Indian Journal of Medical Specialities

: 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 179--183

Where are such teachers? A legend, an icon, and a role model!

Shridhar Dwivedi 
 Department of Cardiology, National Heart Institute, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Shridhar Dwivedi
National Heart Institute, New Delhi - 110 065

How to cite this article:
Dwivedi S. Where are such teachers? A legend, an icon, and a role model!.Indian J Med Spec 2019;10:179-183

How to cite this URL:
Dwivedi S. Where are such teachers? A legend, an icon, and a role model!. Indian J Med Spec [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Mar 31 ];10:179-183
Available from:

Full Text


Role of teachers in life is immense. Some medical teachers can be called as stalwarts and act as role models, leaving an indelible imprint on minds and lives of students they teach. Those of us who have studied at the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University (BHU) during early sixties and eighties would fondly remember several of our illustrious teachers. Foremost among them were:

A legend in true sense – Professor K. N. Udupa affectionately called as Dr. UdupaAn icon – Professor F. M. Narielvala: Darling of students fondly called as FMNA real role model – Professor P. N. Somani.

 Professor K. N. Udupa – a Legend in True Sense

Born on July 28, 1920, in a traditional Sanskrit family of Kinnigoli, Dakshina Kanara (South Canara), young Kateel Narasimh Udupa [Figure 1] was determined to become a doctor from his early childhood days. He first went to Madras alone and tried to get admission into Madras Ayurvedic College but could not succeed as he was holding pure Sanskrit degree equivalent to tenth but not a recognized high school qualification. This did not deter young Udupa to loose heart and he travelled straight to Benares to fulfill his cherished aim. With the help of one Sri Dasnacharya, he got admission into graduate Ayurvedic Course Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (AMS) of BHU which was open for Sanskrit students. He worked hard and excelled in studies and cleared all subjects in first attempts and became doctor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (AMS). He wanted to become a good surgeon, therefore, went to Mumbai and joined Poddar Ayurvedic College. There he came in contact of Col. Mirazkar who helped him in going to USA for higher studies. He did his MS (Surgery) from the USA and later on went to Canada where he did his FRCS. He then returned to India and became civil surgeon at Mandi district of Himachal. There he served the people with such a devotion and distinction that his fame spread far and wide. From Mandi, he again went to United States and did work on “Wound Healing” with Dunphy. After some time, he again came back to India and joined Indian Medical Service as civil surgeon at Shimla, and this was the time when there was great turbulence in Ayurvedic medical education. There was total chaos and crippling strike at BHU by Ayurvedic graduates, and they were demanding for appointing Dr. K. N. Udupa as Principal of the Ayurvedic College. It was then that no less than a person of the stature of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru asked Dr. K. N. Udupa to go to Banaras and join the Ayurvedic College there to restore peace in the campus. With arrival of Dr. Udupa as Principal of Ayurvedic College in 1959, tranquility descended in turbulent college. After several rounds of discussion, University in consultation with Dr. Udupa decided to open a medical college “College of Medical Sciences” with Ayurvedic contents also in place of Ayurvedic College in 1960. Dr. Udupa gifted with enormous zeal, passion, and determination built this medical college in short span of 12 years into a Colossus Institute named as IMS, the proud IMS, BHU. It is said that Rome was not built in a day so is true with IMS synonymous with Dr. Udupa. Those of us who have been the alumnus of this great Institute during early sixties to early eighties have witnessed the way Dr. Udupa nurtured this Institute with his sweat, tears, and blood. When the College of Medical Sciences was started in 1960, the first hurdle came from Medical Council of India (MCI). The MCI was not prepared to recognize this because the principal, Dr. Udupa was not holding MBBS degree. It was ironic that the then General Medical Council of United Kingdom had recognized the College on account of stupendous research work carried out at Surgical Research Laboratory and the ample quality work being done in hospital reflected