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  Volume 3 - Issue 10
OCTOBER 2005

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INTERNATIONAL SAI MEDICAL CONFERENCE

ON IDEAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

This cover story is organised in four parts after a small introduction. Part-1 talks about the Genesis and Organisation of the Conference, Part-II deals with the Inaugural Session of the Conference which includes excerpts of Swami's discourse, Part-III informs you about the discussions in the college auditorium, and Part-IV describes the Valedictory Session of the Conference.

 
 


“I must
also point out to the doctors serving here that perhaps even more than the drugs they prescribe, the sweet, soft words they speak and the love and sympathy they evince can cure better and quicker the illness of their patients. Look upon them as your own kith and kin, as your special guests and as your closest friends, and attend to them lovingly and with unflinching care.

I call upon you to maintain this attitude in every situation. Remember that the patient has to cooperate with you in order that you may affect the cure, and when cured, the patient confers on you satisfaction, joy, and a sense of elation. Be grateful to the patient for all this.”

- Baba

This is the pristine way every patient in the world has to be cared for. This is the new dimension for healthcare in the 21st century - the most holistic and holiest of approaches to patient care and health administration that the world needs.

This is the golden message on healthcare from the Master Physician, Doctor Divine Bhagawan Baba.

It is to convey this significant aspect of patient care that the International Sai Medical Conference was organised in Prashanti Nilayam by the International Medical Committee of the world-wide Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations.

 

During the valedictory session of the two-day conference, Dr. Venkat Sadanand, a fellow in paediatric neural surgery at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said,

We have to love our patients - love, love, love till it hurts. Love till there is nothing left of your body. All that you can see is the God within you. As physicians we have to ask ourselves – ‘In what way have I given up something that is dear to me that I can make someone happy?’ ”

This was the common sentiment which every eminent doctor who took the podium echoed on the final day of the conference. The conference had served its purpose.

So, how did the conference actually go? What did Swami say to all the 900 professionals who had gathered at His Lotus Feet? What were their impressions on Swami’s Hospitals? As you read further, you will know all this and more.

Part-I

GENESIS OF THE CONFERENCE

To know how the idea for the conference came up, we need to go back to November of 2004. It was Swami who orchestrated the formation of the International Medical Committee [IMC] during that time and immediately guidelines for the committee were laid down, with Dr. Narendra Reddy being appointed as the Chairman.

When the tsunami struck just in the month following its formation, on the 26th of December, it became clear why Swami had planned it in November. The yeoman service that Sai organisations did for the tsunami victims and how the IMC met the Presidents and Prime Ministers of various countries and discussed the relief and rehabilitation efforts to draw workable plans for the Sai Organisation is history now. [Read our special Tsunami issue for the full account of Seva done during the tsunami.

Service by Sai workers during Tsunami in Dec 04 -Jan 05

After the successful execution of the mammoth tsunami service activities in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other affected countries, the committee saw it fitting to organize an international conference of this magnitude at Prashanti Nilayam, not only to celebrate the 80th Year of the Advent of the Avatar, but also to provide a new direction, an altogether new dimension to the way medicine is practised the world over.

The Organisation of the Conference


The sheer logistics and difficulty of arranging a conference of this magnitude with attendees from such diverse areas can be understood, if not fully appreciated.

A web site was established where interested healthcare professionals could get information about the conference and sign up for it. Information about the conference also filtered down through the many Sai Centres and Sai Seva Samithis throughout India and abroad.

Wherever participants had no access to email, registration was done the old fashioned way - by snail mail. Slowly, one by one, the diverse blocks fell in place and all these conference attendees assembled in Prashanti Nilayam by the evening of September 2nd, 2005 to attend this unprecedented conference on the 3rd and 4th of September, 2005.

Part-II

INAUGURATION OF THE MEDICAL CONFERENCE - SEP 3rd 2005

 

The Sun Emerges

When the warm rays of the Sun lit the beautifully decked Sai Kulwant Hall on the morning of 3rd Sep, it found over 900 healthcare professionals (which included apart from doctors, hospital administrators, insurance people, and even public relations officers) seated neatly facing the dais; some in suits, some in whites, all dressed up for the occasion.

You could see mixed signs of anticipation, expectation and hidden joy on their faces as they awaited the sunshine of their lives – their beloved Lord - to emerge from His abode.

Soon Swami’s car came in view and there was an excited buzz in the Sai Kulwant Hall. But the car took a turn. Swami was on His way to the EHV building to inaugurate the Sai Ideal Healthcare Exhibition.

The Sai Ideal Healthcare Exhibition


Swami, to the immense delight of the organisers, spent a good 20-30 minutes and went to every corner of the hall seeing the exhibits, the video presentations and the posters. The exhibition, a vital part of the conference, provided a mother lode of health related information to the visitors.

Apart from outlining the extensive service done by the seva organizations by holding medical screening camps in India and abroad - in countries like Ghana, Argentina, South Africa, the U.S, the U.K., to name a few - the exhibition also provided a very educative experience on a healthy life-style to every visitor who took the tour.


