Farewell

September 10, 1932 – December 9, 2021

Dr. Udipi Madhvanath, known to his close friends as “Uma” and in certain circles as “SriG appa” passed away at home in Bangalore on December 9th, 2021 following a brief illness. He was 89.

He will be fondly remembered for his selflessness, generosity, kindness and his love for feeding people. And for those in the medical physics community, as one of the founding fathers of Medical Physics as a discipline in India.

Orphaned at a young age without much financial means, he relied on hard work, various odd jobs, and the generosity of well wishers to put himself through school and college, eventually completing his MSc in Physics from Presidency College, Chennai, and joining Bhabha Atomic Research Centre as a scientist. He took a leave of absence to go to UC Berkeley on a Fulbright scholarship where he completed his PhD in Biophysics, studying the impact of radiation on blood cells. He returned to BARC and eventually retired as the Head of the Division of Radiological Protection (DRP) in 1992.

He was one of the founding members and first president of the Association of Medical Physics of India (AMPI). He went on to become the President of the International Organization of Medical Physics (IOMP) and the Vice-President of the International Union of Physics and Engineering Sciences in Medicine (IUPESM), the first asian to hold these posts. He was honored as one of the inaugural fellows of IUPESM in 2018 for a lifetime of contributions to medical physics.

A partial list of his scientific publications may be found here.

Following his retirement from BARC in 1992, he turned down offers to teach and consult, to instead focus on the inward journey. The scientist that he was, he devoured various books and experimented with diverse spiritual traditions and techniques. Ironically however, his daily practices were rooted in bhakti (devotion) rather than intellectual inquiry or quiet meditation. He was deeply devoted to Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba, the divine mother Lalitha, and his wife’s kula devata Murugan.

(to be continued)

We will continue to update this post with an overview of his extraordinary personal and professional life. but for now, please feel free to share your thoughts and memories by leaving a comment.

External links

Obituary by International Organization for Medical Physics

28 thoughts on “Farewell

  1. He was our neighbour at 1303. A very independent and spiritual person. He has gifted his book on Sri Sai Baba thrice to me. That was his way of saying thank you. It was sad to see him go. Prayers 🙂 May be Sai Baba has taken him with him to a better place.

  2. I will remember uncle as a wonderful human being , full of positive thoughts, very independent, confident and a profound thinker.
    Uncle, a life well – lived , you will be an inspiration for generations to come

    Raji
    B1306.

  3. We very fondly remember him. He always greeted us when we met in the lift or in the garden. Many times we offered to help him but he was firm and wanted to be independent. Amazing read about his upbringing and his achievements. A blessed soul.

    May his soul rest in Peace

    Vasanti and Gopal
    1003 Magnolia

  4. Uncle always greeted me with a SAI RAM!! He often asked me how is my garden…. And gave a blessing with SAI Ram. Once while I was in the garden late evening I saw him going towards cassia. Asked him why are you going out so late… Its dark n not safe. He shushsd me and said SAI will protect. me!!!
    Ever smiling n. kind spiritual soul!!
    SAI RAM as he said!

    Vasanti

  5. Uncle always greeted me with a SAI RAM!! He often asked me how is my garden…. And gave a blessing with SAI Ram. Once while I was in the garden late evening I saw him going towards cassia. Asked him why are you going out so late… Its dark n not safe. He shushsd me and said SAI will protect. me!!!
    Ever smiling n. kind spiritual soul!!
    SAI RAM as he said!

    Vasanti

  6. My deepest condolences 🙏
    Will always remember him as an ever smiling person, greeting everyone with ‘Sairam’
    I remember my daughters used to call him,as ‘Sai Ram Thatha’, when they were small.
    Prayers 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  7. Ever smiling face with “Sai Ram” on his lips, uncle has surely lived a fulfilling life. Pls share more info on his life in your blog, as there is so much to learn from such extraordinary personalities. Our heartfelt condolences to uncle’s family. Om shanti.

