REMEMBERING KUMARA DAS

REMEMBERING KUMARA DAS

13 September 1933 to 6 December 2018

This is the moving story of Kumara Das, truly one of the staunchest believers of the Ten-Year Crusade period bequeathed by the Blessed Beauty to the community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia. He came into the Faith in 1955 and served the Cause with unremitting zeal, registering an unbroken record of service in the manifold areas of the Faith and decorating the pages of history through his impactful services that time can never dim.

The healing message of Bahá’u’lláh wafted over Kumara Das, at that time a teacher in Malacca High School, through Mr. Leong Tat Chee, Senior Sanitary Inspector Officer at the Malacca Municipal Council. Kumara Das, initially was not too keen on the Faith, but Leong Tat Chee’s persistent efforts in teaching the Faith woke him from the stupor of heedlessness, and in 1955 he accepted the Faith. It did not take long before the effect of the Teachings transformed the pure heart of Kumara Das and he became a completely new person. That was a dawn of a new day for him and the Malacca community, as Kumara Das was a highly resourceful person, with loads of personality, resourcefulness, and many talents, which he brought into his services to the Faith. He no longer spent his time with the activities of the friends of the Alumni of the St. Francis’ Institution of Malacca, the school where he first studied. He gave up many of his past habits and lent his full attention, energy, and time for the greater needs of the Faith, and consecrated all days of his life to serve Bahá’u’lláh. His friends sorely missed the old Kumara Das. However, they did not fail to appreciate the new man they saw in him.


Teaching Conference of July 1957, Malacca. Seated second from the left is Yankee Leong, third from the left is Lena Saurajen, fourth from left is Shirin Fozdar, fifth from left is Dr. K.M. Fozdar. Standing at the extreme right is Saurajen, and to his right are Tushar Kanti-Paul, Pijush Kanti Paul, and Mirinal Kanti Paul. Kumara Das stands fifth from the left, with Leong Tat Chee to his left

The excited Kumara Das started to share the Message with his friends such as Mr. Inparaju Chinniah affectionately called “Inbum Chinniah”, who was his childhood friend and headmaster at the Masjid Tanah Primary School, and Mr. T. K. Kannan, who was undergoing a teacher training course at the Day Training College in Malacca, and a few others. Kumara Das became an avid reader, picking up knowledge of the Faith, and was tasked to be one of the speakers at the first Summer School of Malaya held in December 1957 in Malacca. Here, he met Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir for the first time and developed a great love and respect for the Hand. Kumara Das was also set aflame by the visits of the Hands of the Cause of God to Malacca from 1957 onwards whose majestic and radiant personages left a lasting impact on him. Among those who came to Malacca in the early days were Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir,  Mr. S̲h̲u’á’u’lláh `Alá’í, Mr. Abu’l-Qásim Faizi, Miss Agnes Alexander and Mr. Taráz’u’lláh Samandarí. Kumara Das also met other Hands who visited communities outside Malacca. The energetic talks these Hands delivered, the highly charged spirit they imparted and the first-hand information on their meetings with the Guardian and in some cases ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the news they shared on the latest development of the Faith taking place all over the world, the in-depth knowledge of the Faith they shared along with various clarifications they gave to the many questions within his heart had a penetrating influence upon his soul. He was chosen driver to drive Hand of the Cause Mr. Samandarí around Malacca during the latter’s visit in July 1966, and always fondly recalled that he was in a state of spiritual ecstasy throughout the period he accompanied the Hand of the Cause of God and had learned much from him.


The cream of believers from Malacca state gathered at a studio in Jasin to celebrate the election of the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin, 1958. Seated (L-R) Surinder Singh, Lena Saurajen, Margaret Kelly Bates, Elaine Saurajen, G. Saurajen. Standing in the middle row (L-R) Chakrabarthy, Leong Ho San, Raymond Peter, Leong Tat Chee, Arthur Knight, Arumugam Ramanan, Goh Tiow Lim, Jami Subramaniam. Back row (L-R) Tushar Kanti-Paul, E. A. Fernandez, Kumara Das, Anthony Louis, Leong Ho Chiew

Kumara Das shouldered many heavy responsibilities for the promotion of the Cause at a time when manpower was limited. He was one of those, who along with G. Saurajen and Anthony Louis, conducted Sunday Bahá’í Classes for the students and Bahá’í youth in Malacca High School in 1958 when the first batch of youth had accepted the Faith. The Sunday Classes deepened some of the best known and most abled believers such as Jami Subramaniam, Leong Ho San, Errol Seow Hoon Hin, Purushothman Nair, and M. Maniam who would in the years ahead go on to serve the Cause most devotedly. Kumara Das served on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca for many years, starting as Secretary of the Assembly in 1959. He was on the Fireside-Deepening Committee in the early 1960s.


Sunday Class at Malacca High School, 1958. Teachers are seated (L-R) Anthony Louis, Lena Saurajen, G. Saurajen, and Kumara Das.  Back row – standing at the extreme left is Jami Subramaniam, fourth from left is Errol Seow Hoon Hin, fifth from left is Leong Ho San, sixth from left is Purushothman Nair

As a man of many talents, he used those talents for the Cause he became a great asset to the community. He was a teacher in the prestigious Malacca High School, the first Discipline Master there, a Scout Commissioner, a hunter, a singer, had an infectious sense of humour, a public speaker, a cook, a gardener, a social welfare worker in a private capacity, an animal lover, and a man with good organisational abilities, to name a few. He was always a lively and of good humour and a source of encouragement to his fellow believers and generated wonderful fellowship in the Bahá’í community. He often provided the spirit at Bahá’í gatherings in Malacca town, and was the live wire at community functions, with his Scout jokes and games. Kumara Das was endowed with the rare talent of being able to refresh drooping souls through his words of comfort. His company simply elevated ones’ spirit.


A gathering of adults and youth at the Boy Scout Headquarters, circa 1958. Kumara Das is in the middle with black necktie. Anthony Louis is squatting at the extreme right. Koh Ai Leen is standing at the extreme right. Lily is standing third from right, Raymond Peter stands eighth from the right with sunglasses. Leong Ho San is standing fifth from left, with M. Maniam standing in front of him. The three squatting from left are Pijush Kanti Paul, Tushar Kanti-Paul and Jami Subramaniam.

MARRIAGE

Kumara Das married Daisy Chinniah, the sister of Inbum Chinniah in 1961 with the wedding ceremony presided by Leong Tat Chee. Daisy was a teacher trained at the Brinsford Lodge Teachers’ Training College in England. Daisy accepted the Faith in 1963, and that came as an added strength to the already strong Kumara Das. Kumara Das was much delighted and happy to see his wife devoting her life to the promotion of the Cause from the very year she accepted the Faith. Right from the early days, the couple was involved in activities that the National Spiritual Assembly would task the community of Malacca town.


Marriage

In 1963, the National Teaching Committee of the Federation Malaya and Singapore formed a Women Affairs Sub-Committee on which sat Mrs. Elinor Wolff, a believer from Hawaii who had followed her husband Dr. Robert J. Wolff to Malaya for a period of two years since 1962 and resided in Petaling Jaya. Mrs. Wolff herself conducted Children’s Classes in Petaling Jaya and kept up a constant flow of letters to Daisy, Lily Chinniah, Betty Fernandez and roped in the new believer Daisy, encouraging them to think and act on the education of Bahá’í children through children’s classes, and shared some Bahá’í materials for the young ones, whom she called the children, ‘pre-scholars’ and ‘junior youth’ as early as 1963. Daisy proposed that Elinor include music as well in the syllabus, which was added accordingly. Conducting children’s classes was Daisy’s first area of Bahá’í involvement which she passionately carried out throughout her years of service to the Faith. Daisy was a natural fit as a children’s class teacher due to her gentle nature and the great love she had for children, as well as being a music teacher in the government schools she taught at. Theirs was a case of how husband and wife could serve as one soul in two bodies. Anyone coming across the couple was sure to be affected by their sincere love and affection.


Local Spiritual Assembly of  Malacca town, 1963. Seated (L-R) Daisy Das, Betty Fernandez, Chiang Kim Lin. At the extreme left is Leong Tat Chee, and at the extreme right is E. A. Fernandez. Standing (L-R) S. Vasudevan, Tushar Kanti-Paul, Raymond Peter, S. Bhaskaran

AN ABLE FIELD WORKER

Kumara Das was always an active fieldworker in Malacca and had carried out teaching activities in several parts of the Malacca on his own initiative or  by joining the teams of Leong Tat Chee, S. Sathasivam, Inbum Chinniah, Raymond Peter and Vasudevan, to name a few. There was no community in the state of Malacca he did not visit. Although not well-conversant in the Tamil language as he was an ethnic Malayalee, he would visit rubber estates and spoke in the little Tamil he knew, assisted by other Tamil-speaking friends. Soon he was able to converse with the Tamil-speaking friends and reach their hearts Daisy too followed Kumara Das for estate teaching, though her knowledge of the Tamil language was also limited. In later years, Kumara Das joined other early believers in opening to the Faith the Machap Umboo Chinese Village and made frequent visits there. Machap Umboo became one of the leading Chinese-speaking communities in Malaysia in the early 1970s. Kumara Das continued to visit this new community until the late 1990s when the village was restructured when giving way to development.

WIDE RANGE OF POSITIONS

Due to his gregarious nature, Kumara Das had many influential friends in Malacca and he did not hesitate to use his contacts for the Faith. There were three places where major Bahá’í meetings were held from the early 1960s – Happyland Hotel, the Boy Scouts Headquarters, and the Malacca Youth Hostel. The Happyland Hotel was where the First All-Malaya Teaching Conferences were held in 1961, the Boy Scouts Headquarters in Mata Kuching Road was the place where regional teaching conferences were held, and the Malacca Youth Hostel was here Summer Schools were held. With his connections with the management of these places, he was able to get discounts for Bahá’í activities held there.

As Kumara Das became more involved in social organizations, due to his talents he soon began holding higher positions in them as well and he was known as a believer of the Greatest Name. Soon he came to be eminently placed in society on account of the responsibilities and positions he held in these places. During his tenure in the Malacca High School, Kumara Das had served as Discipline Master, Prefect Master, Chairman of Teacher’s Club, Scout Master for the State of Malacca, First District Scout Commissioner, State Scout Commissioner, Supervisor of Night Classes for Adult Education, Supervisor of Evening Classes at State Level for Further Education, and Member in the State Sports Council. These positions created natural inroads into the hearts and minds of the wider community. From the time Kumara Das joined the teaching career in 1954 right up to his retirement, he had produced several students who are today eminently placed in society, locally and abroad, who still remember him fondly, and look upon the Faith he practiced with admiration.


Scout Master

ADDED RESPONSIBILITIES

When the ‘Berita Bahá’í’, the first newsletter of the newly elected National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia was produced in 1964 by the Malacca believers, Kumara Das was one of those appointed to the Bahá’í Publishing Committee of Malaysia with S. Bhaskaran as the editor. This committee decided to produce a four-page newsletter in English, Chinese, Tamil, and simple Malay to be distributed in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and West Malaysia. This first official newsletter was produced by the use of a cyclostyle machine.


First National Convention, 1964. L-R: Kumara Das, Wee Koon San and Chiang Kim Lin with C. S. Maniam of Seremban at her back.   K. Krishnan of Ipoh and Mariappan of Seremban are at the back row, towards the left

When the National Teaching Institute in Bukit Baru was being built, Kumara Das was appointed to the Teaching Institute Committee and elected Secretary of the Building Committee. Kumara Das and Tushar Kanti-Paul looked into the legal aspects, while Anthony Casimir Louis, supervised the construction work. Kumara Das did such a great job that when Leong Tat Chee wrote to Bill Smits of Hawaii, who had sold the land for the Institute to the National Spiritual Assembly, he copied Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhájir as well. There was a handwritten note to Kumara Das that read, Dear Kumara, you have done glorious work for our beloved Cause.” When the Institute was completed in 1966, Kumara Das took great pains in running it and the 1967 issue of the Malaysian Bahá’í Magazine reported that the Teaching Institute was under the guidance of Kumara Das. That Teaching Institute was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and numerous training courses were held there, producing some of the ablest believers in the country.

RECOGNIZED ABILITY

The resourcefulness of Kumara Das was well noted by Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir who had been visiting Malacca since October 1957. On Naw-Rúz day in 1967, Dr. Muhájir visited Kuala Lumpur and spoke great things about Kumara Das to S. Vasudevan who was at that time Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia. Referring to that conversation, Vasudevan wrote to Kumara Das a letter dated 21 March 1967 in which he mentioned,  “Dr. Muhajir left this morning for Ceylon. The last two days he was constantly expressing hopes for you and the Baha’is of Malacca.  He said that you had many talents, and all these will eventually help the Faith. And I was so glad to hear him say these things about you.” S. Vasudevan adds under postscript in his own handwriting, “The work in Malacca is now inspiring the friends everywhere. All of us know how inspiring your work in Tebong has been…”

HOMEFRONT PIONEERING

Terengganu state on the east coast needed home-front pioneers as the Faith germinated at a much slower rate in that distant and isolated state. Taking cognizance of the situation, in 1969, Kumara Das and Daisy asked for a transfer to Terengganu, at a time when the domestic front in Malacca was well served by a number of able believers. Activities soon picked up in Terengganu with the couple actively involved in spreading the Faith in this part of the country. As soon as the couple arrived in Terengganu, they took a survey of the place and wrote to Leong Tat Chee, who was serving as an Auxiliary Board member at that time, that it was possible to form a Local Spiritual Assembly in Riḍván that year itself. The happiness that was evoked in Leong Tat Chee saw no bounds, and he immediately wrote a reply dated 14 January 1969 to Kumara Das, part of which read:

 “I am so glad to learn that there will be an L.S.A. by Ridvan. This is truly historical and future historians will have a lot to say. We have been concentrating heard on East Coast, but no concrete results and we were thinking of transfusion of blood from West Coast to East Coast. How now the thing has become possible by your going there. Our Faith is still in the seed stage and thus all those Baha’is, who work for Him are also the Dawn-Breakers of this Formative Age, and those who teach in a virgin territory are pioneers. And in your case, you are the first Baha’i family in Kuala Terengganu. What a station! You will know of this station (the greatness of it) when our job in this earth would have completed. … You have all the necessary ingredients in you, and if only you wished to open your heart, soul, and spirit to be used by Him as His channel to quicken the souls of mankind, it would be the beginning of conquering the whole of East Coast… We will all pray for you. May Baha’u’llah guide and protect all of us.”

With such encouragement from Leong Tat Chee, whom the Universal House of Justice termed ‘A Sincere Promoter of the Cause’, Kumara Das and Daisy created their teaching plans and kept a constant flow of communications with the believers back in Malacca and encouraging them to give a helping hand in the expansion of the Faith in Terengganu. Friends from other parts of the country also undertook short and long-term teaching activities there. With the activities of Kumara and Daisy Das, the Faith began to lay down roots in that state. The National Coordinating Unit, which was the predecessor to the National Teaching Committee was most pleased with the couple and their activities in Terengganu. In August 1970, N. S. S. Seelan, Jeffrey Choon and visiting couple Dr. S. I. Dean and Mrs Belle Dean  went on a teaching trip to Terengganu and 30 enquirers attended a fireside that Kumara Das arranged. An exciting slide show  by Dr. Dean, followed by lively discussions were held right into the early hours of the morning. The National Coordinating Unit that saw an upsurge of activities for the first time in that part of the country made further trips 0 to give their support.

NEW TOWERING FIGURE

In October 1972, Leong Tat Chee, the strongest support for Kumara Das passed away, and Kumara Das was inconsolable at his funeral. A vacuum left by that father figure and tower of strength was visibly felt in Malacca. At the time Leong Tat Chee passed away, many of the staunchest believers of Malacca town had transferred to other parts of Malaysia, migrated, or had gone pioneering. According to S. K. Somu, the spirit was very low in the Malacca community after the passing of such a colossal figure. With this sad state of affairs, Kumara and Daisy Das felt compelled to return to Malacca in 1973. This time it was Kumara Das who became a tower of strength for the community. The return of the couple saw a new surge of activities in Malacca town and the entire state as well. Kumara Das once again became a wide traveller devoting his entire energy to the promotion of the Faith through his diverse range of Bahá’í activities. His organisational skills blossomed to the fullest in those days. He organised teaching and consolidation trips to many parts of Malacca and beyond. Kumara Das took along new believers on his trips and travels to train them in fieldwork. He often travelled with his regular companions such as Anthony Louis, Somu, Jerry Cheong, and Joe Ganapathy. When passing through other districts, they would add more passengers into the already packed car. Sathasivam of Masjid Tanah and Chandrasekaran of Jasin were such who would be included if they passed through where they lived.

The friends would always be looking forward to those teaching trips made even more enjoyable with Kumara Das’ jokes and humorous stories. And they never felt tired covering and consolidating the 28 Local Spiritual Assemblies in the state. S. K. Somu says that Kumara Das would go into a trance-like state during Riḍván season when the Local Spiritual Assemblies had to be re-elected during the 12 day period. As a member of the Area Teaching Committee, he would organise teams to visit the Local Spiritual Assembly areas and prepare them for the Riḍván elections and ensured that no Assembly lapsed. In most of the visits that Kumara Das made, he never returned home before midnight. Kumara Das also made trips with his teaching team to Terengganu state to ensure the Local Spiritual Assemblies were re-elected. Thus, the Riḍván period was a stressful one as it meant covering the entire state of Malacca and some communities in Terengganu.


Kumara Das speaks at the World Peace Day event at the Leong Tat Chee Institute, 1980. At the extreme left is S. Bhaskaran, and  T. K. Kannan at the extreme right. Seated to the right of Kumara Das is S. Prabhakaran

COMMUNITY-LIVING UNDER ONE ROOF

Kumara Das and Daisy teamed up perfectly well and served the Cause with one mind, often consulting with each other. The couple had four wonderful children – sons Shahin and Shehab, and daughters Shahnaz and Zena. There were times when both parents had to be away for Bahá’í activities almost every day. But as parents, their duties to their children were never neglected. The children were sent for piano lessons, Mandarin, and tuition classes, not forgetting ballet lessons for the girls. Kumara Das’ great hospitality resulted in a steady stream of visitors to their home and from a young age, the children were trained to make coffee and tea for the visitors. The couple ensured a Bahá’í environment was nurtured in their home and that their children were always involved in Bahá’í activities and grew in the Faith with other members of the community.


The couple with L-R:  Shahnaz, Zena on the lap of Daisy, Shehab, and Shahin

The couple showed the way on how a Bahá’í home could become a sanctuary and shelter for the community, and the needy or the unemployed youth. While the house of Leong Tat Chee continued to be the official Bahá’í Centre, the home of Kumara Das turned out to be a second Bahá’í Centre for all intents and purposes with a hive of activities constantly going on. Sunday devotional gatherings with a good breakfast were an ongoing activity for years. Their home was filled with so much fun, laughter, ample food, and more than that, much love, that the wider society lacked. In the course of such gatherings, the believers were deepened, and their hearts were cemented as never before. The family also accommodated many students who came from outstation to study in Malacca. Some of the parents of those students did not know Kumara Das and his wife but had learnt of them through word of mouth from others and trusted their children to their care. The couple accommodated many, both Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, and their house was always full. At one time they had seven boarders living with them, and it was mind-boggling how the couple managed them. Mr. Jayabalan Krishnan of Alor Gajah town, Kai Leong, Michael, Ruby, and her sister stayed with them for some three years while Ruhiyah Ramdu from Bahau town stayed with them for six years. Giresh Kumar, who was their neighbour, spent most of his time at their place, and an orphan who grew up in an orphanage too spent most of his time in this sanctuary where he found warm and sincere love. The couple got them all involved in teaching and other Bahá’í activities and created a good environment for their children to grow with their peer group under the same roof, as one family. The fasting period generated so much spirit.  Kumara Das himself, being a good cook, would cook a wide range of foods for them. Kumara Das had this unique ability to interact with people of all ages, leaving no generation gaps between them. To the youth, he was a mentor and guide and to his peers a true friend in need.


Breaking of the first day of fast at home of Kumara Das in Malacca, 2 March 1981, coinciding with the birthday of Shehab -standing in the middle attired in a T-shirt with white borders.

Although stationed in Malacca town, the heart of Kumara Das was always on the lookout for the needs of the Faith. He knew where the Faith was developing rapidly and where it was germinating slowly. Alor Gajah town was one district where the Faith did not take off for a long time, despite all the efforts poured in. Taking cognizance of this situation, Kumara Das initiated children’s classes and English classes in Alor Gajah town where as many as twenty-five children attended the classes.

THAILAND DAYS

Kumara Das served on the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia from 1983 to 1988, but his heart was always bent on serving in a foreign country. From the time Kumara Das accepted the Faith, he saw his fellow Bahá’ís leaving Malacca state on transfers or overseas for pioneering. But he had two reasons to remain behind, first the education of his children; and second the need for him to hold the fort with the departure of the earlier pillars.

The path opened unexpectedly when Shahnaz, their second daughter, travelled to Bangkok in 1986 to study at Assumption University, having been encouraged to study thereby Jeyabalan Krishnan, an early Malacca Bahá’í who had pioneered to Thailand. Soon, her other siblings following her one by one. Shahnaz completed her degree and started working in Thailand. In 1995, she married Vit Kotrapu and in September of that year, moved to settle in Minnesota in the United States. In 1987 Shahin, the eldest son went to Bangkok and while working there completed a hotel management course at the Assumption University and later moved into Papua New Guinea in 1989 and married Glennys Ote in 1999. Shehab moved to Bangkok in 1987, completed his master’s degree in business administration, and left for Papua New Guinea in 1997. He married Miss Alisa Faridian of Thailand in 2002.

Meanwhile, back in Malacca, Kumara Das retired in 1988. Just before retiring Kumara Das undertook teaching trips to Yasothon, Chieng Mai, and Songkhla in Thailand in the company of Somu and Jerry Cheong. As his retirement days were inching closer, Kumara Das was contemplating moving to Terengganu as he had already developed a pent-up desire to serve there. It was then that he received a call from Mrs. Shirin Fozdar who was then in Singapore to call upon her. On that trip, Mrs. Shirin Fozdar spoke to Kumara Das much about the Santitham Bahá’í School in Yasothon, east Thailand, proposing to Kumara Das that he take up the position as Principal of the school, knowing he was the right person who would measure up to her full expectations. She briefed him on the situation of the school and the staff there. Thus, it came about that Kumara Das left for Santitham Bahá’í School in 1989 and served as its Principal and liaising closely with Mrs. Shirin Fozdar and the National Spiritual Assembly of Thailand. Among those who stayed with Kumara Das and observed the marvelous job he was rendering was Soheil Chinniah in 1990, followed by his sister Saffura Chinniah who served as an Administrative Assistant for nine months in 1991. Each day Kumara Das was the first to arrive in the School and the last to leave. Despite his age, Kumara Das endeavored to pick up the Thai language to be effective in communicating with the local people and the teachers better. He also taught English classes to the kindergarteners all the way up to secondary classes. One of the first things he did upon arriving in the school was to have the inventory and the accounts audited, and ensured the management ran the school with transparency. He was tenacious in ensuring the funds were managed honestly. One of his duties was to raise funds for the school, which he did execute very well.

In the absence of a large Bahá’í community in Yasothon, his wonderful sense of humour, his majestic personality, and warm hospitality gradually endeared the wider community to him. In his night walks in the town after dinner, Kumara Das would buy something from the street vendors, greet all the shopkeepers and cooks and servers, and in a few words in Thai tell them he is a Bahá’í with the Santitham school. Soon he won the friendship of the local bank manager, the Governor, and shop owners, to name but a few. At every given opportunity he was always teaching the Faith. He encouraged many visitors to Bangkok and believers from Malaysia to stay in his house in Yasothon to render teaching work for the Cause. With such efforts and his trademark sense of humour, community life bloomed.

