Sant Gadge baba ‘Swachata abhiyan’

Sant Gadge Maharaj

Gadge maharaj or gadge baba was a saintly social reformer. His vision for the villages continues to be a source of inspiration for many political parties. He was born on February 23, 1876.  Tomorrow i.e. December 20th happens to be his ‘barsi’. He died on this day in 1956.

What was unique with this saintly reformer? He motivated people to stop animal sacrifice as a part of religious rituals. He campaigned against alcohol and drug abuse. However, the most important facet of his reforms was his ‘swachta abhiyan’. He would travel from village to village and encourage them to maintain cleanliness. His influential ways won him a large following.

What is more important is that he inspired villagers to follow “do it yourself mode”. In this, the villagers would not look for outside help- financial or otherwise. They would collect the resources and keep the village clean themselves.

The Government of India has announced National award for sanitation and water in his honour. The abhiyan or campaign does not offer any funds. However, it offers very attractive prizes to the villages who achieve first three ranks. Dressed in attire which invoked attention, Baba carried a broom in his hands. So did his followers. On arrival in any village, he would lead his followers to start cleaning the street briskly. The villagers would do the same enthusiastically. Famously, he would repeat the following words:

“Give food to the hungry, shelter to the needy, clothes to the naked, protection to animal and trees, aid for girls’ marriages. Further, he would say ‘live clean and simple, stop intoxicants and care for the environment’. With these simple words he was able to create large number of admirers. It is heartening to note that 33,000 out of the total of 42,000 villages in Maharashtra have stepped forward to participate in the Gadge Maharaj Swachta Abhiyan. There are good prizes to be won by the villages. Three cash prizes in each district – Rs.5 lakhs , Rs. 3 lakhs and Rs. 2 lakhs. Besides, the best village in the entire state gets a prize of Rs. 25 lakhs. The second gets Rs 15lakhs and the 3rd – Rs 10 lakhs from the chief minister on Maharashtra State on the 1st of May. The villagers can spend the prize money on a project of their choice which benefits the entire village.

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The procedure for judging the villages is also very interesting. There are checks and balances in the selection and judging process. In fact, the Criteria for assessment of villages is so elaborate that the judges have to consider as many as 85 criteria.

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In fact, it is a lesson for us in the metros and large cities. If residents of cities adopt same ‘do it yourself’ mode our cities would be far more clean.

Thank you for reading.

Duty First!

Bhagwad Gita

Chapter 3 of the Bhagwad Gita is about ‘Karamyoga.’

The Discourse deals with the importance of keeping oneself engaged in an activity related to one’s duty. If further explains that no one can ever remain idle. You may not engaged in physical activity, but you can never make your mind stand still. The mind will always be engaged in some kind of activity even when you are sleeping. You may not be aware of this. But the mind never sleeps. Through out this chapter, in fact throughout the great wisdom book, it is emphasized that everyone must keep on performing their duty.

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The western thoughts lay a lot of stress in the process of visualization. Some people may call it dreaming in the day. The best selling book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne particularly stresses that you can achieve anything in life, if you repeatedly visualize the achievement. There lies the rub. You may be confused what is better? Which school of thought is more suitable? In fact, when Rhonda or any other thinker talks about visualization, they are not recommending to enjoy the pleasures of achievement mentally. And that is what Bhagwad Gita prohibits human beings – not to enjoy achievements mentally. The emphasis is on work. Likewise, western thinkers also lay emphasis on work. The repeated visualization is suggested only to reinforce your determination. Once you are determined to succeed, there is no stopping. You may have problems on the way, but you are bound to reach your goals sooner or later.

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Napoleon Hill, author of the famous book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, says, “The human mind can believe, The human mind can achieve.” Further he asks, “what do we mean by belief? Wishing won’t making it so….” A wish is not a belief.

Another great achiever, Steeve Jobs has been laying emphasis on implementing the ideas. According to him, thinking out-of-the-box is necessary, but putting it into practice is extremely important. About him it was said “he works from the gut and intuitively”.

Steven Covey

More recently, Steven Covey, author of the famous book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, advises everyone to be proactive. According to him, being proactive is the first habit which anyone who wants to progress should inculcate. He starts his chapter in this context with a beautiful quotation from Henry David Thoreau which reads as,

“I know of know more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious Endeavour.

To me it appears that all these great achievers were inspired by the above referred chapter of the Bhagwad Gita. In this regard, I had also written a poem called duty first which I am repeating below:

Duty First:

Row the boat of ‘duty’
Sail safely across the sea.
Search through your mind
What your duty can be.

Never is there a situation
Nor any circumstance
That could ever affect your intention
Of duty; you want to perform.

Hindrances, hurdles even hurricane
May hurt or shake your resolve.
With devotion to your duty;
Greater courage will evolve.

Duty first, always in mind
Greater joy; you will never find.

Thanks for reading!

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