Volume 6 - Issue 03
MARCH - 2008
Born in Backward Bhagawanpur
As an infant, when he wailed, his mother never picked him up and held him close to her bosom. When he cried out of hunger as a baby, she did not take him onto her lap and feed him. Or when he fell while trying to walk as a toddler, she never rushed to lift him up and stop his tears with her caresses. “I do not know what mother’s love is,” says Mihira Kumar Mishra.
It was such a tragic twist of destiny for this village boy that the one who gave him birth never acknowledged or realized his existence, let alone loved or cared for him. Right from the time he was born, his mother was mentally challenged – she lived in her own space and time, in her own way. And his father, though a concerned parent, was a man of little means; he taught small children in a nearby school.
His village was obscure and poor, a perfect example of under developed India. There was only a muddy and patchy pathway to connect their rural habitation to the world. Almost every family in that hamlet worked in the fields through rain and heat, cold and storm, as farmers or labourers. Their settlement was known as ‘Bhagawanpur’, meaning ‘ Land of God’. The origin of this name is unknown but what is certainly evident is the complete dependence of the simple village folk on God and Nature to come to their rescue at every adversity just like Mihira’s father, Kshetra Mohan Mishra did.
Kshetra Mohan underwent all the trials with fortitude and faith in God. It did not matter, if Sulochana had lost her mental balance, she was still his wife and he cared for her like every loving husband would. He laboured hard to raise his only son, the apple of his eye. He toiled and saved to provide for his wife’s medicines and his child’s every need. Fortunately there was help from Mihira’s uncle; still, being a single parent with an indisposed wife and grossly inadequate income was never easy. But Kshetra Mohan continued with courage and perseverance until one event almost broke the limits of his emotional endurance.
Blighted by a Diseased Heart
When Mihira was five years old, he suddenly developed unrelenting fever and cold. Kshetra Mohan took him to the Primary Health Centre, located more than 15 kms away, but the medicines prescribed there provided no respite whatsoever. When the problem persisted, the disturbed father took Mihira to Cuttack, one of Orissa’s biggest cities.
The doctors of a reputed hospital there checked him thoroughly and finally delivered a definite diagnosis. When Kshetra Mohan heard their verdict, his heart could barely beat. He could not accept that his 5 year old dear one was actually suffering from a serious cardiac ailment. The only glimmer of Grace in that hour of gloom was that the cardiologists did not advise immediate surgery. If they had, Kshetra Mohan could have perhaps collapsed out of anxiety, as there was no way he could have mobilized the required amount to save his son.
From that day onwards, Mihira had to be continuously on drugs. Even though he was not as active as his counterparts in school, he had enough stamina to do everything he wanted, except play outdoor games or lift heavy weights. Kshetra Mohan managed to buy the medicines for his son every month, and every year he took him to reputed hospitals in Cuttack or Bhuvaneshwar (the capital of Orissa) for a routine check up.
It all seemed under control until 1988 when the doctors in SCB Medical College in Cuttack advised that Mihira should be operated upon immediately. “Without surgery, his health will only deteriorate from now on,” they said. Kshetra Mohan was panic stricken. He prayed and pleaded for funds from relatives and friends, but with little success. He had endured too much stress till then and could not take it anymore. He had lost the battle in his mind and in the same year his body too gave away.
He became terribly sick with jaundice and with no proper diagnosis and treatment available in the remote village, he breathed his last. It was too much and too sudden for Mihira. He was 18 years old then but cried pathetically like a baby who has lost his mother; he was inconsolable. At this time, his uncle and grand parents came to his rescue, but it took a long time for him to come out of the shock. Nursing his deep emotional wounds, he forgot about his heart surgery. But his health was on a downward spiral.
Often his body’s temperature shot to 102° and 104°F and he was as weak as a dying man. But somehow, he came through it. He consulted specialists and changed his medicines frequently. That is the only option he had as surgery for him was a pipedream. In 1999, he contracted a serious infection and became so sick that his uncle rushed him to Kalinga Hospital, Bhuvaneshwar. He was bed ridden for three months and at that time was administered 20 injections per day, one every hour, to stabilize his condition.
The doctors again insisted on immediate surgery and even informed him that two valves in his heart were now almost defunct. But there was nothing Mihira could do. Thanks to the school authorities, he could secure his father’s job soon after his death, but his income was just enough to keep his flesh and bones together, given the huge expenditure on medicines he had to incur every month. Mihira had now resigned to his cruel fate. It was the darkest hour of his life. And it was at this time that God chose to confer light, hope and grace on him.
The End of His Years of Anguish
Someone told his uncle about Bhagavan Baba’s free Super Specialty Hospital in Puttaparthi and in a few months, Mihira was in the outpatient department of the Hospital along with his uncle. He went through the battery of cardiac diagnostic tests, his diagnosis was confirmed and he was sent home with medicines and lots of advice, after putting him on the waiting list for surgery.
