A Teacher In Life.....A Teacher In Death

A Guru - A teacher

There was a complete chaos in the classroom. It was our second MBBS undergraduate lecture room. As we waited for the teacher to arrive and start the lecture expected disorder, fun, frolic, noise and mischief ruled. Absolutely neglecting the fact that there was a classroom adjoining ours, the entire class of more than hundred students was having a free for all. 

Chaos in the class

Suddenly all this turned into a hushed silence. Everything suddenly became orderly. Students sitting on the desks suddenly re-positioned themselves no one was uttering a sound and all seemed to be so disciplined. No the lecturer had not yet arrived – but there at the entrance stood a forty-plus, nearly 6 feet tall Professor, very handsome and immaculately dressed but with a stern and disciplined demeanor. He was just standing there without a single word uttered, in a commanding silence. His presence was enough. No word was spoken, no rebuke, no warning. He was apparently taking a class in the adjoining lecture hall and was disturbed by our melee.  He was indeed the no-nonsense teacher in obstetrics and gynecology about whom we all had heard a lot but had never seen him before. His personality and power of character of controlling the class by his mere presence at the entrance simply floored all of us. I was impressed.
In just over a year I could realize why he was so respected, loved and popular. He taught divinely. In his first lecture with us he had brought his personal laptop and showed us with the help of videos and pictures a power-point presentation through a LCD projector. It was a big novelty in those days. We could completely understand the mechanics of normal child-birth (the most difficult to understand) easily and thoroughly. I was aware that there were no laptops or LCD projectors with the college at that time. At best, mechanical slide projectors were the teaching aids available. 

At the end of the class, while we were leaving, I saw from the corner of my eyes, The Professor walking up to an unknown person whom I had noticed was also sitting in the classroom. He paid that stranger Rs. 1000. I overheard him telling that man in a low voice: “Children could understand this difficult subject. How does a thousand bucks matter?” Obviously he had hired the projection facility from his own resources. It dawned on me then that there are many who teach but there are very few teachers. I saw a teacher!     
As luck would have it I did my post-graduation in obstetrics and gynecology. While I worked in the unit of some other professor he headed some other unit. Once when I was doing my senior residency having successfully cleared my MD exam, on a big festival all consultants wanted leave. Seeing everyone tense, he volunteered to be "on first-call" meaning he was to be called first as soon as a complicated case is received. This was very unusual for a Professor to be on first-call that too on the day of the biggest festival. This was furthermore amazing as he was to do emergency in our unit to which he was not attached. Night was expectedly rough. There were five critical and complicated patients. They all needed major obstetric surgeries; he was present in all of them. However in all five he stood on the left side of the operating table. This meant that the postgraduate student stands on the right. One who stands on the right operates. All surgeries which with his expertise could have been over in 25-30 minutes, he patiently waited and made the students do them even in the middle of the night taking much more time.

At the end of five surgeries, sick and tired

The climax came when I saw him perspiring as he came out of the last surgery. I straight confronted him “Sir what is your temperature”. He obviously had fever. Under the effects of antipyretics he was attending someone else’s emergency and that too making students do surgeries. His only response to my question was “Don’t tell the students whom I have made to operate. They will feel indebted. I don’t like that”. “But Sir, why didn't you finish up the surgeries yourself?’. The answer was an eye-opener. “What fault of the students if I have fever? They won’t get such complicated surgeries again to learn. I was just doing my duty”. Tired he just crashed into the chair outside the operation theater. He made one request “Can you please drive me home? I can’t drive now”. As the New-year day broke, I saw sitting next to me in the car, with his eyes closed, a teacher in a medical college for whom his own debility was not as important as his duty to teach.
Prophets are not without honors....

