This passing away maybe a pause for my teacher to invigorate himself for another relentless academic work in the next life— this is the thought that came to my mind when I heard the saddest and most shocking news of my teacher Prof. Dilip Kumar Chakravarty’s demise on February 1, 2022 midnight. He was 84.
Though he was sick for the past few years, Prof. Chakravarty’s inexorable study and research never made his friends, colleagues, and students feel that this fated day would come so early. Even during his serious sickness, he promised me an article for my edited volume titled Understanding Mind, Consciousness and Person last year. However, his asthma-hit frail body did not allow him to keep the promise eventually.
Prof. DKC, as everyone seemed to call him, breathed philosophy! But his ailment was keeping him away from philosophy these days. Hence, maybe it was hard for him to withstand the pain of this separation!
Hailed from Cachar district of Assam where he attended school, Prof. DKC graduated from Karimganj College in 1959 with honours (First Class) in Philosophy before proceeding to Gauhati University for his postgraduate and Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy. He completed his M.A. in 1962 securing First Class. Remarkably, Prof. Chakravarty was the first First-Class holder of the department.
In the same year, he joined Gauhati University as Lecturer in Philosophy. Later in 1977, he was awarded the Ph.D. degree by the same university for his thesis on the self in psycho-analysis under the supervision of Prof. B. C. Kar.
They say hope is a skill that a student can develop over time. I got it intuitively from my teacher. When I first went to the Department of Philosophy at Gauhati University, the presence of Prof. DKC was like sunshine, making the dark and damp philosophy class halls a room of revelation, interest, and hope.
An unassuming person as he had been, he was always approachable to his students. I still remember my teacher would come down from the dais when we asked questions after his enlightening classes and say “I have a hearing problem. Please speak loudly”.
His humble and compassionate nature attracted research scholars from different corners of the state and beyond for guidance. I am very fortunate to be supervised by him in my Ph.D degree. Probably no one would know better than me how it is a matter of pride for a research scholar to have a supervisor who is one of the giants in the subject and is revered by all.
When I remember my Ph.D. heydays, I do hear the appreciating words “Your supervisor is very good” that the interview board uttered in unison during my interview for JRF-ICPR in 2003 at the ICPR office, New Delhi.
He made a huge contribution to not one but several areas of philosophical study, principally Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics, Psychology, and Philosophy of Religion. Apart from the thought-provoking research papers, he wrote for different journals, his noteworthy books are Self in Psycho-Analysis, Problems of Analytic Ethics, Fundamental Questions of Epistemology and Metaphysics, and the edited volume Perspectives in Contemporary Philosophy.
His book in epistemology and metaphysics has been a handy guide to modern and contemporary philosophy. His work on analytic ethics is equally pioneering.
Being a devotee of knowledge, though, he loved to continue his studies in seclusion, his knowledge and expertise expanded his professional horizon to reach out to the Statutory Body like UGC and research institutes like ICPR, New Delhi. He was the Member of ICPR, Member of Panel on Philosophy, UGC, Nodal Person of Curriculum Development Committee, UGC, and the UGC Nominee on the ICPR (for three years from 2006).
Very inspiringly, he remained with his better half fascinated by and devoted to philosophy till the end of his life. Even in his retired life, there seems no diminution in his academic activity and research interests. It seems like he had been there for the students and research scholars as “I am there for you” guiding them in their studies and investigations.
A real gift and talent to the Philosophia, Prof. DKC left footprints that all budding academics like myself would wish to follow. The legacy of extraordinary brilliance that he left is now an asset to the philosophy loop of this nation and beyond.
It is incumbent upon us to carry forward the legacy of this great philosopher who portrayed with his stalwart efforts the philosophical practices of this small region called Assam to the world philosophical society.
Though we, the philosophy fraternity, are saddened at his demise, our grief is annealed by the fond memories of his elegance and the enlightening teaching, and the insight profusely displayed in his many important ideas, published and unpublished works.