Today we bring you the tale of #ForgottenHeroes of #IndianIndependence that was lost amid the folios of the past.
Samuel Evans Stokes Jr., an American who took birth in a rich Quaker family, trip to India to assist leprosy sufferers, would finally transform him to Satyananda, insurrectionist and guardian of the poor.
Let us mark out this incredible and nearly amazing journey, here – one that would lift him up to a distinctive place in India’s record.
A name largely forgotten today, Stokes was born in a family of businessmen in Philadelphia. His father, Stokes Sr, was the founder of an elevator manufacturing company by the name of Stokes and Parish Machines Company. But the first son of Stokes was never interested in business. His heart was convinced of doing more significant things in life – helping the needy.
In the year 1904, at the age of 22, Samuel Evans Stokes made his mind to put down his easy life in the United States and take a trip to far-flung India, to help leprosy sufferers in Shimla.
Asha Sharma, the great-grandchild of Stokes, in her memoirs with reference to her great-grandfather – ‘An American in Gandhi’s India’ said, “His parents, of course, were worried that he would get leprosy and never return. But he was determined to go.”
Stokes Sr, apparently thinking the ‘trip’ was only an episode in his son’s life, financed not just Samuel’s trip to Shimla, but also his stay.
But, once Stokes began helping and taking care of leprosy sufferers in the Kotghar, close to Shimla, he promptly comprehended that the sufferers never ideated of him as one of them.
“There seems to be an invisible barrier that stands in the way of any unaffected natural relationship,” he had once noted. He shortly visualized it out. How could the Himachal village dwellers think he was one of their own if he didn’t appear or talk like them?
In order to gain the trust of Himachal village dwellers, Sam gained knowledge of the Pahari tongue of Hindi. He even got rid of his western clothes and begun wearing the local dress in its place. The people started loving him. In the year 1912, Sam fell in love with Benjamin Agnes, a daughter of a first-generation Rajput Christian. The two settled in the Himalayas.
“He saw that people were very, very poor,” said Sharma, adding that “They didn’t have clothes to wear. They didn’t have meals to eat. They would have tea with salt. He felt he could perhaps try growing fruits in that area.”