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With high fever, Sunil Verma lay almost delirious as the doctors struggled to bring down his temperature.
The memory of that terrible moment shook her out of her painful reverie…as she looked outside, she realised they had reached Prasanthi Nilayam.
It was almost dusk when two of his friends had picked him up from his home for a joy ride.
Tall and lanky, with a thick plastic-frame spectacles, Sunil always stood out among his friends, precisely for his figure more than anything else, as he was noticeably mild-mannered and unassuming.
As the bike cut across the track in a hurry and tried to manoeuvre through the illusive few inches of space, I brought my leg close to the bike’s frame. As he lay on the dirt track bleeding profusely from the left leg, Sunil saw a few pieces of what looked like bone strewn on the track. His parents rushed him to the nearest hospital, but it being Saturday evening, only emergency services were available. Sunil’s situation stabilised to some extent, but any hope of saving his leg began to fade. Suddenly and out of the blue, a sympathetic doctor from the same hospital told them about the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram, where the surgery and treatment were given totally free of cost.
Four full days after the accident, with hope diminishing like a twilight sunset, the family engaged an ambulance from Rajamundry to Puttaparthi paying Rs. Sunil was immediately admitted, investigated and emergency debridement (surgical removal of foreign matter and dead tissue from a wound) was performed. An X-ray of the leg confirmed that several pieces of bone were missing from his left leg, and the knee was shattered. And that’s why they asked Eshwari and Raju to pray hard and also write a letter to Baba.
The surgeons now say Sunil will be able to walk again, but for sometime, he will not be able to bend his left knee. Sunil’s mother, Eshwari, chokes with feeling, when she speaks about how her son has received a new life.
The Bible says that the Lord made the blind see and lame walk, and there are a few such instances in that Holy Scripture. Bhagavan Baba is demonstrating to us what we can really do if we surrender to Him and believe in the power of Pure Love. It will be also interesting to note that as on March 2006, remittances from Non Resident Keralites constituted nearly 40% of the deposits of the state of Kerala. So, back in the seventies, with a flourishing career, many Malayali (Kerala natives) friends and his marriage which happened in the early eighties, George Melkay was a contented man with nothing to complain of…until life suddenly took a decisive turn in 1990.
It was devastating for George, to say the least, for, all his dreams were now slowly turning to dust as he saw his years of savings gradually dissipate away. On the fifty fourth day of his stay in the Salmania Hospital, thanks to an Irish lady doctor, George did get a confirmed diagnosis for his prolonged sickness. Two and half months in Bahrain’s premier hospitals had set him back by several years.
After returning to his native village in the Calicut district of Kerala, George looked out for the nearest super specialty hospital. It was no less than a 12 hour bus ride from his village, and after a tiresome journey George, accompanied by his cousin brother, Baby, landed in the Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology. Two and half months of hospitalization, kilometers of strenuous travel, four hospitals and dozens of consultations later, George was still clueless.
In January 1993, George, accompanied by Aravindakshan, set foot for the first time in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi.
And the surgery apart, George was simply overwhelmed with the Hospital, its ambience and philosophy.
He had a letter, neatly written and carefully held in his hand, just in case he had an opportunity to hand it over to. George then stayed in the Brindavan ashram for three days basking in His blissful darshan, before he returned to his village along with other devotees after the conclusion of the festival.
It was a one week service opportunity and in those days on the conclusion of each batch’s service, Swami would bless every volunteer with padanamaskar (chance to touch His feet) and Vibhuti prasadam. When He came near, George immediately went on his knees and tried to touch His feet, and the loving Swami kept both His hands on his shoulders and even before he could say much, the all-knowing one Himself spoke in George’s native tongue (which was a mix of Malayalam and Tamil) and said, “Why are you afraid? George could understand every syllable that Swami had uttered and his happiness knew no bounds.
Not only the surgery, George was also given free medicines (to be replenished every six-months by the Hospital) which he had to take regularly to keep his new heart in perfect order.
And true to his resolve, George Melkay has been serving at the Hospital traveling from Kerala twice every year continuously for the last fourteen years.
The Hospital may have replaced his heart-values but it is Swami and His love which has added real value to his life.
This is the story of just one patient-turned-sevadal of the Super Specialty Hospital and we know for sure there are any numbers of such volunteers working silently in the Hospital.
My family and I approached a local specialist who immediately suspected cardiac disease and prescribed a series of tests. I will not lie that my mood was suddenly uplifted and I felt the warm glow of sunshine on my shoulders. One evening, my father returned home excited and without talking to us headed for the prayer room. I don’t know for certain what subliminal power the Hospital exudes, but to me it was the temple from which God answered my prayers. I can go on about what I feel now and how I was before, but as my benefactor Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, past is past, forget the past, future is uncertain, live in the present, it is the gift of God. Words are insufficient to express what I feel, but were I to succeed in conveying my idea of the value of time, the power of now and the gift of life to even a few…I will consider myself lucky. There he is, sitting on his bed next to a window, looking out at the lush-green lawns in front of the Hospital. Swapan Garai’s world, in a matter few days, has changed from absolute dejection to complete joy. Swapan Garai was faced with his life’s worst nightmare, and true to his Bengali upbringing, he surrendered to his divine mother, Goddess Kali.
