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About Gadge Baba [ 1876-1956 ] Biography & Life History Of Gadge Maharaj | Saint Gadge baba Biography

A great saintly reformist who strived for the material as well as spiritual upliftment of the poor and to eliminate superstition, illiteracy and unsanitary conditions

About Gadge Baba | Biography & Life History Of Gadge Maharaj | Saint Gadge baba Biography

Early Life Of Saint Gadge Baba

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.

B. R. Ambedkar, Bhaurao Patil with Gadge Maharaj Baba
B. R. Ambedkar, Bhaurao Patil with Gadge Maharaj Baba

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 Untouchable, 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.

Birth Anniversary of Saint Gadge baba Birth: 23 February, 1876

Gadge Maharaj was born in the village Shengaon in Amravati district. His full name was Debuji Jhingraji Janorkar. He grew up at his maternal grandmother’s place in Dapuri in Murtizapur taluka. His maternal uncle owned large acres of farmland. As a child, he had interest in farming and especially loved caring for cattle.

Married Life of Saint Gadge Baba

He was married in 1892. During the celebration of his daughter’s naming ceremony, he had served a pure vegetarian meal with a sweet, instead of their community’s traditional liquor and meat menu. Gadge Maharaj was always prompt in offering a helping hand to anybody in need in the village, and was the first to volunteer for any work. Thus, he mutely set an example before the villagers that everyone should work together on projects that benefit the community.

On 1st February 1905, he renounced his worldly life and accepted the life of an ascetic. He travelled extensively and visited many pilgrimages. Even during his travel, he persisted with his vow of serving the people. He would himself rush to the aid of anyone he found in need of help. After rendering the help, without accepting anything in return, he would be quietly on his way again. He would perennially keep a broom by his side. 

His attire constituted of some torn clothes, a woollen blanket and a broken pot (Gadge) in his hand, which prompted people to call him GadgeBaba (Baba = father, addressed in respect). The moment he entered a village, he would sweep it clean with his broom. He strived continuously to inculcate community hygiene and to eradicate superstitious beliefs from the society.

Gadge Baba As A Social Reformer

He devoted his entire life in eradicating ignorance, blind faith, innocent beliefs and improper traditions from the society. He used the media of Kirtan towards this goal. In his Kirtan, he would question the audience to make them aware of their ignorance, bad qualities and behavioural traits. His sermons would be simple and straightforward. His sermons would include simple lessons like don’t steal, don’t take loans from moneylenders, don’t become addicts, don’t kill animals in the name of god and religion, don’t follow caste differentiation and social quarantining.

He tried to imprint on the common man’s mind that God was in human beings and not in a stone idol. He considered Saint Tukaram Maharaj as his Guru. At the same time he would proclaim that he himself was not a Guru to anyone, nor did he have any disciples. To get his message across to the common man, he would use the colloquial language, especially the Vidharba dialect.

He made ample use of Saint Tukaram’s Abhanga (devotional songs) in his Kirtan. Prabodhankar Thackeray, who wrote Gadgebaba’s biography, had this to say - "He would entrance people from all walks of life, from the village ignoramus to the slick urbanites, and convince them of his ideology. I find myself incapable of accurately describing his Kirtan".

He established religious schools at religious places, (charitable rest houses for travellers) dispensaries for the poor, embankments on the banks of religious river confluences, homes for the orphans and the handicapped, and served the lepers.

It is said about Maharashtra’s saint tradition, that Saint Dnyandev laid its foundation and Saint Tukaram laid the last brick in it. Saint Gadgebaba, with his lifetime achievements, hoisted the flag of Karmayog (an ascetic who showed the path towards God through social service) on this establishment in the 20th century. Acharya Atre has appropriately called him an enormous platform for Maharashtra’s socialism.

The Samadhi of this great man, proactive social reformer, with a deep faith in Karmayog, who popularized the devotional song Gopala Gopala DevakiNandan Gopala, is in Amravati district.

Death Anniversary Of Gadge Baba, Death: 20 December, 1956

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 Swachta Abhiyan' in 2000-01 in his honour. This programme awards prizes to villagers, who maintain clean villages.


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.

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