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Mangalore’s Five Generations of Doctors

Mangalore’s Five Generations of Doctors

Mangalore’s Five Generations of Doctors

Mangalore Today News Network

“The state of darkness before the light is like an illness, a state lacking inner-cohesion, and the guru is a dispeler of darkness. Therefore a guru is a healer, and thousands flock to him to obtain cures for their maladies.” (from a commentary on Srimad Bhagavad Gita, on the healer)

Mangalore, Oct 13, 2014: In Mangalore city Dr. Raghavendra V. Bhat is a reputed sought after medical personality, he is a doctor for the family and a super specialist too at the same time which is very rare. He excels as a professor heading the Department of Medicine in the historic KMC - Kasturba Medical College, which speaks volumes.  In his well known ‘Chitra Clinic’ at Hampankatta, which came into existence along with Indian Independence in the old city centre, he is a healer to a wide cross section of people. Readers  of ’Mangalore Today’ have in recent months enjoyed the brief meaningful thoughts  of Dr R V Bhat,  don’t miss his page in every issue, and there is a lot more to it.


Dr. Raghavendra Bhat family

Dr R. V. Bhat’s two daughters Dr.Gita and Dr.Nita are rapidly rising in the ’traditional’ family profession of modern medicine whose progress is thrilling.  It is a matter of admirable pride that such heritage proliferates in this part of India, which  has gained a subtle place in the sun the world over.  These healers of body and mind and teachers of modern medicine are nothing short of divine reflections. That five generations of medical mentors so to say ascend from this Bhat family of this soil called Canara over 147 years, makes it a matter of pride. We salute such lofty persons of humanity everywhere.

Going into the world of five generations we start from the current two generations of leading medical lights of the ’Bhat’ clan in the city today, back tracking interesting genealogy and revelations.

Dr. R.V. Bhat - the contemporary & GeNext:
Dr. Raghavendra Bhat MangaloreDr. Raghavendra Vasudeva Bhat (Dr. R.V. Bhat) is the father of Dr.Gita and Dr.Nita, the present graceful contemporaries. Our protagonist bearing the name of his grandfather, patiently gave clues to the story of his five generation heritage – Dr. Raghavendra Vasudeva Bhat,  studied  MBBS and MD (Medicine) at the KMC ( with merit seats) and completed  post graduation in 1982, took the reins and continued medical practice serving this city in the very same ‘Chitra Clinic’ named by his father after his elder sister who was a prominent doctor in the very same spot the clinic is now in 2014.  Dr.R.V., a product of the famed Lady Hill Canara School, (as also his sister and daughters), was the recipient of 5 gold medals and many awards at the university level. At the point of time he commenced on the path of his father, Dr.Vasudeva. R. Bhat, famous for treating TB – Tuberculosis; TB in the 1980’s was being taken up exclusively as a government sponsored treatment sector.  So, Dr R V plunged into treatment of Allergy and Asthma which were a scourge in Mangalore. It became the first clinic to offer Lung Function Test and Allergy tests. Dr.R V  was always attracted towards medical academics, teaching is my first love always,  he insists. He has taken care of at least three generations of patients  with a  cultivated interest in the clinical practice as the medical teaching alone was not considered  a viable field in India,  he states. Dr R V Bhat insists that he has had a very satisfying career as a medical teacher all along and  achieved whatever there was to achieve for a medical teacher - good name, recognition in the state, country and abroad. He is a recognized and selected ‘guru’.  An adviser for some of the best clinical books that medicos study,  he himself has authored five medical books, in line with five generation of family doctors it seems. He is considered by the cream of medical professionals as a seasoned resource person of many teaching sessions and CMEs,  state conference of Physicians. In the process, he got to know many excellent likeminded and  accomplished people around the world. He very modestly adds, that he is much richer in academic experience by his good fortune than he ever dreamt to be possible!

