Godman with a difference who is hands-on


Known as Lord Rama’s land, Ayodhya is home to a large number of Babas or Hindu saints and sadhus, who have built sprawling `ashrams' and offer ‘puja’ or ritulai stic worship at temples.  They are revered by the devotees and enjoy a socio-spiritual status in society.
But this Baba is different from the rest of his tribe. Like the others of his fraternity, he neither visits temples nor runs an ashram in the temple city.

Instead he is seen at the ghats of the holy Saryu River taking out the pollutants from it or cleaning the `nullahs' or gutters of the town.

No wonder the people of the town know him not by his name Mahant Ramsharan Das but as ‘Safai Baba’, whose only mission is to see a clean Ayohdya and the Saryu, which is the temple town’s identity.

Das has been engaged in this mission for the past five decades and he is all alone in his mission. His ritual starts from early morning when he spots garbage at any place in the town. “My mission is to recite the name of Lord Rama and ensure the welfare of others”, the mahant says.

Whether it was sewerage blockage on the road leading to the popular Kanak Bhavan temple or the garbage dump at the busy Hanumangarhi crossing or even the plastic bag-filled nullah or gutter near the town hospital, the Safai Baba was there to do his bit.
Also the large number of monkeys has always been a big problem in the temple town. Many a times, these monkeys throw away the food pattals (a plate made of leaves) on the roads, so the Baba could also be seen collecting the pattals and disposing them of properly.

“Ayodhya is visited by lakhs of devotees and pilgrims around the year and hence the town has become increasingly polluted...garbage could be seen littered in the streets and outside temples and ashrams with no one to dispose it", he said.

While the people have no civic sense, the civic authorities in the town are understaffed and underpaid and so they do not take interest in disposing the garbage, he adds.
The Baba, incidentally, draws inspiration from Goswami Tulsi Das's epic ‘Ram Charit Manas’. A character in the epic Angad, the son of Sugreeva, had offered to do the work of cleaning only to live in the town of Ayodhya so that he remained closer to Lord Ram, he says. “I wish to attain moksha (salvation) while I continue serving mankind in my own way”, the Mahant says.   

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