Rendez-vous with Dr. Safaya
interview with Dr. Safaya, Director, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Medical sciences, Prasanthi gram campus and the Whitefield
Prof. G. Venkataraman, (GV) Former Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai
Institute of Higher learning.
Sai Ram Dr. Safaya, and welcome to the Studios of Radio Sai. We
all know you very well, including the listeners; so may be, there
is no real introduction necessary. But there is one thing most
people do not know - I, for example, do not know – and that is:
What brought you to Swami? Different people have different
experiences that bring them to Swami. What brought you to Swami?
What brought me to Swami was my spiritual quest. I have always
wanted to get the answer to two questions. 1) Is there God and
Divinity? 2) If there is, then how to find it?
These questions were with you always?
Since my childhood, I should say.
What were you doing to find the answers?
I tried to meet a large number of people, religious people and
saints, not only Hindus but belonging to all religions, and the
only thing that clicked with me was Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
How did you come to hear about Him?
I read a book entitled, The Man of Miracles.
Yes, Murphet’s book. This book was in Hindi and I do not know much
of Hindi, myself. So I had to read it practically like a school
You were not aware that the book was originally published in
Not at that time. It was given to me by a friend. He said, “You
give it to your wife. She will read it out for you and you can
finish in a week or two and then return it”. It was in the morning
breakfast time, when I started reading it. I then forgot myself
completely. Where I was? And what I was reading? I forgot every
thing completely. I had to go to the hospital - I was teaching
those days. But I forgot!
It was that gripping?
It was gripping and most interesting. Not only that; I fell in
love with Swami as I went on reading the book.
Your time had come!
Yes, my time had come. Just like a key and the lock - it just
opened like that. By the time I finished the book, I knew finally
that I had found the PERSON for whom I was waiting.
You wanted to see Him?
Yes, I wanted to see Him.
So you came here.
First I started attending Bhajans locally and later I started
coming here. Here, in 1984, I said to Bhagavan: “Why don’t I work
in the General Hospital here for a few days? I have enough time in
between Darshans”. He said, “No no, not now. That time will come
and I will then tell you what to do”.
1984? Seven years before the Puttaparthi Super Speciality Hospital
That’s right. And He told me that He would call a meeting of all
the doctors of the world and decide there what is to be done. Wait
for that time, He added.
Fantastic! What did you think of it when was this told to you?
It was my first Interview and I was a little confused, I must say.
Quite overfilled, I was brimming with joy and Love and all sorts
of feelings that I did not understand. Later on I was
concentrating on this sentence. What was to be my role, and what
does He have in store for me? When will this meeting of doctors
take place? I didn’t have any idea that a big hospital was going
to be established.
Who had? No body!
One day while I was in my hospital in Delhi, I got a sudden
telephone call. The message was: “You must come at once to
Which year was that?
Early 1990. The Message said: “Bhagavan has formed an
International Committee for establishing a Super Speciality
Hospital at Prasanthi Nilayam and you are the Chairman of the
Committee.” I was completely bowled over.
You had forgotten, but HE remembered!
Absolutely! I then took the next plane and landed in Whitefield,
where Swami was at that time. Col. Joga Rao met me at Bangalore
Airport and I was driven straight to Ashram and things got
started. There I met a large number of doctors, Indian as well as
overseas doctors. A good many of the names were quite familiar but
there were also others whom I had not met before.
So in 1991 you finally made a shift to this place. How was it to
come from a big hospital in big city to what
then still a village, and to work in a very different kind of
It was a great challenge in many ways. Number one, we had to
establish a hospital at a rural location 160 Kms. from a
metropolitan city where every thing was easily available while
here nothing was available. We had to have to have a team of
people drawing up the lists of various requirements, not missing
anything, not even a needle. It therefore took us some time to get
adjusted in establishing a hospital in rural service. Even now,
the hospital’s next door neighbour is a thatched hut. I remember,
we who were engaged in planning and advising the engineers, we
would take tea along with the labourers in an L&T [Larson and
Toubro] canteen. Gradually things started taking shape and my
people, my workers and colleagues also started used to these rural
facilities in the surroundings. But one thing was there - there
was tremendous amount of dedication in every body. Not only in the
people associated with the hospital, who knew all about what the
hospital was meant for and what it was supposed to do. Even the L
& T construction labourer who was carrying a crowbar, cement,
bricks and all that, went to the same canteen. The culture of the
hospital developed, I think, right from the day the foundation
stone was laid.
