The Surgical Guru

One of India’s trendiest, most popular spiritual leaders has the golden chance to raise awareness around SDH and timely medical intervention. Will he?

It was when I saw in the news that Sadhguru had undergone brain surgery that I realised his full name is Jaggi Vasudev. He apparently had a chronic subdural hematoma, abbreviated as SDH in neurosurgical parlance. It occurs when tiny bridging veins between the surface of the brain to its covering, the dura, snap. The rupture can either be spontaneous or be precipitated by even minimal trauma. It often happens in the elderly, who don’t even realize they might have bumped their head somewhere. It is also more common in this age group, as with age, the brain tends to shrink a little and there is a potential space between the brain and the dura. In young adults, the brain has more ego and hence is fuller, disallowing for this potential space.

Over time, blood accumulates in this void, and when full, the liquefied blood causes physical pressure on the brain, which brings on symptoms such as headache, vomiting and occasional weakness of the opposite arm and leg – as the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. If left untreated, this can rapidly progress to confusion, altered sensorium, and even a quick slip into becoming comatose. Allegedly – and I must confess that this is all hearsay – Sadhguru worked through several days of ignoring his headaches, performing rituals, giving sermons, and attending conclaves until his condition deteriorated to a point where it required an emergency operation to make a hole in the head and drain the blood that had collected.

The surgery itself is one of the most gratifying operations in our field, where a person can be pulled back, quite literally, from the jaws of death. You drill a hole in the skull and nick the dura with a knife, and a fountain of blood will spurt out, causing a comatose patient to instantly start talking if the surgery is performed under local anaesthesia. Sadhguru’s surgery was performed under general anaesthesia, and once he was alert enough to record a video for his well-wishers, he joked about how doctors couldn’t find anything inside his brain. I’m surprised he isn’t Parsi. I’m also happy to note that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. No one should.

What struck me instantly was to see a man always adorned in grandiosely flashy turbans and flowing shawls reduced to wearing a hospital gown, almost looking like a miniature version of the one we see in the media. The bike bouncing, soil saving, river rallying, inner engineering man was no different from the hundreds of Muthuswamys or Annamalais I had treated for an SDH. I have often maintained that medical illness is a great leveller.

But what I found even more amusing was that neurosurgical WhatsApp groups were rife with doctors who were irate that the medical community was not being acknowledged for the role it had played in saving Sadhguru’s life. They pulled out old posts of his where he spoke about why “one should not hand over your health to your doctor,” probably in a completely different context. How one’s “brain need not deteriorate with age; with simple yogic practices, you can keep enhancing it.” His own treating physicians released a press statement which mentioned that “Sadhguru is healing himself, apart from the medical measures instituted by us.”

It is probably true that if he hadn’t had surgery, we would have lost him. But we’ll never know if that is how he had chosen to go. I’m told that truly spiritual people can choose their time and mode of exit, although I wonder if anyone would choose a SDH to do so.

I wouldn’t have blamed Sadhguru for not opting for surgery either, because the treatment of chronic subdural hematoma has also undergone a paradigm shift in the recent past – although I doubt he might have known the full extent of it. Smaller amounts of blood can now be resolved with a course of steroids, and newer medication, which works by blocking the breakdown of blood clots to prevent bleeding, has also helped some people avoid surgery. In some cases, we can even embolize the blood vessel that is partly responsible for the bleeding by injecting glue through the groin. Perhaps Sadhguru was on some kind of medication to see if the condition might reverse itself, and hence, we shouldn’t pass judgement calls on his seemingly irresponsible attitude of not opting for surgery immediately, although a lot of doctors did. When he gave his surgeons the go-ahead to perform the procedure, it was apparently because he was losing function of his left leg.

This brings us to another interesting question posed by a friend: Does the constant evolution of science make you lose faith in its accuracy? The treatment we offered for certain medical conditions a few decades ago are considered barbaric today. It is highly possible that what we consider state-of-the-art practices today will be scoffed at very soon. There are innumerable instances of people having healed themselves with unconventional and alternate techniques. But for the rest of us, for now, we have to make do with what science has to offer us today, because science is a self-correcting process where new evidence, discoveries, and insights lead to revisions and refinements of existing knowledge. This process is what drives scientific progress and allows our understanding of the world to become increasingly accurate over time.

Through the work of various spiritual foundations across the country, what is also evolving is the ability of people to explore their inner selves and transcend limitations to live a more conscious and fulfilling life. Thanks to people like Sadhguru, individuals are able to explore and enhance their inner dimensions, leading to greater peace, joy, and fulfilment in life. While he heads the non-profit Isha Foundation, most of my profits are nullified when my wife orders their products home.

