SUNDAY SPECIAL - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING
Loving Sai Ram, and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. We are sure at least
some of you would have recognised the title of this week's Sunday Special as
being the same as that of a play by Oscar Wilde, first staged in 1895 in
Now what on earth made us go back to that title to bring to you a spiritual
message this Sunday? Well, it was a small report about what some doctors did
recently in America . And there begins our reflections this week.
As all of you must be aware that often, when a cardiac patient has arterial
block, the first thing that doctors do is to try and fix that block with a
catheterisation process. This calls for inserting a catheter from the groin
region, pushing it up all the way to the region of the heart. The movement
is tracked using x-rays, and when the block region is reached, steps are
taken to dilate the artery, put a stent and all that. This procedure is the
first choice, if the cardiologist thinks it would help; the more advanced
procedure, namely, by- pass surgery, is thereby avoided. By the way, this
procedure is quite routine and indeed thousands have been done in Swami's
two Super Specialty Hospitals for years.
Now apparently in some slightly complicated cases, where the patient is sent
to an ICU for recovery, it was found that there were too many fatalities for
comfort - this was the observation in America . Nobody likes such a
situation, least of all the doctors, and many attempts were made to bring
down the number of post-catheterisation fatalities, mostly via technical
advances of various kinds. However, some doctors in the State of Michigan
tried something very different.
They simply said, "Let us see if we can tighten up procedural discipline
while doing the procedure." Having decided thus, they then tried very simple
things like carefully washing hands before the procedure and so on. Now lay
people like us might imagine that such things were quite habitual and were
always done. But apparently, so common had the procedure of catheterisation
procedure had become, it was being treated by many as pretty routine, almost
like, say, giving an injection.
We are not trying to oversimplify but merely drawing attention to the way
these doctors went back to the basics rather than trying something radical.
The story does not end here. Having clear proof that simple precautions and
common sense practices could do immense good, the next task was to
institutionalise this process on a large scale that this can really work
everywhere, provided the discipline drill is duly followed.
The doctor who took the primary initiative suggested that the Chief Nurse
assisting the doctors involved in medical procedure should do the
overseeing. When the matter was put to the nurses to get their reaction,
they said, "Look, be practical; we work for and under the doctors. How can
we boss them?" There were similar reservations on the side of the doctors
too. Finally, there was a serious get together, and a way was found to have
suitable watchdogs and implement the procedure on a state-wide scale. When
the pre-procedure discipline was rigidly followed, sure enough there were
A caveat before we proceed further; we freely admit that here and there we
might have got the details of the above story wrong; but we firmly believe
that the broad picture is very much as we have described. The important
point is that thoroughness and good discipline - always a sign of
professionalism - do yield very good results without the need for expensive
solutions to the problems faced.
The point we really wish to make is that in anything we do, we must really
be earnest. What particular thing do we have in mind and what is it that we
want? That is the question we shall consider next. There cannot be any
dispute that there are many, many things wrong in today's society. We shall
not tax you by listing and describing these problems, some of which are
That said, do we realise that everyone of these problems CAN be solved by a
disciplined application of Swami's teachings? One gets the impression that
not many do. Whenever H2H or Radio Sai has a program advocating active
involvement in society and doing all one can to help with the solution, we
get a lot of mail saying, "Don't bother us with all this; why do you think
Swami is here? He will solve the problem. Leave us alone to enjoy Swami and
We agree that devotees are free to follow whatever path appeals to them; at
the same time, we wish to point out and also emphasise that Swami loses no
opportunity to stress that we all must become deeply involved in service to
Society in whatever way we can, that sacrifice is far superior to even
chanting the Vedas and so on. The examples of quotes are too numerous and
too familiar to warrant repetition here.
In other words, it is time we really become earnest about paying serious
attention to Swami's teachings and doing all we can to follow them. Bhagavan
has said many things to help us improve spiritually and of these, perhaps
the most important one that concerns is service and sacrifice. That is the
point we wish to focus on.
These are days when people get turned off the moment the word sacrifice is
mentioned. What is a greater pity is that even devotees, who ought to know
better, are increasingly beginning to ignore the fact that Swami's entire
life is a wonderful saga of sacrifice. Yet when it comes to really making
our lives His Message, we quickly find alibis for excusing ourselves,
preferring to show devotion via other means. It does not seem to matter that
many times, Swami has said in His Discourses that mere chanting of the
Vedas, ritualistic observances etc., would not open the gates of heaven but
only sacrifice can.
We digress for a moment to bring to your attention a heart-warming story,
published recently in the Hyderabad edition of the nationally well-known
newspaper The Hindu. The story concerns a seventy plus old lady named
Seetaravamma of Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. She lost her husband when
very young and has no children. She belongs to a town named Raepalli but, on
account of age and physical inability, now lives in an old-age home in a
nearby village. She has to pay for her stay, and it costs her Rs. 600/- per
month. She cannot walk, and needs help to move around.
