Baba Amte was born to Mr. Devidas Amte and Mrs. Laxmibai Amte in the city of Hinganghat in Wardha District of Maharashtra on 26 December 1914. It was a wealthy family. His Father was a British government officer with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection. Murlidhar had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood.
Trained in law, he developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from the British Raj, and started acting as a defence Lawyer for Leaders of the Indian freedom movement whom the British authorities had imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He spent some time at Sevagram ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and became a follower of Gandhism for the rest of his life. He followed Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi. When Gandhi got to know that he has saved a girl from British Soldiers who were lewdly taunting her, Gandhi gave him the name – Abhay Sadhak (Fearless Seeker of Truth).
Amte founded three [[ashram]]s for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalised sections of the society in Maharashtra, India. On 15 August 1949, he started a hospital in Anandvan under a tree. In 1973, Amte founded the Lok Biradari Prakalp to work for the Madia Gond tribal people of Gadchiroli District.
Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notably the Knit India movement for public awareness of the importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan. He Was Awarded With Padma Shri by government of India in year 1971.
In 1990, Amte left Anandwan for a while to live along the Narmada River and join Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan ("Save Narmada") movement, which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment due to the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river.
Amte married Indu Ghuleshastri (later called Sadhanatai Amte). She participated in her husband's social work with equal dedication. Their two sons, Vikas Amte and Prakash Amte, and daughters-in-law, Mandakini and Bharati, are doctors. All four dedicated their lives to social work and causes similar to those of the senior Amte. Prakash and his wife Mandakini run a school and a hospital at Hemalkasa village in the underprivileged district of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra among the Madia Gond tribe, as well as an orphanage for injured wild animals, including a lion and some leopards. She left her governmental medical job and moved to Hemalkasa to start the projects after they married. Their two sons, Dr. Digant and Aniket also dedicated their lives to the same causes. In 2008, Prakash and Mandakini received the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.