An eye-catcher of the exhibition was the uncommon and old pictures of Swami visiting and guiding the doctors and staff of the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital entitled '25 Years In the Service Of Humanity'. It portrayed pictorially how Swami has been deeply involved with the Hospital, taking a span of 25 years (1976 to 2001).

A sample of Sai Ideal Healthcare Exhibition slides

At the end of the tour, every visitor not only feasted on the beautiful old pictures of Swami, but also knew what constitutes a good diet, what precautions to take against cancer, diabetes, TB and a host of such ailments.

 
 

Aims of the International Sai
Medical Conference

The purpose of this conference was to elucidate the fundamental attributes of "Sai Ideal Healthcare." The conference sought to integrate and reaffirm Swami's teachings on the Science, Art, and Integrity of medicine to put forth the noble ideals as the SAIence of medicine.

These ideals included four primary considerations:

(1) Practitioners of healthcare should consider the nature and sacredness of human life, the great significance of supporting human life through healthcare, and respond accordingly, not only with medicines and surgical procedures, but more importantly, with love and compassion.

(2) Economic considerations should not prevent anyone from receiving the highest benefits of healthcare. Private and government resources must be mobilized in order to extend the benefits of healthcare, "Sai Ideal Healthcare."

(3) Healthcare should focus on preventing disease, not merely reacting to disease once it occurs.

(4) Healthcare professionals, including those in supportive roles must incorporate these ideal considerations in their practice.

The two day conference was an attempt to provide a forum for understanding Bhagavan's message that "Sacrifice is the Hallmark of a Doctor".

It was a forum for discussing questions of import like:

How do we inculcate spiritual value systems in our daily work life?

How do we make selfless service a habit?

What are the challenges we face in our work that make it difficult to practise the above values?

What are the experiences of other doctors in this noble endeavour?

“We Are Here to Explore Sai Ideal Healthcare…” – Dr. Goldstein

When Swami returned to Sai Kulwant Hall from the exhibition, the conference began with Swami lighting the ceremonial lamp.

On the dais beside Swami was a galaxy of eminent healthcare professionals. Dr. Goldstein, Chairman of the International Sai Organisation, in his welcome address, made the objective of the conference very clear when he said,


"Selfless service is doing what we are qualified and trained to do, by doing it the best we can. Human life is
a God given opportunity to realize our divine heritage....

We are here to consider the administration of Healthcare. We are here to consider the role of healthcare in human life, explore Sai ideal healthcare and the relevance of the Creator in the dedicated pursuit of the divinity within…

Baba says that a doctor should have faith in spirituality. If the doctor is full of love and compassion God will work through him… By practising the 5 human values, the ideal Sai health care professional can effectively heal the plague of violence in our society..."

 

Later, placing the model of Swami’s Super Speciality Hospitals before the audience, the Director, Dr. A N Safaya, spoke at length on how globalisation and non-commercialisation of medicine is not only possible, but also surely sustainable, in modern society with Swami’s Hospitals standing as glowing examples (all treatment is Swami’s hospitals are completely free).

But more importantly, the director emphasised, it is the humanisation and the spiritualization of medicine which are the key differentiators of Swami’s Hospitals.

He mentioned how the practice of medicine becomes a spiritual practice when the doctor’s heart is filled with love for the patient. No wonder, these edifices are described as “Temples of Healing” – one can easily feel the divine vibration when one enters the central dome of the hospital, he observed.

Wealth of Quality Information

In fact, to acquaint all the participants with the Sai Health Mission being practised so gloriously in Swami’s Hospitals, a booklet entitled “Sri Sathya Sai Healthcare Mission” was distributed to all the participants before the conference actually started. In addition to this, there were two other informative, nay, enlightening booklets which were inside the leather carry bag that every participant was given on their arrival to Prashanti Nilayam.

One was the Jan 2005 issue of SWISSMED magazine (Swiss Review for Medicine and Medical Technique) which was a special issue on the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospitals in Puttaparthi (Andhra Pradesh) and Bangalore (in Karnataka State ) of India.

And the other was an exquisite collection of Swami’s messages on healthcare and medicine called “Sacrifice is the Hallmark of a Doctor.” This wealth of quality information, so painstakingly researched and so thoughtfully presented, truly, laid a good foundation for a fulfilling and rewarding experience of the conference for every participant.

 
 

“Miracles Happen Here…” - Dr. Alan Gladman, Keynote Address

So continuing with our story of what happened on the 3rd Morning, after the inspiring talk of Dr. Safaya, it was the turn of the keynote speaker of the day, Dr. Alan Gradman, Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh; and Professor of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine.

 

Talking first about how he first came to Swami and the profound influence that Swami had over him, Dr Alan Gradman said,

"The first time that I came here I was, much to my surprise, privileged to have an interview and actually be in the presence of Swami. And I watched Him perform miracles, I watched Him create a ring and I sat there speechless, thoughtless. And of course we all know that Swami’s message is not about making rings and doing miracles. He has said that in today’s world, where people do not believe in such things, in this scientific world where nothing can be believed, that only shock therapy can work to make people believe. That certainly worked for me - it had a tremendous effect on my whole view of the world. So I learned from my experience here that miracles happen and that they are real and this is not something in some old book somewhere."

