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Dr. Narendranath Reddy graduated in medicine
with distinction from S.V. Medical College,
Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. He then went to the
United States of America where he specialised in
internal medicine at the New Jersey College of
Medicine and Dentistry. Later he did his
sub-specialisation in endocrinology and
metabolism at the Mount Sinai School of
Medicine, New York. He has been a consultant and
a practicing internist-endocrinologist in
Southern California for over thirty years.
A fellow of the American College of Physicians
and the American College of Endocrinologists, he
is also on the teaching faculty at the Keck
School of Medicine, University of Southern
Four generations of
Dr. Reddy's family are devotees of Swami, with
Dr. Reddy himself having come to Swami at the
age of five. For 25 years, Dr. Reddy and his
family have had a Sai Baba centre in their home.
He is the chairman of the International Medical
Committee of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. In
addition, he serves as the President of the Sri
Sathya Sai Society of America, Member of the
Prashanti Council, and the Director of the Sri
Sathya Sai World Foundation, which is the
governing body of the Sri Sathya Sai
Prof. G. Venkataraman
(Prof. GV), eminent scientist and the former
Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning had a detailed conversation with
Dr. Reddy (Dr. NR) about Bhagawan Baba's health
on April 16, 2011 in the Radio Sai studio.
Presented below is the suitably adapted and
edited transcript of this conversation.
Sai Ram Dr. Reddy and
on behalf of all of us as well as the listeners all
over the world I extend a warm welcome to you to our
studio. You have of course been here many times but
this is a very special occasion. I know you are
tremendously busy; I can see it and I really feel a
little uncomfortable disturbing you. But I have a
duty to perform and there is something that only you
can do. So I am particularly grateful that you are
able to spare a few precious moments for us and for
devotees everywhere. Let me straight away get to the
is Swami? You came here about two weeks ago and have
been going to the hospital regularly and
participating in the medical attention that is being
given to Swami. So compared to what He was when you
arrived how is He now?
Please tell us.
First, with love and reverence I offer myself at the
Divine Lotus Feet of our dearest and loving Lord
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Sisters and brothers,
greetings of loving Sai Ram to all of you! As you
mentioned I came here two weeks ago and saw Swami in
the Intensive Care Unit, when He was critically ill.
been definite improvement compared to what He was
two weeks ago, but it is slow.
Okay, thank you doctor garu, and that was really
comforting to hear and I am sure millions world over
would feel the same way too. Now, you are a doctor
and of course you are an ardent devotee of Bhagawan.
In fact, your entire family is made up of nothing
but devotees spanning across perhaps four or five
generations. I am therefore going to converse with
you at three different levels Dr. Reddy as a doctor,
Dr. Reddy as a devotee and Dr. Reddy as a close
acquaintance. Keeping that in mind let me start off
with the question that covers spirituality as well
There is a reason why I am asking this question. The
other day when I was returning to my room I met a
couple. Incidentally they were from America but they
have now returned to India and we exchanged casual
greetings and a few words. Suddenly one of them said
to me - and this was completely out of the blue you
could say; it knocked me down. The gentleman said
are telling that Swami's body being divine no doctor
should touch It. Now, you are a doctor, what do you
say about that?
I do not agree with that view point. Yes, Swami's
body is Divine. But Swami Himself has mentioned I am
not Mrnmaya (that which perishes); I am
Chinmaya (one of full effulgence and
awareness). So He is the embodiment of
Sat-Chit-Ananda (Embodiment of Truth, Awareness
and Bliss). But at the same time this Omniscient,
Omnipresent and Omnipotent Lord has come in the
human form. We have to then play our role and treat
His body as a human body. In 2003 when Swami
sustained a hip fracture the doctors investigated
and helped His body. They have done their duty. He
neither condemned them nor did He say He needed
that. But they had to play their role. Similarly as
physicians we have to play our role. This is very
I can recollect an incident that happened during
Krishna's time which is mentioned in the Bhagavatha.
When Sri Krishna, the Supreme Parabrahman
Himself, hurt His finger while cutting sugarcane,
blood started oozing out. By His very Sankalpa
(Will) He could have stopped the bleeding. His
consorts, Rukmini and Sathyabhama were there, also
present was His devotee Draupadi. Sathyabhama rushed
to get a cloth and Rukmini was searching for
something to be used as a bandage. However, Draupadi
spontaneously and instantaneously tore a piece of
cloth from her new saree and tied it around Bhagawan
Krishna's finger. Her heart was filled with love for
think is a Divine play orchestrated by Bhagawan to
show that each one has a role to play instead of
thinking that God should heal Himself. Yes, He can
do anything. As Swami says He can make earth into
sky and sky into earth. But we need to play our
role. In this instance the doctors as physicians
have to do their duty.
