking way.

  • Viral wrote ...

    what a powerful reflection -- much gratitude to you for sharing it, and for you both, for who you are. sending much love to all, esp dr. arun's family and friends.

  • Jayendra Shah wrote ...

    Very insightful tribute and reflections on Dr Arun's life, contributions and your interactions with him and his life. Love, respect and reverence to you both for your tremendous life journey. Will be keen to join you in any way to help Dr Arun's faily

  • Anupreet Dhody wrote ...

    Thank you Ragu for sharing so beautifully. It came as a reminder once again, to prioritize my days, and time.

    In our neighborhood, there is an old man, who serves so selflessly. For several years, I've seen him heal people with naturopathy and acupressure. And he does all of this for free. He is such a simple man, and always calm and happy.

    I have been out of touch with him for several months, and I often think of him, but rarely visit him, unless there is some work :( Thanks to this blog, I was reminded of him and fied up a time to meet him soon :)

    I wonder how can we really serve such selfless beings.. They never openly express their needs, and often re-direct their offerings to someone more needy. But there are several ways in which I can offer my time and energy to support the good work he does. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  • Neil wrote ...

    Ragu, thanks for this sharing and tribute to Dr. Arun. It has opened up my perspective on what it means to support friends and loved ones.

    Lots of love and good wishes to Dr. Arun's family and friends.