Then at length, he talked about the tremendous advances in cardiology which has changed the facade and functioning of cardiology in the last 30 years and before closing his illuminating talk said,

"I want to close by talking about cardiology education because I am an educator and I run a training programme. When I first came here I asked Swami if it would be possible to bring some fellows here to learn and to see this different model of healthcare and He agreed. For many reasons this has not happened yet. I believe that even Swami says there is no lack of intelligent men in the world and there are many scientists. It is because the intelligentsia and scientists have not been educated along the right lines that the world is plunged into chaos and disorder.

I would like to educate a few people and have them view this healthcare system that is so different from our own and at least see what is possible. Our trainees come in as young idealistic people and what we need to do is to ensure the safety of the sapling of education. You have to build a fence of dharma to guard against the animals of desire. I would like to figure out how to do that.”

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi.

Impressed with the working of Swami’s Super Speciality Hospitals, this was Dr. Gradman's final word,

"I do not think that the (Swami’s) Super Speciality Hospital is the answer to all the healthcare problems of the world, or even the US . It is an example of what can be done. It has been replicated in Bangalore and perhaps it could be replicated in Pittsburgh . But it stands as an example of what is possible and I think that certainly it could have an impact ."

If you want to listen to Dr. Alan Gladman's talk, download the audio file here.

 
 


“Educare” From the Divine Lips – Swami’s Divine Discourse

If you read carefully, one of the most important things that needed attention which Dr. Alan Gradman mentioned was the ‘safety of the sapling of education’ in young professionals. He had, indeed, hit the bull’s eye. For, when Swami rose to speak. upon prayers of Dr. Goldstein at the end of Dr. Gradman’s talk, He elaborated a great deal on this very aspect of right education in His Divine discourse. He said,

"People think that pursuing academic education and acquiring bookish knowledge is real education. No, that is not real education. Education devoid of educare is not real education. What is educare? Educare is that which brings out the latent divinity in a human being. Divinity is also known as consciousness. It is only because of the consciousness present in him that every individual is able to know the nature of the world around him. It is only this consciousness that is protecting every human being. Education is negative and artificial, whereas educare is positive. One need not go to foreign countries for acquiring educare. It wells up from within and protects the person constantly. Educare is the unity of thought, word and deed.

Swami delivering the inaugural Divine Discourse to the participants

Explaining further on this idea of Educare, Swami said,

Realising one’s innate divinity is educare… Educare consists in realising the nature of the Atma (self). This Atma Tattwa (principle of self) is equally present in every being. This is the fundamental principle. It is only because of this fundamental principle that every living being acquires value. Since ancient times people in India have been striving to realise this fundamental ‘I’ which is present in all beings. The human body is ephemeral and is bound to perish one day or the other. When we speak of ‘I’, it should not be limited to the ephemeral human body, but to the fundamental ‘I’.

 

Giving an example to understand this all-important principle of ‘I’, Swami explained,

"Supposing you question somebody, “Who is the doctor?”

The doctor will immediately rise to answer, ‘I am the doctor’.

In this example, the doctor identifies himself with his profession and says ‘I am the doctor.’ But he forgets about the fundamental ‘I’ present in him.

When a question is put, “Where is God?” The natural answer would be, “He is present in all.”

The one who realises the truth that the same Atma Tattwa is present in every human being and, in fact, every living being, is the happiest person. This principle is changeless and eternal".

For the full text of the discourse, go here.

Thus while the doctors discussed ways and means of healing the body, the Divine Healer extended it to the realm of the spirit. His was a divine prescription - the prescription to raise one’s consciousness from the level of the body to the eternal and changeless level of the spirit. Truly, it is the permanent panacea to all the maladies of the body.

 
 


Did Swami’s main message percolate into the hearts ands minds of the always-dealing-with-the-body physicians?

"The Real Reason Why Swami Has Come….To Raise Our Consciousness" – Dr. Reddy

It certainly did, going by Dr Reddy’s comments on the opening ceremony morning,

“The whole purpose as, Swami said this morning, the purpose is to know who you are. By His very Sankalpa Swami can cure incurable diseases, He can make the lame walk and the blind to see. He has cancelled incurable cancers and He has raised the dead to life. That is not the purpose why Swami has come. The purpose why Swami has come is to raise our consciousness so that we realize who we are. He makes us realize our innate divinity, manifest that divinity and radiate that joy and love to one and all. That is the reason why Swami has come.”

Becoming Pure Being…Pure Consciousness – Dr. Anand

This spiritual aspect of healthcare was emphasised by the eminent doctors in the valedictory session. Dr. Anand, Professor of Paediatrics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said,

When the light of pure divine awareness is obstructed by the idea ‘I am the mind’, it creates a shadow - that shadow is the personality. It has likes and dislikes and fears and all kinds of plans. Through Swami’s grace and His benevolence we can get beyond this idea that I am the mind.

Swami, with your divine grace, let us practise medicine that we may see the divine effulgence in all of our patients. We may serve them with the utmost of love that we may sacrifice all this humanness at your divine Lotus Feet and simply become into pure being, into pure divine awareness ".