The Hospital has been chosen as the key participant in a research study initiated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a Government body, to find out the correlation between the genetic makeup of gliomas (a type of Central Nervous System tumour) and their WHO Grade (the four grades of gliomas classified by the World Health Organisation), and to further determine the efficacy of certain drugs in preventing the recurrence of the gliomas. Bhagavan Baba’s Hospital, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore, continues to blaze new trails each day in providing the best of care to the poorest of poor, but most of the world, unfortunately, continues to be absolutely unaware of it. The Institute is proud not only to provide totally free healthcare but also participate in cutting-edge research, with far-reaching benefits to the patients. Cancer is a global disease that poses severe challenges in the healthcare management of all societies. The international research efforts on the fight against cancer resulted in better understanding of the initiation and progression of various types of cancers and identification of several target molecules.
One such cancer type is the glioma, the most common brain tumour with an incidence of 12 per 100,000 people. The immediate need in the management of GBM’s is the prediction of the treatment outcome. The SSSIHMS, Whitefield had been selected for the Project as the medical team from the Neuro-Sciences department there had already done some work on gliomas. Given the economic disadvantages of its patients, most of them tend to have neglected their symptoms for a long time or spent months and years seeking free medical attention elsewhere in vain before finally coming to the Hospital, by when in most cases the condition has deteriorated very badly. Swapan Garai was no exception, rather just one of the many who have stepped into this Hospital and found new hope, life and happiness.
As Swapan gets ready to leave the Hospital, he is oozing with happiness, contentment and gratitude. The Divine, in His own way, has taken care of the brain of this worker from the helmet factory who has been working hard to protect others’ heads from injury!
Combining its social responsibilities to the medical fraternity with its focus on holistic treatment, the Sathya Sai Healthcare system continues to carve a niche for itself by keeping its doors and heart open to the neglected and the downtrodden and by offering every single patient the care and treatment fit for a king!
Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital Wins the CNBC-TV 18 Healthcare Award - A Radio Sai Exclusive interview with the Messiah of the Mobile Medicine a€“ Dr. On 23 December 2013, the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital was recognised by the jury of CNBC-TV18 Health Care Awards, for its use of innovation to transform lives. Delhi where the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital was presented the CNBC-TV18 Healthcare Award. DN: Yes, normally as you all know we take seva as sadhana, a spiritual exercise meant for our own individual evolution. So on that day in the hall, the other hospitals and the other award winners must have been surprised, and at the same time felt happy deep within. DN: The gist of his speech was mainly that these institutions were started by Baba and that they don't charge even a penny from the beneficiaries. The innovation and the transformation has been going on at three different planes the physical, the mental and the spiritual. Now, when we talk about how this project was initiated and how it is being delivered, it is all really a miracle of Bhagawan himself.
The second side of the tricky triangle was the reluctance of the doctors to go to rural areas.
This apparently simple but highly innovative solution has revolutionised the concept of rural healthcare delivery in India. While going through the pictures of this function that you were at, I noticed that the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, Dr. DN: He was on the stage for most of the time and it was on the stage itself that he asked me if we had similar institutions all over the country or if we were confined only to Puttaparthi and Bangalore? KM: Now for the sake of our listeners, can you please go down memory lane and tell us a little bit about the start of this wonderful project, the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital.
One interesting thing which I would mention is, normally when Swami executes a project, He assembles all the three Ms - the Man-power, Material and Money (or resources) so that the work just begins in the way that it is thought of.
Through my experience I learnt that it is service which attracts people to come and join in. Swami was very clear when He told me that He was naming this project the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital, and not a clinic or a camp. The second was 'Skilled Manpower', because the credibility of our project or service would grow only when eminent people join the team. Fourthly I thought we needed a 'Well-stocked Pharmacy', because one may have the best experts who do advanced tests and give the most accurate diagnosis, but at the end of the day if you give the villager a prescription he’s not going to do anything about it.
Every month a public school silently metamorphoses into a multi-speciality medical centre in rural Andhra Pradesh. DN: The fifth and final requirement was that the service should be the 'Holistic approach', which is so essential that even Swami mentioned it.
The next limb of the triangle is the 'Preventive Service', so each limb of this triangle supports and supplements the other. So we try to educate them on health issues like diabetes control and managing their blood pressure.
DN: Yes, just 15 to 20 minutes of edited video and then we try to encourage the habit of namasmarana writing. So with this triangular ideology, I feel that the words which they (CNBC-TV18) have used, 'innovation and transformation' really apply beautifully to this initiative. I remember when I went to Swami with an album in which we had described this concept of the Divine Triangle, the limbs of which we named as, Curative Drive, Preventive Focus and Spiritual Base, Swami saw this and started patting me on my back, and He continued to do this.
KM: You talked about having a fixed schedule, so as to have a good degree of certainty in the activities; what are the days that the mobile hospital operates? DN: The 1st to 12th of every month has been fixed for curative services and the last day of every month is for preventive service.
This pattern is practical too, because if one puts ten points on a circle, for every point there are two points that are quite close to it. KM: This redefines the very concept of patient care, it is as though the patient is God Himself.
DN: As I told you earlier, I had a good team of 150 doctors before, most of them had never seen Bhagawan and were not devotees in the general sense of the word, but they were people who were attracted to the idea of service.
Once a few doctors started coming, we tried to expand that number by using, I would say, a few tricks! And the third and final phase was all about diversification; which is where we try to improve the depth of the service.
KM: If you have patients who require further specialised care, what do you do for their referral? So while dealing with the ailments which require further care, after identifying the patient we do all the necessary tests, especially if it is a surgical case, we do what is called a surgical profile, that is; how is his heart? Still, I would like to stress on the fact that I have no words to express my gratitude to this gentleman, Mr Rommel.
