' Dr Rathi Devi: Defeating Tragedies to Win in Life

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Dr Rathi Devi: Defeating Tragedies to Win in Life
by Florine Roche

May 16, 2011

As I went to meet gynecologist Dr Rathi Devi her calm and serene countenance surprised me considering her busy schedule and the upheavals or rather tragedies she faced in her life, about which I came to know only during the one hour long interaction I had with her.  After coming out I just kept wondering how she could be so composed, calm, serene and also exude so much happiness.    It was not difficult to find an answer as I remembered Irish literary critic George Bernard Shaw’s quote “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself”.  That is what Rathi Devi has been doing and she has found contentment, happiness, joy, meaning and purpose in her life. 

Horace Walpole was right when he had said “the world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think”.  May be, that Rathi Devi had kept in mind what this English writer had said when she faced two tragedies of her life.  She became a widow at the age of 19 with two young kids to take care of when her husband died of blood cancer.  When life was once again smooth and normal, tragedy struck again giving another blow to her already tattered life. Her older son Dr Kiran who was doing his House Surgeon in Tumkur, died in an accident.   Any other person in her position would have become a mental wreck as a result of this turmoil.   But Rathi Devi is made up of a sterner stuff and it is her profession and her unbridled resolve that helped her weave the threads of her life all over again.  Today, she had devoted her life to serving patients, to create awareness through her writings and also for helping needy mothers and babies, in whatever little way she can.  So I am not surprised when she tells me “my hobby is my profession and my profession is my hobby”.   Dr Rathi Devi is the personification of   a selfless gynecologist who is committed for the betterment of the society.  


Rathi Devi was born in Elluru village of Udupi Taluk as the 12th child of her late parents Vagdevi and late Ramachandra Udupa.  Her father Ramachandra Udupa was a Sanskrit scholar and teacher and she did her primary education in the same Sanskrit school started by her father in Elluru.  She finished her high school and PUC from Admaru Pre-University College.   As a child Rathi was very active and bold and nurtured an ambition to become a doctor.  But she was a destiny’s child and her dream was cut short when she was married off to Laxminarayana Bhat, an hotelier from Mysore at 17.  Destiny struck the first cruel blow when her husband died when she was hardly 19 leaving behind two little kids to tend to.  To rub salt to the wounds her in-laws threw her out of home refusing to give any property that rightfully belonged to her husband and to her.  She was taken aback by the impiety of her in-laws.  Not to give up the fight easily she subsequently wrote to the then Law Minister Arun Jaitely and got the law amended which allowed women to fight in property disputes from their place of residence.

It was her parents and older sister late Padmakshi who came to her rescue by giving moral and physical support when she came back as a widow.  “My mother gave me two options.  To marry again or to realize my long cherished dream of becoming a doctor and she opted to care of the children.  I chose the second option because I remembered my father saying that education is the best gift any one could have and I am happy I did the right choice at that tender age”, recalls Dr Rathi.   Though 60% mark was requirement for medical seat those days in the 3 years of gap the percentage had gone up to 85%.  She was determined to get a merit seat and began to prepare seriously to for her PUC.  Her hard work paid off and she succeeded in getting a merit set at KMC Mangalore. 

With her parents and sister taking responsibility of brining up her two children Rathi stayed in the hostel and concentrated fully on her studies.  “I took a solemn decision to shape my own future and to be independent, which gave me the required strength and fortitude.  Though some men tried to take advantage of my vulnerable position I brushed aside any such overtures and began to dress like a simple village girl to avoid unwanted glances and snide comments”, she describes.   Along with her studies she also had to fight for the rights of her husband’s property in Mysore which took away much of her time and energy.  Ultimately she gave up having lost the zeal to fight when nothing was coming out of the fight.  “My mother-in-law wanted me to use as a domestic help and also wanted my children to work in the hotel.  I never wanted to have such a life for my children or for myself”, she says with a tinge of sadness as she recalls those days. She, however, has no regrets for doing so as her goal in life was to bring up her children and forget her own problems on seeing the problems of women who were coming to her for treatment. 

It took 14 years for Rathi Devi to finish her education and became independent.  She finished her MBBS, MD and DGO courses in flying colours.  She was appointed in KMC Medical College soon after her and continues to be the Associate Professor at KMC even now.   At the same time she began to practice privately and when the patients began to unfold their problems, tragedies and difficulties, Dr Rati felt her problems were insignificant and that made her forget her own cup of woes.  By now her children were growing.  Elder son late Dr Kiran had finished his MBBS and was doing House Surgeion in Tumkur when he died in an accident about 13 years ago.  Younger son Dr Kishore chose to become a orthodontist and is now the Associate Profession at A J Institute of Dental Sciences.  He is married to Dr Arati Kishore, who is a dental surgeon.

After the death of her son her family and friends advised her to get her younger son married so that the daughter-in-law can fill the vacuum in her life and bring a new hope of life with her.  Her son Dr Kishore got married at 24 and the wife Arati and their two children have succeeded in restoring some normalcy in the troubled life of Dr Rathi Devi.  On hindsight she says “I sometimes feel my son would have been alive if he were to be here and feel responsible for sending him to Tumkur”.  But she soon regains her composure to concentrate on her present. 

When asked how she coped up with such turmoil and whether life has been unfair to her Dr Rathi says it is the event of her life that has given her the strength and courage to see life in an objective way.  “I know what life is all about, what sufferings are and hence when in deal with patients I come across many instances where life is very unkind to women”, she contends.  However, she bears no regrets in life at all and adds “I do agree medical profession in India in facing major crisis as the society no longer holds the profession in high esteem unlike the past.  But all these years I have found gratification in the profession as my patients treat me as god and reciprocate it.  I have been treating both the first and the second generation of women patients.   I could forget my personal tragedies as I listen to their lives.   My work has given me satisfaction.  Whatever I have been able to achieve today it is because of my profession”, she avers.  

Dr Rathi who will be completing 60 years coming August is serving as a Professor at KMC, Mangalore and is also associated with Lady Goschen Hospital and is also the founder of Balmatta Health Centre.  She is greatly attached to the Lady Goschen Hospital. “I have learnt a lot from  Lady Goschen hospital and from the poor women who come there for treatment.  I don’t like leaving that place though I have been flooded with lucrative offers”.  It may be remembered that Rathi Devi was responsible for the delivery of healthy quadruplets in the same hospital in November 2007.  Dr Rathi provided free service and treatment to the mother and her children even after the delivery which exhibits her largesse and helpful nature.  

Having realized that majority of the health problems has its roots in ignorance she has started writing books which are distributed free of cost.  She wrote her autobiography “Echetha Mahile” (awakened woman) so that it can be a source of inspiration for many hapless widows like her.  She has also written books entitled “Aids Information Awareness”, Uterus related cancer, Globalization and Women’s Health problems, “Fatal pregnancies and solutions” and handwritten printed book titled “normal delivery and caesarian delivery” and many more.  Two more books are also in the pipeline – one about birth control and the other “nine months, 9 matters and 9 visits”, for the expectant mothers.  

About her field of specialization Dr Rathi Devi feels that not everything is ok and feels that an amendment of Termination of Pregnancy Act from the current 20 weeks to 12 weeks so that female infanticide can be curbed.  “The sex of the baby can be determined only after 12 weeks and as per the present act MTP can be done up to 20 weeks which gives an opportunity for parents to determine the sex of the baby and terminate it if it is found to be a girl”.  While lamenting the commercialization of MTP, Dr Rathi is also increasingly worried about young girls opting for over-the-counter abortion pills or pregnancy termination pills which are being misused.  As per law these pills are required to be prescribed only by licensed doctors with a MTP certificate.  But unfortunately all the doctors and even chemists prescribe these tablets which will have deleterious impact on the health of women”.  The risk from these pills is that sometimes even when the abortion is not complete there will be bleeding which will continue for months or till it is taken care of.  This means the uterus will be open during the bleeding period and there is a chance of uterus becoming susceptible to infections including septic abortion or damaging the Fallopian tubes and several other related complications including ectopic pregnancy, which may prove quite fatal. 

