|Sathya Sai with Students from the SSSIHMS, Bangalore|
“Are you ready?” He asked, looking straight into my eyes. It was a defining moment for me.
It was March 2001. I had finished ‘waiting’ for almost one year, waiting to join in Swami’s service in one of His organisations. One fine day, Swami summoned a few of us ‘waiting boys’ (students waiting for Swami's instructions after completing their education in His University). He had in His hand a sheet of paper with our names and educational qualifications. He read out our names and our qualifications and then looked at each one of us, as if sizing us up for the tasks He had chalked out for us.
Shortly afterwards, he called two of us and mentioned about the openings in the Whitefield Super Specialty Hospital, which had been inaugurated a couple of months earlier. He asked me whether I would work there. I said without hesitation, “Whatever you say, Swami”. Swami then asked, what I have come to consider as the most difficult question I ever faced. He asked me, “Are you ready?” I thought I was being the epitome of surrender when I answered, “Swami, if you say I am ready, I am.” That was not what He expected. He repeated the query, “Are you ready?” with emphasis on the word you. After a pause, within which I had learnt the lesson He wanted me to, I answered, “Yes! Swami.” Swami rewarded me with a loving pat on my cheek. This lesson of taking responsibility for your actions is the most valuable lesson Swami has taught me. In addition, the question, “Are you ready?” is timeless as it is relevant at all times. Moreover, the answer to this question will hold the key to the future.
|Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore|
Working in Swami’s Hospital has been a unique experience. Not a day passes by without feeling how wonderful it is to be able to provide medical care to those who need it the most – absolutely free of cost. It is as heartening, as it is humbling to think how much can be achieved with pure thoughts and feelings.
I share below a few experiences I had while working in Swami’s Hospital. None of them has to do with patients, who are the prime beneficiaries of the Hospital. None of them is a “miracle” in the generally accepted sense of the word, but to me, each one of them stands out as a shining example of the transformation Swami is bringing about in mankind slowly, silently, and patiently.
|Sri Sathya Sai with the doctors and staff at the Super Speciality Hospital, Bangalore|
Once it happened that certain equipment had been imported and was awaiting customs clearance at the Bangalore inland container depot. The equipment had come in a 40 feet container and was required to be sent to Puttaparthi urgently. By the time the clearance was completed it was close to 8:00 p.m., well past the closing time of 6:00 p.m.. The crew of dockyard workers, which was loading the equipment into the trucks, was a grubby lot, used to tobacco, hard work and harder words. Their hands were calloused by the manual labour they undertook from dawn to dusk. Going by my instincts, I was certain they would demand more than their normal fare for working overtime. Once the loading was completed and it was time for their payment, I handed over the fare due to them to our liaison. He had a brief interaction with them after which he came back with half of the payment. He then told me the workers had come to know that the equipment was going to Swami’s Ashram at Puttaparthi and they wanted to offer their services as a small contribution to what Swami has been doing to humanity. And this they did by working at half-rate, when they were eligible for over-time wages! I suddenly saw these workers in a new light. There appeared a shine in their eyes, a shine that comes from reverence to a greater power. I was so touched by the sentiments of these simple dockyard workers that I could only gather enough courage to bow to them and say, “Sai Ram”. These ‘uncivilized’ people had more civility and spirit of sacrifice than I can probably ever muster. Such is the power that Swami’s name has in transforming people.
At the Hospital, the standard way of looking at the expenses on the maintenance front is by questioning how we can optimize this expenditure, (without compromising on the quality, of course) so that the funds saved are available on the medical front, for buying more medicines, treating more patients and the like. All the suppliers to the support service departments in the Hospital are therefore explained in detail how the Hospital functions, how many patients have been and are being benefited and how they too can serve the patients in an indirect manner, by reducing the prices of their supplies and services to the Hospital. Without exception, all of them give sizeable discounts; go out of their way in helping the Hospital; as their contribution to the good cause for which the Hospital has been set up. Here is one such incident.
|A Cardio Thoracic ICU at SSSIHMS|
One of the imported pumps needed a spare part which was not available with us. It appeared that in the absence of this spare part, we might be forced to buy a new pump altogether. After searching the internet, we located a local dealer who could supply us the spare part. He came to the Hospital, saw the pump and noted the required details. He assured us that he would send us the quotation for the spare parts shortly. Imagine my surprise when we received by courier, within two days, instead of the quotation, the actual spare part we needed! Certain that there had been a mistake, I called him up. He said, “There has been no mistake. I had a new pump in stock with me. I have removed the spare part from the new pump and have supplied it free of cost to you. I shall explain to my Management about this. You can please use the spare and commission the pump.” He later even had the pump collected, the spare fitted, tested and delivered back to us.
It is amazing how Swami works through various people in providing for the needs of the Hospital. I recall the time we were trying to procure a good multimeter for use in the biomedical lab. Having located a dealer and obtained a quotation, I called him up with the hope of eliciting further discount on the meter. After I had finished speaking, he asked me for my number and assuring me that he would call me back within five minutes, hung up. Sure enough, the phone rang within five minutes. It was the same dealer and he said, “Sir, we will be supplying to you the model of the multimeter you wanted within two days’ time. Our man will come and hand this over to you. This will be given at no cost to the Hospital”. The receiver almost slipped from my hands. It took me a few seconds to gather my wits before I asked him more details. He then told me that a person, who wanted to remain anonymous, had left standing instructions that he would like to contribute towards any requirements that the Hospital might have. So the dealer consulted him just before he confirmed to me about the free supply of the meter. The meter was delivered to the Hospital shortly afterwards and it is in use, reminding me and everyone else of the anonymous donor, who had so lovingly donated it.
It does not always happen that every supplier is deeply touched by the Hospital’s work. But then, where there are rigid companies, there are also very accommodating employees! I know a service engineer, who comes to the Hospital on a Sunday to service equipment free of cost, because he is not permitted by his company to “waste” company time on charity on other days!
These are just a few instances from the hundreds that exist where people, cleansed within by the outpouring of Swami’s Divine Love, go out of their way to play their part in Swami’s Mission. Each one of them seems to be drawn to the light of Love that Swami is holding up to all of humanity. Every one of them wants to contribute his or her might to the service the Hospital is rendering. And the beautiful part is that many of them have not seen Swami physically and they experience Him only through His works.
Swami’s Hospitals and all His service projects stand out as role models to show to the entire world what can be achieved, given the right attitude, conviction and perseverance. As His student, I feel happy and blessed to be associated with the Institute and pray that He gives me enough strength to discharge my duties to the best of my abilities (and in time better my abilities too). In times to come, we may face many challenges in running the Institute. But, I take refuge in the fact that this Institute, started by Swami through His Vajra Sankalpa (Diamond Resolution) will shine, come what may.
|B. Satish Chandra with Sri Sathya Sai|
The pertinent question has been and will be, “Are we ready?” to take upon these challenges. Be it a hospital, a bank, a factory or an NGO that we work in, it is vital that we, His students, ask ourselves this question, “Are we ready?” The question is exciting because it has got answers in many dimensions and it spurs us into action and shows us the direction that we need to take. It also shows us that if we are convinced in the truth that He is the Ultimate Doer, we have to take responsibility for our actions and answer to the question in the affirmative. He will work through us and achieve extraordinary things. We should be ever ready to hitch our wagons to the star that Swami is and be prepared to sacrifice the petty things we hold dear, to leap across the chasms of self-doubt and reach the bounty of greater treasures that Swami has in store for us. I fervently pray that all of us can collectively say, “WE ARE READY, SWAMI!”
B. Satish Chandra
Student (1998-2000), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Senior Manager, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences