I sought my Lover, My Lover I could not see…
I sought my Friend, My Friend eluded me.
I sought my Husband, and I found all three…
Born on May 5, 1926 in an orthodox Brahmin family of GhuleShastri of Nagpur, Indu (now Sadhana Amte)was third of the six siblings. While much has been written about Baba Amte, Sadhana Tai was inseparable and faced all the struggles of his life. Through all these trying times, she never lost her smile and charm as the compassionate person.
For some years, Baba roamed the Himalayas as an ascetic with matted locks and practiced Yoga. Although goaded by an inner voice to take to the path of Karma-Yoga, for some time he feigned a vow of celibacy to secure himself from the pressures of unsuitable marriage proposals from big families.Once, at a family wedding, he saw Indu, the younger sister of the day’s bride, silently engrossed in helping an overburdened servant woman. He was highly impressed by the compassion for the lowly, the dedication to work and the courage to break conventions of this simple and silent girl which become plainly evident from this act of hers. He was quick to discern that she was no ordinary girl and that she would be to him the perfect life-partner. Without any inhibitions, this till-then-ascetic, at once, made his intentions known to the mother of the girl. It took her mother and the others a while to digest this shocking but pleasurable truth. But the girl, Indu, had just no reservations in accepting this extra adventurous and out-of-the-ordinary young man as her husband. So, on the 18thof December 1946, their marriage got solemnized.
An excerpt from a letter Baba wrote to her at that juncture explains why he chose to change his mind to give up celibacy for matrimony: "You are a selfless, loving and hardworking girl. These qualities have won me over more than beauty would have." In his characteristic style, he added that an intelligent girl like her should find some direction in her life. Narrating this,Sadhana Tai once said, "Little did I realise that marrying him would change the direction of my life so much. There was not even a pagdandi (track) in our life."
Ever since, she had been a great source of inspiration, strength and support to Baba in all his activities. It was with the support and help offered by Sadhana Tai that the young Amte boldly gave up his legal practice, renounced all his property and set up the Shramashram (Hermitage of Labour) for inter-caste living and manual work which was to become a forerunner to all his future projects including Anandwan.While, Baba organized the social outcastes into unions, cooperatives and societies to improve their abysmal socio-economic conditions, Sadhana Tai spent her time tending to the harijan women and children and fending off a plague of poisonous snakes and scorpions around the cooking area and under the cot. She had to even pay the severe price of exile from her own family for this living with the outcasts. But without any regrets, without any stepping back, with selfless dedication she ever walked forward with her husband and remained the silent spirit behind all his missions.
As a tribute to her greatness, at even National and International award presentation ceremonies, Baba would always start his acceptance speech by firstly addressing his wife as “Saubhagyavati (Mrs.) Sadhana” rather than start by addressing such honourable dignitaries as ‘the President’, ‘the Prime Minister’ etc. Her autobiography ‘Samidha’ speaks of the sublime relationship that existed between the two.
Sadhana Tai’s life was saga of struggles, struggles against the infirmities of the mind of man, struggles against the cruelties of the world. Her life was a poem in action; beautiful poem of selfless service, of creative compassion, of unflinching faith, of determination, love and peace. On 9 July 2011, she bid the world the final adieu after accomplishing much, after paving a new path, after entrusting her succeeding generations with a lot of duties and social responsibilities. Through her work and wisdom, through her ideas and ideals, she’s ever alive.