The Sanskrit word for nonviolence is ahimsa, and it is one of the foundation principles in Mahatma Gandhi’s work and philosophy.
It’s also at the core of “Raj” Mukherjee’s many undertakings, from his high school involvement in a Chicago-area teen violence initiative to his post-9/11 effort to ease racial mistrust toward people of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent. “Although my close friends and I were discriminated against in the wake of the attacks,” he says, “I began to speak out against these injustices by exploring the themes of our common humanity.”
As a medical student, the tenets of ahimsa also led Mukherjee to join a medical relief and education project called City of Joy that focused on curbing HIV in Kolkata, India, the West Bengal region that was home to his immigrant parents. “That experience crystallized for me a realization of the great impact that public health initiatives could have on the lives of people around the world by helping them to fulfill their most basic human needs,” he says.
Assistant Professor and Director of Neurosurgical Oncology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center