Dr. Vijay Chundi


I have found that by practising Swami’s teachings in the workplace, the workplace becomes sanctified. Our work then becomes worship –  expanding divine love into our workplace and beyond is truly fulfilling.  

I knew in high school that I would become a doctor. Although my father was an engineer, it was medicine that attracted me. My role model was my aunt who lived with us in Miami, Florida, USA. She was a cancer specialist who truly loved her patients and their families. My aunt would even visit her patients at home if they were too sick to go to the hospital. I remember one such occasion when I was very young, about six or seven years of age, when she took my father and me with her to a patient’s home. The patient’s family welcomed us with love and I saw how much they loved and respected my aunt. It was as if my aunt was part of their family. I was touched that a physician and the medical profession itself could have such an impact on people’s lives! 

Mesmerising Atmosphere of Swami’s Hospitals 

It was in the summer of 1995 that I was introduced to Sri Sathya Sai Baba, His love and universal teachings. My family life, professional life, and most importantly, my spiritual life have all been guided by Swami. In the years that followed, I read many spiritual books including those written by Swami and His devotees. I was also most fortunate to have direct contact and instructions from Swami. Through this in-depth exploration of Swami’s teachings and through His loving guidance, I gained a better understanding of myself and my role in this beautiful world.  

I am currently a radiologist (specialised training in interventional neuroradiology) in private practice in Florida. I have also been fortunate to be able to participate in the care of patients and teach at Swami’s Super Speciality Hospitals, guiding many residents during that time. I am also fortunate to serve in the Sathya Sai International Organisation and to have participated in the international medical conferences held in Anaheim, California in 2009 and in 2017. I am forever grateful to Swami for giving me a chance to serve in His Mission, doing what I love. 

During my first visit to the SSSIHMS in Puttaparthi, I was mesmerised by the atmosphere of love. It didn’t feel like any hospital where I had training or where I worked; it felt much more like the prayer room in our home or like the Ashram. The doctors were so humble that it was hard to tell the doctors apart from the hospital staff. Although I knew that my family and professional life was going to be spent in the USA, I felt a strong urge to contribute to His medical mission and prayed to Swami for an opportunity to serve and use my skills to help the needy.     

Swami’s institutions are predicated on the practice of Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare, which Swami lovingly instilled in all medical professionals who came into contact with Him. The guiding principle of Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare is universal, free, compassionate and comprehensive healthcare with a focus on prevention of disease. All of Sai teachings on Ideal Healthcare can be summed up as care delivered to the patient with love and compassion, as if that person is your mother, father, spouse, brother, sister or God Himself. 

By Swami’s grace, I have been fortunate to be able to participate in teaching at the SSSIHMS for nearly two decades. My experience with delivery of Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare with the SSSIHMS is an ongoing process since I participate in regular on-line teaching of the radiology residents and fellows by delivering lectures and case discussions in addition to rendering patient care with active clinical case review sessions. When I first began teaching, I would travel two or three times a year and meet the residents and staff. We would go over teaching cases and I would also give a few lectures. However, I also wished to do more including interventional neuroradiology procedures that would be of benefit, but the SSSIHMS in Puttaparthi did not have neurology or neurosurgery sub-specialities.  

When SSSIHMS was opened in Whitefield, Bengaluru in 2001, both neurological and neurosurgical services were offered at the institution. These services were a great boon for the patients travelling from all over India seeking treatment for their neurological diseases. Most of these patients are poor and come long distances to the SSSIHMS seeking a cure as their local medical care is inadequate or unaffordable. Of course, they also get the most important benefit: Swami’s blessings. 

Opportunity to Teach at SSSIHMS 

At the SSSIHMS, Whitefield, I thought my desire to offer interventional neuroradiology services was going to be realised. I met the hospital administrators, the heads of the radiology and neurosurgery departments, and was given permission to treat a very difficult brain aneurysm case. Aneurysms are abnormal balloon-like protrusions of blood vessels due to weakening of their wall. They can rupture, and blood can spill out at a formidable rate resulting in severe brain injury or death. This young lady had multiple aneurysms in her brain and one of them ruptured causing a severe, near-fatal bleed. She survived the initial bleeding but was too sick for surgical treatment. The aneurysm still needed to be treated since she was at high risk of bleeding again; a resumption of bleeding would almost certainly have killed her. After review of the case, our team used state-of-the-art angiography equipment at SSSIHMS and successfully treated the ruptured aneurysm using a special medical device called ‘GDC coils’. This type of procedure uses catheters and plugs the inside of the aneurysm with tiny platinum coils (GDC coils), thus preventing the aneurysm from bleeding again. This young lady, through Swami’s grace, subsequently recovered and went back to her home. I was very happy for the opportunity to help this young lady and was hopeful that we could use this type of less invasive interventional treatment in future.   

