21 December 1921 – 5 January 1982

Mr. Appu Raman was one God-intoxicated servant who made the Bahá’í Faith the center of his life and served with distinction across the varied needs of the Faith, and in the process achieved unprecedented milestones for the Faith and unwittingly won for himself the love and admiration of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia and the Supreme Body.

Appu Raman who was fondly known as Raman was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 December 1921 and came with his parents to Klang town in the state of Selangor in the then Malaya at the age of seven in 1928. In 1946, upon completion of his Senior Cambridge Examinations, he applied for a job that was advertised and one that he liked- that of Welfare Assistant in the Ministry of Welfare Services under the British colonial rule in the then Malaya. He went for a Diploma in Social Science in the University Malaya that was based in Singapore in  those days. He was then transferred to Alor Star town in the state of Kedah in 1958 to take up the post of State Welfare Officer.

When Mrs Theresa Chee, the eldest daughter of Yankee Leong accepted the Faith in 1960 at a Summer School in Port Dickson in the presence of Hand of the Cause of God Dr Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir, the much-loved Hand requested her to teach the Faith in her hometown of Alor Star. Upon returning to Alor Star, she gave the Faith to one Radhakrishnan who accepted the Faith. Radhakrishnan, unfortunately, did not remain in the Cause. But he mentioned to Theresa Chee about one Raman, a Welfare Officer and an active trainer at the St. John’s Ambulance, who had been inquiring about this new religion. Theresa met up with Raman, who, at that time while more interested in politics, was also keen to learn more about the Bahá’í Faith. She invited him to her house and introduced the Bahá’í teachings. By this time, it seems that he had already read the book “Renewal of Civilization” by David Hoffman which someone else had given him. Theresa on her part gave Raman the book “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” by Dr E. John Esslemont. He took the book home and read with great interest until 4:00 in the morning. Moved by the irrefutable claims of Bahá’u’lláh as the Supreme Manifestation of God for the day and His stupendous teachings so relevant to today’s failing world, Raman accepted the Faith. Although steeped in the Hindu religion, he was able to see the fulfilment of the Hindu prophecies in the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. That was the dawn of a new day in his life, and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Faith in Malaysia, as evidenced by the indelible traces of remarkable services Raman left behind. Both Theresa Chee and Raman became the two luminaries of the Cause in Alor Star, through whom several others accepted the Faith.

Appu Raman with the family of Theresa Chee and visiting friends, Leong Tat Chee and Yankee Leong, 1961

Upon accepting the Faith, Raman immediately cut off from his political inclination and involvement and started to labour in the path of God with inexhaustible energy that he put into all his endeavours. He read whatever books that were available to him and participated whole-heartedly in all Bahá’í activities. In Alor Star, he brought into the Faith Mr Kanniah Adaikkalam, who would in 1968 pioneer to India and later to Africa. In 1961, when the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Alor Star was elected, Raman served as its Chairman and allowed his spacious government quarters to be used as one of the meeting places for community gatherings. When Yankee Leong and Leong Tat Chee visited Alor Star to assist Theresa Chee, a promise they made when Theresa accepted the Faith in the Summer School in August 1960, Raman was delighted to meet these two dear servants of the Faith and gained a deeper understanding of the Faith.

Raman participated in a gathering held in Port Dickson in the first week of September 1961 on the occasion of the visit by the Hand of the Cause of God Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum. That gathering had an overwhelming impact on Raman, listening to Amatu’l-Bahá’s talk on several aspects of the teachings and stories of the Guardian, which he was still unaware of, given that he was a new believer. He was moved by Amatu’l-Bahá’s urging of the believers to work hard to bring to a triumphant victory the goals of the Ten-Year Crusade and thereby bring gladness to the heart of the beloved Guardian.

In the same year of 1961, Raman made a move to secure a burial ground for the Alor Star community, through one Mr Karunakaran Nair, Chairman of a Malayan Indian-based political party, a State Assemblyman, and member of the Executive Council of the Kedah State Government. Unable to deny the request of this friend whom he held in high esteem, Mr Nair gave his word that he would take up the matter with the state government.

In 1962, the Department of Social Welfare of Malaya wanted to select an officer to go the United States of America on a United Nations Fellowship Program to undergo a Rehabilitation Course for the Handicapped with a  purpose of setting up a rehablitation centre in Malaya upon return. And the hardworking Raman became a natural choice, in view of the credibility he had earned in the service. And off went Raman to the United States in 1962. Back in Alor Star, Raman’s efforts paid off as the Bahá’í community obtained a burial ground in Alor Star in 1964, through follow-up efforts taken by the Local Spiritual Assembly.

While in the United States as an official from the Department of Social Welfare of Malaya, Raman took part in Bahá’í activities whenever possible. At a Youth Conference held in Michigan City in November 1962, Raman gave an enlightening talk on “The Bahá’í Faith from Hindu Perspective.” While he was an active member of the Michigan Bahá’í community during his stay there, he also managed to visit other places. Raman spent a week in Charleston city in  West Virginia, visiting the Rehabilitation Center as part of his official mission, and became desirous of establishing a similar project in Malaya upon his return. In Virginia, Raman spoke at a public meeting and at five firesides, relating how Malaya got its independence and relating thrilling stories of the early growth of the Faith there.

While in the United States, Raman timed his working tour of Britain to attend the First Bahá’í World Congress in London in 1963, where he had the greatest bounty of meeting most of the living Hands of the Cause of God, whose soul-stirring talks penetrated his own soul. Witnessing the gathering of more than 6,000 Bahá’ís from all over the world was a sight to behold!  Stories of the triumphant victories of the Ten-Year Crusade along with the Centenary celebrations of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh had a profound impact on him. That event, as he would later recall was a life-changing experience for him. As a new believer from Alor Star he had met a few other Bahá’ís from other parts of Malaya at the gathering for the visit by Amatu’l-Bahá in the first week of September 1961, but it was at this Congress that he met for the first time many other believers from other parts of the world and bonded life-long friendship with some of them. They were all believers of the Ten- Year Crusade period, an era to which Raman too belonged.

First Bahá’í World Congress in London, 1963. Back row L-R: Dr. R. J. Wolff, S. Bhaskaran, Leong Ho San, Anthony Fernandez, Jeanne Frankel and Appu Raman. Front row L-R: Lily Chinniah, Chiang Kim Lin, Shantha, and Elinor Wolff

When Raman returned to Malaya in 1963, he was posted to Kuala Lumpur to continue as a Welfare Officer. It did not take long before he received a letter from the government appointing him to the prestigious position as the first Principal of the Rehabilitation School for the Physically Handicapped in Cheras. Raman first settled in Kajang town in the state of Selangor, and later moved into his own residence in Cheras, some nine miles from Kuala Lumpur city. He was instrumental in electing an Assembly in Cheras the year after he took up residence in Cheras. His wife, Madam Thanabakkiam too accepted the Faith, and as would his five children as they grew up. His four daughters are Swadesh, Kalavathy,  Shamala, and Nalaini, and Karunanithi, his only son. Raman set up a huge library of Bahá’í books at home and encouraged all family members to read them as and when they were free. Whenever free, he himself sat with them and went through some pages.

Appu Raman at the back with Karunanithi to his left.  Front row L-R: Shamala, Swadesh, Madam Thanabakkiam, and her mother (Missing is Nalaini )

Raman was also a long-time member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kajang since it was first elected in 1965. With his base in Cheras, he was the prime mover of opening up several rubber plantation settlements called estates to the Faith in Selangor state. These estates had a large presence of indentured labourers originally from the state of Tamil Nadu in India and who spoke Tamil, a language that Raman was fluent in. Raman embraced teaching and opening of estate areas and deepening those believers as his personal goal, thus becoming a pioneer in that area of service and setting an exemplary record that was unrivalled or surpassed. That became his passionate area of service that he employed throughout his life. Raman opened up several rubber estates to the Faith, some of which were the Ampar Tenang Estate, Bangi Estate, Semenyih Estate, Dominion Estate, Dunedin Estate, Prang Besar Estate, Sedgely Estate, West Country Estate, and Braemar Estate, which today have given way to urban development and remain only in the pages of history. Raman paid personal attention to the development of these communities, making weekly and if needed, daily visits and in the course of these visits deepened and strengthened numerous individuals. He was there for all their family functions as well – marriages, funerals, and family gatherings, and thus truly became one of their friends. On many occasions, Raman personally and fully financed conferences held in the estates. One such event was a two day-long deepening session in a beach resort in Morib that Raman arranged during the school holidays in December 1967. The participants were the Tamil-speaking friends from the states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. He also led many of these estate communities in organising Ayyám-i-Há and Naw-Rúz celebrations. Raman trained and nurtured several Bahá’ís and Bahá’í communities, which produced strong believers, who themselves, in turn, took on individual teaching and administration initiatives.

Raman, seated at the extreme left at a two day-long deepening session at a beach resort in Morib  in December 1967.

