Lives of the fellows

Pashupati Nath Laha

b.26 November 1913 d.21 March 1993
MBBS MD Patna DCH Eng(1950) MRCP(1950) MRCPE(1950) FRCPE(1962) FRCP(1964) FAMS FIMSA India

Pashupati Nath Laha’s life combined both medicine and literature. If he had had a choice, then perhaps he would have chosen literature as his career but he excelled in medicine and became one of the leading physicians of his generation in India. He was born at Monghyr, Bihar, India.

His father Rajendra Nath Laha was a merchant, whose wife Molina was the daughter of Debiprasad Som, a medical practitioner. When Pashupati Nath was a medical student, Monghyr was devastated by an earthquake. Until that time he had never known poverty but when his father died the family were left with very little money. Yet, despite a hand to mouth existence, he not only graduated in medicine from Patna University but also obtained his MD.

Perhaps surprisingly, this experience turned his thoughts from the idea of practising medicine as a means to acquire wealth and led him to chose teaching and research as his career. He married Dulcie Patricia Borgonha in 1942. They had a son and a daughter and enjoyed a happy married life for more than 50 years.

After house posts at Patna Medical College Hospital, he was appointed lecturer in paediatrics at the Medical College m Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, and subsequently undertook postgraduate training for ten months in the UK, obtaining his membership of the London and Edinburgh Colleges in 1950, as well as the DCH. Back in India that same year, he was appointed reader in clinical medicine at Agra.

In 1954 he transferred to G.R.Medical College, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, as professor of medicine and he remained in this post until he retired in 1968, when he became emeritus professor. Throughout his professional career he was above all a dedicated clinician.

Pashupati Nath was a staunch believer in frank talking and hard work. He was a member of the governing body of the Association of Physicians of India and vice-president from 1961-62; he organized the very successful annual meeting at Gwalior. From 1971-72 he was president of the Indian Medical Association, Madhya Pradesh State branch. He was also a great believer in education; he served Jiwaji University, Gwalior, as a member of the executive council and court for a number of years and left his mark on this institution. Many of his students readily adopted the path he followed and a number of them now hold high positions in India and abroad.

Pashupati Nath was known to his colleagues as ‘the moving Price’ because he remembered every word of F W Price’s Textbook of the practice of medicine [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.337]. He published some 150 medical papers and contributed to the API Textbook of medicine. After retirement, he made a number of contributions to Bengali and English literature and many readers enjoyed his short stories, in both languages. Had he lived longer, he would have made a greater impression in that field. He also had a particular interest in drama and music.

N.N.Laha

(Volume IX, page 300)

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