HISTORY — Dr. Jugroo Seegobin : The first Indo-Mauritian Doctor in Mauritius (1)

(Dr. Jugroo Seegobin qualified as Medical Doctor from Paris University in 1926. He practised privately until 1936, when he joined Govt. service. He ascended to the post of superintendent in 1957 and retired as such in 1961. Along with his profession, he was chairman/manager of Aryan Vedic school of Vacoas ; Maheshwarnath school of Triolet ; Gayasingh Anathalaya and founder-manager of D.A.V. College of Port Louis, and Hindu Girl’s College of Curepipe. Besides, he went on world tours twice in 1951 and 1961. On his return, he wrote his “travel memoirs” in Hindi which were published serially in ‘Aryoday’. He went on publishing numerous articles in Hindi on health, which were compiled in book form. Being a Hindi enthusiast, he wrote and published dozens of articles on miscellaneous subjects in ‘Aryoday’.)
Birth and Education
Doctor, philanthropist, humanist, educationist, and Hindi enthusiast par excellence, Dr. Seegobin was born on 18th August 1901 at Nouvelle France village, Grand Port district. His grand-father Seegobin, Immigrant number 304686 had married Manbooseeah, Immigrant number 304813, and both had come to Mauritius on 14th July 1864 from Bassauri village, Arra district, Bihar Province, India. The couple had two sons, Sewduth and Ramduth. Ramduth in turn married Cadmee Munroop, and the couple had ten children, six sons and four daughters. The eldest daughter Dawookee was followed by Jugroo, Rookmeen, Iswarparsad, Tribhuwan, Dawooparsad, Pooknee, Teeknee, Taroon Manton and Roopnarain. The eldest daughter, Dawookee was married to Ramdeehul of Triolet, Rookmeen to Taposseea, Poknee to Adnath and Teknee to Mooneeram.
First Hindi Enthusiast Doctor in Mauritius
The young Jugroo Seegobin was to become the first Hindi speaking doctor in Mauritius, whereas Dawooparsad, the first pharmacist. Dawooparsad had bought the Rochecouste pharmacy in 1936 which is situated in the heart of Curepipe in the vicinity of the famous Royal College. Iswarparsad and Taroon Manton were to become sugar cane planters in the south of the Island, whereas Tribhuwan Parsad became a lawyer, while Roopnarain became an accountant. Tribhuwan passed away in his youth in 1945 in India.
The young Jugroo completed his primary education at Nouvelle France and Mahebourg Govt. schools, and then entered Royal College Curepipe for secondary education. He was successful in obtaining his School Certificate in 1918. It is at the suggestion of Munroop that his father took the decision to send him to France for medical studies. Although in those days it was not easy to send somebody to Europe for higher studies, especially in France, as French was not easy to learn by the Indo-Mauritian Youth, born and brought up in rural areas of Mauritius, the challenge was met by the young Seegobin.
A Farewell Meeting
Strange as it may seem, a farewell party was held at Port Louis on 19th July 1919, in honour of two students who were to embark for France. Rosagwatow Rama and Jugroo Seegobin were felicitated for their success and a commending letter was offered to each, signed by eleven eminent Indo- Mauritians and among them were Dunputh Lallah and Dhiraj Seetalsingh.
The young Seegobin embarked on the steamer Keshin Maru on 9th August 1919 for Montpellier, France via Calcutta and Bombay, and reached his destination on 18th October 1919. He was admitted to Montpellier University for his medical studies. He was later to join the University of Paris, Faculty of Medicine from where he bagged the coveted degree of M.D., M.T.D. (Paris) in 1926.
While studying medicine in France, Dr Seegobin (like M.K. Gandhi who had studied the Gita while a Law student) had studied the “Satyartha Prakash”, sent to him by Prayag Gossagne, the orthodox priest of the south of Mauritius. This book had a great impact on the mind of Dr. Seegobin.    
Touching Meeting with Mother
The twenty-five-year-old Dr Seegobin returned to Mauritius on 1st June 1926 by the steamer ‘General Voyron’. His parents came to welcome him at the harbour of Port Louis. A moving meeting that took place between Dr. Seegobin and his mother is described in the column of “Mauritius Mitra” in the issue of 2nd June 1926, under the caption ‘Dr. Seegobin’. It says : “We extend a hearty welcome to Dr. Seegobin who arrived yesterday by ‘General Voyron’. On landing he was received by his parents and grand-parents ; the meeting was most touching. After the usual accolade with his father, the doctor went to his mother who was in a vehicle at some distance. The child was most belovedly received and showered with flowers by the old mother who mingled her tears with those of the happy son. We congratulate parents and child and wish the latter much success in his medical career”.
A noble Personality
Dr. Jugroo Seegobin had a high stature. He was plump and a handsome man with an imposing personality. He was seen always dressed in European costume. After studying in Montpellier and Paris for six years, he had learnt to live in grand French style. His dear ones remember his choice for dressing the dining table with the white napkins in the French style. However, he had not abandoned completely the oriental way of living like most of the youth of those times. Dr. Seegobin had a sweet nature. He was always calm and patient. His tone was soft and while talking, it seems, his words were measured. He had a profound knowledge of worldly affairs. His exemplary humility at times astounded his contemporaries.
A short conjugal life
Dr. J. Seegobin married Cocila Seewoodharry Bugut in 1932. Cocila was the sole child of Harryparsad Seewwoodharry Bugut, the first Indo-Mauritian land surveyor, and the first Indian to contest the general election in 1906 in the district of Plaines Wilhems, a year prior to the arrival of Manilal Doctor on our shores. From this wedlock, three daughters were born, Saraswati, Chandrakanta, and Suvaranalata. Unfortunately, only after sixteen years of conjugal life, Cocila passed away in 1948, leaving the three young daughters without a mother.    Dr. Seegobin went on looking after his daughters and he never married again. His daughters were sent to the United Kingdom for studies, when they were still in their teens. Saraswati and Chandrakanta got married after their secondary education, while Suvaranalata, the youngest daughter, qualified as a dental surgeon. The three sisters were married to the three Hurhangee brothers, Ramdeo, Lomuss and Deoraj, the latter too being a dental surgeon. Sadhna is the only daughter of Dr. Seegobin still alive, while the others have gone to the abode of heaven.
TO BE CONTINUED