He retired from service to a quiet life. As expected the department or the institution never gave him a farewell or even said a “Thank you” inspite of unparalleled selfless contributions and changes that he had affected. I had expected it. Words echoed in my mind: “Prophets are not without honors, but they never get it from their own city”.  Like me, many of his students are still very close to him.
The other day he rang me up. “Can you come down at my residence this evening?” The voice was as usual commanding but loving to which the answer “no” was never an alternative. When I went I realized that it was his seventieth birthday. There were a small group that had collected – two three of his old students, close contacts, some family members and a common lawyer friend. “I am making my will today and you are my witnesses”. I knew he was a full-timer in Medical College. What all assets must he have accumulated as a full-timer? But there must be something special, lest he wouldn't have called me. As the prepared will was being read most of us were least interested in knowing about his assets. But the last paragraph instantly stirred all of us up. “On my death, I pledge my body to Medical College, where I studied and taught all throughout my life. Like my life, let my body also be of use to the students of my medical college. It will be the responsibility of all my students who are present here and have signed below as witnesses that this wish of mine be followed in letter and spirit”. I could not hold my tears back as the lawyer looked very meaningfully at me. I barely managed to sign. As soon as I signed I left. I know he noted that I had become emotional. He did not stop me.


He pledged his body for donation to Medical College
As I walked towards my car, I imagined a picture after decades of the anatomy teaching- hall where some demonstrator would be teaching on a human brain or a kidney or some other organ, well-preserved in a jar. Knowledge-thirsty students I pictured crowded around the specimen. 

Amongst them would be future neurophysicians or world-class urologists of tomorrow some of whom may not even have been born today. Their seeds of basic knowledge would be sown on the body organs of a professor in that same medical college who had taught there decades ago. There was he - The Professor sitting in that jar in anatomy department teaching generations to follow even after his death. There he was indeed: “A Teacher in Life….A Teacher in death”.    


Comments

  1. Sir, out of words! My great bow to teacher and many thanks to you!

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    1. Thanks a million Dr. Atulbhai for your kind words of encouragement. I am touched.

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  2. Ingita Chadha passed this comment on the blog: Sir!!! Great .... Such a dedicated teacher ...
    We all should try to follow him !!!!

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  3. Thanks sir! Now we all know the origin of such humility in you.What we are today is because we were touched and moulded by selfless satisfied selfdriven and contended souls like these who have given subtle demeanor and compactness and hence taught selfdesciplined forward march whether anyone is watching or not.You have very beautifully described the inner gratitude for so many of us towards our teachers, our heroes. Thanks!

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    1. I am much encouraged by your kind words Shakuntala Kumar. Appreciated!

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  4. Wow! It is an honor to have a teacher like him. What is truly great is his selflessness. I am so touched reading your post.

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  5. I like it. Medical Colleges should make a rule that every professor's body to be donated for the anatomy and pathology museum. It should be in the contract before they are hired. So, we can see our professors in the "Jar" in the future in different "sections". On the jar the "photo" and the name of the professor
    with his "nickname" to be there. So, students learn "good" and hold " the professor in a jar" and " the professor can directly teach students from the jar". ***Remember every professor has a life story to tell. ***Remember Dr Thakkar. He was a genius. Out of love I would call him "Dr. Chakkar". He had so many degrees, he studied Archeology, Palmistry, Sanskrit, German, 3 FRCS, General Surgery. He would go in the night to see the trains on the railway stations to see the engine. A chain smoker and would drink tea and smoke in the lecture. He died of "Rectal Cancer". His brain in different cuts in a jar would have been a great teaching tool for the students and also his lungs, rectum and colon for the pathology museum. ***It is just a thought but no disrespect to his soul. He was a great man who had varied interest and a great thirst for knowledge. Also he would have taught all the future medical students "from the Jar" that smoking is bad for health and would have been a great teaching tool and a future deterrent tool against smoking. *** "Professor in the jar" "Still eager to teach"." The real Professor".




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  6. Blessed to have such a teacher!

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  7. Veena Shivanand passed this comment in Facebook on the blog: Great master.my salute to him.seniors will make sure that we won't. Learn at least from them.assisting post graduate in midnight with fever....lots to learn.sir you have narrated well.

