including UG/PG alumni and Faculty
|Dr Bhau Daji Lad
Bhau Daji was born
on June 8, 1824 in a village called Manjre on the borders of Goa and Sawantwadi. His family hailed from Parse and his real name was Ramkrishna Vithal
Parsekar. His father was a man of humble monetary means, a painter of clay models by profession and also a good poet.
Bhau received his early education in a local school
and came to Bombay in 1833 with his father. He joined the Central Marathi School located on the campus, later known as Esplanade
and at present as Azad Maidan under Narayan Shastri Puranik. After completing studies at this school, he joined English School
in 1836 where he studied. He won prizes, scholarships and a gold medal, and was selected as the West & Clare Scholar.
he passed the School Leaving Examination, standing first in History and Geography and second in Chemistry and distinguished
himself in Literature. In 1843 he was appointed as an assistant teacher in Chemistry and Natural Philosophy in Elphinstone
Institute and studied Sanskrit privately. While at Elphinstone Institute he wrote an essay on Female Infanticide for a Government
sponsored scheme and won the first prize.
Daji joined Grant Medical Gollege on November I, 1845 when the college had started functioning and was one of the first 12
students in the college. Dr. Charles Morehead, the first Principal of the college had 'considered it very essential to have
the services of a young man of education well acquainted with English and applied specifically for Bhau Daji who was then
an assistant master at the Elphinstone Institute. The Board of Education made the appointment as asked for' and Bhau Daji
joined Grant Medical College while still holding an administrative post, which he later resigned.
the Grant Medical College, Bhau Daji was not only a free student but also a salaried official. He won the Farish scholarship
at the end of the first year. In his second report for the year 1846-47, Dr. Charles Morehead states, 'Considering the extent
to which his time is taken up in the duties of his office, to have successfully competed for the Farish scholarship is considered
highly creditable of him; but as a consequence of holding this office, Bhau Daji was desirous of foregoing the pecuniary advantages
of the scholarship, satisfied with the honorary distinction which this award conferred on him'. In the second year examination
he stood fourth and in the final examination he won prizes and scholarships which he again declined to receive. He wanted
this amount to be awarded to the next best student so that the latter would be helped. This idealism characterised his entire
life, and he often gave more than what he received.
April 15, 1851 Bhau Daji received his Diploma of Graduate of Grant Medical College. On graduation, he was appointed Assistant
Surgeon - a post especially created by the government to absorb the young doctors till they could find a footing. Bha
u soon resigned and went in for private practice. Technically his academic education was over in 1851, but he carried with
him the advice of his principal Dr. Morehead, "Never forget that the life of a medical man, if rightly spent, is one of constant
study and observation, and progressive improvement". He associated himself with the Grant Medical College Society and was
elected its President for the the year 1855-56. He read papers before this Society regularly and they were very highly appreciated
by the members.
Bhau established himself in a short time as a great physician and surgeon. But what is of great importance is that he was
a helper of the poor and down-trodden. In 1853 he started the Nagdevi Charitable Dispensary at which he rendered free service
to the poor. He was a research worker who tested the efficacy of indigenous drugs.
Besides his profession, Dr. Bhau Daji had varied interests. He was an Indologist
of international repute and several Oriental Research Societies conferred their membership on him. Max Muller rightly observed 'the little he has written is worth thousands of
pages written by others'. Dr. Bhandarkar observed that no one could write a paper on the antiquities of the last two thousand
years without referring to his writings. Bhau Daji was Vice-President of the Bombay Branch of Royal Asiatic Society from 1864
to 1873. He was a Sanskrit scholar and had planned a critical edition of Kumar-sambhavam.
Bhau was an educationist who firmly believed that education was an asset of great value and took active part in the spread
of knowledge. He was a member of the Board of Education - an appointment which was hailed in all quarters as could be
seen from the views of the contemporary news papers. He was a member and later the President of the Students' Literary and
Scientific Society, which conducted seven schools. He was a staunch advocate of female education.
Dr. Bhau took a leading part in the political activities of his times.
the secretary of the Bombay Association, a political organisation which was striving for a better government that would ensure
the prosperity and well-being of the people here through necessary legislations and administrative steps. This Bombay Association
was the forerunner of the Indian National Congress.
Bhau's passion for research in medicine led him into establishing a botanical garden and a museum in the city. We owe
the Victoria Gardens (now called Jijamata Udyan) to him and the Albert Museum. He also had a passion for books and manuscripts,
and played a very leading role in the establishment of libraries in Bombay and in all the leading institutes. He was a lover
of literature, arts, and the contemporary theatre, and helped idealistic managers of theatrical companies like Vishnudas Bhave
of Sangli. He lent prestige to the theatre by personally attending the performances. Along with Nana Shankershet he was responsible
for the performance of the first Hindi play, Raja Gopichand, at the Governor's residence. He has been spoken of as the patron
of the Bombay Native Drama.
was appointed twice as Sheriff of Bombay and on both occasions his appointment was looked upon as a reward, well-earned for
his long and faithful public service. He played a very crucial role in the establishment of Universities in different Presidencies.
It was his petition as secretary of the Bombay Association to the British Government, which led to the establishment of Universities
in 1857. Bhau's name is thus included in the Act of Incorporation of the Bombay University. He was a member of the Faculties
of Arts and Medicine from 1857 to his last day and a Syndic from 1869 to 1873.
Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum at the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla is named after him.
quoted from "Men and Memorabilia of Grant Medical College" ; author : Dr NG Talwalkar)
Dr. Jamnadas C. Patel
Dr. O.P. Kapoor