Mahatma Gandhi’s words, he said that in the bigger aspects of life everybody is magnanimous, but one should try to be magnanimous in the smaller things of life as well. KM: Going back to the mobile hospital, we notice that whenever the big mobile hospital goes out of the Gopuram gate it is followed by a whole lot of trucks carrying food. The Mobile Hospital includes the bus, but we also have a transport vehicle in which the diagnostics pertaining to each department are carried, like in the case of the department of ophthalmology, we have a slit lamp, an auto refractometer, a tonometer, etc.
We stop the bus a little away from the main mobile hospital which is lodged at a village school.
DN: We have nine specialities on any particular day, and as a doctor with experience in public health I can tell you that these nine specialities are enough to cover most of the ailments prevalent in the society.
Now coming to the nine specialities, we have Radiology, which is really important, so we have installed a 2D echo ultrasound machine and an x-ray machine in the bus. DN: Yes, in fact in one of the annual reports of the Central Trust, in the section about the mobile hospital, they had published a comment made by one Dr.
KM: Never mind being a villager, even if educated people go to a new city looking for a hospital, quite a few of them will be so lost.
DN: I have worked in a corporate hospital in Hyderabad and I can tell you that it is not possible to meet so many specialists in one day, but here it is just across the room. As I sit here in front of Swami I can sincerely say that every single thing which is in the mobile hospital has come about after deliberate planning keeping the patient in mind, as though he or she is our father or mother. DN: Well, when Swami Himself takes so much interest in His projects even though they are well set up and the people who have to do the jobs are doing them, still Swami always takes a lot of interest.
We also have another adjunct service; the Easwaramma trust sends patients who require an ultra sound scan or a special blood test or a consultation and we perform those for them.
He had returned home after the end of the first theory examination, very satisfied and happy. Negotiating the dirt tracks of their village of Kottapeta (near Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh) had always filled them with a sense of excitement and achievement. It was a narrow path and foolishly, we tried to squeeze the bike through and overtake the tractor.
Loose dust on the ground had turned into dark red mud after blood from his body had seeped into it. When the hospital finally opened on Monday morning, 36 hours after the incident, infection had already set in.
The doctor also told them that nothing would be charged from them, even for the hospital stay or food. The sight of the huge embracing arms of the massive building ignited in them a little confidence…were their renewed hopes going to be dashed as they entered inside, or was everything they had heard about this unique hospital really true?
The doctors feared that with the wound getting infected, any delay in treatment would necessitate amputation of the limb. Sunil had actually suffered from an open fracture of the lower end of the femur on the left leg.
The microbiology department report said that the bacteria were resistant to common antibiotics. And after they had handed over their envelope to the courier agency, they hurriedly returned to the Hospital. The doctors now administered oral antibiotics for 10 days and Sunil was put on an external fixator. We gave him the most potent antibiotics and cleaned the wound three times a day, but finally when we could do nothing more, we just surrendered to Bhagavan.
He says that after the harrowing experience of being refused treatment in Rajamundry, the care extended by the doctors of SSSIHMS just feels like a dream. But today, this is happening right in front of our eyes every single day, and the Lord is doing this, not only directly, but also through ordinary people like us. Miracles manifest every moment in our lives if we surrender to Him sincerely and make Love the only inspiration and destination of our lives.
George Melkay recalled the rewarding job that came his way exactly three decades ago in 1977. It all started in the early seventies when the oil exporting countries of the Middle East experienced a rapid economic boom with the hike in oil prices in 1973. The worst part was he was still not diagnosed, let alone receiving the necessary treatment.
But, unlike today, in the early nineties the state of Kerala had very few premier hospitals offering quality tertiary care. After months of struggle, he had found the panacea he was looking for, but it was completely beyond his reach.
K P Aravindakshan; one of the seniors from his school and a Sai devotee, it was this concerned friend who first shared the good news. Bertrand Russell, a twentieth century British atheist-philosopher and rationalist, George, like many of his college mates, had turned into an atheist early in his life.
After conducting all the diagnostic tests and detailed consultation, the doctor confirmed that he needed a valve replacement, and that it will be done free, but he will have to wait for a year or two till he receives the invitation letter from the Hospital.
So on the eight day, which fell on February 1st, George along with other Kerala volunteers, waited for this unique chance. His wife too, who was always worried about the high-risk nature of the surgery, felt more secure.

Reading her life-altering experience, you will never again take your life’s blessings for granted. I am the only daughter of my parents, studying, dependent on them for everything and suddenly this shocking news and the exorbitant price tag…I just could not take it.
The oft repeated words of my grandparents came to me “everything that happens, happens for the good.
I started my medication and over time it came to include the painful injection of Penidure. The results were the same and we were told to come back after receiving the intimation from the Hospital for a surgery date. I am currently in the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, and have no doubt that I am going to achieve whatever I will. He is dressed in the green hospital clothes, his head is shaven, and he has a two-day stubble. A young man who had left his native town of Calcutta in search of success and work, and traveled north-west to New Delhi, the capital city of India, found a small-time job in a factory making bicycle helmets which fetched him a meager Rs. Hegde, “This research would lend us valuable information, which could one day change the way we treat gliomas.
Although the incidence of various types of cancers is relatively higher in developed countries, recent lifestyle changes in developing countries are expected to result in increases of cancer incidence in these countries. Despite these positive outcomes, in many types of cancers the available prognostic markers and therapeutic options have been limited. The WHO grading system classifies gliomas into Grades 1 to 4, based on their biological behaviour and histopathological evaluation.
