Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995








Visit to India #2: “The Present Life and the Afterlife” (4th-19th November 2019)

Publication date:2020-07-02
By Dr. Shigeru Suganami
President, AMDA International

A water pump set at the elderly home

In the afternoon of 8 November 2019, I visited the Suripur village in the suburb of Bodhgaya in Bihar, India. Upon my visit, I tasked myself to fulfill three purposes.

First, it was to observe whether the agricultural water pump which we donated had been used properly or not. It turned out that it was well appreciated by the villagers, and as a proof I saw fresh green paddies into which abundant water was poured from the pump.

Second, there was another pump that I needed to check. While back, we donated it to a nursing home run by a former staff of AMDA Peace Clinic located near the village. The pump was also working fine, gushing out enough water for everyday use at the facility. I should not fail to mention that the pump is also a monument of a good friend of mine who helped set it up with his wife. His name is Mr. Koji Nakasone, a college friend of mine who passed away a while ago.

And the third purpose was to visit a place of worship to see if it was maintained properly. Set up by Reverend Myoe Nakashima of Tashozan Isshinji Temple, it turned out that the place was cleanly kept which impressed me immensely.

The Suripur village is poor and scarcely populated. The place of prayer sits in the middle of the village, and a path that runs across is dividing two communities into east and west. Although both of them claim kindred with each other, they are not in good terms. Mending a relationship is difficult if it was broken once. Of course, it is beyond AMDA’s capacity to mend their wounds. Thus, I try to remain neutral in accordance with an old proverb, “See no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil.”

Nevertheless, the said elderly home and the community in the east are related to each other. Naturally, our activities tend to lean towards the community in the east. As we say in Japanese that “one should not get involved in a marital quarrel”, I am all for not taking risks. The situation in the village is just as this. It is wise not to ask for trouble.

A water pump for farming

The remarkable outcome


The place of worship

Until the place of worship was created, the villagers had to go to the adjacent village on a festival day to give prayers to Hinduist deities. Before we started building, I asked the villagers if they wanted to have the prayer place or a water pump. Because they said the former was their priority, I personally asked Reverend Nakashima to render support. The choice the villagers made depicts the cultural values of the Hindus. Just as Muslims and Christians name themselves after their saints, the same goes with the Hindus.

The pump set at the nursing home had definitely been playing an essential role in supporting people’s lives. Half of the eight seniors that I met during the last visit seemed to have departed. I was told that they passed away because of an abnormal heatwave that struck the region three months before. Five additional cooling fans which I hadn’t seen were enough to tell the story. Before I left the facility, one elderly woman whom I had known took my hand and started singing. “She’s conjuring up the blessings for you,“ Ms. Vedha told me.

An old man quenching his thirst

Ms. Vedha and a senior resident

The reason why I am attracted to India is its rich spiritual world. It is often far beyond the material world where money is the norm. I sometimes wonder what kind of spiritual world dwells in the minds of those seniors that reside in the nursing home.

Ms. Vedha is 50 years old. I am 73. And she definitely has her own spell. When she utters her magical words, her voice and posture overwhelm me. I am most certain that it is because of her inherent qualities that enable her to act in such an astounding manner.

She often tells me that she wants me to conduct her funeral, because she is certain she would die before me. I asked her how much a funeral would cost and her answer was 2,000 dollars. I confidently said I would be happy to personally assist her, should she depart. She seemed to be relieved to hear my response.

On the contrary, a Japanese staff of mine who was listening to us looked rather perplexed, hearing our "ominous" talk. However, we should not overlook the fact that in the Hinduist values, the life after death is equally important as the present life. This is because Hinduism is a religion which believes in reincarnation.

Ms. Vedha is from the southern part of India. In a country where kinship plays an important role, for someone like her who does not have any relatives in the north, not having anyone to conduct her funeral is a grave concern. She is already aware of the consequences. Her dead body would be left out in the open if no one conducted her funeral. For this, I have already decided ask one of my acquaintances to do her a favour on my behalf.

For those of us who believe in reincarnation, it is common knowledge that the present deeds and conduct will influence our afterlife. Her elderly home has been run on a voluntary basis, but what we know is that she is always eyeing for her life after death.
Her good deeds deeply resonate with me. I have been donating rice to her nursing home personally, and as long as her acts of good will continue, I am determined to offer my support the furthest I can.


    •  President's Message
    •  India
    •  2019