in quality research papers published by Dr. Udupa and his team. University, particularly the then VC Justice Bhagwati found a way out and awarded MBBS degree after following due examination process. MCI has no other option now but to grant recognition to this nascent institution. The undersigned has seen how he tackled the giants of medical educationist like Dr. P. N. Chutani, the then Director of PGI Chandigarh, Dr. P. N. Wahi, the six feet tall, Principal of SN Medical College when they came for inspecting the then College of Medical Sciences. Visit of Prof. B. N. Sinha, the then MCI Chief and HOD Orthopaedic Surgery will go down as a brilliant piece of tactful handling by Dr. Udupa who was so sarcastic in his initial remarks but showered lot of praise at the end of his visit. The way he shaped the destiny of this Institute is a saga in itself. His routine was remarkable. He will go the college office in early morning hours dispose of urgent office papers and then come to hospital in his operation theater (OT) office. In initial days, the college office was at the first floor of Sanskrit College till the new building just opposite to SS Hospital came in. His hospital office was in old OT block of SS Hospital. He used to be very active surgeon doing all kinds of surgery, particularly thyroid surgery. For which, he was known in entire country, particularly Himachal and Western Bihar. He used to hold his outpatient department regularly and take our ward clinics as when scheduled. Thus, he was able to keep an eye on all of us, used to call most of the students by first name. The evening was reserved for Surgical Research Laboratory and library where he will check all new arrivals. His canny eyes will see how many of young teachers are coming to library everyday. His late evening rounds were famous for his infectious smiling face and alacrity. He will come to hospital late evening straight from his college office or Surgical Research Laboratory and assemble beneath the main porch of the SS Hospital and get briefing from his team (Dr. Saroj Gupta, Dr. A. P. Sinha, Dr. Minocha, Dr. S. K. Mishra student's ward incharge, casualty medical officer incharge, and hospital administrative staff). From thereon, he will go to casualty, have a peep there, then to both surgical ward, and finally to special ward or student's ward as per need. In this way, he had pulse on entire hospital. At the end of hospital round, he will move for brisk evening walk. This was the time when some of his trusted and beloved students will accompany him for their personal/research problems. It was during one of these evening walk that I got a hint to do my PhD work on “Prostaglandins in ischemic heart disease and beneficial role of Terminalia arjuna in IHD.” This is one such example. There were umpteen number of such important leads given to dozen of students by Dr. Udupa. It was upon his goading that Dr. A. P. Pandey moved to Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, for doing MCh Urology under legendary HS Bhat. Dr. A. P. Pandey, later on, got Padmashree for his pioneering work on renal transplant. One of the rare qualities which Dr. Udupa possessed was his singular devotion to IMS and keeping himself totally aloof from University politics. Thus, he was able to expand this college to institute level and start superspecialty courses in ten disciplines, namely cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, nephrology, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, urology, pediatric surgery, etc. It was his charisma that IMS became so popular not only in Eastern UP, Western Bihar, parts of Madhya Pradesh but also in Kathmandu and far off places. The college witnessed the arrival of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, and Mother Teresa. Sehani Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan was a great fan of Dr. Udupa. Kashi Naresh Vibhuti Narayan Singh used to hold him in great respect. One of his pioneering contribution was to get recognized the ancient surgeon “Sushruta” as “Father of Surgery” by the Western academia. The statue installed in SS Hospital old building ground floor surgery block is a living example of vision and affection to ancient tradition. True to Sushruta's teaching [INSIDE:1] [INSIDE:2] meaning, thereby all those who aspire for medicine should keep on updating not only in their subjects but also in allied disciplines. There it was the spark inside Dr. Udupa which wanted his students should also keep on updating themselves and researching in their respective areas. A true legend he was.{Figure 1}