In 1990, Daisy too came to Bangkok after her retirement and was teaching English at Stamford College in that city. They rented a house at Ramkhamhaeng Soi 24 in Bangkok and her children living in Bangkok moved into the house and they lived like a family once again. The home soon became a place for friends, neighbours, and seekers, and above all a center of attraction for each and all. Many students came to their house for various activities and to hear about the Faith. They held regular firesides including sector-based Nineteen Day Feasts. Daisy always prepared food and fruits for the guests at their home almost every day of the week. The Bahá’í environment the family had developed in Malaysia was very much kept alive while in Thailand. Daisy also served as the Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Bangkok in 1991 and 1992.

Kumara Das, who was such a gregarious person by nature, found staying alone in Yasothon and managing multiple tasks highly taxing for him. He sorely missed his family in Bangkok. Money was tight so he had to limit how long he could talk to them each night after dinner on the street. He would find a payphone and slip in all those numbers of coins just to hear their voices. On occasions, he would take a nine-hour bus journey to and from Bangkok to be with them. The family too would occasionally visit him in Yasothon.


Family reunion, Bangkok

Following a long period of domestic political changes in Vietnam, there was a need to re-establish the community in Hanoi. Counsellor Dr. Loh Lee Lee urged Auxiliary Board member Mr. S. Satanam, who was serving in Cambodia, to undertake a visit to Vietnam in 1993 to explore revisiting some of the old Vietnamese Bahá’ís to re-establish ties. Kumara Das too joined Satanam in that trip to Vietnam. They met the local believers and assisted in the formation of a Local Spiritual Assembly in Hanoi.


S. Satanam and Kumara Das in Hanoi, 1993

Kumara Das ended his service with Santitham School in 1992 and returned to Bangkok, and the couple returned to Malacca in 1994. Zena was in Thailand from 1990 to 1995, studying and giving tuition in the evenings. She came back to her hometown in Malacca in 1995.


World Religion Day in Singapore, 1995. L-R: S. Ravichandran, Jamshed Fozdar and Kumara Das

BACK TO TERENGGANU 

In 1998, Daisy took up a job at the Ekhlass International School in Kijal, Kemanan, Terengganu. Kumara Das and Zena moved to Kemaman in 1999 to be with Daisy. By this time there was already a small but active Bahá’í community of some five families with a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly in Kemaman. Kumara Das, Daisy, and Zena, that is father mother, and daughter served on the Local Spiritual Assembly when in Kemaman. The family had children’s classes at their home for the children mostly from the International Schools, families of the expatriates, and local families. Their house became a base for the community activities, hosting Naw-Rúz celebrations and observance of Holy Days. Their stay in Kemaman was the time when the Ruhi classes were intensified. The family also made weekly trips to Wakaf Tapai which is 2.5 hours from Kemaman to conduct children’s class for a year.


Daisy and Zena at Wakaf Tapai, conducting children class


Kumara Das distributing Ayyám-i-Ha goodies at the children’s ward, Kemaman Government Hospital, 2001


Naw-Rúz Dinner at the residence of Kumara Das, 2001. At the extreme left is Rema Narayanan, and opposite her is her bother Jayanthan Narayanan, with Kumara Das at the extreme right.

Kumara Das himself made several teaching trips all over Terengganu state for teaching, visiting some old contacts and deepening them. Jerry Cheong, Somu, Joe Ganapathy, Lee Kam Weng, and S. Sathasivam had undertaken several trips to stay with their family and carry out teaching activities in Kemaman town. The couple stayed in Kemaman until 2004, while Zena returned to Malacca a few months later in 2005. 

CHINA TRIP


At a Shrine in Xiamen. L-R: S. K. Somu, Kumara Das, Soon Poh Lee, and Jerry Cheong

The National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia had given the goal of opening up Xiamen in the Fujian province of China to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca. Kumara Das being one who never shirked responsibility rose to the call. In September 1999, Kumara Das, Somu, Soon Poh Lee, and Jerry Cheong sprang up to undertake a teaching trip to Xiamen. They arrived in Xiamen in time for the celebration of the National Day of China of 1 October 1999 and stayed on the ground floor of an apartment that belonged to Mr. Soon. Miss Foong Lai Kwan, a Malaysian believer already residing in China, seized the opportunity of their arrival and invited the residents in her apartment block to a rooftop barbecue party on the occasion of National Day. The presence of the Malaysian travel teachers promoted closer community fellowship, with Kumara Das relating stories that brought much laughter to the locals. The travel teachers set a precedent because from then on, a National Day barbecue party became a regular affair in Foong Lai Kwan’s apartment block until her own transfer to Quanzhou, Fujian Province, in 2001.

Another activity at that time was the English Corner which was a weekly gathering at the University of Xiamen for students to get together to practice speaking in English. Although these travel teachers attended only one English Corner, they were warmly welcomed, and several students asked to stay in contact. In Xiamen, Kumara Das’ heart condition, an illness he had been suffering from for decades having suffered a heart attack when aged in his 40s, became serious and he was left in the care of relatives of Mr. Soon. The three other Malaysian travel teachers journeyed by train to Nanjing and to Beijing, teaching the Faith to whoever they could speak to on the train. A few who were atheists on account of their upbringing were impressed and were convinced of the existence of God. The three returned to Xiamen from where all four came back to Malacca.


Visit to Papua New Guinea, 1999

NEVER MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH

Somehow Kumara Das was so passionate about teaching the Cause that would not miss an opportunity to teach the Faith to someone at any given opportunity, as evidenced by the trip he made with his wife to the USA in 2000 for 5 weeks. Their daughter Shahnaz took them to San Francisco, where Kumara Das ended up in the San Mateo Hospital for about a week owing to heart-related complications. Rather than resting as per the advice of the doctors, the always energetic Kumara Das started talking about the Faith to everyone that walked into the room. And it was the act of teaching the Faith that he would later recall, made him feel better, rather than the medical prescriptions. It did not take long before he earned the love of one and all that treated him. The doctors were amazed at his fighting spirit and his magnetic personality. He in his usual Malaysian warmth and style began to invite them all to his daughter’s home in Minnesota and assured them of a place to stay.

STRANGERS TOO WERE HIS FRIENDS

Inviting unknown people in distress to his home was an inbuilt virtue in this lover of the human race. The family recalls several instances of Kumara Das inviting strangers to come and stay. Even when the family travelled by train from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, Kumara Das gave people his house address and landline number and invited them to come over. Once the family was shopping at the TESCO supermarket in Malacca, and when they were ready to leave, Kumara Das brought along a traveller from India with this backpack, and said he was staying with them for a few nights!

MODEST AND CONTENTED LIFE

The family lived a modest, but very happy and contented life. Most of the years they stayed in rented homes, until the last years when they had one of their own. For transport, Kumara Das started with a second-hand Volkswagen and later had two cars to be used by the couple to travel to school. One of the two or both would be out for Bahá’í service at any given moment. There was one instance when a local believer passed away and the hearse that was on its way to the house of the deceased broke down on its way. Kumara Das brought down the seats of his station wagon car and transported the body to the Bahá’í burial ground. Using a family car to transport the dead was a taboo in the Indian community from which he had hailed and an incredibly audacious act on his part. The last car he owned was a Toyota which was originally white, and as the colour faded with age, Kumara Das got it painted blue. That car, as was the case with his all other cars, served the family and the Faith faithfully for many years, covering thousands of miles traversing the whole of Malaysia on teaching trips, family holidays, visits to friends and relatives, visiting the sick, the disabled, the mentally handicapped, and delivering fresh fish, vegetables, fruits to the poor and needy.

It has to be mentioned that at all times, the full energy and the earnings of the couple went into the Faith. Kumara Das was always in touch with the believers, if not in person, then on telephone calls, with his monthly telephone bill coming to no less than RM500 per month. One of the distinguishing virtues of Kumara Das is his boundless generosity. He cared for his family and the community. Whenever he heard of anyone in distress or suffering from ailments, he went out of his way to visit them and do whatever he could to help.

Where the Faith was concerned, the couple were never calculative. In all his visits to the homes of friends, Kumara Das made it a point to buy some gifts for them. Likewise, nobody had left their home without partaking of a meal. His was a house where any visitor could always arrive without notice and the visitor was always welcomed and accommodated for any number of days. When Mrs. Elizabeth Thurairatnam, the mother of Daisy became old, she was welcomed to stay with them, and it was in their house that she passed away.


Gathering of veterans for Fathers’ Day celebration in  2016. L-R: S. K. Somu,  S. Bhaskaran, Soon Poh Lee, Ho Kim San, Kumara Das and Koo Yong Kiang 

Malaysia was very famous for the open air eateries or stalls that were open twenty four hours in many parts of the country. After the hospitality shown at home, Kumara Das would take the visitors to one of those open air stalls to treat them with the famous hot “Teh Tarik, Mamak Mee Goreng or Roti Canai Banjir.” And that was where the bonding became stronger. In other parts of the country too  the believers used to gather at such stalls to unwind after their heavy  Bahá’í sessions were over.


Mr. Cyrus and his wife Izzat Rameshni are visitors from Brisbane seated to the right of Kumara Das at a famous stall in Malacca in October 2017.  Low Ling Wah at extreme right is seen with the attendees of  her Children’s Class. The visitors are the in-laws of the photogpraher Mr. Wong Meng Fook of Singapore.

BY THE MASTER’S EXHORTATION

The lovely children of Kumara Das are well known to the current and former generation of believers as much as their parents. While providing the best they could for their children, the couple were conscious of the exhortation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Master, in exposing children to hardships. When Shahin was working in Bangkok, Kumara Das took him along to visit the House of Worship in New Delhi, the New Era Bahá’í School in Panchgani, near Pune, and then to Bangladesh for a few days visiting Bahá’ís. On that trip Kumara Das also wanted Shahin to see for himself the poverty in the two countries and the sufferings of the people. Shahin remains grateful to his father for that exposure that shaped his life for the better after that trip. The children too have developed a soft spot for the poor and needy, like their parents.

THE STRENGTH THAT LEFT HIM

Kumara Das, owing to his responsibility as a Discipline Teacher in school, would have appeared hard-hitting in his conversations on some occasions. He was always frank, but never intentionally hurting anyone. But the real Kumara Das was very soft within, sensitive, and full of love for everyone. There were moments when he had shed tears on the sufferings of the downtrodden. S. K. Somu recalls one instance where having heard of the sufferings of the poor in the estates, Kumara Das had loaded his car with provisions and had them distributed to them. The following day, he did not have money left for his own daily needs. He wept openly at the passing of Leong Tat Chee in October 1972 and at the passing of his brother-in-law Inbum Chinniah in February 1980.


Training of children was Daisy’s lifelong commitment, wherever she went. The above is a children class event in Malacca

The one more loss he could not bear was the passing of his wife who was the strength behind him. Kumara Das was very attached to his wife who was a balancing factor in his life, his advisor, and his guide. In 2014, Daisy’s health was deteriorating and the very sad Kumara Das already retired, was still pushing himself to serve the Cause. Even in his last months, he was driving around visiting people and having devotional in his house. While involving in Bahá’í activities he still spent much time with Daisy. After some months, in January 2015 Daisy slipped into a vegetative state. Having lived with her for more than 60 years, Kumara Das could not come to terms with her health condition and spent most of his time by her bedside, offering prayers. And at times he used to talk to her as though she could understand him. Daisy passed away on 29 October 2018. She was laid to rest in the Bahá’í Memorial Garden in Jelutong, Malacca. The family and the community felt the irreparable loss of a soft-spoken, tender-hearted, and mother-figure who had served the Cause in Malacca unabatedly from 1963- a service marked with immense love and sacrifice on her part. Kumara Das was shaken to the core and had to be helped to walk to the burial ground, having lost the strength that was part of him for some six decades.


Kumara Das being helped to walk to the burial site of Daisy, with Soheil Chinniah on the left and Zena on the right. Shahin with dark glasses is at the back

A GREAT STRENGTH  THAT LEFT THE COMMUNITY

Kumara Das was immersed in deep sorrow after the passing of his wife, from which he was not to recover at all. His own condition deteriorated rapidly owing to his health complications. He was admitted into the Pantai Hospital for a week, slipped into a coma, and passed away on 5 December 2018, barely two months after the passing of his dearest life partner. He was laid to rest in the Bahá’í Memorial Garden in Jelutong, Malacca, immediately next to where Daisy herself was buried. Among the four children,  Zena stayed with the parents until the very end of their lives serving them well as a dutiful daughter.

