Home > Story of SVYM > (64) Chittadhama – a place where one can truly serve the God in man

(64) Chittadhama – a place where one can truly serve the God in man

March 13, 2011

Dr Swaminath is the psychiatrist who has been visiting our hospital every second Sunday for more than 15 years now. It all started with Dr Gururaj Karajagi introducing me to an ENT surgeon friend of his, Dr Deepak Haldipur. Dr Deepak visited our Kenchanahalli hospital along with his friends Dr Swaminath and Mr Venkatakrishna. That was in 1996. At that time, they promised to visit the Kenchanahalli hospital on the second Sunday of every month and started providing their services. Once the Saragur hospital started full-scale operations in 2002, they started to come there instead of Kenchanahalli.

With Deepak and Swami (both in foreground) during one of their visits to Kenchanahalli

After many years of service, Dr Deepak discontinued his visits and his good friend Dr Ashok started coming, and he still does so. But Dr Swaminath has been going on and on! Many years ago, I asked him how many years was he planning on rendering his service voluntarily at our hospital. In his own humble way, he told me that he was not rendering any service and as such, this question did not arise in his mind. Seeking my perplexed look, he continued, “My first and only obligation is to the 35-40 patients that I treat every time I come here. When I began, I did not realize that there would be so many poor rural and tribal patients wanting psychiatric services. Now that I am aware of this, I will continue till I find that these patients can get better psychiatric services than what I can provide.” A simple yet profound answer from a person who on the surface always looked so casual and jovial!

Over the years, I have seen Swami’s (as we fondly call him) commitment to his work increase. Along with a group of like-minded psychiatrists and other friends, they started ‘Chittadhama’  – an institution devoted to providing care, treatment and rehabilitation support to the wandering mentally ill. They bought four acres of land close to Heggadadevanakote town and with the support provided by Infosys Foundation, have built the necessary infrastructure. I had visited this place when they were planning to buy the land. Today, on Swami’s and Bindu’s insistence, I had the good fortune of visiting Chittadhama. What I saw left me speechless. An excellent facility has been created with the aim of providing high quality care for these neglected and less fortunate brethren. I was bowled over by the professionalism, deep sense of commitment, passion and energy of Swami, Dr Ravishankar, Dr Murali and Mr Johnny, the trustees of the Chittadhama Trust.

Mental illness is still a stigma today and there are thousands of people who are left uncared for and are homeless. With medical intervention and treatment, these people can be integrated back into the society. All that they need is psychiatric care, dedicated attention of trained personnel, love and compassion and the belief that they can be treated like any other physical illness. I found all of this and much more in Chittadhama. 

As I was leaving the place, moved beyond what I can express, Swami quietly confided in me that he was more concerned that Chittadhama be able to provide every person who came in looking for solace and treatment, with food to eat to their heart’s content. He was narrating how these people are misunderstood and consequently ill-treated by their families and society. Many of them go without bath for months and eat only when some kind-hearted soul gives them food. Amongst his close friends, Swami is not known to be serious or business like, but I surely found him extremely serious when he told me of this commitment of ensuring that no person is turned away from the doors of Chittadhama, hungry and uncared for. 

This is a place where one can give so much to people – people who will truly make us feel privileged and happy that we are given an opportunity to serve the God in them. May the tribe of noble people like Swaminath, Ravishankar, Murali, Johnny and others increase.

Balu

Categories: Story of SVYM
  1. Ramesh S Kikkeri
    March 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Dr.Balu, you are right. Chittadhama is indeed a lovely place because of the team. Dr. Swaminath’s soul is bigger than himself. I feel blessed to know him. He and his group are like satsang for me. Had I not met them, I would have never known that ‘serving the mentally ill is the service to society’. Sitting and chatting with them at Chittadhama is a different experience all together.

  2. H.V.Vishu
    March 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Prakash Deo of Chord Road Hospital, B’lore and me visited Chittadhama recently. I was amazed by the scale of Dr. Swaminath’s endeavour. We spent some time with the inmates and it was a moving experience. Mental illness is so less understood by medical science itself and therefore the society cannot be blamed for treating these people with some disdain. Swami has ensured dignity to the inmates, apart from clean living. On our drive back, my thoughts were on the scale and size of the problems of the mentally ill in our country. I hope Swami’s achievements will inspire more concern towards the mentally ill from society as a whole. In the increasingly consumerist society that we are turning ourselves into, it is the Swamis and Balus that are our heroes.

  3. sathyavathi seshachalam
    March 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I am the sister in law of Dr.Swaminath. The culture in our family taught us from our childhood that whoever comes to our house even in the odd hours should be served food with utmost care. The love and respect the elders showed to the guests was really amazing. At any point of time, if the food is over, we have seen our mothers prepare fresh food and serve them with love and affection. The culture and tradition in our family is very rich. We are all proud of Swami and his contribution to Chittadhama. I, as an elderly member of my family, pray to God and wish that our next generation follows the footsteps of Swami and be good citizens of our country.

  4. Kishore Baindur
    March 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    There can be no better truth than what Balu has written about Dr Swamy. I have the proud privilege of being associated with him since the day we joined medical college (1975). It is not really surprising to me that if it was anyone building a ‘Chitadhama’ it was Swamy. I have known his commitment in any task that he undertakes, the meticulous planning that goes with it, the research put in, the resources he taps and above all the leadership he provides for all his teamates to put in their best. May his tribe increase. We are all proud of you Swamy and your dedicated team. May Chittadhama lead the way for a brighter future of those hapless souls in their otherwise bleak present.

    Kishore Baindur

  5. Dr Abhay Matkar
    March 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Dear All,
    I was indeed moved by the humane approach of the team at Chittadhama towards the wandering mentally ill. While it is indeed laudable of Dr Swami and his team, what needs to be done now is to generate resources to run the show. Hope more people visit the place and see what SERVICE TO HUMANITY means. Pranams to Swami, Murali, Ravishankar, Johny, etc.

  6. dr.kartik kashyap
    March 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    i entirely agree with Balu sir about dr.swami’s dedication towards chittadhama. beneath all the jovialty lies a practical, logical approach. the centre has got the best talent and lots of good wishers. its high time some more sponsors pooled in. Balu sir impressed us a lot with his grassroot coupled with hitech approach, when we visited his centre during kaciapp conf. however, what pained us was the apathy and the corruption of the system which was threatening his centre. may all these people get all the support they need. congrats, and all the best!

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