His older sister Chitra (her father Dr.Vasudev, named his clinic after her, which still bears the name) is settled in Illinois, USA. She did serve the community as a doctor and is now serving the Ramakrishna Ashram most of the time as her children are independent. Her husband Dr. Dharmadev Nayak is an Urologist at Illinois US, with a great reputation and a respected name. They have two sons, Dr. Laxmeesh (Mike) the older son is a Plastic Surgeon, Oncosurgeon and an ENT Surgeon all rolled into one.  He is practicing plastic and reconstructive surgery and is very successful at that. Students from many universities come to him for special training.  He has two children who are attending school. His younger brother, Raj is a lawyer. It seems their parents are not taking chances, the saying goes, " If you don’t have a good lawyer you will go to the gallows, if you don’t have a good doctor you will go to the tomb".

Our protagonist, Dr R V Bhat brightens up when he says he is  married to Shobha who is the homemaker and is instrumental in running the show on the domestic  front, no doubt he is relaxed and has sound health and cares for others- surely he is well cared for by his better half. Dr. R V as readers know also dabbles successfully in literary pursuits and the words of Chekhov may perhaps apply to him "Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other".


Dr. Raghavendra Bhat family

We have already read he has two daughters who are well qualified Doctors now and set to gain more prized degrees, Carlins saying comes in handy here, “Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do practice ”.  Dr. Gita,  the elder one did her MBBS ( from Rajeev Gandhi University where she was the best overall lady candidate in the entire MBBS course. She also topped the entire university for Surgery. She was declared the best outgoing student of  her college (Fr Muller’s Medical College.Mangalore). After that she earned an MD Medicine from KMC, she has now obtained a national merit seat for DM Oncology at Kidwai Memorial Institute at Bangalore. Younger daughter Dr Nita after completing her MBBS at Fr Mullers Medical College (where she was admitted in a CET seat),  is currently working on her post graduation at KS Hegde Medical College for an MS in Ophthalmology. This is just the proverbial  tip of the ice berg now, it will need pages to better account; let us proceed to older generations and the marvels of this traditional GSB ‘Bhat’ clan of Mangalore.

Dr. Vasudeva Raghavendra Bhat (1917-2005): 
Known as Dr. V. R. Bhat,  he is the  father of our protagonist  Dr R.V. Bhat. Dr Vasudeva, was schooled at the reputed Canara High School in Dongerkery and   graduated with the coveted MBBS of old from Madras Medical College (MMC), the legendary medical institution of the old British Madras Presidency which catered to a good part of South India and further too. Many illustrious pioneer doctors of the bygone era are products of this yeoman institution which still has a lofty reputation. Dr. Vasudev’s father too was an alumni of this MMC. Young Dr V R, discerned that Tuberculosis was the major killer at that point in time killing many in the prime of life. There were no specific drugs as yet available nor particular treatment. Care in Sanatoriums, good diets, clean air and rest was the normal treatment prescribed. Complications killed many. Symptomatic and treatment for complications was devised successfully by  Dr.VasudevA Bhat while training at Perandurai Sanatorium (perhaps in Tambaram)  Madras. Then came the era of new drugs, the discovery of Streptomycin, INH, Thiacetazone and PAS changed the face of treatment. Streptomycin injections saved lives. One injection would cost Rs 32 when a gold sovereign cost Rs 13!  Dr. Vasudev started his ’Chitra Clinic’ in Hampankatta in 1947 with facility for Chest X Rays. The machine was imported from London and the X ray plates were brought by a person traveling all the way to Madras and back for the purpose by the Madras Mail. Blood tests and sputum tests at the Chitra clinic was done with accuracy, the charge was nominal. Many a time people never paid due to lack of money for the Streptomycin injections and he wrote it off with empathy. He took the best care of patients as only Dr R V can explain. Ethics and  truth were his watch words; he was known to be a person different and honest to a fault.


