Birth Centenary of Dr P N Mehra – Dedicated to humanity through his selfless work as a Homeopath
It is never easy writing on someone you had grown up idolizing. Someone whose idealism, commitment, and selflessness we all looked up to in our formative years. And the beautiful thing about Dr. P.N Mehra’s persona was that the above-mentioned sterling, almost sage-like qualities, did not make him a distant, remote, and difficult to relate with the figure. His roaring laugh, the generosity of his character, and the effortless ease and charm with which he reached out and connected with us, all classmates of his son Alok, made us all envy Alok and hero-worship Dr. P.N. Mehra.
It is with a great degree of pride and privilege –of having known, lived with, and loved Uncle –that I am writing this tribute to Dr. Mehra. In writing this I am sure that I am representing the thoughts of each one of us who were blessed to know Dr. P.N. Mehra. He was a true Gandhian who served humanity through his selfless work in the field of Homeopathic medicine. A devout follower of Gandhian principles, Dr. Prem Narayan Mehra dedicated his life to serving humanity.
He formed the ‘Manav Hitkari Sangh’ in 1962 which became a symbol of selfless service in his lifetime. The flame continues to shine bright with the founder members of the Manav Hitkari Sangh carrying the torch forward together with Dr. Mehra’s worthy and illustrious son, Dr. Alok Mehra, and his grandson, Dr. Amish.
Since childhood, Dr. Mehra was committed to the dictum of simple living, high thinking. He worked tirelessly, seeing patients for 12-14 hours each day. He treated the poor free of cost. He not only cured ordinary diseases but also serious ones like cancer, gout, skin diseases, gastric problems, asthma, gangrene, etc.
Dr. P N Mehra was born on 21st July 1921, in Kanpur. He was educated in Ajmer. He was expelled from the government college for taking part in the national freedom movement. After this, he went to Kanpur and acquired a diploma in Homeopathic medicine. In 1945-46 he was elected the president of the youth congress in Udaipur and even won the city council elections in Ajmer.
But whether it was the rough and tumble of it, or the deceit and hypocrisy involved, or the self-serving nature of politics as it was evolving in the post-independence era, Dr. Mehra soon realized that politics was not something he wanted to pursue. It was simply not his calling.
He left politics and turned to serve humanity. He came to Jaipur and became a member of the ‘Arya Kumar Sabha’. In 1962 when he founded the ‘Manav Hitkari Sangh’, he had no means and resources to run it. But the passion and commitment were there for all to see. The organization was registered and he opened his dispensary in his residence at New Colony and in a shop at Johri Bazaar, Jaipur. The going was rough initially because of financial constraints. But Dr. Mehra was not the one to give in and leave a cause so dear to him because of adverse circumstances. His kind visage, the free and pious nature of his service, hard work and determination, and most of all the sheer force of his charismatic persona ensured that the spirit and service of Manav Hitkari Sangh gained momentum and voluntary donations began to trickle in. In 1964 he founded the ‘Vidya Sangam’, a social service organization to support the Manav Hitkari Sangh. Even today this organization works as a cancer support group.
Dr Mehra had a remarkable, forceful, and charismatic persona. He was good-looking, wore his trademark spotless white Khadi Kurta & Churidar every day, had a strong voice, an endearing smile, and always had a childlike twinkle in his eye. He had a great sense of humor and had a hearty and roaring laughter. The hearty laugh ran in the family and the Mehra brothers (when they got together on family occasions) could so effortlessly bring the house down with their from-the-heart and so very infectious laughter. His love and concern for people were genuine. He cared not just for his patients. His empathy and love encompassed all. He even worked with prisoners helping them improve the quality of their lives both with his wise counsel and homeopathic medicine.
