Dr. Srinivasan Kalpathi has been practicing Homeopathy for the last 57 years. At his ripe age of 86 years he gives his heart out in this interview. One can clearly identify his love for this science, his eagerness to bring out the best in homeopathic students and his desire for an integration among the homeopaths for a bright future.
Dr. Rina: Welcome Dr. Srinivasan, it is an honor to have you here on Hpathy, you must have witnessed a lot in this homeopathic journey of 50-60 years. How did you begin your journey?
Dr. Srinivasan: It was almost 57 years ago when I was in Andra Pradesh, that time my father had a Hernia and we took him to a homeopathic doctor and it helped him very much, so I began to study Homeopathy. I then started reading about Homeopathy. I actually got introduced to homeopathy by a lay practitioner and I was with him for 6 months.
Dr. Rina: How did you train yourself in Homeopathy?
Dr. Srinivasan: By self study only. I was very lucky to have a connection with Bengali people and people from Orissa and the Chattisgarh area. Homeopaths were around me and I read and learnt from them.
Dr. Rina: In the initial days of practice sir, how would you handle cases since you hadn’t had professional training in homeopathy at that time?
Dr. Srinivasan: I feel great that I have not had a professional training in homeopathy, so my mind was completely unprejudiced, although reading books like Dunham, Wright, Murray showed me the way, I had no gurus, only friends and colleagues, I did not follow any person’s methodology.
I thoroughly read and learnt from the books. I studied the German language and read the Organon which was written in German.
You know in the 70’s and 80’s we had a very small number of books. We had Allen’s Keynotes, Neidhard’s, Bell’s Diarrhoea, a very small number of books were there. We read these books again and again, till we knew the keynotes by heart.
We would examine the patient, thoroughly record the symptoms and by reading books we understood what are the differentiating factors of Ipecac and Antimonium tart in asthmatic children. For example if cyanosis is present or not, if there is vomiting sensation then Ipecac, if abdominal breathing is there, then Antim Tart. This is how we would differentiate remedies.
We were handling mostly acute cases in those days, not chronic ones like diabetics and hypertension and lumber cases we are getting nowa days. In those places and at that time we were handling day to day conditions, bacillary dysentery, cholera, insect bites like we use to get.
Dr. Rina: How would you handle those acute cases?
Dr. Srinivasan: Yes we had coughs and colds, bronchitis, high fevers, and these books would definitely help, like Bells’s Diarrhea, Neidhard’s, Allen’s for fevers, Allen’s Keynotes and Nash, and of course there was K.C. Bhanja’s Materia Medica and The Prescriber.
Rina, I want to tell you one thing before I forget. Today’s homeopath doesn’t read at all, nothing is new, everything is there in the books but they don’t read at all. They don’t spent 2 hours a day in reading. At least the new practitioner should spend 2 hours in a day and those senior homeopaths with 15-20 yrs of practice should spend 3 hours a day reading.
Dr. Rina: Very true sir, because we are busy doing other things. But we find the information in different ways, rather than reading from the original sources.
Dr. Srinivasan: You can’t follow just any way, because one shows us the east and other shows us the west. We don’t know which way we will go. I decided to go the way of Hahnemann and his colleagues and followed the classical Hahnemannian way. I know all the modern gurus very well but I don’t follow them. They are personally very good and great practitioners but I follow the Sanatan way
As I said, I never went to bed without reading. One should read one remedy at least daily and on a holiday we should read 2 remedies…!
Dr. Rina: So how would you go about treating those Acute cases?
Dr. Srinivasan: What was written in the Boenninghausen and Herring guiding symptoms, location, sensation, concomitant, modality, 3 legged stool, when you get these cardinal principles, and of course Boger his materia medica can be learnt by heart, his generalities and mentals you read it and memorize it. Whenever I go to the bank I used to carry a book with me. I would be sitting and reading it and I would memorize it.
The colleges are the worse concept of this health system, because the teachers have no experience at all. Last year BHMS students are becoming teachers the next year, when they have no experience at all. The colleges don’t teach anything. So many of the students I talk to have not seen the Guiding Symptoms. They haven’t even heard of Dunham, what a great man, and they have never read Farrington’s comparative materia medica. How do you expect them to work? So the colleges have to be changed. Especially in any given state for example if there are 40-45 colleges, then maybe out 30-35 are useless.
