BHAU DAJI (Ramkrishna Vithal) (1822-1874), Hindu physician of Bombay, Sanskrit scholar and antiquary, was born in 1822 at the village of Manjare, in the native state of Sawantwari, of humble parents dealing in clay dolls. Dr Bhau's career is a striking instance of great results arising from small accidents. An Englishman noticing his cleverness at chess induced his father to give the boy an English education. Accordingly Bhau was brought to Bombay and was educated at the Elphinstone Institution. He relieved his father of the cost of his education by winning many prizes and scholarships, and on his father's death two years later he cheerfully undertook the burden of supporting his mother and a brother (Narayen), who also in after-life became a distinguished physician and surgeon. About this time he gained a prize for an essay on infanticide, and was appointed a teacher in the Elphinstone Institution. He began to devote his time to the study of Indian antiquities, deciphering inscriptions and ascertaining the dates and history of ancient Sanskrit authors. He then studied at the Grant Medical College, and was one of the first batch who graduated there in 1850. In 1851 he set up as a medical practitioner in Bombay, where his success was so great that he soon made a fortune. He studied the Sanskrit literature of medicine, and also tested the value of drugs to which the ancient Hindus ascribed marvellous powers, among other pathological subjects of historical interest investigating that of leprosy. Being an ardent promoter of education, he was appointed a member of the board of education, and was one of the original fellows of the university of Bombay. As the first native president of the students' literary and scientific society, and the champion of the cause of female education, a girls' school was founded in his name, for which an endowment was provided by his friends and admirers. In the political progress of India he took a great and active interest, and the Bombay Association and the Bombay branch of the East Indian Association owe their existence to his ability and exertions. He was twice chosen sheriff of Bombay, in 1869 and 1871. Various scientific societies in England, France, Germany and America conferred on him their membership. He contributed numerous papers to the journal of the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. He found time to make a large collection of rare ancient Sanskrit manuscripts at great cost and trouble. He died in May 1874. His brother, Dr Narayen Daji (who helped him to set up the charitable dispensary in Bombay), did not long survive him. Dr Bhau was a man of the most simple and amiable character and manners; his kindness and sympathy towards the poor and distressed were unbounded, and endeared his memory among the Hindus of Bombay.
(N. B. W.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)