In 1933, a means of livelihood gave way to the meaning of life. Through his teen years he had accompanied his Kaka Devidas Bappa a renowned homeopathic practitioner and was awed by his work. He wanted to follow that path but met with strong opposition from his father.
Homeopathy was then denounced as quackery, and where was the money coming from for four years fees in faraway Calcutta? Eventually, with monetary help and backing from other family members, young Koppikar realised his dream. He did not own a house, a car or even a mobile phone. He translated this sloka for me: “I neither desire a Kingdom nor Heaven or Rebirth. I only desire solace and happiness for those suffering from pain and sorrow”.
The idea of TV publicity campaigns, newspaper ads, hoardings, plush consulting rooms brought an expression of disbelief. He sat at a wooden table with a notebook and fountain pen. Significantly, there was no clock, framed photographs or award scrolls. Every time I asked about fees he would say ‘ Arre baba, first you get well, then we will see’.
When a patient faltered, Dr Koppikar would probe gently. The red alert of instinct would flash. Having etched a mental picture, he would work out the line of treatment. He had travelled overseas sharing case histories, learning at every step. Many of today’s top homeopathic doctors have taken their first steps under his guidance. I termed it ‘The Koppikar Gurukul ’.
His advice? Reach out to all people. Treat the sick. What distressed him was the irreversible damage caused by use of lotions and treatments (mainly) by young ladies who want to have fair complexion. How to explain that being fair and beautiful do not go hand in hand. In 1993 after 50 years of a life together he lost his wife Dr Malini - a gynaecologist.
In tribute to her support and devotion, he opened a charitable clinic at Tambaram. He passed away in 2008 at the grand old age of 93. Today he lives on through the Koppikar Foundation for Homoeopathy – a charitable trust, begun by his disciples, which runs charitable clinics, public awareness programes and CME programmes for homoepathic doctors.