Vrindavan, 2019.01.27 (VT): Braj’s environmentalist saint, Sant Shri Ramesh Baba of Maan Mandir and the guardian angel of Radhakund’s cows, Friederike Irina Bruning (fondly known among locals as Sudevi Mata), have been honoured with one of the highest civilian honours of India, the Padma Shri.
The awards were announced on the eve of Republic Day. The honour has been conferred upon these two outstanding residents of Braj for distinguished services in the fields of social work and animal welfare.
All recipients will be felicitated by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, in March/April. A grand ceremony will be held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan where the awardees will be presented with a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
This is a moment of great pride for Braj. Vrindavan Today takes this opportunity to congratulate Baba and Sudevi Mata for the recognition of their selfless service to the cows and environment of Braj.
Often referred to as the ‘sant who uplifts Braj’, Sant Shri Ramesh Baba helped rescue many Braj pilgrimage places from dacoits and mining activities. He spearheaded a campaign to have the forest of Barsana declared as a reserved area and continues to work raise awareness about the need for conservation through his ‘Yamuna Liberation Movement’ and initiatives like including cleaning drives on his yearly Braj Mandal Parikrama tour.
Born in 1938 to a renowned astrologer Baldev Prasad Shukla and his wife, Hemeshvari Devi in Prayag, Baba’s birth chart showed that he was destined to become a Brahmachari. Once in Braj, he became the disciple of the famous saint, Priyasharan ji Maharaj.
Through Baba’s efforts, the foundation stone for Mataji Goshala was laid in 2007. Today, more than forty thousand cows are served in this Goshala which is also famous for running Asia’s biggest plant for generating gas and electricity from cow dung.
Baba is currently spearheading the construction of a veterinary hospital spread over 10 acres of land. It is expected to be complete by June.
German national, Friederike Irina Bruning (spiritual name – Sudevi Dasi) came to India as a tourist in search of a ‘guru’ in 1978. Today, she is mother to around 1800 cows – mostly abandoned, sick or injured – at the ‘Radha Surabhi Goshala’ at Radha Kund, which was founded by her in 1996.
She manages the monthly expense of Rs 22 lakh for medicine, fodder and salaries of the 90 workers mostly through rent from her property in Berlin. Many famous personalities such as UP Power minister Shrikant Sharma and BTVP vice-president Shailja Kant Misra have visited her Goshala.
It is unfortunate that, even after serving helpless cows for 38 years, she was denied an Indian Visa until recently. Her dilemma is that she cannot take Indian citizenship because doing so would cause her to lose the income on rental properties in Berlin, which she uses to run the Goshala. Hopefully, this recognition will bring her a permanent and much needed solution.
About the Padma Awards
Instituted in the year 1954, the Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service).
According to the Padma Awards official website, all persons, without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible.
All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The nomination process is open to the public. There is also a provision for self-nomination.
The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes the Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and 4-6 eminent persons. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
Persons selected for the awards are subjected to verification by the investigating
agencies of the Government with a view to ensuring that their character and history is impeccable.
This year, the conferment of 112 Padma Awards was approved by the President. The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri Awards. 21 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 11 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI, 3 posthumous awardees and 1 transgender person.