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Baba Amte showed way to become Karmayogi

Among very few karmayogis of the last century in this world, we can think of late Baba Amte, who has revolutionised the India’s movement on eradicating and rehabiliting people sufferring from leprosy which is seen as a curse to humanity.

By Arttabandhu Mishra
Among very few karmayogis of the last century in this world, we can think of late Baba Amte, who has revolutionised the India's movement on eradicating and rehabiliting people sufferring from leprosy which is seen as a curse to humanity.

Due to the impact of the scriptures and belief system in India, the people of the country believe that to be born as a human being is a rare event and further to be born without any deformity is rarer.

It is also rare to get chance of acquiring knowledge and education and is still rare to practice ‘tapa' as a yogi.  One of our great teachers and yogis, Swami Vivekananda had said, "I don't care for liberation, I would rather go to a hundred hells, doing good to others (silently) like the spring—this is my religion."

Swamijee has elaborately and eloquently spoken and written on ‘Karma Yoga'. Among very few karmayogis of the last century in this world, we can think of late Baba Amte.

I am unfortunate that I could never meet or talk to him, when I was in Anandawana for a week while he was in Narmada area. But, I was impressed when I read and heard about him during my childhood.

At that time, he was presiding the scavengers union of Warona, and was learning their work to cleaning toilets himself—what can I call him other than a Karmayogi?

When I was a one year old boy, Baba was taking a course in the school of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta, and after acquiring up to date knowledge about the disease (Leprosy) he almost offered himself as an experimental animal.

When the world hated people suffering from leprosy, lepers were planning to treat and rehabilitate these people through creative work for their self support and livelihood with dignity and self respect.

While in Anandawana, I learnt that he was offered a patch of rocky and unproductive land, which under his creative leadership has been transformed over time to a patch of most productive land supporting 3,000 thousand affected and cured leprosy patients.

I was learning how Baba proved that impossible is a word only found in the dictionary of not only the fools but the idlers also. I met many so called useless and unwanted human beings busy in doing almost everything possible in their reach.

I was stunned to learn that the so called ‘Maharogis' (Leprotics) are contributing to run two colleges from their modest income to prove that they are not inferior to any one.

This again taught me that Baba is not only a Karmayogi himself, but also a mentor who has created a population of Karmayogis who could toil for 18 hours a day under the scorching sun to transform a rocky land to an abode of pleasant living.

It was very hard for me to believe that the Panchayat purchases only salt, sugar and oil from the outside and produces rest of the commodities the village people consume.

During my stay in Anandabana, I was busy in drafting an alternate forest policy with a number of other participants from almost all parts of India.

My discussions with Vikash, son of Baba, were informative, as I came to know about other project successfully running like Ashokawan Somanath and Hemalkasha.

Vikash guided me to a hall where I discovered the attractive wood works of another Karmayogi, late Chandramani, who was unwanted and rejected from his family and community of my own state (Orissa). Chandramani is a homeopath also and has trained many people.

Relaxing in my room and trying to imagine how Baba could have managed his day to day work over the last four decades, I remembered that "Inch by inch anything is a cinch and yard by yard everything is too hard."

As per the common notion, behind every successful man there is a woman. Therefore, the role played by Maa Sadhana, wife of Baba, through her real ‘Sadhana' to bring out karmayogis out of Baba, and sons Vikash, Prakash and her daughters in law cannot be underestimated.

The posterity of Amtes has miles to go before they sleep. They have their own dreams, aspirations, innovative projects in mind and on hands along with some unfinished wishes of Baba.

I am sure that almighty will be very kind to them and provide them everything they need to build models that would go on teaching the people of this world that India has everything which the future of humanity needs.

In the words of RA de J Hart, the ‘Design for a world', that Baba founded will be developed by the posterity.

—The Author is an environmentalist, a social activist and professor at Sambalpur University in Orissa

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