I am relieved to learn that Sadhguru has recovered completely and is doing well. The neurosurgical community wishes him great health to continue his humanitarian work. He has a global following and his teachings are imbibed by all generations. I’d like him to tell his devotees that while it is paramount to take responsibility of their own health, it is equally important that they pay heed to their doctors too. I hope he uses his rich baritone to

spread awareness of this condition and enlighten people on why a headache should not be ignored. After all, he is now SDHguru.


40 Comments on “The Surgical Guru
  • Dr A S Randhawa says:

    Dear Mazda you have an uncanny knack of writing. Yet another masterpiece by you. Dr A S Randhawa(Neurosurgeon). Amrritsar (9872450902)

  • Dr.Sukhmeet K Kalsi Consultant Family Physician, Counseling Psychologist , Corporate Trainer International Life Coach says:

    Amazing write up as always. The way you write about serious neurological medical conditions and surgery makes me actually associate so much as if I can literally share your moment of experience

    And the ‘SDHguru’ was the ultimate 👌 😊

  • Chanda says:

    Great Doc, that’s everything we would have liked to know in a nutshell.
    The last line sums up the write up -‘ par excellance’
    Happy Easter to you and thank you.

  • gurudutt bhat says:

    You are on fire mazda. As always funny but thought provoking. Loved the he must be a parsi bit.

  • Vipul Shah says:

    Dearest Dr Mazda sir ……..

    The most interesting word in the entire piece on SADHGURU is the Last word by you SDHguru 🤣🤣

    You have the special ability to coin new word in all situations……

    Happy to read in great detail a knowledgeable Article on the Subject…..

    Last but not Least PARSEEPANU is always reflected in your writings & I Love that more than Subject 🌹

    Good Luck & Keep on writing sir …❤️

  • Chanda says:

    Hi Doc, everything we needed to know about the surgery, in a nutshell. The last line has spoken so well of your neverending humour.
    Happy Easter to you!

  • Nanda Kachare says:

    Excellent write up and so apt ….👏👏👍

  • Anuradha says:

    Dear Mazda

    An interesting article. Creates awareness that there should be a healthy balance between spiritual and medical practices. Each of these are relevant to a human being’s well being. Thank you Mazda for giving us such insights

  • Hemendra Shah says:

    Healing through spirituality and through conventional method do coexist. Very well said and narrated in this article.

  • Sachin Borkar says:

    Mazda, u r a gifted writer in addition to an excellent neurosurgeon and human being ..keep writing

  • Arun Pushkarna says:

    Dear Mazda,
    I will not comment on the content, which is, as usual, excellence in its best form. I compliment you for giving us, like Sadguru himself, a wonderful opportunity to look at ourselves in a different light – with humour and compassion – and above all with an understanding that keeps growing with every article of yours.
    Love you my adorable Doctor!!

  • Ravi Kekre says:

    Salute the Neurosurgical Community

  • Manas Panigrahi says:

    March is head injury awareness month . Hope your article and Sdhguru spreads the importance of prevention and early treatment of head injury

  • Drkitheai says:

    “I’m also happy to note that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. No one should.” -Take home message. A wonderful write up

  • Mukundan says:

    Excellent Read. Humorous, informative and above all – NUETRAL.

    Keep it up.

  • Arvind Bhai says:

    Dil khush hua. Very absorbing and interesting and informative write up Dr Mazda. The SDHGuru will definitely read this column and will heed to your appeal . Thanks for this write up.
    Arvind Bhai
    Karnal, Haryana

  • Mahashweta Biswas says:

    Hi Mazda,

    Once again a very in-depth article explaining Sadguru’s surgery n the cause. By the way love the short firm SDH. The humour as usual was not missing brings a smile on our faces. Good to know SDH is recovering.

    Happy Easter

  • Anita Tarneja says:

    So honest, witty and caring. Your actions speak louder than words. I loved the way you make us us realise that no o e should take themselves too seriously. Thank you doctor 🙏

  • Kersi Naushir Daruvala says:

    Well said Dr Mazda Turel, good to know that SDH is recovering, good of you to remind such people not always do practice what you preach. He is lucky to let Medical science help him. BUT as usual he will go on doing what he does. Be your own Judge, but let medicine take its course.

  • Vipul Nanda says:

    Thanks for the detailed update. We wish him well.
    Hope the medical professionals and the integrative medicine experts collaborate more n more for the benefit of mankind…

  • Bruce Blewett says:

    An interesting article Mazda and highlights the importance of life balance

  • Rita singh says:

    Very interesting article on brain and headaches.we seldom take headache seriously, including myself. Thank you for ur guidance in so many health ensues.