Dr Rathi also gives a word of caution against the unrestricted use of E-Pills, the side effects of which are yet to be ascertained.  With regard to the controversy regarding normal delivery vs caesarian delivery, Dr Rathi says caesarian deliveries increasing alarmingly  because of late marriages resulting in late conception, conception through hormones or other fertility methods, patients and doctors not willing to take risks and women opting for caesarian to avoid pain.  Dr Rathi says sometimes doctors do not want to take risks because people are unable to understand the risk involved.  She says in certain complicated cases some women start bleeding like tap and in such situations one need to have bottles of blood ready to provide for the patient.  She also says that these days doctors are not bold enough to take any risks and as a result forceps and vacuum deliveries have totally disappeared. 

Till her mother passed away three years back the   other pass time she had was taking her mother out on vacations and to places of religious significance both in India and abroad.  Now much of her time is confined to her profession and her family.  She finds it relaxing to water the garden and sometimes even to cooks her favourite dishes.  “I must thank my mother-in-law who made me cook after my marriage and now that come in handy”, she says with an elfin smile that conveys a trace of sadness. 

I ask her whether she ever felt the need or considered the idea of getting married again and she says she never felt it or that thought has come to her mind at all.  “Fortunately for me my children were growing and my career was just getting started.  There was no time to think about and the need did not arise at all”, she says emphatically. Her advice for women is not to feel they are weak or inferior to men in any way.  She expects women to take victory and defeats in their strides and face life head-on by learning from the past,  living for today and by  looking for tomorrow, just like the way she had done.  She says her patients are her treasure, who respects her for what she is.

At this juncture, I remember American poet Maya Angelo’s quote “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  I can vouch for the fact that Dr Rathi is adored by her patients because she knows how to make them feel. It is doctors like her who have helped keep the reputation of the medical fraternity on a higher pedestal. 

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Comments on this article
Elcin, AcnxCLT4jJNTuesday, July 14, 2015
Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brightened my day!
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Mrs.Sameena, Mangalore/MumbaiFriday, November 23, 2012
Wish u All Success, Happiness,Blessings for Your Future Endeavors.
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Harsharaj P., YermalTuesday, August 30, 2011
Dr.Rathidevi is a unique personality & she has been a guiding source of inspiration for all of us.
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Ananth Raj, YermalSunday, August 28, 2011
Superb !!! I know Rathi Aunty personally and her elder son Dr.Kian was one of my best friend and classmate too. Can I please have her contact details, and i want to talk to her after going through this article. Since I am in Dubai, cant visit her, but at least would like to talk to her. Like mother, son Dr.Kiran is one of the wonderful person I have ever seen in my life...and I really miss him today. - Ananth Raj (itsananthraj@gmail.com)
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Ananth Raj, YermalSunday, August 28, 2011
Superb !!! I know Rathi Aunty personally and her elder son Dr.Kian was one of my best friend and classmate too. Can I please have her contact details, and i want to talk to her after going through this article. Since I am in Dubai, cant visit her, but at least would like to talk to her. Like mother, son Dr.Kiran is one of the wonderful person I have ever seen in my life...and I really miss him today. - Ananth Raj (itsananthraj@gmail.com)
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shaila, mangaloreFriday, May 20, 2011
I am really touched by this article. You are really Great Doctor. God Bless you & your family for ever
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Anon, DubaiWednesday, May 18, 2011
Dr. Ratidevi was my OB a few months ago, when I had my baby boy. I lost my son after 11 days and he was a first born in the nicu. When I went to meet the doctor for a post delivery checkup after a month she mentioned about the tragic loss of her own son.

