Dr Anandibai Joshi biopic: First Indian woman to study medicine in US has ‘story that must be told

Director Sameer Vidwans and co-writer Irawati Karnik speak about the Marathi-language biopic of 19th-century pioneer Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi.

Dr Anandibai Joshi biopic: First Indian woman to study medicine in US has ‘story that must be told’
Bhagyashree Milind in Anandi Gopal | Zee Studios, Fresh Lime Films and Namah Pictures

Who was Anandi Gopal Joshi? Many know her as the first Indian woman to have studied medicine in the United States, graduating from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886. Little, however, is known about her beyond these few lines.

A new film hopes to fill the gaps about Joshi’s singular and historic journey. Anandi Gopal, directed by Sameer Vidwans, will be released by Zee Studios on February 15. The Marathi-language biopic stars Bhagyashree Milind as Anandi Gopal and Lalit Prabhakar as her husband, Gopalrao Joshi.

Anandi Gopal’s path was in part charted by Gopalrao, to whom she was married at the age of nine. He was 20 years older than her and a fervent proponent of women’s education, and it was his condition that Anandi continue her schooling and learn English. To make sure she studied, Gopalrao would routinely reprimand and beat her, “flinging chairs and books” at her, according to the letters she wrote to him from the US.

However, the decision to become a doctor was hers. The interest was sparked when she lost her baby boy shortly after he was born. Her driving force was the desire to address the dearth of female doctors in the country, having learnt during her own pregnancy how difficult it could be for women to allow male physicians to examine them. However, she died before she could set up her practice. Tuberculosis claimed Anandi’s life shortly after her return to India in 1887. She was 21.

“However, her ambition and short-lived success would help blaze a new trail for future generations of Indian lady doctors,” the Smithsonianwebsite noted. Following her achievement, “many medically-minded Indian women would follow in her footsteps”.

(L-R) Anandi Joshi, Kei Okami from Japan and Tabat M Islambooly from Ottoman Syria at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. All three were the first women from their respective countries to obtain a degree in Western medicine. Courtesy Public domain/via Wikimedia Commons.
(L-R) Anandi Joshi, Kei Okami from Japan and Tabat M Islambooly from Ottoman Syria at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. All three were the first women from their respective countries to obtain a degree in Western medicine. Courtesy Public domain/via Wikimedia Commons.

Vidwans’s ambition was to bring out the difficulties faced by Anandi in reaching her goal – on the one hand was condemnation from her Hindu neighbours for her aspirations and on the other, demands to convert from the Christian missionaries whom the couple approached to facilitate her passage abroad.

Finally, Theodicia Carpenter from New Jersey, who read about the couple’s attempts to come to the US in the local Princeton Missionary Reviewpublication, offered support. In this film, I have tried to bring out what was happening around them [the couple] in that era,” Vidwans told Scroll.in. “People know their external struggles, but not their internal ones. It’s a story people should know about, not just in Maharashtra but the whole country.”

Vidwans’s filmmaking credits include the romances Double Seat (2015) and Time Please (2013) and the family drama Mala Kahich Problem Nahi(2017). The subject of Anandi’s life especially resonated with him because of the challenges that women continue to face in getting an equal claim to public and private spaces.

“I asked myself this question too – why should I see this story today?” Vidwans said. “There were two or three things that jumped out. For one, even today, whether Sabarimala or Shani Shingapur [both temples were only recently opened to female devotees, but women still face difficulties entering], women are still being discriminated against. But 140 years ago, one couple, at a time when women were not even allowed to be educated, decided that this woman should study. So I felt that this story must be told.”

Anandi Gopal (2019).

The screenplay was written in Hindi by Karan Siddhant Sharma and was adapted into Marathi. Vidwans roped in Irawati Karnik, the noted Marathi, Hindi and English playwright and recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. Vidwans had known Karnik from his theatre days. “Not much is known about Anandi’s internal world, so to create that, I wanted a woman involved in the project,” he said. “I thought of Ira then,whosework I had seen and who also has a very good sense of dialogue and is very perceptive. So the three of us together worked on the Marathi adaptation and she wrote the dialogue.”