 

 

“When I Was Helping the Poor…I was Helping Myself” – Dr. Rackoff

Echoing similar feelings was Dr Michael Rackoff, Executive Director of three community health centres in Maryland, and also a member of the Sai International Medical Committee, who had worked for ‘healthcare for all’ and among many other things trained barefoot doctors in the Bronx and used acupuncture to treat drug addiction, during the valedictory session, he said,

"Years later I realized that I was practicing mind-body medicine and how important that was. Now I know that I was practising Sai heart medicine. In all the years before finding Swami when I did service I thought I was helping the poor, I did not realize that I was changing myself.

Then in January 2005, when Dr. Michael Rackoff had a chance to ask Swami Himself how to teach ethical values to the students, Swami responded,

What is spirituality? It is nothing but an idea in your head. What you must teach is truth, compassion and love. How do you educate? You must show these qualities in practice.”

To download Dr. Michael Rackoff's talk, click here.

Isn’t it heartening to hear such words from distinguished professors of medicine from different countries? This is the kind of gratifying response that the conference received from the participants. And this is also what was emphasised in the conference – each doctor must become a role model for others. He should radiate love and concern.

Part-III

THE CLOSED-DOOR SESSIONS OF PHYSICIANS IN THE COLLEGE AUDITORIUM:
SEP 3RD AFTERNOON AND 4TH MORNING
.

Dr. Goldstein, moderating the discussion
The discussion session in the college auditorium in progress...

If you thought that the conference discussed only the spiritual dimension of healthcare, then you must know that after the morning session on 3rd September, and in the morning of 4th September, all the participants converged at the college auditorium and discussed the physical aspects of healthcare in great detail, facilitated by eminent doctors.

Distinguished doctors like Dr. Ramachandran Coopan from the Harvard Medical School talked about preventing diabetes; Dr. Anil Nanda from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centre shared his views on neurological healthcare in the third millennium; Dr. Kishore Udipi from the Medtronic Vascular Comp. dealt with the role of industry in Healthcare and Dr. K S Anand from the University of Arkansas elaborated on the pillars of paediatric care.

 

The Sai Medical Mission Worldwide - Dr. Reddy

To increase the awareness of the audience on the worldwide Sai service activities on the healthcare front, Dr. Narendra Reddy, Chairman of the International Medical Committee, explained in detail the principles and practices of Sai Healthcare activities giving an overview of the free medical camps and other medical services being offered in different regions of the world by the Sai Organisations.

He noted that,

“There were many eye camps carried out in Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius , South Africa, Zambia. At the Sai Vision Project they are attempting to carry out 8,000 eye surgeries by the 80th birthday and already 5,000 have been done.”

The Sai Medical Mission: Indian Experience - Dr. Keki Mistry

A fitting supplement to this presentation was the talk by Dr. Keki Mistry, a member of the Expert Advisory Panel of WHO on Oral Health on the 4th Sep morning. Dr. Mistry, being a very active organiser of service activities in Mumbai and Maharashtra, shared with the international audience the innovative medical service activities of the Sai Organisations in India .

 

“Bhagavan emphasizes health, hygiene and nutrition. Baba’s definition of health is that it is not only an absence of disease, but a sense of complete physical well-being and in mental and spiritual aspects. To bring this about we use illustrated charts and one to one talks. Special focus is made on children and stress on the perils of smoking, alcoholism and drugs. Bhagavan says the villages are in the grip of the evils of smoking and drinking...

4,400 patients have been benefited by the Sai Medical Seva carried out at Chennai Railway Station, for those vulnerable people who are staying in the environs of the station with nowhere else to go. This is a first for Indian Railways...

Another innovation has been the Seva carried out for auto rickshaw drivers who are often suffering from TB and other diseases connected with the hazards of their job. They have been taught physical relaxation techniques, yoga, Namasmarana and Bhajans to de-stress themselves and have felt the care of the Sai Seva workers...

We have eminent physicians, neurologists, dentists, urologists, and cardiologists networking with 135 hospitals throughout India. Patients are taken to these doctors by the Seva Dals and treated by these eminent specialists free of charge. In this way we can outreach, free of charge, without building a hospital.”

Another presentation on the same lines was by Dr. Kalyan Ray, Senior Adviser in the Office of the Executive Director, UN, who narrated his experiences with the SAINET project and dealt on the role of government and other health agencies in offering service to the needy.

THE SAINET PROJECT

To commemorate the 80th year of the Advent of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, Kenya, has launched a National Project to save vulnerable people from the killer disease of malaria.

The objective of the SAINET project is to distribute over 50,000 SAINETs, with Baba’s message ‘Love All Serve All’ inscribed, totally free of cost, to poor families in malaria endemic areas.

 

Africa carries more than 70% of the global malaria burden. 1.8 million children die from malaria every year in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for at least 20% of all childhood deaths. Malaria accounts for 40% of continent’s public health expenditure.

Key Features of the Project Include:

• Visits to villages and distribution of nets with community women's group meetings for raising awareness on the need of nets.

