WITH Dr. Safaya:
(PART 2 OF 2)
RADIOSAI INTERVIEW WITH Dr.
Safaya:, DIRECTOR, SRI SATHYA INSTITUTE
OF HIGHER MEDICAL SCIENCES, PRASANTHI GRAM CAMPUS AND THE WHITE FIELD CAMPUS.
Prof. G. Venkataraman, (GV) Former
Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning.
FROM THE PREVIOUS ISSUE)
The point I wanted to make in the whole story is the DIVINE
SANKALPA. I surrendered totally at HIS feet. The big SHIVARISIs
(recommendations) had failed. The big intervention at the worldly level had failed.
Only He could do something. And HE did!
This is a fantastic story and I am glad that we got it out of you for posterity.
Moving on to some mundane matters, can you please tell us about the kind of treatment
that is being given in the Puttaparthi Super Speciality Hospital? What are the
specialities that are catered to?
Safaya:: In His Divine Declaration,
Bhagavan has announced that His hospitals would deal with the specialities of
the heart, the brain, and the kidney. In Puttaparthi, He initiated treatment of
the heart; soon followed the treatment of the kidney and later came the Department
of Ophthalmology. Right now we do
diagnosis and treatment of the heart, kidney and the eye. Tertiary care is offered
in these super specialities. This can be achieved only with state of art equipment,
both for diagnosis and treatment. Even though the Puttaparthi hospital is ten
years old, it remains one of the best hospitals in the country in all these specialities.
This is amazing considering that Puttaparthi is still a somewhat remote place.
You said at the time of start, your next door neighbour was a thatched hut. Is
that true even today?
Safaya:: Yes, even today.
What types of patients come here and where do they come from?
Safaya:: They are mostly middle class,
lower middle class and the poor. Most of them are genuine villagers.
How do they hear about this hospital?
Safaya:: Two things are responsible.
One is the branches of the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation that exist all over the
country. The service people reach out and advice, creating awareness about Swami’s
Hospital. Most of the country knows today that there is such a hospital. However,
most people are so poor, that even though they know about the hospital, they cannot
make the journey.
You mean they do not have money to travel?
Safaya:: Yes, they do not have money.
And because they are poor, they also do not have the will to travel. They don’t
have the determination to get their patient treated. But when they can manage
some money to come here, they sure do land up here. You can see in the main gate
early in the morning and judge for yourself what type people come to our hospital.
You can also go into the wards and see.
Yes, I have seen. Can you recall of any particular case of a really poor person
who was desperate and got treated here?
Safaya:: I can remember even the
How did you happen to choose that first case? It is amazing that even before there
was a hospital, there was a case and you had a patient ready!
Safaya:: You see, we had opened our
OPD two days before the formal inauguration of the Hospital. We had also opened
the CATHETERIZATION LAB. Thus, even before the inauguration, examination of patients
How many patients came at that time?
Safaya:: I think about two dozen
patients had come. We were able to inform only the people in Anantapur, and this
person came from Anantapur. It was easier to make an announcement about the new
hospital in Anantapur than in any other place in the neighbourhood. I think the
name of this first patient was Rajasekara Reddy.
How old was he?
At that time, he was about 15 years old. His father was a petty shop keeper. This
boy had a hole in the heart that needed a major surgery. The parents had only
one child at that time. They had given up. Being poor, the parents were very depressed.
We had to give him encouragement by way of food and money to make him stay for
all these days. They were that poor. The story of all the other patients is almost
the same. In all the four operations done on that inauguration day, there were
no complications. No mortality, no morbidity.
I remember on 23rd, the day following the opening, Swami announcing in the Hill
View Stadium during the Birthday Discourse that all the four operations were very
Very successful. Bhagavan came in the evening on the day prior to inauguration,
materialised vibuthi, gave it to the patients, and later all of them did wonderfully
well. Since these patients came from poor families, their nutrition levels were
low. As a result, their capacity to repair the tissues was quite low. In spite
of all that, they did very well.
So, as Dr. Bhatt often says, the Surgeon merely cuts while God heals.
Safaya:: That is absolutely true.
Have you seen this first patient of yours subsequently?
Safaya:: Yes. On tenth anniversary,
that is on 22nd November 2001. He heard about the tenth anniversary celebrations
and came to visit us.
How does he look now?
