Saturday, March 22, 2008

Great Leaders

Baba Amte (1914-2008) - A Selfless Human Being

I first heard about Baba Amte from my mother when I was in middle school. She used to read Marathi magazines and share with me and my brothers interesting information and narrate good stories. During one of those narrations , I heard her talk passionately about Baba Amte and his selfless service to our society's most downtrodden living beings , the lepers - people affected with the scary disease called leprosy.

Baba Amte himself was repulsed at the sight of a leper lying in in a muddy gutter on a rainy night. This successful lawyer; a follower of Gandhian philosophy, responded to the situation, initially with some fear about the disease. But his moment of realization came when he told himself: " Where there is fear, there is no love; where there is no love, there is no God. I must banish this fear from my mind." He did not look back on his decision and renounced his flourishing career to start Anandwan, the first of the three ashrams he established to treat and rehabilitate leprosy inflicted people, especially from the disadvantaged section of our society. Anandwan is located in Warora, Chandrapur district, Maharashtra state, India.

Baba Amte's wife, Sadhana Tai also deserves credit for her selfless service to the mission started by her husband. Their two sons , daughters-in-law and grand sons are all doctors who have dedicated their lives to social work and continue the noble cause started by their parents.

Baba Amte's guiding philosophy in life is summed in the three lines of this poem by an unknown poet :

"I sought my soul, but my soul I failed to see, I sought my God, but my God eluded me, I sought my brother, and I found all three."

He found his brother on that raining night, the leper whose sight repulsed him at first.

Courtesy: Article by R.Prasannan in The Week, February 24, 2008 and Wikipedia

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