Baba Amte

Indian freedom fighter, social worker

Dr Murlidhar Devidas Amte (December 26, 1914February 9, 2008) was a highly dedicated Indian social worker for the cause of rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people, particularly those suffering from leprosy. He gave up all his luxurious way of living. He gave up his wealth and established three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalized sections of the society in Maharashtra, India, of which Anandwan was the precursor. He also adopted non-violent means to fight the Indian government for independence, along with Mahatma Gandhi, and was also imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He was the recipient of many international and national awards of which the most prominent are: The Ramon Magsaysay Award; the Padma Vibhushan, the highest civilian honour of the Government of India; and the Gandhi Peace Prize.

Autographed post card of Baba Amte

Quotes edit

  • I don't want to be a leader. I want to be one who goes around with a little oil can and offer help when I see a breakdown.

Baba Amte: A Vision of New India edit

Staffner, Hans (1 January 2000). Baba Amte: A Vision of New India. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7154-674-9. 

  • There is a certain callousness in families like mine. They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it.
  • I, who had never had planted single seed in the estate was expected to enjoy the comfort of a beautiful farm house, while those who had toiled there all their lives had only the meanest hovels.
  • I was charging fifty rupees for arguing for fifteen minutes while a labourer was getting only three-quarters of a Rupee for twelve hours of toil. That was what was eating into me.
    • Above three quotes are his remarks as he was from a very well to do land owning family with no wants in but attracted to the plight of thee poor people in page=3
  • A client would admit that he had committed rape, and I was expected to obtain an acquittal. And worse still, when I succeeded, I was expected to attend the celebration party.
    • His defending a rape accused in the court in page=3
  • That microscopic look at village life taught me to hear the heart-beat of reality. To me the common man’s society is a maskless society. He does not carry that thick mask which the professional people, the upper classes, wear so that they might look nice and beautiful. Very often they do not dare to say what they really think and feel.
    • His fondness for the common man page=3
  • …richness of heart of the poor people [and to despise] the poverty of heart of the rich.
  • The common man, he is the uncommon man
    • His constant refrain, page =4
  • We all felt happy and excited because it was Diwali. My mother had saved lot of small coins from her shopping and gave them to me to buy crackers Stuffed full with sweets and feeling that life was grand I ran towards the market. Then I saw a blind beggar. He sat in the hot sun by the edge of the unpaved road while gusts of wind raised clouds of dust and rubbish over him. ‘Andhalalya paisa dey, Bhagwan’, he kept on saying to the passers , ‘Give one paisa to this blind man, oh! Bhagwan.’ In front of him there was a rusty cigarette tin. It struck me alongside my bright happy world there was a world of misery and pain.
  • I rushed across and started putting such handful of coins into the tin which he held out to me that it almost fell from his hand with the weight. ‘I am only a beggar, young sir, don’t put stones into my bowl'. 'These are not stones but coins. Count them if you wish’. I said. He sat and counted and then recounted sorting out the coins on that tattered cloth. He just could not believe it. He went on counting and feeling the coins. It made me so sad. I ran home in tears.
    • An incident which he often narrated which profoundly affected him, page=4
  • The image of that dying leprosy patient was burning me like a branding iron and would not give me a moment’s rest. From that moment on I was out to conquer fear....Where there is fear there is no love. Where there is no love there is no God.
    • His reaction after he had given away his wealth and legal career and had set up a work camp and started living with common people with his family when he had met a dying leper on the road, pages=6-7
  • I am upset I am very much disappointed when I see within myself a wrong image of myself.... A man can live without fingers, but he cannot live without self-respect....That is why I took up leprosy work. Not to help anyone but to overcome that fear in my life. That it worked out good for others is a byproduct. But the fact is I did it to overcome fear.
    • On his motivation to treat leprosy patients, Page=9
  • The halo of Fr. Damian was before me,[he said] and I knew that Sadhana would nurse me.
    • While on training at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine on the treatment of leprosy, he volunteered to be a human guinea pig to get injected with dead bacilli and also live bacilli. Page=10
  • Whenever God has pointed the way with his finger, he also cleared the way with his mighty palm.
    • When he was looking for help to build his institutions at Anandwan, unexpected help came from 50 volunteers of 36 different countries working under the banner of “Service Civil International", from Gandhi’s Ashram at Sevagram, page=14
  • You have come a long way to talk to me, but I have a surprise for you: I have worked out most of the details already....
    • When Count Tarnowski, Polish, a polio affected person in a wheel chair came to his Anandwan to help him financially to set up learning centers in several trades for lepers, in page=17.
  • I never had money. But that had never stopped me.
    • When hearing of the estimate for establishing learning center Tarnowski had said “you realize I have no money yet, is a great deal to rise. In page=17
  • If you give the royalties from your book, I shall give the land.
    • When Count Tarnowski offered to give his royalties from his book for the cause. Now 40 trades are being taught at the center. Page=18
  • Joy is more infectious than leprosy.
    • Talking about the joy one gets working at his institution, Anandwan, a home for leprosy that was established by him, page=22