Krishna was created by the students of
Swami's university during their Sports
Cultural Meet, January 2011.
In fact, now that you mentioned it I am reminded
of a wonderful discourse Swami gave in Bangalore
when He declared open the building, Sanskruta
Sadhanam. Mentioning how in the Gita, Krishna
reveals why the Lord incarnates, He went on to
add a lot of fine prints, shall I say.
One of the
reasons He said God comes down as man is that
then not only will devotees see God but also get
an opportunity to serve God.
And for that He
creates opportunities in many different ways.
You told a story about Krishna; I would also
like to recall a similar one from Krishna's
One day Krishna is lying on bed and complaining
of a headache. Narada comes and asks Him what is
wrong. When Narada learns about the Lords
problem, he feels something must be done and
asks Krishna what he could do. Then Krishna
says, Narada, you are a great devotee. I must
put on my head the dust from the feet of the
devotee alone to be cured immediately. Will you
give some dust? Oh Krishna, what are you saying?
I cant do that, replied Narada. Then Krishna
told him to go and find some devotees, who are
ready to give some dust from their feet.
Narada goes in search and finds the Gopikas who
are ready to do that. So he brings the dust from
the feet of the Gopikas and the moment Krishna
puts them on His head, His head ache is gone.
Then Krishna says to Narada, You saw Me in pain
but were not willing to give the dust from under
your feet. But if I had done that, I will go to
hell, replied Narada.
said, That is the difference between you and the
Gopikas. They are ready to go to hell; all they
want is My welfare. I love the devotees who
think only of Me and not of one's self.
That is a beautiful story. Love for love's sake,
just spontaneous outpouring of love. There is no
use of logic there; going beyond the mind and
the intellect. God is beyond the mind and the
intellect. Spontaneous love of Gopikas and
Draupadi is what Swami expects.
Okay, thank you doctor garu, let me
move on and ask an honest to goodness medical
question. Here in Radio Sai we broadcast twice a
day the medical bulletin issued by the hospital:
one comes at 8 o' clock in the morning and
another at 5 p.m.
occurring in almost every bulletin is the word
'critical'. I am sorry to say, but people are
upset and worried to hear that word. Now what
does this word actually mean especially in the
medical sense and why is it used?
When the patient has a critical illness, they
are admitted to a critical care unit or
intensive care unit. We then say that the
condition is critical. We usually admit the
patients in the critical care unit or ICU when
they have involvement of multiple organs and
also when we need a close monitoring and
supervision of the patients vital signs,
parameters and lab data. For instance, in USA
and probably here as well there is one nurse for
about 10 or 20 patients, whereas in the
intensive care they need to have such close
supervision and observation that there are three
nurses per patient to monitor and supervise
intensely and closely because of the magnitude
of the multiple medical problems. That is why it
is called critical illness because they need
close monitoring and supervision.
Can I ask one or two small questions by way of
You see, let us say a patient goes for a heart
operation an arterial block and a by-pass
surgery. So many people have undergone this and
they are generally taken to the ICU or critical
care. That does not mean it is life threatening.
But they have to go through intensive care. So
the word critical is normally used at that
stage. So it doesnt automatically mean life
No, not necessarily!
Unfortunately we tend to associate it that way
and the moment we hear we panic.
You have made a very important point because
critical care means, as you said very clearly,
the people with routine by-pass surgery are
admitted in the critical care unit for close
observation varying between 24 to 48 hours.
After that they are sent back to their wards.
It is part of a special medical procedure.
Yes, special medical procedure where the patient
is watched very carefully and some patients are
kept for a longer time depending on the
magnitude of the problem and the rate of the
you very much for the clarification. Here is
another question that's also based on the daily
bulletins. I am asking you this because
we are getting many anxious phone calls and
emails that essentially say to us: Listen, all
the bulletins sound pretty much the same. What
is happening? Is Swami improving or not?
I can understand their plight. In fact sometimes
when I read the bulletins, it is sort of
mystifying. So on behalf of all of them let me
bluntly ask you that question.
releases official statements about
Bhagawan's health everyday at 8.00 a.m.
and 5 p.m. These are signed by Dr. A. N.
Safaya, the Director of SSSIHMS-PG and
are available for all at
www.radiosai.org. Besides, they are
on Radio Sai too.
It is true; some times when you look clearly at the
bulletin, it looks the same whether you are a
medical or a non-medical person. So it is a very
valid question. But as a physician I can see that
there is progress, although it is very slow. We
should understand that Swami's body is Divine yet
physically it is 85 years old and the progress is
therefore slow. Also in the critical care as
physicians we observe that the condition fluctuates
from hour to hour, day to day. So when the
physicians give the statement they do so depending
on what is happening at the particular time. It
could be critical but the critical condition is
stable. People should not look at critical and
stable separately. The particular critical condition
can be stable. That is what the bulletin says.