Although busy serving a vast area in the state of Selangor, Raman was much sought out throughout the country, especially in Tamil- speaking communities, becoming a father figure for Tamil school teachers and Tamil-educated believers. In all his official travels across the country, he found ways to visit those Tamil-speaking communities, families, and isolated believers and Tamil schoolteachers. For the benefit of the Tamil-speaking believers, Raman translated the compilation of “Words of Wisdom” into the Tamil language and conducted deepening sessions with the believers. He was very well-organised in conducting deepening sessions for the Tamil-speaking friends. He would start a series of deepening sessions on specific topics and upon energetic and systematic completion, he would select another topic. His favourite was the stories related to the life of Bahá’u’lláh, especially on His infinite mercy, and the extraordinary powers of the Manifestation.

Raman teaching the Cause in an estate

Raman played a great role in handling opposition to believers in the estate communities through his deep knowledge of Hinduism and the Indian culture. He was a tower of strength for the believers in the estate areas, always providing strong and sustained support. He was very active in a wide range of activities that enabled him to penetrate both the English and Tamil speaking communities with his fluency in those languages.  His house was a home for everyone. He was one of the favourite “uncles”, an endearing term of respect of the Malaysian Bahá’í youth who sought so much guidance and love from him in personal meetings with him and at youth gatherings. Bahá’ís flocked to his house seeking guidance, assistance, and clarification on the Faith.

Visit of friends to Appu Raman’s home, December 1968. Standing L-R: Dr. N. Soraya from Indonesia, Counselor Vasudevan from India, (Unknown) Appu Raman. Squatting L-R Choo Yeok Boon, R. K. Kannan, and another visitor

Raman also shouldered heavy responsibilities at the national level for the Faith from the time he returned from the United States. In 1963, Raman was the Secretary of the National Teaching Committee. In 1965, he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia and served on that institution until 1971, the year in which he served as Chairman. He was on the Editorial Board of the Malaysian Bahá’í News magazine in 1965. In the early years of the Faith in Malaysia, he was instrumental in establishing the national Ḥaẓíratu’l-Quds, and kept visiting the Centre often from his home which was not far away, and provided whatever assistance that was needed. In 1966, he drafted the guidelines and rules for the National Bahá’í bookshop, and in the same year was appointed on to the Proclamation Committee and the Temple Site Committee.

National Spiritual Assembly of 1965. L-R: K. Rajah, Yankee Leong, Anthony Fernandez, Mrs George Lee, Dr Chellie J. Sundram, Appu Raman, Inbum Chinniah, S. Vasudevan (Missing in Picture – Dr. John Fozdar)

First National Youth Seminar held at the New Era Bahá’í  School above the Foh Hup Bus Station in Kajang town in April 1967. Seated L-R: R. K. Kannan, Tushar Kanti-Paul, Leong Tat Chee, Evelyn Ng, Lily Ng, Appu Raman, and Kathleen Kanti-Paul

Raman at a deepening session at the National Youth Seminar of 1967. Second from the left is Lee Wai Kok from Kuala Pilah, and at the extreme right is Bennedict Chee, with Munusamy  to his right

When in 1967 Hand of the Cause of God Dr Muhájir called for a One Week Proclamation events in many areas of the country, Raman was appointed Organizer of Public Meetings and he sent out detailed guidance to all Local Spiritual Assemblies. Many communities sprang into action, resulting in unprecedented publicity for the Cause.  In 1971 he was appointed on the National Asli Teaching Committee, a committee set up to teach the indigenous Malaysians. In the years before his passing, he became actively involved in the Ulu Langat Local Spiritual Assembly and the project assigned to it by the National Spiritual Assembly, which is that of developing the newly acquired land in Balakong, on which was constructed Balakong Bahá’í Institute and later renamed the Yankee Leong Institute. In all these committees Raman served with great distinction and devotion.

Raman explaining the goals of the Nine-Year Plan

Raman was travelled widely across the country from the time he returned from the United States in 1963. In September 1963 Raman spoke at a Public Talk that was  organised at the Workers Union Hall Building in the remote town of Mentakab in the state of Pahang where 25 enquirers came.  He was a speaker at the State Level Teaching Conference that was held at the Double Lion Hotel at Kuala Kangsar in early 1967. When Jeanne Frankel from the United States came to Malaysia for three months from June 1968, she went around the country to meet the communities, and Raman was tasked with accompanying her as a translator of her talks into Tamil in the Tamil-speaking areas.

Appu Raman with Hand of the Cause Mr A. Q. Faizi and Inbum Chinniah, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia at the First South East Regional Bahá’í Youth Conference held in Kuala Lumpur in December 1968

In 1970 Raman gave a talk on the Bahá’í Faith over Radio Malaysia in Tamil at a primary airing time in the evening, giving the widest ever publicity for the Faith in the Tamil speaking community.

Raman was moved by the Ridvan message of 1971 from the  Universal House of Justice that called upon the Bahá’ís of Malaysia to concentrate on teaching the Chinese in Hong Kong.  In 1971, while still in civil service, he undertook a Bahá’í teaching mission to Hong Kong and Taiwan in the company of his wife. Raman must have been most galvanised by the message to embark on this visit for one who does not come from an ethnic Chinese background. After his brief visits to these countries, he went to the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette in November 1971. In speaking of his visit to Hong Kong in Chicago, he referred to that city as “the doorway to China” through which the Message of Bahá’u’lláh would soon be carried to the teeming millions of people living in that vast land. He expressed that the all-important task of taking the Faith to China had to be undertaken by the Bahá’ís all over the world, especially the youth. He strongly urged the youth to start now to learn to speak Chinese and be ready for the opportunities that very soon will arise for mass teaching in the mainland of China. After visiting the friends he made in Michigan in his previous trip in 1962 the couple proceeded to New York and then to Washington where Raman consulted with persons in health and welfare education and service to the handicapped. From there they went to London to visit the resting place of the Guardian and the Bahá’í House of Worship in Germany.

The Ramans at the centre, at the House of Worship in Wilmette, the USA with the Coordinators of the House of Worship, Mr. Caswell Ellis at left and Mr. Albert King at right (Photo courtesy: Bahá’í News, USA February 1972)

When Raman was not elected into the National Spiritual Assembly in 1972, he immediately switched his area of service to intensive field teaching, with a special focus on developing the Tamil-speaking individuals and communities in the country, an initiative he had already started in 1963 as he moved into Cheras upon returning from the USA. He was very clear that the field of service is indeed so vast and he became a protagonist in assisting the Tamil speaking communities, buoyed by the truth that there were very few Bahá’í literature translated into the Tamil language.  Until the end of his life, Raman travelled to most of the communities across the country all alone, and only on occasions others accompanied him. Mr. Nagendran Nagalingam who was living in Seremban invited Raman to assist in teaching and consolidating the believers in a vast number of estates in Negeri Sembilan state effective 1972. For the next two years, Raman was constantly going to Negeri Sembilan almost every week for consolidating the believers in the estates and would return home past midnight. A few teaching conferences were held in the Jerampadang Estate, Batu Bersawah Division which had a high concentration of believers. In one of those conferences, he gave a deepening on how to hold Nineteen Day Feasts. Nagendran says there was no estate that Raman did not cover in Negeri Sembilan state. While assisting in the state of Negeri Sembilan, he exerted equal efforts in developing the communities in the state of Selangor. The believers of the Bangi Estate trained by Raman became the first community in West Malaysia to build its own Bahá’í Centre under the Five-Year Plan of 1974 to 1979. Raman was invited to officially open the centre in January 1975 in the presence of Bahá’ís from the states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. As that centre was built on Malay reserve land, it had to be later surrendered to the owners after a period of ten years.

Due to his influential personality, integrity, upright conduct, and high positions held, he was invited, and often pressurized to hold high political positions.  A very prominent leader and Member of Parliament from the largest Indian-based political party felt that someone like Raman could be useful for the party and the community the party represented. History has it that Raman was one of the founding members of that largest Indian-based party, holding the position of Secretary-General of that party from 1947 to 1950 under its second President. That Member of Parliament met Raman by chance right in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur city, in front of the old Malayan Bank building and they conversed for an hour on the walkway, with the bystanders wondering what was going on between these two well-known figures. While the politician wanted Raman to work for his Indian race, Raman stood his ground that working for the entire human race was what the world needed today. The politician gave up after an hour’s attempt to lure Raman back into politics, but he parted with the highest respect for Raman, the Bahá’ís, and the Bahá’í Faith. Already in 1961 Raman made a firm decision to be of permanent service to the entire human race through the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, a course from which nothing whatsoever could swerve him!

Raman’s desire to pioneer to some foreign country grew stronger as his days of retirement were inching nearer. Unable to contain his desire, he in 1975 took a long leave from work to offer his services in a foreign country. Since Guyana was in need of assistance, Raman went to pioneer in Guyana.  But he had to return early owing to some developments in his family that needed his presence. His impactful services in Guyana are still well remembered to this day, as related by Rajamanickam Velu of Kuala Lumpur community who undertook travel teaching to Guyana from 1990 to 1996.

