Pride of Kashmir: Hakim Shyam Lal Pandit- the legendary Unani Doctor

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Hakim Shyam Lal Pandit- the legendary Unani Doctor
24 July 2020

Shri Shyam Lal Bhat was the eldest son of  SAHAJ BHAT the legendary Hakim of Kashmir. Please refer to the family tree. (Family Tree)  (English Translation)
He was a born intellect and grew up under his erudite father SAHAJ BHAT, who made him read the great scholars of Philosophy, Religion, Medicine, and Poetry at a very young age when he was undergoing school education. Over a short passage of time, he had read a vast number of books. He did his graduation from erstwhile Punjab University in the year of 1924 and was probably the only Kashmiri Pandit who apart from Philosophy and Psychology had taken Arabic and Persian as subjects at the graduation level. He loved all religions and was a Sanskrit Scholar. A staunch believer in Gita could cite it with eloquence. Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat Sahib was HAAFIZ-I-QURAN and also a QAARI. He read the Bible many times. Because of his erudition in Arabic and Persian, he would receive letters and later telephonic calls from many of his admirers in the state and from elsewhere to know the meaning of Arabic and Persian verses. He was a great orator and was dubbed as Gazi-e-Guftar. He was also the President of the Jammu & Kashmir Unani Tibbya Board in the year 1967.
He was the first graduate in the dynasty and probably among a few young graduates in the state of Jammu & Kashmir during that period. This is the period when the literacy was at the lowest ebb in the state.
After graduation, he was offered a number of executive posts in the state government by the then Maharaja of the state, but he declined. He qualified as Tabib-i-Hazik from Lahore in the Unani System of medicine and adopted his father’s profession. He was the personal physician of Late Maharaja Hari Singh and Prime Minister Col.Haksar.
Hakim Sahib was against religious conversion. He would always talk to Muslims about the great teachings of the Holy Book The Quran so that they change and leave their ignorance about that religion. In his religious and philosophical discourses once a group of Muslims told him that since he (Hakim Sahib) was talking so highly of Prophet Mohammad, why was he then not adopting Islam as his own religion? To them, he would cite the Quran, wherein Prophet Mohammad himself said, that one must never change ones ‘Deen” religion, and one should always stick to one’s religion. Hakim Sahib was a staunch Hindu and would always put Saffron ‘Tilak’ (A symbol Hindus puts on their forehead). Muslim admirers before leaving for Haj Pilgrimage would seek his blessings and good wishes. Once a person asked him what should he get for him from the Holly Place Mecca? Hakim Sahib told, ” that Instead of getting anything from there I want you to give ‘SAJDA’ (bow and rubbing one’s forehead) on my behalf but with one caution that my Tilak should not get wiped off—- It should remain intact”. Such was his love and respect for his own religion and reverence for Prophet Mohammad. He married at a young age to a gorgeous young lady by the name of Tarawati Devi. She was the only daughter ofLate Shree Mann Joo Khuda who was a known businessman and a highly religious personality.
She was a graceful and a magnanimous woman and would command awe and respect from all. She was popularly known as Oma Dedi and she was herself a philanthropist and loved children very much. She became the mother of seven children. Out of the seven, the eldest was a daughter. Because of the physician’s over-busy engagement with his profession and evening discourses on religion and philosophy amongst his great friend circle, this great woman took all the brunt of upbringing her children. Hakim Sahib always acknowledged this fact. At the time of her demise, she was 66 years of age.
The young Unani Physician would sit in the same physician’s clinic in which his father would practice his medicine and thus got enormous expertise in the profession. Being a psychologist and a philosopher he knew the pulse of the people. He would always say that the real problem of the disease was not the disease in itself but in the poverty of the person. He became a person of great repute in his profession in the State. As he became more and more acceptable in his profession he came to be popularly known as Shyam-Bhat.
Hakim Sahib had a regular schedule every day of patients. The morning shift would start from 9 A.M till 2 P.M and the evening shift would last from 5 P.M to 8 P.M. During these shifts, a number of patients thronged at his clinic at Shalayar Habba Kadal Srinagar Kashmir. In 1962 he changed his residence from Shalayar Habba Kadal to Karannagar but yet he unabatedly continued the routine of seeing the patients at his clinic at Shalayar Habba Kadal Srinagar Kashmir.
He would prescribe only herbs, decoction and their formulations, 80% to 90% of the patients would get free medicines. I remember one European citizen, who also had come for his problems, upon being asked at the medicine counter, for the cost of the medicines, which was as low as some pennies, said to the dispenser “how does the Unani Physician live without earning money?” He would not take any consultation fees at his clinic. Many patients who could not purchase the herbs from the market (for making decoctions), Hakim Sahib would give money to them for the same from his own pocket. He was a socialist and a philanthropist.
After 8.30 P.M till 10.30 P.M his learned friends would remain eager to engage themselves in religious, literary, and philosophical discussions with him. He would always hum the great revolutionary poet AHSAN -BIN-i-DANISH. Another favourite poet of Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat Sahib was Rawish Sadiqi. Out of the Persian poets, he had great respect for Hafiz and his Diwan ” DIWANI HAFIZ”. In fact, he used to see the ‘FAAL’ in this book. He would open the book at random and then read a verse and from the verse itself, one would get the answer to one’s problem.
One of the Greatest Mystic Saints of Kashmir Khwaja Lassa Sahib blessed Hakim Sahib with “barkat-i-gaab ti das-ti-shafa” and God certainly did bestow Hakim Sahib SHAFA the healing touch and his patients had great faith in his treatment and the patients would get cured. He practiced Unani Medicine for more than fifty years.
Over a period of time, Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat saw great perseverance, confidence, and the craving for learning the Unani System of medicine in his fourth son Shri Tribhwan Nath Bhat. Though an advocate himself, he imbibed the subject from him. Hakim Sahib had great faith, love, and affection for his son and after the demise of his father Shri Tribhwan Nath Bhat continued to work in his father’s clinic at Shalayar Habba Kadal Srinagar Kashmir. Hakim Sahib left for heavenly abode after a brief illness on the Christmas Day 25-12-1983