Padmashri Dr Raja Martanda Varma is no more. But the contributions of this legendary surgeon, teacher and visionary to the world of neuroscience will live on forever.
Beyond greatness and even genius exists a rarefied realm that belongs exclusively to a very small league of men who leave behind work of everlasting significance. Padmashri Dr Raja Martanda Varma, acclaimed neurosurgeon, distinguished scholar, relentless researcher and the architect of NIMHANS (The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) was clearly one such man.
Dr Varma who played a stellar role in the evolution of NIMHANS into a world leading institution for mental health and neurological sciences, was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Neurosurgery from Edinburgh, United Kingdom and among the first five neurosurgeons of India. On returning to India he took up position as the Head of the Department of Neurosurgery at the All India Institute of Mental Health (AIIMH), Bangalore, in 1958.
Dr Varma believed that specialisations in various medical disciplines tended to be divisive in nature, particularly in the domains of mind (mental health) and brain (neurosciences). He, therefor, pioneered a holistic integrated approach to health care that involved free interaction among all disciplines of neurosciences and mental health. It proved to be a ground-breaking idea in the area of neuro care and culminated in the birth of NIMHANS, with Dr. Varma as its Founder-Director. It also spawned a motto that to date remains at the core of NIMHANS: Brain-Mind-Behaviour.
The result of his tireless research efforts, `Varma’s Technique,’ has proved to be a boon to countless patients of Parkinson’s disease who otherwise would have ended up as cripples.
Among the awards won by this celebrated doctor are Padmashri in 1970, the Karnataka State Award on Rajyotsava Day in 1969, Citizen Extraordinary of Bangalore Award in 1967, Distinguished Achievement Award at the World Congress of IASSMD at Toronto in 1982 and the Sir Visvesvaraya Award in 1998. The Neurological Society of Bangalore conducts the R.M.Varma Oration bi-annually in his honour.