When you think of an ideal teacher the name of Prof. D. B. Mathur comes to the mind immediately. He had almost all the qualities that make someone a great teacher.
The foremost quality I observed in him was his love for students. He enjoyed being with them. He took extra pains, well beyond his duties, to help students like me and many others. He would spend hours with the students at his home, in the staff room or even in University Canteen. He loved dispelling doubts of novices, engaging them in discussions, attentively listening to their inarticulate logic and conclusions and then with all humility at his command would dissect them thread bare. We, as students were amazed about his seriousness in studies and admired the patience with which he would give ear to our rambling.
He was affection personified for his students. He had his own political views but they never coloured his dealing with students. He would narrate both for and against arguments and evidence about a topic, and leave it for the students to make their own judgment.
Another great quality of Prof Mathur was his devotion to the profession of teaching. He never hankered for administrative positions and was more than satisfied with life as a teacher. His father was also a teacher so he might have inherited the trait.
As a research scholar, I visited his home frequently. On numerous occasions Mrs. Mathur prepared Jain food for me when I stayed there for a long period of time.
I personally learnt a lot from him. One of the things which he always hammered at was that English is not our mother tongue and we should not feel ashamed to consult a dictionary for help. He rather insisted that the first book a student should purchase is a standard dictionary. I learnt the intelligent use of many English words such as vista, inordinate, stupendous and others from him. Although he had a good command over English, he always kept a dictionary at hand to clarify the meaning or check the spelling of a difficult word. (Those were the pre-Google days.) I learnt this habit of a keeping dictionary or now downloading it the first thing on my iPad. To my students I teach the same thing and the tradition is carried forward.
His patience with students, his humility of a scholar, his simplicity of a teacher and his compassion as a human being made him one of the most popular teachers of the department and consequently he was always found 'gheraoed' by students in the department.
Unfortunately he left this world early but his mark as a teacher is imprinted on thousands of students like me and we will always cherish his memory.
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