Astrocytomas are subdivided into four grades based on histological criteria and certain marker expressions.
In Phase I, which is now completed, we had collected 380 samples of gliomas belonging to all four WHO Grades, ranging from WHO Grade 1 to 4.
Ask Swapan to share his experiences about his visit and stay in the hospital, and his instant enthusiasm is a sight to see.
My parents, younger brother and two younger sisters live at Calcutta, where my father has a Government job. He was a seva dal member, who used to come regularly to Puttaparthi for volunteer service. Ask him about his initial impressions of the Hospital, and he says, “Words escape me if you want me to describe how I felt when I saw the Hospital for the first time. There was obviously not a penny being charged either for the registration or for the tests and consultation. It is hard to recognize him, now that he has changed out of the green hospital clothes and the two-day stubble is also gone. Today Radio Sai is pleased to bring to you a special conversation between the Director of this project, Dr. Now let’s just go back to the moment when you received the news about the award, can you recreate that moment for us. Please tell us all more about this function at the Taj Palace Hotel in the national capital New Delhi, that you attended with Mr. The CNBC group and the ICICI group outsource the work of screening and shortlisting over three thousand hospitals to the Indian Medical Research Bureau.
Mohan from Chennai, the internationally renowned Diabetologist, and the Chairman of the Sathya Sai State Trust of Tamil Nadu was there (incidentally, his Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai was also one of the winners in the Single Speciality Hospital Category). He talked about the various types of hospitals which are running under the Sathya Sai Central Trust. This is very much in line with the World Health Organisation's revised vision that health is not just the absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Even as per the early Indian philosophy, they say that the most subtle part of the food becomes the thought. He started it in 2006, and at the time the rural healthcare delivery system in India was literally in shambles. They said that there was no infrastructure available to match their qualifications and their professional reputations. Chidambaram the Principal Scientific advisor to the Prime Minister and Government of India! Instead of just starting off by recruiting twenty to thirty doctors, one needs to begin with two or three really good doctors.
He told us that other than surgeries which require general anesthaesia, we should be able to do everything. So we came up with a method where we started giving medicines for a month to patients with diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, thyroid, and all such chronic ailments. We realised that we are entering into the community to serve, and that we are not like a static hospital. But we try to do it using different tools and at different levels, through a lot of innovation. Swami has always talked about spirituality as something which is much higher than any religiosity or orthodoxy.
You will be surprised to know that we have around ten thousand likhita nama japa books completed by the patients.
I said this because in Rishikesh in Sivananda Ashram I have seen mandirs where only likhita japa is done by devotees. What this does is that it allows us to do periodic reviews on patients who require it, like for a patient who’s suffering from hypertension or diabetes we need to do a review after a week to check whether the dose is sufficient or lacking. He said that it is only the remaining 40% where, if the doctor does a good job, Swami's grace will flow.
And with all sincerity I can tell you madam, and I don’t just say this because I am a doctor, but every doctor has this genuine urge or an instinct within to give back through selfless service, to that society that has nourished and nurtured him or her.
I would tell them, “When you go on a tour or vacation you generally take along a few friends or relatives isn't it? We don’t want to increase the width of the service because as I said earlier, it is not possible for us to go beyond 50 kms radius for logistical reasons. In fact, I think that is the benchmark of any outreach service, the extent to which complex problems can be catered to. When I left my previous job, from where I used to receive a very comfortable salary, my father was a little apprehensive at first because he came from very humble beginnings. So the mobile hospital has diagnostics pertaining to what we call imageology, that is x-ray, ultrasound and pathology or haematology the blood tests. There are five divisions, namely medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, dentistry and ophthalmology. But still, there are two more specialities which are still missing, psychiatry and dermatology. Second is medicine, wherein we have doctors who have not just completed an MBBS but also an MD in General Medicine, the third is General Surgery, fourth Orthopaedics, fifth ENT, the sixth is Obstetrics and Gynaecology, seventh is paediatrics, eighth dentistry and ninth ophthalmology. And the experience is even worse when your pocket is empty and you can’t read or write. If a physician feels that a particular case of abdominal pain needs surgical consultation he goes himself to the surgeon. Sometimes this may not be possible, because these are idealistic things but this thought and feeling is prevalent, and that is the guiding spirit. On one side we have an organisation that has Swami’s motivation, His spectacular vision and His selfless love as the guiding force, but on the other is a small group of men and women who have a website which displays their goal and mission.
Like when sports meet is round the corner, Swami used to come to the mandir and then go to the stadium to personally take a look at things. Now if Bhagawan were here in His physical form, what would you tell Him about the recent development? Bhagawan wanted us to perform our service to the patients with a lot of love, and to tell you the truth, I am not totally satisfied with our work on this aspect, and that we need to improve on this front. Despite administering high potency antibiotics, his fever and infection refused to subside.
They poured their heart out to Bhagavan… they were going through the worst nightmare of their lives. My left leg struck the back of the wagon, and it was a high speed accident… I just flew off the bike and landed in the dirt. Then they called up their neighbour, who was a volunteer of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation. Unable to believe that such a place could really exist in a society dominated by monetary values, Sunil’s family initially had their doubts. The doctors fixed his leg with an external fixator (a device consisting of multiple pins and external rings or bars which hold a fractured bone in place). If the patient comes to an orthopaedician within this time, then the success rate is almost 100 per cent. And as a testimony to this, stands gloriously the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. It was the first time he was leaving the shores of India to Bahrain, the borderless island country in the Persian Gulf. And from then on, labour outflows from India, especially from the state of Kerala, has only increased. In fact, apart from a good number of Muslims, the majority of the expatriates in the Gulf are Hindus and even then, just as now, they also constitute a considerable number of Kerala Christians, just like Mr.
