Published on Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 1140 hrs. IST
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore has just completed a decade of glorious service to humanity on the 19th January 2011. Commemorating the anniversary, staffers from the holistic institution came down to Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the occasion in the immediate Divine Presence. Read on a comprehensive inhouse report on the twin function held, in Prasanthi Nilayam on the 16th and at Whitefield on the 19th, Sri Y. Arvind, Sr. Manager, Public Relations at SSSIHMS. The writer is an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
Na tapaamsi na teerthaanaam
Na saastraani japanicha
Sajjanam sevanam vina
The year 2011 marks the 10th Anniversary of inauguration of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield. A gift from Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, it is a tertiary care hospital dedicated to serving humanity. For 10 years this temple of healing has been providing free health care to patients suffering from Cardiac and Neuro conditions.
Inaugurated on 19th January 2001 by then Prime minister of India Sri. Atal Behari Vajpayee, SSSIHMS has evolved over the years from not just delivering free and quality health care as a hospital to becoming a teaching institution where future medical professionals hone their skills. With time the hospital has augmented itself with the DNB program in Cardiology, CTVS, Neruosurgery, Anaesthesia and Radiology; The College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; Telemedicine program; Continuous Medical Education programs for doctors and allied medical personnel; Successful implementation of the Patient out-reach program in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh; Held international conferences in Anaesthesia, Neurosciences, and the role of Spirituality in Health care; research projects in many fields … just to mention a few of the achievements.
Bhagawan visited and blessed the hospital on various occasions over the years but the 10th anniversary is always special and it was the prayer of all that Bhagawan should bless the hospital on its 10th ‘Birthday’ in a ‘special’ way. From our end we made our plans, our step towards Him and rest assured He did take 100 steps towards us.
Planning for this occasion started more than a month in advance. As we had not received a confirmation whether we would have the program in the Divine Presence at Prasanthi Nilayam we needed to plan for two probabilities: A program at Prasanthi Nilayam and another at Whitefield. There was a unanimous decision that the 10th anniversary should be marked with something grand, something that would etch the day in the memories of all. A lot of ideas were proposed, discussed and evaluated. It was finally decided that the best way to celebrate the occasion and also make it memorable was to have a continuous reminder of Bhagawan, the force behind SSSIHMS and the source of all our energies. We decided to have an exhibition on the Life, Mission, Message and Legacy of Bhagawan. Thus emerged the permanent exhibition at SSSIHMS Whitefield titled Prema Vaibhavam – the glory of Love. A total of 55 panels were envisaged covering every aspect of Bhagwan’s life and mission. Taking professional help we started working towards this end.
This was just one of the many ideas that came up to mark the 10th Anniversary. There were obviously many other things that we needed to attend to and so we created task forces that met regularly to keep each other posted on the developments. It was truly concerted efforts that made things happen. From procuring material for the exhibition to rearranging the dome area to accommodate the 55 panels, arranging for transport to Prasanthi Nilayam – in the eventuality that Swami granted permission.
We also wanted to have a cultural program and so the music group in the hospital came up with a medley of songs that had lyrics apt for the occasion and specially composed two new songs for the event. Regular practice sessions were held in the evening after working hours. All staff from doctors to ward boys actively participated when their shifts permitted. And when the students from the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences added their hundred and twenty clear voices… the songs rose to a new level. It was a fervent prayer in all hearts that Swami allows us to sing for Him.
Once we had some plans ready, we prepared a booklet for Swami, detailing the work done for the past 10 years, added a couple of pages of photographs from various departments, put in a prayer asking for His Blessings and gave it to the Dr.A.S.Hegde, Director of SSSIHMS Whitefield, Dr.A.S.Hegde then approached Bhagawan with a prayer to bless us with the opportunity to celebrate the occasion in the Divine Presence. The 19th of January 2011 fell on a Wednesday, a working day for the hospital. And it would not behoove to suspend patient services. So we prayed to Bhagawan for an alternative date when we could come and celebrate the event at His Lotus Feet. Bhagawan most graciously permitted the staff of the hospital to congregate at His lotus feet on the 16th January a Sunday, when the hospital would normally be closed. He also permitted the Director to have another event on the 19th in the Hospital to make the occasion more memorable. SSSIHMS celebrated its 10th Birth Anniversary not once but twice both at Prasanthi Nilayam and Whitefield.