 Professor F. M. Narielvala: an Icon and Darling of Students

Professor Narielvala [Figure 2] joined the College of Medical Sciences in 1965 as professor of medicine and appointed as its head after the superannuation of Prof. K. N. Gaur. He came from famous CMC, Vellore and brought all noble tradition of CMC to BHU. We were in 3rd year and started going to hospital for clinical postings. Tall, handsome, well-chiseled face, very attractive, stethoscope in one hand and a percussion hammer in another hand, characteristic gait, clear resonating voice, and flawless English; he possessed everything which makes a teacher adorable and charismatic (Picture). It was sheer coincidence that when we saw him first in medical ward, situated on the first floor of SS Hospital in December night, it was 30 min past nine and we were about to leave for hostel for dinner; we heard great commotion in the ward. Father of a senior batch Dr. Mishra was vomiting blood and Prof. Narielvala was looking for emergency drugs kept in a locked glass almirah. The duty staff was not able to trace its key. The condition of patient was fast deteriorating. Prof. Narielvala broke open the glass with bang of his powerful fist. The drug was taken out and administered quickly. In doing so, he had sustained cut injury in his hand and started bleeding. Undeterred, he continued to direct the management in a very cool and confident manner. He reviewed the case again after an hour and finally decided to get emergency exploratory laparotomy to stop the source of bleeding. He went straight to the residence of Dr. H. S. Lakhtakia, reader of surgery, near Sita Nivas, behind VC residence. Dr. Lakhtakia accompanied Prof. Narielvala in his night suite without wasting a single moment. Dr. Mishra's father was taken to operation theater and emergency procedure carried out same night. His life was saved, thanks to accurate clinical judgment, grit, determination, alacrity, and rare sense of compassion exhibited by Prof. Narielvala.{Figure 2}

The above episode in the very first meeting left an indelible impression on all of us, and we decided among ourselves that we will attend every session with Prof. Narielvala be it clinical ward round in morning; bedside presentations, case discussions in seminar room, or his late night rounds. He was a walking encyclopedia of Medicine. You start a story and came so many explanations of patient's symptoms. He often used to tell us that patient gives you his diagnosis on platter, provided your ears, and eyes are receptive enough. Taking a class on ascites, he would say it is storm followed by rain and then lull. Talking about lead pipe type and clasp knife rigidity, he would demonstrate himself how clasp knife opens and that how difficult it is to bend a lead pipe. His expressions, eye movement, hand movement, and choice of words would make you clear what he was referring to. Taking a case of loose motions in medicine seminar room, he dwelt at length the definition of diarrhea and importance of naked examination of stools. He then narrated a real-life experience of his days at Calcutta Hospital when epidemic of cholera broke out there and he used to stay in ward duty room day in and day out. This made him expert in detecting a case of cholera by smell emanating entering in ward. He was able to tell how much fluid this patient has lost by pinching his skin. Such was the level of devotion and attachment with patient. I still remember when talking about mitral stenosis and mitral regurgitation he once told you need going to OT and put your finger in stenotic valve or feel the regurgitant jet of mitral regurgitation in the left atrium. This shows how brilliant and pragmatic teacher he was. He made us to learn and practice fundus examination of each case telling the fundus is the window of the central nervous system. For this, his office doors were always open. You go there pick up the ophthalmoscope, do the fundus examination and keep the ophthalmoscope back on his table. Once I entered his room and asked for his permission to use his ophthalmoscope, I was admonished right and left. He said to me do you need my permission to use this and then nodded his head in approval. So benevolent, he was to his students. He saw to it that the final finish of his product were no way inferior to any premier institution of entire India be it AIIMS, Delhi, or CMC, Vellore. He used to invite stalwarts of medicine to department and get us exposed to them. One such moment is still etched in my mind when Prof. K. Vytilingam from CMC came to our department. She spoke on “primary pulmonary hypertension.” It was such an eloquent delivery that I still remember those pearls uttered by that distinguished Professor of Cardiology. Many of his first and second students of my college are holding Professorial Chairs abroad in USA and UK. I still remember the most brilliant Dr. P. J. Kaimal and Dr. Thomas occupying chairs in cardiology abroad. However, he was ruthless in examinations. I cannot but forget an incidence in this regard. One of my seniors who were very chummy with him and thought he will sail through in medicine because of proximity with boss, Believe me he failed because he fared badly in clinicals. There was a deafening silence in hostel when the final MBBS results were out because everyone thought that this guy will come out with flying colors. However, this was Narielvala not an ordinary person. Once the results were out Professor came to hostel and consoled this guy that I will teach you medicine 6 more months and see you come out well versed in Medicine. Such was his impartiality and magnanimity.

