Volume 10 - Issue 05
MAY 2012
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Posted on : May 28, 2012


The Art and Heart of Healing

A conversation with Dr. Srikanth Sola

part 02

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The Joy of Serving Far Outweighs the Pleasure from Luxuries

RS: You don’t miss the luxury, the life of affluence that you left behind?

Dr. Sola: All that is fine but it’s not the luxuries or the affluence that is attractive it becomes rather a distraction I think. Here when we’re sitting and Swami is coming for darshan or now we’re able to sit at the beautiful Maha Samadhi and just absorb Swami’s love, such pure love radiates from His Maha Samadhi. Wow that is divine Grace.

sathya sai super hospital serving  

When I’m able to serve a rickshaw wala or a cobbler, I remember once I took care of a fellow who mended shoes and he lived on the street. This fellow had a severe blockage in one of the arteries in his heart and he needed an angioplasty surgery. That surgery would have cost him some one and a half lakh rupees that’s about $4000, which is way more than this person would have earned in his entire lifetime, where would he go? He can only go to Swami’s hospital. We did that angioplasty for free and he walked out of Swami’s hospital smiling.

RS: And the gratification is just incredible.

Dr. Sola: The gratification, the professional and the personal satisfaction of doing this type of work far exceeds anything that I would have had otherwise.

RS: Very well said, that’s very true.

Dr. Sola: I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had in the United States. Working at the Cleveland clinic, working with the best of the best was a tremendous experience and it really sharpened my professional skills. Because if you’re going to do work (for Swami's mission) you want to be able to do good work.

If you’re going to do charitable work you want to be able to help others in a meaningful environment. You don’t want to try to do seva with one hand tied behind your back because resources aren’t there, facilities are not there etc. But in Swami’s hospital you have all the resources, you have all the facilities, you have wonderful doctors, superb nurses, amazing managers that Swami has groomed from amongst His own students, who come on and join His hospital. And it’s such a divine and delightful environment to work in.

RS: What you say is very profound and I can see, that it has got to do with the way you have embraced all life experiences with your mind, heart and body, much like the whirling Dervishes of the Sufi order who would stay centered even while moving. And you have enjoyed such clarity about what you were seeking, your calling and purpose in life. How are you able to be so centered while some others can so easily be distracted due to the outward nature of our sensory perception?

Dr. Sola: See I think all souls for sometime have to fall asleep especially at this particular time when the Poorna Avatar is here. Many of us fall asleep for some time and then we wake up but we need that period in which we are involved in maya (illusion) so that we can then empathize with those who we see are also involved in maya. It doesn’t mean that we feel we are superior or better to them or that they are inferior or lesser to us.


RS: So you are suggesting you have done your time of being tangled with maya and you are on the next band wagon where you had clarity?

Dr. Sola: And now we are free. We have nothing to do, there is no task for us to accomplish, there is no experience for us to receive, we are the self. We realize sometime ago and when I say ‘we’ I mean my wife Shivani and I that we are not the body, we are not the mind, we are not the ego or personality. Thank goodness we are not our memories or any of our experiences that we had before although many of them were wonderful. The reality is that we are that, we are that God self, you are that God self, you are Sai, you are Brahma, you are Vishnu, you are Maheshwara the entire creation is there in the palm of your own hand. Yugas and maha yugas go by as if in a blink of an eye, there is no birth, there is no death. We keep it to ourselves because it’s not necessary to go and proclaim this. Those who are ready for it will come when the time is right. I simply experience that and be that.

So although earlier we talked about serving Swami and doing Swami’s work the reality is that no one is doing anything, who is serving whom, it’s all the same. So in that sense then when it comes to say, serving Swami’s patients that patient is me.

RS: Extension of yourself.

Dr. Sola: It’s just another aspect. If your foot is hurting for example you rub where it’s hurting and you try to make it better. So also when a fellow human being is suffering because of health or whatever it maybe, you understand that, the person is another aspect of yourself. And naturally without thinking about it or planning anything you would simply go and extend solace or comfort in whatever way you can to that person.

The loving Lord Begins to Guide from Within

RS: If I may backtrack, once you came to know of Swami in second year of college, how did His presence in your life influence your decisions such as your career choice or your marriage or your relocation to India. How did Swami give you guidance directly or was it internal?


Dr. Sola: See once we came to Swami’s fold that is physically in 2008 then we were very fortunate to have close interactions with Swami but before that I was always away from Swami I was in the United States and Swami was here. And although I would be able to come occasionally for darshans it was infrequent as you might imagine and so I was forced to learn to connect with the Swami within. That is to tune in, to go into a great state of silence and then receive the answers for whatever questions I had in that state and that is what happened. So whether it was choosing subjects at college or what branch of medicine to specialize in or where to live, where to work, which job to apply for etc, etc... everything was done by tuning in to the inner Sai and acting on that. It was never necessary to go and proclaim this to anybody it was really only required simply to listen and to act.