While on one hand, he was happy that after months of inconclusiveness and guessing, finally there was an unambiguous verdict; on the other hand, the diagnosis was daunting and dreadful.
His search took him to the largest city of Kerala Thiruvananthapuram (also called as Trivandrum), which is also the state’s capital. George took a bus to Bangalore, but unfortunately could not reach the ashram and see Bhagavan as the transport operators during that period were on a strike.
When Swami came that morning, He started walking slowly along the path made by the volunteers between them, and as He slowly moved along, He spoke to someone, smiled at the other, took a letter from the third, created Vibhuti for the fourth, and so on.
They even went to the extent of saying that perhaps there is no need for the operation at all. Apart from these two trips to serve at the Hospital (which is usually in January and July every year for a period of seven or fourteen days), George also visits Puttaparthi regularly for Swami’s Birthday and the Kerala festival of Onam.
Or have you similar experiences of healing at Swami's Hospitals that you want our readers to know about?
Persistent coughs, colds and breathlessness put a full stop to my sports and extracurricular activities. The money was not yet available and my family decided to take a loan to foot the medical expenses.
I was still hoping that there could be some way to dent the impact of this situation on our lives. I am cutting a long story short here…I got the call letter and came over to the Hospital.
The resplendent, reassuring presence of Lord Ganesha in the central hall, the wide lawns outside the window, the expansive balconies, long corridors…vastness everywhere.
Not only that, the government hospitals did not have the required equipment and expertise for the kind of surgery it demanded. Grade 4 astrocytomas or glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are the most aggressive and invasive tumour, with the mean survival period from the time diagnosed as GBM being approximately 12 months, even after chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A possible reason for this could be the difference in the gene expression patterns, which the CSIR Project will seek to reveal.
As a follow-up after surgery, to curb the recurrence of the tumour, the SSSIHMS refers its patients to other centers for chemo-therapy and radiation therapy. Hegde further elucidates, “Presently, under the CSIR Project, the patients operated at our Institute under the Project are eligible for free chemo-therapy and radiation therapy in other centers. The histopathology evaluation was done and these samples were sent to the IISc for a large-scale validation of genes. From governments across the globe to research foundations, NGO’s and think tanks of various political hues, all are unanimous in recognizing the Sri Sathya Sai Healthcare system for its unique feature as facilities that cater to the poorest of the poor.
A former patient of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM – the most virulent form of glioma with an average life expectancy of 12 months), Swapan, in unmistakable sincerity, expresses his utmost reverence for Bhagavan Baba and gratitude to all the doctors, nurses and staff at the Hospital, who have all contributed to his healing process. I can’t forget the lady doctor who, by a mere examination told me that I had a brain tumour. Some Government hospitals did not have the doctors and equipment to do the surgery, whereas we did not have the money to afford treatment in private hospitals. He was also aware of Baba’s Hospitals and used to regularly guide patients to this unique facility. There was substantial blood loss during this procedure, due to which we had to plan for a second procedure.
With His Grace, he should be able to go back to work, and live an absolutely normal life,” Prof. But after a while I felt reasonably happy, because the award is more a form of recognition that will make people aware of the extraordinary medical services being provided even today by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s institutions. When you were at this function what sort of a reaction did you sense from the gathering there? But to tell you frankly I would’ve liked to say a few words especially about CNBC's criteria for recognising us a€“ that is the two words they used - 'Innovation' to bring 'transformation' in lives. They also said that it was not possible for them to adequately educate their children in those rural places.
Chakravarthi and asked him whether we can have a bus in which we can have a scanning machine, a lab, an ECG machine and other such equipment.
Chakravarthi perhaps told Swami that it may not be readily available off the shelf, but one could get it fabricated on order.
I told him that there were two things, first off a€“ all Sai devotees understand that when Swami makes a sankalpa it has to happen. As time progresses, people realise that this service is transparent and has a pure motive, and using Bhagawan’s name only enhances its credibility.
Thirdly, I wanted that we have a proper 'On-site Diagnostic Support System', for which Bhagawan had already given His consent.
This is one subset of illness in the population that requires constant and continuous help. So we thought of having a triangular approach, we decided to convert this tricky triangle into a Divine Triangle. The morning speech is very formal and direct, the people who come are patients, we are the doctors; but in the evening, the talk is more humorous and interactive.
We tell the patients that spirituality only pertains to positive thoughts, and adherence to the five cardinal human values that Swami has laid emphasis on. Because even though we do this as sadhaks who take seva as a sadhana, and aren’t really generally concerned about rewards and recognition, what this award has done is that it has made people aware about the stellar role that the Sathya Sai Institutions are playing and also about the beautiful ideology of the mobile hospital. Most NGOs have a mission statement or background or underlying ideology, but Swami did not give us any.