He was a staunch believer in the comprehensive development of his students. For this, he will take students in the night to city and river Ganges. This was perhaps not liked by University which had different ethos and work culture. Notwithstanding such odd remarks by seniors, he would encourage us to participate in extracurricular activities. He himself was a great fan of English Literature. Once he was invited to act as a judge in English debate organized by Prof. O 'Brien, then HOD English, Faculty of Arts. The speech which he gave at the end of elocution competition made Prof. O'Brien to say that Prof. Narielvala is as profound professor of English as scholarly professor of medicine he is. He had such a deep respect of University that he opposed the move to change the name of BHU to Madan Mohan Malaviya (MMM) University on the analogy of jawahar lal university (JNU). A similar move was also on afoot to change the name of aligarh muslim university (AMU) with that of its founder. Professor Narielvala argued that by changing the name of BHU to MMM University on the pattern of JNU you are lowering down the prestige and esteem of BHU in long run because name of Jawaharlal Nehru was so towering in Indian politics that Malaviyaji will never get his due. I am privy to those discussions which he used to have with colleagues and other teachers.

We were totally at loss when one fine morning in the year 1968, we heard that Prof. Narielvala is leaving our Institution and going to KEM Hospital, Mumbai. Many of us cried and felt orphan. University lost one of its greatest clinician and iconic figure of its medical college. A real icon he was!

We, later on, learned that he has gone to Australia. I did get his affectionate mail some 8 months back, wherein he poured his heart about his wonderful stay at BHU. God bless him long life.

 Professor P. N. Somani – a True Role Model and a Beacon for His Students

Our interactions with clinical teachers begin with hospital postings. It was somewhere early January 1965 that our theory as well as bedside medicine classes started, and we came to know about our senior teachers more closely. Professor K. N. Gaur, the founder Head of the Department, was too senior a faculty who will mingle with junior students that freely. Dr. Narielvala had not arrived till then. Teaching was left to other senior teachers. Fortunately, this was the time (1963–1968) when Department of Medicine had wonderful teachers like Dr. P. N. Somani (Cardiology), Dr. H. S. Bajpai (Endocrinology/Diabetology), Dr. B. C. Katiyar (Neurology), and Dr. P. K. Srivastava (Internal Medicine). They commanded profuse respect among students community. The one who impressed us most was Dr. Somani [Figure 3] on account of his charismatic personality, content and depth of his theory lectures, dictum and diction. Alumnus of prestigious King George Medical College (KGMC), Lucknow, and postgraduate of famous Prof. S. S. Mishra, a doyen of Medicine of that era. Dr. Somani had imbibed the aristocratic and scholarly mold of his illustrious teacher, Prof. Mishra. He was a true Georgian. In initial 10 years of college (1960–1970), most lectures used to be held using blackboard and chalk. Many teachers used to consult big leaf of papers kept in their hands while lecturing, but Dr. Somani would glance once or twice and carry on in his own lucid style explaining the core content of the topic. His clinics used to be well attended. His cases used to be mostly cardiac in nature. All said and done Dr. Somani had a different aura and used to infuse confidence by his mere presence. It was a mere coincidence that six of his KGMC classmates, namely, Dr. A. P. Shukla (Anatomy), Dr. B. N. S. Bhatnagar (Surgery), Dr. Ratan Mala Gupta (Immunopathology), Dr. M. N. Khanna (Cardiothoracic Surgery), Dr. G. D. Singhal (Pediatric Surgery), and Dr. S. K. Dikshit (Pediatrics) were also our teachers during that time. All of them were superb teachers in their own way, but Dr . Somani was most liked by students, staff, and patients alike because of his gentle behavior, civility, no nonsense, and scientific approach. I still remember vividly that news of first successful human to human transplant by daring South African surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard descending in our campus in early December, 1967, when Dr. Udupa decided to have a seminar on “cardiac transplantation” in our college, rightly so a grand seminar was held in old college lecture theater adjacent to physiology department. Dr. K. K. Datey, famous Cardiologist from Mumbai, was one of the speaker in that vibrant seminar. Dr. Datey used a laser pointer which was new for us that time. However, the lecture given by Dr. Somani made us feel proud that we too have wonderful teachers among us.{Figure 3}