For Karnik, who has also written dialogue for the Marathi films Ekulti Ek (2013) and Man Pakharu Pakharu (2008) and was credited with original story for Pari Hoon Main (2018), the challenge was tackling Anandi’s relationship with her husband. He was an important but equally tumultuous influence, often using brute force to get her to study. “What is interesting about this story is that even though it was she who studied and became the doctor and put in the hard work, the driving force behind most of it is Gopal,” Karnik said. “He was the one who was making conscious decisions. He had opinions on why women should be educated, on why the Brahminical system was problematic or how religion was overpowering rationality.”

Lalit Prabhakar in Anandi Gopal. Courtesy Zee Studios, Fresh Lime Films and Namah Pictures.
Lalit Prabhakar in Anandi Gopal. Courtesy Zee Studios, Fresh Lime Films and Namah Pictures.

Irawati Karnik had to find a way to stay true to the facts and yet bring out Anandi’s individuality. “What I had to work on was trying to figure out what her journey was – the choices she herself made, to identify moments when she took a chance, disagreed with him or made things go a certain way,” she said. “We realised was that while Gopal was headstrong from the word go, she was someone who emerged, who moved from her personal troubles to thinking for society, for women in general and to larger ideas.”

To get into Anandi’s inner world, Karnik referred to works such as Anjali Kirtane’s Dr Anandibai Joshi Kal Ani Kartrutva, Kashibai Kanitkar’s biography and SJ Joshi’s fictionalised account, Anandi Gopal“We find that she is deeply observant,” Karnik said. “She asks questions. She does not hesitate to express herself. And at the same time, she doesn’t say everything that she thinks. She only says what really matters. Gopal, in comparison, is a very aggressive, outspoken person. He decides that it is his mission to provoke people, disturb people, challenge the status quo.”

Waata Waata Waata Ga, Anandi Gopal

A great deal of effort also went into recreating the 1800s. Since Vidwans wanted to use real locations as far as possible, the crew had to hunt for old houses and heritage areas to shoot in. Most of the filming took place in Maharashtra, with Georgia representing Pennsylvania in the latter part of Anandi’s life. “We looked for houses that were at least a hundred years old,” Vidwans said. “The texture of such houses cannot be recreated on set, and Marathi films don’t usually have the kind of budget to make a set of that level. If there were any modern fixtures in the house, we tried to hide them while, or then clean them up in the visual effects.”

The art and costume departments also had to piece together other details of that era – the kind of furniture, lighting devices, paintings, clothes and colour palettes that were commonly used at the time. The process took about a year and a half, Vidwans said.

Anandi Gopal. Courtesy Zee Studios, Fresh Lime Films and Namah Pictures.
Anandi Gopal. Courtesy Zee Studios, Fresh Lime Films and Namah Pictures.

Choosing the right actor to play Anandi’s role was another challenge: it needed to be someone who was very young and yet able to expresscomplex emotions. While Vidwans had Lalit Prabhakar in mind for Gopalrao’s role right from the start, it took much longer to finalise the female lead. “For Anandi’s role, we looked a lot, for six to seven months,” he said. “Then I remembered Bhagyashree, whom I had seen in Balak Palak. We called her, did auditions and screen tests and then worked with her for four months before finalising her”.

Anandi Gopal joins a long list of biographical films in Indian cinema in recent years. What explains the popularity of this genre? “In my perspective, it’s because the Indian audience are a slightly nostalgic audience,” Vidwans said. “And second, there’s a slightly political reason. In the last few years, patriotism has been a strain in society. So people want to see on the big screen people who have done something for the country. The third and most important is because people have proven themselves as having done something inspirational, the audience know they will take something positive away from the film.”