In January 2002, he was invited by Baba’s Super Specialty Hospital in Bangalore to come prepared for surgery. And once and for all, his disease of nearly three decades was fixed. He underwent an open heart surgery for ASD closure (closing the hole in the heart) and MV Repair (repairing the Mitral Valve). And the relief and joy on Mihira’s face after the operation was beyond this world.
“Baba's Hospital is a Temple …how could I have ever arranged lakhs of rupees for my operation? Besides, I can never forget the love that the staff and doctors showered on me here so generously…my life has been saved by Baba. He has given me a new life.” Mihira’s voice was choked with emotion.
His Heart Now Beats For Sai
A beautiful and moving end to the story, isn’t it? But, actually, this is only the beginning. Because Mihira’s story has similarities with many other such accounts of patients treated in Baba’s Hospitals only till this point. One would think Mihira would spend the rest of his life peacefully and with minimum problems. Yes, it is true, but it is only half the truth; the other half being, Mihira is, at the same time, extremely busy empathising with the problems of many other fellow brothers and sisters and removing their pain.
“The people of my village are very poor. Just like me, they cannot afford huge expenditures for their treatments. So I decided to take all the suffering people of my village to Baba’s Hospital…This is my way of showing gratitude to Baba for giving a new birth,” says Mihira, who is now 38 years old. And in the last six years he has brought twenty-three patients from his area and surrounding villages for treatment to Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospitals, both in Puttaparthi and Whitefield. For the rural folk in that region, Mihira, who was once pitied upon by everyone around, is now their ‘angel’ – a great source of inspiration and support. The whole character of little Bhagawanpur has changed in just five years. Now you find there a vibrant Sai Group which, apart from doing regular Bhajans, has undertaken many notable service projects. One recent initiative being the Blood Donation Day organized on September 16, 2007.
The planning for this endeavour started three months in advance as the inspired youth led by Mihira, who is now the Sevadal Coordinator of the Sai Group, created awareness about the camp in all nearby villages through posters, meetings and personal appeals. Their team to handle the Blood Bank had five technicians, two assistants and one doctor. The venue was the rural village of Rasol, a few kilometers from Bhagawanpur, and they left no stone unturned with respect to organizing the camp. With a Registration Counter, Blood Collection Room, Counseling Room, Rest Room, Waiting Hall and the like set up in a school building, it was the best that could be planned in that remote and backward region.
The Youth had expected to collect a maximum of 50-60 units of blood. But as the registration count went up from 40, 50, 60 to 100, they were overwhelmed. At the end of the day, they had 105 units! Such was the sense of sacrifice and love that filled the ambience that all the teachers of the school too volunteered to donate. The CDMO and Blood Bank Officer of the District Head Quarters Hospital were so surprised by the selfless service that they now have the name of the Sai Organisation displayed on a big board in the District Blood Bank Office.
It was truly a Festival of Liquid Love and everybody chipped in to contribute in his or her own way. The Sai Volunteers from the nearby town took care of the donors by offering them proper counseling; others organized video programs based on Sai and His Love to be shown to the people waiting in the Hall; while a third group distributed certificates, Vibhuti and a Blood Donation Book to every donor. A youth, Surya, who had come only to offer service at the camp was so moved by what he saw that he ended up being a donor, and said, “Now, I will donate blood every year to save others’ lives. It is such an ennobling experience.”
And this is not the only activity that Mihira and the team of Sai Youth are engaged in. Mihira, apart from being the Sevadal Coordinator, also takes Bal Vikas classes for the children of his village. Recently, he, along with others, also organized a Teacher Training Seminar based on EHV which had 200 teachers participating to learn about Human Values and their application.
Actually, Mihira has conducted two such seminars, one on August 6, 2006 and another on September 30, 2007. The heartening fact is that, aware of the noble work being done by Mihira and the Sai Youth, the Deputy Inspector of Schools of that region instructed all the school teachers to participate in this programme. Mr. Mayadhar Pal, a participant teacher, after the programme, said, “I thought you wanted to preach us about Sai Baba. But I now know how mistaken I was. This seminar has touched me a lot. Right away I will try to start implementing all these precious human values in my school.”
Mihira and his Youth team, inspired by Bhagavan’s mega service projects, are never satisfied. They are always looking for avenues to do more and on the anvil are many exciting projects apart from regular medical camps, poor feeding and providing basic amenities in the 16 villages surrounding Bhagawanpur. While all this goes on, Mihira’s principal passion of bringing patients to Baba’s Hospitals never stops. His life, today, is a candle that has not only given light and warmth to many but also has kindled the spark of Divine Love and selfless service in the hearts of hundreds.
- Bishu Prusty
We are grateful to Mr. R R Sar, the District President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Angul District, Orissa, for this active support in the making of this article.
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Vol 6 Issue 03 - MARCH 2008
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