Am still mourning my baby's death. But I remember this doctor's inspirational life and I would surely like to take a few leaves from her book of life.
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vasudha saralaya, mangaloreWednesday, May 18, 2011
Dr. Rathi Devi is truly a role model for all the girls. She could win against all odds because of grit and determination. She has brought laurels to the shivalli community.
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susanna vaz , udupiTuesday, May 17, 2011
we appriciate Dr. Rathidevi's achievments.Congratulations and goodluck. Your life be a model to others.
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Rose, MumbaiTuesday, May 17, 2011
What a beautiful life, and an inspiration to us woman. We thank God for people like you who show us never to give up and to fight the good fight till the end.
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Marie D'Souza, Dubai-UAETuesday, May 17, 2011
Great job Dr. Rati. Hats of to you for the courage and strenght you shoulderd in such a busy life. Surely you are bless my God. keep up the good work in caring for the poor and needy.
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Sunitha, Mlore/DubaiTuesday, May 17, 2011
Dr Rati Devi is living God cause She saved my life 5 years back and now I am mother of 2 beautiful children. you are a great supporter to all women. Hats Off to you.
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Hariprasad, KunjarugiriTuesday, May 17, 2011
Great achivements !!.

We need few more Dr. Rathi Devi like Gynaecologist.
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Really it's a very nice article. I thankful to Florine Roche for giving such a wonderful article on Dr. Rati. I wish u all the best Dr Rati and ur family.
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Rudy D' Souza, Omzoor/KuwaitTuesday, May 17, 2011
Dr. Rathi Devi

I salute your greatness. I heard behind every Great people there is a humble story. You are the model and the example for every one. God bless you
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renita, udupiTuesday, May 17, 2011
really she has showned her strength. mentally as well as physically. it is very difficult to overcome such obstacles in life. she will be a role model for many womens, in this male dominating society.
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Philiph D'Souza, Yelluru/Doha (Offshore)Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Thanks a lot to Florine Roche for writing this article.Dr.Rati Devi was a role model to us all her juniors at Admar Junior College.At times Lecturers at Admar Junior College refer her as an example what dedication and hard work means even after certain sad things in life. She was a great inspiration to us juniors.
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Prakash, MangaloreMonday, May 16, 2011
Real life hero
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Sandra Dsouza, Melbourne , AustraliaMonday, May 16, 2011
Wow - hats off to you Dr Rati ....truly inspirational .
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munavvar , bairikatteMonday, May 16, 2011
No words are enough to express ..after all this is not a script write to overcome easily..you are exceptional maam..jmaam ur real asset of the mangalore..what a self less service.
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sach shetty, Yellur/ChicagoMonday, May 16, 2011
No words can explain your determination, focus, dedication towards society and achievement. You are simply the great.
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sach shetty, Yellur/ChicagoMonday, May 16, 2011
No words can explain your determination, focus, dedication towards society and achievement. You are simply the great.
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M Cutinha, Mangalore/DubaiMonday, May 16, 2011
An inspiration to all women to realise their dreams.Thanks Florine....
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Shala D'Souza, Kemman/SaudiMonday, May 16, 2011
WOW this is all that I can say Dr. Rati.
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anand, bantakalMonday, May 16, 2011
My salutes to Dr Rati.. very moving real life story and thanks Daiji for such nice article on Dr.Rati .. keep it up..
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Dr Kusuma, Nellore/KodyadkaMonday, May 16, 2011
A great lady Every doctor should emulate the life of this great lady and become a good doctor like her
Comment on this message     

MATILDA PAIS, M'LORE/ K.S.AMonday, May 16, 2011
very good article.
Dr Rati you are a real STAR!
May God bless you & your family.

Comment on this message     

Canute Pradeep Prakash Mathias, Mudarangadi/DubaiMonday, May 16, 2011
I am touched by this article. I am proud of such a strong lady is the native of yellur which is a neighbouring village to my place. I am very inspired.
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una sabharwal, AbuDhabiMonday, May 16, 2011
the article on Dr Rati by florine roche is an eye opener to all of us .It teaches us to continue with life's journey no matter what our trials and tribulations are.My salutations to you Dr Rati.
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Preethi, M'lore / DohaMonday, May 16, 2011
Dr. Rati Devi, You fought with the Difficulties & Achieved Success in in your Life & Career.

You are the True Inspiration and an Example for all to face life with an strong Determination.
Till today I heard about You & ur work from others, But today I Experienced your Life/work with ur own words.
It gives me Immense Pleasure to be a Woman.

