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(Story from Radio Sai)



During these times when commercial gain seems to be the major motivating force behind almost any sort of activity, it seems strange and difficult to believe that one person would come up with an idea that is original , deeply rooted in compassion, requires intensive effort to translate into reality and is unimaginably difficult to sustain.

So often and with such interest, we read and retell the stories of entrepreneurial and political success, but rarely do we dwell on the noble and sacred idea and implementation of an enterprise that is totally targeted at the gain of our poor and needy fellow men, without looking for any self-gain whatsoever. For it is as Bhagavan says, "Love without Duty is Divine".

You do not have to look far to see why the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital is a dream Hospital. This magnificent edifice came to life in one of the most backward areas of this country with its 346 million people below the poverty line. It was not the affluent societies of the West with their rich trusts and foundations but the Sri Sathya Sai Trust Founded by revered Bhagavan that ventured into such uncharted territory and the result was splendid!

Puttaparthi and the region around it is perennially drought prone. Power is scarce. Schools and colleges are few and skilled manpower is hard to come by. Availability of essential commodities, leave alone life saving equipment, their maintenance and upkeep were unimaginable.

Not only were the idea and the choice of its location totally unique in that there has never existed a completely Free Tertiary Care Hospital anywhere in the world, but the fact that Bhagavan insisted on beginning with the Cardiac Surgery Department is noteworthy. No doubt, the University runs entirely free courses right up to MBA, M.Tech & even Ph.D, but then providing free Cardiac Surgery and top level Cardiology is an entirely different matter and cannot be equated or compared with. In fact it is astonishing!

Unlike other specialties, Cardiac work involves huge initial capital investment in infrastructure. Blood bank services that can manage the demand; laboratories; microbiology; a reliable gas supply for oxygen and other gases for anaesthesia and ventilation of patients for several days at time; a dedicated laundry; and central sterilisation services; theatres equipped with operating tables; expensive heart-lung machines; anesthesia machines; operating lights; cautery and surgical instruments etc.; several echocardiography machines with TEE probes; cath labs costing over a core of rupees for diagnostic and interventional work; post-operative recovery ICUs equipped with multiparameter monitors; ventilators; blood gas machines and so much other equipment. Several patients need radiology services, CT scans and stress Thallium tests.

Add to the many crores of rupees invested, the personnel needed to run these complicated equipment and you have the perfect recipe for a hospital administrator's nightmare, especially considering where Puttaparthi is located! Doctors specialized in so many different areas, nurses in three shifts in each unit, technicians to man the equipment with expertise, biomedical and other engineers, besides other technical staff to run generators, air-conditioning equipment and carry out various types of repairs.

As if that were not enough the recurring costs are high too. Heart operations are very expensive. The cost of oxygenators for open heart operations, valves, suture material, injections and drugs is very high because like the equipment, most of these have to be imported.

Some believed that the Hospital would start working, but that it would do just run for a while and then stop to recover from the financial crisis it would engender. Others were more generous and thought that it could function only with visiting teams and that eventually it would be mired in problems. Then there were those who called it an experiment

None of that ever happened. Even now after 10 years of continuous, unparalleled, 100 % Free service by this Institute, it stands out tall. Not a single rupee has been collected from patients in this Hospital. Top quality medical treatment is available without barter. The Hospital is living proof of a love that knows no mathematics. How true each statement of Swami is! Love lives by giving & forgiving.

The Hospital is a beacon of hope. Elegant in structure and humming internally with redeeming activity, with its own permanent staff working hard to satisfy an uninvited but welcome throng of ailing humanity that has known rejection only because they do not possess enough money. For Bhagavan it is inconceivable that someone should be without help if He can assist.

Swamiji always feels the pulse of the people. No government, no leader feels as much and also has the capability to translate sympathy into action.

Many of us feel for others, but can do little or nothing about another need. But in Bhagavan's case it is different. He sees and His heart goes out to suffering humanity. and He acts.

Bhagavan has set new benchmarks for the leaders of the world. One cannot even do so much for ones loved ones. Here is Baba accomplishing the unimaginable, the impossible for strangers, for people from afar, for people who have never heard of Him, for people who may not believe in or practice the ideals and truths He stands for. What greater example of large heartedness, what greater example of unconditional love does the world need?

Compassion without frontiers and service without self-gain! It is the same universal love that one reads of in the scriptures and makes you wonder. Only, now it is open to appreciation and study.

Swamiji has a way of making difficult things look easy. Many thought this project would lead other trusts and philanthropic organisations to follow suit after Swami had set a precedent -after He had set the trend. No one has been able to replicate this effort even on a smaller scale despite there being so many philanthropic organizations.

A decade and 12,000 heart operations and nearly as many Urology and Ophthalmology operations later, no one had even tried. Bhagavan, seeing the overwhelming need of so many patients flocking to this Hospital, took the gracious step of starting another Hospital this time offering Neuro-surgery and Neurology, besides Cardiac facilities.

Dear Reader, so much has happened only due to an amazing degree of Baba's personal involvement and that too without any trace of strain or compromise on His numerous other spiritual and service activities!

The Lord's mission is vast and embraces new frontiers but the kindness and meaning it brings into individual lives is unimaginable. Blessed are we to be His contemporaries and witness first hand His work of Love.

Ram Chugani
Posted on 30-12-2004