A Spiritual Space Scientist

Dr U,R. Rao, RIP

TO WRITE ON  A  DEATH FOR THE second  consecutive day is not unusual for someone nearing it himself.


As I wrote yesterday and earlier, I will tell my own personal experience about Dr. Udupi Ramachandra Rao, popular as Dr. U. R. Rao, who passed away on July 24 (the same day as another scientist, Prof. Yash Pal, I wrote about yesterday..)

Dr. Rao was well-known for the launch of Aryabhata satellite and his contributions to India’s space science.

He was one person I always used to meet in the 1980s at every parents-teachers meeting of a famous school run by a swamiji, pontiff of  one of the eight mutts (Hindu religious congregations) of Udupi which manage the famous Krishna temple in that town by turn. And the swamiji headed of the mutt at  Admar – where  Dr Rao was born in 1932.

I had never seen Dr. Rao without a full suit. To the parents’ meet too he used to come in full suit and lay fully on the ground  to prostrate (Sashtang namaskar) at Admar Mutt swaimiji’s feet with a total humility that had to be seen to be believed.

Another parent at the meeting used to be Kannada cinema’s greatest superstar, Dr. Raj Kumar, equally humble and self-effacing. It is only great men like them can be so humble.

As the chairman of Indian Space Research Organiastion from 1984 t0 1994 he was one India’s top scientists.  Listing the honours and fellowships he was  bestowed would fill pages. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan. Google and Wikipedia will tell you all about him.

But the image of him flat on the ground prostrating before Admar Mutt swamiji is one which cannot be erased from my mind and cannot he found published anywhere.


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