    Hi Dr Mazda Excellent scientific message in a literary manner bow to you sir.

  • Dr. Rafat Ansari says:

    Ur ryt doc!.SDH shld b lyk an ambassador to talk abt the condition n it’s proper treatment. Also, what’s new today becomes obsolete tomorrow..Humans need to get along with the advances in medical science as life saving procedures r a blessing in boon. Sadhguru shld b re Christened- SDH!!! what say??-worth forwarding the article to him!

  • Avvan Dalal says:

    As always a brilliant article. Loved your spot on punch lines ‘medical illness is a great leveller ‘ and bits of humour amidst the valuable insights on the evolving brilliance of the medical fraternity.
    Happy Easter!

  • Marzin R Shroff says:

    If Sadhguru was truly a Parsi, he would be named Sadhdaruwala or Sadharawala 😊😊

  • Dr RK Jain, Child Neurologist says:

    Excellent write up. Sir, very nicely you introduced the spiritual angle of healing and at the same time insisted not to ignore your body symptoms. Nothing can beat modern science in emergency treatment, agree on its evolution and progressive accuracy.

  • Sunita Masani says:

    I hope the Guru reads and takes heed.. balance in life and respect for doctors..
    Are the Isha products that expensive ?!

  • Chandan R. Sanjana says:

    Loved the last line. He truly should tell everyone in the world that the timely intervention of the doctors saved his life and he can continue enjoying his flamboyant life style.
    Great explanation about the brain and its functions even with these tiny nerves!
    As always a great article.

  • Dr Dimple Dhaliwal says:

    A 360° perspective on the condition, person & situation – most lucid & engrossing. Who can but not love the punch line !

  • Mehroo Karbhari says:

    Dear Dr. Turel,
    SDHGuru is the icing on the cake.

  • Dr Pinky Thapar says:

    Apt write up as usual Dr Mazda
    Yes it’s true that true spiritual masters plan their exit from the body. But won’t like to go with SDH.
    It’s also true and yet sad that most ViPs fail to show gratitude in public to the Doctors , I hope SDHguru does his bit.
    Wishing Him a speedy and happy recovery.

  • Germaine Boatwala says:

    Happy Easter, first up! Season of healing and healers, bowing to the Master healer, Jesus!
    Unique article this time on a unique candidate. The intricacies of the brain structure and its nuances cannot be underestimated. And kudos to brain surgeons for putting their fingers in this gizzmo of nerves and nerve centres! Enough to give readers the jitters.
    People like Sadhguru are known to vouch for the spiritual over the scientific and medical, and do prove themselves right. But sometimes getting medical help from ethical practitioners is wisdom too.
    It’s good to know he’s doing well now. He’ll be back to lectures and dancing and yoga. And it’ll do you good to see your patient flamboyant again! 😁.

  • Anjali Patki says:

    Eloquent flow of words, punctuated with subtle Humour …. enjoyed every bit. Your ability to convey the nuances of neurosurgical practice is truly amazing

  • Setu Ram says:

    Happy Easter

  • Sunil Sampat says:

    Very well written in humorous style without diluting the seriousness of the topic.
    As a lay person I found it to be very informative both in terms of medical science and spiritual sensibilities. SDhguru was absolutely brilliant.

  • Dr Medha Oka says:

    Dear Dr Mazda,
    Excellent write up. ‘Medical illness is a great leveller ‘- brilliant take home message

  • T George Koshy says:

    Mazda..very well written..u have described the manifestations of a neurosurgical emergency in an amusing but interesting way as always..and SDH guru was a innovative end piece..please keep writing…

  • T George Koshy says:

    Very well written..Mazda u have an unique way of describing the features and treatment of a neurosurgical emergency in an interesting and amusing way..and ur concluding remark “SDH guru” was really good..please keep writing..

  • Monica Bose says:

    Mazda, Too good! An enjoyable, utterly delightful Masterpiece!
    “I’m surprised he’s not Parsi.”
    “After all, he’s now SDHguru.”
    Classic YOU.
    How skill fully you’ve made light of an otherwise sombre, heavy subject!
    Dear Sadhguru, he’s probably gawfawing his lungs out!
    You must encounter him on stage to make light-hearted banter of our worldly woes with your Bawa wit and his witty wisdom!
    You’re evolving each day and re-inventing Life!
    ✅ Keep rising!❤️


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