Obituary for Dr. Thangappan

Good Afternoon.

I am grateful that the folks at Kerala Association of CT who sent out this notice of the loss of my friend and colleague  shared the wonderful story of Dr. Thankappan and Chandrika’s resilient Family. They had lived  who lived among us in CT and shared their generous hospitality in many different ways all through their lives in Newtown and Waterbury and Delaware,

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear and respected friend Dr. Thankappan. I have known him from about 1978. He maintained a  high level of professional activity at Fairfield hospital, Garner Correctional  Facility and the Morris foundation and participated in professional organization including the CT. Psychiatric Society and worked to organize and build the first state wide Chapter of what was then called Am. Association of Psychiatrist from India. Later the name was changed to IAPA [Indian American Psychiatric Association. His work in CT and the annual Meeting of APA and the IAPA Sadly, he is the fourth stalwart from the New England Chapter of the IAPA who have all left us sorely missing them and diminished by their passing. I grieve their losses as do their family members, colleagues and friends. :Drs Padam Jain, K. Ramachandran, Rekha Ranade Kapoor and our dear friend and Colleague Dr. Thankappan. . Their contributions to the IAPA cannot be forgotten because of their leadership and efforts the New England chapter and the National IAPA is very influential organization in American Psychiatry and has helped to develop the careers of more  than a few generations of Indian Psychiatrists.

Despite incredibly stressful, physically and emotionally experiences  that he and his family members had to endure to meet and overcome with incredible tenacity and exemplary resilience for several decades and accrued miraculous triumphs to keep their family ever advancing towards their personal and family goals despite some extremely upsetting, seriously debilitating reversals from time to time.

However, the family continued to forge forward. Over the years his family and he maintained a lovely home in Watertown with a beautiful garden, socialized with friends and relatives, actively participated in the KACT activities e.g., playing the role of Mahabali and traveled far and wide and finally decided to move to Delaware to get closer to his children and their families. He was in some ways very much  like Mahabali he was willing to give his all to promote the wellbeing of the people around him whether they appeared before in the intense and high-risk environments of Fairfield Hills Hospital, a Correctional Facility or among those who sought his help in the Morris Foundation in the throes fo their struggles with sustained recovery or peers and friends in KACT, among his family and neighbors.

Dr. K.T. and his family over time has demonstrated during their travels internationally and in his interactions with people of all different cultures in America and abroad that they are an open and welcome interactions and to me appear to exemplify this highly valued Code of Conduct that the Greeks have adopted into their everyday encounters with people – Philoxenia that was handed down by Zeus. It is still openly practices in Greece and among the Greek Diaspora.  Zeus enjoined his people to befriend Strangers. He himself was known as Zeus Xenios because this fierce God was a protector of Strangers and Travelers.  Ovid in the 8th book of Metamorphosis provides a narrative that describes the full dimensions of Philoxenia involving a rustic couple Baucis and Philemon and their generous hospitality when Zeus and Hermes in disguise dropped in.

There is much more to philoxenia than mere “hospitality.” Over the millennia the Greek generosity of spirit has become a cultural norm that is deeply embedded in every person in the nation. For Greeks, it is about sharing their lives with others — such as inviting new acquaintances into your home for a spitiko (home-cooked) meal. I can attest to the kind and generous hospitality that Dt K.T and his family rendered to their guests.

This was evident in the  manner in which Dr. K.T established relationships and  served very marginalized people with severe MH challenges from the earliest formative stages fo life at Fairfield Hospital, Garner and Morris Foundation. The latter is very effective and highly regarded treatment system for addressing the  huge multidimensional problems they experienced during their efforts to recover  from Substance Use Disorders and associated Psychiatric disorders. He was able to nurture and treat his patients and interact in fulsome manner with all levels of the organizations with which he was associated.