• Distribution of SAINETS through schools, clinics and medical camps

Examples of SAINET Distribution

• On Saturday, 11 June 2005, 2,200 households, home to some 16,800 population spread over 20 villages in Namanjalala, were freed from the mosquito menace. A truly memorable sight was waiting for the devotees as they approached the villages. The women came singing and dancing, welcoming them to their village. Each team quickly divided itself into two groups - one group screening the villagers and the other group giving out the SAINETs and the maize meal. With efficient handling of crowds, the long queues started moving fast and the villagers received not only SAINETs and maize meal, but lots and lots of love flowing abundantly from SAI through His devotees.

• 110 Sai volunteers travelled to Malindi, on 15 July 2005 , to share Swami's love and joy with the poorest of the poor in the remote villages, who live under the constant threat of cerebral malaria. The project distributed 12,000 SAINETs and 27 tonnes of maize meal, to some 42,000 impoverished people living in 50 villages spread over 8000 sq.km.

• SAINET project distributed 10,700 insecticide-treated nets to 36,000 rural poor living in Bondo on 27 August 2005 . A major challenge to overcome was to take the nets to the people living in an island off the main coast, requiring one and half hour of boat ride. A village chief commented: "Since independence, no one has come to help us in this way and magnitude.”

Within a short time the Project has made SAI a household word in Kenya by taking SAI messages to remote villages never reached before.

 

The Models of Sai Ideal Healthcare

One valuable part of the proceedings in the college auditorium on the morning of 4th Sep was the presentations by the Heads of the Department of Swami’s hospitals.

Dr. Neelam Desai, from the Cardiology Department, Prashanti Nilayam, provided a virtual tour of the Hospital through her slides and then recapitulated some very salient messages which Bhagavan has been time and again telling the doctors of His Hospitals. Principles like –

  • The principal reason for heart ailment is, in brief, ‘hurry, worry and curry’ and
  • Moderation in food habits, work, sleep and physical exercise is the best way to prevent heart ailments.
  • Treat the patient, not the disease.
  • Inject courage and hope along with the regular injections.
  • Examine patients with smiling faces and talk to them with love, slowly, soothingly, radiating compassion.

Dr. A S Hegde, Head of the Department of Neurosciences, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore , then made a very revealing presentation.

Recalling the initial days of the Whitefield Hospital , he said,

“In 1999 during the planning stages of the Hospital, I asked Swami,

‘Swami, what kind of department should we have? Should it be one of the best in the world?’

Swami paused for a while and then said, "THE BEST - not one of the best.’

There is No Stress in Swami’s Hospitals - Dr. Hegde

Dr. Hegde, then, went on to state some very important facts about patient care and health administration in Swami’s Bangalore Hospital when he said,

“Most often people believe that if it is a charitable or free hospital then the kind of surgery that you do is very simple, you do not take risk and major cases are pushed to other centres. This is not true.

 


I think one of the most important things is that there is no financial burden to the patient. You must see it to believe it, as I have worked in a government hospital, in a corporate hospital and in Swami’s Hospital. Here, patients are relaxed, relatives are relaxed. A lot of times it takes away a huge amount of stress from the surgeon….

In a corporate hospital where I worked we give an estimate to the patient. What happens is that if the patient stays a few more days in ICU, the cost goes up and the attendants invariably ask ‘Sir, when are you shifting the patient out of ICU?’ because every day the clock is ticking and they have to pay more money. (In India , insurance does not cover the majority of the poor). There is no such financial stress here, so I think the patient is in an atmosphere where he is cared for, he is peaceful and is hoping that he will recover from the illness with Baba’s blessings and go back. So it takes away a lot of stress from the treatment team.”

The Treatment is Equal and Reliable in Swami’s Hospitals - Dr. Hegde

Elaborating more on the uniqueness of the Hospital, he said,

“Also the diagnosis is reliable. We have the best equipment possible and we treat only when it is needed. There are people who operate only on marginal indications. We work with state of the art equipment, caring staff and very important - whether VIP, or non-VIP - all get the same treatment. Sometimes money is given to the patient to go back – they are that poor.”

In fact, this is one fact which Dr. Neelam Desai from the Puttaparthi Hospital also mentioned when she said more than 80% of the patients treated in the Puttaparthi Hospital are in the annual income group of Rs. 0 – 6,000 (US$130 approx.)

Another striking fact highlighted by Dr. Hegde was regarding the transformation of patients. He said,

“What is very important and amazing is that some of the attendees who have come with the patients, who have seen the Hospital and have stayed in the Hospital for some time, have opted to become Seva Dal volunteers . None of them were devotees earlier,” Dr. Hegde remarked with exclamation and delight on his face.

“The implants that we use for the patients,” he continued, “are the best available in the world. We do not use any locally produced, non-standardised products. The cost that the multinational companies sell it to us is one third than the price for the corporate hospitals. It is amazing how they can come down. I think that they believe that this is one hospital where genuine service is being done.”

Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Whitefield, Bangalore

“Emulate Swami’s Ideal…Enhance Your Goodwill” – Dr. Hegde

As a final parting word to the fellow doctors, Dr. Hegde suggested,

“It is for others now to emulate (Swami’s Hospitals) either fully and run a free hospital, or else partially and treat some patients for free. This is a social responsibility of the corporate sector and if they do this they will generate a lot of good will and it will also enhance the reputation of hospitals. The people that you treat free, the poor people, the blessings will come to you and the money will come some other way.”

And thus ended Dr. Hedge’s very illumining talk.

Part-IV

VALEDICTORY SESSION OF THE MEDICAL CONFERENCE - 4rth AFTERNOON

“We have Spent These Two Days in His Love…”- Dr. Goldstein

Welcoming the participants for the valedictory session of the conference in the afternoon of Sep 4 th in the serene Sai Kulwant Hall, Dr. Goldstein said,

“We have spent these two days in Bhagavan's divine presence basking in His love. Distinguished physician have addressed us from around the world and most importantly they spoke to us about love, demonstrated love and emanated love.” And how true it was! For, in the past two days hundreds of doctors had completely tuned into Sai, had interacted with each other like brothers and sisters in a great spirit of love and camaraderie.

 

"What is the Very Source of the Big Bang..." - Dr. Venkat Sadanand

And they did not mince words to express their love to Swami. Dr. Venkat Sadanand, a Ph. D in Game theory, a NASA employee and a paediatric neuro surgeon, said,

Mercy blesses twice. It blesses him that gives and him that takes. Mercy is an attribute of God Himself and that quality of mercy rests in each of us. Swami says He is our Hrudyavasi - He is eternally in our hearts….

The physicists know everything about the genesis of the universe, how it began; the Big Bang they will tell you. But what is the beginning of the Big bang, the very beginning - the energy of love, where does it come from? From our beloved Bhagavan.

Dr Sadanand also narrated how when he saw Swami giving two watches to students a few years ago, he developed the desire to have watches for his own two kids. And how when Swami passed by him, gave him a mischievous smile and placed two watches in his hand. It was a reminder, he said, not to entertain desires.

"Every little attachment to our body drains our divine energy from what we can give to our patients. We have to be a conduit of love to our patients. When we go back we can be active, we can be proponents of Swami’s healthcare mission and in our hospitals. We can let them know how important love is, how important understanding is, how important patience is, how important is the love in our heart. Divine love engenders inspiration and inspiration engenders good health," Dr. Sadanand received thunderous applause.

When he went up to receive Swami's blessings after the talk, Swami with a gentle wave of His Magical Hand and a sweet smile on His face, manifested a beautiful chain and so lovingly put on Dr. Sadanand's neck with His Own Hand. The doctor, needless to say was overwhelmed with Swami’s love.

 

To download Dr. Venkat Sadanand's talk, click here.

Dr. Rackoff from Maryland, who spoke before him commented,

"As I learned more of Swami’s ways I have looked for ways to put His Message into practice. I decided to try to teach ethics to medical students. I was having trouble formulating the curriculum without talking about spirituality and I knew the Dean would not permit me to talk about it. When I went to medical school in the 60’s I was taught that you are not even allowed to ask your patient what their religion was. What we all know is that when someone gets sick the first thing that they and their family do, is to put their hands together and pray. How can we be compassionate physicians and ignore this important part of our patients’ lives ?"

To download Dr. Michael Rackoff's talk, click here.

The Unexpected Blessings
- Dr. Phaneuf’s Experience

Nothing escaped Swami’s ever-loving vigilant attention. On the afternoon of the 3rd, the delegates had to sit on the floor as the afternoon session was late and the delegates came to Sai Kulwant Hall only at 4:30 PM. Sitting uncomfortably in the front row was Dr Joseph Phaneuf, dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, USA and Medical Director of the Ashland Free Medical Clinic. Seeing him change his position many times, Swami affectionately asked him to sit cross-legged to be comfortable and after a few minutes, even lovingly beckoned Dr. Phaneuf to Him and spent a good 10-15 minutes talking to him.

Let us now hear it from Dr. Phaneuf in his own words –

"I first visited Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 1986 at His ashram in Puttaparthi. Since that time I have returned to visit Him on many occasions and I have learned many things from Him that help me when I am serving my patients at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California such as “Service to your patients is service to God” and “Hands that help are holier than lips that pray” and “You cannot always oblige, but you can always speak obligingly.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital next to the ashram in Puttaparthi on many occasions. I am very grateful for each and every chance to serve patients at His hospital…. Swami has also inspired me and many other Sai devotees in Northern California to start the Ashland Free Medical Clinic to serve those who are poor and do not have access to health care.

On August 3rd after the afternoon session of this International Medical Conference on Sai Ideal Healthcare, all the delegates, as well as the general public, had a wonderful Darshan of our Beloved Swami. During this Darshan he called me from where I was sitting in front of the veranda up to His chair to speak with Him. He then showered His love and blessings on me during this 'public interview', and during this time, He materialized a beautiful ring and lovingly placed it on my left hand.

We spoke on several topics and I expressed my appreciation to Swami for all of His help and inspiration in starting and keeping the Ashland Free Medical Clinic open. This was a very unexpected blessing from Our Dearest Swami.