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Narayana Multispeciality Hospital Ahmedabad, a tertiary care hospital offers Paediatric and Adult Cardiac, Neurology, Orthopaedics, Nephrology & Urology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, General Medicine, ENT, Paediatrics & Neonatology, Pulmonology services and is the pioneer of affordable high-quality healthcare in Gujarat.

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Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty Chairman & Executive Director

Doctor Name

Dr. Devi Prasad ShettyChairman & Executive Director

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty is the Chairman of Narayana Health, and also an Executive Director. He is a cardiac surgeon with around 34 years of experience. After completing his MBBS from the University of Mysore in 1978, he registered with the Karnataka Medical Council in 1979. Thereafter, in 1982, he received a master’s degree in surgery from the University of Mysore. In 2009, he was granted a fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He founded Narayana Health in the year 2000. He initiated the concept of “micro health insurance scheme” in Karnataka, which eventually led to the Karnataka government implementing the Yeshasvini scheme, a micro health insurance scheme for rural farmers.

Dr. Shetty is a professor at Rajiv Gandhi University of Medical Sciences, Bengaluru, India and University of Minnesota Medical School, USA. He is the recipient of a number of awards and honours most noteworthy being ‘Padma Shri’ and ‘Padma Bhushan’ Award in 2003 and 2012 respectively, conferred by the Government of India and the ‘Rajyotsava Award’ in 2002 conferred by the Government of Karnataka. He was also conferred with the ‘Dr. B C Roy National Award’ by the Dr. B C Roy National Award Fund under the category of ‘Eminent Medical Person’ in 2003, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Start-up 2003’ by Ernst & Young, India, and ‘Sir M. Visveswaraya Memorial Award’ conferred by the Government of Karnataka in 2003. The Rotary Bangalore Midtown conferred him with the ‘Citizen Extraordinaire’ award in 2004.

He also received the ‘Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship Award’ by the Confederation of Indian Industry in 2005, ‘The President’s Award’ by the American College of Cardiology in 2011, and the ‘Economic Times Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2012. Further, he received the ‘Indian of the Year Award’ in 2012 by CNN- IBN and the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he received ‘Commendation for driving affordable quality healthcare for all 2010’ at the Healthcare Awards Program presented by ICICI Lombard & CNBC TV18 in 2010 and was the winner of ‘Business Process Award’ at ‘The Economist Innovation Award’s 2011′. He was an Honorary Fellow at the College Physicians and Surgeons of Mumbai, Doctor of Laws in 2011 and has also been awarded the Doctor of Laws by the University of Minnesota in 2011. In 2014, he was awarded the Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bengaluru. He received the ’19th Nikkei Asia Prize, Economic and Business Innovation’ by Nikkei Inc. in 2014.

He is an active member of the European Association for Cardio- Thoracic Surgery since 1996 and a life member of the Indian Medical Association. He was also a member of the Finance Committee of the 47th Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons. He was a member of the governing body of the Medical Council of India between 2010 and 2011.

Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Biography For Students And Children

Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Biography

Born On: July 1, 1882
Born In: Bankipore, Patna, Bihar, India
Died On: July 1, 1962
Career: Physician, Politician
Nationality: Indian

Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, one of the very few people who are talented enough to acquire both the M.R.C.P. and F.R.C.S. degrees, was an eminent physician, one of the most important freedom fighters for India and also the second Chief Minister of West Bengal. Bidhan Chandra Roy led a very eventful life during which he excelled in each profession he had taken up. In addition, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy also laid the foundation stone of cities Bidhannagar and Kalyani in West Bengal. After his flourishing terms as a part of the alumni of the Calcutta Medical College and as the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, Bidhan Chandra Roy entered into active politics and subsequently was elected the Chief Minister of West Bengal, a post that he held till his death. Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy is fondly remembered through the celebration of the National Doctor’s Day on July 1 (his birth and death day) every year.

