Universal Love for Humanity

By Kris Gopal

e-mail: gutcut@comcast.net

I wish to share a few refreshingly impressive observations during my recent visit to India this year. Though I could have shared other experiences in India, what follows made such deep impressions that I am compelled to share it with you. This is about my visit to an institution built around the idea of universal love.

A Surgical theater at Prasanthi Nilayam

This love, I felt dur­ing my visit to Putta­parti, a small village in Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh, about 120 miles from Chen­nai, and the same dis­tance from Bangalore. This is the place where the late Sri Sathya Sai Baba lived, and where he established an ash­ram Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Supreme Peace). Many of you would have heard of him and this place.

This article is not about him or his spiritual powers, but about his vi­sion and devotion to humanity. The Baba integrated the unique Hindu concept of Unity of Faiths — “All roads lead to the same hilltop,” and service to people in need. His motto was “Hands that help are holier than the lips that pray,” echoing the words of Rabindranath Tagore.

At some point in his journey through life, Sai Baba Health was influ­enced by the credo that education and abundant supply of drinking water are inalienable rights of every individual irrespective of race, religion, caste, and creed. Imagine for a moment that you are poor, and imagine getting all these free, yes free. It is available in Puttaparti, all due to the influence Sai Baba had over his resourceful followers, and his commitment to selfless love and compassion.

School Bldg and Stadium

Education: Education in schools and colleges he built is a holistic one emphasizing human values. The institutions provide education from the primary school level right up to the postdoctoral level. The curriculum offered in these institutions is so successful that now over ninety countries are adapting this system to their situations. The school of higher learn­ing here is listed as as one of the top four universities accredited by the NAAC (National Accreditation of Assessment Committee). There are about 350,000 children enrolled in Bal Vikas schools now, and over one million youngsters have graduated from Bal Vikas schools. Over one hun­dred schools are in operation.

No fees whatsoever are charged to the students in these institutions. Such a value-based free education system is spreading to surrounding areas and other states also — a very refreshing and fascinating change, indeed!

Health Care: Even for an economic superpower like USA, the idea of a free and universally accessible health care system for all citizens is unthink­able, but universal health coverage is very obvious here at Puttaparti, with a network of general hospitals, super-specialty hospitals, mobile medical hospitals, and medical camps, at no-cost to the patients.

Every patient, irrespective of religion, economic or social background, receives fairly comprehensive state-of-the-art medical care and with un­conditional love. The medical care is provided in these institutions both as outpatient and in-patient.

Major surgeries are done here with adequate postoperative and preven­tive care. One Super Specialty hospital was opened in Puttaparti with about 300 beds in 1991 in a sprawling 153,000 sq. ft. facility. To this day they have treated more than 3 million patients, all free.

As I walked through this hospital, I was impressed by its vastness. The facility was clean, which I have not seen even in many high-priced Indian hospitals. Another striking feature is that all healthcare records are electroni­cally stored and accessed with no need for paper trails. The USA has been struggling hard to go paperless for years and is far from achieving it.

The hospital does provide their performance stats including death rates, complications rates, and they also maintain all other quality measures. I reviewed them, since I had access, and it was astounding, comparable to any other well-kept hospital anywhere in the world.

A second super specialty hospital has opened in Bangalore near White­field in 2001. Both of them complement each other and provide care for the local people. This is also totally free.

By early 2011 these two hospitals had conducted over 95,000 cardiac surgeries, over 56,000 urology and plastic surgeries, 55,000 eye surger­ies, and nearly 13,000 neurological surgeries and over 6,000 orthopedic surgeries since inception, all of it free of cost to patients.

Taking inspiration from this magnanimity, a few private medical facili­ties in and around Chennai are trying their bit to provide free healthcare to low-income people. Several institutions are opening up to free health care, which is really a good change.

Drinking Water: The Rayalaseema region is the hottest dry belt in Andhra Pradesh with many villages having no access to even drinking water. Thanks to Satya Sai Baba, now at the cost of Rs. 3,000 million, about 731 villages in this area have abundant water supply both for do­mestic purposes and for irrigation. The four major water projects have laid 5020 kilometers (3100 miles) of pipeline so far.

This one man Satya Sai Baba’s compassion and love for his fellow human beings have found their way into millions of hearts in India and abroad. Organizations have sprung up in 125 other countries wanting to spread this type of love on humanity. He lived what he preached: “Selfless love is the source of happiness, truth, peace, sacrifice, endurance and all the higher values of life. Love is the most fundamental moral value.”

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