Stable does not mean a lot of improvement or
Prof. GV: That is
normal, isnt it? It happens all the time.
Dr. NR: It happens
day in and day out. Actually we see that in critical
care conditions things can change from morning till
evening. As doctors we see that all the time. People
who may think we would discharge them the next day
might suddenly go sore in the afternoon. Same way
suddenly people can start improving. As physicians
we see that it fluctuates from hour to hour, day to
day. It is very difficult for the doctor giving the
statement to go into the minute details. Actually
when you give too many details to the general public
they get confused and that would create unnecessary
anxiety. Even though we are medical persons,
sometimes only those of us who specialise in that
particular field alone understand the situation
clearly. So it is very difficult for laymen to
comprehend the whole facts. That is why the
statements look monotonous and the same; but we
cannot do otherwise.
Prof. GV: This
kind of fluctuation is normal?
Dr. NR: It happens
with many patients. I said Swami's body is 85 years
old. I want to correct myself. As a physician I say
that; but we all know as devotees He is
Kalatheethaya (beyond Time): He was there, He
is here and He will be there with us forever. So as
a devotee I want to correct myself that He is
Kaalaya (Embodiment of Time) and
Kalatheethaya (One Who Transcends Time). But as
a physician since His body has crossed 85 years, the
process of recovery is slow.
Prof. GV: Okay,
now can I ask a related question?
complain and we hear this complaint from people who
have been coming here for several years and who in
many ways have been associated with Swami. They all
come here and want to see Swami. But none of them
are allowed. So they say all we want is a glimpse of
Swami. What is lost if we are allowed to see from a
is their point of view. I am not trying to defend it
or anything. But you are a doctor; you know how to
take care of people who are in critical care
condition. What is the dharma of the doctor
placed in the situation? Maybe you can explain to
the audience why this is being done.
Dr. NR: Sure!
First I would like to say as devotees we all adore
Swami and want to have a glimpse of Him. There is no
question about that. There are many people who have
come, our own family members, the relatives of the
doctors, and so on. Many of them, even though they
are doctors, aren't allowed to go and see Swami. We
all love to see Him.
speaking, as a physician when the patient is in the
intensive care we need to follow certain rules and
regulations for the safety as well as privacy of the
patient. It is the standard medical practice all
over the world in good hospitals.
Thanks to the
strict standards of hygiene maintained
in the Hospital, even my family members
many of whom are doctors were not
allowed to enter the ICU, says Dr.
For example, in USA we
have what is called HIPAA (Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act). You can never
reveal any information about any patient to the
general public from your office or the hospital. You
will be legally liable for that. I can give an
instance. We go and do medical service in America in
poor neighbourhoods. Even there we cannot take a
photograph unless we get a written consent from that
particular person receiving service. That is respect
for human rights and privacy in general terms.
importantly when the person is in the intensive
care, in general the immunity is compromised; they
are easily susceptible to infection. So whenever
somebody walks in they are subjecting the person to
more infection, and thus delaying the recovery. That
is the greatest disservice one can do. If you really
love Swami then pray for Him; but please do not try
to visit Him now.
Another thing is
doctors in the critical care unit are so much
concerned and occupied taking care of the patient.
Visitors interfere in their concentration and
commitment and prevent the doctors from delivering
the best medical care. That is why visiting patients
who are in the ICU isn't really advisable. Besides,
this is the standard medical practice. My own family
members who are doctors themselves were not allowed.
In general, the practice even in the USA is that the
doctors who are taking active part in the medical
care of the patient, that is, the doctors-in-charge
and the consulting doctors, are the only people
entitled to see the patient. Otherwise it is not a
very practical thing for the management and delivery
of good care. Not only that we have to respect the
rules for the sake of Whom we love. Swami wants us
to respect the law of the land whatever be the rules
and regulations. This is our dharma and
duty and as I said even though as devotees we love
to have a glimpse but at this point it is not
correct. Even all the senior Trust Members too
respect these rules. So we appeal to all the
devotees too to conform to this.
Prof. GV: I think
you have made two important points here. First, if
you let in one you have to allow so many because
everyone will try to extend the privilege. And each
one of them will be a disturbance to the doctors.
Secondly, they will be adding to the infection
burden of the patient. Both are totally unnecessary.
It just occurred to me that even in our temples no
one is allowed inside the Garbhagraha (the
Sanctum Sanctorum) except the priests. If you want
the darshan of the Lord you have to stand
outside. So that is a point well understood now, at
least I understand it and I hope everyone would.
