Dear reader, in this ‘Window to Sai
Seva’ section, in every issue we bring you
inspiring stories of service done by seva
teams from all over India and the world.
However, in this issue, we have something
different. It is not so much on service but
on an instrument of Swami who has been
selflessly offering his time and energy for
the poor and needy. What drives an eye
surgeon from the USA to travel thousands of
miles every year to spend three weeks
serving in Swami's Super Specialty Hospital
in Puttaparthi? How different is the
experience? Here is a persoanl account from
a person to whom hundreds owe their
In 2001, during
one of his visits to Prasanthi Nilayam, Dr.
Sanjeev Dewan, an eye surgeon based in Canton,
Ohio, USA, was sitting on the veranda in front
the Bhajan Hall, eagerly waiting for Swami's
darshan. "Baba walked into the veranda and
as He passed, He glanced at me and said,
'Are you a doctor? You are a patient'",
Dr. Dewan said. “I knew the significance of
Swami's words. I nodded and said, ‘Yes, Swami, I
am the patient and you are fixing my illness.’"
Dr. Dewan, a
40-year-old visiting eye surgeon at the Sri
Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences
(SSSIHMS), Prashantigram, feels that since he
came to Swami's fold, the transformation that
Swami had desired has been taking place in
countless ways. Every year, Dr. Dewan takes a
break from his busy practice back in the U.S.
and heads to SSSIHMS for three weeks, where he
treats the patients - and himself gets 'cured'.
Qualifications of a True Doctor
"I am not a complete doctor.
A doctor has to be wholly desireless, selfless
and compassionate. The transformation is taking
place in many ways," he smiles. A disarming
smile, which has the warmth to put even the most
edgy among the patients, at ease. Apart from his
smile, what patients notice as soon as they
enter his room at the Hospital is a cheerful man
in a lilac blue apron, with Ohio Eye Alliance
embroidered on the left side. Dr. Dewan's
parents had migrated from Pakistan to India
during the partition. The family later got
settled in the U.S. in 1956.
It is a delightful
story how Swami brought Dr. Dewan into His fold.
As he tries to remember his first encounter with
Bhagavan, one can see his sharp brown eyes
getting wistful as he searches his memory. His
head falls back and he looks remotely at the
white wall facing him in his room.
“I am not all that good with
the details”, he says breaking the silence. He,
however, remembers the picture of a 'man' his
wife had placed at the location of their
marriage ceremony, which took place in Buffalo,
New York in 1992. "During our wedding, Seema had
kept the photograph of Sai Baba at the place
where the wedding ceremony was to take place,"
he says. "’Who is this man?’ I had asked. ‘My
Guru,’ was her answer.”
Mrs. Dewan has
been an ardent follower of Baba since she was
seven years old. She has visited Puttaparthi on
several occasions and also authored several
books on Swami, the first one being, "Sai
"I did not have any
reservations about having the photograph of Sai
Baba at my wedding, but somehow was not
impressed with the 'man'" says Dr. Dewan and
continues, "It was several years after our
marriage that one day my wife said, ‘let us go
to India and visit Puttaparthi’. I somehow felt
like accompanying her. But I told her, ‘we will
stay only for a day at the ashram as we have
It was in 1995
that Dr. Dewan visited Prasanthi Nilayam for the
first time. "We got down at the Puttaparthi
airport, after taking a connecting flight from
Bangalore. It was as if some invisible hand was
taking care of all our concerns. As soon as we
descended from the aircraft, a person
volunteered to guide us to the ashram. We
hesitated, but he took us along and made
adequate arrangements for our stay. Only after
we felt comfortable inside the ashram, he left,"
Dr. Dewan recollects. He told us that he worked
with the Indian Airlines. That was all we could
gather about him, Dr. Dewan adds.
Numinous Attraction of Divine Love
When it was
Bhagavan’s darshan time, the family
quickly reached the hall.
"I sat far away
from Swami, somewhere in the multitude of
devotees. As I saw Swami walking among the
devotees, I felt drawn to Him. Something
overcame me. I wanted to be close to Him. ‘Why
cannot I be close to him?’, ‘Why this
distance?’, I kept asking myself. That night I
was almost in tears," Dr. Dewan
confesses. "Then I told my Seema, ‘all right, we
will stay for two days more!’" Now, Dr. Dewan
The next day Dr.
Dewan visited Bhagavan’s birthplace, where now
stands a Shiva Temple and lies at one end of
bustling Puttaparthi town. "During our visit Mr.
