He was kindness, personified and savior of the neglected lot in our society. A true Gandhian who led a simple life but through his action or work made a difference in the lives of many people- that was Baba Anne.
Muralidhar Devidas Amte was born in a wealthy Brahmin family in Maharshtra on 26th December, 1914. His mother called him ‘Baba’ and instilled in him good values. His father, Devi Das HarbajiAmte was a big landlord and a government officer too. Baba Anne studied law and practiced as a lawyer for sometime but gave up since he wanted to do something big and more meaningful in his life.
As a child Baba was very kind and always felt for the poor & helpless people. Always his attention was drawn to the hardships, helplessness, and health problems of the poor laborers or workers. He hated the practice of ‘untouchability’ in the society those days and was not ready to believe that one can be big or small (in status) according to birth. As a young man he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and took part in the freedom struggle & went twice to jail. He grew up to be a brave man with high ideals. He once worked as a municipality cleaner, deliberately, to actually understand their feelings and problems. Once he came across a leper (one who is suffering from leprosy)
Who had open wounds and in pain. Baba Amte was shaken and moved by the sight of the painful disease and the social stigma it caused. The incident changed his life and he decided to fearlessly work for the leprosy patients.
He went to kolkata, got specially trained in the field of leprosy and treated several leprosy patients. They too started coming to him for treatment. But soon he realized the problem was not the infection alone but the social mentality or attitude towards the patients. People were not ready to accept them even if they were cured because it was believed that leprosy could not be cured & could spread by touch.
Baba wanted to show and create awareness that these people too could lead normal lives and become useful citizens. He wanted them to lead a life of dignity and become independent. So, with great effort he managed 250 acres of land in Chandrapur district of Maharastra and started Anandvani where thousands of people, needy and men and women afflicted with leprosy were treated and taught to stand on their own by doing agriculture, animal fanning, weaving, stitching and so on. `Anandvan’ has got rooms for the patient, hospitals, schools, hall for entertainment, garden and small factories where things are made. It grew with the efforts of Baba Amte& his wife Sadhana Amte who too supported him with devotion, to make his dream true. His son Vikas and Prakash who are doctors, they too treat the patients here and are carrying on the good work- showing kindness, compassion 84 making them efficient and confident individual.
Today, because of his efforts and selfless service there is a smile on the faces of the poor and destitute people. Throughout his life Baba Amte through his work. tried to “remove thorns from lives of others.” He also supported the Narmada bachaoandholan (NBA). He inspired many people to work for the voiceless people, who are poor tribals. He was a true social activist, till the last breath working for the upliftment of the needy fellow human beings. “His struggle to eliminate all forms of discrimination truly makes him a saint of our times” said our Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, when Baba Amte passed away.
Baba Amte died on February 9th 2008, at the age of 94, after long illness, leading a very meaning full life & setting example for others to follow.
He was a person who chose to light a lamp to dispel darkness instead of simply complaining of darkness. He was awarded the Padmashri by the Indian government. He was awarded the Gandhi peace prize in 1999 for his outstanding service to the people.
Baba Amte lived for the happiness of others. We young generation must learn a little from his life and make a difference in the society we live in.