His conduct in all different domains- at home, at work, during his travels throughout his life seemed to me to incorporate this precept from the scripture: Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some may have entertained angels. Hebrew 13, 1-6. Patriarch Abraham’s [ He was well aware that he and his family were strangers in strange land]  actions when he observed three strangers exemplified this teaching, humbly and fervently. “The Encounter of Abraham with the three Strangers is recounted in Genesis 18:2 and 18:3: King James Bible 18.2 “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. King James Bible 18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from Thy servant.

This teaching from the Sanatana Dharma Faith tradition that our “World Is One family “is from the Maha Upanishad The World is one family – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam” [Sanskrit]  precept from Maha Upanishad 6.71–75 } yet we are riven with divisions that we have fashioned and defended to our detriment. Dr. K. Thankappan’s  words and deeds fostered this as best as he could in his own personal life, in his work environments, in his community activities and travels and did what he could to resist these divisions and re-establish our common humanity.

अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्। (Ayam Nijah Paro Veti Ganana Laghucetasam)

उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्॥ (Udaracaritanam Tu Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)

This is mine, that is his, say the small minded,
The wise believe that the entire world is a family.

This adage, according to Chung Tan, influenced the Chinese culture and is an example of “dynamics of boundarylessness of a Himalaya Sphere phenomenon, viz. Chinese culture with Indian input”.[34]

[I offer links at the end of this message.

I am bringing all this to your notice because Dr Thankappan and his family participated in the community  and in his Church community and socially in an open and cordial manner despite several life threatening and psychologically taxing medical challenges affecting family members. Nobody but nobody could have ever guessed or imagined from what we could observe in our professional and social contexts because of the extraordinary spiritual and family resources that Dr Thankappan, Chandrika, children and extended family.

I will miss him because he was genuine person and cared for my family and me as he did for the families of his patients, colleagues and as he did  for his own family

I offer this prayer: to Chandrika , his children and grandchildren and extended family and all those who were close to him: Numbers 6:24-26 kjv

Numbers 6:22-26

The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you And give you peace.”

I would like to offer this prayer from my Faith tradition-Sanatana Dharma that offers me solace and succor: It is Malayalam Prayer from Njanappana: Facebook There are ten verses.

“Guru Nathan thunai chaika sanththam,
Thiru namangal navin mel eppozhum,
Piriyathe irikkanam nammude,

Nara janmam saphalamaakkiduvaan….”

I am grateful for the opportunity to be counted as one of his friends and colleagues and humbled by the incredible resilience and almost super- human spiritual resources that Dr KT and Chandrika and their children helped them to stay so admirably calm  and poised and carry on and stay in the moment with incredible poise and grace. I will as many of you will, miss him greatly.

I join with members of KACT to respectfully offer my sincere condolences, prayers and thoughts to the family at this very difficult time.

My website has many posts  that offer solace and succor to people who are experiencing great pain and distress

I would like to leave you with this message that encapsulates my reflections on Dr. K. Thankappan – his life, his words and deeds

Velandy Manohar, MD [] May your birthday bring you smiles and laughter, joy and cheer, and happiness that lasts the whole year.

The best way to enjoy life is to forget your age[especially if you have run out of fingers and toes to enumerate] and just cherish the memories. All the best. Enjoy with family and friends.

Links to cited sources. VM

I. Philoxenia:

b. Baucis and Philemon – Wikipedia
d.The Meaning Behind Philoxenia and Why It’s Our Motto – Saloniki Greek
e. bloggreekgreek hospitality / By admin.
The True Meaning of Philoxenia – Mysterious Greece.
g. Metamorphoses by Ovid : Ovid : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
h. Metamorphoses – Wikipedia

II. “Let Brotherly Love continue”.

a. Hebrews 13:1-6 KJV – Let brotherly love continue. Be not – Bible Gateway
b., c. Genesis 18:3 Abraham and the encounter with the three Strangers

III. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam.

a. Maha Upanishad – Wikipedia
b. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – Vedic GLOBAL
c. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – Wikipedia
d. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The World is One Family! – ReSanskrit