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  8. Sejal Modi passed this comment on Facebook on the blog: Sir, very heart touchy, recollection of my PG days, Experience is the Best teacher ,but for me ,Having You as my teacher is the Best EXPERIENCE ... & Feeling very blessed. GURU DEVO BHAVA

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  9. Asha Dixit passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: sir,thanks for sharing this incidence with me,us.this is really heart touching.in today's world this is just unbelievable .i think ....may be i m on the verge of losing values ,once i told my father why he taught us values? we feel as if we r outdated..........felt very relaxed after reading this .....it directly touched to my soul

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  10. Shivani Sachdev Gour passed this commnet on the blog in Facebook: Love your blog posts sir they are very touching

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  11. Ashish Shah passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Very Inspirational.. same as your motivational stories during the coffee club of the Ob-Gyn Dept of Baroda Med College... Will continue to nurture the values of a true teacher in my Medical College too.. Thanks Sir.

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  12. very touching story,if every teacher behave like this,there would be great student all around.

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  13. Thank you very much Ravi Goyal for those encouraging words

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  14. Mamta Sahu passed his comment on the blog in Facebook: Thanks for posting this... this selflessness we need to learn whether teacher or not .

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  15. Himil Gheewala passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: True human being ...Real hero

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  16. Dr Amita Sharma passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Heart warming to see a 'teacher'!

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  17. My respects and salutations to the great teacher.I walked down memory lane as the story unfolded.....only to be jolted awake...
    Many thanks Pankaj sir for the wonderful touching share.

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    1. Thanks Lalita. That was very encouraging

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  18. Blessed are those whose lives are touched by such teachers ..for very few come across such gems in d ocean of life. It also explains how you evolved as a great teacher..
    Regards
    Dr Tripti Sharan

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    1. Thanks Tripti. I am obliged by your kind appreciation.

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  19. Dear sir...
    I read the whole blog as if I was listening to you in a clinical meeting room of Ob & Gy department in Baroda Medical College.
    Apart from the book knowledge, I have always been inspired by your attitude, confidence, POWER and performance.
    Even after so many years. You have always been a source of information and blessings all the time...
    A real full time teacher...
    Whatever little success we have...We owe it to your blessings sir....

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    1. Thanks a million Harshad. I am touched deeply. God bless you.

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  20. Brihaspati Patel passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: I don't have words Pankaj, we use word guru and this is true guru. If at least 50% teachers are there then the scene will be different these days. We do not have such students also, these days

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  21. Very touching sir .. I m also blessed to have u as a teacher..

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    1. Indeed touched by your appreciation Putun

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  22. The teacher in you could bring the feelings of a teacher out so well !! Touched !! U really are a great writer and a teacher Dr Desai !!

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind appreciation Archana. God Bless you

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  23. Vijayalaksmi Pillai passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Mata, Pita, Guru (then) Daivam. Such Gurus have made us (whatever) we are today. Relived every moment reading your blog and could relate so much to my own teachers. It is Gurukripa, indeed. Thanks a million for sharing this.

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  24. Sushie Singh passed this commnet on the blog in Facebook: Guru brahma, guru Vishnu, Guru devo mahaehwaraha,Guru sakshat parabrahma ,Tasmay Shri Guruve Namah...sir all of us can relate to this somewhere sometime..thanks for putting into words and sharing it !

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  25. Madhup Thakur ‏@dremtee tweeted this on the blog: It was good. And should be read by more than a few.

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  26. Dr Chaitali Rajnikant passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: I hope you are still in touch with the gentleman.The post was very emotional.I am very much surprised why he was not given a farewell because usually the students do the needful themselves.(no official dictum required).Hope he has had a very satisfied life and is still guiding all of you.God bless.

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  27. ‏@bezubaan tweeted this on the blog: Such a profound story- lovely,educating and touching story - Thank You

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  28. I feel overwhelmed as well feel indebted to such a great soul who not only did set an example of a dedicated teacher but also as an excellent human being with divine character...i bow to him.