I pray that Swami will continue to inspire me to serve my patients with love, compassion, and humility so that I can be a pure instrument of His Love
".

Yes, Dr. Phaneuf that is all our prayers too.

 

“It Was All Based On Love…” – Dr. Safaya

After Dr. Rackoff’s and Dr. Sadanand’s talk in the valedictory session, it was for Dr. Safaya and Dr. Goldstein to make the parting words.

Dr. Safaya speaking during the valedictory session

Dr. Safaya, who played an important role in organising the meet said,

I am very happy to see such a conference being held today over these two days to discuss and make a beginning in this direction because the approach to health sciences in the world needs change and leadership.

“During the two days of the conference,” he continued, “I witnessed the presentations of people who are actually involved in the drama of life and death. It was beautiful to see the beautiful way how they presented their work, but they all commented on one single fact that it was all based on love.”

Referring to a new project for extended patient care being undertaken in the Whitefield Hospital , he further noted,

“We have a project in Whitefield Hospital where we have a reverse referral follow up. That means after the patient is discharged, after having been operated upon, we check up on how they are doing in their villages and in their localities. Has the patient joined his work? Has he really been restored to health? It is from the hospital door to the home door that we are with the patient."

Dr. Goldstein speaking during the valedictory session

Weight Loss Through Words!

It was fittingly left to Dr Goldstein, who had started the conference with his welcome address, to now sum up the conference at the end. Starting with a personal experience of Swami's love for him, Dr Goldstein related how a blood pressure cuff exploded off his arm and bounced around the room for two minutes, after Swami playfully took his blood pressure. He took this as a divine sign of displeasure over his weight.

Swami’s displeasure became more obvious when one day, Swami jokingly mentioned to Goldstein that given his width he would not be able to get through the interview room door walking alongside Swami! This was the last straw and Dr. Goldstein lost an incredible 50 kgs in 9 months with a strict exercise programme.

"Loving all, Serving all….is our modus operandi" – Dr. Goldstein

Dr. Goldstein then beautifully summed up the conference saying,

"The most important ideal of Sai Healthcare is Love. Healthcare must be delivered with love, free of greed and condescension. All forms of life are sacred and must be protected and preserved. Economic constraints should not determine the quality and quantity of healthcare…

Healthcare is being driven by the market and this is causing chaos in the field. The Sai way will offset this trend as much as it can. Love, compassion, humility, identification with the needy, healthcare education and disease prevention are our trademarks. Loving all, serving all, without regard for race, religion, or nationality is our modus operandi….

The common bond of the conference was our love for Swami. Proceedings of conference will be put into a feasible plan to uplift healthcare worldwide.”

 
 

Love, Love and More Love

Truly…the common bond of the conference was love. In fact, every participant was touched by Swami’s deep love and compassion. On both the days all the participants were seated right in front of Him and quite unusually on chairs. Swami’s love and motherly concern for the doctors was to be seen to be believed. For more than one and half hours everyday Swami was with them, listening to the talks, taking their letters, speaking to them, smiling at somebody, blessing the other…it was absolutely undivided attention from Swami.

Not only the physical proximity, Swami had taken great care of their physical needs as well so that they feel at home. Truly, it was a homecoming for the participants and besides the fine accommodation, Swami saw to it that sumptuous meals were provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Ashram Canteen with a large variety of items. Many doctors remarked that it was as if they were enjoying some wedding feast!

After the scheduled speeches in the valedictory session, Swami very lovingly gave mementoes to all the speakers of the conference and also the members of the working committee who had tirelessly worked to make the conference a success. And as each one went up to Swami to collect his ‘moment of love’ Swami had a kind word with one, a gentle pat on the cheek for the other, a mesmerising smile for the third, a beatific blessing for the fourth….and so it went on… great moments of intimacy and never-before-bliss. It was as much joy to every member who was witnessing it as to the receiver….every moment each one wished was eternal.

Swami personally giving momentoes to speakers and members of the organising committee
 
 

A Doctor Shares Her
Conference Experience

Dear Sai Brothers and Sisters,

…The physicians (in the conference) were outstanding in the different health areas: Paediatrics, Neurosurgery, Cardiovascular Surgery, the Medical Director of the Super Speciality Hospitals in Prashanti and Bangalore, the doctor in charge of the medical camps in India and so on...

All the professionals developed their presentations in an impeccable way, while offering at the same time countless Sai guidelines helping us reach new and higher levels in health and quality of life. It was stressed that the highest standards of medicine should be available to everyone. The correlation was conveyed between the latest scientific discoveries and the wisdom as given by Sai, in terms of the importance for patients to change their life styles, in order to treat the endemic ailments of our times. Science points not only to genetic factors in the aetiology of diseases, but also the unhealthy habits encouraged by this modern consumer society.

There was an exhibition of the healthcare being carried out in India as well as in other countries. It was wonderful, and again impacting in terms of the new projects developed in Russia, the Philippines, Canada, United States of America, Latin America, etc. ...

The Seva Dals were very kind and radiating love. Sai invited us for two days to enjoy free food available to all the 900 delegates, where we were kept spellbound and grateful, after being served three times a day with a great variety of delicious dishes. These meals were capable of satisfying the body's appetite, as well as purifying all the layers of our Being and giving solace to the mind and peace to the soul.