When Raman returned in 1975, he was back in service.  In 1976, he fully retired from service. At the time of his retirement, he was holding a senior post as Deputy Director of Welfare Services in the Ministry of Welfare. His was an illustrious career.  From 1965, Raman was the Principal of a rehabilitation center for the physically handicapped which not only provided vocational training for physically handicapped persons but also aided them to find employment. During his days in government service, he held important posts in humanitarian organisations and initiated several societies such as the Self-Reliant Society, the Association for the Physically Handicapped, and the Association for the Mentally Retarded.

Even while still in service in 1974,  Raman and his colleague Mr Hugh Story initiated the formation of the Society of the Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia and was approved in September 1976.  That became a society of the handicapped themselves and the membership swelled to more than one thousand within a short time.

Raman retired from service, but he was much remembered and appreciated by the Malaysian government. In recognition of his abilities and loyalty to the Malaysian government, he was appointed as a member of the Public Services Commission in 1976, a prestigious position hitherto not held by any other believer, thus adding further prestige to the Faith. It needs to be mentioned that throughout his two terms in that Commission, he was the only non-Malay to serve in that capacity. The Public Services Commission was tasked with interviewing candidates who applied for government jobs. There was no incidence of Raman showing favouritism to any candidate known to him. When he was asked to favour certain candidates he would reply, “Justice shall be done. You pray on your part, and I shall do my part  with all honesty and in accordance with the books.” He never entertained recommendations coming from political leaders.

Raman was a very active supporter of the activities of the National Tamil Teaching Committee.  He last spoke at the Tamil Winter School held in Stella Maris Bungalow in Port Dickson from 30 April 1981 to 3 May 1981. Yet another last major event in his life was a tea party organised by the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hulu Langat for the Orthopedically Handicapped at Cheras in commemoration of the United Nations Day on 24 October 1981. The United Nations declared 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled Persons and the  Malaysian government had given some exemptions and perks for the disabled in its budget for the following year. Raman, who was the former Principal of the Rehabilitation School For The Physically Handicapped,  took to the stage and announced the kind gesture of the Government in giving exemption to the handicapped in its budget and spoke in my fluent Malay language with such strong emotions that the audience of mostly handicapped persons showed their appreciation with thunderous applause at the end of his talk.  The Bahá’í  Youth choir entertained them with songs, with Judy Phung stealing the show with her Malay Pantun, to the tune of the “Rasa Sayang” song. Raman was very happy and radiant at this last major event before his own life came to a close.

In the last few weeks of his life, Raman had an inner urge to serve the Cause to a  greater degree than what he had ever done before. Late night one day, he arrived at the house of the Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hulu Langat and discussed how the Assembly and the community could serve the Cause with more activities, involving all members in the community. It seems that he could scarcely wait for a day to pass without rendering some service for the Cause. At the last few meetings of the Local Spiritual Assembly, he was suggesting stepping up the benchmark to serve with greater vigour and undertaking sacrificial efforts. He himself showed the way by volunteering to take up tasks, including the development of the newly purchased Bahá’í property in Balakong, on which was built the Yankee Leong Bahá’í Training Institute.

While alive Raman expressed many times his desire to have his bones buried overseas as a pioneer. In late December 1981, Raman undertook a four-month trip that would take him through Thailand, Burma (now known as  Myanmar), Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. He combined his two dreams in that trip. During the Second World War, Raman and his wife Madam Thanabakkiam were members of the Indian National Army in Malaya.  On this trip, Raman  wantedd to follow the path taken by the Indian National Army that marched from Malaya into Manipur state in India where the first headquarters of the Indian National Army  was established. Secondly, though more prominently, he wanted to serve the Cause in all these countries he wanted to visit. A few weeks before embarking on this trip, he wrote to the believers in all these countries to organise activities for him. On 21 December 1981, his sixtieth birthday, he threw a simple dinner for selected friends at his residence, and his wife cooked his favourite dishes. He asked his wife to sing his favourite old Tamil song of the 1940s which she gladly did. Raman was in the happiest mood that night.

When he was making arrangements to leave for this trip, the Malaysian government requested him to continue his service as a member of the Public Services Commission for another term, in view of the fairness with which he had discharged his responsibilities. But Raman had already decided for a higher service for the Cause, and nothing could persuade him.

On 25 December he went to Butterworth town in the north, from where he intended to take a train to Bangkok from where he intended to continue his journey to Burma. There he met the community and gave a talk on the urgency to serve the Cause, and drove home the point that believers should be willing to arise to serve the Cause.  While in Butterworth, he was met by Auxiliary Board member Mr V. Subramaniam fondly called V.S Maniam, of Sungei Petani. As they were talking news of the passing of his dear Bahá’í friend Mr  C. Subramaniam in Sungei Siput was broken to them by the arrival of another local believer in Butterworth.  Raman postponed his journey to Bangkok, and both of them rushed to Sungei Siput. The following day C. Subramaniam was actually scheduled to conduct a Bahá’í wedding for Mr  G. Subramaniam and Miss Susila Nadesan in one nearby Kinta Valley Estate. Raman stepped in to conduct the wedding on behalf of his departed friend, rushing from the funeral home to the estate to conduct the wedding on 26 December. After the wedding, Raman and V. Subramaniam returned to Butterworth. Just before Raman boarded the train, he hugged Subramaniam and told him that he may not return from the journey that he was undertaking, and urged him to serve the Cause as never before.

Raman conducts the wedding of G. Subramaniam and N. Suseela – his very last activity on the Malaysian soil

And he indeed never returned!  While in Rangoon, Burma for a week, he visited along with Board members Mr U Tin Shwe and Mr U Shoe Tin the resting place of Hand of the Cause of God Siyyid Mustafá Rúmí in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Village in Daidanow. U Shoe Tin was one with whom Raman moved very closely during his days in Yangon. At the Bahá’í  Centre in Rangoon, he addressed the community,  followed by home visits where he encouraged the friends to serve the Cause. It was reported that in all the meetings Raman had with the believers, he spoke with strong passion and force on the need to serve the Cause with greater sacrifice, as though he had some indication that his days on this earthly plane was to end soon.  On 5 January 1982,  he sustained a massive heart attack and passed away. The National Spiritual Assembly of Myanmar  conveyed the tragic news to his family in Malaysia through the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, and informed the Universal House of Justice as well. The unexpected and sudden passing sent shock waves through the Bahá’í community, and the friends rallied around the family to work out what to do in the circumstances. Swadesh Kumari,  the eldest daughter of the Ramans living in India was informed and was requested to start her travel immediately to meet other family members in Bangkok. Mrs Thanabakkiam Appu Raman, Nalaini Appuraman, Kalavathy Appu Raman, and two other members of the Hulu Langat community – Jami Subramaniam and Ramayah Renggan started booking tickets to travel to Rangoon through Bangkok.  They all arrived in Bangkok and waited for Swadesh Kumari to arrive from India. During that stopover they visited the Bahá’í Centre in Bangkok, where they met Mrs Shirin Fozdar, who had known Raman from her visit to Alor Star in 1961. She told them in no uncertain terms that Raman was already in a blissful place in the company of many other angelic souls that have ascended before him, and that the one thing that would gladden his soul was to offer prayers. When Shwadesh Kumari arrived the following day, they all flew into Rangoon. The burial of Raman’s body which was kept in the hospital mortuary awaiting the arrival of his family took place in the evening. A light drizzle mirrored the family’s grief.

Radiant and calm, as he was laid to rest.

It was after the burial had taken place that the Malaysian delegation was informed of the circumstances leading to the passing of Raman. While staying in the Dagon Hotel in Yangon, he had to climb the very steep staircase a few times each day, which was too stressing for Raman.  After lunch on 5 January at the home of U Shoe Tin, Raman was conducting a session on the Will and Testament of Abdul Baha  and spoke with such a force and passion on the need to be firm in the Covenant. Suddenly he started to sweat profusely and found it difficult to breathe. He was laid to rest on a bed. Realising that his condition was worrying, the friends asked him if he wanted to speak to his family in Malaysia over the phone. Raman replied, “You are my family.” The friends rushed him to hospital with the head of Raman resting on the lap of U Shoe Tin. Upon arrive in hospital he was pronounced dead, caused by massive heart attack.

Raman’s untimely passing in a foreign land fulfilled his long time desire to have his bones buried overseas as a pioneer left an irreparable loss to the Malaysian Bahá’í community. In Myanmar where he had won the love of the community, more than five hundred friends gathered at the funeral. As the Burmese friends carried Raman’s body from the hearse to the grave, with tears in their eyes, they realized that through him a permanent bond had been established between the communities of the Greatest Name in Burma and Malaysia. In his death in that country, there is a  wisdom. This was the time when the Supreme Body had given Malaysia the goal of strengthening the Myanmar Bahá’í community. The National Spiritual Assembly of Burma reported that Faith had not been so well proclaimed in that land since the days of the Hand of the Cause of God Siyyid Mustafá Rúmí.

On 8 January 1982, the Universal House of Justice cabled  the National Spiritual Assembly of Burma expressing the hope that the example set by Raman would inspire the believers there to intensify their service to the Faith.