UNPARALLELED EXAMPLE

Thus, came to an end the life of this illustrious servant of Baháʼu’lláh who had made the Malaysian Bahá’í community proud, and decorated the pages of Bahá’í history through an unparalleled and unique record of service.

It would appear that Kumara Das and his wife were created for some specific reasons.  God had given them long lives for reasons that have become very clear, which is to serve His Cause at a time when the community was just growing and needed manpower in abundance to serve the Cause in the many arenas of service. The community grew with them as much as they too evolved together with the community for more than six decades.


They loved and served the Faith together for more than six decades

Some thirty years ago, while Kumara Das was sipping coffee in a coffee shop, his old student who worked as a medical specialist in Singapore met him there by chance. The moment his eyes fell upon Kumara Das, he exclaimed candidly “Mr. Das, you are supposed to have died some twenty years ago. It’s a miracle to see you still alive and energetic as ever!” That specialist had many years earlier diagnosed Kumara Das of having six blocks in his heart and concluded that performing an operation on him would be highly risky. Little did that specialist know that the final call comes from the Unseen Realms only when the earthly work of Kumara Das was fully accomplished. The close friends who had known of his heart condition always considered a man living for so many years with six blocks an unbelievable miracle. Although experiencing a physical burnout from decades of stressful exertion for the Cause, nothing could diminish his spirit when there was a work to be executed. He once drove his car on a teaching trip from Malacca town all the way to Kampong Bukit Sirih in Kelantan state while having bad chest pains, arriving past midnight. He drove all by himself not allowing others to drive as he felt they were slow drivers.

Kumara Das associated equally with believers and non-believers from the Chinese, Indian, Malay, and aboriginal backgrounds and his conversations were always full of warmth and with radiant smiles. In Malacca, the Faith revolved around Kumara Das, especially from 1973 as he was in the centre of every plan and activity. Whenever Bahá’í visitors came to Malacca, Kumara Das would take them around for home visits. It is not an exaggeration to say that his name was synonymous with the Bahá’í community of Malacca. If the National Spiritual Assembly wanted anything to be done in Malacca, it was Kumara Das that the august institution contacted. Kumara Das was the staunchest supporter of the institutions and strength in the Covenant that he demonstrated throughout his life. Serving the Cause with unyielding tenacity from 1955 right to 2018, he witnessed the emergence and growth of several generations of new believers. And Daisy, his strength, was with him in all his efforts and endeavours for the Cause! Kumara and Daisy Das were certainly a precious gift bequeathed to the Malaysian Bahá’í community by the divinely propelled Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, as evidenced by the lasting legacy they have left behind for generations to wonder and emulate.


RESTING PLACE OF DAISY (LEFT) AND KUMARA DAS (RIGHT)

A. Manisegaran
30 June 2021

Copyright @ bahairecollections.com

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45 thoughts on “REMEMBERING KUMARA DAS

  1. I sit here spellbound reading and recollecting the rich life and services of Kumara Das, with so many thoughts and memories running through my mind, of being with him in the remaining years of his life in Melaka that I cannot even begin to recount.

    We grew up in the same neighbourhood of Pengkalan Rama in the 1940s so our association with him and his family came from those humble beginnings that grew over the years, and that we became extended family along the way!

    Kumara Das would relate stories of how he first heard of the Faith from my father who was very persistent and determined in sharing the teachings with him, and how initially he would exit his house by the back door when he saw my father approaching from the street.

    The rest is history as they say when Kumara accepted the Faith and became one of the most devoted believers in those early days of the Faith in Melaka.

    He has left a lasting legacy in the annals of the early days in Melaka, and present and future generations wll undoubtedly speak and write of his services to the community in Melaka, in Malaysia and the world.

    Thank you Thank you for this story of a giant on the stage, we will always remember him with much love and gratitude, God bless him and his family leaving such traces for all to follow in their footsteps!

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    AUSTRALIA

  2. I am very happy to see a wonderful story on my dearest friend Kumar Das, written with so many details and with great passion. He was one of the earliest friends I earned in Malaysia from the first time I went to the country in 1965 and our friendship had blossomed and lasted all the years.

    I had known Kumara Das as a humble servant of the Cause and a true lover of Baha’u’llah. I always adored him and was very happy to be closely associated with him when he and his family were in Bangkok in Thailand in the early 1990s. At that time, I was residing and moving between South Korea and China and was annually visiting the Baha’i communities in Laos and Thailand with the instruction of the World Center. In Thailand, Kumar Das would take me to visit the small communities in the rural areas, mostly around Bangkok where has been teaching the Faith. I must say he and his wife Daisy had brought up their children well. Their daughters were actively conducting children’s classes.

    How special, uplifting, and memorable were those days. They were truly beyond description. Sometimes we were too busy visiting the friends that we forgot we were hungry. Yet we did we pick up snacks from the small stalls along the road and kept going. I knew that he was diabetic and many of the snacks that were mostly made from bananas or rich in carbohydrates were not good for him but he didn’t care much and did not want to interrupt the teaching activities because of food. And when I tried to remind him of his health issue, he would just say, “Don’t worry, Baha’u’llah will protect me.” His long life and the many years of service in Malaysia from the early days of the Faith in Malaysia and abroad crowned him with the mantle of service and sacrifice. He was surely an exemplary servant of the Cause that knew nothing else except service.

    In 2018 I was doing some consolidation work in the Seremban area. Kumar Das heard about my presence in Malaysia and invited me to go to Malacca and be a guest at their home. Since his wife was very ill and bedridden I had to hesitate in accepting the invitation, but on the insistence of Kumara Das I spent two days with them. We spent hours till late night talking about the early days of the Faith, the early believers who were the standard bearers or torch bearers, the struggles we had to undergo to establish the Cause, the challenges we faced and the final triumph. That was our last meeting. The next I heard that his wife passed away and barely two months after her passing my dear friend Kumara Das too passed away. He joined his close friend, Satanam and many other early ones in the Abha Kingdom.

    When saying the prayers for the departed, Kumara Das and his wife are certainly well remembered. I am equally happy that his immortal services are well recorded in this blog, and the current generation is led to read the kind of true stalwart who had blessed this country of Malaysia.

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chiang Mai,
    Thailand

  3. Dear Uncle Manisegaran,

    Thank you for your very inspiring write-up on Uncle Kumara Das. I remember those wonderful years of the services of Uncle Kumara Das and his family in Kemaman, Terengganu. He came with his wife Aunty Daisy and daughter Zena at a time when manpower was needed to develop that remote part of the country, and they did leave their most memorable traces behind. Although Uncle Kumara Das was already retired and in his 70’s, he was always full of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to service. He had retired from his teaching service, but was still actively serving the Cause with a driving force that I had not seen in others.

    It was then that the institute process was picking momentum and the willingness of him to study Ruhi Books for long hours and the discipline he had within him really impressed and amazed me. His great sense of humor, not to mention the endless hospitality added much cheer and joy to the long hours of study and we all completed the main sequence of courses. I recalled once after the completion of Book 3 on Children Class, he attended the children class that I was conducting, and commented that the classes were well conducted according to the Book 3 that we went through. His words of encouragement and the positive attitude he had as well as his way of giving priority and everything for the Cause touched me most. I can bravely say that his only desire and happiness was to serve the Cause, what he loved most.

    Regards
    Rema Narayanan
    Sepang
    Malaysia

  4. Brother Manisegaran,

    I must say that as I read the story of Kumara Das, I could not control the tears that burst out. I had met him at Conferences where he would be called upon to sing songs to close the conferences and he would sing “goodbye ” song and bring out tears from the participation. I had heard that he was a believer of the early days and that he had served the Cause well. But I never knew the range of his services, until I read this story. He was one who had involved his children in the activities of the Faith and has really set an example for many parents to follow. His range of services presented in subheadings is vast and wide. It is a regret that I never had the bounty of associating with him personally. And yet I am gratified to have known him better with this story. Malaysia has produced so many heroes who are being brought to the fore and preserved for posterity through this blog. Now I am able to see there have been numerous great souls who have contributed to the development of the Cause in Malaysia and abroad. And the services of Kumara Das have been unique and special in many ways.

    Thank you
    R. Gopal
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  5. Dear Manisegaran,

    That was a very well written story of a great man who served valiantly till the end. We truly missed Das!

    Yin Hong Shuen
    Singapore

  6. Uncle Mani,

    Thank you for writing about Uncle Kumara Das and his late wife Aunty Daisy. They were very well remembered by my parents. My father always remembered as Penghulu Maniam accepted the Faith in Malacca in about 1957 and was one of those who was deepened by Uncles Kumara Das and Anthony Louis, from what my father told me.

    In 2016, I joined my family in going to Malacca to visit my late father’s family. While in Malacca, I got to speak with the Uncle Das, and we were supposed to meet up. Unfortunately we could not make it as it was the eve of the Hindu festival of Deepavali. While travelling on car we were caught in a massive traffic jam. We called him to say we can’t make it. We were saddened further to be told that he had already prepared meal for us. Oh dear Uncle Das, I am sure one day we will meet in the Abha Kingdom and have meal together, with Aunty Daisy playing her piano…

    Srimathy Maniam
    Sarawak
    Malaysia

  7. Thank you once again Mani.
    These stories make us understand how the Faith flourished through the sacrifice and love of these stalwarts and giants of Baha’u’llah’s religion. Kumara Das stands tall among those early stalwarts

    Venugopal Nambiyar
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  8. Dear Spiritual Baha’i friend,

    Many thanks for emailing me these very beautiful spiritual biographies of my dearly respected Baha’i friends of Malaysia, the latest being on Kumara Das. Truly inspiring to read. I stayed in his house for few days. Mr. Das and his wife looked after me and treated me with great hospitality. I felt like I was in my own home. A very rare kind of Bahais with a rare kind of home that was full of spirit!

    God bless their great souls and may they rest in peace

    Kind regards
    Bayan Shahed
    Australia

  9. I remember this great soul Kumara Das

    When we returned from the Holy land in 1992 , that kindly Kumara Das welcome us at the Bangkok airport and we stayed at his home. He and his wife were very kind. They were fine examples of kindness. I always remember them in my prayers.

    Tun Yi
    Yangon
    Myanmar

  10. Dear Mani

    I read the full story of Kumara Das with great interest. He was one who was very close to me and I had known him for close to fifty years. I became a believer through Mrs Iris Soon and later it was Kumara Das who groomed me in the Faith, not forgetting the homely hospitality of his wife and the sincere love from their children Shahin, Shanaz, Sehab and Zena

    When I moved to Kuala Lumpur later I kept in touch with this family and each time I visited Malacca, I made it a point to call upon Kumara Das. In 2013 my daughter’s wedding was held in Kuala Lumpur. I sent him an invitation and never expected him to come for the wedding because he was not keeping well. But to my surprise, his daughter Zena and he came all the way from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur for the wedding, though physically not feeling good. That was the kind of person Kumara Das was. He valued friendship.

    This story has now opened further insights into his life, of which he never spoke. You have spoken it Mani, and spoke very well. I can only shed tears! We need more Kumara Das to enrich our community and make the world a better place!

    Peter Lim
    Cheras
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  11. Dear Manisegaran,
    I am seeing more and more jewels coming out of the coffer. This community has had so many unsung heroes, and Kumara Das, though cannot be said to be an unsung hero, has done more than what we had known! For the first time his entire life story has come out in a compact form, containing many details I did not know!

    I had known Kumara Das well during his days in Kemaman, Terengganu. Reading this touching story has brought some very happy memories of the Kemaman days.

    But it is your story that has given a full picture of his 60 years of service and covered many things that I did not know. He has indeed done so much for the Faith, often quietly. He never noised abroad his services. He never wanted a following for himself but wanted all to follow the Blessed Beauty. His untiring services in Malaysia and overseas are truly astounding, amazing and inspiring.
    His colourful roles vouched his magnetic personality. He had this unique ability to converse with anyone who crossed his path, and always smiling, cheerful and with boundless hospitality. I have witnessed on many occasions his quick witted jokes that will lighten up all around him.

    Once again thank you, Mani, for penning this story on our stalwart and supporter of the Cause who stood firm as a rock in the Covenant as a true lover of humanity.