The fault is in ourselves, when I asked senior doctors of the central council why do you not speak up when you are in the central council, they said “sab chalta hain” (It’s alright, this is how it is). What can we do if nobody listens to us. When nobody is listening to the big people who is going to listen to us?
Dr. Rina: How would you apply the 3 legged stool in practice? Hering followed the Puritan way of symptoms, that is to take a symptom as it is without breaking it, using the patient’s language as much as possible. So how difficult was it to find these 3 symptoms?
Dr. Srinivasan: We have to ask for it. The patient will say “every day I get giddiness”, but if we ask them what time of the day it is worse, then he says “As soon as I get up in the morning I have giddiness”. Rina I want to tell you it’s not difficult. You have to carefully inquire, even in acutes give them 15-20 minutes and see how beautifully you get PQRS symptoms.
But after 50-55 years I am now finding it difficult because of operative phases, allopathic phases, chronic diseases especially, and young girls getting PCOD and chocolate cysts etc. What do we do? You have to know much more than materia medica; you have to keep updated even with the modern medicine, modern day findings and apply in day-to-day practice. There is no pathological prescription but you understand the pathology and try to see the cause of the pathology.
Dr. Rina: So finding the cause is also important?
Dr. Srinivasan: Yes the cause is also important in chronic cases; continuous evaluation, what happened 15 yrs ago. If they don’t remember leave it and wait for them to come for the next visit, then again ask till you get it. It will come, nothing will lie hidden.
Dr. Rina: So you believe in these pathological cases. We have to be updated about the modern day practices also, and we have to have patience to find out the symptoms.
Dr. Srinivasan: If you know what are the preemptive symptoms, the cause of the symptoms or what was the state of the patient before the pathology, then you will understand the patient better, because the book clearly states that it takes a cause to trigger the disease and sometime after that the pathology shows. You should know the pre-pathological stage…even the old books and materia medica’s say that.
You know if the person is constantly having spicy food, where it will lead to, or business worries, financial losses. Not only spicy food is the cause behind the present pathology, the other factors, the state before the pathology developed is most important to find the correct remedy in chronic cases especially.
Dr. Rina: These symptoms should be an important part forming the totality and for the prescription?
Dr. Srinivasan: Yes, and we always give the remedy after reading the materia medica, not because the repertory shows it. So prescription of the medicine can be based not only on materia medica or on repertory but both should match. Verification from both sides is important.
I don’t use the modern day repertories like Shroyen’s synthesis. I got mostly Kent repertory, Boger’s Synoptic key, Phatak’s of course and Chandravardhan’s.
Dr. Rina: I think this will be a lot of help to the student’s…
Dr. Srinivasan: How it is in Maharashtra now I don’t know, but when I saw once in Mumbai, in Sankaran’s seminar, the number of women were greater, 70:30 was the proportion; here also 80 women students and 20 men students; those who do better are the girls, there is no doubt about it. Their minds don’t wander, they don’t spend their time in other activities also, but within 2 years their life changes, they get married, they go here and there so they don’t practice, hence they are of no use to homeopathy. Most of them are like that.
Men have a different worry. They make money somehow or the other, they join some hospital or some doctor, measuring the BP and giving the paper to their seniors, they get 15000, after a year some 20000 rupees and they forget even the ABC of homeopathy.
Dr. Rina: So lot of good homeopaths are focusing on other thngs and not focusing on homeopathy.
Dr. Srinivasan: There are MBBS doctors who have come to homeopathy and they are superior, because they worked hard to get a MBBS degree. In Homeopathy a student who gets 33% marks in Chemistry also gets admission. Those who do not get admission in general medicine only come here, but actually a homeopath should know more than an allopathic doctor. The Homoeopath should know about everything, not only focus on materia medica, but should also know psychology and update his physiology knowledge time and again. New ideas have come so one should also keep abreast of all the knowledge that way.
Do you know the author Atul Gawande? He is a doctor of Indian origin who now stays in the US. He has written a book called “Being Mortal” about taking care of old patients who are at the end stage of their life. I am reading it right now and it’s about how they are at the end stage, how they are dealing with complaints like vague pains and they have all the modern tools of examination and diagnosis but still the patient is suffering. They conduct psychological examination, it is very interesting. Our psychological examination should be good, we should have good knowledge of psychology, our homeopathic medical association needs to train doctors and students.
Dr. Rina: What are the other books that a student should read sir?