And the National Assembly in Malaysia received the following cable from the Supreme Body:


His passing was flashed in the Tamil Nesan Tamil daily of Malaysia, which gave a good write up on his early contributions to the Indian cause in Malaya in the early days. A week later, a simple and yet befitting memorial service was held in the National Bahá’í Centre in Setapak following an obituary placed in the local newspapers. Some members of the public, including one prominent politician who had seen the obituary joined in the memorial service. Counsellor Dr. Chellie J. Sundram spoke of the wonderful services rendered by Appu Raman and stressed that he lived truly by the principles of the Faith.

Original resting place of Appu Raman

When the Government of Myanmar wanted to develop the land on which  Raman was buried along with others, the Bahá’ís were given an alternative site and the earthly remains of Raman were  exhumed and reburied in a well maintained Bahá’í cemetery. Malaysian believers visiting Burma for teaching purposes or tourism never failed to visit the resting place of this true servant of the Cause and offer prayers, and the local believers took great pride in accompanying them.

The stone marked “X”  is where Raman’s remains are reburied in the current Bahá’í cemetery

Looking at the legacies left behind by Raman, many thoughts would naturally flood into one’s mind. As a genuine lover of mankind Raman was very much overcome with emotions when the believers in the cradle of the Faith were persecuted in 1979. While addressing their plight at a large Tamil-speaking audience in Sungei Petani community, he broke down. After a moment of silence, and wiping away his tears, he resumed his talk, charged with emotion. Whenever he received news of the someone admitted into hospital he would visit them. And whenever news of people suffering of poverty and hunger reached his ears, he would pack his car with provision and drive down to visit them, and offered some cash as well, promising continued assistance coming from him. Raman has quietly assisted in educating some poor students. There were many unemployed youth whom Raman financed to attend conferences.  Raman never sought stages, microphones and prominence. There was never any reported incidence of Raman raising his voice when encountering provoking situations, but took up the matter with his Creator  through prayers, and laid the matter to rest with Him.

Throughout his life Raman travelled extensively to several parts of the country for the purpose of teaching the Cause, and was often a well sought after speaker especially at firesides in Bahá’í societies in institutions of higher learning. He was often invited as a speaker at the United Nations Day observations, conferences and summer schools. Raman was also sought after for conducting many weddings both in the English and Tamil languages with his gift of fluency in both of these languages. He was one of those who provided training for the pioneers at the National Teaching Institute in Malacca in the early days.

Raman could have lived a very comfortable life, given his senior position held in the government service. But it was his choice to live in a simple terrace house, which was open to everyone and anyone.  When his children were growing into adulthood, he bought a bungalow house in the prestigious Damansara Heights  in the suburban area of Kuala Lumpur city to offer them some comfort. But as his children got married and moved out, Raman returned to his terrace house in Cheras, after a very brief period of three years in that bungalow.   Likewise, he owned a simple Datsun 666 car which he used for many years. He dressed in a way that was an example to the rich and a consolation to the poor, with the national batik shirt being his favourite. His joy was to be with simple people with whom associated till the end of his life.

Towards the end of his life, he was planning to write a book on the fulfilment of Hindu prophecies in the Bahá’í Faith. He collected a large number of books on Hinduism and stacked these up in his reading room.  His vast knowledge of Hinduism and the Indian culture would have certainly made that book is completed, an invaluable addition to the Bahá’í literature. Sadly, the manuscript had just an introductory chapter.

The gratitude Raman had for his Spiritual Mother needs a special mention. If Raman had to pass through Ipoh town to which Theresa Chee of Alor Star had been transferred in 1964, he never failed  to drop in to visit her, which brought much happiness to both of them.

Raman faced several tests and difficulties and under normal circumstances anyone would crumble. But he soldiered on knowing fully well that he was under the protection of Bahá’u’lláh. His strongest weapon was the power of Divine Assistance that he always invoked through ardent prayers. He would advise friends to be careful of the kind of prayers they selected. He would say in jest, “If you pray to make me a dust in the path of Thy loved ones,” be ready for what is in store for you the next day.” He would also say, “Sometimes the violent tests of God would be like the fist of a bouncer about to hit your face at lightning speed, but before you realise, it would still miss you, to your surprise. Therein comes Bahá’u’lláh to rescue you.”  Such expressions were born out of the answers God had given him on many occasions. He never flinched holding fast to the Bahá’í teachings and made sure that both his life and death were for his Creator alone.

Raman seemed to have been born with a burning desire to serve humanity, and the door opened when he accepted the Faith in 1961 in Alor Star. On the day Raman accepted the Faith, Theresa Chee asked him if there was anything he wished, to which Raman looked at the picture of the Mother Temple of the West in Chicago hung on the wall and said, “Perhaps I want to go there.” That was not just a casual statement that he made.  His wishes were granted, and Raman went to the Temple in  Chicago on three different occasions during his lifetime. He also was privileged to attend the first Bahá’í World Congress in London in 1963, go to the cradle of the Faith in Iran, and to the Holy Land as well. From the time Raman accepted the Faith, the guiding principle in his life was “Work is Worship;  Service is Prayer” which he employed in his civil service and the service for the Cause.  Raman had truly added lusture to the civil service and the service for the Cause.

Raman was one who arose and led the way on individual initiative and blazoned an exemplary path of service. Thus came to an end a Bahá’í life well-lived with a shining example of full devotion and dedication to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, and setting a standard for the current and future generations to emulate.

A. Manisegaran
31 May 2021

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  1. Mani, you have once again brought to life another very distinguished Baha’i with your able penmanship. You have taken the readers down the memory lane and brought to the fore numerous incidents of his life, which I did not know.

    I first met Uncle Raman in April 1967 when I attended my first Youth Seminar at the New Era School in Kajang. I was in Form 4 and had accepted the Faith less than a year earlier. Mr. Sabapathy encouraged me to attend this Youth Seminar. Mr. G. Appala Naidu and Jami Subramaniam gave me some cash and asked me to hitch hike to Kajang, which I did. Uncle Raman immediately captivated me with his leadership at the conference, organizing and ensuring the sessions went well, including finding accommodation for us. At the same time, he showed such humility and compassion to us youth gathered there. After the conference, he requested me to stay for another week and took me with him on teaching and deepening trips to Dengkil and the rubber estates around there. We visited Mr. Gopal, a teacher and an active Baha’i and the fish nursery which the Baha’is had started.

    Following Uncle Raman to the rural areas, sometimes 2 estates on an evening, and on weekends 3 to 4 re-enforced me in estate teaching and also deepening. He spoke on so many subjects and presented them in such a simple way. He also took me and another two youths to see the land that the National Spiritual Assembly had purchased as a Temple ground. We had to drive through rubber plantations and then walk about a mile to see this property. He was beaming with joy with this achievement of the Baha’is.

    I later joined another conference in December of 1967 in Prang Besar Estate where I had the opportunity to meet him once again and spent time with him. I also met his family members in that trip. He was tireless and worked so hard for the success of this conference.

    After my form Five, I stayed in Seremban for 6 months travel teaching in the estates after which Mr. Inbum Chinniah, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly requested me to work at the National Bahai Centre. Uncle Raman was on the National Assembly, and I met him on many occasions. Uncle Raman, being a prominent and high ranking civil service official had many opportunities in politics and other organizations, but the love he had for Baha’u’llah has so filled his heart that nothing was more important than service to the Cause. Uncle Raman was an example who showed us that there are so many avenues to serve the Cause.

    While it is said that pictures speak a thousand words, the one picture that seems to be speaking more than a million words is that taken just before being buried. It evoked so many emotions that I could not control my tears.

    Time has flown so fast since I first met you as a small boy in short pants at the Regional Bahai Youth Conference held in Butterworth in October 1970. You have grown well in the Faith. Having read all the books that you have written and the stories you have published in this popular blog, I am tempted to say that you have been chosen for a specific role, which you are doing only too well as a good researcher and true historian who goes for minute details. I pray for Bahaullah to enable you to write more and more.

    Thank you
    C. Kanagaratnam

  2. Dear Mani,
    Another excellent article on another gallant hero of the Faith from Malaysia. What a wonderful soul Appu Raman was. From the day he accepted Baha’u’llah, he was on fire and became an ardent and staunch believer sharing the Faith across many parts of Malaysia and abroad. His steadfastness in the Cause was to the extent of foregoing other opportunities that came from the outside world. That itself speaks volumes about his strong virtue in wanting to do things for the well-being of the human race rather than any specific race. He was indeed a world citizen. From the time he accepted the Faith in 1961 to his passing in 1982, he had been serving non-stop in many areas, and ending his life pioneering abroad. I am very moved to read his story, the only regret is that I did not get to meet such a pure and noble soul in person, a regret that may last forever in the innermost corner of my soul.

    I am glad to know his daughter Kalavathy is serving well in the Subang Jaya community. I am sure Appu Raman will be happy to see his daughter serving the Cause actively.

    May the soul of Appu Raman progress in all the worlds of God

    Dr. Leong Yow Peng
    Subang Jaya

  3. I have met Uncle Appu Raman as a child of eleven. At that time , I only saw him as another Bahai who frequently dropped by at the Taiping Bahai Centre where we were staying.

