It is said that if we can ever give the next possible sit to God, it would be the doctors. A noble profession, that not only save lives but also keeps our hopes and believes intact. Doctors are the persons for whom we survive each day without having the dilemma whether we should do that or not, whether we should eat that or not because we know at the end of the day, doctors are there to fix if something goes wrong. But everything was not smooth and shiny always unlike the 21st century. There were times when people had to walk miles after miles just to find a doctor. And if we can trace back way into the past, we would find a name that has been gone into the oblivious of history long back. The name is Soorjo Coomar Goodeve Chuckerbutty (also known as Surjo Kumar Chakraborty), the first ever Indian to join Indian Medical Service ever. Sounds impossible? Well, let us have a look.
Early Life of Dr. Soorjo Coomar Goodeve Chuckerbutty
In the background of Victorian British Indian era, the childhood of Dr Soorjo Coomar was not a bed of roses. Born in 1824 at Kanaksar, a small village in Dacca District, Soorjo was a son of Radhamadhob Chuckerbutty. But he could not cherish the sweet taste of parents because, at the age of six, both of his parents died. And the struggle started from right there. At first, he admitted into the village ‘pathashala’ and became the brightest student of that school. However, English was not a well-conversed language back then. But he had the ultimate compassion to achieve the impossible. After a while, he took admission in an English school that was sixty miles away from his home and stayed at Comilla. But his thirst for knowledge did not stop just there.
In Search of Knowledge – The Journey to the Medical School
After fighting a hard life at Comilla where he had to adjust with several other students to have a life, Soorjo Coomar finally made it to Calcutta. He was full of raw talent and determination. These two qualities helped him to get admission in Hare School. Since he was a boy, Soorjo Coomar always dreamed of being a doctor. But unlike today, that dream sounded like just another ridiculous joke the British People loved to crack.
But when there’s a will, there’s a way. In 1843, Soorjo Coomar first tried to get into Medical College of Bengal with the help of a Bengal Civilian named Mr Alexander. Although he failed that time, he did not quit his dream. The very next year, he made his dream a successful reality.
Dr. Soorjo Coomar – An Inspiration that Came Alive from the Pages of History
Avoiding all the mockery and ridicule, Soorjo Coomar worked hard in making his dream of being a doctor true. And thus it became one. In 1845, he was chosen to go to England for further studies. He was mentioned as being one of the brightest students of medical college back then.
Along with four other students, Soorjo Coomar sailed to England and got admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons from where he got the degree of M.R.C.S in 1847. And soon after, he passed his MD exam as well in 1849, obtaining first division second rank among all the students. And thus, he became the first Indian to join Indian Medical Service.
The Struggle After
After getting his hard-earned medical degree from the University of London, Dr Soorjo Coomar Returned to India and took the Medical Examination conducted by the East India Company. After cracking this exam, he served the Medical School of Bengal and worked as surgeon-major for the Bengal Army as well. He also wrote many papers on Western medicine and modern surgical practices as well.
Despite his achievements, he was considered as an outcast and later, he embraced the religion of Christianity. From 1855 to 1873, he worked relentlessly and contributed many medical facts to the platform of world medicine. However, in 1874, he revisited London because of the current health trouble and died in London on 29th September 1874. It is a shame that we have completely forgotten such a hero and never pay any tribute to the works of the earliest Indian doctor. His hard-work, determination and contribution to the medical field that would always be remembered by us! May his soul rest in peace!
Written By: Subharthi Bhattacharya