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Baba Amte and his Anandwan by Lakshmi Bhat

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  • I was in the Library yesterday evening, reading The Readers Digest.
    I was reading about Baba Amte. It brought back to my mind the
    book I had read about him a few years ago.
    It was ' Wisdom Song ,The Life of Baba Amte' by Neesha Mirchandani.

    Over the years I had been reading about Baba Amte and his activities,
    appreciated all that was going on, but then it was something happening
    elsewhere. It was something we read in the newspapers.
    We were busy with our own life.
    P L Deshpande , the distinguished playwright had told the author,
    “Once Baba Amte gets under your skin, you will never be the same again” .
    It is so very true.He is one of a kind.But, in spite of his greatness and
    all his achievements,he is so very human,with all human frailties and
    strengths. We can relate to him so very easily.

    "I don't confuse greatness with perfection. To be great anyhow is…
    the higher achievement."
    Lois McMaster Bujold, "Mirror Dance"

    Baba has said ,“ From my childhood, I have always aspired to enjoy
    every moment of life to the fullest extent. I have explored both the
    bright side and the dark underbelly ; enjoyed its piety and its sinfulness;
    its most conventional and its wildest aspect... In whatever I did,I aspired
    to climb to the summit; but never cared to linger thereafter. I soon realized
    that once I reached the top, the inevitable descent begins.”

    Baba Amte is renowned in India as an action–oriented humanitarian
    and environmentalist. A combination of a dreamer and achiever,
    Baba Amte defies definition.

    Baba Amte entered this world with a silver spoon in his mouth on
    26th Dec 1914, in a patriarchal family of Brahmin landowers in Central India.

    Baba had unequivocal love and admiration for his mother, Laxmibai .
    He said, “ My mother was a courageous woman. She was my heroine.”
    Baba considers himself extremely fortunate to have been raised by a
    mother who was different from the rule-abiding women of her time.
    Laxmibai suffered from mental illness, but it never interfered with her
    ability to love her children.
    Baba used to say of his mother, “ My mother taught me how to remain
    sane in an insane world during her insanity.”
    He said that his mother, even while she was confined to a mental
    hospital had taught him the importance of taking responsibility.
    He learned to appreciate so many everyday heroines and heroines
    because his mother had showed him the way.

    From his childhood,Baba often spent his free time wandering around,
    meeting farmers and village folk in the rural backwaters around his
    home. He never took the main road, preferring instead to cut through
    the forest or finding some back road known only to the locals.

    His various childhood experiences helped him realize the gulf between
    the rich and the poor.“ The microscopic look at village life taught me to
    hear the heartbeat 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.”

    Sadhana tai in her own traditional way, is Baba's equal partner.The sheer
    force of her willpower and the strength that she has brought to each of
    Baba's endeavours has been vital in making them successful.
    Standing next to Baba Amte is Sadhana tai, a woman of incredible
    courage and tenacity.
    Anandwan is as much a testimony to her vision and lifelong action,
    as it is to Baba Amte's.The inhabitants of Anandwan see Tai as
    Baba's strength.
    Baba says, “Her love is my eternal inspiration.”
    He always says at the end that he is not ashamed to admit that
    much of his wisdom comes from his wife.
    His life has been an inspiration to so many.

    My friend has told me a lot about Anandwan, she her cousins go
    there whenever they can.
    They tat laces and make beautiful things ,like greeting cards ,
    flowers, photo frames, sell them and send the money they get to
    Anandwan. This gives them a lot more satisfaction.

    Baba Amte passed away in 2008 and his work is being continued
    by his children and grandchildren.
    His legacy lives on.
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