    Growing up, I have heard much of his contribution to the Malaysian Bahai Community especially within the Tamil speaking fraternity.

    With this article on the late Uncle Appu Raman, once again, our memories are refreshed on the enormous services this beloved soul had rendered to the growth and development of the Faith in our country.

    Malaysia is truly blessed to have such batch of early believers, who left their many comfortable zones, and spread the healing message of Baha’u’llah far and wide within the country and overseas.

    Uncle Appu Raman, like some of his peers at that time, left an unmatched legacy that will be difficult for many of us in this generation to fill. Their burning desire to serve the Faith is legendary.

    How can we thank this wonderful souls who laid that solid foundation for us? I think the best way would be to leave our marks in the 3rd epoch of the Divine Plan. This would be our way of saying thank you to Uncle Appu Raman and the many early believers of our country.

    Vijay Saravanen
    Subang Jaya

  4. FANTASTIC may not be the right word to describe the story you have published. Words fail in describing that excellent story on Appu Raman. Thank you so much Mr. Manisegaran for bringing out another major episode from the history of Malaysian Bahá’ís.

    I remember hearing the name of Uncle Appu Raman frequently after accepting the Faith in the later part of 1982. Now I can relate that it was just few months after his passing that I accepted the Faith. Later I got to befriended one of his daughters Kalavathy. I have heard many stories from Kalavathy about her great father, but your story caps it all with so many incidents and details which are written in so moving a language. The photographs with the right captions are wonderful and decorate his life so well.

    This story shows how exemplary were many early Malaysian Bahá’ís that have nurtured the early community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia. It is very inspiring to learn of the many teaching activities and his firmness in the Faith. He gave away higher political leadership positions and opportunities and instead chose to serve Bahá’u’lláh and humanity.

    This is one of the best stories you have written. What next?

    Nehru Arunasalam

  5. Hi Manisegaran

    I read the tribute you wrote about Appu Raman. I am moved to read about this remarkable man whom I met in 1972 when I had just become a Bahai. He was indeed a very remarkable man.

    I also know some members of the family. Some ten years ago I met one granddaughter of Raman that went pioneering.

    Thank you so much for your wonderful and super style in writing this story.

    Ganavathi Naidu
    Kuala Kerai

  6. A very good write up on Uncle Appu Raman.

    Uncle Appu Raman was a very knowledgeable person. He was one of those who deepened me in the Cause when I accepted the Faith. To him the Faith came first. Whenever he was invited for deepening or fireside he never declined. And he was very comfortable visiting believers and enquirers in the estates, illegals settlements and Chinese New Villages. Uncle Raman partook of their drinks and food as one of them. On a number of occasions he had come to Sungei Buloh New Village Bahai Centre and the Subang Bahai centre to conduct deepening sessions. He had conducted deepening sessions in my house as well. On one occasion he turned up to speak at a fireside held for 20 enquirers. He spoke very well.

    His daughter Nalaini was living near my residence in Kampong Subang. When Uncle Appu Raman died in Burma the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia sent Purushothman Nair to see me. I took him to the house of his daughter Nalaini, where Purushothman broke the news of his passing.


  7. Mr Appu Raman passed away when he was serving the Cause of God in Myanmar. Although I was still very young, I still remember those days. He was visiting many families. He also stayed at my uncle U Soe Tin, who was a Counsellor for Asia. After his passing there was a lot of police investigations as a foreigner had died. But everything was sorted out.

    His passing in Myanmar has bridged the hearts of the believers in Myanmar and Malaysia. His passing in Myanmar is according to the wish of Bahaullah

    Thank you
    U Khin Mg Zin

  8. Dear Mr. Manisegaran

    Thank you for kindly sharing on this hero of the Faith, whom I had never known, coming from the present generation. Every paragraph of your story on Mr. Appu Raman is moving. He had truly set a standard and led the way in ways more than one. He had chosen a path of service, where the need was the greatest and excelled in that- developing individuals and communities from the Tamil speaking areas. He shall be remembered forever not only for developing them, but also for having ventured into many other areas of service in which he equally did so well.

    Mr Appu Raman was really a great asset whose dedication for the Cause of Baha’u’llah will be remembered forever in our rich history in Malaysia

    Thank you once again for your tremendous work in writing on the true heroes of the Faith and their sacrifices for the development of the faith in Malaysia and abroad. Without your diligence, hard work, late nights, and early mornings spent in digging out the details, we would not have been able to know such heroes of the Faith in Malaysia.


  9. Another story of another God-intoxicated servant who has the history of the Faith in Malaysia and the region proud through his permanent legacy!

    I consider Appu Raman a spiritual giant and his presence in the course of the development of the Faith in Malaysia was one of the best things that evinced in Malaysia. I was wondering when a tribute will be published in his honor, and now I am grateful to the Bahai Recollections Historical blog that has made that happen.

    Appu Raman, a man of action and totally in love with Baha’u’llah and in teaching the Faith, was a history-making personality. I had the bounty of knowing and working with Appu Raman from 1966 to 1977 particularly when I served as a Counsellor before I moved to Korea. Appu Raman was an international figure in the horizon of service of the Cause. I saw Appu Raman, shinning like a star but humble as dust and quite down-to-earth anywhere I went, be it in various communities in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan or Hongkong. He was like a role model of an accomplished, active, devoted veteran of the Cause from whom I drew inspiration and encouragement. Sometimes his sense of humor rejuvenated the friends from the exhausting working hours. His favorite topics of discussion were teaching, proclamation of the Faith, and consolidation, apart from his activities in deepening of the believers. He worked restlessly like a non-stop engine well organized and well planned. The degree of devotion I saw him was at par with Uncle Yankee Leong and Uncle Leong Tat Chee. God knows how much he is missed by those who had associated with him.

    May his pure soul be rewarded, richly for his relentless and continuous services right up to his last breath, with the Faith in his soul.

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chiang Mai

  10. Dear brother Mani ,
    What a wonderful write up on Uncle Appu Raman. You have managed so well in putting the spirit of the man into words. Extremely inspiring.

    Professor Dr. Anantha Krishnan

  11. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for sharing with me the life of Appu Raman. His memory is still fresh with me and I remember how disturbed we were to hear that he had passed away in Myanmar.

    I will pray that Baha’u’llah will grant you good health and long life so that you can bring out the heroism and valour of our early Malaysian believers.

    With loving admiration,
    Dr. John Fozdar

  12. Mr Appu Raman can never be forgotten. I accepted the Faith in the presence of Mr Appu Raman in 1977. Mr and Mrs Narasiah who were staying in Tanjong Malim first taught me the Faith. Mrs Parvathi Narasiah actively organised firesides in her house and invited many to attend them. I was touched by the hospitality of Mr and Mrs Narasiah and the example they set. Although Mr Narasiah was a medical dispenser in the Tanjong Malim Group Estate, he was very simple and mixed with the labourers as their own family members. My wife Balasaraswathy first accepted the Faith. I liked the Faith but was hesitating because I was very much influenced by the Dravidian Movement in India. One day my wife and I went for a deepening class at the home of Mr and Mrs Narasiah. There we met for the first time Mr. Appu Raman. While talking to him he asked me why I had not accepted the Faith and I told him that I was more into the Dravidian Movement. Mr Appu Raman then mentioned that Mr. C.N. Annadurai the late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu had written a book called “Vaazhvu” in which he had mentioned that 750 soldiers shot dead the Bab all because He spoke the truth. Then I accepted the Faith. It was Mr Appu Raman who was the turning point in me accepting the Faith. I can never forget Mr and Mrs Narasiah for teaching the Cause and Mr Appu Raman for creating a turning point.

    Tanjong Malim

  13. Dear Mr. Mani,

    This is another inspiring episode in the historical development of the Faith in Malaysia. Like others Uncle Appu Raman was one of the founding fathers in the establishment of the Faith in Malaysia. He served on many frontiers, but chose especially the Tamil-speaking communities. He clearly was the pioneer in large scale consolidation of the estate believers.

    His conviction and determination were great. The love he had for Bahaullah was ignited in his depth- in his heart and mind. He had refused worldly positions to serve the needs of the day in serving the entire mankind- not any particular race. He had understood the spirit of the Day.

    As you have written, I was 16 years old when Uncle Raman came to the Batu Bersawah division of Jeram Padang for a Conference held in the Tamil School.The next evening was the Feast and he thought the friends how to conduct it practically. It was so inspiring and informative. On another instance, he came in the afternoon with Mr. Rama Naidu of Bahau to meet the Local Spiritual Assembly members and youths, specifically to reinvigorate the enthusiasm and accelerate the activities in the estates. He also said that youths must be in the forefront and can move the world.

    He was a person with strong determination and clear vision. When I start to introduce the Faith when I moved to Batang Berjuntai, some of the old folks from the wider communities still remembers him,

    For all his services he is happily reunited with others in the realms of God.

    Thank you so much for bringing to light his life story and contributions to the Faith.

    Kuala Selangor

  14. Dear Mani
    You have written about one of the persons that I always cherished most in my heart. From the volumes you have written about Uncle Appu Raman, he surely deserves a special place in the history of the Faith in Malaysia. He seems to have been a quiet worker who was only interested in serving.