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    1. Thank you very much Prabha Singh for your inputs. I am encouraged

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  29. Virendra Asgola passed this comment in Facebook on this blog: I LIKE IT

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  30. Girija Saxena passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Its a rare type of Prof. today!!

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  31. Shirish Daftary passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Time has changed the guru-shishya parampara

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  32. RiBaanee ‏@BreeZerHolic tweeted this on the blog: Too good. When I was in school I have one teacher like him. He changed my life. He introduced me to the world of books.

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  33. Tim Bevan passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Very good

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  34. 3 points immediately come up in mind 1> Who is-was this teacher? 2> I hope this story pushes me to a notch higher 3> Dr.Pankaj you are extremely good writer

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind appreciation. The identity of the teaches is best kept unknown.

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  35. Awesome !! Mr. Desai you are a good writer and a Teacher. Keep it up and Best Wishes to you :)

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    1. Thanks a million. I am much encouraged

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  36. Dr.Damodhar.M.V ‏@DrDamodhar tweeted this on the blog: Inspiring and transforming story. They way you narrate things make it a joy to read sir...

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  37. Silvio Aladjem M.D. ‏@dr_silvio tweeted this on the blog: Thank You. Good Blog

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  38. thanks for sharing us..., you r really fortunate to have teacher like that great man....,speechless

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    1. Thanks Manisha. Your words inspire me to write all the more

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  39. Jyoti Daswani emailed these comments on the blog: Thanks for this extremely touching story of a teacher in real life. Very seldom do we find such true saints.

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  40. Hetal ‏@hethal09 tweeted this on the blog: Thank you..wish we had more such teachers at all levels!

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  41. Bharti Jataria Passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: aapke kehne or likhne dono ka tarika aisa hai jaise aap aamne-samne baat kar rhe hain.etna encouraging kathay aap hi keh sakte hain . Apke Teacher or aapko mera shat-shat naman

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    1. Sir ,
      I am truly touched I pledge my body to the Medical college where I am teaching and it is the responsibilty of all my students whom I have taught to carry out this wish of mine in letter and spirit
      Dr.L.Krishna PESIMSR ,Kuppam A.P

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    2. Sir,
      You are indeed the GREATEST TEACHER I have ever been associated You have truly touched my Heart. You are a Great MOTIVATOR Sir,
      I am truly Blessed,
      Dr.L.Krishna

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    3. God bless you. Dr. Krishna.

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  42. Sir,
    It is very touching sir, lot to learn from his life as well as yours. Indeed you are a great teacher and source of inspiration for we youngsters. I see similar qualities in my teacher Dr L Krishna, PESIMSR, Kuppam who taught me not only OBG, also basic principles of life. I was touched by reading his reply and was very emotional. I am blessed to have you people as my teachers. Thank you sir.....
    Dr N Shailaja, PESIMSR, Kuppam

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    1. Shailaja I have no words to thank you. God bless you, your teacher and your institution.

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  43. बहुत ही अच्छी प्रेरणादायक प्रसंग !! काश मैंने अपनी बेटी को प्रण न दिया होता कि मुझे अग्नि-स्नान वो करा कर एक रीति तोड़े , यद्यपि मेरे अंग मेरे बाद भी अन्य जीवित व्यक्तियों के काम आएंगे !!

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    1. Thank you DR. Ramendra Singh for very touching comments.

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  44. Dr. Chandra Prakash passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: We all shall ever & always remain grateful to you for this "UNIQUE" eye opening inspirational BLOG, that will serve as 'Role Model' for generations to com, With Best Wishes & Highest Regards.

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  45. Laxmikant Marda passed this comments on the blog in Facebook: My salute to you sir

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  46. Malti Shah passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Our teachers made us not only good doctors but good human being also

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  47. Sudesh Agarwal passed this comment on the blog in facebook: Super like.....truly inspiring

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  48. It is really hard to find such teachers today.After reading this blog,I was quite curious to know the identity of such a great teacher.Very nicely written as if watching a video.

