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Herbarium Somdeva
Vijaya Sharma
Gopal Singh Rawat
Dr. Anil K. Goel

Dr. Sachin Biswas

Dr. S. K. Upadhyaya
Arun Gupta
Dr. Wazahat Husain

Madhulika Choudhry
Dr. Govind. S. Rajwar
Dr. Ravindra Chibbar
Dr. Mahesh Bhandari
Surgeon Commodore (Retd.) Dr. A. K. Verma
Dr. M. A. Rau
Sandeep Puran Singh
Pradeep Sharma


Som Deva
A Tribute to a Karma Yogi

Vijaya Sharma

What Do I write about a man called Som Deva ? A most loving husband, caring father, a noble and honest teacher, a thinker, a wanderer and a seeker with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Like Swami Vivekananda he used to say “Gyan Woh Jo Jana Na Jaye” – “Knowledge cannot be fathomed”.

What do I write about a man who loved birds and animals . Plants were his passion. He was a keen reader of History and Geography. Though he was a simple unassuming person, I was told he was a very strict teacher who loved teaching and there used to be pin drop silence in his class.

His excursions took him to many known and unknown places. Once on his collection trip to Garhwal orests, he came across a sadhu sitting in front of a cave. He took the sadhu’s permission to enter the cave. When he returned, the sadhu asked him the purpose of his visit to the cave. My husband told him that he was a botanist and that he collected plants. Well the sadhu then enquired why should he collect plants? My husband answered with another question- why was he (the sadhu) sitting there? The sadhu laughed and asked my husband to sit and talk to him, The sadhu was a judge from the south when he left everything worldly in search of peace.

Once on his trip to Hemkund he fell ill and had to use a mule for the journey. When he came to “Hemkund Sahib” a Gurdwara, he did not have the energy to go inside the Gurudwara like other people, but sat outside with his shoes on. A ‘Ragi’ (singer of devotional songs of Sikhs) came to him and asked him why he had not gone inside for the ‘Darshan’. My husband replied if he had the energy to remove his shoes, he would have gone to collect the flower he had come for. The Ragi then asked the name and description of the flower. The ragi went inside and came back with a flower. My husband couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the flower ‘Bhed Guda’ ‘Saussurea gossypiphora’ in his hand! It was as if ‘Hemkund Sahib’ had blessed him.


He had a child like curiosity to see things growing. I remember he used to collect barks, flowers  fruits and seeds of various plants and trees of the forest. He could tell the name of the tree just by placing his hand on the trunk of the tree. Any seed collected had to be grown and then seen. His last seeds given to me for sowing were of Bambusa balcooa. They are growing nicely in small pots in our garden at 13, Balbir Road.

From all over India people used to come to him with their queries about plants and flowers. Although there were big institutions like the Botanical Survey of India and Forest Research Institute. Any plant material given to him for identification was treated like a cherished idol for worship. His honesty and sincerity were a legend among his friends and students. He used to say that being a teacher it was his duty to impart his knowledge to others.

He was a nature worshipper, but loved to listen to Kabir’s philosophic poetry and believed in it. He once told me that he goes to a temple to admire the workmanship and architecture- not for any religious belief. I asked him what he meant by religion ? He told me that he believed ‘to excel in your work is religion’

One day when I was tidying up his table, I saw his notes on wheat. I was surprised to read the following lines on the cover page-‘ One can never get lost on the path of truth’ . This is what he believed all his life, a man called Som Deva- A Karma yogi