Safaya:: He was tall, well built,
and is a healthy young man now. We had also the good fortune of Bhagavan coming
to the hospital on that day. We presented the patients to Swami.
What did Swami say?
Swami was very happy to see these old patients of ours. He materialised vibuthi,
gave it to all of them and blessed them.
By the way, were these people devotees earlier?
Safaya:: No. They knew about Bhagavan
no doubt, but they were not devotees in that sense. Before coming to Prasanthi
Nilayam, they were just preoccupied with making both ends meet. That was all.
So, really speaking, the doors of Swami’s Hospitals are open to anybody?
Safaya:: Absolutely, and irrespective
of class, colour, creed, religion, country.
Have you had any patients from far off places?
Safaya:: Yes, we have had patients
from Nepal, Sikkim.
That’s quite a long distance!
Safaya:: We have a computerised data
bank of patients who have come for check up, and have been put in a queue. In
this computerised system we give some additional points to those coming from far
off places and particularly from a foreign country like, Nepal. We have had patients
from Bhutan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. We have even had patients for consultation from
That is very interesting. So word about Swami’s hospital has even reached
Pakistan! Wonderful! I now want to ask you about something else. You know we have
many of our old students working in the hospital, in fact, also in Bangalore hospital.
As an Institute man, I would like to know: How do you feel about them, these old
students of ours?
I feel very proud of these people as my employees. They are a highly motivated
So do I.
By establishing the Puttaparthi hospital, Bhagavan has not merely helped poor
people suffering from heart disease, but also created some unique prototypes for
mankind to see and to derive the benefit of that wonderful experience. One of
Bhagavan’s novel experiments is the induction of highly motivated young
men into various technical jobs associated with the hospital. These people did
not come from a medical background. Rather, they all are graduates from Swami’s
University, mostly in the field of Management. In the University, they excelled
in their own subjects, but here in the hospital they have picked up medical technology,
developed the right aptitude and understanding. The net result of all this is
that these so-called Swami's students are now able to guide younger medical staff
and even middle-cadre medical staff.
Would you say this motivation springs from deep love for Swami?
Safaya:: Yes of course. It is a combination
of Love, respect and dedication. They have practically very few interests besides
Swami in their life. So they are not diverted. Most of them have even forgotten
I guess they are married to their work! I presume they express their Love for
Swami through dedicated and loving service to the patients.
Safaya:: They refrain from the usual
apparent show of dedication. On the other hand you will find them highly dedicated
to work, carefully looking after the machines they are in charge, and rendering
service to patients as needed.
So, you will give them extra marks for motivation and dedication.
Safaya:: Absolutely! This is the
type of group that must be created in every good scientific institution and hospital,
especially the latter because there one is dealing with life and death. A year
back a top Phillips team visited our CATH lab. We have two Phillips machines.
When they saw the CATH lab the visitors were astonished. They said, “Is
this Lab. ten year old? We don’t believe it”. Now in its eleventh
year, this lab is still one of the best CATH labs in the country.
That is fantastic! How does Swami guide and support you? Obviously He does. Can
you give some hints about how He actually does it?
Safaya:: His methods are….
Very subtle, I know!
He gives many ideas but you have to be very attentive to catch them. The way He
talks to you, what He says, His gestures, and even His not talking to you - all
these are part of the Divine language! All these are lessons in administration,
whether you are taking the right decision or wrong decision. You get a sort of
clue as to what is to be done.
So, you have to be tuned to him, really.
Safaya:: Correct. Then comes the
ultimate lesson. When you are totally helpless, you have to surrender. When you
tell Bhagavan your problem, He offers a solution. Whenever you go to Him with
a problem, He says, ‘I know’. I have perfect proof that He knows the
problem already. He was just waiting for me to say and HE has a solution ready.
Allow me to narrate an experience of mine. When I became the Vice Chancellor,
one day Swami asked me a question. I was naïve and replied, “Swami
You know everything”. Swami said, “Yes I know but I wanted to know
whether you know. I know even that but I want you know whether you know or not!”
That shut me up and thereafter I became attentive to details.
Safaya:: You have to go through the
motions. You have to tell Him about everything you have observed, anything wrong
that is there and you have to obtain corrective solutions from Him.
Yes, He guides, supports and also inspires.
Safaya:: Yes, I have not seen anybody,
any teacher in my life who has taught me as much as He has taught. I had been
administering for 18 years the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital,
the country’s biggest hospital and South East Asia’s biggest hospital.
