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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 72-73

Dr. Vidya Sagar (1909–1978)

First Year Post Graduate, Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Submission09-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance19-Apr-2021
Date of Web Publication18-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. S Uma Maheswari
103B, Endecos Aladdin County, Czech Colony, Sanathnagar, Hyderabad - 500 018, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjp.tjp_11_21

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Dr. Hoch, Consultant, WHO, on his visit to Mental Hospital, Amritsar, in November 1964 said, “You have here at Amritsar a sea of nectar of human kindness and also a Dr. Vidya Sagar, a sea of wisdom. May they never dry up.” He was talking about Dr. Vidya Sagar Diwan, a legendary figure in Psychiatry. Dr. Vidya Sagar was a pioneer in community psychiatry, showing how modern psychiatry can be adapted to local conditions. During the horrific times of partition, when a huge number of patients with mental illness were sent to Amritsar and kept in army barracks, Dr. Vidya Sagar's devotion to the service of these patients was phenomenal. Community Psychiatry has come a long way in India. The building blocks were laid by Dr. Vidya Sagar, in 1950, by constructing tents and involving family members in the treatment of persons with mental illness in Amritsar.

Keywords: Camp approach, Dr. Vidya Sagar, therapeutic community

How to cite this article:
Maheswari S U. Dr. Vidya Sagar (1909–1978). Telangana J Psychiatry 2021;7:72-3

How to cite this URL:
Maheswari S U. Dr. Vidya Sagar (1909–1978). Telangana J Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 2];7:72-3. Available from: http://www.:tjpipstsb.org/text.asp?2021/7/1/72/321762

  Life History Top

Born on October 11, 1909, at Jampur (now in Pakistan), Dr. Vidya Sagar was brought up by a Muslim woman, having lost his mother early. His early schooling was at DAV school and his MBBS degree was from the Punjab University. In 1940, he got selected in Punjab Civil Medical Services and joined Indian Medical Corps in 1942, as Captain and left army in 1946, as a Major. Dr. Vidya Sagar became the Assistant Deputy Medical Superintendent at Punjab Medical Hospital and migrated to India during the Indo-Pak division. He received his training toward the award of MRCP at the Institute of Psychiatry, London (1948–1951).[1]

He was the Superintendent at Punjab Mental Hospital, Amritsar, from 1951 to 1966 and headed the Department of Psychiatry at Medical College, Rohtak. He devoted 35 long years of his life in the service of patients with mental illness. He used to work 6 days a week tirelessly from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. When the hospital ran short of beds, he would admit patients at his own house bearing the entire expenses, with complete support from his equally dedicated wife Mrs. Kaushalya Devi. On Sundays, he traveled to other cities and provided outdoor psychiatric consultation. He retired from government services because of ill health but continued to work as Professor Emeritus till he breathed his last on November 24, 1978.


  • Dr. Vidya Sagar Kaushalya Devi Memorial Trust is a result of tremendous efforts by his family and well-wishers, which was formed in August 1981[2]
  • A hospital named Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences at Delhi, built in a free land provided by the government of India, is a multispecialty hospital institute today with 110 beds. It was started with Rs. 40,000/- left by him in his will for the same purpose. The foundation stone was laid in 1987 by Shri Giani Zail Singh, then President of our nation. The institute offers the DNB Psychiatry course with an annual intake of six students.

  Contributions Top

  1. He played a vital role in setting up a separate Department of Psychiatry with both indoor and outdoor services at Medical College, Rohtak. The department now has two wards – male and female with 32 beds each and a 10-bedded de-addiction ward. The outpatient department has special clinics on specified days including Child Guidance Clinic, Psychosexual Clinic, Epilepsy Clinic, Headache Clinic, and Dementia Clinic
  2. He fervently opposed chaining or locking up of patients with mental health. He encouraged family members to stay and look after their patients
  3. His most important contribution to psychiatry was the involvement of family in the care of patients with psychiatric illness
  4. He was responsible for the camp approach in psychiatry. He put up tents in the hospital to cater to a larger number of patients and their family members. This helped in reducing the stigma toward the mentally ill
  5. He noticed some drastic changes in the patient's perception of treatment. It helped in bringing down the hostility in patients, the involvement of relatives helped break myths about the incurability of mental illness and family members learned about the impact of psychiatric conditions
  6. The therapeutic community which he set up in Amritsar Mental hospital is one of his most significant contributions. Community Psychiatry, that is, treatment of patients with mental illness in a community away from the hospital, was first started by Dr. Vidya Sagar in Amritsar in 1950, followed by CMC Vellore and NIMHANS Bangalore in 1960<
  7. He held meetings and lectures to spread knowledge about mental illnesses, their treatment, and role of families. He spoke about the existing myths about psychiatric illness and discouraged the role of shamans and institutional care.

  Publications Top

  • Psychiatry in India published by the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS)
  • Organizations and future need of mental health services
  • Look after your mental health
  • Introduction to mental diseases for the common man.

  Awards and Honours Top

  • Praman Patra by Punjab Government (1962)
  • Vice President of IPS (1972)
  • President of IPS (1973)
  • Founder member of the Royal College for Social Psychiatry (1974)
  • Letter of appreciation from the government of Haryana (1976)
  • Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar, is named after him as Dr. Vidya Sagar Government Mental Hospital.[3]

  Conclusion Top

Indian psychiatrists have actively contributed to world psychiatry in understanding and care of patients with mental illness based on cultural, joint family system, and social aspects of Indian life. These contributions in the role of family in mental health care and community settings were first started by Dr. Vidya Sagar. He dedicated his life to care of mentally ill patients and wrote in his will donating property for the establishment of a trust for starting a hospital. His patients and their families worshipped him as a demi-God and he was hence rightly known as “Father of Indian Psychiatry.”

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sethi S, Batra R. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2010;52:97-20. Available from: http://www.indianjpsychiatry.org, IP: [Last accessed on 2021 Jul 09].  Back to cited text no. 1
Raghu G. Dr Vidya Sagar Kaushalya Devi Memorial Trust. Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 1987;11:62. 10.1192/S0140078900024329.  Back to cited text no. 2
Jiloha RC, Kukreti P. Psychiatry in Delhi: History and current status. Indian J Psychiatry. 2018 Feb;60(Suppl 2):S218-S223. doi: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_452_17. PMID: 29527051; PMCID: PMC5836341.  Back to cited text no. 3


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