What we did is that we took a radius of 50 kilometres around Puttaparthi, which was the upper limit because the diagnostic bus moves very slowly. So at our small monthly meeting with the team, I always tell them that even if we are not able to do much else we must do our duty of looking at, talking to and taking care of the patients with love. If only we can provide a mechanism through which he or she can convert that sense of responsibility into a noble activity, they will definitely come forward. So when I say that we are trying to improve the quality I’m talking about the introduction of new gadgets like EEG (Electroencephalography), Colour Doppler machine, and a new machine for doing hearing tests, and other such diagnostic facilities. In this context, one can broadly bifurcate the ailments into six types, common, chronic, asymptomatic, preventable ones, intractable ones, (these require a higher degree of care like one might need a surgery) and finally emergency problems. He comes frequently with the mobile hospital, and he looks after the cancer patients we send. Actually I just want to deviate a bit and I want to ask you a€“ your motivation is so high, your vision is huge, your leadership qualities are obviously unparalleled and you are unbelievably dedicated to what you do, what did you grow up on? On Shivaratri day Swami called me and gave me a Ganesha vigraha (idol) and told me that he will take care of everything. But believe me, at the time I began none of my family members were devotees of Bhagawan as we understand.
Now, the whole of Ananthapur district has only two or three qualified psychiatrists, fortunately, one of them who is the Head of the Department at the Government Hospital at Anantapur comes on the first Sunday of every month. He was the Director of Medical Education which is the highest post for a doctor in the Government machinery.
Then if the patient is a lady the Gynaecologist enters the discussion, and then if they require a scan the radiologist enters. One may not be successful all the time in something like this, but when you genuinely harbour this thought in your heart one day or the other it will become the way of the working of all the institutions. He had the best of architects and the best of engineers but would still go Himself (during constructions). Medicare is when you treat the patients with love and if you don’t do that, He said you are committing a sin a€“ Medi-sin.
But here I am on my two legs!” Joy was dancing on his face as he happily looked down at his feet. What started as a mere 4,000 in 1976 rose to 2.76 lakhs in 1981 and now in these petrodollar-flush Middle East nations there are a staggering 18.4 lakhs Keralites!
George was hospitalized in the American Mission Hospital, a century old private hospital in Bahrain’s capital city, Manama. The doctors in the Madras Medical Mission Hospital, which was known for its finest super-specialty cardiac care, were ready to perform the operation.
In fact, he reasoned the flip side of the sad circumstance and thought to himself, “I do not even know, if in case I get operated after begging and borrowing the amount, whether I will survive.
When his friend Aravindakshan asked him in January 1994, if he would like to join the volunteer-group going to Puttaparthi, George grabbed the opportunity.
This was an envelope from Trivandrum sent by a sevadal-friend whom he had developed an acquaintance with while serving at the Super Specialty Hospital in January that year. His admission and double valve replacement surgery performed at the hospital on March 14, 1994, was completely uneventful.

Earlier I was an atheist, later I studied the Bible, but I could never believe or accept the Hindu way.
And here I was hanging like a millstone round their neck, instead of being a help to them…On my study table I have a figurine of Mother Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning. And all the other questions that tear at one’s being at such a stark moment rose up in me.
300,000 (US $8000) of my parents hard-earned money, and then an uncertain future…after all I was young. I didn’t mean to be philosophical, but there was not much else to distract or console myself with. My surgery was uneventful and here I am writing this piece, seated on the bed in the post-operative ward of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, in Whitefield, near the city of Bangalore, India. The architecture lends itself the opening of the spiritual heart, allowing the soul to seek and soar higher. But just when he thought he had made a start and hoped to build a new life with hard work, the glimmer of hope that had begun to shine at the end of the tunnel seemed to fade away. But thanks to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore, and the high-quality research being carried out here in the area of tumours, Swapan today is a picture of bliss.
Under the Project Grant, a private Hospital provides the chemo-therapy and radiotherapy free of cost to the patients who undergo surgery at SSSIHMS. She advised me to get an MRI scan done to help confirm its existence and also plan for the treatment. You’re in a constant state of tension of - arranging for this, paying for that, filling up dozens of forms.
This particular project was started by Bhagawan eight years ago, and it has stood the test of time. Bhagawan, in all His grace gave me the privilege to play an important role in this project, but still it is the Mobile Hospital that has got this highly prestigious award. So it’s amazing - the IMRB actually visits all these hospitals over the span of a year in a very discreet and confidential way. It was the Who’s Who from the Indian healthcare industry and most of them represented private hospitals. It was almost as if all the people felt that doing such a service for free was a very noble thing. The Government was contending that it was not possible to take technology in the form of these high-tech equipments like CT scanners and MRI machines to villages, and install, run, maintain, and service them as per requirements.
And the base of this tricky triangle was that the villagers were not able to access even the small facilities which were available in the towns. But Swami again asked him to check on the internet, and when he did, to his surprise he found that Siemens India was already on the job and they had delivered two such buses in the state of Uttaranchal to a non-governmental organisation. Rajiv Mahajan, who is more than a brother to me, is one who has played a pivotal role in not only getting the bus but also its subsequent maintenance and other such aspects.
So as a result of all this, people tend to rally around you and there is a greater buy-in by likeminded professionals. It included facilities like ultra sound, x-ray and a lab; all this put together would cost about a crore Indian rupees. The first limb of this triangle represents Curative Service, which is fundamental because unless we cure or help people from illness they would not be ready to listen to anything else that we’d say. So providing education about health in a way that brings a definite improvement in the general awareness of the people, became an important component of the mobile hospital. We tell them that prayer and meditation are not to appease God, but for one’s own health. This area comprised of six mandals (wards) which we further sub-divided into what we call nodal points.
Although we can never handle all types of emergency problems, there are a few that we can, like a scorpion sting or a snake bite, etc.
So at the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, here in Prasanthi Nilayam, we do general surgeries, ENT and gynaecological surgeries.
Now, once the surgery is done, and the treatment is over, these patients come back to us; so that the loop is always maintained.
