Remembering Prof Jayantha H -the Man Who Kindled Interest in Astronomy Among People
Mangaluru: The Man who Kindled Interest in Astronomy among People, Jayantha K, a retired professor of Chemistry at St Agnes College, Bendore-Mangaluru who passed away a couple of days ago due to cardiac arrest at the age of 66 is very much remembered and sadly missed by many, including students whom he had educated and mentored. He is survived by his mother, wife and two daughters. He used to send the activities reports of his various projects he conducted, and every time he was present during the press meets of St Agnes College held at Press Club, he used to interact with Yours Truly and was very humble and polite in his conversation. Team Mangalorean expresses heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family members-May His Soul Rest in Peace!
Prof Jayantha H, joined the department of Chemistry St Agnes College, Mangaluru as an Assistant Professor on 8 July 1976. As a loyal and genuine person with the singular interest of students and society, he served the college in different capacities as a Professor, HOD and Dean. His contribution to the college through the field of education is immense. The dedicated and committed professor had inspired many people from the city to get interested in astronomy, where he used to introduce his students and other interested people to the wonders of the sky like eclipses and comets. He had even rented a house at Saripalla near Kulshekar in the outskirts of the City, where he used to unfold the mysteries of the celestial world for the benefit of the people. He was always active in conducting a number of activities through Mangalore Amateur Astronomers Association.
As an effective and dedicated Chemistry teacher, he instilled a genuine thirst for knowledge through efficient teaching and analytical skills among his colleagues and students. He was a man who lived for others. He would spend a long time with students and teachers discussing matters of subject, current affairs and other interests. He gave hands-on experience to students through the workshops and industrial visits organised by the department. Students were able to host exhibitions at Pilikula Regional Science Center and National Jamboree of Bharat Scouts and Guides, Mysore under his able guidance. He won the hearts of all through his smile and gentle ways.
Astronomy was his special field of interest. He conducted various workshops on Astronomy for the students, teachers and general public. He organized a number of programmes on Sky Watch during Eclipses and special Celestial Events. Sunday Science School activity at St Agnes College was the fruit of his creative thinking and achievement in creating scientific temperament in the young minds. The college was able to reach out to several students and society through this activity. He had an interest in a number of different fields including Yakshagana, Dramas, Music, trekking etc. Being a simple and nobleman, he had a friendly nature and respected everyone, including the younger generation. Prof Jayantha organized a number of experiments to teach science to the children in its real sense for many years, including activities like Sunday Science School.
Sr Venissa AC, the Principal St Agnes College said, “St Agnes College was very dear to him and considered it as his second home. He loved the campus as he spent most of his active years on this campus as a student at St Agnes higher Primary School and as a Professor at St Agnes College for 38 years. He was proud of his father who was a teacher at St Agnes High School, Mangaluru. Though he retired from his active service on 30 November 2014 he continued his service to the society through the College and other centres. He paid frequent visits to the college and willingly contributed his ideas for the development of the college. He was a committed teacher, dedicated leader, talented singer, actor, highly intellectual yet a simple, humble, disciplined and straightforward person. Through the untimely death of our dear Prof Jayantha, the College has lost a noble soul, guide and mentor. We pay a loving tribute to him and pray for everlasting peace and happiness in his heavenly abode”.
Dr Malini Hebbar Department of English PG-St Agnes College writes, “Jayantha Sir brings to my mind the words of Robin Sharma: “When you care for Integrity as more valuable than Income, Honour as richer than Fame, Self-worth as wealthier than Net worth, you can rest assured that you have lived life well”. Sir believed in simple living and high thinking and was a fine example of encapsulating all philosophy in two words: sustain and abstain. A man of modesty, in him, was ingenuity coupled with humility. Though gifted with intelligence and talent, his hallmark was his hard work. His methodical approach to his work made him churn out excellent feats for the institution that he served with total dedication”.
“Some people leave an indelible mark on our minds because of their vitality, originality, and creativity, some more because of their adaptability, ability, and reliability, and a few more because of their credibility, accountability and honesty. In Sir’s case, while all these virtues were true to his nature, what made him a guru, in the true sense of the word, was his nobility. He will never cease to live in the memory of his students, colleagues, friends and dear ones for such was his admirable nature”, added Dr Hebbar.
Dr Cheryl Saldanha from the UK, alumni of St Agnes College said, “Prof Jayantha was a great teacher, great mentor, great adviser, great man, whose simplicity, loyalty and knowledge had inspired me to be his student in 1992. He was a most balanced inside out person, and respected everyone equally, and was very friendly while interacting with people and students. I very much appreciate his way of teaching and the depth in his knowledge, passion towards science and love towards students, which has benefited every student, including myself. He was knowledgeable par excellence as a Professor-sadly missed”.
