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Posted at 08:30:00 Hrs. IST on 18 Jan 2010

Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore is completing nine glorious years of service to humanity on the 19th January 2010. Commemorating the anniversary, staffers from the holistic institution came down to Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the occasion in the immediate Divine Presence. Read on a report on the same by Sri Y. Arvind, Sr. Manager, Public Relations at SSSIHMS. Mr. Arvind is an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai University passed out in the year 1999 with an MBA degree.

Nine years ago on the 19th of January 2001, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore. It is but natural that the institution should celebrate the day, rededicating itself to the serving the poorest of the poor; delivering free tertiary medical care to the needy.

On one earlier occasion the staff travelled to Prasanthi Nilayam to pray for Bhagawan’s continued blessings but were in for a surprise. Swami sternly enquired what we were doing in Prasanthi Nilayam on a working day. On hearing our reply that it was the hospital anniversary, Swami reminded us that the best way to celebrate the anniversary was to continue to serve the Patient – celebrations were secondary. Swami in His infinite wisdom taught us to use fundamental discrimination as against our individual discrimination. God first, others next, myself last. We had allowed our desire to ask for His blessings to take precedence over serving the patient thereby placing ourselves first in the equation. Swami did not lose the opportunity to drive home the lesson.

Ever since, the celebration has been a public holiday closest to 19th of January. This year 2010 it was on 17th, a Sunday. This year being the 85th year of the Avatar and also the fact that SSSIHMS - whitefield was celebrating its 9th anniversary in the first month of the year, it was felt that with Swami’s permission, we could present a small ensemble of group songs and have the heads of the institution express our collective gratitude to Swami for having given us the opportunity to serve in His Hospital.

After completing the day’s work on Saturday, the vehicles including two buses carrying 100 staff members and a cavalcade of cars, started early on Sunday around 4.30 a.m. in the morning and reached Prasanthi Nilayam by 8.30 a.m. After the morning session, the staff assembled in Double Decker Shed No 1 to practice, yet another time the group songs to be sung in front of Swami.

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A short word on the preparations would lend clarity. We had planned brief talks by three senior doctors: Dr.A.S.Hegde, Director, Chairman Department of Neurosciences; Dr.Voleti Choudary, Chairman Department of Cardiac Sciences and Dr.Kolli Chalam, HOD Department of Anaesthesiology. This was to be followed by four group songs, a few back up songs just in case the Lord’s munificence granted us a longer moment and once we had exhausted our repertoire, we hoped to hand over the baton to the Bhajan group.

As was custom, we had brought a cake specially designed for the occasion. It had the five petal lotus designed decades ago by Swami Himself and first given to Prof.Kasturi as the emblem for Sanatana Sarathi magazine. But we modified it to suit the occasion. Instead of the five religions we had five images symbolizing various aspects of the hospital. Clockwise from top, we had the three domes of the main superstructure, Lord Dhanvantari, Praying hands, Comforting hands and a Doctors stethoscope. The central circle was replaced with a picture of the hospital Chandelier taken from the centre of the hall making it look like a chariot wheel. On this background was the numeral ‘9’ – symbolizing the 9th anniversary.

In the afternoon as the staff were being seated, on the white marble opposite lord Ganesha, the cake was readied inside the bhajan hall. Commonly called third block, the area in front of the Ganesha Statue inside Sai Kulwanth hall, is generally reserved for current students studying in Swami’s educational institutions and is granted to groups performing in the Divine Presence. Today we were granted the entire block, gents and ladies seated in separate groups.

The vedam chanting started at the dot of 4.00 p.m. and to our pleasant surprise and joy, Swami entered Sai Kulwanth hall a few minutes later. Quickly we arranged the cake and set it up against the pillar on the left hand side of the main portico. The primary school children not having arrived, a vast expanse was empty on the ladies side. Swami who blessed us by coming in His chair, cut across the hall and made a beeline to where we knelt with the Cake. Swami was accompanied by, Dr.Hegde and Dr.Dash while Dr. Voleti Choudary and Dr.Kolli Chalam along with a couple of managers were with the cake. Swami raised His eyebrows enquiringly and we immediately mouthed the words, “hospital anniversary, Swami”. He first went past the cake and blessed an elder on the portico then turned back to us. Even as He approached He reached out for the sliver knife and cut the cake. He then accepted a slim candle and lit the large scented Candle that stood on the cake.