Wish u All Success, Happiness,Blessings for Your Future Endeavors.
Comment on this message     

Mahesh S Kotian, mangaloreMonday, May 16, 2011
Dr Rati is a great Role model and inspiration for younger generation in India which is full corrupt politicians ,buerocrates and so called leaders.May her tribe flourish.We have hope in future because of such personalities.
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A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.Monday, May 16, 2011
Dr. Rati Devi's story is truly an amazing and greatly inspiring article. For those people who  have suffered tragedies of life, it will be like a Biblical inspiration and for those people who have never experienced personal pain and tragedies, it will be a "caution sign board" of life.

Some of the greatest people of History like Pope John Paul II, Abraham Lincoln etc have suffered
unbearable tragedies of life, but they were used by God as life- changing personalities of history.

" It is only the strong who are strengthened by suffering the weak are made weaker" Lion Feuchtwanger.  "It requires more courage to suffer than to die" Napolen Bonaparte.

Dr. Rati Devi, indeed you have inspired my life because I have suffered a lot of personal pains
in life.

Florine Roche: You have done a great job of inspiring thousands of people by writing this article.
Please write more of such articles.
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Muzaffar Ali , Manglore - Riyadh - KSAMonday, May 16, 2011
Great, Mashallah very courageous you are ! Kudos to you Prof Rati Devi
May almighty bestow you more power

Nice presentation by Florine Roche
Comment on this message     

Stanley Noronha, Kulshekar/KuwaitMonday, May 16, 2011
A very good article by Florine Roche. What an amazing lady Dr. Rati is, very courageous and very determined, won all hardships and obstacles of life. Achieved great success and recognition too, a very good human being. Wish you all the best. Let God keep you able and healthy to serve more people/patients.
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deleesha jason menezes, hosbettu\qatarMonday, May 16, 2011
Thank you !  Florine Roche for such nice article on Dr Rati Devi! Her life is a inspiration for all...
Dr.Rati Devi your a role model to all womens.
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Noel D'costa, Mangalore / KuwaitMonday, May 16, 2011
Thanks to Florien Roche for this wonderful and inspiring article About Dr.Rati Davi. May the almighty god bless Dr. Rati Davi with joy and Happiness through out her life
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Vinson Vaz, kadri, Mangalore/KuwaitMonday, May 16, 2011
Dr Rati devi has defintitely been a source of inspiration to a lot of people. she is also a philianthropist. Dr Kishor is a good friend of mine as well. It is indeed good of you Florine Roche to provide a detailed coverage of the life and profession of Dr Rati Devi. Thank you!
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Roshan Rebello, Mangalore / HamiltonMonday, May 16, 2011
Kudos to U Prof Devi on your achievements despite facing adversity. Regards, Roshan Rebello (A former medical student)
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sushma, udupiMonday, May 16, 2011
Dr. Rati is the florence nightingale of mangalore just like dr. meera kamath is for the people of mulki.
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Jasmine/Qatar, Monday, May 16, 2011
Thanks Florine for bringing to our knowledge such a gracious, noble, humble person. Dr. Rati Devi you are such a wonderful, dignified lady inspite of your trails and tribulations. May God always shower His blessings and protection on you and your family.
Comment on this message     

Lydia Lobo, KadriMonday, May 16, 2011
Thanks for this article that revealed many unanswered questions about Dr. Rati Devi I have first hand experience with this fountain of compassion. We either are too preoccupied to discuss such topics when we visit her as a patient or the doctor is too keen to attend more serious case waiting out.

I hold Dr. Rati Devi as a role model. The fighter she is, she does not need my best wishes - she has concurred all trials of life - she is right, there are many who hold her at very high esteem.
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Divakar Shetty, UdipiMonday, May 16, 2011
My thousand salutes to Dr Rati and thanks to Florine Roche for such as nice article on Dr.Rati
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I am touched by this article. Dr. Kishore I have met you on number of occasions in the past. Its today I came to know about your family. God Bless your Mother and your family
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Zeena Menezes, Sharjah, VittalSunday, May 15, 2011
Dr.Rati Devi,

You are a great source of inspiration to all.......You are the Florence nightingale of Mangalore.........

With Love,

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