Childhood and Education

Bidhan Chandra Roy was born on July 1, 1882 in the Bankipore region of Patna, Bihar. He was the youngest of the five children of his parents. Bidhan Chandra Roy’s mother died when he was 14 years of age and it was his father who took over the reins of the family. Since his father had to remain outdoors for his work as an excise inspector, the five siblings had to share responsibility of all household work. From a very young age, Bidhan Chandra Roy realized the importance of learning domestic work and lending a helping hand even to people who he was not directly related to, lessons which his father instilled in Bidhan Chandra Roy’s heart. Bidhan Chandra Roy completed his I.A. from Presidency College, Calcutta and his B.A. from Patna College, Bihar.

After completing his graduation in Mathematics, Bidhan Chandra Roy applied for admission in both Bengal Engineering College and Calcutta Medical College. Being academically competent, he successfully qualified both but chose to pursue medical studies. Bidhan Chandra Roy left Patna in June 1901 to start his medical studies at the Calcutta Medical College. Life at the Calcutta Medical College was very difficult for the future physician. Not only was there the pressure of studies, he also had to earn enough money to support himself in the city as his father was no longer in service. Bidhan Chandra Roy earned scholarships to bear the cost of his studies and books, while completely ignoring personal health. It was during his study years at the Calcutta Medical College that the Partition of Bengal was announced. Though the freedom fighter in Bidhan Chandra Roy wanted to be a part of the state’s struggle, he convinced himself that studies were more important than any other activity at that point of time in life.

Career

Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy joined the Provincial Health Service after his studies at Calcutta Medical College were over. While he was appointed as a doctor, B. C. Roy also lent a helping hand as a nurse whenever he had the time. Additionally, he even established a private practice to earn extra money. In February 1909, Bidhan Chandra Roy left for England to continue further medical studies at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. But the Dean at the hospital did not want to accept the application of an Asian. Unwilling to return defeated, Bidhan Chandra Roy submitted the same application thirty times, before the authorities at St Bartholomew’s Hospital finally relented and allowed him to take admission. By the year 1911, Bidhan Chandra Roy had completed both his M.R.C.P. and F.R.C.S. degrees in a span of only two years and three months, a rare achievement. He returned to India in the year 1911 to join as faculty of Calcutta Medical College, subsequently shifting to the Campbell Medical School and then the Carmichael Medical College.

Right from his childhood days, Bidhan Chandra Roy had learnt about social service from his father. Therefore as a doctor too, he worked for the common man by donating large sums of money towards the establishment of medical colleges which would provide both medical education and medical aid to people. Several medical institutions in Calcutta, like the Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, the R.G. Kar Medical College, the Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, the Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital, the Victoria Institution and the Kamala Nehru Hospital were set up by Bidhan Chandra Roy. Bidhan Chandra Roy entered politics in the year 1925. He contested elections from Barrackpore constituency of the Bengal legislative council and won against popular opponent Surendranath Banerjee. The same year Bidhan Chandra Roy tabled a resolution to study the causes, effects and prevention of pollution in the Hooghly district.

In the year 1928, Bidhan Chandra Roy was elected to the All India Congress Committee. He became the leader of the Civil Disobedience Movement in Bengal in the year 1929 when he coaxed Pandit Motilal Nehru to nominate him a member of the CWC. In the year 1930, when the Civil Disobedience Movement was still on, Bidhan Chandra Roy and many other members of the CWC were arrested when the CWC was declared an unlawful body. The August 26 arrest landed Dr B C Roy in Alipore Jail. Bidhan Chandra Roy’s involvement with the CWC brought improvements in education, introduced free medical services and led to the establishment of grant in aid hospitals, charitable dispensaries, good roads and better water and electricity supply.

After being elected to the All India Congress Committee, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy became a good friend of Mahatma Gandhi‘s. When Gandhi had taken ill during the Quit India Movement of 1942, it was Dr B C Roy who treated him after convincing Gandhi to consume medicines, even though they were not made in India. In the year 1942, Bidhan Chandra Roy was elected as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta. It was during his term that the Japanese bombings in Rangoon took place, leading to a revolution in Calcutta too. Bidhan Chandra Roy was of the belief that education should not suffer as the more educated the youth, the better they can serve their country. Keeping this principle in mind, B C Roy made special air-raid shelters for students and teachers for classes to be held even at a time of war. He also conducted relief activities for the suffering. It was in recognition of his services that he received the Doctorate of Science degree in 1944.