Now you mentioned about hospitals in USA. I would
like to ask a small question in that context. You
have been in America for maybe four and a half
decades and you have so much experience with the
hospitals there. You have served in many of them
including the very best. How would you compare the
treatment being given to Swami with the kind of
attention a patient with a comparable medical
condition would have received there in America?
Dr. NR: I am very
glad you asked this question. I have been a
practising physician for about four decades in USA
and also have been coming to Sri Sathya Sai
Institute of Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi from the
time of its inauguration.
In this Hospital,
which Bhagawan has built for serving humanity at
large, I find two important aspects of delivery of
health care. One is the professional expertise and
the kind of faculty members who are offering the
service and the second is the equipments and
facilities available to deliver the medical care.
The third important aspect as Swami says is the
ideal health care, which involves delivering with
love and compassion that fortunately all Sai
physicians including the nursing staff and
Here we have the state-of-the-art medical equipment,
which Swami insisted on from the beginning. He had
said that just because we are delivering care to the
poor, the care should not be poor.
The Sri Sathya Sai
Institute of Higher Medical Sciences,
Prashanthigram will complete 20 years of
its existence this November. It has been
two decades of free and fulfilling
service to the needy and the distraught
offered with Love.
Prof. GV: That is
a good one!
Dr. NR: So we
should try and deliver the very best. He used to
insist and demand that we should never go for
secondary and second-hand equipments. Use always new
and good ones, He emphasized. That is why we have
here state-of-the-art equipments. Also the doctors
here are very dedicated and competent. I have
interacted with them; they are good physicians. As
per the interaction I have had with the local team
of doctors and the consulting physicians I am
convinced that the treatment Swami is receiving now
is excellent; it is very good. Actually we have a
group of doctors the local team, who are in the
permanent faculty here assisted and joined by the
team of doctors and consultants visiting from
premier hospitals in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and
some overseas physicians.
In fact some of the very competent physicians
visiting from overseas are specialists in intensive
care and critical care. One of the doctors was the
President of the American College of Chest
Physicians; another is the Chief of the Pulmonary
and Critical Care Medicine in Emory University in
Atlanta, the third is from the Colorado Health
Sciences. So we have lot of renowned and
distinguished physicians from overseas as well as
the local physicians. I also recently met a renowned
hepatologist and gastroenterologist from Hyderabad
who has been visiting and assisting Swami's
So we have very distinguished and qualified
physicians from all over the world taking care and
everybody is of the same opinion which is - Swami is
receiving the best medical care.
Also we should remember that among the experts there
may be different viewpoints but the consensus in
general terms is that He is receiving the best
point I want to mention here is that all of them, be
it the visiting consultants from abroad or the those
from India, mention one thing and that is they are
really impressed and very much appreciative of the
dedication and love of the doctors attending on
Swami; they are serving Swami day and night
sacrificing hours of their sleep. They are truly
exemplar professionals of Ideal Sai Healthcare.
In summary, Swami is receiving the state-of-the-art
and the best medical care.
Prof. GV: That is
really very reassuring Dr. Reddy. Now before I go to
the next question I just want to say something. Dr.
Safaya, the Director of the Hospital always used to
tell me that in this hospital patient is God. That
of course was said in a certain sense. It so
happened that God Himself has become a patient
probably to teach us some lessons, I do not know.
But let me get back to practical details.
You used one term
I can sort of guess what it means. But I have never
heard this term until recently.
Can you please
explain what that means and what exactly an
and Dr. Narendra Reddy (right) converse
in the Radio Sai studio concerning
Swami's health on April 16, 2011
Dr. NR: In very
simple terms, in layman's language, a doctor who
takes care of an intensive care patient is an
intensivist. We use the words intensive care and
critical care interchangeably. So they are
intensivists or critical care specialists.
So any person who
specialises in taking care of the patients needs in
intensive care is called an intensivist or critical
Let us be careful. There is another word called
'internist'. They are general medical doctors who
take care of general medical problems and later
specialise in various fields like cardiology, chest
diseases, anaesthesiology, etc. Once you specialise
then there is another specialisation called critical
care and intensive care. It is a two year course and
then they take the Board examination and are
considered as critical care specialists.
As I mentioned to you there were intensivists coming
from Delhi and Bangalore and now there are three
from United States. They are all critical care
specialists. They have qualification in internal
medicine, cardiology or pulmonary medicine and also
critical care. So they are specially focussed in
their attention on how to take care of the patients
when they are in the intensive care because they
have multitude of problems, involving multi-organ
systems. So they need to have special acumen and
special way to assess and take care of the patient
and at the same time co-ordinate the efforts of the
other sub-specialists who are taking care of the
patient. That is why it is a very new and important
field that is developing all over the world,
especially to look after patients in intensive care.
