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A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 0
In Revered Memory of Prof. N.S. Vahia

Editor, MSM, India

Correspondence Address:
Ajai R Singh
Editor, MSM
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.40572

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I have to record with deep sorrow and grief the demise in June 2007 of one of the doyens of clinical psychiatry in India, Prof. N.S. Vahia.

Sharply arched eyebrows, deep-set eyes, soft spoken and gentle demeanour, excellent clinical skills, abiding interest in all branches of psychiatry, and a keen benevolent temperament. This is how most who knew, and met, Prof. N.S. Vahia will remember him.

He came on the Indian psychiatric scene and headed the Psychiatry Department at Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital when psychiatry was in its infancy here. A keen clinician and researcher, he helped establish a sound clinical and research base along with his junior colleagues at this institution. His works have been published in major international journals (Vahia, 1959, 1963; Vahia et al., 1966, 1972, 1973, 1975). His strong commitment was to bring psychiatry into the mainstream of medicine, and to interact actively with colleagues from various other departments to remove their misconceptions and prejudices about the branch. This was carried forward by many of his illustrious successors in the department, notably Prof. V.N. Bagadia and Prof. D.N. Doongaji.

The major work for which he will be remembered in research was to understand and popularise Patanjali Yoga as a means of treatment in psychiatric disorders (Vahia et al., 1966, 1972, 1973, 1975). It is but fitting that a theme monograph like this, which includes well-being as one of its thrust areas, should be dedicated to someone who has done much to incorporate Patanjali Yoga into medical practice.

   Great Compassion, Sharp Intellect, and Keen Interest Top

However, the main reason why the vast majority of his contemporaries and juniors will remember him was the great compassion, sharp intellect and keen interest he retained right till the very end in various aspects of psychiatry. He was pleasantly approachable, and very communicative, although a man of few words. He loved writing back to those who sent him their writings, and he was quick to find merit in them, hardly ever indulging in decimating the works of others, which he could have probably done too.

It was my misfortune not to be taught by him at K.E.M., as he had retired by then. But I was fortunate to learn the ennobling and exalting aspects of this branch from every interaction I had with this benign patriarch of Indian psychiatry. His humility and patience were worthy of emulation. Just his presence in white added grace and warmth to any psychiatric function he chose to attend.

   Quiet, Selfless and Quality Work Top

The tradition of quiet, selfless and quality work that he has bequeathed us should stand us in good stead when noise, self-seeking and mediocrity engulf us in many spheres of life, psychiatric research included.

The torch of honest enquiry he has ignited in many who came in his wake in Indian psychiatry will also stand it in good stead as it marches forward resolutely in the 21 st century.

I pray the guiding principles of his life and work live on through his countless admirers, and I am fortunate to count myself as one of them. I am sure Vihang, his son and fellow psychiatrist, a keen researcher-clinician in his own right, will be proud to carry forward his legacy.

We, at MSM, are honoured and happy to dedicate this issue of MSM 2008, which is a theme issue on Medicine, Mental Health, Science, Religion and Well-being, to his loving memory.

   References Top

1.Vahia, N.S., (1959), Value And Limitations Of A Psychiatric Department In A General Hospital In Bombay (India), Am J Psychiatry, 116 , p158-162.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2. Vahia N.S., (1963), Study Of The Value Of Indigenous Drugs In Psychiatric Disorders, Psychopharmacol Bulletin, 146 , p66-67.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3. Vahia N.S., Vinekar S.L., Doongaji D.R., (1966), Some Ancient Indian Concepts in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders, Br. J Psychiatry, 112 , p1089-1096.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4. Vahia N.S., Doongaji D.R., Deshmukh D.K., Vinekar S.L., Parekh H.C., Kapoor S.N., (1972), A Deconditioning Therapy Based Upon Concepts of Patanjali, International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 18 (1), p61-66.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5. Vahia N.S., Doongaji D.R., Jeste D.V., Ravindranath S., Kapoor S.N., Ardhapurkar I., (1973), Psychophysiologic therapy based on the concepts of Patanjail. A new approach to the treatment of neurotic and psychosomatic disorders, Am J Psychother, 27 (4), p557-565.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6. Vahia N.S., Doongaji D.R., Jeste D.V., (1975), Value of Patanjali concepts in the treatment of psychoneuroses. In: New dimensions in Psychiatry [(Eds.) S. Arieti and G. Chrzonowski], p293-304. New York: Wiley.  Back to cited text no. 6    


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