Published Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1930 hrs.
(courtesy: The Week, Malayala Manorama Group)
Sathya Sai Baba embodies love and selfless service
by Dr. Hiramalini Seshadri
Prayers are on across the globe for the speedy recovery of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, currently admitted to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, popularly called ‘Super Hospital’, in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh. My first experience with the hospital was in 1991. A patient—let us call her Savitri—from Madurai requested to help her get a kidney transplant done at a Chennai corporate hospital.
I was shocked that she had been walking around with a blood creatinine level of 13mg for over six months. A creatinine level above 5mg requires immediate dialysis. And here she was, going on by just taking a pinch of vibhuti daily! The Super Hospital was just being
built then. I urged her to go for dialysis in Madurai but she continued with simple medicines and vibhuti!
When she and her sister visited Puttaparthi later, registrations for transplant had just begun. Her sister decided to be the donor. Savitri was advised dialysis in the interim and the two were referred back to me to get the compatibility checks done. I remember filling the form: under the column ‘Date of last dialysis’, I wrote ‘Never had dialysis’. The lab people actually called back to find out if I had made a mistake. The test results showed 100 per cent compatibility.
As soon as the hospital was inaugurated, Savitri and sister were admitted. The surgery went well and she was beaming when she later recounted how Baba visited and blessed them after the operation. Three years ago, I bumped into her in Chennai. She was doing absolutely great.
Another patient, a young man with congenital cyanotic heart disease, was advised surgery. He had to wait for 18 months for his turn. We kept him going with vibhuti. When he was admitted for surgery at the super speciality hospital in Whitefield, Bangalore, he chickened out at the time of signing the consent form and got himself discharged against medical advice. He decided he would continue to manage with vibhuti. Today, eight years later, he drives an autorickshaw for a living and goes on the physically demanding Sabarimala pilgrimage every year.
Baba burst into our lives when I unexpectedly lost my mother in 1991. I was distraught and, for solace, sang to a calendar picture of Baba and challenged him if he was really omnipresent and omniscient, vibhuti should appear on the statue of Shirdi Baba below the calendar. When I finished singing, there was vibhuti on it!
I longed to see Baba, but did not tell others because I thought they would laugh at me. But I need not have worried; Baba came in my husband’s dreams and he felt impelled to suggest that we all go for Baba’s darshan. A psychiatrist, he was a hard nut to crack. In some houses, after bhajans, they would open the neivedyam and show us that the omnipresent one had partaken of it. But he was not convinced. So one day he made kesari prasadam and decorated it with raisins arranged in the form of aum and sat watching the container like a hawk through the bhajan. On opening the lid, he found that the invisible lord had taken a nice big scoop and the raisins were all scattered! He was clean bowled.
We started on various seva activities. One such activity was all-faith prayers. One Easter day at a friend’s place, a cross in vibhuti appeared on a picture of Jesus. The picture was supposed to be sent to Austria and we were wondering how the vibhuti cross would fare, as vibhuti usually falls off at the lightest touch. The lord knew better; the vibhuti cross became like cement and survived the long journey.
On Christmas day in 2000, a framed picture of Jesus materialised as we sang carols at home, and during a Ramadan bhajan, luscious dates materialised!
Initially, our experiences were all with Baba’s suprahuman side. But soon we were blessed with interviews and we realised that Baba showers the love of a thousand mothers. Today we realise that our lives are on ‘autopilot’ and Baba is in charge!
How has that changed our lives? Since we know he knows everything, we are more careful about our thoughts, words and deeds. Above all, we want to live life the way he wants us to by following his teachings—“Love all, serve all” and “Help ever, hurt never”.
Baba always says, “I am God and I know it; you, too, are God, only you don’t know it.” It was in 1968 that he made the declaration of avatarhood. “This human form is one in which all the names and forms ascribed by man to God are manifest… This is divinity in human form… How fortunate you are that you can witness all the countries of the world paying homage to Bharat! That you can hear, even while this body is existing, adoration of the name of Sathya Sai reverberating from every nook and corner of the world...,” he said in Bombay. Today, those words have come true.
Baba encourages devotees to do selfless seva. And it is all done without publicity. A lot of good gets done as a result! So we have unprecedented education, medical care and social projects running successfully globally.
Institutes of Sathya Sai Education—the first one was established in Japan in 1991—are present on all the continents. In a bid to provide education with human values to rural children, Vidya Vahini, an e-learning programme, was launched on Baba’s birthday last year in partnership with TCS.
Sathya Sai Schools are there on all continents. In Zambia, it is known as miracle school, as the teachers transform dropouts and louts into achievers with impeccable character. Sathya Sai U-Turn Schools in Australia do what the name implies. In India, companies compete to get the graduates of Sathya Sai University as they are such exemplary team players and leaders.
Free medical care is another concept that Baba has proved is workable. All over the world, doctors and medical professionals run weekly free Sathya Sai primary health care clinics. In a bid to reach out to the villages, mobile hospitals have been set up. Two model secondary care Sri Sathya Sai general hospitals have been running for decades at Puttaparthi and Whitefield. The icing on the cake are the two state-of-the-art tertiary care Sri Sathya Sai Institutes of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi and in Whitefield. None of these hospitals has a bill counter. Everything, including bypass surgeries and neuro surgeries, is totally free.
Mammoth water supply projects to give potable water to 10.8 million people of Anantapur, Medak and Mehabubnagar were just a beginning. The Sathya Sai Ganga project brought water to the parched Chennai. Many other projects now serve the backward East and West Godavari districts. Disaster relief and rebuilding is a priority work taken up by the Sai Organisation. Houses in the flood-hit Orissa, tsunami-hit Tamil Nadu and earthquake-hit Gujarat were built by the organisation.
In Myanmar there is a Sathya Sai Grama, complete with a school and a pagoda, built by the Thai and Malay devotees after floods devastated a village. Grama seva is Rama seva, is an idea that Baba has promoted and the integrated village development taken up by Sai Youth is doing wonders in villages.
Baba encourages a Hindu to be a better Hindu; a Christian to be a better Christian; a Muslim to be a better Muslim. All religious festivals are celebrated at Prashanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi. A devotee recently made bold to request Baba, who has been ailing for a while, to ‘heal himself’. Baba replied with a smile, “Your prayers can heal me!” Our strife-torn world needs Baba now more than ever before!