Take the example of the students who would be around Swami and serving Him. You would see how attentive they were, never would you find them looking this way or that way. They’re always focused fully on what Swami was doing, waiting for the slightest hint or slightest instruction that He might give, so that immediately they can go and do it.

They would never go and proclaim ‘Swami told me to do this’. They would simply do it quietly and quickly to the best of their ability. So in the same way by watching their example, I learnt to do the same thing but I had to do it internally, I had to do that inside. And really the truth is that Swami is there for each and every one of us waiting to speak to us, waiting to guide us but because we’re so focused outside we fail to hear His voice.

RS: Talking of hearing His voice, when does one know that one is listening to Swami’s voice and not to one’s ego or wishful thinking?

Dr. Sola: Yeah it’s a very good question, how do you know? Because many a times what will happen is if we hear something, especially if its not something we want to do then we’ll say, ‘oh that’s just my mind or my imagination’ right. What I tell people is that suppose Swami comes to you during darshan and He starts speaking to you. How would you feel? Would you feel sad? Would you feel scared? Would you feel frightened? No, most people would feel joyful, they would feel peaceful they would feel that radiant bliss that one gets from being in Swami’s physical presence. So also when the inner Sai is speaking to you, you would feel the same way. The inner Sai will tell you the same things that the outer Sai will tell you, right but what Swami would tell you on the outside physically, would not be any different from what He would tell you from within; it will be the same thing. So what does Swami say? He says to love everyone, serve everyone, help ever hurt never, inner directions can be very general or they can be very specific based on what you need but it will be the same as what one would hear and feel from the outer Sai.

A Medical Practice Enlightened by Spiritual Insight

RS: How has your practice as a cardiologist been influenced by your spiritual exploration and experiences?

Dr. Sola: See medicine is a great opportunity to share love, every interaction that we have in life is an opportunity to give love, whether it’s to our spouse or our children or our parents or anyone, its just opportunities to give love. So for me I see practicing medicine as a way to share this love, to give love. Whether it’s taking care of a patient in the outpatient department of the hospital or teaching the other residents and the technologists how to do better echocardiograms, or how we can diagnose the patient’s disease better... whatever it maybe it’s an opportunity to share this love that’s all; everything comes back to this love.

In fact once, way back in 1968, Swami took the hands of two elderly American devotees in His hands and He said “And I want to share with you something you must never forget.” He said, “In the end, in the final analysis when the body turns to dust and everything is gone, what will matter is not how big a house you had or what type of car you drove or how much money you had in your bank account. The only thing that will matter is how much love you have shared with all of creation.” And then Swami paused and said the next part. He said, “How much love you have shared with all of creation in every single moment of your life.” So when Swami says ‘Love all’ He doesn’t mean love your family and your friends and maybe that person at work that you like and not necessarily the person at work that you don’t like. When Swami says ‘Love all’ He means love all of creation, not once in a while when it’s convenient for you but all the time.

RS: How do you get there though?

Dr. Sola: Practice. How do you practice? How do you walk from Puttaparthi to Bangalore? If you were going to put one foot in front of the other you would get there. So you have to practice. In fact these same two souls, asked Swami, “Swami for how long should we be doing our sadhana?” And Swami said “For as long as you are breathing you must practice your sadhana.” Now what do most of us do? We do our sadhana maybe for a few moments in the morning after we get up and then perhaps for a second or two during the middle of the day and then by the time we get home we’re so tired and then we do a little bit of sadhana. Then we may go to the Sai smithi or do bhajans on the weekend, we try to get charged but before we know it, because of the stress of the activities of the weekday we again get discharged. And so this is how we go about because we’re not practicing continuously.

RS: How does one practice continuously when you’re doing many different things through the course of a day?

Dr. Sola: That’s a great question. Suppose I’m in the operating theatre assisting the cardiac surgeons, that task becomes by meditation. I will fully step into the task and be so immersed in that task that there’s no past and there is no future, there is simply that present moment which is taking care of that patient to the best of my ability - 100% focus. Then once I finish that task I step out and then immediately step back into the God self, immediately step back into the awareness that everything is God. So the task itself becomes a meditation, becomes a way of worshiping, Swami say “Work is worship.”

RS: Dr. Sola when you meet a patient who or what are you looking at?

Dr. Sola: When I meet a patient I first see each person as Swami. In fact many a times when I’ll greet a patient I’ll ask them their name, I’ll introduce myself, I’ll welcome them to Swami’s hospital but I’ll often refer to them as Swami, saying for instance, ‘Swami please have a seat make yourself comfortable’ because to me they are Swami himself. There it's God talking to God. It is one on one reflection, reaction, resound. So what I will look at is not only what is their illness if they have one but what is the cause of their illness.

Back in 2009 Swami called the physicians and staff at His Super Specialty Hospital and General Hospital in Whitefield for a series of four interviews. And I remember He told us, “It’s not enough for doctors to simply take care of patients.” He said “Doctors must look into the cause of their illnesses and understand those and treat those as well.” So when I take care of a patient the first thing I do is welcome them, ask them their name, I introduce myself and I tell them ‘welcome to Swami’s hospital in Whitefield’. But when I speak to them I’m speaking as if I’m discussing their condition with Swami, that is I address them as Swami ‘Swami please have a seat, would you like to do this? Swami these are your options this is what you can do regarding your particular condition’.

