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Gadge Maharaj

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.


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 this 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 (wife and 3 children) 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.


Govt Of India has announced National Award For sanitation and water in honour of him.Govt of Maharashtra also runs Sant gadge Baba Swachta abhiyan (Cleanliness Scheme).


Shri Sant Gadage Maharaj

     Most of the lower class people in villages were uneducated and poor. They worshipped khsudra gods like Maraai and Shitala Devi. Lambs, hens were sacrificed to keep the Gods happy, to cure a disease or for a good crop.

    Debuji was born in such society. Though uneducated, he fought against animal sacrifice and untouchability. He taught the importance of cleanliness and hygiene through practice. He built numerous dharmashalas, Gorakshan centers, food donation centers for handicapped and old homes all over Maharashtra.

     Debuji was the only child of Zingraji and Sakhubai. After the death of Zingraji he and his mother went to live with his maternal uncle. Within years he became an excellent farmer, herdsman, singer and swimmer.

    He was married to Kuntabai and had four children. A lover of animals, he opposed animal sacrifice since childhood. Even when his friends, relatives and the people of his caste forced him to sacrifice animals, he preferred to face their anger rather than kill the animals.

    Debuji was a very courageous man. Once a Saukar came with his guards to take hold of Debuji’s farm. Despite the fear expressed by his family and the villagers he single handedly fought them all.

    Fed up with the material world, one day he left his home. He kept wandering from village to village. He worked for alms. Took up cleaning villages. He also started building Ghats on the river Purna. Slowly people started joining him in his cleaning activity. He preached the villagers on the importance of hygiene.

    He found many followers. Among them were people like Dr. B R Ambedkar, Acharya Atre. Money started pouring in the form of donations. This was used for building activities.

    Realizing the plight of Harijans, he built a dharmashala for them in Pandharpur, Nasik, Pune, Alandi and Dehu. To stop the slaughter of cows he built a Gorakhan center in Vidarbha. He started food donation centers for the handicapped, and poor. He built homes for the old who had no place to go. He also worked for the upliftment of the people suffering from leprosy.

Source: 'Sri Gadage Maharaj' by Go. Ni. Dandekar

Sant Gadge Baba MaharajSant Gadge Baba Maharaj

Sant Gadge Baba Maharaj was the great hero of 19th century and known for his social services. He was a holy saint who worked for helpless and poor.

On 23rd of February 1876, Debuji (initial name of Gadge Baba) was born in a washerman's family of small village Shengaon of district Amravati, Maharashtra, India. He lived a life of poverty. Debuji was the only child of Zingraji and Sakhubai. After the death of Zingraji he and his mother went to live with his maternal uncle. Within years he became an excellent farmer, herdsman, singer and swimmer.

He was married to Kuntabai and had four children. A lover of animals, he opposed animal sacrifice since childhood. Even when his friends, relatives and the people of his caste forced him to sacrifice animals, he preferred to face their anger rather than kill the animals.

In starting days of his life he worked in his own field, when he lost his own land he worked as a wage labor. One day he was at a field and keeping birds away from grain. A sadhu who passes near by him, asked Gadge baba if he is the owner of the grains? This question turned Baba for realization.

After this comment of sadhu Gadge Baba knows the value of community-sharing and keeps it for his whole life time. Community-service become the base of his teachings of Baba. His teachings were -

   Give food to the hungry
   Give shelter to the needy
   Protect the environment

A public teacher, the Gadge Baba traveled from one place to another place wearing his food pan upturned on his head and carrying his trademark broom. When he entered a village, instantly start cleaning the gutters and roads of village. He also told the citizens of village that their congratulations would have to wait until his work was done. For this job, the peoples of village gave money to Baba. From this money Gadge Baba build educational institutions, dharmasalas, hospitals and animal shelters. He conducted his discourses in form of "Kirtans"(a form of discourse which includes devotional songs by Saints). In which he would emphasis on topics like service to humanity, 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.

Currently almost all organizations build by him are functioning well. On December 20th, 1956 the Great Saint left this mortal world. Even so many years have passed since his departure there is lot of following for him. Government of Maharashtra state also runs a village cleanliness programme named after him. University of Amravati was renamed as Sant Gadge Baba university.

Shri Sant Gadge Baba was the great hero of 19th century and known for his social services. He was a holy saint who worked for helpless and poor.

On 23rd of February 1876, Gadge Baba was born in a washerman's family of small village Shengaon of district Amravati, Maharashtra, India. He lived a life of poverty. In starting days of his life he worked in his own field, when he lost his own land he worked as a wage labor. One day he was at a field and keeping birds away from grain. A sadhu who passes near by him, asked Gadge baba 'if he is the owner of the grains?' This question turned Baba for realization.

After this comment of sadhu Gadge Baba knows the value of community-sharing and keeps it for his whole life time. Community-service become the base of his teachings of Baba. His teachings were:

  1. Give food to the hungry
  2. Give shelter to the needy
  3. Protect the environment

A public teacher, the Gadge Baba traveled from one place to another place wearing his food pan upturned on his head and carrying his trademark broom. When he entered a village, instantly start cleaning the gutters and roads of village. He also told the citizens of village that their congratulations would have to wait until his work was done. For this job, the peoples of village gave money to Baba. From this money Gadge Baba build educational institutions, dharmasalas, hospitals and animal shelters. He conducted his discourses in form of "Kirtans"(a form of discourse which includes devotional songs by Saints). In which he would emphasis on topics like service to humanity, 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.

Currently almost all organizations build by him are functioning well. On December 20th, 1956 the Great Saint left this mortal world. Even so many years have passed since his departure there is lot of following for him. Government of Maharashtra state also runs a villge cleanliness programme named after him. University of Amravati was renamed as Sant Gadge Baba university.