In the early hours of 16th January the staff of SSSIHMS left for Prasanthi Nilayam in five buses. There were over 500 of us, Doctors, Nursing and technical Staff with their families; students of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and their teachers. The ashram authorities allowed us to use the newly constructed three floored dormitories because of our numbers. It was convenient for us too in many ways from practising the group songs for the proposed evening program, to conveying important instructions.
A special banner had been designed for the occasion. It consisted of a panoramic shot of SSSIHMS Whitefield, with praying hands emerging from behind the central dome. The staff was arrayed around the praying hands framing them. Above, was a single line of prayer “anandakara hrudayaantara sai, anduko maa namassumaanjali” – “Oh! Sai, the resident of our hearts who confers ananda, Accept the offering of our prayers”. At the top in the center was the logo of the 10th anniversary, specially designed for the occasion. Measuring 21 feet by 12 feet the banner was suspended between the third and fourth blocks of Sai Kulwanth hall, facing Bhagawan directly in His line of sight.
In the afternoon of the 16th we assembled in the Sai Kulwanth Hall and seated ourselves in the coveted ‘Third Block’ right in front of Bhagawan’s dais. Some of the panels that were part of the exhibition were brought over to Prasanthi Nilayam and were placed in the Bhajan Hall. Dr.Hegde and Dr.Voleti Choudary along with some of the Staff who had worked on the exhibition stationed themselves near the entrance. There were some of us designated to be with the Cake that we were offering and yet others for prasadam distribution. We did everything by the book with the sincere intention of making things as comfortable for Swami as possible. The rest of us including the HODs of various departments, doctors, paramedical, support, and students of the college of nursing and allied health sciences sat in the third block.
Bhagawan arrived in His car after 6.00 p.m, and after blessing everyone with His darshan entered the bhajan hall accompanied by Dr.Hegde and Dr. Voleti Choudary. The panels were presented to Him and Bhagawan most graciously blessed the effort by giving each panel His attention. He then emerged from the Bhajan hall and ascended the dais. A lamp had been arranged to mark the special occasion and Bhagawan most graciously lit it to the sound of tumultuous applause. Thousands of eyes watched as He crossed the stage and cut the cake that was positioned in a corner of the stage. Bhajans continued for a while and Dr. Hegde informed Bhagawan about the songs we had prepared for Him. Bhagawan replied with a smile and a nod and continued the Bhajans.
The Department of Cardiology had installed a new advanced Cath instrument and had brought a card to offer to Bhagawan. They had also brought a video of the entire new lab to show Bhagawan and pray for His permission and blessings to commence work. Bhagawan most graciously called for the card, went through it, watched the video clip and blessed the team granting permission to commission the new Cath Lab. The specialty of this Cath Lab was that it had a ceiling suspended C arm that allowed the cardiologist’s 360 degree access to the patient, allowed head to toe scanning, and had the latest flat panel technology. There was a special facility called stent boost that provided for enhanced accuracy when performing angioplasty procedures where a stent would be placed to dilate blocked coronary arteries of the heart. On the whole the new Cath Lab would allow for much more effective and efficient work to be done. Yet another gift from Swami to the world on the 10th Anniversary of SSSIHMS.
Bhajans continued with no sign from Swami. After a while He signaled for the Aarthi. For all of us from Whitefield who had assembled there, it came as a jolt. Shock and confusion writ large on the faces of all. They had all been practising hard for this moment and to not be able to sing them for Him… they were all beseeching Him with silent prayers with eyes brimming with tears. During the aarthi the Heads of various departments approached Him for blessings and He very lovingly granted all of them a Padanamaskar. Things seemed to indicate a conclusion for the evening session. After the aarthi, there was a lull and all of us waited with bated breath as we prepared for Him to exit.