    He has finally reunited with his beloved wife in the Abha Kingdom. Their souls are sure to be blessed with the choicest bounties of Bahaullah

    Jayanthan
    Kuantan
    Malaysia

  12. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for posting this wonderful story of my dearest friend Kumara Das. He accepted the Faith in 1955, and I in 1957. But we knew each other earlier, coming from the St Francis’s Institution of Malacca.

    And what a coincidence! Your story was published and that evening we had a Devotional Meeting in the Malacca community. From what I was made to understand, reference was made to your story on Kumara Das and many were weeping away, and prayers were said. Kumara Das and Daisy are missed as never before. Today, their daughter Zena, is doing a wonderful job as Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly.

    I have been following the activities of Kumara Das, his brother in law Inbum Chinniah and many others who all have left this world, leaving me and a few others who were the early birds. I can say that each and every paragraph you have written speaks not only the right history, but a summary of volumes that could be written. I believe you have enough material to write a book on Kumara Das. His wife Daisy, to me was a soft spoken, tender-hearted and saintly lady of the finest character, who was very close to my late wife.

    Kumara Das was very clear when accepting the Faith. He wanted to serve and never aspired for any name, fame, position, and reward. Nor did he wanted to leave behind any following. Whenever he had a task to complete, he would do it for the sake of Bahaullah. These are the exact words he used to mention to me from time to time, “We have been chosen to serve Bahaullah. Let us serve Him and His Cause only for the love we have for Him.” And how true! All his days, he spent his time, effort, and energy to serve the Cause.

    You have brought him back to life, with all those photographs that stand by what you have written on Kumara Das.The photograph of the Sunday classes is historical as they were the first of the kind in this country.And that was the major activity of Kumara Das and I joining hands. Those were the days that would never return. What a spirit, what an enthusiasm, and what the wonders we all witnessed!

    I am happy that a story on this true servant is now out for all to read and admire. Like Inbum Chinniah and Leong Tat Chee, of Malacca, Kumara Das too was like the Haley Comet which comes once in many years!

    Thank you
    Anthony C. Louis
    Malacca
    Malaysia

  13. That was a great story of my dear friend Kumara Das whom I miss more than ever. He and his wife have done so much for the Faith in Bangkok. From your story I gather they have done great work in Malacca.

    I shall never forget his days in Bangkok. In those days at their house at Ramkamhaeng Road Soi 24. Mr and Mrs. Das were very hospitable and always received their guests with warm smile and enthusiasm. Mrs. Das mostly was in the kitchen and prepared some drinks or fruits for guests but Mr. Das talked to guests very happily. With youths he joked and laughed with them, made them happy so that all youths felt being at their own home. He listened to them and always offered wise advice to them very tactfully. He talked to everyone joyously about the Faith and the Teachings. Everyone in his house could feel the love of Mr. Das towards them. He was such a loving man. He loved everyone and could make everyone to love him too. He had a very simple life and down to earth. He was extremely kind to everyone.
    Firouz
    Bangkok
    Thailand

  14. Dear Mani,
    The story was heartwarming, inspiring, and full of active and productive service that spanned their entire lives. While reading the entire article in one sitting, I could not stop thinking that serving the Faith and teaching are more sacred than anything. Both of them deserve a peaceful eternal journey together.

    Thank you Mani for the powerful service you provide by sharing and connecting the Bahá’í believers.
    Narendra Pande
    Kathmandu
    Nepal

  15. Thank you for these recollections of our Dear Late Uncle Das and Aunty Daisy.

    I remember the day I received the news of his passing. It was a mix feeling, my eyes soaked knowing I would never see him again and at the same time, I was happy that he has reunited with his faithful companion and beloved wife, Aunty Daisy in the realm above.

    He was in his late 70s, and myself a student in Melaka when I knew him. Age far apart, yet I used to enjoy being by his side. He would share stories and experiences from far back during the Japanese occupation to his latest adventures. His stories were inspiring, and of course hilarious.

    Though at such an age, he was always independent, rarely seen him at the passenger seat of a car. Always on the wheels.

    I frequent to their home after my classes as it was not far from college. Aunty Daisy will be at the front door sometimes, with her gentle smile welcoming me in. She would usually before anything else ask “Tea of Coffee”? A common gesture that is always seen among all the other members of the household as well.

    The inspiring Uncle Das and always gentle Aunty Daisy will always remain in our hearts.

    Doshann
    Papua New Guinea

  16. That was indeed a very befitting tribute to our dearest Uncle Das and Aunty Daisy. I remember those great days when I grew up under the care and love of the most adorable couple. Uncle Das and Aunty Daisy always gave their very best to the visitors to their home.

    I remember we once received news that Mr. Fariborz Sahba, the architect of the Bahai House of Worship of New Delhi will be coming to stay with us for a few days. So, Uncle Das made all of us kids who were staying with him prepare the house. We had to clean the house and keep it neat and tidy to welcome such an honorable guest. That was his way of creating a lovely environment for guests to his house.

    He would wake up very early and go around town to get the best food for his guests. The purchasing time would be only about half an hour, but Uncle Das would take about two hours, as he would spend time talking to everyone who he meets. At the end of the conversation, he would say “Call me, and do come to my house. ” And it was not a false courtesy. He meant what he said. He would leave his phone number with the strangers who he had just befriended in the marketplace. Everyone was a member of his family. That was Uncle Kumara Das.

    Let me also share a little on his devotion and dedication. Once Uncle Das had to go to Kuala Lumpur for a meeting but was not well at all. As the meeting was the next day, he wanted to leave the night before. Aunty Daisy was not happy about him driving the car all alone at that hour. She said, “Kumar, go tomorrow, I’m worried. You can’t drive all alone at this hour.” Uncle Das replied, “I am not driving the car, Bahaullah is.” And off he went and came back safe and fine. When there was a work to be done for the Cause, nothing would stop him. I am yet to see one who had this much dedication for the Cause and this much love and trust in Bahaullah

    Ruhiyah Ramdu
    Subang Jaya
    Selangor
    Malaysia

  17. Uncle Das and Aunty Daisy were such a remarkable couple in many ways. No word could adequately describe how they meant to me, and of course the numerous others who had come across their path. There is not a single soul who would have forgotten their love and hospitality.

    A visit to their home would mean you will never go hungry. There will be ample food which you could always partake as you wished. And along with that we will get lots of laughter that would go nonstop. Each time one goes to their house there will be meeting of new friends. Uncle Das was a perfect guide and advisor to the youngsters, always telling us stories about our Faith and telling us how we should serve the Faith as our first priority in life, whatever other tasks we may have. He would urge us to show true and sincere love to everyone that crosses your path, no matter what. He would say, “Stop anywhere or anytime just to say hi to someone so that you can make someone’s day. Always open up your home for all Baha’i activities and for the youths.”

    I have taken his advice seriously and can say that my husband Giresh who was once the neighbour and became part of uncle Das family and I have to this day followed what Uncle Das has said.

    We love you Uncle and Aunty and miss both of you. Your fondest memories will always stay in our hearts, and nobody else could replace your special place in our hearts

    Connie Clancy
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  18. I still vividly remember what happened some 27 years ago, when I was a youth. I was participating in a teaching campaign in Kuala Krai in Kelantan state and staying with retired Commando Arumugam who was a home front pioneer there. One day, I saw a van arrive and I saw one Uncle Kumara Das alighting from the van and walking with a drip still on his hand. It was clear to me that Uncle Das had just come out from hospital and travelled all the way from Malacca to join in the teaching campaign. I think Mr. Jerry Cheong was the one who drove him from Malacca. I could not believe what I saw and was deeply touched by his determination to teach the Faith even with his poor health condition. Also, I remember that night was filled with roaring laughter till the midnight with Uncle Das around. He looked cheerful and made others happy. That was the talent and gift of Uncle Das in cheering others, even when he himself was not well.

    Lee Kam Soon
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  19. I read the thrilling story of Kumara Das, one of the bright stars of the Ten Year Crusade. I am pretty sure that his longstanding services will be remembered for posterity, and he will always be remembered for his eloquent speeches in Baha’i gatherings like the summer and winter schools. From what I have understood from the story, his services in organising and conducting deepening classes for the youths have produced a good number of manpower, required at that time for the expansion and consolidation.

    Good services Sir. Will remember you in our prayers.

    Shankar Bhat
    Bengaluru
    India

  20. Manisegaran
    A story that moved my soul! I know Kumara Das for many years. I met Kumara Das often at Bahai events. I can always remember his ever smiling and kind personality. He is always calm and speaks slowly and always with love. He was always full of energy and spent much time teaching the Bahai Faith. His personality and contributions for the Cause are well recorded for the future generations to admire. If not for the story I would not have known so much, and I would have taken him as just one more active believer in Malacca. This has opened the vistas for me to see his gigantic contributions

    God blessed his soul.
    Bernard Wang Teow Teng
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  21. My dear Mani
    You have said everything that needs to be said as a keen researcher and a true historian.

    I wish to say something about my early connection with so great a couple. Kumara Das and I grew up as neighbours in Pengkalan Rama. His father Edithil Damodaran Das as and my father Leong Tat Chee both worked for the Municipality in Malacca. So, they were given quarters. Kumar and his family lived a few doors from our house. I never called him Kumara Das. He was always known as Thamby to us. I only started calling in Kumar when he courted my sister in law Daisy, a lovely angel by any standards. We used to play together when we were young. We would play badminton and all kinds of games that children would play.

    His father old man Mr E.D. Das and my father were very thrifty as they had big families. My father had 7 kids and Kumar had four. My father and Kumar’s father would share one newspaper. I think it’s The Straits Times. I was asked by my father the to be in charge. Every day I had to take the papers to Kumar’s house, pass the papers to his father. When he finished reading , he would give the papers to me and then I would run back to my house and hand the papers to my father. This was a daily routine.

    Kumar was a very generous person. He was a friend to everyone, especially to the tourists and hikers. They would come to his house. Kumar’s name was well known to all these people. Whenever we told him we were visiting him, he was sure to lay the table with all kinds of food like nasi lemak, roti canai etc. No wonder so many people wanted to go to his house. We too like to visit him as we could eat all the delicious food.

    Kumar and my husband Inbum were teaching together in the Malacca High School.They were good friends. Kumar used to take Inbum to my house to have fireside and deepening classes with my Dad.That was how they became deepened in the Faith. In a sense I am related to Kumar. He married my husband’s sister.

    After Kumar and Daisy got married, they were blessed with 4 beautiful children, 2 boys and 2 girls- the boys Shahin and Shehab and the girls Shahnaz and Zena. They are all angels.
    The rest are well presented in the story that has immortalized the names of those who really served the Faith.

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  22. Dear Uncle Mani, 

    I read the story with so much passion and appreciation — so heart-rending episode. Uncle Das’s love, zeal, and perseverance in propagating the Faith are very well presented throughout. Though I have not known uncle Das personally, your narrative has effectively taken me through his life journey as though I have known him closely. One great thing about the early Baha’is is that — it’s very difficult to emulate them, and they are so unique in every possible way. The photographs presented speak volumes of his tireless services together with his beloved wife and family. To me, it’s more like a love story — where they both started this spiritual journey together and united in the eternal realms almost together; only separated by lesser than two months! It was quite astonishing to see how he had survived some 25 years with six blocks in his heart. That itself is a testimony that when one is in the field of service, even death gets out of your way!  After all, it’s God who decided when to sound the role-call, isn’t it? I had attended the virtual burial service of aunty Daisy — and the eulogy presented by aunty Lily Chinniah was extraordinary and to the core! She recalled what her beloved mother Mrs. Leong Tat Chee said about aunty Daisy’s kindness — that she was such a gentle person and if she steps on an ant, it won’t die! Your Jewel Among Nations had also highlighted the services rendered by uncle Das — and I feel so connected in a way or another! The greatness of these Stalwarts of the Faith and the shining standard set by them will always inspire the many generations to come. I sincerely pray that they give the spiritual energy to fervently serving the Blessed Beauty to our best possible ability. God bless their radian soul. 

