|Date:28 Aug 1976||Occasion:Ganesh Chaturthy||Place:Brindavan|
Hospitals and Health
Health is an essential requisite of man. The man afflicted with ill health is powerless to execute even the least burdensome assignment. The scriptures proclaim that health is the very root of all endeavors in the four fields of human achievement -- righteousness, wealth, desire and liberation. Without health man cannot brave temptations, earn a decent living, fulfill his basic needs, or succeed in spiritual discipline. Man can engage himself in obligatory and optional functions only if he is healthy.
Food and recreational habits are the two main causes for ill health. Great care must be taken to ensure that injurious tendencies do not affect these two. At present though medicines have multiplied and hospitals have been established in every nook and corner, ill-health is also widespread. This situation is attributable to the spread of deleterious food habits and pastimes.
It is also necessary to keep the environment of the places where one works and lives unpolluted by smoke, dust, or dirt. The clothes that one wears as well as the body that one is encased in, both have to be purged and kept clean. Health endows a person with joy and brightness. The fruits of the tree of human life are sweet, but they are encased in the bitter skin of egoism and ignorance and have hard inedible seeds of desire, anger, pride, etc. One has to exercise intelligence to peel off the outer skin of ignorance, throw off the seeds of vice and wickedness, and partake of the sweet kernel of life.
To remove the evil of egoism, service is the most efficient instrument. Service will also impress on the person doing the service the unity of all mankind. He who dedicates his time, skill, and strength to service can never meet defeat, distress, or disappointment, for service is its own reward. His word will be ever sweet and soft, his gestures ever revered and humble. He will have no foe, no fatigue, no fear.
The units of the Sathya Sai Seva (service) Organization are engaged in enthusiastic service in the two areas of health and education. To improve and maintain the health of the people, continuous education on the principles and practice of hygiene and environmental cleanliness is essential. Education is the most effective safeguard against physical and mental ill health. So these two activities are closely interrelated. The body is a temporary habitation; it is subject to all kinds of disease and injury. Yet the body is the boat on which alone we can cross the ocean of life or flux. The boat has to be kept trim and serviceable. It should not distract our attention more than the minimum necessary for its upkeep. It has to he used for reducing the burden of others and should not itself became a burden on us. It should serve others, not demand service from them. That is the reason why this hospital is being established here: to remedy disease and help people to keep their bodies in good condition.
People of this village and villages in the surrounding area will come to this hospital for medical relief and advice. Unfortunately, hospitals that treat patients with love and care, with dedication and devotion, is a rarity. There are hospitals with costly equipment and expert doctors, huge buildings and spick-and-span interiors, but they indulge more in profiteering than affording relief. Their services are for those who can pay large sums of money. Villagers are not welcome there, and they do not feel at ease to approach them. Therefore, this hospital is being started amidst the villages so that expert advice and treatment can he rendered to them in a loving atmosphere of reverence and devotion. No charge will be levied here for any service. The villagers and others can come here, regain their health, and return home hale and hearty in order to carry out their tasks and fulfill their responsibilities.
The doctors and volunteers who help in this hospital must feel it a part of their duty to advise the villagers about environmental hygiene and prophylactic measures. The members of the Sathya Sai Seva Dal (service wing) have a special duty for this type of service. They have to visit the villages and, after winning the confidence and love of the people, advise them on good food habits and other means of maintaining health. They must also exhort the people to resort to this hospital as soon as the first symptoms of ill health are evident. Early treatment will save the villagers from spending many days in bed away from the fields. The villager now lives on food that is deficient in vitamins and proteins, though he is growing vegetables and food that provide these ingredients in plenty and selling them to city-dwellers. He has to he told of the value of fruits and vegetables as a source of nutrients that will promote and preserve his health, for healthy parents mean healthy children, and sick parents pass on their ill-health to the coming generations. Members of the units of the Sathya Sai Seva Organization can also join the Seva Dal in this campaign of educating the villagers. This activity is as meritorious as worship itself.
Today is the Vighneswara festival, the day on which the entire country is worshipping the elephant-headed God who helps man overcome all obstacles. Worshipping Vighneswara, or Vinayaka or Ganapathi as he is also called, endows man with the courage and confidence needed to enter upon and carry through any undertaking in the world. The elephant is the largest animal of the forest. It is very intelligent and has a powerful memory. When it marches through the thick jungle, it clears a path for all other animals to pass. The elephant-headed God confers intelligence and memory and the power to subdue evil and vice. Thus he is also a path-maker. So it is only appropriate that every rite, ceremony, or project should be started with the worship of this God. Today we are inaugurating this hospital so that it will provide good and lasting service to the people of this region.
I must point out to the doctors serving here that perhaps, even more than the drugs they prescribe, the sweet, soft words they speak and the love and sympathy they evince can cure better and quicker the illnesses of their patients. Look upon them as your own kith and kin, as your special guests, and as your closest friends, and attend to them lovingly and with unflinching care. I call upon you to maintain this attitude in every situation. Remember that the patient has to cooperate with you in order that you may effect the cure, and when cured, the patient confers on you satisfaction, joy, and a sense of elation. Be grateful to the patient for all this.
We have in this hospital, as a doctor, a lady devotee who is highly qualified and who has done signal service for the backward regions in Nigeria and Ethiopia in Africa. We have also others, equally able and enthusiastic. Experts in special branches of medicine and surgery will also be visiting this hospital off and on and diagnosing, advising, and helping patients who need their attention. It is now for you to make the best use of these facilities offered free and with fullness of heart.
I am glad that the members of the village council of this place, as well as of near-by villages, are here today and have been with us ever since this project was started. If only they help the patients from the villages to be happy and healthy, they will have no more need to beg for votes from door to door when the elections come around. The voters would themselves come in large numbers to get them elected in order to avail of their services in greater measure. India was long famous for the sense of compassion that animated her peoples. She is now dishonored by some as a 'poor' country. No! She was for centuries the preceptor of the world, and she is assuming that status again today. India is the land where the ideals of service, renunciation, and spiritual endeavor were born and have flourished. It is only recently, after India fell under the impact of alien cultures which highlighted material comfort, physical luxury, sensual liberty, and exterior display, that Indians have trodden the wrong path of exploitation and violence, idleness and pompousness. With the spread of alien cultures and alien ways of thought and life, diseases too have multiplied and mental imbalances have increased. But when simplicity, humility, and the idea of social service (having root in the worship of the God in man) are restored, the nation will again be happy and healthy, full of peace, prosperity, and joy.