Volume 12 - Issue 06
June 2014
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Posted on: June 03, 2014


Circulating the Joy of Service Through Scintillating Cycling

Part 01


A heart-warming tale of how an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, and presently serving in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bengaluru, combined his passion for cycling with his devotion for Swami to create a unique and exciting mission to touch and be touched by the lives of patients treated in Baba's hospitals in a manner few have done before.


Over 450 kilometres in nine days from the north of Kerala to the southern-most tip of India, cruising on a bicycle!

Yes, that is what Satish Chandra did just a few months ago.

“Oh, it was very exciting and exhilarating I must say! There was never a dull moment!” Satish could not contain his joy and I could not contain my curiosity.

“But, why Kerala?”

“This is all Divine Master plan!” he continued, trying hard to restrain that overwhelming elation within, just so he can speak. “Well, for this I have to tell you how it all began. I love bicycle touring, but had not gone on a tour for close to four years now. I certainly wanted to do one this year.”

Satish had a fascination for cycling since childhood. During his under-graduation days in Vijayawada, he would go on long rides to a temple on the outskirts of this third largest city of Andhra Pradesh. Once he joined the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in 1998, his passion lay dormant. However, it blossomed once again when Bhagawan blessed him with the opportunity of serving in His super speciality hospital in Bengaluru in 2001.

“Since then I have undertaken several marathon rides, each time clocking 300 - 400 kms continuously. These covered pilgrimage sites in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and riding to my sister’s home in the Nilgiris.”

Earlier trips

He continued to share his adventures of how he once encountered a rogue elephant on the road while he was cycling through the Bandipur forest. In another instance he found himself on the bike towards Pondicherry on December 26, 2006, when a severe tsunami had hit the coast.

“This time, however, I was keen on doing something different; I wanted it to have a larger purpose than being just a cycling adventure.

“One day, while sitting at my desk in the Central Stores Dept. of the Hospital, I started thinking about how I have been handling equipment purchases for a decade now. And I said to myself, 'I spend so much time researching and negotiating to get the best equipment, and at the best price for the patients' well-being, but unfortunately, I never get to participate in direct patient care. Tucked away in this tiny corner in the basement of the hospital, I am surrounded by files and price-comparison statements but not the happy smiles on patients' faces.'

“I felt that though I have been working for several years in a one-of-its-kind healthcare institution in this world, I was not experiencing the joy of being of help to someone. My colleagues in other departments like the ICU or the Out Patient Department have umpteen opportunities for direct interaction with the patients, but my connection with patients was at best sparse and sporadic. I missed the thrill of talking to patients, and sharing their highs and lows. This lack of interaction with patients had been gnawing inside me for a while, and I now wanted to address this. It was during this time that I learnt about the Sai Rehabilitation Programme (SRP).”

A unique initiative of Baba's super specialty hospitals in Puttaparthi and Bengaluru, the SRP seeks to continue, sustain and bolster the hospital-patient relationship that gets established once a patient steps into the Sai hospitals. Elsewhere, once the bills are paid and the patient is discharged, the hospital has hardly any connect with the patient. But those operated in Baba's hospitals are never completely discharged; they are only handed over to another local doctor.


This programme covers cardiac patients, treated at the Sai Hospitals, who require continued follow-up, which might not be always possible to provide from the parent hospital, given the distance and the load at the hospital.

The SRP initially started in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, but has been most effective in the state of Kerala, where it commenced in February 2009.

Under this programme, the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation of the State arranges for each patient to be literally adopted by a volunteer doctor within his or her district, who regularly monitors the patient’s health status and gives a feedback to the parent hospital. This overcomes the inconvenience of travelling back to the Hospital for check-up, and allows the patient to get follow-up care and monitoring closer to home, which is very vital especially for cardiac patients.

This apart, the Seva Organisation in Kerala holds regular district-wise meets for these patients once in six months called 'Hrudaya Sangamam'. On these occasions health education information is disseminated, medical camps are conducted and individual counselling sessions are held. This also provides a forum for the patients to share their experiences of receiving treatment at Baba’s hospitals, and how their lives have been transformed after surgery.

The Hrudaya Sangamam programmes held in Sai Kulwant Hall in 2011 and 2012; patients express their gratitude to Swami
for having received health and happiness in His hospitals

“When I learnt about the commendable work being done by the SRP team in Kerala, I thought it would be a good place for me to go because:

a) I can witness this programme in action and interact with the volunteers,
b) Meet the patients in their own homes, and in their natural living environments, and
c) Of course, enjoy the much-famed beauty of this coastal state!

"This way I would achieve everything I desire – the joy of touring to fulfil the longing my body and mind, interacting with patients that my heart yearned for, and soaking in the serenity of Kerala waters and sublimity of its green fields as a balm for my soul.”

The joy on Satish's face as he narrated this is difficult to put into words; it is much like the feeling of a devotee who has been pleading and pining for a chance to serve, and the moment Swami spots him He picks him up, calls him in for an interview, creates a ring for him and then poses with him for a memorable snap, and in the end also clearly assigns the work He wants him to do!

I was so thrilled when this whole plan unfolded before me...all I can say is, it was completely vintage Swami. This only got increasingly confirmed in me as I began planning for the tour. Through my colleague at the ashram, Jai Ganesh, I was introduced to a social entrepreneur, who had previously biked 6,000 km for raising funds for a cause. We became good friends, and when I told him about this tour, he offered his pannier rack, bags and a tool kit, which were what I exactly needed at that moment!

“Also, while I was getting my bicycle serviced, I casually mentioned to the mechanic about the tour, and he spent extra time overhauling the cycle on his own volition and new-found interest. All these were little things, but to me they were sure signatures of Bhagawan’s grace on this project.

“The biggest boost was when I proposed the plan to the directors of both the hospitals at Puttaparthi and Bengaluru; they backed me up whole-heartedly and obtained the necessary permissions from the Trust, and also sought the support of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation. Soon after, I contacted Prof. Mukundan, the State President of Sathya Sai Organisation, Kerala, and his intense interest and unflinching commitment to this project set everything rolling...he literally chalked out my entire itinerary and I was indeed on a roll already!”

This happened in the first week of November 2013 and the 21st of the same month saw Satish receiving a lovely start for his 'Cycling to Circulate His Love' project with the Director of SSSIHMS, Whitefield, Dr. Swarna Bharadwaj and the staff of SSSIHMS, Whitefield, flagging him off gleefully on his unique journey.

Satish being flagged off by the Director and staff of SSSIHMS, Whitefield, Bengaluru

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