Prof. GV: So as I
understand, the intensivist co-ordinates with the
other specialists like pulmonologists, nephrologists
and the cardiologists who give attention to the
patient in specific areas and makes sure that all
their instructions are properly implemented in the
right manner with due regard to the dharma
and procedures of the critical care unit. Is that
Dr. NR: Yes.
Actually for example in this instance Swami had
cardiologists and cardiac surgeons seeing Him.
Nephrologists, anaesthesiologists, endocrinologists,
ophthalmologists and gastroenterologists each one
specialising in their respective fields saw Him as
have their focus on their particular field of
speciality whereas the intensivist or the critical
care specialist has his own speciality like
cardiology or pulmonary or anaesthetics. In addition
to that, their focus is on a broader view of total
complete care of the patient. They interact with
specialists of all concerned areas and at the same
time co-ordinate and get the input from other
That is where they have their special expertise.
That is really needed in the good and effective
delivery of medical care.
Prof. GV: So I
guess these people spend most of their time in ICU
and they really know what not to do there!
Dr. NR: Yes, you
are right! Most of these people don't even do office
practice because they are so busy with these very
acutely and critically ill patients. So most of
their time, as you clearly mentioned, is spent in
the hospital in taking care of these patients.
Prof. GV: They
know how to react to situations from minute to
Dr. NR: Yes and
that is very important. That is why they are
intensivists or critical care specialists because as
I told you earlier things can change from minute to
minute, hour to hour; so they should be tuned as to
how to immediately respond to the changing
conditions of the patient.
Prof. GV: That is
real education for me; there is no limit to what one
can learn! Now let me move on. As you know Swami was
admitted to the hospital in the evening of March 28
around 4 p.m. and I was there. I believe it was
because His heart beat was irregular and so they
implanted a pace-maker. Subsequently the medical
bulletin started referring to lung, kidney, etc.
This alarmed many people including myself
Swami went for
heart trouble, what is happening? Why are they
talking about lungs and all that? But there must be
some kind of background to this. Maybe we are
getting alarmed because of our lack of education and
you help us understand all this from a medical point
of view and put us at rest?
The heart pumps and
supplies blood to all the organs of the
body. It has a mechanical as well as an
electrical action. The pace-maker that
has been implanted in Swami's body
helps in the electrical function.
Dr. NR: One thing
we must remember is that the body is a mechanism
where everything is interrelated and interconnected.
Suppose for example if one has diabetes we cannot
say it is a sugar disease. It is not just that; it
affects the eyes, kidneys, nervous systems, so it
affects many organs of our body. Similarly Swami
went for irregular heart beat or intermittent heart
block and so they put a pace-maker. Then they had to
watch Him closely. But in the process His blood
pressure went down because as you know heart is a
pump. Heart has two actions: One is pumping action
which is a mechanical one and the other one is
electrical. They were taking care of the electrical
problem by putting a pace-maker because the
irregularity of the heart is a real electrical
problem in nature. So they tried to fix it by
putting the pace-maker.
Meanwhile the pumping part gave a little bit of
problem and the blood pressure went down. Heart is
the main pump, which supplies blood to all the
organs of the body be it the brain, the kidneys, the
limbs every other part. Now if the blood pressure
goes down even if it is for maybe a short while it
affects the functioning of the other organs. That is
why the kidneys' function was impaired and we had to
put it under dialysis. The lungs also needed help so
He was put on the ventilator. Similarly, the liver
function goes down because the blood supply and the
level of oxygen drops. This is what we call the
natural sequence of the events because in the body
all the organs are interrelated, and this is nothing
unusual. It happens and we see this in patients who
are undergoing treatment in the critical care unit.
Prof. GV: That is
reassuring and I suppose that is when they began to
give assistance to the various organs by putting a
ventilator, doing the dialysis and so on. Am I
Dr. NR: Yes. For
example if the lungs are not functioning well, if
the lungs or the muscles cannot compensate, they
need some support until they start recovering. Once
they recoup - there are parameters the doctors use
to measure the improvement - what we call as the
weaning period starts and a day comes when you stop
it. Similarly they try to help the kidneys. The
kidneys get rid of the toxins from the body through
the urine output. When the kidneys fail to do that
the toxins build up and some fluids accumulate in
the system, which is a load on the heart and lungs.
When our own kidneys are not able to get rid of the
toxins we need help and that is what we call as
dialysis. Swami had dialysis with the CRRT mechanism
to get rid of the fluid. As the kidney starts
improving slowly the dialysis frequency is cut down
and the patient is slowly weaned off from the
machine. Whenever the natural body mechanism starts,
the body heals itself and once it improves slowly we
can stop the external help. We hope and pray to Him
since He is God and by His very Sankalpa
(will) in a trice He can make everything recover and
function normally. But here as a physician, I am
telling how we support the system until such time
the body recovers naturally and takes over.