Chief Minister

Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy’s name was proposed by the Congress for the post of the Chief Minister of West Bengal. However, Bidhan Chandra Roy himself never wanted to assume office as the Bengal CM as he wanted to remain dedicated to his profession as a physician, a position he thought would be jeopardized if he assumes such an important office in politics. It was on the insistence of Mahatma Gandhi that Bidhan Chandra Roy agreed to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal and was elected to the position on January 23, 1948. His 14 years as the second West Bengal CM was immensely successful. Bidhan Chandra Roy was instrumental in seeing the end to violence and food and job shortages in the state following the creation of East Pakistan. The Congress also benefited by Bidhan Chandra Roy’s association with the party. He was a much loved man among the common people of Bengal and the country as a whole. Though he entered into active politics, Bidhan Chandra Roy never forgot the value of education in one’s life. According to him, only education could pave the way to a good and resourceful human being. He made this sentiment clear at a convocation address that he made on December 15, 1956 at the University of Lucknow.

Death

Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy died on July 1, 1962 a little while after he had completed his daily activities of treating patients who visited him during early hours of the morning and also going over political matters of West Bengal.

Honors

In recognition of his immense services to the society, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy was awarded the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna by the government of India on February 4, 1961. Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy’s residence was converted into a nursing home named after his mother Aghorkamini Devi. The government of India set up the Dr B C Roy Memorial Library and Reading Room for Children in the Children’s Book Trust in New Delhi in the year 1967. The B C Roy National Award was also started in the year 1976 to celebrate the contributions of individuals in the fields of medicine, politics, science, philosophy, arts and literature.

Timeline

  • 1882: Bidhan Chandra Roy was born on July 1.
  • 1896: His mother died.
  • 1901: Left Patna to study at the Calcutta Medical College.
  • 1909: Went to England to study at the St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
  • 1911: Completed his M.R.C.P. and F.R.C.S. and returned to India.
  • 1925: Entered into active politics.
  • 1925: Tabled resolution on Hooghly pollution study.
  • 1928: Elected to All India Congress Committee.
  • 1929: Provided leadership in Bengal’s involvement in Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • 1930: Nominated to CWC.
  • 1930: Arrested and sent to Alipore Jail on August 30.
  • 1942: Treated Mahatma Gandhi during Quit India Movement.
  • 1942: Served the society following Japanese bombing in Rangoon as University of Calcutta Vice Chancellor.
  • 1944: Earned the Doctorate of Science degree.
  • 1948: Assumed office as Bengal Chief Minister on January 23.
  • 1956: Delivered lecture at University of Lucknow.
  • 1961: Was awarded the Bharat Ratna on February 4.
  • 1962: Breathed his last on July 1.
  • 1967: Dr. B C Roy Memorial Library and Reading Room opened in New Delhi.
  • 1976: Dr. B C Roy National Award instituted.

11 Great Doctors Who Made An Impact With Their Significant Contributions

Only people who study medicine understand how vast and difficult the field is. From treating patients to finding a cure to a deadly diseases, doctors have a lot to give to the human kind. Here are eleven doctors who made an impact with their great contribution to the field of medicine.

1. Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi, the first female of Indian origin to study and graduate with a degree in medicine in the United States

anandi joshi

ALCHETRON

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi is believed to have been the first woman from India to set foot on American soil and study medicine there. The fact that she fought the orthodox, conservative society to get a medical degree makes her a great achiever. She began her medical education at the age of 19 and graduated with an MD on March 11, 1886, three years after landing in America.

