February 2020

The Lord is in our own heart. To deny Him is to deny ourselves. You may leave Him, but He will not leave you.  Chinmaya

The above quote is something which devotees all over the world belonging to all religions have experienced time and again. The Lord does such ‘Leelas’ that even the hard-core atheists have transformed into His greatest devotees!

This is an incident narrated by a famous cardiac surgeon in Baroda, Dr Shailesh Mehta. Dr Shailesh Mehta is so famous, even to get an appointment with him, one has to wait for at least one month. He cuts at least 10 hearts physically everyday. He has got hundreds of doctors in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Rajkot. He is about 80 years old and he narrated an incident that changed him completely.

On 21st of Dec, 2008,  a couple walked into his office with a small child of 6 years old girl. Junior doctors had made a report and the child’s heart had a problem. Being a senior doctor, he looked at the file for a moment and he could easily make out that the case was bad. The heart had been completely clogged with blood and nothing could be done about it.

He explained the situation to the parents, “I am very sorry. The situation is quite bad. We have only two options now. One is, to make the child undergo the operation immediately. It is already quite late. But I should warn you that the success rate is only 30%. That means, even if I operate the child, 70% chances are that the child may die on the operation table.”

“But,” continued the doctor with a grim pause, “ if you don’t make her undergo this operation, she will not survive beyond 3 months. It has come to that stage.”

 These words from the doctor were too much for the parents to bear. What could the parents do? They cried their hearts out. Controlling the emotions with great difficulty, the father of the girl said, “Sir, we will take the chance. Please do the operation immediately.”

 The child was admitted to the hospital. The date was fixed. Six days before the operation the child was admitted to a ward for preparatory tests. The mother stayed with the child.

Everyday, the mother would pray and make the child say prayers. She would put Vibhooti (sacred ash) on the child’s forehead and would encourage her to pray sincerely. She would say, “ My dear child! God is with you. There is nothing to worry about. Hold on to Him. His blessings can do wonders. Is there anything that God cannot do? You are safe in His hands…”

This prayer continued everyday. Looking at the cheerfulness of the mother and the child, it appeared that they were more confident of success than even the doctors themselves!!

Finally came the day when the operation was to be performed. All the doctors came to the operation theatre, made all arrangements and waited for Dr Shailesh Mehta, who came in the end, wearing his sterilized coat, cap, mask and gloves.

Everything was ready. Dr Mehta saw the 6 years old on the operation table, lying down. As the doctor looked at her innocent face, a disturbing thought passed by his mind, “Poor girl! Now she appears so cheerful and alive, but by the end of the surgery she may not even survive!”

He just patted on her back to encourage her and said, “ Don’t worry my dear! You will be alright!” The child looked at him and said, “ I am not worried, doctor. But I have a question to ask. May I?”

The doctor replied with a smile, “Sure dear one! what is that which bothers you?”

The child said, “Doctor, everybody is telling me I have to undergo open-heart surgery. Does it mean that you will open my heart completely?”

 The doctor laughed aloud and said encouragingly, “Don’t worry dear! You will never experience the pain. I will give you medicines for it. You will not even know that the operation is being performed. We all are with you. Don’t worry.”

The girl said with a smile, “ Sir, I am not worried. My question is not about pain also. I am confident that my Lord will take care of me. My question is, are you going to open my heart completely? Because my mother keeps telling me every day that God resides in the heart. When you open my heart kindly watch Him carefully; and then when I am all right, describe His nature to me. I want to know how He looks like!”

 The doctor did not know how to respond. He himself was more of a believer in Science than a believer in God. He was not a man who believed in prayers and miracles. Hence, after a moment’s silence, he said okay, just to cheer up the girl.

The operation started. Forty-five minutes passed by. Not even a drop of blood was coming into the heart. The heart-run machine was on, and slowly the pulse rate was coming down. The blood pressure also came down and the doctor knew it was the end of it. It was clear the child would not survive.

He told his junior doctor, “Sorry. We could not save the child. Let’s stitch everything and wind up.”

It was at this time that he remembered what the child had asked.

For Shailesh Mehta, the operation was nothing new. He had been doing this for the last 40-45 years. But those last words of the girl made the doctor extremely emotional. He could not control his tears.

He did something which he otherwise would have never done…

His hands, soaked in blood, folded in prayerful posture as he uttered these words, “God! All my knowledge, all my skills as a doctor have come to an end; and I know I cannot save this child. But the child, her mother and everybody believe that You are in the heart. If You are there, only You can save the child. It is beyond me now…”

Dr Shailesh Mehta was in tears – a rare sight which made other doctors wonder. They knew this doctor as a tough man, as a rational man, never as a man of prayers or tears.

Tears made him unable to see. Dr Mehta asked the nurse next to him to remove his spectacles. The nurse pulled out his spectacle and he wiped his tears. As he remained in silence with closed eyes for a few moments, not knowing what to do, he received a nudge from the doctor next to him, “Sir! Blood has started coming into the heart!”

It was one of the most unbelievable moments in Dr Mehta’s life!

At once the heart machine was switched on and the operation began which continued for the next 4 and a half hours. All the arteries of the heart were cleaned. At the end of the operation, Dr Mehta exclaimed with an unusual sense of fulfilment, “Operation is successful. This child will survive at least 60 years without any problem!”

The family was very happy. They thanked the doctor profusely from the depth of their hearts. Before departing the cheerful girl approached the doctor with great curiosity and asked, “Sir! Did you see God?”

The doctor, with tears trickling down, gave her a tender hug and said, “Dear one! He is not the One to be seen through naked eyes, but the One to be experienced in a humble heart! I could. You too can…”

This incident changed Dr Mehta. Every time he narrated this incident, he would cry bitterly like a child. He would say, “I have become cultured now, and it is this child who has made me cultured.”

Earlier he was so confident of his skills and knowledge. Now he has a picture of God in his operation theatre. Before every operation, he would go and stand before the photograph and would pray, “ I am a small man. With whatever little knowledge and skills I have, I can only try my best. But now I know. It is Your blessings that make all the difference. My humble prostrations to You…”

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