Prof. GV: When
you are saying all this I am reminded of something.
Here we are in the studio and we depend on electric
power. But we know our electric power system; it
chooses to fail we cant say when. We have a back-up
system UPS; when the power fails that comes
automatically to our help. I suppose all these organ
assistance and assisting devices are invoked in the
same way because the heart didn't work to supply
Dr. NR: It is a
Prof. GV: Now, we
have been discussing a lot about Swami's health from
a medical point of view. We know from the past
history of this Avatar, going back to the 50s and so
on, there were many occasions Swami has been
extremely ill, in particular I am thinking right now
of the illness that He had just before Guru Poornima
in 1963, which Prof. Kasturi has recorded in the
most graphic form. As far as I can recall of the
account Swami had paralysis, then He also had heart
attack, everything going together. It seemed like an
incredible crisis. Then He came out of it all in the
most dramatic fashion. He merely sprinkled water on
Himself on Guru Poornima day, then got up and spoke
for an hour. He ended the discourse by singing the
bhajan Subramanyam Subramanyam. which is a
real fast one. It was one of those stunning
The Guru Poornima
of 1963 saw Swami perform a stunning
act. Bhagawan just sprinkled a few drops
of water with His right hand onto His
left hand and limbs, and lo and behold
the paralysed left side became perfect
in no time and Swami then rose to give a
powerful and revelatory discourse in the
Bhajan Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam.
The other instance is
the appendicitis incident that happened in Goa. The
entire medical college came there. Suddenly He got
up and said arrange for bhajans; went into the bath
room, had a shower, shaved and wore a robe and came
as fresh as a rose. Those things used to happen.
Those were the occasions when He took on the illness
of somebody even fractures or heart attacks
limitless illnesses from ones colds and coughs all
the way to paralysis and stroke. But this is an
occasion where something happens to His body.
In fact the first time when I saw this was when I
was the Vice Chancellor. He used to call me
frequently to the interview room and I saw that one
of His toe nails was black. I asked Swami what that
was. He said, "I
stubbed My toe against the door stop."
I didn't know that
these things happen to God. I said, "Swami, how does
it happen to You?" He said,
"How it happens to
you, it happens to Me."
I said, "Swami, it must be very painful." He said,
"Of course, what else do you think?" Then I told
Him, "Swami, tomorrow is Vinayaka Chathurthi; you
generally walk with a very long robe. Your toe will
not be visible; everyone will be grabbing Your feet
and it will be very painful." He replied,
"Yes, it will be
painful. But can I tell the devotees not to approach
Me? If you do anything like that I will wring your
asked me to keep my mouth shut. He said,
"Devotees come for
Me and not for you. If they want to do
padanamaskar, they are entitled to it."
I was reminded of a slokha (hymn) in
Shivanandha Lahari where Adi Shankara wails to
Shiva: Oh Shiva! You are so tired after Shiva
Thandavam (Cosmic Dance of Shiva) and all the Devas
are not even removing their crowns; it must be
hurting Your feet. It was very moving. But here we
see an entirely different kind of leela
where Swami is suffering pain. As Rama He suffered
pain in terms of separation, anguish and all those
things; but here it is in terms of physical pain,
bodily suffering and all that. This is completely
mystifying and we have never had this sort of
situation. To a small extent it was there when He
had the fracture in 2003. So I now want to ask you
as a devotee how did you feel when you heard all
this in America? You were in America when this
Dr. NR: As a
devotee who loves and adores Swami, it is very
saddening and painful to hear. But as you have
beautifully narrated many incidents and instances
where Swami took the pain and illness of devotees
and later cured Himself, all of which have happened
in the past. But one thing I want to mention -
nobody can unveil the Divine mystery. As the
scriptures say Yatho Vacho Nivarthanthe
Appraapya Manasa Saha God is beyond the
comprehension of the mind and intellect. No one can
understand Swami's reality. In fact here it is very
important. I want to quote what
Swami has revealed
about Himself out of His infinite kindness and love
on May 17, 1968, during the First World Conference
in Dharmakshetra in Bombay:
is a human form in which every Divine
entity, every Divine principle, that is
to say, all the names and forms ascribed
by man to God are manifest. Do not allow
doubt to distract you. If you only
install in the altar of your heart
steady faith in My Divinity, you can win
a vision of My Reality. Instead if you
swing like a pendulum of a clock - one
moment devotion and another disbelief,
you can never succeed in comprehending
the truth and win the bliss. You are
very fortunate that you have a chance to
experience the bliss of the vision of
Sarva Devatha Swaroopam (the form
which is all forms of Gods) now in this
Here I want to add
something with reference to the comment you made.