However, I still lived in the USA and could only visit India, at most, a few times a year. So, I was still unsure of how I would serve at the SSSIHMS. I wrote to Swami and also prayed for His guidance. It was in 2003 that Swami called us for an interview and I had the opportunity to ask Swami personally. In the interview room, the mystical and exciting, spiritually charged atmosphere was palpable. Swami adroitly responded to my question of how to serve by directing me to teach rather than perform procedures. This was a complete shift from the way I was thinking about service at that time. I thought that true medical service would be to do procedures and be directly involved in patient care; however, Swami made it clear to me that in my situation, I could best serve the SSSIHMS by teaching and training others. 

I was still concerned how I could keep travelling long distances from the USA and be a useful teacher. But lo and behold, like with everything else spoken by Swami, it transpired at the appropriate time. Internet hardware and software development rapidly progressed and made it possible for me to teach on-line, on a regular basis. The SSSIHMS began a Radiology DNB programme in 2005 and subsequently, a regular online teaching schedule began. I am currently able to teach radiology residents and fellows (physicians in various stages of training) a couple of times a week even though I am half a world away physically. I truly feel as though I am present with the residents and faculty in Swami’s institutions. The patients receive the best care that radiology has to offer, totally free of cost to them. I am grateful to be part of such a noble enterprise and I repeatedly emphasise to the residents and fellows the importance of being available to help others in whatever way possible after training at Swami’s institutions.  

The residents and fellows that are trained in radiology also receive their training totally free of cost to them. In addition, they have a very high pass rate (much higher than the national rate) on their DNB examination which is given to all graduating radiology residents in India. This training would cost crores of rupees (hundreds of thousands of US dollars) in India. Most importantly, these radiologists are imbibing the ideal way to take care of patients and will practise this in their own lives, in their own way. Many residents who have graduated and are practising in other institutions have told me that they are extremely grateful for their training at the SSSIHMS and they miss the unique atmosphere of love which they experienced from their teachers, staff and patients at the SSSIHMS. These doctors are making a difference by practising Ideal Healthcare principles in their own communities. This method of disseminating the basic human values of truth, peace, love, non-violence and righteousness as they apply to medicine is how Swami spreads His message from one person to another, heart to heart, even if they are located worlds apart by sheer physical distance. 

Telemedicine aids not only in teaching but also in caring for patients – there are working conferences in radiology and in most other departments at the SSSIHMS, given by specialists from all over the world. In addition, telemedicine capabilities are used to follow-up with patients and help primary care doctors from remote areas in India evaluate their local patients. This important service helps to avoid unnecessary travel, saving the patient both time and expenses. 

Practising Swami’s Teachings  in Workplace 

One may wonder if it is possible to practise Ideal Healthcare in the so-called “real world” where corporate healthcare dominates. I try my best everyday to put into practice Swami’s teachings and let my work and actions speak for themselves. Swami has said on many occasions that “Work is Worship”. This should be the working Mantra for all of us. He has also said that He is always with us and if we ask Him sincerely through prayer, He will listen. I have personally experienced this power of prayer many times. Therefore, I also offer a prayer before I start my work and pray that He guide me to do my job to the best of my ability. I also try to personalise each case and avoid haste, no matter how busy the day seems. Not only must we view our work in the proper spiritual perspective, but we must also treat with love and respect all medical personnel, staff and those whom we come in contact with. 

I have found that by practising Swami’s teachings in the workplace, the workplace becomes sanctified. Our work then becomes worship – expanding divine love into our workplace and beyond is truly fulfilling.   

“Doctors should infuse courage in the patients and speak soothingly, radiating compassion and love.  While you are examining the patient, you should have smiling faces and talk to the patients sweetly.” 

– Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 6th February 1993 

– The author is a Neuroradiologist in Florida, U.S.A.