    With Loving Baha’is Greetings, 
    Vela Gopal 
    Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

  23. Uncle Kumara Das, one of the greatest heroes of the Faith has lived a long number of years serving the Cause effectively. But it was with his children that I was more associated at the Youth camps and Youth Academy sessions held in the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute in Balakong. My first encounter with this great soul was at one of the Perak Summer Schools held at the Anglo Chinese School in Ipoh town. It was a period of an intensive campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the National Baha’i Centre at 4 Lorong Titiwangsa, Jalan Pahang, Kuala Lumpur.

    Uncle Kumara Das was a special representative of the National Spiritual Assembly at the Summer School to call for the funds. I remember very vividly what he spoke. His talk was simple, no elaborate statistics, no graphs, no projector, and no slides to show.

    He started by asking how many of you have met Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir. Some veterans in the room carried their hands. Then he went on to tell the audience of the many stories related by Dr. Muhajir. Listening to the many sacrifices and wonderful deeds of Dr. Muhajir many had tears in their eyes. While he was telling this stories, he was like going round the entire hall, lovingly looking at our eyes. He himself was also tearing when speaking about the sacrifices of Dr. Muhajir. I too, was caught in that emotion, when he told that Dr. Muhajir travelled the world with one suitcase, with a pair of clothes, a pair of trousers and prayer books and holy writings. With this simplicity he carried the message of Baha’u’llah to the World. Then Uncle Das was speaking on the goals that Dr. Muhajir gave to Malaysia each time he was here, and also told how Dr. Muhajir was always proud of Malaysia achieving it’s goals. Dr Muhajir also kept raising the bar of the goals of the Malaysian community, as he believes that Malaysia will easily achieve its goals.

    Then came the crucial part of calling for the funds for the purchasing the National Haziratul-Quds. I saw people were walking up and putting whatever they had into a bag. I saw some ladies were taking out their gold items and dropping in the bag. I was a bit shocked to see the scenario then, it was not just money they were dropping in the bag, they were even dropping their valuables in it. It was like a day of culture shock to me. First time I was seeing people parting with their valuables. Dropping money was always a usual sight, but this was above and beyond. And this kind of loving sacrifices from the friends, got us our 4 Jalan Titiwangsa National Haziratul-Quds.

    From that day onward, I always think that Uncle Das was some kind of super-hero, he can come and move people to tears with his stories of sacrifices of Dr. Muhajir, and eventually they too go into some acts of sacrifice!

    He created that interest in me to learn more about this beloved Hands of the Cause of God , Dr. Muhajir as a teenager. I always love to hear and read the stories of Dr. Muhajir. In this same gathering, Uncle Das spoke about how Dr. Muhajir had to leave his new-born daughter and how less he has seen her since she was born, as his duty as the Hands of the Cause put him on ‘travel mode’ always from one country to another in the work of the Cause. Here also I learned that some days before his passing in Quito, Ecuador, he requested to carry a baby, telling the mother, that he hardly knows how to carry a baby as he has been moving around since his daughter was born.

    I always prayed that one day I am able to meet that baby of his, and my prayers were answered, I met his daughter during my visit to the Holiest Spot for the believers and happened that his daughter Gishu was accompanying her husband who was a Counsellor for a meeting. Mr. N.S.S Silan introduced us, and she was so glad to meet a Malaysian and told that it always had a special place in her dad’s heart. I was able to take a photo with her.

    This interest in Dr. Muhajir of whom, later I learnt a lot was created by Uncle Kumara Das at that Summer School Ipoh and when I was barely a teenager.

    I have met Uncle Das many times after that, including the time I was posted to Malacca for work. Always jovial, always joking, such a high spirited man. He was a treasure to the Malaysian Bahai Community.

    May his soul rest in eternal peace in the Abha Kingdom.

    Vijay Saravanan
    Subang Jaya
    Selangor
    Malaysia

  24. Thanks for such a wonderful write up about Kumara Das.

    I had known Kumara Das for many years when I was in Penang, and had met him at many conferences. He was such a lovely soul.

    The last time I met him was when I took my in-laws to visit a few friends in Malacca in October 2017. I took along my in-laws -Mr Cyrus and his wife Izzat Rameshni who are Baha’is from Brisbane who stopped over in Singapore after visiting India. They wanted to get the Malaysian Bahai spirit and so I took them by bus to Malacca. There we met S. Bhaskaran and then went to visit Kumara Das. To hear stories from Kumara Das and Baskaran is something which we treasure to this day. We all said prayers for Daisy, wife of Kumara Das. He toochanted the healing prayer for his dear wife. I could feel such power and force vibrating in the air with each and every word he uttered. Both are no more with us in this world, but they continue to live in our memory and in the rich history of the Faith.

    Please keep up your fantastic work, writing detailed accounts of the early stalwarts of the Faith.

    Warmest regards.
    Wong Meng Fook
    Singapore

  25. Dear Mani,

    Many thanks for the excellent article on uncle Das. It gave us much deeper insights into another great soul and servant of Baha’u’llah. I have heard about the great uncle Das pioneering days in Terengganu while I was working there in the 1990s.

    The first time I met him, and the way he conversed and shared his humour was really amazing as though we were long-time friends! He was very friendly, full of laughter and excited to know we were in Terengganu before. Glad to have known uncle Das over the years on numerous encounters, admired his wonderful spirit in teaching the Faith, and keen sense of pioneering.

    May Baha’u’llah bless this wonderful soul in the Abha Kingdom.

    Dr. Leong Yow Peng
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  26. I had heard many great stories of this great man during my teenage days when I had just accepted the Faith. I had seen him from distance on a few occasions here and there at Bahai gatherings, but never had the opportunity to move with him or get to know in person.

    I remember the day- 30 April 2018 when I accompanied the author of this story Mr Manisegaran to pay a visit to Mr Kumara Das at his home in Malacca. When we went to the house Aunty Daisy was bedridden and we all said prayers. Of great interest was me listening to the very lively conversation between Mr Kumara Das and Mr Manisegaran on the early days of the Faith in Malacca. It was then that I got to know the love, passion and the commitment of Mr Kumara Das. He spoke with such a force, in his very warm voice, that I can never forget. He was like a man in trance when talking about the early days. That was the only occasion of personal encounter with him which shall remain in my mind forever. Then news came that both passed away. I felt sad, but happy that I had met the couple who have shown the way to many in my generation.

    But having read this story of Mr Kumara Das, I must say he is truly a very great soul. He had lived for the Faith and nothing else. He was one of the standard bearers or torch bearers as we all those in the forefront of activities. It is very hard to get such souls who have done so much for the Faith.

    If not for this story, I would not have known this much of such a great soul. I hope to get to know more of those hidden gems in our history.

    I pray for the soul of Mr Kumara Das and Aunty Daisy to rest in peace under the sheltering care of Bahaullah

    Seran Murugan
    Johore Bahru
    Malaysia

  27. Dear Brother Mani,
    Such a marvelous job, eloquently portraying both in words and spirit the relentless service of our beloved Mr. Kumara Das for the Cause of God.

    His unique personality and his jovial yet firm nature has made an indelible impression in my hear and soul of this great servant of God.

    Undoubtedly he is a towering believer in the Faith of God.Posterity will benefit much from your written work on his life and service for the Blessed Beauty, not forgetting his dedicated wife Daisy. Congratulations for such a profound work.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan
    Puchong
    Malaysia

  28. This may be my first knowledge about Kumara after almost 30 years. I met Kumara in Saigon and had some days together with him. I still have some of his photos. He was a true one of the Faith. His soul surely blessed by Baha’u’llah.

    “… Cause them to enter the garden of happiness…”.

    Ha Le
    Honolulu
    Hawaii
    USA

  29. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,

    What a beautiful service you are carrying out, for future generations, by taking time to collect moments in the lives of the wonderful friends who lived in various regions of Malaysia.

    My husband and I, with dear Wong Meng Fook and his wife Susie went to Malacca for a few days. During those days, we were privileged to be taken to various places by Low Ling Wah. Along with the sites that many tourists visit we also saw the Baha’i center -a residence, which was donated to the Faith by one of the early believers in Malacca. She also took us to the Bahai Institute

    Sometime towards the midafternoon, Ling Wah took us to an open-air cafe which also had a very pleasant place to sit outside under the shade of a tree. It was here that we met Kumara Das. He was having his lunch at the cafe. It was such an honour to be in his presence. A soft-spoken man, with a sense of humour, tranquil and very interested in hearing from us about our lives and the teaching activities in our area. He was sad about his wife’s health. There were quite a few around this table at the cafe. Ling Wah who I observed carries with her little cards with addresses and beautiful quotes. The waiter of the cafe who had served drinks, she had a little chat with him and then handed him one Baha’i card with a quote. I asked her if she knew him. She said that she did know him, but asked him if he lived in the area, and that if he did, he could attend a devotional. I was so impressed, and I have never forgotten this.

    In the evening we again got to see Kumara Das at Bhakaran’s house and there we said a healing prayer.

    May everyone’s service for this Faith of Baha’u’llah be blessed and bear fruit.

    Warmest greetings,
    Izzat Rameshni
    Brisbane
    Australia

  30. Dear Mani,

    Thank you kindly for another truly inspiring account of the early believers in Malaysia. It was indeed through their dedication to serve Baha’u’llah and their sacrifices that built the foundation for the subsequent notable growth of the Faith in Malaysia.

    I really like your opening paragraph of the story of Mr. Kumara Das-should I say a grand and
    befitting opening that leads us to the in-depth account of Kumara Das’ lifelong service to the Cause. One highlight that shone through the story was the strong support of his equally dedicated wife Daisy.

    Best wishes and loving regards,

    Keng Tong Hua
    Johor
    Malaysia

  31. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you so much for writing about my dearest friend the late Kumara Das and his saintly kind of wife Daisy. They were like my own family members.

    After I accepted the Faith, it was Kumara Das who deepened me in the Faith by involving me in Bahai activities. He made it a point to invite me for teaching trips. He had a lot of love for field teaching. And he would invite my family to his house for all functions- big or small. And when I did not go to his house for some days, he will drive down to visit me. He was always on the lookout for dormant believers or those who were drifting away and made sure they came back to the Faith. Soon I too became ignited by his spirit and I became a permanent member of his teaching team- including S.K. Somu.

    When the call came to teach in China, Kumara Das was very excited to go before the gates were officially open. He told me better to go now and register our marks as we may not live long. Though he had heart ailments, his spirit to teach outshone that ailment and he was on the flight with us. And in Xiamen he fell ill and we were worried. Thank God we all returned safe.

    Kumara Das was a man of humour who had a lot of jokes. But he also could be a very serious person. He will become angry if anyone did not carry out any task for the Faith. Once I delayed and later did not carry out an important task for the Faith. He asked me to wait for him in a remote place and I waited up to 3 am, all alone. I was panicking and prying hard to be rescued. Then he drove down and picked me up. He then told me he purposely made me shiver in that remote place because I had not done my duty. And he said God’s punishment for not keeping up with the promise could be one hundred times more frightening. I realized my mistake, and I became thankful to him for giving me a jolt and opening my eyes. I was never angry with him, for he had done me a favour.

    When Daisy and Kumara Das passed away, I felt the loss of my own family members. I am still not able to come out of the sorrow. But I know my happy days will come when I meet them in the Abha Kingdom. Kumara Das and Daisy, both of you are in my daily prayers!

    Jerry Cheong
    Malacca

  32. Dear Manisegaran,

    Thank you so much for one more story of two heroes of our Faith, Kumara and Daisy Das. This couple truly lived a magnificent life of service impelled by their faith in Baha’u’llah and it is only befitting that they are remembered for the efforts in Malacca, Malaysia and in the region.

    My father Inbum Chinniah and Daisy Das were brother and sister and the only two siblings who were Baha’is of their family of five. As such, they were particularly close and so were we, their children. We met regularly during school holidays as my father would drive us to Malacca to visit his father and mother (my paternal grandparents) and in the process our families would spend much time together. It was always fun to be in the Dases home, we were always given the most loving welcome. We also met at summer and winter schools where Aunty Daisy was a constant fixture as a teacher of children’s classes. That gracious and musically minded lady taught us the early children’s classes songs, songs that I remember till this day. My grandparents passing away and my own father’s untimely passing in 1980 did not reduce the association we had. Visiting the Das family became a must do, initially taking the bus but later as we became more independent, we would drive to Malacca and they too would visit whenever passing through Kuala Lumpur.