  8. Mama could speak a thousand words without uttering even one… I have had the blessing of being with him and Mami several times, and I can actually count the number of sentences he spoke to me. But it was this communication through his most endearing eyes and bhaavam that impacted me deeply. He also seemed to be beautifully incapable of judgement – he would listen to my mediocre singing with the same love and respect as he would to a maestro. I have not been privy to his immense achivements in the field of science, but to me, Mama is an energy that transcends the mind and epitomises bhakti. ॐ सद्गति प्राप्तिरस्तु

  9. I will always remember Mama’s and Mami’s kindness in inviting me to their home, someone they had never met, when I was totally new to Chennai. And also how Mama thought I was a Kashmiri lady when he first saw me 😊 But most of all I will always remember their graciousness in arranging my first ever trip to Nemili and Kanchi Pitham and taking me there personally along with Sri Ramesh Kutticad. Because of this we were able to sit close to Sri Kamakshi Amman during abhishekam and enjoy a beautiful darshan for a long time. I will probably never have such a darshan again in this lifetime, but I am blessed that I was able to visit with such bhaktas and upasakas. We can be sure that they both are in the ever-loving embrace of the Divine 🙏

  10. There is a lot to learn from Madhvanath Mama. He did selfless service with simplicity, sincerity, dedication, love and affection. Even at his advanced age, Mama was working tirelessly and travelled between Bangalore and Chennai to manage printing and publication of spiritual books. He was a Mahatma. We will miss him dearly.

  11. It was in June 1982 during the 2-weeks study tour of BARC by the first batch of MSc Medical Physics students from Anna University, Chennai, that I met him for the first time. He was already one of the senior most scientists in the DRP division there. But he put aside his seniority and position, and took care of us like a father taking care of his children. He personally saw to that our study tour was useful in every respect. Purely because of his personal involvement, we could visit almost every section of BARC. Simply amazing to think of that tour now, even after 4 decades! Not only that, he personally arranged for a visit to Siemens x-ray manufacturing unit in Worli and accompanied us to that factory. I still remember how he encouraged us to ask more questions during that visit. Even more, he came with us for sightseeing visits around Bombay (since we didn’t know Hindi at that time) and shopping tours also. No one else in his position would have done what he did for us!

    Later when I was working in IRCH, AIIMS, New Delhi he visited our department. At that time I was planning to quit AIIMS and join a smaller institute nearby since there were no promotional avenues in AIIMS. He advised me like a father that it wasn’t a wise decision to leave AIIMS at such an early stage in my career. I followed his advice. I will remain ever grateful to him for his advice and saving me from committing one of the blunders in my life. Had I gone with my decision, I would have certainly ruined my career.

    He had special interest in the MSc Medical Physics course of Anna University and had always extended his helping hands for the upliftment of that course.

    The interest he showed in the subject, even while in his eighties, no one else can match!

    I pay my respectful homage to a great soul, a great teacher, a great mentor, a great medical physicist, and a great human!

  12. K.S. Somayaji, Mumbai

    I had the privilege of becoming a close friend of Udipi Madhvanath, ever since 1954 when I entered into Presidency College, Madras for pursuing my post graduate studies, along with him. We were drawn close to each other as we both hailed from the same district in Karnataka. Another common factor between us was our efforts at getting higher education, despite having a poor financial background.
    Later on we were colleagues at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre serving in different areas of health care. After our retirement from service, we were in touch with each other. Had visited him at his Bangalore residence in 2014 when I got a glimpse of his interest in spiritual activities. Found him a pleasant person and very helpful.
    Our deepest condolences to Sriganesh and family.

  13. I had the fortune to spend time with him and amma in Buffalo. Amma taught me music (among other things) while he experimented with food and fed me (and my fellow students). His pongal is the best. To-date i haven’t tasted a better version of pongal. Very warm, calm, always smiling person. Will truly miss him. Rest in peace uncle.

