Sunday, September 24, 2023



                                                              ( Hakim Sahaz Kak Bhat )
                                                     ( Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat )


As you go down from Habba Kadal Chowk towards Fateh Kadal, you  pass through a locality known as Shalayar . Shalayar was more identified with Shyam Bhat Kocha ( Shyam Lal  Bhat's lane ) , a narrow lane leading to the house of Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat.

He was a Kashmiri Pandit  with saffron Tilak on his forehead  , an ardent devotee of Sharika and Shiva and seen frequently  in the Ashram  of  Saint Gopinath Ji at Gadood- Bagh  ,Habba Kadal in Srinagar city.  Many patients have seen Ramayana and Bhagwat Gita in his clinic.  For many  Muslims ,Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat  was  also a  “Hafiz e Quran”  and a Qaari who could explain any verse from the Holy Quran due to his proficiency and command over  Arabic language  . His oratory in persian and Arabic earned him the title ,” Gaazi e Guftaar “. A lover of Hafiz and Rumi , Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat  was well versed in  the Persian poetry and literature .

 Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat was the  first graduate in his family. 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 had good knowledge of  English, Persian,Arabic ,Sanskrit and Urdu literature. In Urdu poetry, his favourite poet's  were Ghalib, Mir, Ehsan Bin Danish and Ravish Siddiqi. He had met Ehsan Bin Danish personally and maintained the contact through correspondence. Amongst Kashmiri poets, he, closely   knew Dina Nath Nadim and Master Zinda Kaul. Nadim too was a lover of the poetry of Ehsan Bin Danish.  Apart from that ,Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat  was well versed in astronomy and philosophy especially ancient  Greek philosophy. He could have easily got a handsome job during Maharaja's rule but he decided to go ahead with the profession of his illustrious  father . He went to Lahore to obtain a degree in Unani Medicine or Tibb and returned to serve Kashmir . He  was a great admirer of Ibn e Sina or Avicena ,the 10th century philosopher and physician  serving in the courts of various Iranian rulers and who  is often described as the father of early modern medicine.

The Bhat family were originally from Loduv ,Khrew in Kashmir. It is said that Hakim Sahaz  Bhat,father of Hakim Sham Lal Bhat  was a great devotee of goddess Sharika ( Hari Parbat ) and  goddess Ragneya ( Kheer Bhawani ) . He would go to Sharika Temple,  Hari Parbat daily passing through Nowhatta locality where he would see a  roaming mystic named Khwaja Lassa Sahib. Sahaz Bhat would bow to the mystic and continue his journey towards Hari Parbat. One day  Sahaz Bhat was thinking as to who was more powerful among  Sharika and Ragneya goddesses as he set out for his morning Parikrama of Hari Parbat. As he passed by the mystic, a stone was flung at him by the mystic who cried loudly ," fool, both are same ". That day onwards Sahaz Bhat became an ardent devotee of the mystic. The mystic later blessed his son Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat whom he would fondly call, "Barkat-i-geeab ti das-ti-shafa" . Maharaja Partap Singh Of J & K State got ill and was treated by Pandit Sahaz Bhat, in those times a great Hakim of Delhi by the name of Hakim Ajamal Khan, was also consulted for Maharaja's illness by the then government. After examining the Maharaja and the prescriptions of Hakim Pandit Sahaz Bhat, Hakim Ajmal Khan said, "that I never thought that Unani Medicine was alive in Kashmir also".

Apart from being  a renowned Hakim , Pandit Sahaz Bhat was a  Sanskrit  scholar who rendered great service to Aurel Stein for translation of many old Sanskrit  texts during Maharaja Partap  Singh’s rule. Alongwith Pandit Govind Kaul , he catalogued about  6000 Sanskrit manuscripts for Maharaja Ranbir Singh's Raghunath Temple Library at Jammu.  In fact Stein was dependent   on Pandit Govind Kaul and Hakim  Sahaz  Bhat  for translation of Sanskrit texts  from Kashmir . Partap Singh rule .   About Govind kaul and Hakim Sahaz Bhat, Aurel Stein has written this  in his diary :-

"I gathered my old entourage. It was pleasure to talk the language of gods and though my interests have now moved far northward, I shall try to keep my old friend Pandit Sahaz Bhat by me when I occupy winter quarters at Gupkar where he had been with me and Govind Kaul in the old days."

Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat  practiced Unani medicine for more than fifty years at his clinic at Shalayar even after shifting to Karan Nagar. For poor patients , it was almost free service . He would not take any consultation fees at his clinic. Due to his capabilities, he was  appointed  personal physician to   Maharaja Hari Singh and Prime Minister Col Haksar. He was also the President of the Jammu & Kashmir Unani Tibbya Board in the year 1967.

I vividly remember the rush at his clinic where he would be seated with a glow on his smiling face. He was known for treatment of jaundice, stomach ailments, bladder problems, insomania , arthritis , typhoid, skin boils, haemorrhoids and many other  common ailments. He would prescribe powders, Sharbats, Magazs( seeds ) , Khameers ,Majoons ,Rogans, and herbs .The treatment was certainly a little  time consuming but patients would feel complete recovery without any side effects of the medicines. His line of treatment was to identify  mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical causes of illness and then start treatment .

He married at a young age to a gorgeous young lady Tarawati popularly known as  Uma Ded . Like her husband, she too was gracious, kind and  helpful woman.  She was mother of seven children. Out of the seven, the eldest was a daughter .Amongst  his  sons,  T  N Bhat adopted his father's profession while his another son Dr Raj Nath Bhat( MRCP)  retired as Professor of Medicine and was much sought after physician in Jammu . Another son Brij Nath Bhat retired as SDM  while Dr K L Bhat ( FRCS) moved to Australia and finally to UK.And Daya Krishen Bhat retired as officer from J&K UT while  Bal Krishen Bhat served as medical officer J&K UT after completing his BUMS from Aligarh.

The Bhat family has a track record of serving Kashmiris for about 150 years . Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat’s  uncle , Pandit Sat Kak  held the important position of Royal Physician to the Maharaja of J & K State.  Hakim Sham Lal Bhat’s father ,   Hakim Sahaz Bhat was also a  Unani practitioner of repute. Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat’s  brother Niranjan Nath Bhat (LMP)  was also a medical practitioner who rendered exemplary service to Kashmiris during the cholera epidemic  of 1935. Dr Ayushman Bhat , grandson of Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat is a reputed pediatrician of Jammu at present .

Not many people know that Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat helped many poor students to pursue education . This help was known to him or the poor families . He  left for his  heavenly abode on the Christmas day  in 1983 after a brief illness.

I conclude this post with some couplets from  a Gazal of Ehsan Bin Danish:-

Kahaan mehfil mein mujh tak

baada-e-gulfam aata hai

Jo mera naam aata hai

to khaali jaam aata hai ......

Zamaane mein nahin

dil-daada-e-mehr-o-vafa koyi

tujhe dhoka hai aey dil

kaun kis ke kaam aata hai


( Avtar Mota )


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