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    1. Thanks Dr. Jayanta Bhowmick for your kind and encouraging comments. It will not be proper to reveal the identity of the teacher as it is immaterial. Swami Vivekananda has said "My name is not important, My work is important". In the same spirit his name is not important, all what he taught by his actions is important. God bless you.

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  49. jumana engineer ‏@jumana_engineer tweeted this on the blog: An awesome read. Thanks for sharing. Hats off to the teacher. Wish all would be as wise and true to their profession as him. Thanks again.

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  50. chikitsa shiksha ke liye is seema tak naitik roop se pratibaddha is sadi ke mahan chikitsa shikshak ko mera baram-bar pranam! Dhanyavad Pankaj Sir.

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  51. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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    1. Thank you very much. I accept this in all humility and grace

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  52. Silentdramaqueen ‏@jigupvish tweeted this on the blog: Thank you so much for sharing/writing this soul stirring experience...salute to your professor!

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  53. Absolutely brilliant, so well written and such an inspiration, about whom you have written. Thanks!

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    1. So nice of you. I am much encouraged

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  54. A thinker ‏@M__Alive tweeted this on the blog: Very nicely written

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  55. Jyoti Shah commented on the blog in Facebook: Pranam to this great teacher

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  56. Touching sir, but you haven't even named him in your piece. Kindly reveal the name..

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    1. Thanks AD. I feel the teacher wont appreciate his name revealed.

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  57. Bhavin Soni passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Sir I really loved reading your blog and salute to your teacher too

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  58. Datta Kapadiya passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Thanks for posting sir. Very touching . Hope every teacher could be like him and teach their students like him then there will be no need of lokpal or no laws against sexual abuse. Coz students of such teachers automatically turned out to be great people carving a great world.

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  59. LG ‏@Latz_G tweeted this on the blog: Very touchy and inspiring.... well written too....

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  60. Ali Mirza ‏@mirzhaywire tweeted this on the blog: What an incredible, heart warming story

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  61. milan balakrishnan ‏@milantheshrink tweeted this on the blog: A reminder to all of us who sometimes forget our responsibilities as teachers. Nice blog will continue to follow it...

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  62. Awesome sir... !!
    Great teachers will creat great Students n those ll turn into great people like You... vry Nice it is....

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    1. Thanks Pallavi. Very encouraging comments. I am much encouraged.

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  63. Sir

    That was beyond words. I am in awe of not only the story but the way it was narrated. Hats off to you ! I am reminded of this quote.
    "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior
    teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
    I am glad that I am your student.


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    1. Thanks Neeraja for your kind words. may God be with you always.

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  64. Priya Ganeshkumar emailed this on the blog: This true story has indeed stirred my soul. I stand indebted to you to share this incredible incidence of selflessness where one just lives &dies for the betterment of human race. This has been an eyeopener to all of us about the importance of the GIFT bestowed on us by ALMIGHTY i.e. a human life, which we can put to use to the best of the ability to be of help to mankind

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  65. rajul joshi ‏@rajul_joshi tweeted this on the bog: I loved the blog post. Eternal teacher! Ur narration is lively. Reminds me of Randy Pausch @CarnegieMellon & Tuesdays with Morrie

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  66. Extra ordinary story, difficult to believe that such human beings exist. Not easy to emulate. Dr. Subhash Penkar

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    1. Thank you very much Penkar Sir. It is all the more encouraging for me as this appreciation comes from someone whom I have genuinely respected for decades now.

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  67. What a superb narration to express your respect to your most revered teacher......I am glad that i can read your blogs and have attended some of your lectures in various conferences.

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    1. I am touched by your kind appreciation and encouragement Sandip. God Bless You!

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  68. Seema Agarwal emailed this comment on the blog: The fraternity is blessed with such exemplary, unbelievably dedicated teachers !

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  69. Sekhmet ‏@SatanKiNani tweeted this on the blog: Very well written sir. And kudos to the great teacher!

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  70. Wonderfully written. Is this a true account or a fictional one? Either way, I enjoyed it.
    If true, could we have the name of this great human being?