    You have written so well that tears keep dropping as I was going through.


  15. Mani
    You have once again brought to light a true Bahai gem who preferred to remain unknown. Appu Raman was one who came to serve-whether with position or without! I read every word of your write up and find it flawless in its presentation- facts and emotions. Indeed a wide range of activities and services well recorded for posterity.

    I was fortunate to have known him since the very early days- we both belong to the Ten-Year Crusade period.

    When he came back to Malaya from his official trip to USA in 1962, he related a personal experience in that country. On one morning he went to a café for breakfast, but they refused to serve him because the white workers there took Raman to be a negro, all because he was of dark complexion. He argued and showed his Malayan passport, and yet they refused to serve, because his colour was still black. He went to work late that morning where he mentioned what had happened. The authorities took action on the café. But to Appu Raman, he found that a turning point – that nothing short of the Bahai Faith could eradicate racial and colour prejudice from the face of the earth. And that could be one of the reasons why he dedicated all his life for spreading the message of Bahaullah.

    Appu Raman was an unsung hero for a long time. It is great you have highlighted this human gem. Now the wide whole world knows him better through this blog.

    Anthony Casimir Louis

  16. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you for this remembrance of my dad. You have very well covered his Bahai life and services that I have nothing more to elaborate. You have used so many photos of my dad which I am seeing for the first time.

    I wish to pen a few lines on his social work which was in his veins. I remember my house as an extended welfare department for people inflicted by social burdens. He extended compassion, advice, monetary assistance and an abundance of love to the needy who approached him

    His political involvement in the late 1940s too was to give a voice for the then down-trodden Indian minority in Malaya. My dad was a close associate and friend of the late Tun Sambanthan. My dad encouraged Tun Sambanthan to form that National Land Finance Cooperative Society as an investment arm to protect the finances of the poor Indian estate workers. His wife the late Toh Puan Sambanthan contacted me three years ago while writing a book about the founder members of the Malayan Indian Congress and father’s role in it. She said he was a lion in the protection of the rights of the poor.

    My dad joining the Indian National Army in Singapore as a young man too was to free the then India from oppression by the British.

    Nevertheless, when he was transferred to Kedah as State Welfare Officer, he was equally endearing to the needy Malay population there. His heart was magnanimous in that while catering for the downtrodden Indians, he extended assistance to other races as well. The racial unity concept of the Bahai Faith was already within his soul even before accepting the Faith. A young Malay boy grew up in our home. Similarly, a young Chinese boy from a boy’s home attached himself to Dad, so he brought him home too!

    He had a part to play in the smooth resettlement of the needy Chinese in the Chinese New Villages and I, as a little girl had accompanied him a few times and shared very simple food with them because my dad did. His compassion for anyone was sincere and they loved him back the same way.

    I admired that he never put himself above anyone and was humble despite his scholarly background and achievements.

    When he became a Baha’i, serving the Faith and caring to the needy was to him a sure way of bringing them up and out of deprivation. He was just as at home with people of status and rank, and the Faith was always served. His radiant smile spoke volumes.
    That inborn care and welfare for the needy that I had acquired from dad is today part of my own life. I am a principal of a children’s Home set up by Rotary Kuala Lumpur and Bandaraya Developments Limited, to house some 170 children in crisis. The strength and compassion for the job is coming from dad. My strength for life itself is from him and the Faith he gave me. My Dad remains my hero, my mentor, and my strength throughout my life.

    Kalavathy Appu Raman

  17. I first met Mr Appu Raman when he came to the Batu Bersawah Division. He also visited the Ladang Geddes Estate in Negeri Sembilan state. One small boy used to follow Mr Appu Raman, carrying a vacuum flask filled with hot tea. Later I came to know that that small boy is Doraisamy Suppiah who is working in the National Bahai Centre in Kuala Lumpur, and related to Mr Appu Raman through the mother.

    From what I had heard from others, Mr Appu Raman was a knowledgeable Bahai. I had heard from some of veteran Bahais that while traveling in the car on teaching trips he used to comment that there were only few Assemblies in those days, and we must work hard to establish Assemblies all over Malaysia. He saw the urgent need to establish the divinely ordained institutions all over the country.

    Now that I have read your beautiful story in full, I can see that he was very fluent in both the Tamil and English languages and had a deep understanding of Hinduism and he was able to connect Hinduism with the Revelation of Bahaullah.

    Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for your recollections of the legends in the Bahai a Faith. They are all inspiring and informative stories. I am sure the current generation has many lessons to learn from those great legends


  18. Thank you, brother Manisegaran, for the beautiful and marvellous write up about our dear Baha’i brother Mr. Appu Raman. Reading the story of his life was like walking along with him in his path of service. His life is amazingly inspiring, and may he be blessed for all the services that he has rendered.

    After our marriage on 1 February 2017 in Alor Star, we took a taxi to Hatyai to get blessings from Uncle Naga and Sammy. The next day, we flew to Yangon and a day later went to Abdu’l-Baha’s village in Daidanaw to pray at the Shrine of the Hand of the Cause Siyyid Mustafa Rumi. We also visited the Baha’i burial ground in Daidanaw.

    Two days later, we went to visit the Baha’i burial ground in Yangon. It was very well organised. They even have a hearse and readily dug out graves ready for burying anyone who passed away. It was here that we learned that our dear servant of the Cause, Mr. Appu Raman is buried and so we went and prayed at his grave.

    Kuala Terengganu

  19. Thank you Manisegaran for the recollections on the great teacher of the Cause Mr Appu Rahman. His services to the Cause of God are presented with excellence in your write up. His efforts in teaching the Faith locally and internationally are well captured in your write up. I remember following Appu Raman and C. Subramaniam of Sungei Siput for teaching the Cause in some estates in one of the trips Appu Raman made to Perak. A great soul he was. We shall forever miss such a gallant worker for the noble Cause of Bahaullah

    God’s blessings be upon Mr Appu Raman

    Vasudevan Veerasamy

  20. Dear Manisegaran,
    I read with great interest your tribute to Mr. Appu Raman. As usual you have gone to great length to gather so many details.

    I did not have the opportunity to meet this selfless servant of Baha’u’llah. In the early days of becoming a Baha’i, I did hear Baha’is talking fondly of him. Many years later, I knew he had passed away. A great Baha’i indeed, I thought to myself.
    But after reading about Mr. Appu Raman in your Baha’i Recollections blog, I was in great admiration for this gentleman for his great enthusiasm and selfless service for the Cause of Baha’u’llah. One thing I never knew was, he passed away and was laid to rest in Myanmar(Burma). A great honour for any believer to have passed away in a foreign land while serving the Faith. I also recall that Mustafa Rumi, a Baha’i teacher was martyred and is laid to rest in Myanmar. He was later elevated as Hand of the Cause of God by beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.

    Truly, the Almighty will bless this luminous soul and his loved ones.
    Selvam Elumalai
    Johor Baru

  21. HI Mani.
    Read with keen interest the story of Appu Raman that you ably wrote in your blog. He has indeed done so much for the Faith and all you wrote were not known to me. He has sacrificed so much, led the way and set a fine example for many of us.

    My memory of Appu Raman during my early years after accepting the Faith in Ipoh, and at the various gatherings where he was in attendance as a speaker or participant. I remember his humbleness and deep knowledge when discussing about the Faith and also his work as a Social Worker. To recall when I was still in school, I was inspired by him to study and take up social work as a career even though I took a different career later

    Ashok Kumar
    Kuala Lumpur

  22. Dear Mani,
    I just finished reading the wonderful article regarding the great services rendered by our late Mr Appu Raman. That was most inspiring. His selfless services to the Cause that he seems to have loved more than his own self will be remembered for generations to come. He belongs to a different class of believers, that we may not see again.

    Thank you for your thorough research with so much details, and the beautiful way in which his story was presented.

    I eagerly look forward to reading your next series on many other hidden Baha’is.


  23. Thank you, brother Mr Manisegaran, for bringing out a treasury of memory of the beloved and wonderful soul of Uncle Appu Raman. I was fortunate to have been associated with whom you correctly described as a God-Intoxicated Servant. His whole life was the Faith, and he lived for the Faith and by the Faith. I had seen true, sincere and strong love for mankind, that always emanated from him. He was immovable like the Rock of Gibraltar when facing opposition, and a sheltering father when going to him for consolation. No words could adequately describe his contribution to the Faith and the friends.

    He has been really a dedicated person to his career serving as welfare officer and many other renowned posts he held in the government. He was truly a servant of Bahaullah serving in various fields of the Faith. And in his manners were very simple. He moved humbly, joyfully and was jovial with even with his acquaintances. Such an elderly person with these characters is hard to come by nowadays.

    He has helped and conducted the first Baha’i mini-Tamil conference in the Letchumanan Hall in the town of Klang in 1976. That was organized by the estate Bahai’s from Kapar area. In that gathering a Tamil school teacher embraced the Faith after listening to his talks His command and fluency of the Tamil language was excellent. Moreover, his knowledge and depth of the Tamil culture and the Hindu religion was simply matchless.

