All of you might have seen many social workers. The very fact of giving your life for total strangers, giving them unconditional love, makes us think, just how wonderful these people are.
Some work for underprivileged women, some for orphan children, some for the old, some for cancer patients, some for the mentally-handicapped……
Have you ever come across someone who has worked for the ones with “Leprosy” ???
Murlidhar Devidas Amte, better know as “Baba Amte” was one such man. He passed away on the 9th of February 2008 at the ripe old age of 94.
94 seems too old but I wish that he should have lived for yet 100 years so that the next generations would have appreciated the mettle of this great great man!
If you have seen a leprosy patient, you might know their plight. And if you are one of the many who snub and scoff at even normal people, leprosy ones might give you jitters.
What can you make of, of a man who spent his entire lifetime working for them. He could have become anything else he wanted to be but without ever worrying about that he might be contracted the disease, he just kept working selflessly.
Anandwan was one of three ashrams he set up for the leprosy affected people. It got a 250 acres land grant in 1951 and still continues to harbor more than 5000 people. Today not only does it have a university of its own but also two hospitals, an orphanage and a school for blind. Anandwan is a small village in itself.
For years, leprosy has been associated with social stigma. Where the families of the patients themselves abandon their loved ones, I think, its hats off to this amazing man.
What is even more appreciable, is the support he received from his wife, Sadhana-tai. In a time of wife nagging their husbands about little little things like not coming home early or not bringing them gifts; the support Sadhana-tai gave him was very commendable.
And also, who could have asked for more wonderful sons. Both his sons, Vikas and Prakash are doctors and have selflessly dedicated themselves just like their father for service to these leprosy patients. They actively participate in causes similar to that of their dad, running the ashrams, hospitals and schools in Maharashtra.
I do wonder, how can someone be so selfless. In today’s world, people cannot give unconditional love to their near and dear ones. And here was a man who dedicted his entire life so easily for such a noble cause.
Sometimes, I feel proud to be an Indian for this reason. But, what’s the use? Question is can I do the same? Like millions of other youngsters I would naturally want to have fat-money job in some Multinational company, a handsome husband and a beautiful home. It’s so normal but so ordinary. What will set me apart is the intense desire to work for my people, to forget my own desires, to come one step closer to god, to do that which is extraordinary yet take no credit…..
But then, it takes a lot of courage. I doubt , whether I have it. I doubt, whether most of us, have it.
For millions, Baba Amte will be remembered as a great social activist, as a wonderful person, but for Anandwan residents, he has been a “mother”.
And for me, an inspiration……