Post : 2000
Updated : August 4, 2019
Introduction by Saya U Aung Khin
(Formerly Prof. of Mech. Engg.)
With the approach of the Re-union and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe [in October 2000 in San Francisco], several thoughts ran through my mind as to how best to mark the occasion in a fitting way. Besides the prospect of meeting my contemporaries and former students, there is also a deeper sense of cultural belonging which such a reunion generates. It is no other than paying respects to those who showed us the path to learning. To me,
late Sayagyi U Ba Hli [first native Dean of Engineering, Rangoon University] will always be remembered as a teacher and a counselor in my undergraduate days. He was instrumental in guiding me to a career in teaching, for which I owe him eternal gratitude. I had the privilege of contacting his son Dr. Freddy Ba Hli, residing in Sydney, Australia and I asked him to write a tribute to his beloved father. It is with deep respect that I present the following tribute to and profile of late Sayagyi U Ba Hli as written by his son.
Tribute to Sayagyi U Ba Hli
by Dr. F. Ba Hli (ex-faculty, EE Dept, Former Director General, UBARI, Former Advisor, Ministry of National Planning)
Sayagyi U Ba Hli, M.Sc. (Engg) (London, BE. (Calcutta), D.I.C, A.M.I.C.E., Professor of Civil Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Rangoon was born in Moulmein, Burma on Monday, the 11th October, 1897 and passed away peacefully at his house, 327, U Wisara Road, Rangoon on the night of 28th January, 1973. During his illustrious lifetime, he was responsible for producing many generations of engineers in Burma, including many of the professors and lecturers in the Faculty of Engineering and the Rangoon Institute of Technology.
I will not say much to you regarding Sayagyi U Ba Hli as a Professor in this tribute to him since you probably know him in that capacity better than me and so I will write about him as a father and what we call in Burmese as “Let-oo-saya, mi hnint pha” (first instructors, namely our parents).
My happiest early memory of him was that he taught me the Pali version of the Mingala Sutta (Sermon regarding the 38 Blessings or Mingalas) which he had learnt at a monastery school during his childhood in Moulmein. When I went to school, Buddhist monastic schools were no longer predominant in our country of birth. Whenever I repeat those melodious and immortal words of wisdom everyday now, I remember him teaching them to me more than sixty years ago.
Do you, as an engineer, know that engineering can be considered as a part of ” Dhamma ” (The Universal Truth), though of course, a mundane part? It is because of the Truth of the principle of engineering that all the things which engineers construct or produce (such things as skyscrapers, bridges, transportation systems of all kinds, chemical, modern textiles, metallic alloys, electricity, telecommunications, computers, etc) work so well and contribute to humanity. In that sense, Sayagyi can be said to have lived according to the adage, “Thaba Danan, Dhamma Danan Zinati”. (Here I use the Burmese form of Pali as you would probably be more at home with it). The meaning in English is “Of all gifts, the gift of Dhamma is the most precious”.
While he and my mother (Sayamagyi Daw Thein Hmyin who was the first Burmese Headmistress of the National Girls High School in Moulmein before she married my father) were alive, (and also up to now), I sincerely pay homage to them with the words “Mata pitu Gunaw Anantaw Ahan Wundami” and “Acariya Gunaw Anantaw Ahan Wundami” both morning and evening, everyday.
In conclusion, I share my merits of Dana, Thila and Bhavana (Charities, Moral Precipts and Meditations) with them and with all of you. My only regret is that my parents did not have a chance to practise Vipassana Bhavana Meditation according to the technique of Sayagyi U Goenka which has spread all over the world in the 1990’s.