But Bhagawan, with the love of a thousand mothers, had more in store for us. He smiled a mischievous smile at the music group and signaled to one of them who was holding a card with the text of one of the newly composed songs. Swami held the card in His hands, read through the song and nodded His assent. The music program started… The voices swelled up full throated eyes misting with the joy of being in His presence. The first song was Vandanam – Thanking Swami for being the indweller of our hearts. We had prepared five songs for Him and after four He signaled to the group asking how many more were left. We replied that we had one more left. With a lovely smile He nodded His consent. The last song was Anandam – bliss. Reflecting the gratitude for the opportunity of being part of His mission, identifying ourselves with the squirrels that served Rama, and praying to become the flute that Krishna held to His lips, the song was an expression of love, devotion and gratitude to the Lord for having chosen us to be part of His mission.
After the last echoes of the song faded, Bhagawan, once again indicated for Aarthi. He called for prasadam to be brought to Him and blessed each of the Staff carrying the bowls with His Touch. He then watched as it was being distributed and as a grand finale, raised both His hands in Blessing, granting all His Divine Benediction.
We returned to Bangalore the same night with hearts filled with joy of having been with Him and having been blessed with the opportunity of celebrating 10 years of service at the Lotus feet of the Lord who had chosen us to be part of His mission.
19th January 2011
After the wonderful evening with Swami on the 16th at Prasanthi Nilayam, with the kind permission of Bhagawan, the SSSIHMS Whitefield celebrated its 10th anniversary on the actual date of inauguration, 19th January, on campus, at Whitefield. The program was scheduled for 3.00 pm in the afternoon, after the day’s work was more or less done. The departments had planned for a light day completing most of the tasks the previous day and leaving only the direct patient interaction procedures for the day. It required some advance planning but it was done. After all, the 10th anniversary comes only once. The panels for the exhibition were being assembled; the central dome area was decorated; the gifts that Bhagawan had so kindly blessed and sent across to all the staff of the hospital were packed and readied in the intervening two days.
On the day, the program schedule read: Omkaram, Suprabhatam and Nagarsankeertan in the morning; inauguration of the new Cath Lab, lunch followed by an evening program commencing with the inauguration of Prema Vaibhavam Exhibition, Welcome address by Dr.A.S.Hegde, Director SSSIHMS Whitefield, followed by a talk by Sri. Naganand, senior Trust official. Mementos blessed by Bhagawan would then be given by Dr.Hegde and Sri. Naganand to the senior staff serving at SSSIHMS. A cultural program involving a violin recital by Sri.K.Lakshmanan, a long time devotee of Bhagawan, a musician for the past 30 years, currently teaching violin at the residential quarters of SSSIHMS; followed by a solo Bharatanatyam dance performance by one of the staff nurses.
The invitees for the occasion included the elders from the Sai family who have been helping SSSIHMS at various levels and also members from the Brindavan campus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Sir.Gangadhar Shetty Chairman Sri Sathya Sai Seva Trust; Sri.Dhakappa, State President, SSSSO Karnataka; Sri.Vinaya kumar, Youth Coordinator, SSSSO Karnataka; Sri.B.N.Narasimhamurthy, Warden, Brindavan Campus, SSSIHL and Sri.Sanjay Sahani, Prinicipal, Brindavan Campus, SSSIHL , Sri Manohar Shetty, ACS were among the invitees.
The front portion of the raised platform under the central dome formed the stage for the cultural programme. A chair for Bhagawan was placed on a raised dais facing the stage around which the chairs for the audience were arranged. The invitees and senior members of staff were seated in the first two rows flanking Bhagawan’s chair.
At 9.30 a.m the director accompanied by senior administrative staff went to the Department of Cardiology and opened the new Cath Lab, that Swami had inaugurated and blessed earlier that week. The entire staff of the Cardiology department from OPD, Cath Lab and CCU had assembled for the occasion. After aarthi was offered to Bhagawan, Dr. Hegde switched on the console and broke a coconut symbolically commissioning the lab. The first patient was Ram Singh a coronary artery disease patient scheduled for an Angio gram. The staff then dispersed to their regular duties.
