July 2, 2003 

Inspiration for the day

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Dr.Raja Marthanda Varma, NIMHANS, Bangalore

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When Dr.Raja Marthanda Varma, who was undergoing post graduation course in Bristol University, UK, informed his teacher Dr. Alexander about his intention to take up a job as neurosurgeon in a mental hospital in Bangalore, the loving guru advised him strongly against it.  But Varma, who had wanted to infuse a new direction in the treatment of mental patients, was adamant.  And so the 1st Indian neurosurgeon to join a mental hospital joined AIIMH, Bangalore in 1958.

For 2 years, Dr. Alexander kept a post in Bristol vacant in the hope that his favorite student would change his mind and occupy it.  But after 2 years Dr. Varma informed his guru that there was no need to keep that post vacant any longer.

In 1969 he became the Director of AIIMH.  This gave him better chance to push for the convergance of neuroscience and psychiatry.  And as a result of his tireless efforts, the AIIMH and the Mental Hospital merged into the National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Science (NIMHANS), with equal participation by Central and State Governments.

After serving as the Director of the fledgling institute for 5 years, Dr.Varma relinquished charge.  But the Institute wanted him to continue.  Why, the then Health Minister Rabi Ray went to his house to change his mind.  “I do it not because I love myself less, but because I love NIMHANS more,” he paraphrased Shakespeare.

In 1965 he presented a paper in the international conference of neurosurgeons at Copenhagen.  In this method, later known as ‘Varma’s Technique’, patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease is subjected to a 20-minute local anesthesia-aided surgery when the prevailing method was a general anesthesia-aided hole in the cranium.

Many honours have come to Padmashree Dr.Varma. Deputy Director General of Central Government and its Mental Health Advisor, Honorary Surgeon of former President R.Venkitaraman etc are some of them.

His colleagues have a deep respect for the skill of his neurosurgery and the love and impartiality in his approach. When his son wrote the entrance test of NIMHANS, he did not inform any one.  And the result: Ravi who could not make it in the list had to study at Manipal.



Courtesy: Bindu K.Prasad, Malayalam, June 28, 2002

Contributed by: Administrator


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