    I would like to this opportunity to offer my gratitude and reverence to him for having conducted my wedding ceremony in Shah Alam town in 1978. And that was historically the first Baha’i wedding in that town. I am aware of several other weddings that he had conducted befittingly, earning the appreciation of believers and non- believers.

    I had travelled with him for teaching- both short distances and long trips. He always made it a point to spend time visiting Baha’i friends on the way and dropped in the homes of those whom he knew. And dropping into welfare homes was always part of his itinerary, to shower his love on the disabled person. He always enquired about their health and other needs as well, and quietly offered them help. He not only preached the Faith but lived to its high standards. That sincere caring attitude which every Baha’i should possess was very much part of the life of Uncle Raman.

    His untimely and unexpected passing in Myanmar created a irreparable sorrow in my heart, and the hearts of all who had known him. Yet I found consolation in that he ascended to the Abha Kingdom while in the path of service

    I thank you for writing about the not to be forgotten heroes of whom the current generation may not know. These are the heroes who have decorated the pages of service and history.

    Arumugam Thanapah

  24. Manisegaran
    This is the very best you had written, with so many details and a style filled with so much emotions. In all honesty I must admit that your story evoked in me a close to meeting him in person kind of emotions. Clearly Raman was a quiet worker wanting no publicity, name, or fame. It is also clear that he was the leading figure in Malaysia in giving a helping hand to the Tamil-speaking communities in the country. Having moved with him since 1963 when I became a believer, I can vouch for his leading services for the Tamil speaking friends.

    And thank you for those lovely and rare photos that stand by you for whatever you had written.

    I remember how the Tamil speaking friends in the estates in Negeri Sembilan rushed to see him whenever he came on weekends to teach and consolidate them. They all found so much sincere love radiating from his pure soul. They simply loved the company of this simple servant of God.

    One evening I was following him for a teaching trip into an estate. We reached the estate when it had already fallen dark, and the Security Guard who was a Punjabi man refused to allow us to enter the estate. He was very rude and rough, now willing to accept our reason for going into the estate. Appu Raman then conversed with him in Hindi, and it took only a few seconds to see a warm smile on the face of the Security Guard. He allowed us in, and when we came back after the teaching trip, the man was all smiles. It was then that I knew Appu Raman spoke Hindi as well, having been trained under the Indian National Army.

    Appu Raman whose praise was unsung all along, surely occupies a special place in our history.

    N. Nagendran
    Kuala Lumpur

  25. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for writing about Mr. Appu Raman
    He has done so much for the Faith and is today very much in our history.

    I remember he coming to Butterworth on the way to Myanmar, and addressed the community. He stressed the need for all of us to rise to higher levels of service and even offer our lives for the Cause to grow. In the course of his talk he also mentioned that it was his desire to lay his life in the path of service in a distant country, which is exactly what happened with he passing away in Myanmar

    My father was very much exposed to the Faith as many meetings were held in my house. But it was Mr. Appu Raman’s talk in Butterworth that moved him to accept the Faith. Mr. Appu Raman was able to connect the Hindu prophecies with the coming of Bahaullah in the most convincing manner. Since the talk was in Tamil, my father was very moved. I shall remain thankful to Mr. Appu Raman for opening the eyes of my father at that advanced age


  26. Dear Mani,
    Once again, kudos to you for the inspirational and motivational article on another ‘General’ in the Army of Baha’u’llah – the late Mr. Appu Raman.
    his write-up could be used as a motivational material at our present day Bahai gatherings, especially Youth Conferences and gatherings to inspire our youths on topics like ‘Sacrificial Service’ and ‘Selfless Service’…. and many more..

    Though I missed the opportunity of meeting Mr. Appu Raman in person, reading this article has truly stirred my soul and have informed me of a great soul who had dedicated his life to Baha’u’llah from the time he became a Bahai in 1961.

    Within a short span of time, Mr. Appu Raman had the privilege and blessed with the opportunity to meet and interact with many stalwarts of the Faith throughout the world. He made use of every opportunity he received to SERVE the Cause of Baha’u’llah to the fullest.
    Mr. Appu Raman had always been involved in the welfare of the masses, both within the Bahai community and without. From a Welfare Assistant to being the Deputy Director of Welfare Services, he truly exemplified the ‘SERVANT LEADERSHIP’ expected of each Bahai in this Magnificent Spiritual Enterprise of Baha’u’llah.

    Thank you Mani, and Congrats once again.

    Kuala Lumpur

  27. I was really moved reading this inspiring story about Uncle Appu Raman. I was very emotional and in tears when reading his story.

    I did not know much about him. I first I met him in Kuantan Baha’i Centre when he was invited by Francis Satkunasingam. My late husband, my elder brother and I were there when Mr. Appu Raman came. His was talking about the Faith with so much passion. At the end of his talk my brother accepted the Bahai Faith.

    He has done so much for the Faith. God bless you Mr. Appu Raman. I shall remember him in my daily prayers.

    Thank you very much for sharing

    Radha Jayabalan

  28. Although l had never met this wonderful soul, the recollections of him are not only very touching but very inspiring as well. He can be compared to many heroic martyrs of the past. His tireless, dedicated and sacrificial footsteps should be adopted into each and everyone’s path of service.

    Thanks to you Manisegaran, for bringing him to remembrance.

    Kunja Balan
    Kuala Lumpur

  29. Dear Manisegaran

    Thank you for writing about Mr. Appu Raman whom I had never met. But I am glad you provided me an opportunity to get to know about this great servant of God. He has served in so many capacities with full energy and with no rest until his last breath.

    But I had heard his name when I first became a believer. In the later part of 1975, I came across a leaflet called “The Re-incarnation of Krishna” that was left at the Seremban Bahai Centre, bearing his name as the writer. I am not sure if it is the same Appu Raman. But Mr Appu Raman, from what I have read in your write up was surely an expert in Hinduism. I was a new believer at that time and was reading through all the literature available.

    Thank you once again.

    Koh Kuang Wang
    Port Dickson

  30. When I moved into Kuala Lumpur in 1968 and started one Tailoring business, I wanted someone to do the running around. Mr. Appu Raman who observed my inability to move around sent a Chinese boy from a Rehabilitation Centre to assist me in that. But as there was racial riots in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, I had to close down the business and started to work in the National Bahai Centre. Appu Raman used to visit the center to look into its needs, as he was one of those in charge of maintain the building. He was serious and yet friendly- serious in Bahai work, but friendly when consorting with believers. He took a great liking for me, and soon I found out the reason. He cared much for the disabled and the handicapped, and I was one who was limping.

    There were instances when I attended his deepening classes and went out teaching with him to the rubber estates. He spoke with so much confidence and feelings. He believed in every word that he quoted from the Writings. This is what I noticed in him. I wanted him to conduct my wedding which he did in 1979.

    Towards the end he was indicating his interest in going to a few countries, starting with Myanmar. We threw a dinner for him at our house, and he was happy. He half-finished a sentence when conversing with me last. He said to the effect that should he come back he had some plans for me. The next I had the news that he had passed away in Myanmar. My sorrow found no bounds. I always view Mr Appu Raman as a true lover of mankind. There was no air of pride in him, while holding such high positions.

    Sandrakasan Rajoo

  31. I got to know Mr. Appu Raman well at the National Bahai Centre in Kuala Lumpur. In the late 1960s Inbum Chinniah, who was staying in Jasin used to take me along with him over weekends to the National Bahai centre in Kuala Lumpur to assist him in organising statistics. Appu Ramn used to visit us and we went out for lunch or dinner. He conversed on the needs of the Faith.

    Appu Raman expressed his interest in getting the Bahai calendar out, and I assisted him in the layout of the Bahai calendar. I do not know if he brought out the calendar.

    When he organised a two day deepening session for the Tamil-speaking believers at a beach resort in Morib, Appu Raman got my assistance in making the physical arrangements. It was a staying in session with the boys and girls staying at different accommodations. It was a kind of mini teaching conference, where he covered several topics. All the participants have today grown up as spiritual giants and serving the Cause very effectively. Truly Appu Raman had laid a very strong foundation for the Tamil-speaking friends in this country.

    S. Sathasivam

  32. Dear Mani
    Thank you for writing about my Spiritual Father Uncle Appu Raman, whom I can never forget at all. It was through him that my elder brother Veerappan accepted the Faith first in 1968 when Uncle Appu Raman came to Dunedin Estate near Semenyih where we all lived. I accepted the Faith in 1971 through Uncle Appu Raman and in stages all my family members accepted the Faith. I can mention the names of so many friends who accepted the Faith through Uncle Appu Raman, who all rose to very great heights of service. Some of them are no more with us.
    I used to follow Uncle Appu Raman for teaching trips. One day he took me to a teaching trip in his car. We arrived at the home of Mr Pragasam in Sungai Tangkas near Kajang town. Suddenly Uncle Appu Raman asked me to teach the Faith to Mr Pragasam. As I was teaching Uncle Appu Raman was observing. I taught the little things I knew about the Faith as a new believer. While teaching, I mentioned to Pragasam that 20,000 people sacrificed their lives for the Faith. That statement must have shaken him. After some time, he accepted the Faith. Pragasam has passed away. But each time Pragasam met me, he kept on mentioning of the 20,000 believers who had sacrificed their lives for the Faith. I later came to know that Pragasam was related to Uncle Appu Raman through his wife.
    One day Uncle Appu Raman told me that we have to meet the late Chua Teck Wee who was an Estate Manager in Tangkak town in Johore State. Uncle Appu Raman asked me to come to his house in Cheras at about nine in the morning. The following day I reached his home one hour late at 10 in the morning. He was well dressed up and waiting for me in the hall and smiled at me when I entered the house. He never asked me why I was late. We talked more on our schedule and left for Tangkak. That incident instilled discipline within me. In all my future appointments for any matter I was always punctual. Thanks to Uncle Appu Raman’s patience and love with which he trained me.

