Hospital Care — Physical and Spiritual


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 May 2017 – India boasts of health tourism for people from rich western countries and also from some developing ones. This is because we have some super specialty hospitals in the private sector such as Apollo or Fortis and others in the private sector that offer health care and surgeries for patients suffering from heart diseases, knee problems, cancer, or whatever. The charges of these hospitals are fairly high by Indian standards but in terms of dollars or Euros or British pounds the medical expenditure seems to be moderate and is competitive in terms of what a patient would pay in his or her own country.

There are also some high quality hospitals in the public sector such as AIIMS or LNJP hospital etc. Here also the quality of the doctors is excellent and the charges are very moderate – the only drawback is that these hospitals are really overcrowded and sometimes a patient would need to wait for a long time – several days or even weeks to get admission.

Recently, I had an opportunity to go to an infectious disease hospital (a public sector hospital) which offers almost free treatment for various diseases except for a minimal fee which a patient has to pay the first time for registration purposes. I was going there with a woman called Usha who works in our home and who had got bitten by a stray dog the previous evening.

The hospital is located in a very large area and has parking spaces and several rooms for registration purposes. After enquiring where the registration for dog bites takes place I was able to get the registration done for Usha.  That did not take much time and the fee was really small – only five rupees.

But the long waiting period started from then.  There were two nurses – one female and another male who informed us and all the other patients that the doctor would arrive soon and only then the treatment would start. This refrain was repeated a few times to anyone who felt impatient and went to these two nurses as to when the doctor would arrive.

Since there was nothing for us to do we just sat down and started waiting. There were about twenty  cases of dog bites but the number of people who were gathered there was about four fold – in other words about 80. This was so because there were one or two attendants for every patient. If there was a woman patient, there were a large number of children from ages 2 to 10 or 11 who were accompanying their mothers. The older children were helping their younger siblings who ran around or were playing with some ball or toy. Why were there so many children? The answer was obvious – there would be no one to look after the children when the women were in the hospital.

Looking at the patients and their attendants, one could see that they were used to waiting in their lives. Here also they waited patiently for the Doctor to arrive. They were speaking to each other and that seemed to lessen the burden of waiting.  Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity as a tall middle aged person dressed in ochre colored kurta and a white pajama appeared. The person accompanied by two attendants appeared to be a religious man or a guru. Had he also been bitten by a dog? Apparently not, as he sat down comfortably in a vacant seat with the two attendants standing next to him.  In a few minutes a few patients surrounded him. It was obvious that they were familiar with him and looked at him with an expectant gaze.

Soon the ochre dressed guru, if he was indeed one, started speaking softly – “Hare Krishna , Hare Ram —“,  he addressed the people surrounding him. “We all have problems – some big, some small; we suffer from poverty or illness or loss of employment. But we must not lose hope, we must not grieve, we must not be burdened with anxiety or sorrow. Have faith in BhagwanKrishna or Ram — the real God. He may not appear immediately, he is watching all of us. He first appears to those people who need him the most. Then he appears to all the others.  Have faith in him, trust him and he will free us of suffering…”

The Guru continued in this vein. Most people heard him silently; a few asked him a few questions whether Bhagwan would really appear and help them. The Guru smiled reassuringly and it appeared most people seemed to believe him.

“The Doctor has come”, announced the male nurse. He called out the names of three patients who should come to the Doctor’s chamber to receive treatment. The patients including two women got up and entered the Doctor’s room with hope and trust.

Yes, in this hospital, medical science and spirituality were both at work to cure patients of their disease and to give them hope, trust and confidence.

Is this a modern miracle? Who knows? But for the poor people, burdened by poverty and oppressive conditions, both their physical and spiritual needs seemed to be satisfied.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 May 2017.

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