Dr. Srinivasan: I think you can pick ideas from many authors. One thing a student must understand is that homeopathy is about feelings and functions. For example, if they have pain then what is the feeling in that pain? Whether there is joy, whether he is exaggerating the complaints, how it is affecting him, unable to concentrate because of the small pains, or he is anxious because of the pain, is he indifferent about his pain? Our repertory is full of such symptoms, so listen to the patient’s story, how she is expressing that story, the small things that the student should concentrate on. If the patient is having pain, how he is expressing his complaints? Students should be taught this, which will make them good prescribers. They student should be trained to understand the patient. They want this remedy for that disease, they want tips, but if it fails they don’t know what to do next? They should be trained about how to handle patients.
Dr. Rina: What difficulties did you face in your practice and how did you overcome them?
Dr. Srinivasan: I relocated many times. Wherever I relocated I got in touch with the local homeopaths, Delhi 2yrs, Calcutta 2 yrs, Andra Pradesh 5 yrs. I was friends with homeopaths and did this till 1980-82. After 1980 all states became completely individual and they have put up fences. Earlier we would go all over to attend the seminars. If there was a seminar in Lucknow I would get an invitation and I would go there to attend the seminar; if there was a seminar in Tiruvanthapuram then I would go there. But today, even if there is a seminar in the neighboring state we are not aware of it as states have become divided, they have put themselves into compartments. Now homeopaths don’t have opportunity to connect with each other and students don’t interact with each other.
Sometimes we learn from the experienced pracitioners, sometimes we learn from the beginners, so students must interact with each other. They must study Farrington’s comparative materia medica, Roberts comparative MM, Gross’s Materia Medica, They must work, spend more hours, they spend more hours in entertainment. I wrote down my own comparative materia medica from my own experience and what I had read from the books, I still recall what I read 16-18 years back. When you are young you must read symptoms and it’s easy to memorize. One drug has 72 symptoms then you can remember it, read in the car, train, whenever you have two minutes, you must be occupied with homeopathy only.
Homeopathy is a way of life; it is not a bio-medicine, it is not a drug for some pathology, it is a vibrational medicine. It is vibrations that create symptoms and vibrations that cure symptoms, so its vibratory medicine.
Dr. Rina: Wonderful sir…
Dr. Srinivasan: I read a book by a Japanese doctor, Masaru Emoto who photographed water crystals. He kept water at minus 30 degrees and allowed it to crystallize. It was photographed, then the crystals were spoken to like “I love you, you are so nice, you are so kind”. For another crystal it was said “you are an idiot”. Before and after the crystals were photographed, and the crystals after exposure to “I love you”, were beautiful and were different from the crystals which were told “you are an idiot”. After lots of photographs, the conclusion was that words or thoughts produce vibrations and it has an effect on water. Dr. Emoto has also written that homeopathy is vibratory medicine, so our thought produces a change in the vibrations of medicines. Our thoughts while giving a medicine to the patient also produces changes in the medicine. When you say “try this medicine” with an element of doubt, or if you give it with confidence, you transfer your confidence or lack of it.
When a doctor comes to me saying “I have tried everything but nothing has worked”, it means the medicines given until now were wrong. In homeopathy you can tell whether the medicine is right or wrong only after the result it has produced. The only proof is your result, the quality of your result. That is why work, learning is important. You can’t quantify your result, and you have to qualify your result.
You have to pick up students from the colleges who can become good homeopaths and encourage them to work, not to think of or depend on earnings for the first 2 or 3 years. They can be good homeopaths, but nobody will give you a job without experience, not even IT companies pay well if you are not experienced. The students must be told it is a mission, you have come here to help people, you will not become a star. No, you don’t have to live miserably, you will be able to live a comfortable life.
I have published a journal for more than 30 years, also wrote a Children’s Repertory. There was a Pediatrician in Mumbai who wrote her notes and made a repertory of her own. We updated her repertory. I had homeopaths who would come to me, learn with me, very sincere….Dr. George from Kerala, Dr. Boris Muller, Keller, they would be eager to learn, ardent readers, it should be our duty to instill eagerness and curiosity in the youth. You may not have 4 houses or 3 cars, but sufficient to lead a good life. I always carry Dr. Rastogi’s books in my briefcase.
You should have a group of 10-12 homeopaths who are genuine and sincere, working towards improving results. You should inspire the youth towards working for homeopathy.