Why are we drawing attention to this particular lady, when there must be
hundreds of thousands like her in India with its population of over a
billion? For a good reason. In 1998, this lady sold the house in Raepalli
that belonged to her husband and, spending Rs. 300,000, she bought 1.1 acres
of land in a nearby village named Kuchenapudi. She then donated this land
for building a Primary Health Centre in that village. Having done this, she
then moved to old-age home in that same village, sustaining herself with the
Now there are a few points that must be underscored here. Firstly, she
donated land for building a PHC because the people of this village had no
nearby emergency medical facility and had to go 15 km to Raepalli for even
the most elementary kind of medical assistant. The second point is that the
village to which she had moved, had many rich landlords holding up to 50
acres but not a single one came forward to make any such donation of land.
The story does not end here. India is notorious for red tape and sure enough
in this case even though the money was there project implementation simply
did not take off for quite a long time. Understandably, this lady was
getting anxious, wondering when her dream would become a reality. Meanwhile,
there was a change of government in the State, which brought in its own
slowing-down effect. Despite the handicaps of old age, the lady was
determined that the PHC shall come up; she now decided to directly appeal to
the Minister in charge of health rather than dealing with local
administrators. She pleaded that the PHC be completed soon so that she could
see it before she died. Her pleas were heard and the PHC was finally built.
(In case if you are not able to view
the below picture - please click on the following link to view the pdf file:
Seetaravamma - Philantrophy is her second
nature - (more articles
The Story of Seetaravamma in The Hindu
Just recently the PHC was inaugurated, of course in the presence of a very
pleased Seetaravamma. Feeling enthused, she has now offered to donate small
lot of land in Raepalli town for the construction of a small building where
people could perform the last rites of their dear ones.
She does not have much money left from what she got when she sold her house,
but wants to keep on donating what she has. She has already donated some
money for building small bridges across the local canals, and wants to give
away even more for public good before her end comes.
We are not going to use this story to lecture to our readers as to what they
must do. That is beyond our province. However, we do wish to use this story
in a certain way that is quite relevant to our general mission.
As you are aware, today's media is saturated with negative news; only rarely
is there time or space for accommodating heart warming stories like the one
we are reporting as well as others where people have succeeded in holding on
to Dharmic principles.
For quite some time, we have been making appeals, using both formal as well
as informal channels, for what we call "Dharmic stories". By this we mean a
story describing a person's experience in holding firm to Dharma when
confronted by corrupt and such other forces, often against great odds, and
emerging successful in the end. These are days when people go about freely
declaring that Dharma, Sathya and all that are nice to give talks on but DO
NOT work in real life.
Is that really correct? We do not believe so but the problem is that many
are increasingly tending to believe that Dharma would simply NOT work in
this day and age. There is an urgent need to dispel this dangerous view that
is gaining ground. It is NOT that Dharma does not work. Actually many have
had amazing success in sticking firm to Dharma but unfortunately these
stories do not ever make the news.
But here in Swami's Studio, we have all the Media tools available just for
reporting good news. And so we say to each and everyone one of you.
Please share with us any Dharmic stories you might have. They may be stories
based on your own personal experience or they may be stories based on the
experience of someone you personally know and for which you can vouch for,
or some little know story published in your corner of the world.
Share them with us so that we can share them with the whole world via Radio
Sai and H2H.
[In fact, we have already started such a column in the "Features" section in
the November issue of H2H called "Harnessing the Heart - Living upto the
Challenge of Conscience in Daily Life." Click here to read the first article
and here for the latest.]
The more devotees hear such stories, the more their own personal conviction
in upholding Sathya and Dharma would become. You know, it is not that the
practice of Dharma has vanished; rather, Dharmic stories are being pushed
out of news using the argument that only scandal, disaster, evil, crime,
celebrities are relevant to news.
This is totally wrong. Someone has to tell the world that " NO, DHARMA IS
NOT DEAD AS PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK. IT IS ALIVE AND IS BEING SINCERELY ADHERED
TO MILLIONS. ONLY, SUCH STORIES OF GREAT BRAVERY ARE KEPT OUT USING THE
FALSE ARGUMENT THAT OBSERVANCE OF DHARMA IS NOT NEWS."
Swami is SATHYA and DHARMA personified; don't you think at least we devotees
must do to tell the world, "No, Dharma has not disappeared; it is just that
it is being kept out of media services on false premises. Here are stunning
examples that you did not read about or hear about. Let them assure you that
world is not just crime and sleaze as one might think, if one goes by the
We all in H2H are asking you to help us spread the good word. Remember that
such stories are vital for the young people of today. Just think how much
these stories can help our Bal Vikas programs, Youth programs and so on!
Yes, it is necessary to be earnest about whatever we do. Yes, we must all
strictly adhere to Sathya and Dharma. But how about taking a little time to
spread Dharmic stories, since they can be a great tonic? Remember the Chinna
Kathas that Swami used to once tell? What are they but Dharmic stories? So,
don't you think if we bring real stories of Today to the notice of one and
all, especially the young, it would help?
All it calls for is a bit of giving your time. Is that discipline too great
or is that sacrifice too much? Think about it!
Jai Sai Ram.
From Heart2Heart Team - sent on 23.12.2007