You must have tremendous motivation to be doing what you do every single day, there is no repeat-action-injury, instead there is repeat-action-inspiration here. When I went back home and told my father about this, he was convinced and never worried about me after that. They are the reception section where the people come, the waiting section from where about 15 or 20 are brought in, then the doctors section, the diagnostic section for which we use the bus and fifth is the pharmacy.
He drives down all the way from Ananthapur to a particular nodal point, and we send all the psychiatry patients to that nodal point where he attends to 100 to 120 patients in one visit.
So many specialists working under one roof makes it an integrated multi-speciality facility. SV Giri (Central Trust member and former Vice Chancellor, SSSIHL) was taking a lot of interest in the mobile hospital and sent him the requisite notes and a CD about all this, but what we quickly learnt is that it is not the technical men in India who carry the power, it is the bureaucrats. As I told you we started with simple general surgeries, then we have started doing cancer surgeries and now we have started with laparoscopic surgeries. Kailash Rao, the Head of Orthopaedics, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram. And from then on started one of the most beautiful periods of his life filled with exciting encounters, ecstatic experiences and blissful benedictions. Back in Bahrain, he had occasionally visited the Sai centre, but that was not because he believed in the divinity of Baba, but to give company to his friend, Sri Surendra, who was a Sai devotee. Immediately I fell in love with it,” he recalls, but this experience also had an interesting fallout. He returned home but as days passed by, his desire to see Bhagavan only became more intense. It was just one week since he had returned and Swami, appearing in his dream, said, “There is nothing to worry. But he had his own apprehensions about him being a Christian and if he will be allowed to serve, etc., but once he reached Puttaparthi, he realized all his fears were completely unfounded. It was disappointing and since the problems were longstanding – my family decided to take me to a specialist. I began to pour out my feelings to Her – after all, prayer is talking to God and I was literally doing so. Periodically we would go to the diagnostic center only to be told that the disease was progressing. I was always told that truth is bitter, but here I found that it is possible to speak the truth without hurting. Hegde in screening the patients, and coordinating between the histopathology department of the Institute (histopathology is the study of the microscopic anatomical changes in diseased tissue) which does the grading of the tumours, and the other collaborators, especially the Indian Institute of Science. My problem started early January this year (2007) when I started having bouts of severe headache and nausea. Under the HoodBehavior, Neuroscience & Your Brain What Brain Hacks Can Psychologists Teach Us? And all of Bhagawan’s institutions are not only doing well but are also expanding and diversifying, and have shown to the world that it is the teachings and principles of Baba which drives them, and not just His physical frame.
Initially I didn’t know much about the award but when I went to that ceremony and heard the organisers describe as to how the winner is chosen, I was really dumbfounded. Even though these corporate hospitals are themselves profit driven, I think, in the heart of hearts these people (who were from such hospitals) knew that it is good to provide good healthcare free of cost to the needy patients. This was because of various reasons like the fact that they lived on daily wages, old people had nobody to take them, the general ignorance about health and disease, etc. During the talk he said that on the previous day he had witnessed the best innovation being made by Baba, where a school is converted into a hospital and the most complicated services are rendered there, and at the end of the day the hospital becomes a school again. I told them that Bhagawan had said on a number of occasions that He has not come to solve the medical problems or the other social problems. So when he got back to Swami with this information, things started moving forward, and with Bhagawan you know, they go at a very rapid pace. Most rural medical programs elsewhere are just weekend excursions where people go for just a day and give a Crocin or a B complex tablet and come back.
I thought about this deeply and came up with five points, which I have always believed to be my lucky number because it represents Bhagawan’s Abhayahasta. That was something which really hit me, and it made me realise that we must maintain that mind-frame throughout.
This nodal point is a village which we use as a base, because it is the centre point of about 40 to 50 villages surrounding it. Then I wrote a letter to all the District Presidents of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation asking them to send a list of few more doctors. However, unless an outreach service is able to take care of the other four or five it’s not worth its name, in my opinion. All this is not to show people what all we could do, but we do want to prove that an outreach service even if it is of the nature of a mobile hospital, should be able to handle things which has to be done back home. Again in dermatology we have the same issue, but here we have a dermatologist who comes for four days every month.
Why is it that the government and the other NGOs are not biting this bait and following it? We did send them a write up but nothing has come out of it, Perhaps we as an organisation are not proactive enough, may be they should come and see it themselves. I try to have knowledge of the minutest of things, like how many tents we have, how many chairs we have, and all. A chance to work in Bahrain Airport Service immediately after graduation in those days meant a sure route to prosperity. In desperate search for a cure, he then moved to the primary public hospital of Bahrain, the Salmania Hospital. This time to Sri Avittom Thirunal Hospital, one of the premier specialty hospitals of Kerala, started more than 50 years ago catering to nearly 50,000 in-patients every year.
And later that year when some Sai devotees were leaving to Bangalore to celebrate the Kerala festival of Onam in the Divine Presence, George enthusiastically joined the party. Though he may not have had many opportunities to interact with Swami physically, George knows fully well that Swami is taking care of him every moment. Previously, I thought these statues had no power, but now I have had experiences which have completely transformed me! In fact I requested Heart2Heart to have it as it is, with some editing, if needed, but without changing the essence. The doctor felt it is his bound duty to drive the final nail into the coffin – he pegged the cost of surgery at Rs.