Smoothly He turned to the waiting devotees and had His chair placed in the centre of the stage. With a nod He summoned the Managers leading the Choir. They offered their prayer to sing for Him and placed in His hands large cards, that had the lyrics of two newly composed telugu songs. Even as He read the lyrics Swami’s eyes glistened with love and He indicated that the programme should begin with the songs.

The first song entitled “Sharanamayya Karunamaya” was a heartfelt offering of gratitude to Swami for having blessed us to be in His proximity. This was followed by ‘Avo Sab milkar Gaye…’ A song inviting one and all to be united. The third song was ‘Dorkuna ituvanti seva’ once again an expression of Gratitude to Swami for granting us the opportunity to serve in His Mission. ‘I keep feeling your love in me’ hit the right note with all those in the hall joining in chorus. The last song, or so we thought was a new one, written and composed just a day earlier – ‘Ravoyi maa sai ma chenta ki’ (Come to us oh! Beloved Lord Sai) This song encapsulated the yearning felt by all of us at SSSIHMS, Whitefield, that has been waiting for His Divine Touch for the past two years – the last visit being on June 8th 2008.

Swami responded to the prayers in the hearts of those singing the songs and others behind the scenes with total involvement. At the end of the fifth song He beckoned to one of us and asked if we had more… and then followed the most soulful rendition of the well known song ‘Humko tumse Pyar Kitna…’ When the last words, “We love you Dearest Lord we loved you…” faded, the atmosphere was electric. The Lord wanted more and this time it was bhajans; then followed a wonderful rendition of bhajans perfectly suiting the occasion. Swami blessed the ladies group also to sing lead and they alternated with the gents group.

After a few minutes He signalled for a stop and blessed the three speakers for the day to address the audience. Dr.Hegde spoke first and in few well constructed sentences articulated the spirit of service of Swami’s hospitals. He spoke briefly including a short note on the statistics of work done at SSSIHMS, Whitefield. He concluded with a prayer to Swami to bless us that we may continue to do His Work.

Dr.Voleti Choudary spoke of the local and global reach of the Sai health care mission. He made a special reference to Swami’s hospitals being recognised both architecturally and Technologically as among the best in the world. Dr.Choudary peppered his talk with instances and anecdotes from his personal experiences as a doctor with Swami. He concluded narrating the story of a world famous singer who happened to be operated at Swamis hospital by Dr. Choudary himself. When Dr. Choudary later met the singer at a concert in United States, the singer publicly offered his gratitude to Swami’s hospitals and gratefully submitted that he owed his life to Swami’s Grace.

The last speaker for the evening, Dr.Kolli Chalam spoke in telugu and in ideal vein, alluded to Swami’s letter to his body’s Elder Brother, “Akila manavulaku anandamunu goorchi…” in which Swami Announced to the world the purpose of His incarnation. Dr.Chalam in his brief talk lucidly explained how Swami had fulfilled each of the promises made. He referred to various instances where one witnessed Swami’s Will running the hospitals citing rapid patient recovery, minimal stress conditions and many other clinical metrics that were way above the best hospitals in the world.

Swami blessed all the speakers with Padnamskar and signalled for the Bhajans to resume. Prasadam was distributed after which Swami received aarthi. He saved the best for the last, Blessing the entire concourse with both hands; a rare privilege indeed to be blessed with not one but two abhayahastas. Swami once again proved today that He responds to the strokes of our heart that say Sai we love you. The collective prayers proved too strong for Him to resist. As it is said, Love is His Greatest Asset and His Greatest Liability. He extended what was scheduled to be a 40 minute offering to two hours showering His Love, Grace and Benediction on all present. 17th of January 2010 will remain in our memory for a long, long time for it comes as a third opportunity that Swami has granted for the Staff of SSSIHMS Whitefield to come to Him as a group, growing from Vyashti to Samashti, from I to We.

It would not be fair to conclude without a mention of the effort that went in to make this possible. And add to it the fact that when Swami says “Love my uncertainty” – there is no ambiguity. Different teams worked in tandem to make the event possible. The work was distributed among all systematically with the ones responsible giving updates to the rest periodically. A special mention must be made of the music group that held practice sessions for the staff outside duty hours, for one hour everyday. The songs were also played on the PA system. The designing of the cake has been described before. Transport and logistics was handled masterfully so as to facilitate maximum staff to enjoy this opportunity. Despite all our planning, He has a master plan that He unfolds when He chooses. Rest assured, whatever He does is for our Good.