Swami has said in truth you cannot understand the
nature of My Reality either today or even after a
thousand years of steady austerity or ardent
enquiry, even if all mankind joins in that effort.
This shows people have their own imaginations Swami
has taken the negative karmas, Swami took somebody's
illness; Swami did this for this reason, etc. Here
Swami Himself is telling:
Don't try to
He has also personally told me repeatedly:
experienced My love and My Divinity. So just share
that Love and Divinity.
We can never analyse
Divinity, and in fact when God comes in human form,
as you mentioned about Rama He cried like an
ordinary human being for Sita. When Krishna came He
went as an Ambassador and made His mission fail and
allowed to be bound by those people. When Jesus came
He let Himself be crucified on the cross.
Why God comes in the human form? It is beautifully
shared in the Vishnu Sahasranama:
When God takes the
human form, He has this confounding aspect. He would
play like a human being and be Divine at the same
time. So in my
humble opinion this Divine drama as it unfolds this
is His Sankalpa (Will) and we will be
learning lot of things and it is for our highest
good because Swami says without His Sankalpa
not even a blade of grass can move! Even the Quran
says not even a dry leaf can fall from the tree
without the will of God. He has willed it so and it
is for the highest good and right now I can see the
good coming in the form of the intensity of the
Sadhana, which people all over the world are
doing at this time. And also the sense of unity with
which people are coming together. We really
intensely hope that Swami comes out of this the way
He has done before and is amongst us again, giving
us the opportunity to enjoy His beautiful
Darshan, blessing and sweet loving words.
Prof. GV: As you
were saying all these things, I was reminded of one
of the things that late Prof. Kasturi has recorded.
I think it was after the Guru Poornima incident
1963. Swami was back to normal and devotees were
again chatting with Him. One of them a typical
devotee said, "Swami, You don't know what hell we
went through when You were putting us through to the
test for eight days, we had to go through so much
anguish. Why do You inflict on Yourself all this
suffering?" The man forgot that God suffered. Do you
know what reply Swami gave? He said,
"Don't talk like a fool. The anguish that you felt
for the last eight days you would not have felt for
Me in eight janmas (life times). I pressed
the fast forward button in order to bring you closer
to Me." He used
Dr. NR: This is a
Prof. GV: We
hardly think of God.
Dr. NR: Yes, that
is a very good point. I will just side track and
tell you one instance. This happened about 15 or 20
years back. I was going with Swami in the car. I
asked, "Swami, how do I know whether I have
devotion." Swami said in Telugu,
parithapamunte, neeku Bhakthi unnattu" it
means, if you have intense longing for God you have
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, "People cry jarful of
tears for family. But if you intensely cry for God
in three days you will have darshan of the
Lord." Here I feel Swami is giving us the
opportunity to do that. I come across so many
devotees now whose minds and hearts are fully
focused on Swami. They are asking what can I do for
Swami instead of asking what can I get from Swami.
worldover have been engaged in
conducting special sacrifices, prayer
sessions, candle light processions and
to offer their love to Bhagawan and
sincerely pray to Him to heal Himself at
There are thousands of
physicians who are devotees of Swami many of whom
are high officials and chairmen of many departments
in major medical schools they all want to come and
serve Swami. I humbly said to them that there are
only limited number of people who can physically
serve Swami. The others even though they are
physicians, the best thing they can do is to pray to
Swami intensely. He Himself has said that the best
medicine for Me is the prayers of the devotees.
In fact this is Swami's quote:
"The intense prayers
of the devotees are My medicine. This body is not
Mine; it is yours. Hence it is your responsibility
to look after My body."
How do we do that? By
intense prayers because many times we have heard
that God is moved by prayers. So this is the time
when all of us have to intensify our sadhana
and Swami is giving an opportunity and I am
happy to say many devotees are doing that. I wish we
can do more of this kind because only by going
inward we can please Him. Swami says, though we are
all worried about His nourishment, He has said
'Bliss is My food'. So if we devotees practise His
teachings and be blissful, then Swami's body will be
I am talking as a devotee now and not as a
physician. Of course they are giving proper
nourishment and proper treatment; but as devotees we
need to go inward and practise His teachings. That
is why in Lalitha Sahasranama it is said that only
when we go inward can we attain God. That is one of
the most beautiful sayings in that hymn. Swami is
giving an opportunity for all of us to go inwards
and dive deep into His teachings and practise.
Regarding that I would like to just make one small
remark before we wind up. Actually it is a recall of
what Swami has said in His typical simple way.
that devotion is not an on and off kind of thing. I
would like to compare it with electricity here.