We have 35 medical specialities there. After coming here, I had practically to
unlearn most of what I had earlier learnt!
Why was that?
Because of the change of ambience. Here in this Temple called the Hospital, God
heals the patients.
The patient is placed at the highest pedestal. So whatever you do or think or
plan for, is for the benefit of the patients. This is theoretically true in all
other hospitals also but in practice it is different - may be because of money,
personal ego or something else like that. But in this hospital there is nothing
else. Money is not involved and personal egos are not involved. So there is no
So, at the end of the day you feel very happy.
Safaya:: All of us feel very happy,
including my colleagues and staff.
You talked about money. One question people always want to ask is: How does the
hospital get money when patients are not charged fees?’
Safaya:: Swami is the ultimate source
of money. There is the Sri Sathya Sai Medical Trust to which people donate money.
Part of this money goes into the Corpus Fund. The interest from this Corpus Fund
keeps the hospital going. There are also donors who are ready to offer equipment
or money for specific equipment.
Basically, it is Love which sustains the hospital. It is Love which comes as money
or service or equipment. You do have a lot of people coming there for service.
Safaya:: Yes, that is another example
which Swami has shown, namely community involvement. People have been talking
of community involvement in hospitals ever since I became a medical student. But
I have never seen that happening in practice until I joined this hospital. Right
now at Puttaparthi hospital there are a hundred volunteers, 50 men and 50 women.
They take turns and come from different States at different times.
You are referring to the Seva Dals?
Safaya:: Yes. They work day and night
for the patients, no matter what their status in their normal life.
I know. One day I met a Professor from Indore. He was pushing a wheel chair with
a poor villager, a cobbler perhaps.
Safaya:: I have met a large number
of them. Right now if you go there, you will see senior army officers, senior
professors and even doctors serving as Seva Dals.
Doctors coming as Seva Dals?
Safaya:: Yes, doctors coming as Seva
Dal do not sit in OPD to examine patients; instead they push trolleys, sweep the
floor, clean glass panes etc.
One last question. You have been very kind to spare so much of your time. But
this is a question that needs to be asked especially because so many people are
trying to build similar hospitals elsewhere, both Governments and individuals.
Do you think that these two hospitals in Puttaparthi and Bangalore can be replicated?
Safaya:: Frankly, if Swami does it,
yes. Basically Bhagavan's intention of creating these two hospitals is to have
a model before everybody, Government and other organisations, to see our hospital.
Awareness of this hospital, particularly the Puttaparthi hospital, has spread
all over the world. The world now knows that a high-tech, completely free hospital
is functioning in India, a so-called less developed country; and it has been working
successfully for the last ten years.
So, Love and dedication can work miracles is the main message of this hospital.
You don’t have to think that it is not affordable or anything.
Safaya:: No, the question of money
is secondary; that is what I have learnt now. I realise: If you have the will,
Love and dedication, you will have Divine help.
Divine help will come automatically if one is selfless. So selfless Love and total
dedication are what make these hospitals of Swami work - that is the lesson.
Safaya:: This is a miracle of Love
both in the process and in the results also. The results of the treatment of the
patients are also miracles of Love.
I suppose patients also learn what Love is.
Safaya:: Every patient goes with
a picture of Swami and I have to sometimes be a little rude to them because they
insist on pasting Swami’s pictures on the walls besides them.
Yes, otherwise the place would be flooded with pictures! They can paste it on
They take those pictures with them. They are not devotees, but they now know that
some one cares. Swami does take time off to visit the hospital and definitely
visits one or two wards and critically ill patients.
Thank you very much, Dr. Safaya:.
It has been wonderful talking to you and I am sure our listeners will derive great
joy and pleasure listening to you over the air. You have told us so many things
about the hospital which we did not know. I have been here for ten years and I
have been going past the hospital so many times. I have also gone there several
times, but I did not know many of the things that you revealed.
Safaya:: I should say, I feel very
very happy of having spoken about the experiment of Love, the significance of
which is not realised at this point of time by the medical analysts, though the
story of the Puttaparthi hospital has been published by WHO in its Bulletin which
is distributed all over the world in forty languages of the world. A time is going
to come when people are going to seriously examine and take lessons from this
Let us hope that the day is not far off, and that both of us would have the pleasure
of seeing it happen before our eyes. Thank you so much and SAIRAM !