That love that comes in that interaction, Swami’s love pouring through this physical body towards them is many times simply transforming. I learnt early on even when I was in United States that if I simply spoke to a patient about routine things, let’s say 'you need to exercise, you should have a better diet, you should stop smoking or give up any bad habits' etc, etc., it was okay but more often than not people would go back to their same old ways very quickly. But when I spoke to them from that state of Swami’s love it was no longer Dr. Srikanth Sola speaking to them, it was Swami speaking and then my role was really just to allow Swami’s love to come through. Then the transformation took place; then people would say ‘Doctor you are right, I’m going to give all these things up from here on today’. That’s when the transformation happens and it’s not because of anything we’re doing other than possibly allowing that love from Swami to come completely unobstructed and unhindered that’s all. So that’s where the focus is when we take care of our patients.

The Subtle Relation Between Physical Health and One's Thoughts

RS: You speak of finding the root cause of the illness, what role do emotions play in causing this illness?

Dr. Sola: Everything is reflection, reaction and resound. That means that if you want love in your life you have to think loving thoughts, feel loving emotions, do loving actions. If you want prosperity in your life you have to do the same. If you want a friend you have to be a friend, if you want peace you have to be peaceful. But the opposite also happens when we think discordant thoughts, when we think disharmonious thoughts. When we think negative thoughts where does it go? It goes out into the universe and it is immediately reflected back to us. It goes into our bodies, it goes into our mind and it affects everything that we do.


Swami once said “That the major cause of all illness is a diseased mind.” In fact once one of my Ph.D students here in Parthi was explaining to Swami about his thesis project. I’m his co-guide for this particular project which is funded by the department of biotechnology. And we were looking at why so many Indians develop heart disease at such a young age, much earlier than people abroad, say people in Europe or North America. And so my Ph.D student was explaining this to Swami and Swami just very casually remarked “Ha what is there? The habits that one has, the food that one eats, the environment that we are in and the thoughts that we think - these are what causes heart disease.” He said it so casually as if there is nothing more to it. But all of these things combine through reflection, reaction and resound to either give us good health, robust and vibrant health or to give us disease aches and pains, imbalances in our body and so forth.

So let's say I had a patient who has a heart attack and is recovering from that heart attack. I not only say ‘well you have a blockage in this particular artery you need to take these medications, you should exercise, you should adjust your diet’ etc, etc. I go into the reason why they have it. Have they lost the joy in life? Everything is symbolic. The blood in our body symbolizes joy, our knees symbolize flexibility, our feet takes us in a particular direction. Every part of body symbolizes a different aspect of how we relate with creation.

So the heart doesn’t attack us, but it’s because we’ve lost that flow in life. Now physically yes there is a blockage because of too much cholesterol, high blood pressure, sugar is not controlled because of diabetes etc. etc., but everything is reflection, reaction, resound so whatever we sent out will come back to us. And it’s very simple just to ask the patient ‘your anger is not controlled very well is it?’ And usually the patient will just nod but the spouse of the patient will say ‘yes doctor exactly that’s exactly correct, tell him to control his anger’ and so and so forth. You can identify this sadness, the depression, the resentment, the sense of loss, the lack of love and especially the lack of self love. I remember once Swami was asking us, “Are you all happy?” He had told the group when we had gone for the group interview and we all said “Yes Swami.” And Swami said “Very good always be happy.”

On another occasion He said to Shivani and I, “You know why you two always have so much grace?” Off course we didn’t say anything, He continued, “Because you are always happy, no matter what happens you are always happy and that allows divine grace to flow to you.”

So when we loose this happiness, this joy in our life, what is going to happen? Reflection, reaction and resound. It reflects back to us in different ways sometimes as an illness, sometimes as a particular experience that may be unpleasant. So when we understand this basic teaching of Swami if you understand it properly you will never have a negative thought in your life because you know that whatever you send out through your thoughts, emotions, words and deeds will be reflected back to you in one way or the other. And this is what I share with my patients in a very simplified manner but it allows them to understand that yes, not only do they have to change their diet and they have to exercise more but they also have to modify their thoughts and emotions.

RS: So Dr. Sola because you take medical science or health care to the next dimension by bringing in the spiritual quotient into it, how do your peers in the medical fraternity react to your approach?

Dr. Sola: See when it comes to medicine as a physician working in Swami’s hospital we want to bring excellence into whatever we’re doing. I have the opportunity to speak at many hospitals and many conferences across the country and it always comes back to the same topic of excellence in whatever it is that we do. I’m a non-invasive cardiologist which means I focus on cardiac imagining, taking care of patients medically and so forth. And so my training, my teaching, my lecturing at various conferences is about helping other physicians to bring out the best in themselves so that they can improve what they’re doing.


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