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Sant Gadge Baba

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Sant Gadge Baba

Debuji Zhingraji Janorkar (February 23, 1876 – December 20, 1956) popularly known as Sant Gadge Maharaj or Gadge Baba (Hindi: गाडगे बाबा) was a saintly social reformer, a wandering mendicant who held weekly festivals with the help of his disciples across Maharashtra. His reforms and visions for villages in India is still a source of inspiration for various political parties and non-government organizations.

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Life and career

His original name was Davidas Debuji. Maharaj was born in Shedgaon village in Anjangaon Surji Taluka in Amravati District of Maharashtra to a Dhobi family. A public teacher, he traveled from one place to another wearing his food pan upturned on his head and carrying his trademark broom. When he entered a village, he would instantly start cleaning the gutters and roads of the village. He also told the citizens of the village that their congratulations would have to wait until his work was done. Villagers gave him money, babaji use that for progress of physical as well as thinking of society. From the money, Maharaj built educational institutions, dharmasalas, hospitals and animal shelters.

He conducted his discourses in the form of "Kirtans" (a form of discourse which includes devotional songs by Saints) in which he would emphasize values like service to humanity and compassion. During his Kirtans, he would educate people against blind faiths and rituals. He would use Dohas (couplets of a song) by Saint Kabir in his discourses.

He exhorted people to stop animal sacrifice as part of religious rituals and campaigned against vices such as alcohol abuse.

He tried to embody the values that he preached: hard work, simple living and selfless service to the poor. He abandoned his family (a wife and threechildren) to pursue this path.[1]

Death and Legacy

Maharaj died on December 20, 1956 on his way to Amravati, on the banks of river Pedhi near Valgaon.

The Government of India has started a 'Sant Gadgebaba Swachata Abhiyan' in 2000-01 in his honour. This programme awards prizes to villagers, who maintain clean villages.

He was one of the great social reformers of Maharashtra. He was a saint who understood problems of his people and worked untiringly for upliftment of the poor and needy with focus on hygiene.

The government of India has announced National Award for Sanitation and water in honour of him.

References

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