Being able to shower affection on anyone without need for affection yourself –that’s freedom.

 -Jaggi Vasudev (b.1957), Founder of Isha Foundation

Love, care and affection are essential ingredients of human well-being. They are emotional bonds that connect us with others and make us feel valued and secured. The success of long-term relationships depends heavily on the quality of our emotional connection with each other.

Sometime during April 1971, I had taken my maternal aunt to a house in Malleswaram (western part of Bangalore) where one of her relatives had just moved in as tenant. The owner of the house Malathi Rangaswamy, who was living in the adjacent house happened to be wife of my aunt’s second cousin Rangaswamy. Hence, my aunt wished to visit her cousin’s family also.  Malathi mami (as I called her) enthusiastically welcomed us and was very hospitable. Subsequently I had met Malathi mami at couple of weddings and found her deeply engrossed in conversations with some of my relatives.

During early December 1979 Malathi mami visited our home to meet my parents with a view to propose her only daughter to me. After our families had a couple of interactions, I got engaged with Hema on 24th January 1980.  Before visiting my parents, with the help of her network Malathi mami had done the required due diligence on my background apart from understanding how responsible I am towards family.

I got some insight into her deep affection towards her daughter from a poem that she wrote and sent me in the form of a greeting card during March 1980, on the occasion of Ugadi[1] celebrated as New Year day in this part of the world, a few weeks before our wedding.


Herewith my fond wishes I send,

For a new year, unique of its kind,

That bringeth you a gift of your life,

In the form of an adoring wife.

Her wants are simple, she’s humble.

But her thoughts and views are truly noble.

She knows not what jealousy is,

And can adjust herself with comfort and ease.

Her company is always a spring of delight,

Her presence in your family shall bring more light.

May she bring you luck and cheer,

Make the path of your life smooth and clear

Let her fill thy heart as an inspiring bride,

Make thy home a heaven of joy and pride.

With all the achievements of matrimony

May you both live long with peace and harmony!

Through these simple sixteen lines, she not only highlighted her daughter’s nature, but also hinted what a treasure she’s handing me over and subtly suggesting that I take care of her treasure! Her deep sense of affection towards her family members invariably found expression through poems written for specific occasions.

Malathi Rangaswamy (1931-2017) was born as the eldest of five children (three daughters and two sons) to Raghavachar and Seethalakshmi at Mysore. During 1930s her father was working as an auditor with Comptroller of Audit, Mysore Government at Hirebhaskar, about 20 Kms from Jog Falls, where a dam was being built to generate electricity. As there was no school nearby, Malathi mami and her two immediate siblings grew up at Mysore with their maternal grand-father, a Primary school teacher and an orthodox Srivaishanavite. In 1948 when she was studying Intermediate (today’s equivalent of Pre-University) she got married to Rangaswamy, resident of Mysore and a High-school teacher, who also belonged to an orthodox family. Thus, practising orthodoxy had become a way of life for her.

Being orthodox, however no way deterred Malathi mami’s interest in education, literature and music. Even as a child she excelled in drama, maths and music apart from literature. She had a natural flair for languages and was well versed with English, Hindi, Kannada, Sanskrit and Tamil. During early 1956 she visited Nagpur with her eight month old son to help her mother (her father after retirement from Mysore government service had joined then Madhya Pradesh Government in 1951 as Financial Advisor). Knowing her daughter’s interest in education, Malathi mami’s mother suggested, ‘while I take care of your son, you can do a Bachelor’s degree’ (her immediate younger sister was studying final year B.A during that academic year). She took up the suggestion seriously and got her B.A from Nagpur University as a private candidate. This was rare in those days, more so for an orthodox home-maker with a few months old baby!

Since 1970s, as her two brothers were away from Bangalore due to professional reasons, Malathi mami single-handedly managed the household affairs of her father’s palatial home taking care of her grand-father, mother and her own family apart from visiting relatives, almost till 1984.  While orthodox practices are more a matter of faith and belief system imbibed, managing joint family in an urban environment calls for courage, conviction and communication skills. Perhaps, affection is the source of self-confidence, happiness, security and a comfortable mental space; Malathi mami possessed these traits in abundance that enabled her to manage the joint family effectively. All through this period, she also continued to write poetry and participated in several Slogan writing contests! She had even won several prizes from Steel cupboard to Television set to gold for her crisp and concise slogans!

After passing away of her husband in 1994, Malathi mami’s spiritual orientation took her to all corners of the country. She visited several temples, some of them with her Aacharya (a prominent spiritual teacher and a spiritual guide). She had visited all the 106 divya desams[2] praised by the saints. A few of her travelogues from these visits to temples were published in Sri Ranganatha Paduka, a monthly magazine brought out by Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashram[3].

As Malathi mami was turning eighty in 2011, Hema decided to surprise her mother by bringing out an anthology of poems written by her in English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil spread over several decades. With the help of our son Hari, a book titled Expressions was published and it was formally released by Smt. Mangala Ramachandra, Hon. Secretary, Malleswaram Ladies Association group of Educational Institutions at a simple function in the presence of her siblings, a few relatives and friends.

Hari in association with his uncle Dr. Srikrishna who is based out of the United States of America had established WISE (Wisdom in Simple English) foundation in 2011 with the main objective of making Indian wisdom drawn from various scriptures that are more than 5000 years old, available in simple English and accessible to everyone. Having understood his grand-mother’s interest in literature and command over Kannada, sometime during 2015 Hari suggested her to collaborate with him in translating Mankuthimmana Kagga,[4] a popular work in Kannada by the well-known philosopher-journalist D.V.Gundappa (1887-1975) into simple English. She not only agreed to collaborate, but took the work so seriously that Hari, fifty two years younger to his grand-mother, found it difficult to keep pace with her enthusiasm and speed!

English translation of Kagga titled, Foggy Fool’s Farrago was formally released by Shatavadhni Dr.R.Ganesh, Practitioner of art of avadhana[5] and Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy, senior Journalist-biographer-environmentalist at a well-attended function during October 2016. The release function coincided with Malathi mami turning eighty five! This was followed shortly by another proud moment for her; she released ‘Sixty years, Sixty episodes’, an autobiography written by her daughter, Hema on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday celebration during February 2017.

Apart from a deep sense of affection towards her relatives and friends, Malathi mami had lot of respect for scholars and musicians. A strong sense of faith in her Aacharya and the Almighty was rewarded in the form of instantaneous and peaceful end to her fulfilling life led with affection and responsibility on 23rd July 2017.


[1] Ugadi also known as Samvatsarādi (meaning “beginning of the year”), is New Year’s Day according to the Lunisolar Calendar and is celebrated in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Goa in India.

[2] Divya desam Temples are the Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars (saints). ”Divya” means “premium” and “Desam” indicates “place” (temple).

[3] Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam is an institution that is over three hundred years old, and belongs to the Sri Vaishnava tradition. It follows the teachings of vishishtadvaita, as propounded by Bhagavad Ramanuja and Srimad Vedanta Desika

[4] Kagga deals with wide variety of topics ranging from God, Existence, Work, Life and what not and also it can be related to any sect of people no matter what they do in life- academicians, workers, saints, sportsperson and who not.

[5] Avadhāna (attention, attentiveness) is based on the showcasing of the mastery of memory, creativity, retention, multitasking and task-switching as well as other cognitive abilities.


March 03, 2024 | Ravi 74