He also worked amongst children trying to ensure they grow up healthy both in body and mind. The Gandhian in him, along with his friends and supporters of the Rajasthan Prohibition Samiti, worked for getting a liquor shop removed from Ragrohn ki Basti and had it replaced by a homeopathy clinic. There was stiff opposition to this campaign but once convinced about the cause Dr. Mehra could never be deterred from his mission. Through homeopathic medicine he succeeded in weaning away many persons from alcohol abuse, thus helping their families to live a happy life.
In 1974 Dr. Mehra established a Homeopathic Cancer Research Centre and General Hospital at Shyam Nagar, Main Ajmer Road, which is a one of its kind hospital in the country.
Dr. P N Mehra Memorial Hospital offers holistic treatment. It has a homeopathic hospital, a natural therapy clinic, an obesity regulation facility, a wheatgrass center, and a yoga center running smoothly. Health camps are also held here periodically.
Dr. Mehra was not only a capable and a famous Doctor. He was also a very kind-hearted person. His idealistic nature and unwavering commitment inspired everyone around him. He was a keen listener and a sensitive soul, oozing compassion, empathy, and love. He easily established a personal rapport with his patients and related to them as a family; as his mother, sister, daughter, and brother. Many of them still become emotional when they remember him. His kindness and the personal touch provided an additional healing touch to his patients. He spent hours with them, recording their symptoms and answering their questions with rare patience. He never got agitated and I can’t recall even one instance of him losing his cool or getting impatient and angry. However deeply engrossed he was in his work, Dr. Mehra always responded to everyone’s greetings with a warm and big smile. Lack of resources meant that for several years Dr. Mehra functioned as a one-man army. Seeing patients, writing prescriptions, and also dispensing medicine. He would never say no even when patients showed up at an odd hour or requested him to make a home visit after clinic hours. The thought of saying no to anyone or disappointing anyone who came seeking his help never occurred to him.
Dr Mehra was a rare man. Truly selfless and someone who devoted himself wholeheartedly to the cause of serving humanity. In today’s materialistic world where wealth, fame, and power are the main goals of a person’s life, there is only a handful who work selflessly for others with all their heart and financial resources. He never sought personal glory but Dr. Mehra was also intelligent and pragmatic enough to realize that more and more people need to know about the good and humanitarian work done by him and Manav Hitkari Sangh for his life mission to become successful. He never wavered from his mission and goal of serving humanity and taking homeopathy and Gandhian thought to as many people as possible.
It was not just his skills as a caring and competent doctor but those who came in contact with Dr. Mehra also benefited from his concern, compassion, and sage counsel in every aspect of their lives. Dr. Mehra used to help others solve their family and personal problems by giving advice and active support. People trusted him because of the love he showed and opened up their hearts to him. He instilled hope in the lives of many persons and families, preventing them from breaking up. There are many such examples still remembered by people.
A great believer in Gandhian philosophy and way of life Dr. Prem Narayan Mehra observed “maun vrat” or a vow of silence each year from Oct 2—12. For ten days Dr. Mehra would observe complete silence and also organized havan, pooja, and other cultural and literary programs in the memory of the Mahatma. He inherited such refined interests from his mother Vidyavati Devi, a renowned scholar and Sanskrit poet in her own right. Dr. Mehra’s wife Sushma also supported Dr. Mehra in his work and always motivated him despite facing many difficulties herself. She was a pious woman devoted to her husband and his mission. Members of his family also sacrificed their many needs and contributed immensely to his work.
Dr Mehra was honored by many organizations. He considered the love, trust, and respect shown by his patients and the innumerable people in society, as his greatest honor, wealth, and savings in life. The president of the Rotary club Radhe Sham Dhoot said about Dr. Mehra, that ‘service is his religion, humanism his caste, he lives by Gandhian philosophy and love is his name’. He could even be called a ‘Karamyogi’, as espoused in the Bhagwat Gita, the one who performs his duties without the desire for results. He used to believe that homeopathic medicine is deeply related to all aspects of our lives.
