Friday, September 25, 2009

Celebration of Life


There was a Rajeev Motwani Memorial Celebration at Stanford on Friday, September 25th.

The event was held at Stanford Memorial Church. It began with the recital of a poem, "We remember him"

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember him.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember him.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember him.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember him.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember him.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember him.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember him.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember him.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember him.
So long as we live, he too shall live,
for he is now a part of us,
As we remember him.

Prof. John Hennessy then eulogized Rajeev - recollecting from the time Rajeev interviewed at Stanford to the time he came up for tenure to his numerous contributions. Each time, Rajeev far exceeded their expectations.

Robert Goldman, professor of Sanskrit at UCB, provided his blessings. He quoted from the Bhagavad Gita and called Rajeev a stithaprajna - the perfect man; a man of unshakeable intellect. He concluded with the Upanishad mantra, Asatoma sadgamaya.

Rajeev's daughter, Naitri Jadeja, recited the Nirvana Shatakam - written by Adi Shankara.

Ram Shriram introduced Rajeev's family. This was followed by several eulogies. Sergey Brin spoke first and talked about how every meeting with Rajeev resulted in piquing his curiosity and challenging his mind. He provided a concept of a "Motwani Number" - degrees of separation from Motwani. In the spirit of remembering Rajeev, Sergey promised that every day he will help someone, teach someone and enjoy life just a little bit more. Jennifer Widom announced the $2.5m Rajeev Motwani Professorship endowed by Google. Sep Kamwar, a mentee of Rajeev spoke about the influence that Rajeev had in his career. Gautam Bhargava, a classmate of Rajeev's from IIT Kanpur recollected the college days. He announced that Rajeev has been awarded the first Pan IIT Lifetime Achievement award. Lakshmi Pratury, a family friend spoke last. The speakers ranged from distinguished to professional to personal. It was, indeed, a good selection of speakers that gave us insights into various aspects of Rajeev's rich life.

Ron Conway provided the closing remarks. He urged us all to bear the responsibility to nurture the seeds that Rajeev left behind. He also wanted everyone to stay engaged by visiting http://rememberingrajeev.com.

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