2. Dr Levi Watkins Jr., the first cardiac surgeon who implanted an automatic defibrillator in a human

watkins

YOUTUBE

We should thank Dr Levi Watkins Jr. for an automatic defibrillator, a device millions of people use today to survive. He was the first black student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Apart from being a cardiac surgeon, he was also a civil rights activist who stood against racism and injustice. Dr Watkins became the first doctor to put an automatic defibrillator in a human heart in 1980

3. Dr Mae Jemison, the physician who also became the first black female astronaut in NASA history

mae

SUNDANCE.TV

Accomplishments of Dr Mae Jemison must be lauded as she did not stop after getting a doctor’s degree, but she also strived hard to become an engineer in NASA! She first got her chemical engineering degree at Stanford and later on, she studied medicine at Cornell Medical college. After getting inspired by African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, Dr. Mae decided to apply to NASA’s astronaut program. She then became the first black woman to go to space in 1992.

4. Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, after whom Doctors’ Day is celebrated in India

bidhan

LIFE

It was Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy who first established the Indian Medical Association in 1928. In his memory, 1 July, his birth and death anniversary, is celebrated as Doctors’ Day in India. A close friend and doctor of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Bidhan has a big contribution behind opening the Indian Institute of Mental Health and Kolkata’s first postgraduate medical college. He was also West Bengal’s second Chief Minister, and a Bharat Ratna awardee.

5. Dr Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who successfully separated conjoined twins

ben carson

HUFFINGTONPOST

In 1986, Ben Carson became the first neurosurgeon who performed the first intrauterine surgical procedure on the brain of a fetal twin. He also led a team of surgeons who completed the first successful separation of twins conjoined at the cranium. At the age of 33, he achieved the feat of being the chief paediatric surgery in US.

6. Dr Barry Marshall, a Noble Prize winner who made the historic scientific discovery, which stated the presence of bacterium Helicobacter pylori as the root cause for most peptic ulcers

Barry Marshall

TUMBLR

The Australian physician, along with Dr Robin Warren performed the initial culture of H. pylori and developed their hypothesis related to the bacterial cause of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer.  Many experiments were held to prove him wrong, but they only confirmed his findings.

7. Dr “Patch” Adams, a doctor and a comedian who made his patients smile

Patch Adams

COMEDIHA!

A physician who is also a comedian is a rare combination. Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams is one such doctor who organises a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humour to orphans, patients, and other people. He gained popularity when the Hollywood movie Patch Adams, loosely based on his life, was released.

8. Dr Denton Cooley, the surgeon who performed the world’s first implantation of a total artificial heart

cooley

YOUTUBE

In 1969, Dr Denton Cooley successfully implanted an artificial heart. He accomplished the almost impossible task without the supervision of his senior, which created a rift between them. The patient, Haskell Karp, lived for 64 hours with the implanted device before it could be replaced with a donor’s heart. However, he died a day after the second operation and questions were raised about the doctor’s decision to implant the artificial device in the first place.

9. Max Theiler, a South African-American virologist who developed a vaccine against yellow fever

maxx

PROUDLYSA.BIZ

For his crusade against Yellow fever, Max Theiler received a Nobel Prize in 1951. The Yellow Fever which claimed many lives was almost undefeatable. Theiler and his team developed the first strain of the virus which led to the development of a vaccine against yellow fever in 1937.

10. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who founded the system of alternative medicine called homeopathy

samuel hanhemann

CLINICALHOMEOPATHICCOLLEGE

A physician who was also a language translator, Samuel Hahnemann developed homeopathy as a system of alternative medicine. He first used the term ‘homeopathy’ in his essay Indications of the Homeopathic Employment of Medicines in Ordinary Practice, published in Hufeland’s Journal in 1807.

11. Dr Upendranath Brahmachari, who discovered Urea Stibamine, an organic antimonial compound that played a vital role in the treatment of Kala-azar

upendranath

THEFAMOUSPEOPLE

Dr Brahmachari is renowned for his outstanding contributions to medical science, particularly in the treatment of Kala-azar by discovering ‘Urea Stibamine’. Around 1924, he founded the Brahmachari Research Institute at his own residence in Kolkata. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize, however he didn’t win the prestigious prize.