    As I grew older, I would ask Aunty Daisy about her younger days with my father. Coming from a broken home (my paternal grandparents had divorced and my grandmother returned to Ceylon), the siblings were each other’s support and helpmates and Aunty Daisy would tell us so many sweet and amusing stories of their childhood together. Looking back, I realized that they would have had a very difficult childhood in the gossipy small town culture of the 1940s and yet she in her gracious way, only filled me with the funny and touching episodes of their childhood. It is a testimony to these siblings gentle faith in God that a difficult childhood resulted not in a bitter adulthood but in tender kindness for the world. Aunty Daisy told me how shocked she was to encounter racism when she was a student at Brinsford College in England. I also asked Uncle Das about his earlier days as he and Inbum were friends well before they became Baha’is and he told me about their adventures together and also how Leong Tat Chee (my maternal grandfather) would try to corner him and teach him the Faith and how Leong found his weakness i.e. food and they had many a fireside over char kuey teow! Uncle Das gradually grew to fall in love with and accepted the Faith. He told me that he came from a Hindu background (though it seems his own father, ED Das, as you have said, converted to Christianity later in life). From young, Kumara Das mixed with everyone of all religions and all races and he told me that before becoming a Baha’i he thought how nice if everyone from every background could live together in peace and I think it must have been a great relief for him to find a religion that made so much sense of the goodness he saw in the diversity of the friends he had. Till the end of his life, Kumara Das was truly a friend to all regardless of ethnicity, religion or age.

    As soon as he became a Baha’i, Uncle Das’ passion in life became teaching the Faith and endeavouring to live the Baha’i life. He brought his dear friend, Inbum, to a fireside at Saurajen’s house and that set him on his journey to find the Faith. Kumara Das’ devotion to teaching and pioneering never left him, as you showed in the article. To me, a striking feature of his life that I saw was how he associated teaching with sacredness. To him, teaching was not merely the act of conveying the message but truly being an ambassador of Baha’u’llah, fully confident that He would be there to assist you every step of the way, thereby endowing the act of teaching the sanctity it deserved.

    Uncle Das’ hospitality was legendary. Generosity coupled with his trademark sense of humour and jolly personality endeared him to all, including the young, there was no generation gap with him. We were always assured of laughter and light-heartedness at his home, something that always comes back to me whenever I meet my cousins. Whenever we visited the Dases, we never knew who would be there or some new boarder they would be fostering, which at one point included my own brother Nabil. Their home was truly a home for everybody, all were welcome, fed both physically and spiritually, no one was ever turned away. Kumara Das loved prayers and I remember morning prayers in his house was a real chore to the young me as he would keep asking us to say more prayers and I was ready to go out to seize the day!

    He and Aunty Daisy were poor almost all their lives, in no small part due to their lifestyles as committed Baha’is. It is only when their children started working that life became somewhat more comfortable for them. Yet God blessed them in many other ways, they had the opportunity to travel and experience many things that the wealthy could not attain. Fishing in the Temenggor Dam, the beauty of the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the hospitality in the villages of Myanmar and Thailand, experiencing Baha’i warmth in India and the USA, these were just some of the experiences they had though I believe Uncle Das’ one disappointment is that he never had the chance to go on pilgrimage. Health problems never held him and his adventurous spirit back. He self-medicated a lot which made his doctors shudder; and whenever we were walking, he would stop every now and then and point to something and talk and I later realised that he was having chest pains and needed to rest. I am certain his powerful faith kept him alive and going.

    Another sign of Kumara and Daisy’s compassion was that my mother Lily and Daisy travelled to India and Burma around the end of 1980, the year my father passed away. I am sure Uncle Das and Aunty Daisy saw it as a way to help my mum overcome her grief.

    As Ruhiyih mentioned, trips anywhere with Uncle Das always took too long as he talked to every body and he asked me to go here and there to meet certain people and would give them gifts – from a newspaper to money to packed food to fish and vegetables; he knew what their needs were. During the long train trips from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, he would walk up and down the carriages many times making friends along the way.

    Uncle Das loved singing and would sing Japanese songs that he learned during his school days during the Japanese occupation. Once I was in Kemaman on a business trip with my Scottish colleague and coincidentally Uncle Das was there with some Malacca friends on a teaching trip and we went to visit him. My friend was most amused when Uncle Das sang him a Scottish ditty replete with a Scottish accent!

    Despite his great love for people, Uncle Das was very perceptive and surprised me many times when he made certain observations. When we were in Yasothon, he knew which teachers were not doing their job properly or were doing business in the school. A young man named Muk came to the house and said that he had heard about the Baha’i Faith in Bangkok and wanted to declare as a Baha’i. Later, Uncle Das told me that he had his hand on the cleaver in case the young man wasn’t what he made out to be. On another note, Muk one day gave THB 50 to Uncle Das for the funds and I remember uncle Das was very touched by his gesture.

    He was always keen to make others happy to the point that I became afraid of telling him what I wanted as he would go out of his way to get it for me. I remember once in Malacca I told him I enjoyed the 50 cent nasi lemak from Semabok and the next day when I got up in the morning he had just returned disappointed to the house and said that they were sold out though he had got up early to get it for me. Another anecdote about his determined hospitality was that in Yasothon I playfully told him that I wanted to have some Horlicks and that evening he came back to the house rather sad saying that he went to so many shops but there was just no Horlicks in Yasothon!

    In 1990, I had just finished my university studies and the Universal House of Justice encouraged young Baha’is to do a year of service and it made so much sense to me to go to Santitham School in Yasothon where Uncle Das was serving as a Principal. It was there that we became particularly close. One night, I woke up due to a pain in my thigh and found that a centipede had bitten me. Uncle Das rushed into my room ashen faced and when he found out what happened said to me in all seriousness that he wished that the centipede had attacked him instead. While in Yasothon, he missed his family in Bangkok terribly and would always find some excuse to call them. But he would tell me to keep an eye on the clock so that the call did not exceed 1 minute! That was the time when phone calls were charged by the minute. Their home in Bangkok was the same like their house in Malacca – one would never know who was in the house.

    I truly believe the Baha’is of the 10 year crusade are a very special group. They were animated by the spirit of that unique era of our Faith and were lovingly nurtured by the Hands of the Cause of God. There is this most touching phrase in Baha’u’llah’s prayer for the departed where He says, “I testify, O my Lord, that Thou hast enjoined upon men to honor their guest, and he that hath ascended unto Thee hath verily reached Thee and attained Thy Presence. Deal with him then according to Thy grace and bounty! By Thy glory, I know of a certainty that Thou wilt not withhold Thyself from that which Thou hast commanded Thy servants….”. I am certain that Baha’u’llah, true to His word, would have ensured that these hospitable and generous servants of God, Kumara and Daisy Das, would have received a rapturous welcome by the Concourse on High on their arrival in the Abha Kingdom.

    Soheil Chinniah
    Perth
    Australia

  33. I have known Kumara Das at the Summer Schools held at the Sunshine Camp, Port Dickson in the early 1970’s. I came to know him better during the Summer School at Malacca High School in 1975 when he was running around to make all the physical arrangements to ensure we all had a comfortable accommodation.

    My memory of Kumara Das is that he was a man of great discipline, and he was very good at that since he was a discipline teacher in the Malacca High School. He was jovial and yet disciplined where work was needed for the Faith. He had a great passion for teaching and spent all his days travel teaching to wherever there was a need. He was a great soul, who will be truly missed by all.

    Kunja Balan
    Kuala Lumpur

  34. Truly great of dear brother Manisegaran to have undertaken the challenging task of writing this article covering a life span of 60 years of relentless services of our dear Uncle Kumara Das and Aunty Daisy.

    Cecilia and I got to really know Uncle Das when we first moved to Kuala Terengganu in 1993, together with our 2-month-old son.
    Uncle Das used to come during the Ridvan period to help with the election of the local assemblies for many years with a car load of Baha’is from Malacca until it was announced by the Universal House of Justice that “As of Ridvan 1997, all Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world will have to be elected on the First day of Ridvan”. However, he continued to come with a car load of Baha’is from Malacca at other times of the year. He had a special love for Terengganu. Among the people who were attracted to the Faith through him was Mdm Ang (Wakaf Tapai), who remained faithful till her death.)

    During his trips to Terengganu, Uncle Das would visit Kuala Berang, Ajil, Penarik and Fikri. In each of these places there were isolated Chinese shophouses and uncle knew each of the owners and their families and they all were taught the Faith.
    In March 2001 we left Kuala Terengganu, but made sure that we visited Uncle Das and his family whenever we returned to Malaysia from India or Macau. When Cecilia passed away in Nov. 2015 in Malaysia, Uncle Das was in uncontrollable tears as he had always been full of appreciation of Cecilia’s services.
    Once I asked Uncle how he deepened his children. He said that whenever any international visitors or travel teachers passed through Malaysia, he would invite them to his home and asked these guests to deepen his children on the Faith

    During the last couple of years before Uncle and Aunty Das passed away, I with my newly married wife Vera had the bounty of visiting them several times. We were much inspired by Uncle’s affectionate words or greetings addressed to Aunty who was lying in a state of coma, even when he was just leaving or returning to the house. We were also amazed at Uncle’s great generosity, not only during the regular devotional in his house but also his weekly visit to charitable homes with specially bought foods for the elderly.
    In our last visit in 2018, we brought a Baha’i friend from China. Uncle was so happy and sang for her, making everybody laugh with great delight. Hopefully someone will make a video of Uncle Das including his songs.

    To conclude, Uncle Das was a most caring and generous person, with a loving wife who was equally devoted to the Faith.

    Santhanasamy
    Kuala Terengganu
    Malaysia

  35. Thanks again to Mr Manisegaran for his another of his enlightening story of another stalwart of Baha’i Faith in Malaysia. I am very familiar with many persons mentioned in the posting of the early believers in Malacca.
    I have seen Mr Kumara Das in the early 1960s when he used to come to Serkam Estate in Malacca for teaching the Faith with Leong Tat Chee, Tushar Kanti-Paul, Anthony Louis, Somu, Bhaskaran and many others. I was in the primary school at that time and used to join the gatherings they used to have when they came for teaching at the estate. Later when I was studying in Jasin Secondary School, Mr Inbum Chinniah was my Principal and I used to attend Baha’i gatherings in his quarters and also at Raymond Peter’s quarters. I have met Mrs Daisy Das a couple of times. I could still remember her as a very gentle, soft-spoken and loving person.
    The school going Baha’i youths from Jasin were among the early youths to attend the deepening sessions at the newly built Baha’i Training Institute at Bukit Baru, Malacca. This is where I became more familiar with many of the early Baha’is of Malacca, including Mr Kumara Das. I used to admire his vibrancy and zeal for the Faith and his smiling face. I also attended one of the youth training sessions at the Malacca High School, which was a famous and prestigious school at that time. For me coming from an estate, going to Malacca town was a luxury in those days and more so going for the youth training at the premier school was a feeling of great pride. Thanks to Mr Kumaras Das for such an opportunity.
    After I left Malacca to Port Dickson and then to Sabah, I used to read reports of both their services to the Faith but after reading Mr Manisegaran’s detailed enlightening posting of this wonderful story of the life of both Mr Kumara Das and Madam Daisy, I realise the great role they have played in the progress of the Faith not only in Malacca but also in other parts of Peninsula Malaysia and in the world.
    I believe this is indeed a very befitting tribute to our beloved Mr Kumara Das and Mrs Daisy. I am sure their dedicated and greatly admired services to the Faith would be written in the annals of the early history of the growth of the Faith in Malacca as well in Malaysia.

    Paramasivan Sinnasamy,
    Sandakan
    Sabah
    Malaysia.

