He was a materialistic and selfish man, Dr. Rajiv Parti, former chief of anesthesiology at Bakersfield Heart Hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., confessed to India-West, who continued to push himself for social and material gains, but his brush with death nearly six years ago made him delve deeper beneath the glossy façade.
The Indian American physician, who is now a transformed man, has authored a book called “Dying to Wake Up,” which chronicles his journey to spiritual awakening following the near-death experience.
“Not just for wealth. I have three kids in college and I have to pay bills, too,” Parti told India-West in explaining his hectic career. “My life was just about me. It was selfish. I didn’t care about my wife’s or my kids or even my patients’ feelings.”
Born and raised in India, Parti attended a medical school in New Delhi. During his years as a young medical student, Parti said he was inclined towards spiritual activities, went to the Himalayas and came so far as to dreaming of becoming a monk.
“But the swami at the Ramakrishna Ashram sent me back to finish my education,” he recalled.
Armed with a medical degree, Parti came to the U.S. in 1982, and the spiritual part was left behind, he told India-West.
“I did two residencies, one in pediatrics, but that wasn’t satisfying especially financially, so I changed to anesthesia and I became a cardiac anesthesiologist,” explained Parti, who earned his residency in anesthesiology from Nashville, Tennessee, before moving to Bakersfield to live closer to his sister.
“I was driven by success and my dream became a runaway American dream,” shared Parti.
He lived in an 11,000-square-foot mansion, drove fancy cars, which included brands like Hummer and BMW, and there was no end to materialism, he claimed.
In 1999-2000, during the early days of the dot-com bubble, he gave up his practice of medicine to become a stock trader. But life took a different course in August 2008 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A surgical operation led to more complications such as incontinence. And to fix that overwhelming suffering, he went to the UCLA Medical Center for the surgical placement of an artificial urinary sphincter on Dec. 14, 2010. That, too, led to a severe infection.
Parti was again rushed to the UCLA Medical Center when he was running a fever of 104 to 105 degrees, where he underwent emergency abdominal surgery to remove the artificial sphincter.
It was during that operation that he had the near-death experience.
“From that I learnt quite a few things, like what I eat, what I drive, my relationship with my wife, kids and even with God, everything changed,” Parti recalled to India-West. “The person who went to sleep on the operating table and the person who woke up were two different people.”
Twenty minutes after surgery started, Parti found himself floating near the ceiling of the operating theater, he recounts his experience in his book, which he co-authored with Paul Perry, a New York Times best-selling author, over a period of three years. With all of his senses intact, he watched his medical team as they struggled to save him. While part of his consciousness remained in the operating room in Los Angeles, another part of his consciousness journeyed to India where he watched family members prepare a meal, he writes.
“There are drugs like Ketamine which are anesthetic and, which cause similar effects. I looked at the records; it wasn’t used,” Parti explained to India-West. “The main thing about this experience in general is how it affects a person. If it is a hallucination or a dream, you don’t see transformative changes in a person.”
“I went to different realms,” he stated matter-of-factly. “I went to the hell realm and looking back my experience was Hindu-Christian mix,” he told India-West. “The hellish realm was more like a Hindu ‘Narak.’ Then I met angel Michael the Archangel. I also met my dead father.”
Parti said his father, who was “abusive” to him as a boy, showed up when he cried for help at the pitch dark realm of hell and walked him down to a “tunnel of light,” which was akin to the light of a thousand suns, but still pleasant to the eyes, he recalled.
The meeting, he said, made him realize that his father loved him and cared for him but could not express it.
“That’s why I was able to forgive him,” Parti said. “I was always confused about my relationship with my father. I was angry at him.”
His meeting with the Guardian Angels gave his life a new direction, Parti noted, adding that they taught him “consciousness-based medicine,” which focuses on “forgive, love and heal.”
“It’s time to forgive people who have hurt you, ask for forgiveness from people who you have hurt, and also to forgive your own self for hurting others and yourself,” he said.
When Parti’s consciousness returned to his body, his priorities changed dramatically. He gave up his lucrative career, downsized his home to a more modest one, and even swapped his fancy cars for a Toyota hybrid.
“I am not living a poor life now,” Parti asserted to India-West. “But I am not a materialistic-minded man I used to be. My life literally went from hummer to a hybrid but everything in balance is good. It’s more like Buddha’s middle path.”
The spiritual knowledge he gained also changed his family dynamics. “My daughter and my wife have been very supportive. My two boys are kind of agnostic but they like their new dad,” said Parti, admitting that he had demanded his son to follow his path. “I forced my son to go to a medical school and when he dropped out, I was angry at him. But now that anger has gone away. He is doing computer science in San Francisco now, and I am okay with it.”
“I used to put people to sleep and now I wake them up,” stated Parti.
Parti said he has found support in a lot of people across the world, but there are still many out there who doubt on his story.
“People will be skeptic as I can only tell what my experience was, and whether you believe it or not, it’s your choice,” he said. “There is no chemical way or a machine through which I can measure God. Spiritual experiences are very subjective experiences.”
Parti went to Dharamshala, India, for a Buddhist retreat where he experienced the rising of Kundalini.
“I also quite often get intuitions which work out well. It has changed me from materialistic anesthesiologist to a more spiritual teacher,” the physician said.
He now advocates a consciousness-based approach to healing. His next book describes how changing your consciousness can change your life.
“There are three things I talk about: prayer, meditation and service, which I call ‘seva.’ And ‘seva’ is not going to a kitchen and spending two hours but it’s a different mentality and mindset,” he explained to India-West. “You do not have to have a near-death experience to transform.”