These days current comes and goes off. He said it is
not like a uniform that a policeman wears when he
goes on duty or a burkha that a Muslim woman wears
when she goes out on the street. It must be there
Unfortunately we have a tendency to go back to our
own old ways, once Swami is back to normal and
forget His teachings. I am glad you referred to His
teachings. At least this time we must seriously come
back to His teachings.
One of the things that I feel concerned is many
people write to us based on rumours that they hear.
Now, anxiety is one thing, but how do you get to
know rumours? Because you are tuned to them.
Otherwise they won't reach you; they will not
penetrate you. These are some of the lessons that we
must learn. It is time that we start becoming
serious. You talked about vedhana,
parithapam and all that. Unless we really value
it, it will not be there. It should not be momentary
and transient. I don't know if you agree with me;
but as a teacher I feel that God comes as a teacher
for us to learn and if we don't learn we are very
Dr. NR: That is
very important. It cannot be a temporary thing. That
is why Swami says:
Sarvakaleshu Sarvathra Hari Chinthanam,
that is, constantly think about God all time,
everywhere and under all circumstances. Otherwise He
says you are a part-time devotee and want full-time
benefits. In the Gita, Lord Krishna beautifully
says: Yogakshemam Vahamyaham,
that is, I am going to take care. But what is the
condition? Ananyas chinthayanthomam,
that is, if you think of Me constantly, I will take
care. People want to be taken care of by Him without
constantly thinking of Him.
Here I want to share
with the listeners another important point. In the
same discourse Swami has said how to make the best
use of Swami. He says,
"Utilise the chance
of association with Me as much as possible and
endeavour as quickly and as best as you can to
follow the directions that I have been giving.
Obeying My instruction is enough. It will benefit
you more than the most rigorous asceticism. Practice
Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi,
Prema which are dear to Me. Resolve to keep
those ideals before you ever."
That is why Swami always addresses us as
Divyathma Swaroopalara (Embodiments of Divine
Atma), Prema Swaroopalara
(Embodiments of Love). He however never calls us as
Bhakthulara (devotees) because He says nobody
can fit that title.
Swami is reminding
us that we are embodiments of Divine Atma
and Divine Love and this is the time as devotees if
we want to please Swami and Swami is telling us that
pleasing Him is just following His instructions.
What is His instruction? Just realising that we are
the embodiments of Divine Atma and Divine
Love! We should
realise that and help our fellow beings to realise
that and manifest their Divinity. Instead of that we
go into gossip, rumour mongering, etc.
Actually Swami said in His discourse in 2002 that
spreading falsehood and untruth is the greatest sin.
We may have to pay for this karma over many life
times. So why do we have to go on forwarding emails
of these gossips? There are official sites of
Radio Sai, who are doing wonderful service by
releasing the official statements from Dr. Safaya.
Let us stick to these and not waste time and energy.
We can go inward and realise as Swami wants us all
to get the title: Shrunwanthuvisye Amruthasya
Puthraha. We all need to realise that we are
children of immortality and that is only by removing
immorality. We cannot do immoral acts of spreading
rumour or gossip in any form. In fact if we truly
love Swami we should not waste our energy and time
gossiping and spreading rumours.
Prof. GV: You
referred to Obey My instructions. I will wrap it up
by recalling two words which have some relevance
because it is about doctors and what Swami has said
about doctors. If you are sick, Swami says, you go
to a doctor. What does the doctor do? He gives you
medicine and prescribes diet restrictions. Medicine
is aushadham. Diet restriction is
pathyam. People come to Me with sickness. Like
a doctor I also give aushadham and
What is Swami's
aushadham? It is Namasmaranam. What is
Swami's pathyam? Obey My commands. It is
very simple. So on this occasion when we are talking
about how doctors are treating Swami it is very
useful and pertinent that we recall how Swami has
given instruction to us as the Divine doctor.
Dr. NR: That is a
beautiful concluding statement. Actually I shared
this in one of my talks and Swami liked that because
He repeatedly says this; we have to get our
Bhava Roga (the disease of being in the
material world) cured.
Prof. GV: I would
just wrap it all by saying it was really nice of you
to have spared some time. I know you are really busy,
especially today. But you have been so kind. You
have not only shared with us lot of your medical
wisdom, but a bit of your spiritual insight too.
More than anything
else, we have been carrying the burden of anxiety of
devotees all over the world and we had no way of
assuring them from the medical angle. You have
helped us enormously and we owe a deep debt of
gratitude to you for that. Thank you again on behalf
of all of us here in the studio and listeners/readers
all over the world. I hope the next time I see you
here we will be talking spirituality and not this
kind of topic. Thank you very much. Sai Ram.
Dr. NR: I thank
Bhagawan and yourself Dr. Venkataraman, the entire
Radio Sai team, and the listeners/readers for giving
me this opportunity to share Swami's Message and
Love. Jai Sai Ram!