Special lunch commenced at 1.00 p.m and was an eleven course affair. After a scrumptious lunch the audience assembled in the central dome area. And with the permission of the Director the program commenced at 3.15 p.m. The paramedical boys from the Sri Sathya Sai College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences opened the proceedings with Vedam. This was followed by the lamp lighting ceremony wherein Dr. Hegde, Dr.Voleti Choudary, Sri.Gangadhar Shetty, Sri. Dhakappa and Sri. Krishna Kumar lit the five pointed lamp and offered their pranams to Bhagawan.
This was followed by opening of the Prema Vaibhavam exhibition. Designed on the lines of the Prema Jyothi exhibition that travelled across the country, it consisted of theme based panels that spoke of various aspects of Bhagawan’s life, mission, message and legacy.
Dr.A.S.Hegde, Chairman Department of Neurosciences and Director SSSIHMS Whitefield then gave the welcome address. He invoked the blessings of Swami on all and in his talk, took the audience through the 10 years of this Temple of Healing. He recounted the challenges faced and the milestones crossed. He congratulated the staff on being part of a mission where a patient could receive the best possible treatment totally free of charge. He praised the efforts of the doctors and paramedical staff for sustaining excellent standards of healthcare delivery. He concluded with some personal thoughts on how he envisaged the hospital could improve itself in delivering more humanitarian medical care. He said that though as an institution we are delivering free health care we still needed to develop the ‘personal touch’ as individuals. Communication had to be improved and we needed to work towards achieving a much greater sense of ownership and partnership in sharing swami’s love with the patients. One could hear the words of Albert Einstein – even the best can be bettered – as Dr. Hegde concluded his talk.
Sri. Naganand, legal advisor, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust addressed the audience next. In his talk he narrated instances from his personal experiences with Swami, and explained that Swami is more interested in each of us as we are rather than what we do. He reminded us that the patient is God and it is our duty to serve them. He highlighted the truth that Swami is omnipresent and He is always with us observing us and guiding us. He quoted the conversations with Swami in the founding days of SSSIHMS and reminded us that this hospital has been established with the single intention of serving the patients and sending them home with satisfaction in their hearts. When Swami decides to do something, He will make it happen. Everything falls into place at various levels. He concluded his talk congratulating the staff for their efforts for the past ten years and reminded us that we must radiate the love of Swami.
The senior doctors and honorary members serving in the hospital were then honored with special mementos blessed by Swami. The list of 23 included the Heads of the Departments, the in-charge officers for support departments and honorary staff serving in various capacities. The rest of the medical, nursing, paramedical and technical staff received their gifts from their departmental heads and in-charges later during the evening.
The cultural program followed as scheduled with a violin recital by vidwan Sri. K.Lakshmanan who entertained the audience with a medley of short sweet renditions. After 30 minutes of melodious music, he was felicitated by Dr.Hegde with a bouquet and a Shawl. Kumari Jijitha Gopal a staff nurse at SSSIHMS then rendered a Bharatanatyam dance performance.
It was well into the evening when the compeer Mr.Y.Arvind, Sr.Mgr., Public Relations concluded the program with a vote of thanks. Unlike the traditional thanksgiving where the people involved are formally thanked akin to screen credits running at the end of a movie, he chose to make it different. He reminded himself and the rest of the audience that everything is a consequence of team work and each of us need to be grateful to the other for having made things happen. Therefore the vote of thanks is given to each and every one of us who worked to make this day happen. And to be grateful to Swami for the wonderful opportunity that he has blessed us with to be part of His mission. The 10th anniversary is a day when we look back upon our lives and reiterate to ourselves what we are here for; to rededicate ourselves to a higher cause, to remind ourselves of the upanisadic statement. Paropakaaraartham Idam Shareeram. This body exists for the service of others.