There is no bigger religion than humanity. This much needed spirit was displayed in true spirit by Rajya Sabha MP Syed Naseer Hussain. Hussain performed the last rights of his friend and colleague Professor Savitri Vishwanathan, a Brahmin, whose family could not perform her last rights as they are in difficult times due to Covid.
Savitri Vishwanathan, a retired professor of Japanese studies from Delhi University, succumbed to Covid-19 on May 5 in Bengaluru. Professor Savitri and her sister were admitted in a hospital after they had tested positive for Covid-19. As professor Savitri’s sister is still under treatment for Covid-19, there was no one to perform her last rites. Hussain performed her last rites and arranged for her cremation through BBMP. Along with his wife, he performed Savitri’s last rituals according to the Hindu customs and immersed her ashes in river Cauvery.
Hussain said, “Savitri was a close friend, colleague and neighbour. Her sister is still being treated for Covid. When none of her relatives could come here, we took the responsibility as a family and completed rituals as per her religious traditions.”
Savitri was a teacher and researcher of the Japanese language, history and politics. She also headed the Department of Chinese and Japanese studies at the university. Savitri made immense contribution to the development and promotion of Japanese language through her academic work and nurturing scholars. She assisted prime ministers and foreign ministers of India in their official talks in Japan. She was also a member of the Japan-India Eminent Person’s Group (2000-2002). Her numerous publications include a translation of Shimazaki Toson’s novel Hakai into Hindi (Avagna) and Tamil (Dalit Padumpadu). The Japanese government awarded her the PM’s prize in 1967 and the order of the Precious Crown, Wistaria in 1982. Savitri settled in Bengaluru in the mid-90s with her younger sister Dr Mahalakshmi Atreyi post their retirement.