A strange healer

Squadron Leader Anil Sehgal
He was not a doctor as we all know who a doctor is. He never attended a medical school. He had no formal training in any system of medicine; be it allopathic, ayurvedic or Unani . Yet, he dispensed medicines, which had no names. And suffering masses thronged to him. Day after day. Everyday.
Have you come across the famous adage: there is no such thing as a free lunch ? In simple words, this popular proverb conveys the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing. In other words, it means that you pay a price for everything you get.
But, I am going to tell you a story about a healer who charged nothing for his services. Not a single pie. Not only that, he even gave you free medicines !

Jammu Jottings

Yes, he was unique and we have not heard about another of his kind. This Dogra healer or vaidya charged no money for a medical consultation and even gave you medicines free of charge.
Everyday, a long queue was seen outside the chamber of the healer who was like a true messiah. He had no greed for money and, in letter and spirit, followed the Hindu dictum ” sarve santu niramayah”, which means let everybody be healthy, and may no one suffer from illness !
The health seekers or sufferers came from all stratas of life , from richest to the poorest, from scholars to the illiterate. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and what not !
This healer was very popular in Jammu during the period from sixties to the nineties. He used to dispense medicines sitting in a temple of Bhagwan Krishna, in the Purani Mandi area of the old Jammu city.
Every morning, there used to be a long queue of the sufferers outside the temple. They were given a token number as they arrived so that they could be admitted to the Hakeem Ji’s chamber strictly in accordance with their number in the queue, on ‘first come, first served’ basis.
As the crowd kept swelling, his followers prescribed a token fee of two anna ( 12 Paisa) to give the system a sense of propriety and inculcate a sense of responsibility in the health seekers.
” This was done by his admirers even without taking his consent”, informs Ashu Tosh Magotra, his son who ascended the “throne” after the demise of his father in 2006.
Thereafter, the Hakeem Ji was popularly known as ” Dwaani Wala Hakeem”, which means the healer who charges two anna. In times to follow the health seekers paid 12 Paisa for each day’s medicines.
As Hakeem Ji learned of this practice of charging a fee enforced by his followers, he started doling out the fees thus collected to the needy and the poor.
With this princely sum of money, 12 Paisa, you could barely buy a cup of roadside tea or a humble samosa in those days !
Hakeem Ji dispensed ayurvedic medicines, most of which were made in the temple itself. He would dole out the raw ingredients of the medicines to his devout followers who would keep pounding them to a desired state of pulverisation, sitting in a corner of his consultation chamber.
The healer would check the quality of the work of these bhakts in between dispensing the medicines. He worked every day for about eight to ten hours.
Could you believe, these ingredients were, many a time, very valuable pearls or precious stones like emerald, diamonds and rubies !
Evidentally, the dispensed medicines were very expensive to make, yet these were given out in charity ! This baffled most of the observers.
Well known theater director Deepak Kumar is a great admirer of Hakeem Ji, and spent many spare hours of his youth in the temple as a devout follower.
Says Deepak : “Once, a patient requested he be given medicines for a long time as he was to travel out of the city. Hakeem Ji scribbled the name of the medicines and asked him to buy them from the market.
” The poor patient soon returned complaining the chemist was asking for a sum of 1600 rupees for the medicines for a week ! I was shocked to realise that Hakeem Ji was charging less than a rupee for the same medicines ! ”
So, then, what was the source of his largesse ? How could he manage his finances ?
Deepak narrates an incident to give you a clue to the financial management of this charity run by a poor vaidya.
” In my presence, once a simple looking middle aged man came to the temple with a small bag and placed it before Hakeem Ji.
” Hakeem Ji asked him what was inside the bag.
” The man informed it was the precious stone Neelam ( blue sapphire).
” Where did you get it ?
” It is all I have as an inheritance.
” Why have you brought it to me ?
” I was directed in my dream to bring it to you. I was told you needed it more than me.
” And, thus, the poor man gifted about 20 kilograms of uncut and unpolished raw blue sapphire to this divine healer,”
” Since I had myself lifted and deposited the bag containing raw blue sapphire, I can safely say it would be more than 20 kilos”, exclaims the well known theatrewala of Jammu.
For the uninitiated, price of one gram of cut and polished refined Neelam would be around five lakh rupees today !
Hakeem Ji was a lean and thin, short statured gentleman, dressed in ordinary clothes, wearing no ornaments like rings and gold chains ; not even a chain of the holy rudraksha. A big red tika of red sandalwood on the forehead was his only ornamentation.
The only known indulgence of his was smoking the saunf ( fennel ) flavored beedis, that he smoked during the breaks he availed in between attending to the scores of patients who flocked to the temple every day.
I learn from his admirers that the vaidya used to spend most of his time in the temple. He would not return home for days and weeks in a row.
The temple management had alotted him a small Pooja room to worship. To this day, this room is kept untouched. I have been to this prayer room and can vouch it has divine vibrations. I for one sobbed bitterly as I bowed my head in reverence to pray…..
Ashu Tosh tells me that the ayurvedic practice was first started by his grandfather Madan Lal Magotra who had some inborn skills to treat the sick, in his village in Bishnah, district Jammu.
His son Ram Dutt Magotra, the protagonist of this write-up, followed in his footsteps without any formal education in any system of medicine.
Ashu Tosh adds that no formal education in medicine was ever obtained by his grandfather or, later, by his father. It was by observation and apprenticeship or hit and trial method that the skills of a medical practitioner were honed.
Senior writer, broadcaster Rajinder Motial knew the vaidya well. He informs that the legendary vaidya had attained divine powers through his prayers to Mother Kali.
” He was never short of the funds required for providing medicines to his patients. He was a true fakir in his personal capacity. He was a giver who never accepted any gifts for himself”, informs octogenarian Motial.
” Whenever he needed money, he would simply ask his deity, and, lo and behold, the help would arrive soon enough. The deity would invariably direct someone to go and help the healer. And soon enough help would reach him through some unknown source ! There are any number of tales to support this, ” says Rajinder Motial.
Rajinder also recalls how once , short of funds, the healer went inside his chamber and prayed the whole night. When he emerged from the prayer chamber in the morning, he was holding a large garland of precious stones !
I have presently visited the house of the vaidya near the temple. His son Ashu Tosh stays there with his family. It is a nondescript ramshackle construction that is in dire need of repairs.
Only a fakir is expected to live in this house which is devoid of modern basic civic comforts. But, the inhabitants do not appear to be complaining !
This family belies the proverb that the money makes the mare go. What gives them happiness is when they help the fellow beings without expecting anything in return. Like father, like son.