It was during my stay at SSSIHMS that I have found the true meaning of service, loving and selfless service. He ignored it at first, then self-medicated, but finally when he went to a doctor in New Delhi, the verdict from the physician shattered him: His fading eyesight was due to a kind of brain tumour. Imagine what a boon it is to a patient, unable to pay for one MRI scan receiving treatment worth almost Rs.6 lakhs, ($15,000) absolutely free. Thinking it was a minor problem I took some tablets for headache and nausea, and the symptoms disappeared for a while.
I was not prepared to pay such a large sum, which is my one-month’s salary, towards the scan. In fact we did try to ask the jury as to who it was that came to us for screening, but they were reluctant to disclose it. In fact, even before I came to Prasanthi Nilayam, when I was a part of a team in Hyderabad that did free service in the villages, whenever I would make a call to any of the leading surgeons, for a patient that needs treatment, they would never say no.
That He believed in setting models and these models can be replicated by any other government or private Organisation. Chakravarthi and other administrators asked Swami two or three times, as to how they were to run the project as no recruitments had been made up to that point. Initially, many eye brows were raised and the administrators were also worried, but then it has stood the test of time. Every morning, I go to the village at 7 o’clock because more than three hundred patients usually are waiting, and I can complete the exercise of health education before the other doctors come. So we begin each day's activity with a prayer to Bhagawan, that He reminds us again and again of these three aspects of health care delivery. We have fixed dates for visiting each nodal point, so on that particular date of every month we visit the same village. It need not be quantitatively up to the mark, because the volume of cases which we have is three or four times our capacity but what is important is that we create a mechanism to provide that service. We have an EEG (Electroencephalography) facility also, which is used to measure the electrical currents in the brain. It’s a beautifully thought out, considerate and loving model which has the best of the professional and the best of spiritual component infused in it. And knowing all of this actually brings to you a lot of respect from the group, especially paramedics. When I told Swami that we were doing service for 12 days, and asked for permission to further expand it, Swami said no. I will give you broad guidelines, I have given you three senses - Common sense at the mind level, Intelligence at the intellect level and Conscience at the soul level.
He knew about this very well as many of his relatives and countrymen stood as live testimonies. Fifty days passed in the bed of this government hospital, still no doctor could precisely pinpoint his problem. It was impossible for him to even think of such a huge amount (mind you, 150,000 rupees in 1990 would mean at least Rs. And as if to compensate for the darshan missed in January, on the second day of his arrival at the ashram, George was lucky to find himself in the first line waiting for His darshan. It was such an overwhelming experience!” The compassionate Lord lovingly stood near him, took his letter, allowed him to touch His feet, and as George bent down to offer his obeisance, blessed him profusely.
Somebody had taken a snap when he was kneeling after touching His Feet and the loving Lord was comforting him. When his son secured admission into the XI class in Swami’s school at Puttaparthi in 2000, Swami had answered another heartfelt prayer of George. I want the world to know what I have received - the greatest gift of all…the gift of Life. He was advised to carry out more diagnostic tests but each one cost the equivalent of his entire month’s gross wages. This makes it even more special because as you know, in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation we do not make any overt or subtle claims about our pattern of working.
They were only looking for an Organisation which is transparent in its motive, pure in its conduct and really helping poor people.
Thanks to Bhagawan's divine vision and guidance, from the beginning the mobile hospital has been taking this definition as the guiding principle for planning its activities. Swami made a very simple point, He said that there was no need to install all the machines in villages, instead we should carry them in mobile vehicles, and take the doctors in such vehicles. For example, on the 2nd of every month we visit a village called Byrapuram and this being a nodal point 600 to 700 patients are attended to.
When I look at the way the Sri Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital has progressed, I can see three distinct phases. That, by having a regular ambulance facility which doesn’t cater to even the common ailments is like missing even the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg being all the six types of ailments. From the 1st to 5th of every month the General Hospital gives its theatre and its nursing staff to us. We did this because we felt that it was highly inconvenient for the patients with say an epilepsy problem or a neuro problem, to go all the way to Bangalore just to get an EEG done.
And this friend from Trivandrum had apparently found this picture in a photo studio before he left Puttaparthi and so thoughtfully had bought it. Every rupee was important to me and I thought if, in a Government hospital, we have to pay such large sums of money, what use are they? He told us to create makeshift hubs at the village school which would serve as a mini-hospital. He believed that even for individuals, these institutions would act as an outlet to do their daily seva or daily sadhana for their own evolution. It wasn’t possible to plan beyond that because the activity of a mobile hospital is very complicated and beyond two weeks the area of operation becomes very large, so a lot of time is lost in transportation. If we put ourselves in their shoes, we can understand how really tough it is for them; to go with a health problem to a new city seeking treatment. But the most amazing aspect of this episode was that both these letters had arrived on the same day, at the same time! Compare this to the situation here at Baba’s Hospital, where so much is given totally free! Provide the services here from morning to evening, so by evening, the doctors could come back to the city and also the servicing and maintenance of the machinery can be done. The second step was streamlining the work in a way that each worker got to do what he or she was good at and enjoyed doing.
We have the resources, the contacts of people and it is easy for us but, what about these villagers? Those are big budgets which the government has for the primary health and rural development sector. And it was not only the big money, the hospital also told him to arrange fifteen people who would donate blood for cross-matching, with instructions that they should be from his native village and not from the city of Madras, to be safe from HIV and other infections. And most NGOs talk so much, usually hunting to make headline news, but Swami never cared for awards or recognition, and silently a revolution has been taking place.
For example, when I went on leave when my mother passed away, even in my absence, the regular working of the hospital didn’t stop or lag behind in any way.

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