Homeopathy should not be only for the elite people in the city. It should go to villages, to all the corners of India; it should travel to those who are really needy. Practicing in the city is different from practicing in the villages….the complaints of the villages are different from those in the city. Homeopathy will prosper only if we take it to the villages. We had a meeting in the our homeopathic association to meet the ministry so that they would create more posts for homeopaths in the government hospitals. The question they put up was, “What have you done to deserve this?” We should explain to them that we can help the needy, help the villagers, we should put forward our demand in front of the assembly. We should all come together to show them it’s a curing science. Homeopathy doesn’t become great just if it can cure cancer, if you can’t cure a common cold. We should be able to help people in their routine complaints also, we should have a strong hold on this.
There is no good journal from India. There is a journal from Britain which publishes research articles on rats and cats which is of no use to us. We should have a journal, not big one, may be 10 pages which should cover results on common conditions.
Dr. Rina: It was an eye opener to talk to you sir. In colleges we need teachers like you to motivate the students.
Dr. Srinivasan: Keep reading, discussing among yourselves, you must have periodical meetings, you should meet homeopaths, exchange notes, which is not happening. There may be different methodologies but the core is the same. There is a Hindi book Madhushala, by Harivanshrai Bhachan, and there is a verse in that “Alag alag path bata rahe hain, hum kisko pakadke jana” (everyone is showing different paths, which one should I follow?). You follow whichever route, and there will be blocks but are you going to change the route every time; overcome the blocks, go around them. If there is an ant and I put a stone in front of its path, it will go around the stone and take the path forward. Whichever methodology you use, the basic core is the same; there will be blocks but keep crossing them. Homeopathy is easy and simple but it needs to be practiced.
In villages in Hubli, there are islands and early in the morning farmers and villagers would cross the river in a ferry to go to the city. There was a homeopath, Dr. J. K. Chaterjee, and in 1979-80 he would go there, and the villagers would approach him for all the small complaints they had, and he would give them medicines; They would pay him 1 or 2 rupees and if they wouldn’t have it, they would give it to him the next day. So much was the faith that they had in homeopathy and the doctor had in them. This according to me is genuine homeopathy. We need such genuine homeopaths who practice for the people. Homeopathy is a people’s medicine.
If you read Hahnemann’s “Lesser Writings” there Hahnemann quotes Socrates that a true person is not the one who is a showmaster, or who is famous. A true doctor is one who genuinely visits small huts, sees the sufferings of the people and gives them medicine which is cost effective for them.
Students must read “Life of Hahnemann” “Friend of Health” “Lesser Writings.” Now days they don’t even know these books.
Dr. Rina: Thanks so much for your time. Listening to you one can really understand your sincere and genuine love for the science of homeopathy and how eagerly you wish for its betterment and development. I am sure this would be a great motivation for the homeopaths who would read this.
Dr. Srinivasan: Thank you Rina…
Dr. Kalpathi Subramania Srinivasan was born 15 April 1930. He was in Central Govt. Service and took voluntary retirement, practicing Homoeopathy for the last 57 years now. He contributed more than 20 articles in a German homoeopathic journal, some in the Hahnemannian Gleanings and Homoeopathic Heritage and was Editor of Homoeopathy the Modern Medicine journal of the HMAI. He conducted seminars and also attended the seminars of Rajan Sankaran and the foreign homoeopaths. He presented at the International Hahnemannian Congress, Ettlingen (Germany) in 2007 and at the International Coethener Erfahrungaustausch (Germany) in 2009. Dr. Srinivasan has been publishing for over 30 years a quarterly ‘journal’ called Quarterly Homoeopathic Digest (QHD). In the beginning for 5 – 6 years it contained a ‘list’ of the articles from the leading journals in India, Germany, France, Britain, USA, Brazil, etc., with an abstract of those articles under headings: Philosophy, Materia Medica, Repertory, etc. Later he began to present articles, many of them translated from German by him for the benefit of homoeopaths. The last several years the number of journals declined but he continued until the end of 2015. The LIGA decided to create a separate slot in their website for the QHD for the benefit of homoeopaths around the world.
Journal more than 30 yrs
- Quarterly homeopathic digest… It used to cover 15-16 journals…British, German, French, USA,
- Philosophy, materia medica, therapeutics, Hom research, Abstract, full articles, last issue LIGA,