M.K. Bhasi – Leading SNM
His village had been just a couple of miles from where Sree Narayana Guru had spent his last days. Thus, M.K. Bhasi had grown up influenced by the Guru’s philosophy. “I was interested in his teachings, because of the secular nature of his teachings. He went against all the old convictions and beliefs of the communities and society. I was guided by his main teaching, ‘That the human race is one’. It is a unique teaching – to be a good human being, you can still be without a religion. How many others have said it? No one has said it so openly. He built temples – not to propagate religion but education”.
It was, therefore, natural for Bhasi to gravitate towards the Sree Narayana Mission when he landed in Singapore in 1953. The Mission had been registered just five years prior. Not only was it a familiar entity, it was in keeping with his own secular values, “I have never worshipped in a temple. My wife used to go but I never entered”. At the Mission, Bhasi could apply the Guru’s principles, which resonated with him. The Mission operated oblivious to its members’ religious beliefs. In due course, Bhasi was elected into the Mission’s Executive Committee. “I had Muslims in my Committee and all others in my Committee,” he recalls.
Bhasi has held the position of Mission’s Ex-Co President for a total of 17 years; a record in Singapore’s social service circles. He had also been its Vice-President for two years and one of its Trustees for a few years. “My name was proposed at meetings and there were no other proposals. So, I found it difficult to decline,” Bhasi explains his extensive years of leadership in the Mission. His sense of wanting to live according to the Guru’s values must have also prompted him to continue leading the Mission in the face of any hurdles he faced. “I always believed that in public service, you won’t get anything in return. Instead of thanking you, people will be blaming you. That has been my attitude from the beginning. I did what was necessary. I tried to do my best. I am happy that the Mission has become a very well-known institution in Singapore. It has become bigger and better and I am happy about that. I made friends that I would not have come across had I not been involved in the Mission. We ensured we did not expand too much; concentrate on one thing and do it well. That was the advice from Dr Vasoo and the officials from the Ministries who were helping us.” Dr Vasoo was a high ranking and active social worker who became a Member of Parliament in Singapore from 1984 to 2001.
TDespite challenges in juggling his teaching job with his responsibilities at the Mission, Bhasi had not only successfully held things up at both ends, he had also ensured both flourished. He had also nurtured his passion for poetry, writing several Malayalam poems and publishing anthologies of the same. Through the years, he has indeed walked the path of a leader true to the Guru’s tenets.