    Kishore Shah

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    1. Thank you very much Kishorebhai. I am much encouraged. It is a true account but has been subtly interlaced at some places with fiction to hide the identity of The Professor who would not like his name to be disclosed.

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  71. Shivendu tripathi ‏@shivendutripat1 tweeted this on the blog: Sir, I like this story and inspired too. The students should be learn from this blog and live it in their lives!

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  72. Addicted ‏@shylsmn tweeted this on the blog: Thank you for the link, what an amazing teacher and how lucky the students!! loved it!!

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  73. Sujata ‏@Shonatwits tweeted this on the blog: Very touching & inspirational

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  74. good post. i hope there are many other stories too.

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    1. Thanks Ajith. Yes indeed there are many posts and stories in this section.

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  75. He has lived life King size...and after his death too...Noble in his element...

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    1. Indeed! Thanks for your comments Ramachandran Mathur.

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  76. akanksha ‏@tadbitlooney tweeted this on the blog: Nice

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  77. sundar ‏@Sundar140 tweeted this on the blog: I'm speechless. What a man he was !! thanks for sharing

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  78. Sonal ‏@wittydoctor tweeted this on the blog: Is it a true story Sir. ? All must pay obeisance to such a great teacher indeed. I m grateful 2u fr sharing ur bful words. Such stories must b circulated in med students sir. Since sadly the art of teaching is getting lost somewhere in commercialism..Teaching assumes paramount importance in surgical branches esply. &learning from a gr8 mentor sets u apart frm the masses as a doc. I would like2circulate this story in young ophthalmologist society of India if you permit Sir :-) as a sweet tribute to teaching

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  79. PushpLata Misra passed this comment on the blog in Google plus: Absolutely right Guru helps to attain your goal either in life or life beyond that......

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  80. Parimal Desai emailed this comment on the blog: Lovely and very very inspiring too

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  81. Shama Hakim emailed these comments on the blog: Narratives like this remind me why teaching is said to be a noble profession- God grant that more and more teachers have this kind of spirit.
    Thank you Pankaj, and God bless.

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  82. Himangshu Patel emailed this comment on the blog: Heart felt thanks for narrating an experience from which there is so much to learn for everybody - Commitment,Sense of Duty and Responsibility is what we have to appreciate and learn. Experience is the sum total of the mistakes made and knowledge gained from those mistakes as one winds down the path of life.Every human being learns thru his own experience and the teachings of his Gurus. Your touching narrative is an eyeopener for me.

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  83. Bhartendu Mehta emailed these comments on the blog: Thanks so very much for sharing this.
    Very touching and very moving. Would love to know the name.

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  84. Sanjukta Sarkar emailed these comments on the blog: While his students were blessed, the fact is that he was true and honest to his beliefs and profession hence the commitment. He is a person who is truly true to himself.

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  85. Naiti Agarwal ‏@MissNobody72 tweeted this on the blog: Sir It Was Beautiful & for once I'm Tongue tied!!

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  86. Nayson Olyaii emailed this comment on the blog: Do such teachers exist anymore?????
    These teachers need to be worshiped & their statues kept in the department where their body is for studies!!!!

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  87. Dr.pankaj inspired by the great teacher . Tx . Dr.viswanathan

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  88. What an ode to your guruji...take a bow Pankaj!!!...truly riveting and poignant...humble and selfless - hallmark of a true teacher...thanks for sharing this emotive piece...

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  89. Thank you very much Manobendra Roy dada for your heartfelt appreciation. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.

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  90. Jayshree Jenakapadia emailed this comment on the blog: Went through your blog A teacher in life...A teacher in death, I am speechless......Do such humans exist in today's world ?

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    1. Oh why not? All blogs are based on true life stories. Thank you for your interest

      In prayer

      Dr. Pankaj Desai

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  91. thousands salute to him and to you sir .
    may god give me such high strength so that i can do some thing like him

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    1. Thank you very much Udbhav. Your words are really touching.

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