Home >> Healing Touch
Posted on : Nov 22, 2011
The First Blessed One
from the 'Temple of Healing'
...celebrating two decades of selfless service in SSSIHMS-PG
More than two decades ago, in a public discourse Bhagawan promised a miracle. He declared that in Puttaparthi there would rise a super speciality hospital that will offer state-of-the-art treatment in tertiary medical care. If the idea of having such an advanced medical centre in a village which was about a hundred miles from the nearest city, appeared to be a far fetched dream, Bhagawan stunned all by further declaring that it would charge no fees whatsoever. Was it a miracle only for these reasons? Not completely; in a piece of land that lay barren for decades, and even while the announcement was made, He said, would come the edifice just a year later. No, not just the building, He said even the first surgery would be performed on that day. Time itself stood witness to this miracle of pure love.
Many a mile stones have been reached ever since, by the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram (SSSIHMS-PG). The statistics turned the detractors and doubters into admirers. This year, this divine gift to humanity completes twenty years of its inspiring existence. Thousands have come to this temple and have returned enriched. To date nearly 14000 surgeries have been performed by Bhagawan's Super Speciality hospital in Puttaparthi. But every long journey begins with a first step and this long list of beneficiaries too began with one little boy with a small hole in his heart. It is twenty years since that little heart was 'touched'.
Vijay Bhaskar was all of fourteen summers when he underwent a heart surgery on the inauguration day of the SSSIHMS-PG. He now lives with his parents, wife and two children in Anantapur town, and with much gratitude recollects the experience of being drenched by the love of Baba and His instruments:
I feel blessed. For me Swami is Pranadaata (Bestower of life). He has given me a new lease of life. I can never repay what Swami has done for me.
It was in 1991 that I was first diagnosed with a heart problem. No one in our family knew what was wrong with me.
I used to have fainting spells, and feel breathless and weak most of the time. We first went to a local doctor in Anantapur who told us that something was wrong with my heart and asked me to get a few scans done. We did as told. Examining the reports the doctor told us that I had a hole in my heart which has to be operated upon.
After that my peddananna (father's elder brother) took me to a hospital in Hyderabad. The doctors there told us that my situation was really bad. “You have to undergo the surgery at the earliest; any delay can even be fatal.” This was their verdict. But the greater shock for us was the cost of the operation; it was close to two lakhs!
Such an amount definitely was beyond our means. So there is little we could do. I just continued to suffer, silently and helplessly.
The Neighbour Shows the Way
It was at this time that a miracle happened. As one of our neighbours, we had Mr. Mahananda Reddy, an ex-army person, who was an ardent devotee of Baba. When he heard of my plight he informed that Baba was constructing an advanced hospital in Puttaparthi. “Go there and find out; you could be treated there!” he suggested earnestly.
We took his advise. It was sometime in the last week of October 1991 that we went to the super-speciality hospital, which was then still under construction. We were then asked to go to the old hospital - the General Hospital in Puttaparthi.
When we did this, Dr. Bhagvat there took one look at the reports and told me to get admitted immediately. Mr. Mahananda and my peddananna were there with me.
It was while staying in the General Hospital that I realised I was going to be operated upon in the upcoming super-speciality hospital, however I still had no clue that I was to be the first patient of Baba's new hospital.
The Care of a Mother, Inspired by the Divine Mother
I stayed in the General Hospital for 20 days; the condition of my health was not good and the doctors were preparing me for the operation. I can never forget the loving care of the nurses and the staff during that time. They would come everyday and enquire about what I would like to eat for every session and if I needed anything else. I can only say that they took care of me like a mother would take care of her child.
There is also something else that I witnessed during this period which touched me immensely. There was an old patient who was very weak and feeble; he could not take care of himself in any way, he could not even move on his own. And the way the sevadal in the hospital served him is remarkable. This volunteer would feed him, prepare him for his bath and even help him with his bed pan. Actually this was my firsthand experience of Sai love. Even children would not do for their parents what this volunteer was doing for this old man. It was then that I realised how fortunate I was to be treated in Swami’s institution.
To be frank as a young boy I did not have much idea of the operation; I did not know my chest was going to be opened. So I was never scared of the surgery, my uncle however was very concerned. And then something beautiful happened.
The Love, Concern and the Assurance by the Divine Himself
A few days later Swami came to the General Hospital and spoke to me. He reassured me that He was with me always and therefore I had nothing to worry. He even lovingly pinched my cheek! Wow! These memories will remain with me forever.
