Culture & Arts
A true friend of NepalRemembering the life and contributions of Prof Dr Krishna Murari Garg.
Bhaskar Raj Rajkarnikar
Over the past few decades, many Nepalis have left their country to find better opportunities and live abroad, and not many have returned home. But there are some people from other countries who have loved this Himalayan nation as much as their homeland. Prof. Dr. Krishna Murari Garg (1932-2022) was one such individual who spent his life helping and supporting people in Nepal. While he may not be known much to ordinary people in the country, those close to Dr Garg regard him as a true friend of Nepal.
Born in Lucknow, India on August 5, 1932, Dr Garg lived most of his life in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He worked at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Alberta for 28 years starting in 1966 and retiring in 1994 with the honorific title of Professor Emeritus of Mathematics. His book published in 1998, Theory of Differentiation, is regarded as one of the best monographs in mathematics by the academic world.
While doing his PhD in Mathematics, Dr Garg derived formulas to solve some difficult mathematical equations and published them in renowned international research journals.
He moved to Paris after a year of teaching at the University of Calgary, Canada. He was invited by a French mathematician for research in mathematics. While living in Paris, he met Urmila Upadhyaya, a renowned artist and textile designer and a Gandhian from Kathmandu, Nepal. The India-born mathematician and the Nepali artist tied nuptial knots and moved permanently to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Dr. Garg began working at the University of Alberta as the Professor of Mathematics.
From here began their life journey together harbouring a noble mission of empowering underprivileged rural communities and supporting the youths of rural Nepal to become self-reliant in achieving an honourable living. Their dedication to this mission has been a supreme measure of an extraordinary human endeavour and personal sacrifice. Both husband and wife firmly bound themselves with a vow to give up having children of their own to share their full affection and parental love with others.
They shared their dream with some close and like-minded friends. This team of friends subsequently became the Friends of Nepal, resulting in the formation of a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Canada as The Society of Friends of Nepal (SOFON) in 1986. With the establishment of the organization, their personal mission turned into the mission of SOFON. Since then, the couple remained the founding members and major sponsors of all the projects and programs undertaken by SOFON.
To execute its charitable programs, SOFON is linked with the Nepal Srijanatmak Kala Guthi (Kalaguthi), a Nepali NGO established through the generous contribution of Urmila’s parents. Today, Kalaguthi has succeeded in establishing full-fledged Textile and Sericulture programs and in establishing a community of weavers and women-run production centers in Nepal. Several students trained at Kalaguthi are now operating their own businesses and they also volunteer to train other people.
While working at the University of Alberta, Dr. Garg spent nearly three decades traveling between Canada and Nepal. His wife Urmila stayed in Nepal and Dr. Garg used to come here for four months during the summer. After retiring in 1994, Dr. Garg moved to Nepal permanently and donated all his life earnings, including his pension, to Kalaguthi through SOFON. Moreover, he also donated a chunk of his share of his ancestral property given to him by his brothers to Kalaguthi.
Dr. Garg, despite his intense professorial commitment, stood along with Urmila in moving their mission forward. Dr. Garg was gifted with a calm disposition, and sharp and analytical intellect. Besides being a successful mathematician, Dr. Garg was a humanitarian at heart and led a simple life. He remained fully committed to the cause of empowerment of those left behind, and used all his wealth for the cause. A true friend of Nepal, Dr Garg passed away on February 3, 2022, after years-long battle with illness. But his love and contributions to Nepali society will be embedded in our memories forever.