The Lancet Commission on the Value of Death would like your help (4)

7 October, 2019

I was reminded of a story from my childhood around the death of my grandmother's father who was an Ayurvedic practitioner at a time when Indians held Ayurveda to be a superior form of medicine that could allow better patient outcomes although the British dominant modern medicine was fast catching up at that time as well.

I particularly remember my grandmother reminiscing fondly how he had passed on the mantra of removing cataract without surgery to her as a legacy using some leaf dipped in some liquid but then this story is about his death and not about his medical practice.

This story about his death was actually related by my grandfather, his sceptical son in law, who inspite of his disdain for the British Raj (he was imprisoned by the British for 13 years during the freedom struggle) was quite a Britisher himself when it came to embracing Western critical thinking and scepticism.

My grandmother's father had already declared the exact day and time of his death well ahead in advance and everyone had gathered on that appointed day to witness this event and pay their last respects to a departing soul who in his mortal body had made some name in his lifetime by treating his patients well. Such events and such souls were a rarity even then but again this story is about his death.

On D Day, my grandfather, his son in law was in his usual sceptical self and roamed around the waiting populace of relatives sharing his disbelief about the remote possibility about his father in law actually dying at his self predicted time. To all bystanders he looked a perfectly normal and completely hale and hearty 80 year old who didn't have any cause to leave his body.

As the appointed hour drew near, he asked his closest relatives surrounding him to read some of his chosen passages from the holy book and chant and sing some of his favorite bhajans and exactly at the time predicted by him that person who was hale and hearty and talking normally with everyone an hour ago lay still and motionless (and dead).

This story was related to me by my grandparents around forty years back and they were unable to replicate this feat during their own deaths at the age of 90 but then they may not have even thought of trying perhaps as they were not qualified successful practicing ayurvedic doctors.



PS: I am his family and I have my own consent to share this story.

HIFA profile: Rakesh Biswas is Professor at Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences Narketpally Hyderabad. He has worked in India, Nepal and Malaysia and his interests include Medical Cognition, Clinical problem solving and case based reasoning applied to patient centred health care and health education. Honorary appointments: Deputy Editor, BMJ Case Reports, UK. ;

Editor in Chief of the International Journal of User Driven Healthcare, in the USA. rakesh7biswas AT