Stickler to basics, he would never pardon if someone failed to mention about enlarged tender liver, raised JVP or basal crepitations, and making a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and tried to be over smart. He always gave due respect to his students/juniors in the course of discussions in front of patients. Never belittle or ridicule them in public. Always updated with recent advancements in therapy, his patients got the most rational therapy rather than plethora of drugs. I distinctly remember two cases which testify his sharp mind. Sri Rai Krishnadas, the famous Indologist and Hindi popularly called as “Sarkarji” suddenly developed the right-sided hemiplegia, aphasia, and became unconscious at his residence somewhere around 1969. He was known to have hypertension for long. Suspecting stroke and second differential as meningitis, he decided for immediate cautious lumbar puncture. Sarkarji was bit bulky, so lumbar puncture has got to be done in the first attempt and that too atraumatic. He discussed this in his team asked if anyone was coming forward. Gazing his eyes all around he asked me can you do it? I had no other option but to say yes. God's grace I could do it in first prick. Cerebrospinal fluid was clear and all parameters turned out to be normal. He was treated on conservative lines and he recovered fast. That case earned laurels for entire team. In another case, one Sri Ram Dehal Rai was brought in acute chest pain with severe breathlessness somewhere in 1969–1970. Electrocardiogram showed signs of acute myocardial infarction. This gentleman was a heavy bidi smoker. He was admitted in general medical wards those days and treated with heparin. He made a remarkable recovery. A simplistic but very pragmatic and practical person, Mr. Rai had a lone son (Dr. Lallan Rai) who was in the USA that time. He would always say please show me to Somani saheb but don't tell him that I am still continuing with smoking.

His training, grilling, and mentorship was so perfect that all his postgraduates right from 1968 onward be it Dr. Z. A. Ansari (suave senior always ready to help/guide), Dr. A. N. Rai (bubbling with knowledge), Dr. S. K. Bhattacharya (dada we used to call him an image of perfection), myself, Dr. J. K. Agarwal (who did pioneering work on stroke risk factors), Dr. S. K. Samantray (modest Odiya with characteristic smile), Dr. Jha (Simplistic but had grip on medicine), etc., have held important academic positions as Professors/Heads/Dean/Principals in their respective places. His first postgraduate (Dr. Ansari) did not join any academic institution because of his familial compulsions. His work on rheumatic fever laid a solid foundation for others to work on this area. Dr. Ansari turned out to be extremely popular, thanks to the training and guidance provided by Dr. Somani. Dr. Somani often used to tell us that always follow the basics of clinical medicine. Come what may never build castle in air. Another aspect which at that time seemed to be too much in demand was his slogan “publish or perish.” This perhaps was due to his training and exposure at the USA as a Blumgart Fellow soon after his postgraduation.

In the later part of his career, he developed immense interest in “yoga,” particularly “Vipasana” technique of yoga of which he became a great votary and practitioner himself. He also became emphatic about use of Hindi as a media among medical teachings. I had the privilege of writing a joint article on “Analysis of symptoms/” in 1969 which got published in college magazine. His image, his charm, depth in clinical medicine, bedside manners, and integrity will remain inseparable part of life for all those who passed out MD Medicine under his tutelage. For his patients, be it poor or rich; he is still “Somani saheb,” for us he remains our superb mentor, beacon of light, and for his peers and colleagues, he still holds the image of a gracious friend. He is a picture perfect of a real role model, a professor full of decency, dignity, and decorum, with sharp clinical acumen and a blessed healing touch. Let us pray for his long life as envisioned in “Shukl Yajurveda” – [INSIDE:3], [INSIDE:4] Hundred plus years of fruitful life with all faculties in command be it eyes, ears, speech, and mind; not dependent on anyone.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.