Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Baba Amte- The modern Buddha

Monday, January 15, 2007

Baba Amte: The Modern Buddha

(This is an attempt to make people familiar about the work done by Baba and Sadhanatai Amte for the leprosy patients in India. Those who wish to know more can visit the links at the end of the blog.)

About 2500 years ago, a young prince from the kingdom of Koshala saw a crippled man, a diseased man and a decaying corpse. The sight changed his whole life. This man sought to remove old age, disease and death from the world. He penanced, he sufferred and he meditated and found out the ultimate truth of existence. He declared desire to be the rootcause of all sorrow, and preached renunciation. This man became Buddha.

About 60 years ago, in a newly-independent India, a young lawyer and landlord saw a decaying man sufferring from leprosy, with hands and feet dacaying. So revolted was he by the sight and smell, that he simply turned his face away and left the place as fast as he could. But the memory of the incident will not leave him. For months, he thought of the plight of the leprosy patient and his own helplessness in the matter. That one sight changed his whole life.

"Would I have done the same had it been my wife or children?" was the only thought in his mind. So deep was the impact that he got trained to treat leprosy patients. He received formal training to treat them, diagnose, treat ulcers, administer injections, remove the decomposing bones and give drugs. From then, treating leprosy was his aim. He established a colony for leprosy patients named 'Maharog Seva Samiti' or Leprosy Relief Society. The first settlers were Baba, his wife Sadhanatai, six patients and a cow.

Baba, however, had a different approach towards 'relief'. His aim was 'Work builds, charity destroys'. His aim was not to simply treat the patients, but instead to make them self-sufficient. He not only made them well, but also taught them simple jobs which made the once-dying patients stand on their feet. The whole colony of lepers is self-sufficient in most of its needs. The patients intermarry within the colony, grow vegetables, make handicrafts and their Anandvan or the 'house of bliss' is a self-sufficient village.

What is most impressive about Baba's life is his outlook towards it. His initial 30 or so years of life are not different than many people. But it is the courage, the fearlessness, the love for fellow humans and the willingness to go as far as required for the welfare of those who need you is what distinguishes him from many other people. Apart from the Anandwan, he has been a great worker in many social fields and won numerous awards for the same.

At 92 today, Baba is a great inspiration. Not only has his wife, Sadhanatai, been at his side through all times, but both his sons, Vikas and Prakash, along with their families are involved in the same work as Baba.

Unlike Buddha, Baba does not claim to have found answers to life's questions. But he still shows a way. In his own words, "I don't want to be a great leader, I want to be a man who goes around with a little oil can and when he sees a breakdown offers his help." Baba has provided light to thousands of people and inspired millions others to atleast take a footstep towards the path of compassion.

Both Baba and Buddha teach love and compassion. Buddha taught the Four Immeasurables; Baba, by his work, has done the same. In the words which he says inspire him the most,
"I sought my soul, My soul I could not see.
I sought my God, My God eluded me.
I sought my brother, I found all three."

May we all be able to find our brothers. May we all follow the path shown by Baba in his life.

(This is an extremely short version of Baba's life and work. Follow the following links to find more about him. )

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