01 September 2015

In Memoriam: Vedantam Shashiah Shasthri

It was, to say the least, a great shock to begin reading Monday morning the many tributes to my good friend V.S. Shasthri. We came to know Shasthriji in late December, 2008, as I began my service to the National Law University-Jodhpur as part of my Fulbright Scholarship. Shasthri and his wife Leela were both on faculty at NLU-Jodhpur, Shasthri in law and Leela in economics. Shasthri was also dean of the faculty and arranged for my placement as co-teacher in Contracts for the LL.B. students and commercial law in the LL.M. program.

Almost every afternoon Shasthri would invite me to his office for tea. We would discuss everything under the sun from law to politics to religion to culture. I regret that opportunities for such collegiality are far more rare in American universities.

Shasthri also invited me to attend his classes in jurisprudence in which he demanded as much in reading of original sources as that in most if not all American J.D. programs. His classroom discussions were intense and if students were not prepared, they were well-advised advised not to speak. They were also animated. The intensity of the discussions went both ways even though Shasthri was always careful to engage only on the substance of the jurisprudential question. He even honored me by giving me his classroom hours a day he was off campus so I could present my Christian perspective on jurisprudence.

Shasthri and Leela also took us to see various sites in the vicinity of Jodhpur and we enjoyed many long conversations with the two of them.

We were also pleased to have introduced Shasthri and Leela to the work of the Lav-Kush Orphanage in Jodhpur from which they later adopted little Bhavani into their family. When I visited a year later, Shasthri's adoration for his daughter was immediately evident.

Shasthri and Bhavani
The outpouring of emotion on Shasthri's passing is a testimony to his character and diligence as a teacher, administrator, and mentor to many. To us, however, he was a friend. And he will be missed.

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