Service and giving lie at the heart of Pujya Bapa’s existence. V.S. Datta, a well known journalist, after meeting Pujya Bapa in India described him in a most fitting manner “The saint who gives everything and asks for nothing in return except the boon to serve more and more people with his divine spirit of service”
Pujya Rambapa’s service work over the past sixty years has been tremendous. As he gathered further support in the UK in the early 1980’s he began the “Kumbh Mela Seva Projects”, where under the auspices of the Maruti Rambaba Seva Trust, Pujya Bapa established food, clothing and medical camps caring for thousands of holy men, pilgrims and the needy as they made their way across India to bathe in the sacred Ganges at the time of the Kumbh Mela festivals, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
Pujya Bapa receives guests at Kumbh Mela, Haridwar, 1998
These camps usually lasting one month would serve on average eight to ten thousand people a day, the majority of whom were underprivileged. Guests would be served a full meal made with the best ingredients. No one was turned away and in addition thousands of shirts, trousers, sweatshirts, woollen jumpers, shoes and blankets were also distributed to those in need and medical check ups provided as necessary.
Pujya Bapa’s, known as Maruti Ram Baba in India has attended seventeen Kumbh and Magmas melas over the years, with the last camp established at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2001. At this time Pujya Bapa’s camp was accounting for over a fifth of the daily feeding output of the sixty voluntary food camps.
Pujya Bapa with local children at the site of his food camp, Allahabad, 1993
A Channel 4 documentary team visited Pujya Bapa’s food camp on a number of occasions in 2001 and wrote the following report “Here at the Kumbh, over 60 voluntary organisations are feeding nearly fifty thousand devotees on a daily basis. Bhandaras, consume a major chunk of the raw food materials of the Uttar Pradesh state during the Mela period. Yogesh Sharma, the main chef in Maruti Ram Baba’s camp says, up to 14,000 pilgrims are fed on a daily basis in the camp, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. About half a ton of Basmati rice, puris made out of 500 kilograms of flour, along with vegetables and sweets prepared in similar proportions, are served to the pilgrim masses every day.
Pujya Bapa oversees the preparation of food at the Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, 2001
We never stop anybody from coming in to have food even past the closing time, says Maruti Ram Baba, We feed them because, according to Hindu scriptures, God could be present anywhere and in any form, probably under the garb of an ordinary devotee in my camp. An amazing feat just in sheer physical terms, the cooking goes on in 12-hour shifts in scorching kitchens - motivated, it seems, by faith alone: Chote lal, one of the cooks, comments I have been coming for the last nine years to the Mela to render my service as a cook in these free food centres. It is a form of penance to me. Besides the free dining centres, charitable services are also extend to medical aid posts providing treatment like Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Allopathy to scores of devotees - miles from their homes. The scale of generosity here almost defies comprehension.
Pujya Bapa, his wife Kanta Baa and daughter Bhartidevi Kantaria at the opening of a Gauashala, Gujarat 2008
In addition to his two trusts, Rambapa Jignyasu Seva Trust (UK) and Maruti Rambaba Seva Trust (India) he is the patron of Divya Seva Foundation (UK) founded by his daughter Bhartidevi Kantaria. Divya Seva Foundation works with disadvantaged children, orphans and the elderly to provide them with better education, medical treatment, clothing and an improved community and spiritual life. In December 2008 Pujya Bapa was in Gujarat, India where on behalf of Divya Seva Foundation he opened a new charitable wing and Gavshala at Healthyways hospital and donated a number of murtis to establish mandirs across Gujarat including the establishment of a new mandir for railway workers in Surat.
Pujya Bapa continues to inspire and guide a large number of seva projects around the world run by his family and devotees.