A couple of days later I heard that the distinguished people involved in setting up the hospital had a meeting to decide if I or another boy from Maharashtra, who had a similar heart problem, would be the first patient of the newly inaugurated hospital. Soon a nurse told me that I was the chosen one.
Two days before the surgery, that is on November 19, I was shifted to the cardiac ward of the new super-speciality hospital. The nurses here too took care of me with the same love as in the General Hospital.
And on the day of the inauguration, that is Nov 22, 1991, when I was being taken to the operation theatre, I suddenly saw Swami coming to me. I immediately sat up on my bed. Actually they had already injected anaesthesia, so I could not sit steadily; I was slowly falling back on my bed. But Swami Himself lovingly rushed forward and held me from falling! And then Baba asked me to lie down, put His hand on my head and assured me that everything will be all right. Right next to him was the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao. In fact Swami came with me till the door of operation theatre.
Once I was inside, they placed a mask on my face and I lost all consciousness. Next I remember waking up when a doctor called out my name and said, “Get up, get up. Your operation is over. You are fine now!” It was then that I noticed the scar on my chest; I was in the ICU. I was served sweet pongal (rice cooked with lentils) and soon shifted to the cardiac ward.
I had a feeling that it would be very painful when they remove the stitches, so I was a bit frightened. But on the appointed day, a doctor came and engaged me in a small conversation. He started talking about many things and sometime during this session he casually said, “It is alright, your stitches have been removed!” I felt no pain at all.
A week later when I was in the ward, Swami again came to see me! It was such a heavenly experience. I infact got up from my bed and started walking with Swami! And while I was doing so, with a wave of His hand, Swami materialised vibhuti and placed it in my hand. He then pinched my cheek with so much love, with the same hand; this left a mark of vibhuti on my cheek! Fortunately someone had clicked a picture exactly at that moment and to this day that image remains my most priced possession.
I spent around 20 days in the hospital. There were about seven other patients who underwent operation around the same time. Some of them on the same day and a few the next day. I have to say that the love that was showered on all these patients was simply overwhelming.
Little Acts of Love that became Unforgettable Memories and Inspirations
I would like to mention about two unforgettable incidents that happened during my stay in the hospital. The food served in the hospital was made according to the diet restrictions prescribed, therefore many a times it would have a bland taste. One day when the head-nurse asked me what I would like to eat, I told her that I would prefer chinnakaya pacchadi (groundnut chutney). As she was not from Andhra Pradesh she could not understand what I was referring to. So she took the help of another Telugu-speaking nurse to understand my requirement. And in my next meal that dish was there! Later another nurse told me that the head-nurse had herself ground the peanuts using a pestle. I had goosebumps when I heard that!
Another day while I was having food, one particular dish was very spicy for me and I was about to spit it out. A nurse who saw watching this, immediately put out her hand asking me to spit into it. I had never imagined that anybody could be treated with so much love. I have to admit that what I received there was more than my mother’s love. And it is not just me, every patient there was showered with the same love.
When I was fit enough to be discharged, the doctors told me to lead a normal life. I could eat anything but had to avoid ice-creams for six months. They also advised me not to lift heavy objects till I had recovered completely.
A Pious Yearning, and the Lord Obliges
Before I was discharged, a desire arose in my heart. I wanted to have Swami’s darshan. So special arrangements were made for me. I remember it was December 20, 1991. Bhajans had just ended when I was taken inside the Bhajan Hall.
Swami was then residing in His room above the Bhajan Hall in the Prasanthi Mandir. Out of His immense love, Baba came down the steps and stood near me! I knelt down and gave Him a rose. And then requested for pada namaskaram. Swami gently lifted His robe, and I touched His feet. My heart was full. I returned home completely satisfied.
That one month in the hospital truly is the most memorable period of my life. I consider myself extremely blessed. I have received such love and care which probably few have been fortunate to receive, and for this I am ever indebted to Swami.
My family obviously was delighted to see me back at home, healthy and fit. In fact just after a week of my discharge, I started playing cricket. However this bothered my mother, so I stopped this.
Before the surgery, my chest used to bulge out. Because of this my friends teased me by calling names. But this was gone after the operation. And I also started enjoying having food. You can see how fat I have grown now!
I am now married and blessed with two little daughters. One is 5 years old, while the younger one has completed a year.
I work as a library assistant in the Sri Krishnadevaraya University. And let me tell you this: Even now I will not be able to afford a surgery that Swami got done for me 20 years ago! And so many like me have benefitted from Swami's Love. Nobody can ever imagine repaying Swami.
- Radio Sai team in association with SSSIHMS-PG