Wisdom song: the life of Baba Amte

Baba Amte is a familiar name in
Maharashtra, atleast.  As a kid I had imagined him to be somekind of a social reformer, somebody like Raja Rammohan Roy as taught in school history books.  That he wore a kamarpatta to support his spine was also common knowledge, but nothing more had I known about him.  So when I chanced upon this book at the library I borrowed after getting impressed in the quick browse.  The photograph of Prakash Amte (Baba’s son) with pet leopards brought to my mind Dr. Purnapatre about whom I will talk elsewhere.  The book fully appeased my thirst to know about Baba Amte: his life and works. 

Born 26th December 1914, Baba lives on at Anandawan near
Nagpur.  He donned many roles from ascetic-brahmachary to lover, a major contributor in eradicating leprosy-atleast the fear it, savior of rivers, valleys, wild life and tribals, educationist and above all a humanist.  Sane Guruji seems to have a profound impression on him.  (It was shocking news for me when I read that Sane Guruji commited suicide-as it happens with most who are ahead of time.)  Baba was successful in most of his endeavors.  He has also won national (Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan…) and international (UN human rights prize, Ramon Magsaysay award…) recognition and has among his friends the Dalai Lama.  Among his setbacks the Narmada Bachao Andolan stands out.  

Sadhan Tai is the woman behind his success-the author, Neesha Mirchandani brings this out quite clearly in the book.  Baba, however, likes to call himself a mad son of a mad mother.  His trait of taking inspiration from ordinary-daily life heroes and heroines, he acquired from his mother. Once Baba’s mother asked him to invite a Gulab Qadir, a muslim, for lunch.  The story goes….there was a mad woman who roamed about the place stark naked.  She took bath and breast feed her baby in a public place.  Many lustful eyes would fall on her but no one dared to touch her.  Gulab Qadir, the big muslim man, with a kerchief over his head, kept guard for her a distance away.  He saw the mother in her….She wanted Baba to like Gulab Qadir, a jitendra (one who has conquered his senses).  Many such anecdotes from Baba’s life make the book interesting read.  All of Baba’s family members and their views find mention in the book.  His sons actively supported Baba’s cause and even his grand children are not averse to work towards the many institutions that have sprung under his umbrella.  The cover photograph of the book is one of those with which your attraction grows with time.  This is typical of photographs of spiritual men.  

The site www.baba.niya.org carries much more info about Baba Amte.

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