Dr. Mehra believed that even cancer could be controlled with the help of homeopathic medicine. He was able to cure cancer patients who came to him in the early stages of the disease. Many of his cancer patients lived for 10-12 years, while those whose disease had progressed a lot, their suffering was reduced. He used to advocate organizing education and awareness programs for cancer prevention.
On one occasion the well-known cancer specialist and former Director of Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital Dr. Praful Desai had addressed the five Rotary Clubs of Jaipur at the Rajmahal Palace, during which he launched Manav Hitkari Sangh’s mission and the slogan ‘Nab Cancer before Cancer Nabs you’. He also praised Dr. Mehra and spoke about his work with others when he returned to Mumbai. He was particularly impressed by Dr. Mehra’s thinking that through a holistic approach and high technology are required for the treatment of cancer, efforts should be made for cancer prevention by spreading awareness about the disease.
This was a memorable occasion when two renowned persons from the field of cancer came together on one stage. Dr. Mehra never hesitated to consult other medical practitioners and was always humble enough to take their advice. His views were progressive and ahead of his time. He used to acknowledge the achievements of other disciplines of medicine. This was the reason he insisted on adopting a holistic approach assimilating the best practices offered by different medical disciplines. He believed that homeopathy’s efficacy would increase if best practices of other disciplines were also assimilated with it. The really beneficial thing about homeopathy is that it does have any side effects and contrary to popular perception it is also effective in chronic and serious conditions.
Look at the extent of Gandhism in this noble couple, Dr. Prem Narayan Mehra passed away on February 22, 1994, which is the death day of Kasturba Gandhi, and his life partner Mrs. Sushma Mehra passed away on 30th January 1999, which is the death day of Mahatma Gandhi. Though Dr. P. N. Mehra may not be with us physically, his service to mankind will always be remembered. His spirit guides us and his invaluable contribution to our lives serves as a constant reminder of the path we need to traverse. He remains and will remain forever, a source of inspiration for all of us at Manav Hitkari Sangh. The seeds sown by him have blossomed into a tree that gives both shade and fruits to the needy. His devotion and dedication have become a legacy whose fragrance inspires us to always move forward on the path shown by him.
Dr Mehra’s pioneering work has been ably supported and taken forward by the efforts and sustained contribution of other members and office bearers of the Manav Hitkari Sangh. Though everyone’s contribution has made a difference, some names do come to mind immediately. Notable amongst them is a former president of the Manav Hitkari Sangh, late Mrs. Janak Gorwani, the present president Mrs. Preeti Adnani, Vice President S K Sharma, Dr. Vimla Jain, Mrs. Ramani Sunderam, Late Shri Mahaveer Goyal, present secretary Rahul Duggal, deputy secretary RM Vasudevan, treasurer Subhash Chandra Arora and members Sudhanshu Pandey, Suresh Madan, Rajendra Puri, Nagarajan, and Anjana Mehra.
Dr. P N Mehra’s son and renowned Homeopath Dr. Alok Mehra have proved to be a worthy inheritor of his legacy. Dr. Alok has inherited his father’s compassion, competence, and patience. He also has the same infectious smile as his father and has shown the vision to build on and fulfill the dreams of the late Dr. P.N. Mehra. It is a matter of great pride and satisfaction that Dr. Alok Mehra has now been joined by his extremely able and affable son, Dr. Amish, in taking forward the humanitarian mission of Manav Hitkari Sangh.
It is not easy, to sum up, the life of Dr. P.N.Mehra. Words can never capture either his greatness or his humility. Or his noble nature and hearty laughter. Or his compassion and competence. Or his love for life and of everything and everyone around him. He was a soul at peace with himself; always kind and gentle. Nobody who came in his contact remained unaffected by his charm and charisma. And all through he remained committed and unwavering in his goal of serving humanity and spreading love and peace. As I write I can feel the presence of Dr. P.N Mehra. Adjectives and accolades will always fall short in capturing the essence of the man. Suffice to say that to know him was bliss and blessed are those who had the good fortune of spending some time with Dr. P.N. Mehra in their journey of life.