Year : 2017 | Volume
: 11 | Issue : 1 | Page : 5--7
Dr. M. G. Mokashi: “My Guru”
Vimal Mahendra Telang
Department of Physiotherapy, All Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Vimal Mahendra Telang
E-15, Shanti Society, Mogul Lane, Mahim, Mumbai - 400 016, Maharashtra
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Telang VM. Dr. M. G. Mokashi: “My Guru”.Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother 2017;11:5-7
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Telang VM. Dr. M. G. Mokashi: “My Guru”. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Apr 2 ];11:5-7
Available from: http://www.pjiap.org/text.asp?2017/11/1/5/213280
I met Sir for the first time during my final year practical examinations of physical therapy (PT) in surgical conditions in 1980. My batch being the first batch of the 3½ years' course, we were all skeptical throughout as many of the modalities of the course were not in place till then. Examinations were, therefore, even scarier as we had no idea of the pattern of either paper nor practicals. Sir was the examiner; the examination was a discussion of the case rather than an interrogation.
Knowing Sir's interest in neurology, I decided that I would pursue my master's only if Sir would be my guide. One fine February afternoon in 1981, I just walked up to the 2nd floor room no. 210 and found Sir sitting with a group of master's students. This was just my second meeting with Sir. I conveyed my wish of enrolling for MSc (PT) only if he heeded to my wish; he looked at me and smiled. And so started my journey with Sir.
Since then, Sir has been a friend, philosopher, parent, and guide to me. I had the distinctive privilege to work closely with Sir from 1982 to 1994 and my close association with Sir and his family continued. It was in 1994 he decided to retire voluntarily after 33 years of honest and competent quality services to enter the private sector.
He always professed how one should not get emotionally attached to anything. He preached and practiced like a true yogi. We are all blessed that we were brought up under his teachings. I would like to share these golden words he prophesied, “If your mind is filled with biased thoughts it is like a full pot which will not be able to hold any more. Hence learning can take place only, if one's mind is empty without any biased thoughts.”
He always believed in learning by observation and experience. He believed that the right perception of any problem or situation is possible only if we observe from all directions to prevent the bias of observation. This is true not only from the point of view of patient care, but also from our day-to-day dealings and interpersonal relationships.
Each patient to him was unique to learn from, and respecting the patient's complaints, signs and symptoms in a nonbiased way were his distinctive features for patient care. He believed that a nonbiased observation of facts is not only the fundamentals of research, but also should be part of human behavior.
He never believed in didactic teaching. “Learning by Doing” was his mantra. Learning to work right from the grassroots, dignity and importance for each type of work undertaken, however measly it seems, is something I cannot forget. I remember we together had dug out some very old files from the Institute's filing department on a Sunday, in order to give some urgent reply to the Parliament on a question on poliomyelitis. That is how he taught me the importance of record writing and record keeping.
I accompanied him to many camps in the rural areas of Maharashtra, it was at that time he made me experience the fundamentals of community-based rehabilitation on the site. He shared his expertise on the Bhagwad Gita and astronomy with all of us, while we all stargazed at night during these camps.
Long discussions in the Institute at the end of the day, on the why's and what's of various academic and nonacademic topics, manually preparing slides for the scientific papers, or even planning for our cultural events, bring back very pleasant memories.
After completing his B. Sc. in 1958, Diploma in Physiotherapy at KEM Hospital, Mumbai, in 1960, and PG Certificate in Rehabilitation at AIIPMR, Mumbai, in 1960, he joined All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIIPMR). He was deeply influenced by late Dr. M. V. Sant, the founder director of this Institute who is considered as the father of rehabilitation in the country. Sir developed a great rapport with Dr Sant. He also encouraged the research instincts in Sir when our profession was also in its seeding stages in India. He used to bow down daily before D. Sant's bust installed at the entrance of the Institute. On the day Sir took voluntary retirement, I remember Sir lay prostrate in front of Dr. Sant's bust, making a divine connect with Dr. Sant and telling him his future plans and seeking his blessings for his onward professional journey. In fact, in his book on “Holistic Approach to Neurophysiotherapy,” which covers his own experiences with the various conditions along with the scientific evidences, he has a separate chapter of his experiences with late Dr. Sant.
He underwent training at the University of Saskatoon on “Clinical Prosthetics” under James Foort, Manitoba Rehabilitation Centre, Winnipeg, and on “Biomechanics for Bioengineering appliances” under C. A. McLaurin, at Crippled Children's Centre, Toronto. While Sir trained many a hundred students on biomechanics of prosthetics and its physiotherapeutic applications in assessments and management, never had we at the Institute imagined that, we had to train Sir itself for the above knee amputation he underwent following sarcoma.
He was awarded PhD for his thesis on “Psycho-physical and Philosophical Aspects of Patanjali Yoga,” by the University of Mumbai in 1986 and Doctor of Science (Alternate Medicine) for scientific contribution in the field of “Therapeutic Biofeedback and Therapeutic Yoga,” in 2000.
Research and Sir were inseparable components. He was the first physiotherapist to be awarded a 3-year ICMR project on “Therapeutic Biofeedback” as a “Principal Investigator” way back in 1980. Besides, he worked on various central projects as principal investigator. He was one of the stalwarts to put India on top at international forums, particularly at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) and the WHO.
He was awarded the Colombo Plan Fellowship to Canada for advanced training for 1 year. He worked directly with Prof. Basmaijan at Queen's University, Kingston, in “Kinesiological and Clinical Electromyography.” During the fellowship itself, his original research paper was accepted by the American Physical Therapy Association, which he presented at San Francisco. In 1974, he presented a pioneering paper titled, “Yoga and Physiotherapy” at the WCPT conference. At the 1989 WHO inter-country Workshop on Orthopedic Technologies at Dakar, Senegal, he represented India and presented the project report on “Plastic Lower Limb Orthoses.” Needless to say he had a great number of international and national publications/presentations to his credit. He was invited to deliver several orations.
His contribution in the education system of physiotherapy, both graduate and postgraduate, is huge. He was chairman BOS Physiotherapy, on governing councils, syllabus formation for UG, PG as well as PhD.
Sir was one of the architects of the physiotherapy profession in India. He was a visionary. He had a sixth sense. His contribution toward professional issues is immense. He served in honorary positions in the capacity of president of IAP, editor of Journal of Indian Association of Physiotherapists, convener for IAP National Committees on Education, Scientific Programme, Council Act, Infrastructure Development and Research, Council Act, Pay Structure. He was chairman/Member Board of Academics, IAP, between 1965 and 2006. He was conferred as fellow of IAP (for original research contribution) in 1983.
He strived till his end for the professional upliftment at the Central Government level. In his touching appeal to the Central Health Minister for independent physiotherapy council which he wrote in his personal capacity in his ailing period, he wrote, “I wish to help my profession till my last breath.”
Besides, he was invited in advisory capacity as expert member on Committees to Indian Council for Medical Research and DST, All India Radio for programs on Health, Public Service Commissions of Maharashtra and Kerala.
Sir was a Sanskrit and Marathi scholar as well as a poet. He translated and published the Bhagwad Gita into Marathi. He was a spiritual person, he touched everybody's heart. He was a Yogi in belief and practice. While Madam Mokashi adopted us all students, she has showered her love on us like her family members.
Even when in bad health for the last few years, he used to discuss about his experience of amputation and relate to the scientific evidences on the subject. He never complained or lost his sense of humor till his last days, in spite of the terrible excruciating pain he was tolerating.
He was like a “Bhishma Pitamaha.” I hope we can inculcate, practice, and pass on these values. This will be the best tribute to Sir among many things.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.