Rajindar S. Luthar (1926-2004): By Harsh K. Luthar

The Last Summer

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my father Rajindar S. Luthar passing away. I think about him often. He was my guide and counselor.

Like me, my father was a professor. His area was mathematics which he loved teaching. He was also a scholar and enjoyed publishing. He founded a Math Journal called Delta which eventually merged with another journal. He was an excellent cook and enjoyed entertaining at parties. He was truly multidimensional in his views and approach to life. We talked about everything. Politics, food, men and women, money, religion, gurus, relationships, marriage, sex. No topic was off bounds.

My father was not much into visiting temples or holy places but was a staunch Hindu and exemplified all that is best and noble in Hinduism. He often had dreams of various saints, rishis, munis, and gurus and loved to describe them in minute detail to me. He told me that he dreamt about Jesus Christ as well. I asked him how he knew it was Jesus.

“I just knew”, he said, in a matter of fact way.

Throughout his life, my father was very psychic. One time when he was in America, he dreamt that someone very close to him was being electrocuted. He immediately woke up and started praying. The person in the dream was my younger four-year-old brother who had been caught in live electric wires when we (our cousins and us) were playing on the roof of my uncle’s shop in India.

That was back in 1964. From 10,000 miles away, my father had dreamt that someone he loved was in trouble and acted to send his protection and prayers. My brother was very badly burned all over his skin but miraculously survived. He gradually recovered fully and the burn marks on his body eventually disappeared.

Although he was a mathematics professor, my father enjoyed talking about philosophy and religion. He was tolerant and liberal and accepting of all people but at the same time full of humor; sometimes irreverent humor, about religion and gurus. He told me many stories about fake gurus in India. “All these gurus, pretending to be so holy and pious; they love women, sex, and money!” He would say and then have a hearty laugh.

Because I was interested in all those things having to do with yoga and meditation, my father often cautioned me about gurus when I was a teenager and suggested that I be very careful. “Many gurus even like young boys!” he said to me many times in warning. My father left no stone unturned doing his best to make me aware of the realities of life when I was young. Sometimes I thought he was way too overprotective and controlling.

When I reached 30, I started thinking that he did his duty as a father well. When I reached 40, I realized that he was much wiser than I thought. By the time he passed away, I had realized that he was a sage.

Now, I remember my father as kind and generous with smiling eyes. At times, he had a huge all consuming laughter that drew others in. I miss him every day.

Quality of Life Trust – India: By Richard Clarke

My wife and I have started working with Quality of Life Trust – India – http://www.qualityoflife.in/.

They are located right next to Tiruvannamalai and working on village issues. India is going through many changes, and the villages are seeing the most change, so we thing this is a good place for our efforts.

There are two projects they are working on. The first is with the elderly in the village. Some have no place to live and are sleeping on the doorsteps of houses, etc. In some cases it is the doorstep of the house they owned. Then their children got them to give the house to them. Then there was a problem like drinking, and the child lost the house, and the parent had no place to live. The Trust is providing meals to these elders, and helping them with medical treatments. They hope to build some kind of housing in the future. My wife has experience working with the elderly and will help this project.

The other project is for composting toilets. In villages many many people do not have toilets. People will go in nearby fields. Sometimes they are bitten by snakes. Always there is the concern for personal privacy, expecially for the women. There are also problems of disease, etc. This project is building a kind of toilet developed else where in India that does not need water or a sewer connection/septic tank. To add to the appeal, and based on what these local vilages said they are also adding a shower room. This trust has gotten funding from another trust, Bless, and has just started a project to build 50 toilets in the village. I am helping them with project management. These toilets seem to meet a real need, and in addition they produce high quality fertilizer that can be used in the fields.

Working with them this week I got a chance to see the excitement that this was creating in the village. As we were at on house, planning for the foundation (and taking down some banana trees) the neighbor got so excited that he had the crew go to his house and see what kind of site that he had to build on.

These are small things that have a real impact on the lives of the villagers. You should see how proud the man was to be involved in this project, and making life better for his family.