Baba Amte's Words of Wisdom edit

  • I haven't the arrogance to say I can carry the mighty load of His Cross, but I do try to walk in its shadow. He wants to carve your life like a crucifix. Every calamity is a crucifixion, crucifying your ambition, your lust. Each is a tiny lesson, and then the imprint of the crucifixion is on your life. What is your plan of sacrifice today? You and I, petty souls, sacrifice for our children. Christ sacrificed for tomorrow's whole world. Whenever I see slum-dwellers, with their hunger and poverty, that obscene poverty, I feel He is crucified like that. When I come across a person suffering from leprosy, foul smelling, ulcerous, I can see the imprint of His lips, His kiss. What did they not do to sufferers of leprosy in His time, yet the carpenter's son cared for them and touched them. That hand is an emblem for me, that hand which cared for the loneliest and the lost. The Christian is … he who not only lights the darkest corner in the world but also the darkest corner in his own heart.
  • I believe as a society we have to evolve, through experimentation, a system which combines the principles of individual freedom and common ownership. And this is what we have tried, basically with success, in all our projects, involving leprosy patients, tribal people and the so-called 'disabled' persons.
    • On Community living
  • Consider the honey-bee. Its treasure is nectar, obtained even from the chilly plant. It is not at the cost of the flower. In fact, its act of extracting honey contributes to the progress of the flowers. You need not learn from Kahlil Gibran, Marx or Gorbachev, not even from Gandhiji. Choose instead to learn your lesson from the honey bees as your silent partners: they will show you how to develop without destroying.
    • On Community living
  • I have never been frightened of anything. Because I fought British tommies to save the honor of an Indian lady, Gandhiji called me abhay sadhak, a fearless seeker of truth. When the sweepers of Warora challenged me to clean gutters, I did so. But that same person who fought goondas and British bandits quivered in fright when he saw the living corpse of TuIshiram, no fingers, no clothes, with maggots all over. That is why I took up leprosy work. Not to help anyone, but to overcome that fear in my life. That it worked out good for others was a by-product. But the fact is I did it to overcome fear.
    • On fear
  • The new leadership in India is taking shape quietly, without any drum beating through the newspapers. … Various centers, the centers of energy and strength in the life of society are gaining tremendous momentum. May be, the surging new generation of today appears to have lost its bearing, to have lost its soul. But it is absolutely certain that one day it will have its own leader and prophet.... I am absolutely confident that the phoenix of a new leadership is rising from the ashes of all its failure. Soon the world will witness the lightning hidden in its beak and the storm hidden in its wings.
    • On leadership
  • Our governance is by a gerontocracy. This cataract of history can only be removed by youth. In this common man's century, only the common man can change the profile of this country.
    • On Governance
  • When leprosy patients touched the soil, they transformed it into gold, but the politicians did that and made it into dirt.
    • His analogy between Indian politicians and his leprosy patients.

After 50 years what democracy is this? edit

'After 50 years what democracy is this?'. Retrieved on 9 December 2013.

  • Charity destroys, work builds.
  • Compassion has no utopia, party or ideology.
  • I was tempted by Shankar bhagwan. He too has spondylitis but uses a cobra as a brace.
  • I have to be cautious, but caution also has its own adventure.
    • The above two quotes when he was disabled due to Spondylitis.
  • The condition of the tribals is worse than those inflicted with leprosy. Purna swaraj can only be possible when the poorest of the poor is uplifted.
  • [A balanced economic system is one which provides] sufficiency for all and superfluity for some. The MNCs have entered the country like nomads. The majority doesn't need Pepsi or Coke, they want water. You can have your skyscrapers and Cokes but before this you must ensure that that tribal girl defecating in the open has the privacy of a toilet.
  • Our governance is by a gerontocracy. This cataract of history can only be removed by youth. In this common man's century, only the common man can change the profile of this country.
  • Those who indulge in history cannot create new history. You cannot legislate national integration unless political work is done constructively and there is a lifestyle for life.
  • Those who do monumental work don't need monuments.

About Baba Amte edit

  • Usually people avoid seeing leprosy patients. Here Baba is putting them on the stage for all to see
    • Observation by the Marathi writer P.L. Deshpande who witnessed a cultural programme of 3 days arranged by the Anandwan inmates quoted in "Baba Amte: A Vision of New India", page=16

Baba Amte's Words of Wisdom edit

Baba Amte's Words of Wisdom. Niya is a US-based non-profit focused on solutions to social and environmental problems. Retrieved on 9 December 2013.

  • He came to be known as Baba not because he is a saint or any such thing, but because his parents addressed him by that name.
    • By Sadhanatai Amte (Baba's wife)
  • Every once in a blue moon, is born a person, who has the clarity of vision, and the greatness of deed, to make us all recognize the dizzying heights the human spirit can really achieveŠBaba Amte is one of those people.
    • By Neesha Mirchandani
  • In our family, Baba is the speaker; Vikas the amplifier; Prakash, the silencer; Sadhana the brake
    • By Sadhanatai Amte (Baba Amte's Wife)

External links edit

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