Needless to say you got the inspiration from Swami, otherwise it
would have been very frustrating.
Not only I, but everybody got their inspiration from the same
Did Swami pay visits in those days?
Dr. Safaya: Yes He
did, daily. Sometimes He would come twice during the day.
He is so meticulous; I am sure He went all round.
Yes He did, instructing, encouraging and inspiring. Next morning
we would have to show some improvement or some achievement.
Nevertheless, you came through it all and you have sailed through
ten years. How does it appear now, when you look back?
Safaya: It seems like a
miracle. The hospital was to be inaugurated on 22nd. Two days
before that date, I gave up. I fell down on my bed at 12 O’ clock
in the night, telling myself, “I cannot go any further, because
the hospital will not be ready to be inaugurated on the due date.
Surgical operations have to be done. The conditions are not
sterile. Scientifically we are not ready.” I told my wife that I
had failed my Master and started weeping, which I never did, at
least in presence of my wife. She got alarmed and encouraged me
saying, “Swami is a GOD. He will do something, don’t worry.
Bhagavan’s SANKALPA has to be
realised and it will be for sure.” Lo and behold, so it was;
everything got completed miraculously just before the
inauguration. Thus on 22nd November, 1991, when the inauguration
was scheduled, exactly at 9 o’ clock, precisely as HE had
predicted, the surgeon’s knife did touch the skin of the patient
That is what exactly happened.
In a small way, I went through a similar sort of experience. We
had to start the Radio service on 23rd November this year(2001)
and we got very little notice. I never thought it was going to
happen, But in spite of my doubts it did happen because HE willed
it. I couldn’t believe that it happened. It is just marvellous,
being swept along by that magic.
Swami’s physical presence makes its own impact.
Yes that is true; it does make a big contribution.
But over and above that is the Supernatural Aspect that is
Yes, somehow difficulties dissolve in the very last minute and
suddenly things start to hang together.
You know before I came here, the Government of India was not ready
to relieve me. There are documents to prove it. My ultimate relief
order by the President of the All India Institute of Medical
Sciences, the type of which has never been given to anybody, says
‘I reluctantly accept Dr. Safya’s request for premature
retirement’. The word ‘reluctantly’ is very significant because
the President of the Institute who is also the Union Health
Minister tried his best to stop me from leaving. The Health
Minister was simply not ready to relieve me. Ultimately I went to
Bhagavan. Just before this trip, the Minister told me, “No further
leave; you can’t go and you have to stay in Delhi”. Reporting all
this I told Bhagavan, “Swami all has failed. Even the appeals of
the President of India and the Prime Minister of India on my
behalf have failed to produce any effect. Everything has failed.
My personal efforts have come to an end. Bhagavan, if you want me
here, then YOU have to intervene at the Divine level”.
Bhagavan said, “Don’t worry.” He smiled and added “You will be
relieved on first of February”. On 31st January at 6 P.M., I was
giving farewell to a person who was retiring that very day and he
was my Deputy. He was going and I was staying. So it seemed at 6
P.M. But suddenly circumstances changed that night. The Health
Minister suddenly called me and said, “Are you sure you want to
go?” I replied, “Yes, my Guru’s
Adesh. Whatever you say about my
staying back is correct in its own way. But there is also the
Guru - Shishya
parampara, you know. He is my Guru
and I have to get HIS adesh
fulfilled. Therefore you have to let me go.” The Minister
reluctantly picked up the pen put wrote the words, “I reluctantly
accept Dr. Safaya’s request”. This happened at 7 P. M. I the told
the Health Minister, “Kindly ring up the Institute, tell them not
to relieve the Deputy Director, and that you have given him one
year extension. That is the only way, I can be relieved!”
What a drama!
At 8 P.M. Dr. Verma got the news that he had been given one year’s
extension. He gladly accepted.
I hope he didn’t have to give back his farewell party!
Next morning, I went to the Institute and handed over charge.
The point I wanted to make in the whole story is the
DIVINE SANKALPA. I
surrendered totally at HIS feet. The big recommendations had
failed. The big intervention at the worldly level had failed. Only
He could do something. And HE did!
E-Magazine May 1, 2004