Dr Devi Prabha Alva, Associate Professor of St Agnes College (Autonomous), Mangaluru says, “Prof. Jayantha H will never be forgotten by the stakeholders of St Agnes College, Mangaluru for his selfless and dedicated services to the progress of the institution. Though he loved his wife and two daughters very fondly, his time and energy were always prioritised for the duties and responsibilities at the college. He is truly a person of high thinking and simple living. I don’t remember him having an android phone till his retirement. But his immense knowledge of the latest developments in academics and issues related to administration is highly commendable. He was a multi-talented person with skills in singing, Veena/Tabla playing, acting, gardening etc. More than anything, he was a student-friendly teacher and was admired by students and faculty members from various colleges in and around Mangaluru. This was possible for his keen interest in astronomy and to disseminate his knowledge amongst the youngsters through workshops, seminars, Sunday science school etc. He was an asset to St Agnes College as a noble, committed, hard-working and visionary teacher. We salute him with gratitude for his generous contributions to mankind”.
Prof Rekha Rao, an alumnus of St Agnes College 1987 batch said, ” Prof Jayantha Sir was a great Human being, very calm and pleasant in nature, and we had full confidence in his teaching. always gave us confidence. As a great and dedicated teacher, a brilliant chemist, he was also a great lover of the universe. He was a soft-spoken, simple and kind man. His teaching has made me what I am now as a Chemistry professor in a college in Mumbai, teaching my students by following in the footsteps of Prof Jayantha Sir. You will be cherished as a brilliant teacher and a wonderful human being. Thank you for being a part of our life and memories”.
Miss Anita S H, a 2008 B Sc student of St Agnes College, now settled in Bengaluru writes, “Sir, was a dedicated and knowledgeable chemistry teacher and a great science educator, and he was my inspiration. His teaching has helped me now to become a research scientist at a pharmaceutical US-based company in Bengaluru. I still remember Sir’s inspiring personality, his dedicated and committed service, and his encouraging and motivating words, while I was his student. He was a man of principles, highly knowledgeable yet down to earth, with simple living but high thinking. Dear Sir, You will always be in my memory and you will be remembered for what you were to me and my batch mates of 2008 B Sc”.
Speaking to mangalorean.com Stany D’Souza from USA, a close friend of Prof Jayanth said, “It is with deep sadness, I have to accept the fact that Professor Hiranya Jayantha is no more. I had the honour to meet Prof. Jayantha during Halley’s comet grand appearance in 1986. We arranged live sky shows for 45 days in the St Aloysius campus ground facilitated by Dr K V Rao, Professor of Physics, St Aloysius College. During this time Prof Jayantha showed immense interest, knowledge and experience regarding Astronomy and its phenomenon. His keen interest in Astronomy and to share his knowledge among the school and college students and the general public at large. As a result of this Amateur Astronomers Association Mangalore was formed. For the first in any college history of Mangalore, St Agnes College closed its college (early release) to have the students observe the Mercury Transition in 1987, at St Agnes College Special School Grounds”.
Stany D’Souza further said, “In the same year, there was a live instant announcement in All India Radio Mangalore about the lunar eclipse conducted by our Association under the leadership of Prof Jayantha. Under his leadership, there were number of slide shows and sky shows arranged by our association, which were appreciated by the school, college and university faculty and students; and as well the general public. This is all due to Prof Jayantha’s keen interest in Science. Prof Jayantha had the ability to simplify any complex astronomical phenomenon in simple layman terms. Although 99% of the Mangalore’s population believed in 1980’s decade not viewing the solar eclipse because of ill-fate striking them and never came out of the house during that time and not only that, they covered their windows with blankets or mattresses, due to Prof Jayantha’s education to the public through practical simple demonstrations and publication in the media and by conducting numerous astronomical events, he changed the views of the masses of Mangalore and surrounding districts. He was a simple and humble human being as reflected by everyone who were in touch with him. He wanted to inculcate in the young children, scientific curiosity through not only teaching them the basic concepts of science but also, providing them with the opportunity to have hands-on experience of the concepts and productive uses. He is instrumental in creating this hands-on experience for thousands of children statewide. Through his association, I have gained rich experience of simplicity, exhibiting cool temperaments in challenging situations and his depth of knowledge. I am honoured to salute the great soul of Prof H Jayantha, a great true humanitarian”.
In conclusion, Most people can remember one teacher above others from kindergarten through college who stands out as being the most inspiring and influential of all his or her educators. Am I correct in saying that Professor Jayantha H falls into this category who has inspired so many of his students throughout his life, and after his death still remember his good work and being a great teacher spreading the knowledge about science and arts-such a knowledgeable person he was. No doubt that he was a scholar, an astronomy enthusiast and an expert in helping St Agnes institution prepare for academic autonomy. Looking at all these messages, I can say that Prof Jayantha was committed to teaching and research and he expected his colleagues to have similarly high standards. In fact, he was anything but a modest man, always friendly and mixed with everyone. His intelligence, right-minded leadership, and warm personality were inspirational to all who knew him. And this is a fitting tribute to Prof Jayantha’s commitment to education, and his wonderful talent for teaching, as said by the above people.