definition of Wikipedia
|Murlidhar Devidas Amte|
December 26, 1914|
Hinganghat, Maharastra, British India
|Died||9 February 2008
Anandwan, Maharastra, India
|Children||Dr. Vikas Amte
Dr. Prakash Amte
Murlidhar Devidas Amte (December 26, 1914 – February 9, 2008), popularly known as Baba Amte (Marathi: बाबा आमटे), was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy.
Amte was born to Devidas and Laxmibai Amte in the town of Hinganghat in Wardha District of Maharashtra. The family was a wealthy jagirdar Brahmin family. His father was also a British official with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection. Amte had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood.
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." (as explained by his wife Sadhanatai)
As the eldest son of a wealthy Brahmin landowner, Murlidhar had an idyllic childhood. By the time he was fourteen, Baba owned his own gun and hunted boar and deer. He developed a special interest in cinema, wrote reviews for the film magazine The Picture Goer and even corresponded with Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. (Norma Shearer would become one of his first foreign donors when he began working with leprosy patients.) When he was old enough to drive, Baba was given a Singer sportscar with cushions covered with panther skin! But even then, Amte did not appreciate the restrictions that prevented him from playing with the 'low-caste' servants' children.
"There is a certain callousness in families like mine." Baba says. "They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it." 
Trained in law, Amte developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from the British Raj, and fggghg started acting as a defense lawyer for leaders of the Indian freedom movement whom the British authorities had imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He spent some time at Sevagram ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, and became a follower of Gandhism for the rest of his life. He practiced various aspects of Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi.
Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notable among which were generating public awareness of importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
In 1946, Amte married Sadhana Ghule. She actively participated in her husband's social work with equal dedication. Their two sons, Dr. Vikas Amte (born 1947) and Dr. Prakash Amte, and two daughters-in-law, Dr. Mandakini and Dr. Bharati, are all doctors. All four have dedicated their lives to social work and causes similar to those of the senior Amte.
Son Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Mandakini run a school and a hospital at Hemalkasa village in the underprivileged district of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where people belonging to the "Madia Gond" tribe live. After marrying Prakash, Mandakini left her governmental medical job and moved to Hemalkasa to eventually start a hospital, a school, and an orphanage for injured wild animals, including a lion and some leopards. Their two sons, Digant, a doctor, and Aniket, an engineer, have also dedicated their lives to the same causes as their parents. In 2008, Prakash and Mandakini were given the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.
In those days, leprosy was associated with social stigma and the society disowned people suffering from leprosy. There was also a widespread misbelief that leprosy was contagious. Amte strove to dispel the misbelief and once allowed bacilli from a leprosy patient to be injected into him while participating in an experimental test aimed at proving that leprosy was not contagious.
Today, Anandwan and Hemalkasa village have one hospital, each. Anandwan has a university, an orphanage, and schools for the blind and the deaf. Currently, the self-sufficient Anandwan ashram has over 5,000 residents. The community development project at Anandwan in Maharashtra is recognized around the world. Besides Anandwan, Amte later founded "Somnath" and "Ashokwan" ashrams for treating leprosy patients.
I sought my soul, my soul I could not see;
I sought my God, my God eluded me;
I sought my brother and found all three.
Amte followed Gandhi's way of living and taru, and led a spartan life. He wore khadi clothes made from the looms at Anandwan. He believed in Gandhi's concept of a self-sufficient village industry that empowers seemingly helpless people, and successfully brought his ideas into practice at Anandwan.
Amte also used Gandhian principles to fight against corruption, mismanagement, and poor, shortsighted planning in the government. Thus, he used non-violent means to fight the Indian government in the fight of independence.
In spite of his emulation of social and political work, unlike Gandhi, Amte was an atheist.
In 1990, Amte left Anandwan for a while to live along the Narmada River and join Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan ("Save Narmada" Movement), which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment on account of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river.
Upon Amte's death, the 14th Dalai Lama, said, "Amte's demise is a great loss to all of us. I am an admirer of Baba Amte. I vividly remember my visit to his thriving community of handicapped people at Anandwan in 1990".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Baba Amte|
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