The Person I Admire The Most

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The Person I Admire The Most :

The person I admire most is Baba Amte. He is one of the greatest sons of India. He has dedicated his entire life to the service of the poorest of the poor. His two sons, daughters- in-law and the grand children have also followed the path of Baba Amte.

The people of some European countries stand up with great reverence and devotion whenever they hear these words Baba Amte. But here our people ask who is that Sai Baba?

Padmashri Baba Amte is a well-known humanist and founder of Anandavan. Baba Amte’s full name is Muralidhar Devidas Amte. He was born on the 26th December - 1914 in a village called Hinganghat, Chandrapur District of Maharastra. His father’s name was Devidas Harbaji Amte. He was a landlord having 450 acres of land and also a Government official. His mother’s name was Lakshmidevi. His mother had never received any formal education but was a good teacher. She had the ability to explain most difficult things to the young boy in a vivid and imaginative way. He was closer to her. He was a puzzle to his father because he used to go fishing and mixed with untouchables. On so many occasions his father used to say “You are no son of mine”. “I wish you had never been born”.

Amte developed a sympathy for the poor and the down-trodden. After passing his SSLC, he wanted to study in the Medical College. But his father forced him to study Law Course after B.A. This was his first disappointment. As a youth he was fond of games, horse-riding and wrestling. He had great interest in music and writing. He used to go to Calcutta to listen Ravindru Sangeeth. He used to write critical notes on the characters played by renowned actors and actresses. His appreciation of a part played by Norma shearer, a Hollywood cinema actress of those times, won for him her enduring pen-friendship. In fact, the first foreign assistance for Baba’s work came from her.

After passing his B.A. he studied for the B.L course. Then he practised for a couple of years in Chattisgarh. His father told him to go to his house in Nagpur and practise in Worora. The place needed a competent pleader and the family estate 450 acres of good land at Goraja Village. He was attracted by the Sevagram Ashram of Gandhi which was 57 miles away and Amte used to meet Gandhiji frequently. The non-violent Sathyagraha movement made a profound impression on him. Whenever he visited Goraja, the plight of the untouchables moved him to the Core. They were very poor, often starving and virtually naked. They were cowed animals. They were forbidden to draw water from the well. Against bitter opposition he opened the well to the Harijans. He helped them to build better dwellings and ate with them.

One day as he was going home he saw a bundle at the side of the road and with a shock realized that the heap was not only human but alive. The creature was shivering with unbearable pain and cold breathing heavily. He looked closer in the failing light. He saw a rolling mass of human flesh with two holes in the place a nose, without trace of finger and toes. This was his first bitter experience of leprosy. He treated him but the man died. Then he realized that others needed help even more desperately than the untouchables. Amte and his wife Sadhana Thayi decided to serve the leprosy victims. The people used to refer him as mad lawyer’s adventure. But he ignored them and their remarks. They read all the books about leprosy and he went to work in the Warora Leprosy Clinic. This was run by the local Government doctor. Only three patients were attending every week. When Amte began his service hundreds of leprosy victims used to come to the clinic. “It is wicked, it is monstrous” shouted the people.

Then Amte went to Calcutta to attend a specialized course at the school of Tropical Medicine. At that time, leprosy was considered as a contagious disease. The experiments were going on and the lecturer in the school described how numerous attempts had been made to grow the leprae germs in the animal hosts. But all those attempts had failed. “Perhaps man is the only likely laboratory animal,” he concluded.

The remark was not meant to be taken seriously. But it entered the mind of Amte seriously. It would be highly dangerous, if it is a success, well and good. If not, man will be disfigured.

Two days later Amte stood in the class and raised his hand. “I wish to become a guinea-pig. I shall do this for the advancement of science and for the benefit of leprosy patients.” The whole class stared at him. “There are animals” the lecturer pointed out. Baba Amte had made up his mind. He injected himself with emulsion taken from positive cases of leprosy that is with the live virus.

Thank God. Nothing happened to Amte. In course of time, numbers of medicines were discovered and it was established that leprosy was not a contagious disease. Then Amte started his service centres one after the other. The main centre is called Anandavan “Jungle of Joy”. On the 21st June - 1951, it was opened. Vinoba Bhave presided over the function.

He said “Another Ramayana is being lived and enacted in this jungle. I feel it will be no less famous than the story of Sita and Rama we all revere.” At that time Anandavan had only two or three huts. These huts were in the forest land full of boulders, wild animals, snakes and rats. Amte had with him, his young wife Sadhana Thai (Indu), two very young boys Vikas and Prakash six highly positive male leprosy patients (two old and four young) and 14 rupees in his pocket and a lame cow.

32 years have gone. Today Anandavan is spread over about 450 acres. Majority of the residents are leprosy patients. It is now a well developed small town having all the facilities like hospital, schools, bank, societies etc. There are college for blinds, colleges of arts, commerce, science and agriculture. Leprosy patients contribute their talent and labour. The output from Anandavan’s many projects - milk, vegetables and handicrafts - reaches the world outside. The annual income of Rs. 7.2 million (it was less than Rs. 13,000 in 1951) comes from its own resources. This is one aspect of the Anandavan. Its story is another Mahabharatha.

Apart from this centre, there are other service centres, for instance Hemalaksha which serve the Madia tribals. Prakash Amte (2nd son) and his wife Mandakini are in charge of this centre. Shramika Vidyapeeta at Somanatha, Gokul Anandaniketana, Uttrarayana and Sneha Savli are other centres.

It is very difficult to write about all the things in this short essay.

Amte has won several awards both national and international except the Nobel Peace Prize. His health is not good now. Due to an accident in 1971, two bones were broken in his spiral cord. So he cannot sit but can lay aside. He also had heart operation. Now he is 89 years old young man leading the Naimada Baehov Andolan. At present in his service centres, persons of three generations are serving.

1) Vikas Amte (the eldest son) and his wife Bharathi

2) Prakash Amte (the second son) and his wife Mandakini their sons and adopted daughter of Baba Amte - Renuka are also serving.

They are all doctors. We have to wait for the 4th generation. This is really a great and a very rare thing in this computer age.

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