  36. Dear Mr Mani.

    The story that you penned about Mr Kumara Das -I am incredibly impressed about him of his unique and great services to the Faith for the past six decades of his life as a Baha’i. He is very unique in the annals of the Cause in Malaysia. He is certainly one of the Baha’i Heroes of this nation. I did not know him personally although I had seen him a few times in Baha’i gatherings. After reading this story I am quite amazed at his extraordinary feat in the Baha’i work. One thing that brought uncontrolled tears to me is when his loving wife passed away and he has to continue his life journey as a lonely person. The separation was to be so painful for him and that it resulted in his health condition declining for the worse. His children and the Faith had been pillars of strength. His wife his children was a very exemplary in serving the numerous visitors staying in his home, something I had never seen in any other community. That was their special blessing bestowed upon them by Bahaullah. These are the very fundamental virtues , qualities of a Baha’i life. His wonderful quality of making friends with all those around him is a special blessing too. Certainly, he has lead a full life as a Baha’i that we all should inculcate in us too. He is wonderful soldier of Bahaullah, and his spiritual life certainly will continue in the Abha Realm. May Bahaullah bless him bounteously for eternity.

    Thank you sir in bringing to remembrance the life of great soul

    Arumugam Thanapah
    Klang
    Malaysia

  37. Dear Mr. Mani,

    Thank you so much for bringing out another story of a valiant servant of Bahaullah of the Ten-Year Crusade period to light. Thank you for the wonderful and inspiring pictures. His activities and services are very much focused, outstanding and really appreciable. He seemed to have created impact where ever he went and served. The greatest impact was in the hearts of all those who crossed his path. Once one met Kumara Das he would be permanently etched in their hearts. He always had some effect on anyone he met.

    When I was in Bahau area in the seventies, I did not know much about him and his activities. His activities were mainly in the Malacca state where he put his heart, soul, efforts and energy to build and maintain that blessed community. But it was in 1984 that I got to know him better, when I was back from India for a short visit. Kumara Das was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly. I was called to meet the Assembly on my pioneering matter in India.

    In 1985, the engagement date was already fixed, and I was getting worried that consent letter had not reached me. I was praying very hard and by the Grace of Bahaullah just two days before the engagement the consent letter reached me via the national Spiritual Assembly of India. It was a really a kind of a relief for me. It was after many years that Kumara Das related to me how he and Mr. G.A. Naidu got the consent of my mother for my wedding in India. Then I realized it was the work of these two who had a big role in my wedding

    Kumara Das obviously occupies a special place in my heart. I pray for the progress and happiness of his soul in the Realm of God.

    Pitamboro
    Kuala Selangor

  38. It is so lovely to get so much details of Kumara Das and Daisy, hitherto unknown to me.

    I had known Kumara Das from the time I accepted the Faith in 1963. He was a firebrand of livewire at all gatherings. He would bring joy to everyone in the gatherings, and always with a warm smile. His mission, methinks was to cheer his fellow believers.

    I remember Kumara Das as an active field worker and one who moved people. He had a kind of missionary zeal in him akin to the descendants of the Dawn Breakers, if I could put it that way. I remember him calling me one night, when he was in Terengganu, and asked me to go over for some days to carry out teaching activities. I hesitated, and he was to his trick. He told me that the cost of each durian, the king of the fruits of which he knew I had a great liking, was only one Malaysian ringgit and he asked me to hurry while the season lasted. That was Kumara Das, he knew everyone he mixed with in this country.

    To him the Faith came first. Whenever there was a call to serve, the Faith came first, not his health. And it is a miracle he had survived for so many years, and gainfully serving the Cause in those years.

    He and his wife had brought up the children well. And the whole country and the countries where he served remember him very well.
    Today we have on record, the salient aspects of his services. Thank you Manisegaran for all you are doing to bring out the unwritten stories of so many true workers for the Cause.

    N. Nagendaran
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  39. Mr. Kumara Das was always a true source of inspiration to me. When I was living in Jasin, it was Kumara Das, together with Mr. Chandrasekaran and Mr. S.K. Somu who encouraged me and gave abundance of confidence to go home-front pioneering to Batu Pahat town in the state of Johore. And that was how I ended up in Batu Pahat in late 1979.

    Even after I had moved to Batu Pahat, Kumara Das continued giving me the support. In one of those requests, Mr. Kumara Das came all the way from Malacca, together with Mr Bhaskaran who had just returned from pioneering in Cameroons, Africa and Mr Joe Ganapathy. That was on the evening of 11 November 1979 for the occasion of the Birthday Celebrations of Bahaullah. Their presence changed the whole atmosphere of that small gathering into an effective fireside. We had a receptive soul who accepted Bahá’u’lláh that day.

    Mr. Kumara Das was always a down to earth angel whose hospitality was highly admirable. I have travelled with him to the east coast for teaching and enjoyed every moment of his company. He was full of humour, just like his brother in-law the late Inbum Chinniah.

    I am indeed grateful that such an in-depth story of this valiant soul has been written down, which has brought him back to life. He is one of the hidden gems. Today Kumara Das is immortalized in the annals of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh all through his sincere services.

    Muthusamy
    Batu Pahat
    Malaysia

  40. So intense is the spirit of love of Mr Das, that the stranger finds himself a true friend, and the enemy a true brother, no differences exist between them. One who dedicated himself to the service of everyone who came across. He was my inspiration during my early days and entire period of service to the Cause, and instrumental in me arising to pioneer.

    Always remembered in my prayers.

    Jeyabalan Krishnan
    Bangkok
    Thailand

  41. Kumara Das was such a dynamic personality in the history of the Faith in Malacca, and of course Malaysia as well. From the year 1955 when he accepted the Faith till his passing in 2018 he had never relented in the service to the Cause he was committed to. He had set such a high standard, and I can say very few were able to match the driving force he had within his system.

    The story reveals many facts hitherto unknown to me, though I had known Kumara Das from the early days. I recall with pride and emotions the moments I had spent with him. The teaching trips I undertook with him to several parts of the country are permanently etched in my memory. His jokes and high sense of humour, along with his boundless hospitality come to the fore whenever I think of him. I visited him at his house during the evening of his life and was happy to have had a long conversation with him. His love for Daisy is something we all should admire. Though he was sick, his care was all for his ailing wife. Seldom have I seen such a loving couple.

    He was a cheerful person himself, and always brought cheer and joy to the hearts of those who met him. I can say with all confidence that Kumara Das came to the Faith to love and serve the Faith. Publicity, stage appearance, seeking prominence and self-glory was not anywhere inside him. Kumara Das was one who would go all out to give every support to anyone who would arise to serve the Cause, with no trace of jealousy in his heart. Whenever a friend was down in spirit he would drive down to attend to his needs and cheer him up. He was a true servant of the Cause. He was a rare kind of believer. Such are the ones needed in abundance to make the world a better place for all.

    Most of the Ten-Year Crusade period Bahais are slowly ascending to the abode above, and Kumara Das is one of them.

    I pray for his soul to rest in eternal peace

    Sukumaran Nair
    Taiping
    Malaysia

  42. I read this write-up of this God-intoxicated servant not once, but three times as it generated within me so much inspiration. It was highly informative and moving. It was the late Mr Rama Naidu who introduced me as an Asli teacher to Mr Kumara Das in the early 1980s. At that time, I had known Mr Kumara Das as a great worker for the Cause. I had met him at Summer Schools and at National Conventions. But reading this story was simply unbelievable to me. He has done so much for the Cause and they have been produced here for the first time I suppose, supported by some early photographs that speak a million words. He and his wife had served the Cause as one soul in different bodies and have set an example for future generations to follow. It is no exaggeration that their home became another example of how a new generation could be groomed and nurtured under one roof. I am yet to come across another parallel to what they had done! He was there from 1955, before I was born, serving the Cause non-stop. He was one of those who deepened the first batch of youths in 1958 and they too had served and passed away, while Kumara Das continued his service. He was there from the first convention to many other conventions until he was mentally alert and physically strong. He was a tower of strength for the community and those who were in distress!. He was a shelter to those downtrodden. He may be full of humour but took the Faith too serious when there was work to be done.
    Especially the contribution of Mr Kumara Das in the teaching field is very moving. He served wherever there was a need, locally and abroad. As people age up, they tend to take a back seat, saying their time is over and the young ones should take over the baton. But Kumara Das was one who soldiered on serving the Cause to the last of his ability despite the old age. His message is clear that there is no age limit to serve. To conclude, I am not able to find a parallel to Kumara Das in the manifold areas of service that he rendered. He has done well to inspire the current and future generations.

    May his soul rest in eternal peace in the Abha Kingdom
    Nehru Arunalalam
    CHICAGO
    USA

  43. I am fortunate to have known the ever-dynamic Mr. Kumara Das since the early sixties. He was a great vibrant servant of God. I would like to quote the parable of Jesus:

    A farmer went out to sow his seed; as he did, some of it fell along the footpath and was trampled over, and the birds of the sky gobbled it up. Some other seed fell on rocky soil, and when it sprouted, it dried up because it had no moisture. Some other seed fell amid thorn bushes, and when they grew up together, the thorns choked them off. Still other seed fell into good ground, and when it sprouted, it yielded fruit a hundredfold – Luke 8:5-8a

    In Malacca the sowers were Dr. K.M. Fozdar and Mrs. Shirin Fozdar and the harvest I should say was thousand-fold. Malacca produced many heroes of the Faith, and one such hero was Mr. Kumara Das. He was always very cheerful and full of enthusiasm. He was in the thick of activities when the Faith is concerned. He was full of jokes and sometimes a bit of pranks too. When I was staying in Sungei Udang area with my late brother Arumugam, I used to phone Mr. Das to enquire about activities. Having detected my voice, he will answer saying. “This is Malacca Police Station. Do you have anything to report?” I used to panic first but would soon laugh.

    He used to conduct a lot of activities at Tanjong Keling beach area and those were always very interesting and fruitful. He was very fond of good food and was very lavish in his entertaining of visitors in his house. He was a good speaker and he used to conduct fire side sessions in Seremban town and attendees greatly benefited from his talks and explanations on the Faith. He and his wonderful family will always be remembered by me, the early believers and those who have met me. Today his life is well documented for the firs time with such unknown details in this historical blog

    Krishnan Kandasamy
    Muar
    Malaysia

  44. Uncle Das and Auntie Daisy are very special to me
    I was their neighbor and end up being part of their family through the years. I was a small boy who lived next door with full of energy when I met uncle and aunty. That was when I was introduced to children’s classes so that I will be able to channel all my energy for a better use. I was always so excited and can’t wait for Sundays to attend classes as there will be a bus to come and pick us up. As I was the nearby

    That was my first step of knowing and learning about the Faith from uncle and aunty.
    Uncle was always very strict and a disciplinarian. At first I found it very difficult, but still tried my best not to get into trouble with him. But as I grew older I began to realise why he was like that- it was because of his love for us. He wanted us to be best in all our endeavors and to follow the right path.

    Aunty Daisy on the other hand was always gentle and soft spoken, and always showed us love especially when she knew we would get into trouble.

    Both of them together complemented each other. That was how I grew knowing and learning about the Faith through both of them. The love and support they had showed me and to many others are irreplaceable, and no words can describe.

    They will go all out to make anyone that crossed their path to feel welcome. At their home they showed all the comfort to all. They will show their hospitality to anyone and everyone that came to their home. Both uncle and aunty were great cooks. Both of them had their own specialities in cooking and we enjoyed a lot. I used to go in and out of their home and enjoyed every moment spent with uncle and aunty and their family.

    Whenever we used to go down to Malacca for visits we used make sure we included a program to visit uncle and aunty. We used to have so fun and laughter when uncle shared with us all epic stories from our childhood. Those were moments that shall never return.

    Uncle and aunty has taught me a lot throughout my young age, and I will never forget them. They have helped many youths like me. I am so honored to have met them and to be able to serve along with them.

    Girish Kumar
    Kuala Lumpur

  45. I had seen how Kumara Das acted as a glue in bringing people together, building them up and doing so much service seemingly without a care in the world. Even when his own health was in question, he would visit Baha’is in hospital. He never left anyone out. He visited my handicapped sister several times when she was admitted. Once when she was admitted late and not supplied dinner Kumara Das heard about it and brought her -the “kuey teow” stick rice which she loved. I can go on about how he energized the community, as may be testified by many others who were constantly in his orbit.

    I need to say that his services to non-Bahai’s are largely un known to Bahai’s. When I was teaching in Kolej Yayasan Saad, an Indian colleague, on knowing I was Bahai, told me how when he needed accommodation on coming to Malacca, and could not find any- even with friends and relatives – he was taken in by Mr. Das. His home was always open to all and sundry.

    Saratha Sangaran Nair
    Malacca

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