    Uncle Appu Raman conducted my wedding in Kajang on 10 February 1980.

    Towards the end Uncle Appu Raman kept on pressing me to look for a suitable land in Kajang town area to build a Baha’I Center- all with his money. I could find a land though I took so much trouble. The next I heard that he passed away in Burma on 5 January 1982. Some days in my life I can never forget. They are days of me accepting the Faith, the day of my marriage and the day of the passing of Uncle Appu Raman.
    I have every reason to remember Appu Raman in my daily prayers.
    Mani, thank you for writing about my Spiritual Father who was also a Spiritual Father for so many. Early believers in this country. He believed in serving and never in publicity for what he had done.
    M. Shanmugam

  33. Dear Mani,

    Many decades have passed since the passing of Mr. Appu Raman, a great servant of the Cause who preferred to be a quiet worker for the Cause. My family was in Bahau town and we were under the Local Spiritual Assembly of Jempol when he last came to Bahau area.

    During the 1970s Mr. Appu Raman visited Bahau area quite regularly to teach and deepen the believer. Mr. Doraisami Suppiah, now a staff at the National Bahai office in Kuala Lumpur too used to follow Mr. Appu Raman on those teaching trips.

    Since there were number of localities around Bahau, with quite a large number of Tamil -speaking Baha’is, it was a perfect place for Mr. Appu Raman to teach and deepen them on the Faith in Tamil language. The believers were so much attracted to learn more about the Faith, thus Mr. Appu Raman was invited to make those trips several times. It was this time and mainly through him that the believers gained more knowledge on the Faith and became strong and started spreading the message around many of the surrounding areas.

    We are very grateful to Mr. Appu Raman and his young youth Mr. Doraisami for devoting their precious time with our communities in those early years.

    When I was on my teaching trip to Myanmar I had the privilege of visiting Mr. Appu Raman’s resting place and offered prayers for his pure and precious soul.

    G. Appala Naidu
    Shah Alam

  34. Mr. Appu Raman, a staunch Hindu and having more interest in politics, became a Bahai while in contact with Mrs. Theresa Chee who taught him the Faith. He then gave up attachments to worldly powers and positions and went on to promote the teachings of Bahaullah to the end of his life.

    God has his own way to identify the true and sincere seekers and mysteriously lead them into His path. That lead Mr. Raman to be one of the greatest luminaries of the Faith in Malaysia. Mr Raman has done it well- only to well to win the hearts of those who came across his life. Today he lives in Bahai history.

    Shankar Bhatt

  35. Sharing on Uncle Appu Raman.
    Thank you for the insightful sharing on Uncle Appu Raman and also your tireless effort in highlighting the meritorious and selfless services of the early believers in Malaysia and abroad in your blog. I have met uncle Appu Raman at the summer school at the Sunshine Camp in Port Diction in the mid 1960s. I also attended the first National Youth Seminar at the New Era School in Kajang. Mr Inbum Chinniah and Mr Raymond Peter encouraged the youths in Jasin to attend this seminar, and a few of us hitch-hiked to attend this seminar. This is where I came to know Uncle Raman better. He was such a gentle, soft-spoken and kind person. One could feel his sincere love for Baha’u’llah and his enthusiasm in his talks and sharing during the seminar.

    In mid-1971, Mr Inbum Chinniah, who was the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, wanted me to do some estate and Asli teaching before I was sent as a pioneer to Sabah. Uncle Raman was so happy that I would be going pioneering and offered a room his residence in Cheras for me to stay, and carry out the teaching in the estates around Cheras and Kajang areas. At that time, he was the Principal of the Rehabilitation School for the Physically Handicapped. This is when I became very closely associated with him and his loving family members -Aunty Thanabakkiam, Kalavathy, Shamala and Nalaini. His family too accepted me as part of their family for more than two months, and made sure I was comfortable staying there and be able to carry on with my teaching work.

    After work uncle Raman would take me along for teaching and deepening activities in the estates around Kajang and Cheras. He would always bring a Baha’i book and would ask me to read a passage from the book while he was driving. Then we would have discussion on the passage that I just read. This was one of his ways of using time effectively, and at the same time deepening me. He taught me the importance to reading the Holy Writings and meditating on them on a daily basis. On weekends, he has taken me for teaching as far as Seremban town. He was such a source of inspiration and like a loving father to me. On week days, in the morning I would go for teaching on my own or would be helping aunty Thanabakkiam doing some gardening around the house compound. Uncle Appu Raman and Mr Inbum Chinnah also made the arrangement for my teaching stint in the Asli areas for about two weeks while still serving in Kajang.

    I am very grateful to Uncle Appu Raman and his family for giving me such an opportunity to serve the Faith and guiding me in preparation for the pioneering to Sabah. Uncle Appu Raman will always be remembered for his undivided loyalty and his dedicated services to the Faith. May Baha’u’llah bless his soul bountifully!

    Paramasivan Sinnasamy

  36. Dear Uncle Appu Raman was in a true sense a foot soldier of the Faith. It seem that he was devoid of any sense of time when there was a call to serve. He literally dropped everything to go when the call came, typical of the pioneering spirit of the heroes of the early days of the Faith in this country.

    The Faith needs someone with the spirit of Appu Raman to set ablaze the country with his love for the Faith to his fellow country men. His services was immaculate in every every sense of the word, tirelessly and joyfully serving in every capacity he was thrust into. Reading about his exploits with the estate teaching in the 1960’s amazes me. What fortitude and perseverance to say the least, in the way he taught Tamil friends in the 1960’s from one estate to another.

    He was man with capacity to have been recognized by the British then to thrust him in the Malayan civil service particularly in the area of social work which he served in an exemplary manner.

    Uncle Appu Raman left a indelible mark and a distinguished service of teaching and serving in the elected arms of the Faith. He was endowed and blessed by his travels for the Cause and meeting some of the Hands and prominent Baha’is during his 30 or more years of dedicated service to Bahá’u’llah.

    There is so much one could write about this blessed soul. It is so inspiring reading every moment of this servant of Baha who lived, served and died for the Cause.

    May the Blessed Beauty shower His most excellent favours upon this soul.

    Thank you.
    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaya

  37. Dear Manisegaran, thank you for sharing with us an account on the life of Mr. Appu Raman. There are so many unsung heroes in the Faith which we are not aware of, and Mr. Appu Raman is one of them.

    From day one he fell in love with teachings of Baha’u’llah and consecrated his life to the service of the Faith until his last breath. His purity of spirit his service to mankind in the field of his profession, his tireless efforts for the Faith will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.

    Ranee Datwani Sreedharan
    Kuala Lumpur

  38. Dear Manisegaran,

    Your very detailed and intimate write up on the late Mr. Appu Raman was great. I know he did not know me in person. My only chance of meeting him was a trip made in late 1960s on a motorcycle ride from Petaling Jaya to Port Dickson to attend a Summer School with a fellow member of the National Bahai Youth Council as pillion rider. There we met Mr. Appu Raman were taken in by his warmth and fatherly disposition.

    From what was written about him, I can sum up in two words- humility and service. Yes he could have been a successful politician but he read the Writings and he knew his mission in life only too well. It is not the temporal world we are living in that would finally count. To serve mankind is to serve Bahaullah. Appu Raman served the poor and the not so fortunate.

    My wife Kung Joo Jong too remembered meeting Appu Raman in Alor Star when she was 12 years old. Anak Bukit, another town close to Alor Star was also the attention of activities those early days. She remembers groups of Baha’is coming from Penang and Kuala Lumpur and having gatherings at the Anak Bukit government Quarters. Her house was the centre of activities.

    Lum Weng Chew

  39. Thank You Mr. Manisegaran for writing this inspiring story about Uncle Appu Raman.

    Uncle Appu Raman left a memorable spot in my own life. He was the one who conducted my Bahai wedding in Taiping YMHA Hall back in 1977. The Bahai’i Wedding was conducted in a very dignified way and was very well received by all family members who were mostly non-Bahais.

    Despite his busy schedule, he directly agreed to conduct my wedding and came all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Taiping just to conduct the wedding.

    Uncel Appu Raman was a senior Government officer who was very knowledgeable on a number of subjects. Yet he was very simple and was well-respected in all spectrum and strata of society, including the Tamil-speaking friends.

    Thanks and Regards,

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