Commentaires

It is of great interest to read that my great great grand mother was married to Dr Seegobin. Although I have never met any of her children or her grand children, I must say it will be a pleasure to know their whereabouts.
The background history is very emotional. My late father Mr Balchund Seewoodhary often used to talk about Hurry Parsad Seewoodharry and the Seegobin link. Well , now I know this is true. How interesting!
These days most people seem so busy and probably some of them do not really appreciate family history. If any of the grand children is reading this, I will be delighted to hear from him or her.
From Ramesh Seewoodhary
Senior Lecturer
London.

Hello Ramesh,

My name is Anita Weir nee Anita Hurhangee. My mother was Sarasvati Seegobin. The article was very interesting and I learnt a lot. I am currently in Sydney, Australia. I have 3 brothers and one sister all living in the UK. My father Ramdeo Hurhangee is 84 years old now and living in Aberdeen Scotland. Sadly one of my sisters died 4 years ago. I would love to follow this family tree.
Hope to hear from you.

Anita

Dear Anita,
Thank you for responding to my message. I am fascinated to learn about our familial link although we have never met. Please do get in touch when you get back from Sydney.
Regards
Ramesh

Hi Ramesh, sorry if you got the wrong message. I live in Sydney, Australia. Where do we go from here?

I read this article with the greatest of pleasure in seeing the accomplishments of D. J Seegobin, my father’s uncle (Mrs. Mooneeram’s son). He was indeed an inspiration to my father, who is currently a Consultant surgeon in Trinidad and Tobago, W.I. . After living with him from the age of 11 to the age of 21, Dr. Vinod Mooneeram became dedicated to the art of medicine because of seeing his uncle practice with such grace and enthusiasm. We are proud of the achievements of my great uncle and hope that he remains a shining light to budding young medical practitioners as my father is.

It's indeed a great pleasure to hear from Dr Vinod's daughter that he is doing very well in his field. Please convey our warm regards to him and to is whole family.
From a former inhabitant of Bougainville Street who has known him when I was a child.

We have known Dr Seebobin personally. I think that the author missed an important point in this first part of his article. Dr Seegobin's sister (married to Mooreeram), after the passing away of her hudband came to live with her brother at Bougainville Street (the house is still here in very good conditions I must say, and thsnks to her daughter who lives in the same yard) with her three sons and three daughters (one of her sons became a doctor like their uncle and later graduated as surgeon in UK). Mrs Mooneeram looked after her brother and the household for many many years since Dr Seegobin never got married again. We must say that Dr Seegobin was an exceptional doctor in that region. Anybody could knock on his door at any time of the day or night and he would always answer with a smile, never a harsh word would come out of his mouth. If he had some medical samples at home, he would give them to the patient, so that person did not have to spend too much money on medicines. C'etait un medecin tres cultivee et tres qualifie avant tout ! On raconte egalement qu'il detenait le record (en temps) pour effectuer une operation d'appendicite a l'hopital Candos !

Thank you Jean Noel.When you mention Bougainville street,I can visualise the beautiful wooden house where Dr Seegobin lived.
I wish the historian would one day, at his convenience, describe the life of DR Edgar Laurent,who did so much for Mauritius.

Good reading! I thought Mr Rama was the first Indo-Mauritian doctor in Mauritus!Can Mr Ramsurrun clarify this issue, may be he can contact the Mauritius Marathi Federation to have some background on Mr Rama. Thanks.

As you say Mr Rama ! He had perhaps an MBBS degree but Dr J. Seegobin was an MD (Doctor in Medicine). He had a doctorate degree which entitles him to be the first Indo-Mauritian doctor in general !

Hi
That must be a mistaken identity as I did not mention Mr Rama.
It should be somebody else,who said that Dr Rama was the first
Indo-Mauritian.

As a Hindu,I very pleased to see that as a historian,you have unfolded the life of a great Indo-mauritian, and I
await with pleasure what more to follow. I am in US now,and when I was at Curepipe,I noticed that he used to walk,I presume, after his retirement.

Thank you