The volunteers told us that each one of the dishes was personally chosen by Sai Himself. We were able to remember Hypocrates, father of the modern medicine, who said, "Let your food be your medicine."

We participants felt a strong call to commit ourselves even more to this area of work strengthened by this Conference. We are sure that the area of Health in our Sai movement will grow and that together we will find new and more creative options in order to serve, strengthening our efforts and resources, accomplishing thus one of the noblest purposes of human beings:

To take care of our species, to take care of nature, and all living beings, acknowledging them as sons of God, unique and individual. To alleviate suffering to heal and share with each soul on the path.

It is our genuine desire that, inspired by the Sai ideal, in our land, birth, growth, and old age, as well as death itself, will be lived with dignity and happiness. Let us pray then, that for this endeavour Swami will use us as sensitive instruments, attuned with His Divine Will.

With love for everyone,

Dr. Rosana Molho de Berra, Argentina

 

The Pleasant Surprise!

The scheduled speeches were done, the mementoes were given, and the parting messages from the organisers were over and every one thought that the conference is over. But Swami wanted to bless the participants with more! In His infinite compassion, He asked all the eminent doctors seated beside Him on the dais to share their thoughts. It was literally an unexpected pleasant bonus!

The eminent doctors took this opportunity as a divine boon and with great joy expressed this gratitude and love to Bhagavan.

Patient Devo Bhava” – Dr. Anil Nanda

Dr. Anil Nanda, Chairman of the Neurosurgery Department at the Louisiana State University, USA, said,

“It is His guidance that makes medicine possible. It just reminds us sometimes when we have a smooth operation. But when I get a complication I think Swami is reminding us: ‘Think of Me at all times’. Not just when you have a complication, not just when things are going smoothly, think of me at every nanosecond.”

Swami always emphasized ‘Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, Archarya Devo Bhava.’ But to this Dr. Nanda said that he wanted to add another dimension at this conference – “We must do ‘Patient Devo Bhava.’”, he said, “We must treat the patient as Divine and if we see Bhagavan in all our patients, at all times, it is the secret to happiness.”

“Without Him, There is Nothing”- Dr. R Coopan

Dr. Ramachandran Coopan, who came to Swami 25 years ago as a young idealistic physician, thanked the Lord for this fortune and then recalling an interview with Swami, remarked,

"He (Swami) looked at me and said, “You are doing my work”. And as a physician hearing this from the Divine Physician caused a transformation within my body and who I was. And then I turned and looked at Swami and said, “Swami, I love You.” And He said “I know and you will always do so.”...

And in those intervening 25 years that love for Swami has manifested in everything I have tried to do. Every time I see a patient I ask myself what would my beloved do? What would He expect of me? And Swami’s one teaching, which is really missing in all of healthcare, the paramount one, is that when we serve, the divine serves the divine. The common bond here is one of love; and the more we serve the more it grows and the more it grows the more we have to give. And this is what Bhagavan is; Bhagavan is the manifestation of love. Without Him there would be nothing in the universe. Nothing to keep us and sustain us ".

More Expressions of Love…

Like this it went on….each one filled with great emotion and love. Dr. Anand, Prof. of Paediatrics at the University of Arkansas , observed,

Swami, Your inspiration provided how to define the four pillars of paediatric care – purity, prema, prevention and pain relief….let us practise medicine that we may see the divine effulgence in all of our patients.”

 

 

And then Dr. Kalyan Ray from the Office of the Executive Director, UN talked about SAINET project and other issues. He stressed,

Our Sai is Lord of the universe, not of the world…But He is giving a working model for all policy makers, development planeers, practisioners and health care professionals in the world. It is for us to see how we take it and translate it into reality.....

If you are ready to perform some selfless service then nothing is impossible in this world. Have faith in your Lord and go out and do what you are supposed to do. ”

After this, Dr. Kishore Udipi, Research Director at Metronics, started off by saying that he was not a physicist but a scientist in the medical field. In fact, it was his ardent desire to be associated with the medical field and so at one time, he proposed to his director whether they could synthesize some polymers for medical applications, so that some of the patients could benefit from the knowledge that they had gained in polymer science. The head office turned it down because they were apprehensive of the risks of liability suits.

So he forgot about it - but not Swami. He moved around a few places and eventually came back to the same company which had earlier refused to endorse his project, but had now started a bio-materials project targeted at medical applications. How Swami orchestrates our lives is mysterious, he said, and expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Swami.

And on that cheery note the extended and ecstatic conference ended.

Long after the arathi had been taken and Swami had retired to His abode, all the participants still lingered on in the divine-vibrations-suffused Sai Kulwant Hall…you could see they were silently and fondly savouring in full the magic of the moments just gone by… imbibing and imprinting deep in their hearts the sweet memories of the past two days so that… it will linger ever fresh in the tapestry of their lives to inspire them for ever to be an instrument of the divine!

- Heart2Heart Team

 
 


 
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Vol 3 Issue 10 - October 2005
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