Dr. Raghavendra Bhat family

He made sure Dr R V and his sister Dr Chitra had the best of all things and education in particular. Both of them were always told they had to get merit seats for becoming doctors, no donations, the goal was set! This motivated them to great heights all through life.  It is rare to find the principles and humane attitudes that one can see in Dr R V Bhat even at a glance, upholding Hippocrates words, "Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity".
Dr. Raghavendra Purushottam Bhat (1894-1924):
Dr. Raghavendra Purushottam ( R P) Bhat is Dr R V Bhat’s  grand father, and  namesake as he was given the same first name. Dr R P Bhat was perhaps one of the earliest properly qualified medical doctors of Mangalore.  He qualified as a doctor in allopathic medicine from the famed Madras Medical College (MMC) of the old times. He was an outstanding student it is on record. He won the coveted gold medal in the memory of Surgeon Major W N Chipperfield who was a Professor of Medicine at MMC. This is a solid gold medal and is a heirloom. Those were very hard times of World Wars. He served the nation by being a proud military doctor in uniform. He had a son (Dr.Vasudeva) and a daughter. His wife’s second delivery was a complicated one and the attending doctor forbade a third child. However, as fate destined there was a third delivery and a second daughter born; critical complications proved fatal to Dr R P’s wife. Not long after, overcome by deep sorrow and desperation for he loved his wife very dearly, Dr R P Bhat shot himself with his service revolver; his 3 children became orphans. Young Vasudev, was then on motivated to enter the medical field to honour his father; ? Hippocrates had said, that the life was so short, the craft of medicine so long to learn.  The role of both parents were fully taken on by the children’s paternal grand father Sri Purushottam who was near 60 years. Dr. Vasudeva Bhat, Dr R V’s father was also a pillar of support to his two dear sisters and they always remembered that fact. He was practically both an elder brother and a father to them.  Had Dr.V R Bhat been given a full span of life the history of this doctor family would have been even more spectacular, feel one and all - but then, man thinks as man and God as God.


Dr. Raghavendra Bhat family of gold medals

Purushotham Bhat (1867-1956):
 The trail of the five generations starts with this pioneer in 1867 when Purushotham Bhat, who was a  multifaceted person of Uppinangady was born, he is the father of Dr.R P Bhat. In those days allopathy was hardly known and people in Mangalore relied on Ayurveda and local natural medicines. In fact the pioneer German Fr.Muller started homeopathy practice under a tree in what is now St. Aloysius College in about 1880, before shifting to the present hospital site at Kankanady.  Sri Purushottam is known to have gained a respected reputation in and around Uppinangady  as a local ’vaid’  who advised and provided local herbal remedies. Readers may recall that the famed Mangalore origin Booker prize winning author Arvind Adiga in his Maiden Novel, "Between the Assassinations” which was reviewd in this magazine, refers to Uppinangady as "Salt market village" an exact translation.  There can be little doubt that the medical interest generated among the family then was the catalyst for the coming generations to go into full fledged medical practice serving humanity. Voltaire’s words may be recalled here, "The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease".

Sri Purushottam Bhat the pioneer, had green fingers is well noted. Whatever he grew in his land grew very well. He always had a scientific bent of mind and ideas. He had no fear to do anything that interested him. He started making glazed floor tiles of superior quality in those times, as good or even better than the imported Italian tiles. He had no capital and no support from local people for his then  futuristic enterprises. He would manufacture one lot, export it through the sail boat and use the money to make the next lot. He was very well appreciated and recognised by the district Collector, but paucity of funds held him back. His ability at growing plants was highly appreciated by the collector who offered him a piece of land free for cultivation. Sri. Bhat outright rejected the idea looking at it as a form of charity. His self respect prevented him from accepting the offer though he was not rich. He was also talented in treating various disorders using herbal medicines which made him a highly respected "vaid or doctor "- the pioneer ’doctor’ of the "Bhat" descendants over 147 years is worthy. This astonishing trail of five generations of medical experts and doctors a beacon before you, an inspiration. There is a lot more that needs to be told, which is astounding and needs many more pages. But, Dr.R V Bhat, and perhaps Drs. Gita and Nita in time to come  will continue regaling you with many insights in the pages of ’Mangalore Today’.

By I J Saldanha Shet (with inputs from Dr. R V Bhat)

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