Author: Neesha Mirchandani
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174364358
Born into privilege and wealth, Murlidhar Devidas Amte was a maverick who wanted to live life to the fullest. He realized early on that he had to live, not for himself, but for others -or else all his privilege, position and superior personal qualities would be mere tinsel.
The pioneering commune at Anandwan, where those affected by leprosy could live with dignity and pride; the Bharat Jodo marches across the length and breadth of India to promote national unity and harmony; the decade-long vigil by the Narmada river in solidarity with those at the receiving end of state-sponsored environmental devastation – Baba Amte did this and much more, coping the whole time with a crippling spinal degenerative disease. The countless lives transformed by three generations of the Amte family are shining testimonials to the magnitude of Baba Amte’s vision, and the indomitable spirit which made that vision real.
With in-depth conversations with Baba, and interviews with many of his close friends and family, this biography is equally a record of the collective memory of those who have known him best. What emerges is an intimate portrait of one of the few individuals in our times who have embodied the cherished ideals of compassion and selfless service.
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 aspects… 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. I hunted tigers not from a safe perch in a tree, but from a few paces away, on the ground. When I drank, it was straight from the bottle, and not by peg measures. When I stopped drinking, I never touched a drop thereafter. I ate meat every day and when I realized that it amounted to the living eating the dead, I gave it up permanently.
I have never been frightened of anything. Because I fought British Tommies to save the honour of an Indian lady, Gandhiji called me abhay sadhak– fearless seeker of truth. When the sweepers of Warora challenged me to clean gutters, I did so. But that same person who fought goondas and British bandits quivered in fright when he saw the living corpse of Tulshiram, no fingers, no clothes, with maggots all over. That is why I took up leprosy work. Not to help anyone, but to overcome that fear in my life. That it worked out good for others was a by-product. But the fact is I did it to overcome fear.
PART I: THE MAKING OF BABA AMTE
Birth of Hope in a Time of War (1914)
Mad Son of a Mad Mother (1914-32)
Impetuous Youth (1933-43)
Coming of Age (1943-46)
PART II: THE LEGACY OF BABA AMTE: ACTION
Maharogi Sewa Samiti
PART III: THE LEGACY OF BABA AMTE: ADVOCACY
Baba, Advocate for the Masses
Inchampalli & Bhopalpatnam (1984)
Bharat Jodo I (Kanyakumari to Kashmir, 1985-86)
Punjab Peace-by-Peace Missions (1986-87)
Bharat Jodo II (Itanagar to Okha, 1987-88)
Defending a Sacred River (1990-2000)
Pakistan Calling (2000)
Part IV: The Wisdom of Baba Amte
The Written and the Spoken Word
A Vision for Authentic Development
LIST OF INTERVIEWEES