Born: December 26, 1914
Passed Away: February 9, 2008
a child born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Baba Amte later
transformed his life into a social activist. He devoted his entire life
to serve the downtrodden people of the society. He left his lucrative
profession to join India's struggle for independence. Baba Amte formed
Anandvan (Forest of Joy), to serve the people struck by leprosy. He
received many awards including the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Muralidhar Devdas Amte, popularly known as Baba Amte, was born on 26
December, 1914 in Hinganghat, Wardha district in Maharashtra. He was the
eldest son of his parents. His father was a wealthy Brahmin landowner of
Wardha district, who owned over 450 acres of good cultivable land. The
name 'Baba' was affectionately given by his parents. At a very young
age, Baba Amte owned a gun and used to hunt wild boar and deer. Later,
he went on to own an expensive sports car, cushioned with panther skin.
He studied Law and started a lucrative practice in Wardha, but was
moved by distressed condition of the poor and downtrodden classes of
society. Then he relinquished his ceremonial dress and started working
with the rag-pickers and sweepers for sometime in Chandrapura district.
Later, he resumed practicing but as a "defence lawyer" for the
leaders imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement.
Amte, like Vinoba Bhave was deeply influenced by the philosophy of
Mahatma Gandhi. Amte was a constant follower of Gandhiji and practiced
various aspects of Gandhism for his entire life.
In 1946, Baba Amte married Sadhana Guleshastri. She was also a believer
of humanity and always supported Baba Amte in his social works. She was
popularly known as Sadhnatai. 'Tai' in Marathi language means "elder
sister". After pursuing a leprosy orientation course at the
Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, Baba Amte set up 11 weekly clinics
and started working for those struck by leprosy. Later in 1951, Baba
Amte was given 250 acres of land by the state government on which Amte
founded the Anandvan ashram. Inside the ashram premises, two hospitals,
a university, an orphanage and a school for the blind were opened.
Amte's role in Narmada Bachao Andolan
1990, Baba Amte left Anandvan to join Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao
Andolan (Save Narmada Movement). While leaving Anandvan Baba said, "I
am leaving to live along the Narmada... Narmada will linger on the lips
of the nation as a symbol of all struggles against social injustice."
In place of the dams, the Narmada Bachao Andolan demanded for an energy
and water strategy based on improving dry farming technology, watershed
development, small dams, lift schemes for irrigation and drinking water,
and improved efficiency and utilization of existing dams.
Baba Amte on Youth
Baba wanted the youth to enlighten themselves with knowledge so that
they can understand the meaning and importance of India's freedom. Baba
had once said, "We must try to understand this power contained in
the roots of trees. Only when you will understand this phenomenon, will
you find the courage to embrace adventure and perform what needs to be
done. Those who want to bring about creative revolution must fully
understand this root phenomenon."
The work of Baba Amte, was unanimously praised by many national and
international organizations. He was awarded with the United Nations
Human Rights Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay award (1985), the Templeton
Prize(1990), the Gandhi Peace Prize, and many other humanitarian and
environmental prizes. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is often considered as
the "Nobel Prize of Asia".
In 2007, Baba Amte was diagnosed with leukemia. After suffering for
more than a year, Amte left his mortal body on 9 February, 2008 at
Anandvan. Many renowned faces from across the world expressed
condolences at the death of the great soul. Unlike Hindu rituals, the
body of Baba Amte was buried not cremated.