  14. I am a long time BARC colleague of Uduppi Madhvanath Acharya (1958 to 1992 )and then was in touch with him till the beginning of 2021.He had always been friendly,energetic and interested in the welfare of his colleagues.After retirement I found he had taken an interest in Bagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and got a revised biography of Bhagwan printed at his cost.

  15. December 17, 2021

    Dear Ganesh,

    My wife Subhadra Devi and I are very sad to learn that your beloved father, a distinguished scientist who contributed so much along with your mother for the development of medical physics in India, also passed away. We join with your family and friends in your prayer for the Sadgati of his departed soul.

    We are happy to learn that you have created a memorial page and we would like to have the privilege to record our message. I have the pleasure and fortune to have very close friendship and continued association with your parents, Dr. U. Madhvanath and Dr. Gnanapurani from the days of our education together in the Presidency College, Madras since 1952. And also, I have the pleasure of doing pioneering research together with both of them in the field of research in radiobiology of heavy charged particles related to radiotherapy in the Lawrence Radiation laboratory, Berkely during late 1960s. We used to enjoy so much of our work and we were complimented by our colleagues there. Ganesh! you probably might have sensed subconsciously since your mother was carrying you at that time.

    We have the pleasure of inviting your parents on March 1, 2011 to give lectures here in the International Cancer Center, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical Trust during the Joint Meeting of Indian Nuclear Society, “Science and Social Service” on the eve of the visit of Dr. Srikumar Banerjee. Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission who complimented his visit here as a pilgrimage.

    With fond memories,
    Dr. M. R. Raju

  16. It is with deep anguish and heavy heart that I noted the sad demise of Dr.Madhwanath.I am what I am today because of him.It was he who encouraged me to take up radiation field as a medical speciality which I complied with though reluctantly due to fear of radiation.I could specialise in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy.As a person,he was simple, unassuming and noble at heart.Whenever I used to meet him,I was treated with warmth and hospitality which I can never forget.After retirement,he was more into spiritual pursuits and even in his advanced age ,he used to visit holy places.He was one of the doyens of medical physics and was closely associated with progress of medical physics and journal of medical physicists of India .He was happy that medical physics is recognised as separate speciality and many universities are offering the course.
    May God bestow peace on the departed soul and give mental strength to all his near and dear ones to bear the loss.It is a personal loss to me.

  17. I am deeply grieved to learn the sad news.I was very closely associated with Dr Madhwanath ever since I joined his section during the end of 1964. The ever-smiling, gentle,soft person can also behave as a taciturn disciplinarian when the situation demands.
    To my mind his greatest contribution was in striving hard to develop medical Physics as a respectable discipline in India.
    But for his tenacity, AMPI Medical Physics Bulletin which grew now into a good journal would not have survived. When the first four pages came for review there was no space for correcting the galley proofs,I was very upset. “We may have to correct the proofs many times”, he was cool. He nurtured the Bulletin whole-heartedly. The pages were prepared by manual typesetting! He was the first editor of the Bulletin.
    He lived a full life. He was a friend,philosopher and guide to many.

  18. In the sad demise of Dr. Udimi Madhvanath, we lost the founder of the medical physics profession and guardian. I was in constant touch with him and had last talked with him on 27 October 2021, We planned to meet at his Banglore flat in the second week of November but postponed it to the last week of December 2021, it is very unfortunate that before that he left us. He last visited un in November 2017 at Jaipur.
    We pray the departed soul rests in peace.

  19. Farewell to uncle. I have always had a positive and pleasant interaction with him whenever we met. Due to the pandemic, I couldn’t meet him as often I used to. His “Sai Ram” sign-off will always ring in our ears. Rest well, uncle.

  20. We have never had the pleasure of knowing Sir, but we have the blessing of knowing his son, dearly known as Sri G Anna and his wonderful family. In reading about him here we see why Sri G Anna, Radhika Akka and his children are so wonderful. It must be very difficult to have such a loss as he seems to be an extraordinary person. Our prayers for the family to be strong and stay blessed for all the good Dr. Madhavnath has garnered in his lifetime.

