Doctor in Malaya

'After graduating with astounding brilliance, Dr Kuppuswami joined a doctor in Tiruchi as his assistant. Realising, however, that as part of his service to the suffering people, he also needed to teach them how to avoid illness, he started a medical journal entitled 'Ambrosia'. The motto of the journal was thus, 'Prevention is better than cure'. Over the next few years Kuppuswami, although he was happy in his work, felt an increasing need within him to give more, to do more to reduce the suffering of others. Hearing of the deplorable conditions in which thousands of Indian workers lived on the rubber plantations of Malaya, he decided to cross the seas to serve the needy. At a farewell party, the young doctor told his friends, "Book knowledge will not take us far. I studied anatomy. I dissected the human body. But I could not find the atman within." "The atman can only be seen when the ego is destroyed," interjected a friend. "True," agreed Kuppuswami, "and selfless service is the most potent weapon to thin out the ego".

'But his family,' objected one young disciple who had only recently left his home and family for the ashram life, 'were they willing to let him go?' 'Not so easily,' replied Swami Krishnananda. 'Once again his mother was distraught. The poor woman pleaded with him not to leave her, and she argued that crossing the seas was prohibited in the shastras. But Kuppuswami had resolved to cross the sea to serve humanity, and the shastras would not stand in his way. Eventually his mother accepted his decision and gave her blessings, beseeching God to stay with him in his noble mission. And so, one twilit evening, she said goodbye to her son as he embarked on his mission, knowing, her heart filled with pride, that her son was made for the Lord's service.

'After a lengthy sea voyage, during which Kuppuswami volunteered his services to passengers, treating them kindly and free of charge, he arrived in Malaya. There he was immediately appointed to the Senawang Estate Hospital where he worked ceaselessly dispensing medicines, keeping the accounts and personally attending to patients. Hopeless cases often came to him, but success was sure. Everywhere people declared that he had a special gift from God for the miraculous cures effected in the patients and acclaimed him as a very kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic personality. He continued to give endlessly, not only his services but often his money.

'I have even heard tell that once a poor man, drenched to the skin, came to the doctor at night. His wife was in the agony of labour pains and needed urgent attention. The doctor went at once to her aid and, after attending to her, stayed outside the hut in spite of the heavy rain. Only after the safe delivery of the child, did the doctor return home next morning.'

At this point the chiming of bells was heard in the ashram as the devotees gathered together for evening kirtan. The sound of chanting reminded Swami Krishnananda that, even in Malaya, his Guru's spiritual yearnings could not be forgotten. And so he spoke of those yearnings to the group now seated at his feet. 'Throughout this period,' Krishnananda went on, the relentless drive towards renunciation was stirring within Swamiji. He gradually became more thoughtful and pensive, and he meditated on the uselessness of material pleasures and on the need to attain everlasting peace.

'As if sent by God, it was at this point in his life, that Dr Kuppuswami had the opportunity to host a noble sadhu who had fallen sick. The doctor served him with great reverence and devotion and on his recovery, the sadhu gave him the book, 'Jiva-Brahma-Aikyari' by Sri Swami Satchidananda, saying, 'I am highly pleased with your services. There is something noble and great in you. You will shine as a world teacher. Read this book well and it will help you.' Inspired by this, Kuppuswami began to study the books of Shankaracharya, Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami Vivekananda and many, many others. Increasing daily his intensive practice of sadhana, he felt less and less able to discharge his duties at the hospital satisfactorily. Realising that he could offer no lasting solution for disease he resigned from his job and returned to India to set out on the path of renunciation, in search of immortality.'

The sun had sunk low behind the hills surrounding Rishikesh and the sky was infused with a beautiful red glow, which reflected off the waters of the Ganga, illuminating the faces of the disciples, listening with rapt attention. 'Enough,' said Swami Krishnananda, 'you shall hear more tomorrow. Now it is time for satsang and telling stories of our Master must not become a replacement for our sadhana.' 'No, no,' agreed the others, rising hurriedly and gathering their dhotis about them. Together they proceeded up the steps of the ghat and made their way to the samadhi shrine of their Master, as devoted to him now as they had been during his lifetime.