Bhatt was the temple priest. He took us with him
to his home and started narrating stories of
Baba, I could not be satiated. Acknowledging my
interest, Mr. Bhatt went from one story to
another. Yet I wanted to hear more." Soon Dr.
Dewan was visiting Prasanthi Nilayam along with
his family of five every year.
of True Vision
ways, Bhagavan helped the Dewan family in their
difficult times. One of the doctor’s three sons,
12-year-old Karan, was suffering from isotropia
in one eye, which is an in-turning of the eye
which makes a person cross-eyed. Due to his
condition, Karan used to wear glasses.
Dr. Dewan says
that during an interview granted to his family
in the year 2000, Swami looked at his
12-year-old bespectacled son and told him:
"Boy's eyes are
weak", He then paused and added, "Glasses will
go". It is sometimes difficult to
understand what Bhagavan means. But soon enough,
Dr. Dewan was to witness the manifestation of
Swami's infinite grace.
"We went back to the U.S. and
one day Karan came to me and said, 'Dad, I see
everything blurred when I wear glasses, but when
I don't, everything looks perfectly clear'.
I thought he was joking. I specialise in
paediatric ophthalmology, so I took Karan to my
clinic and tested his eyes. His eyes were
perfect. They had healed!" Dr. Dewan says, his
eyes aglow with happiness reminiscesing this
amazing miracle. "As Swami said, the glasses
went," he adds, jubilantly.
the Temple of Healing
"I always feel that we are
just instruments in His hands. I have
experienced so many wonderful things here. The
first time I came to the Hospital I was
awestruck, as it looked more like a temple than
a Hospital”, he says.
first visit, a large number of people with
specific eye disorders, whose treatment was Dr.
Dewan's expertise, suddenly arrived at the
Hospital. "This is Swami's grace. And this
happens on every occasion any visiting physician
arrives at the Hospital.
think it might be because the message spreads
through word of mouth. But on many occasions the
visiting physician might be visiting the
Hospital for the first time. This has happened
too many times for it to be just a coincidence.”
“Also when I come here, my
efficiency suddenly increases. I am able to
treat more people here than what I do back home
in the U.S.. When I return my efficiency drops,”
Dr. Dewan chuckles. "I believe it is Baba's
He adds that on
several occasions he had come across cases which
he had never seen during his practice in the
U.S. “Working here also helps me to gain new
insights into several rare cases. I take back
the experience with me to America”, he adds.
According to Dr.
Dewan, in India he finds more cases of nerve
palsy than back in the U.S.. He explains that
there are three nerves which control the
movement of the eye, and nerve palsy leads to
abnormal movement of eyes. "Many cases coming to
the Hospital are of such kind," he explains.
Dr. Dewan had also
yearned to teach, which he is able to do now
during his present visit to the SSSIHMS. "I
wanted to teach and now Swami has fulfilled my
desire”, he says with a smile. “Teaching helps a
doctor to remain abreast with the latest
developments in the field of medicine. I have to
answer questions, which are put to me by the
resident doctors, so I have to strive harder to
learn and then teach the same. This process
helps me to be a better physician myself.”
Aspiration for Peace
Speaking about the
transformation which has come about in him, Dr.
Dewan says that his experiences with Bhagavan
have helped him to re-align the goal of his
life. The goal has now changed to peace
and unity. “I have a yearning to speak less and
accept more - and to serve without desire.”
"It is difficult to explain
to my colleagues where I go off to every year
for three weeks. They think I am taking off to
some beach," he chuckles. "They find it hard to
imagine that I am taking off to volunteer in a
Hospital, which lies in a remote corner of India
and treats patients free of cost," he adds.
Dr. Dewan says he
tries to explain to his colleagues that it is
not a holiday but an experience that takes a
person to a different level. He tells them that
when he started visiting the Hospital he
realised how much people appreciated the work
that he was doing. "The fact that I was able to
serve was itself highly rewarding," he adds.
interview granted to Dr. Dewan and his wife,
Seema, by Bhagavan, Dr. Dewan had asked Swami,
"Why this separation between You and me, Lord?"
"No separation, no separation." Bhagavan
came to Bhagavan, I used to ask ‘God, where are
you?’ I don't ask that question anymore”, Dr.
Dewan ends the conversation with a satisfied
smile, to continue doing what he loves the most
– serve patients in Swami’s Hospital.