  21. Our heartfelt condolences. I have known Dr Madhvanath Sir as SriG’s father and met him at his house couple of times. He was very humble, friendly, very active and radiated positive energy evidently. I recall that he mentioned about writing a book on scientific basis for rituals. It stuck to me that there would be hardly anyone like him – who is so learned in metaphysics and also had interest in spirituality – and he possibly saw the connection between science and spirituality like no one else did! I wish I had spent more time to discuss this topic with him.

  22. Dr.Madhvanath is a great teacher, scientist and human being to emulate. By his simplicity he touched the hearts of young Medical Physicists at that time. He was really stern with administrators and state governments when they were not giving appropriate positions to Medical Physicists. He was greatly responsible for the better positions of the Medical Physicists in 1980s, 90s and thereafter. A great scientist who had very convincing answers for the doubts of young minds. Later, after he retired, whenever I happened to meet him, he would give me Sathya Sai Baba’s small pictures. Madhvanath Sir always blessed us with his graceful looks. Am sure he lived a complete life, experimenting both outward and inward journey. Personally, I feel, only if one is lucky enough to have come across such a towering and complete personality.

  23. I was a Dip.RP student (1983-84) and during the selection interview, I had shared my non academic achievements as well. Incredible of him tonhave remembered that and made me to go for BARC Cricket team selection.
    For those of us in hostel, he was family. I’ve had many personal interactions with him that I remember and follow even today, be it be regular oil bath or salt.water gargling….
    He not only gave me tickets to attend Carnatic Programs conducted at Anushakthi Nagar, but made sure, i get a good seat in the front…
    A truly Great Man . Om Shanthi 🙏🙏🙏

  24. I have the proud privilege of being a direct student of Dr U Madhvanath. Dip R P course in the mid-eighties had more than hundred faculties, each one teaching you only one or at best two modules. Only a few had the stature and command to be remembered for decades as a guiding force of your profession. Dr Madhvanath was one of them who continued to be there in more than one way involved first as a teacher, then a with the careers of Medical Physicists during his tenure as Head of DRP, BARC and also as leader of the field for decades even after his retirement.

    Actions like issuing of a separate certificate as “Radiological Safety Officer” to qualified Medical Physicists and recommending the teaching faculty cadre for Radiological/Medical Physics in Medical Colleges and Cancer Institutes by directly writing to then pay commission were unheard of earlier. He even was accused of crossing his boundaries as head of DRP for such actions but that didn’t deter him from doing good to our profession.
    I was in Rio De Janeiro Brazil in 1994 in the World Congress of Medical Physics where Dr. Madvanath Presided as IOMP President. The Indian delegation though much smaller than the American and European countries was proud to see the 1st Asian as IOMP President in Dr. Madvanath. I was an EC member of AMPI that time and along with Dr. P S Iyer the then AMPI President had many intimate moments with Dr. Madvanath as a voting member for India. More than a quarter of century later I still cherish those moments. Even after he completed his tenure he used to actively participate in IOMP activities for decades and I still remember meeting him with his Italian hat in the Toronto World Congress as late as 2015.

    He attended AMPI conferences on a regular basis and such was his Charisma that even a few sentences by him during the General Body Meetings used make sweeping changes to the course of action and outcome of the meetings. He will always be remembered as a man who tried his best and acted convincingly. We will miss him. May God help his soul rest in peace.

  25. Our deepest condolences to SriG and all the family members.

    While it was shocking and feeling of a great loss after SriG Amma’s demise few years ago, SriG Appa’s passing has indeed left big void in our temple community. We had the fortune to interact with uncle when he was here at the temple and that has left lasting impressions on us that will be cherished all through our lives. Although Dr.Madhvanath uncle has left the physical body, he is immortal through his work and his monumental contributions to our temple and spiritual community.

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