An Essay And Article On Vinoba Bhave
Sarvodaya leader and spiritual heir to Mahatma Gandhi. Acharya Vinoba Bhave occupies an important place in the galaxy of the great personalities that have adorned the firmament of India’s history. The nation paid its grateful homage to this shining star by awarding him posthumously the highest honor of the land, the Bharat Ratna, on 26th Jan, 1983, the 34th anniversary of the Republic of India. He was perhaps the last great disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, who endeavored upto the last breath of his life to wipe tears from the eyes of every one of those who have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous poverty through centuries. A symbol of service and sacrifice, practitioner of the high ideals of non-violence and love and goodwill for all, Vinoba was described by Mahatma Gandhi as “one of the few pearls in his Sabarmati Ashram”. This gem of India’s great spiritual tradition was snatched away from our midst by the cruel hands of death on November 15, 1982, the auspicious day of Deepawali.
Who was Vinoba Bhave?
Vinoba Bhave Born on September 11, 1895, in Raigarh district in Maharashtra, Acharya Bhave launched the Bhoodan Yojna in 1951. He travelled over 64,000 kilometers on foot and collected more than 80,000 hectares of land from landlords to be distributed among the landless poor. Notable among his achievements was the surrender of 20 ferocious dacoits from the traditionally terror-stricken areas of Bhind and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh in 1960. Acharya Bhave, who joined the Sabarmati Ashram in 1916, was made the head of the new Ashram at Wardha by Mahatma Gandhi. Later he started another hermitage at Paunar where he lived and worked upto the last moment of his life. An active freedom fighter, he was named Mahatma Gandhi’s first representative in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1940. He remained undeterred with his aim of serving the country though he was jailed during the freedom struggle. He was chosen by Gandhiji as the ‘First Satyagrahi’ in 1941.
Vinoba Bhave And M.K Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi said that his life was his message. The same was true of Vinoba also. Gandhiji had given up his desires one by one and led a simple life which the lowliest in the land could live. To possess or consume more than what is absolutely necessary for sustaining life is a theft particularly in a society where the large number of people do not have adequate food, clothing and shelter. The ideal of equality could be achieved only if simplicity becomes the principle of life. Vinoba never married, reduced his wants to the minimum and practiced the ideal of simplicity in life. He had full faith in Khadi. The adoption of Khadi could usher in Ram Rajya in India. In the poverty-ridden Indian society deliverance can come only through Khadi and village industries.
Vinoba concept of freedom was unique. Freedom and fear never go together. In order to be free we shall have to conquer fear. One could achieve fearlessness by developing detachment and practicing rectitude which is also needed to be leavened with faith in God. He had firm faith in the existence of God. The existence of God, he said, is more real than the existence of the lamp placed before you. He saw God everywhere. All creatures, human beings that are standing before us are the manifestations of God. Even death had no fear for Vinoba, for death took away only the body, the soul remained intact. The body arose from the five elements (Panchagni), death means resigning the body to the elements again. Vinoba was deeply read in the Bhagwat Gita. He regarded it as his mother. Love for the Gita was inculcated in him by his mother.
When his mother died, she left him in the lap of the mother Gila who, he says, nursed him through all his life. Through the Gita a happy reconciliation was achieved between Gyan, Bhakti and Karma in his life. The Gita taught him that all life is one. Bhakti transformed it into Sarvodaya which connoted good of everyone and not good of a few or some or of a majority. Vinoba socialism was in spirit different from any brand of the Western socialism. Gandhiji’s and for that matter Vinoba socialism could be described by one word ‘Sarvodaya’ which contemplated the good of every member of the society. The utilitarian socialism could be satisfied with the greatest happiness of the greatest number. If the good of 51 per cent is secured, 49 per cent do not matter much.
Sarvodaya contemplates the good of 100 per cent Thomas Green’s concept of common good comes somewhere near Sarvodaya. In Sarvodaya the ideals of equality, freedom and fellowship are realized without any danger to the development of the human personality. Its greatest merit is that it makes man the measure of good society; it combines belief in the dignity of the individual with devotion to social ends. It is enabled to achieve this goal by confining itself to spiritual means only in its attempt to transform the present into a new social order. The Sarvodaya society is truly a socialist society because it is rooted in human love and brotherhood and secures to each individual equality and freedom. Impressed by the ideals Sarvodaya stood for Prof. G.D.H. Cole also came to hold the view that Sarvodaya was the highest form of socialism.
Contribution Of Vinoba Bhave to India
It thus remains an immortal contribution of Gandhi and Vinoba to social thought and practice. The construction of a new man and a new society could be well achieved through peaceful methods. That method for Vinoba was Bhoodan. It was a comprehensive term which included Sampatidan, Gramdan, and even Prandan, if need be. It was the spiritual method of the evolutionary socialism. The Bhoodan movement was calculated to awaken in us the spirit of sacrifice which is present in every one of us. But it is dormant. It is a means of extension of one’s love for oneself or for the family to the entire society. Indian society could be cured of its iniquities and injustices through a peaceful revolution which Bhoodan represented. Any good change in society could be brought about not by force or coercion but by persuasion and change of heart.
Vinoba undertook trips to several parts of India on foot to morally motivate the Indian people especially the rich. He and the workers wanted to bring about a change of heart and donation of land, property, village or even life was the outer manifestation of that change. Vinbaji’s greatness lies in the fact that he did bring about that desired change in many. Donation of thousands of acres of land by the landlords could never be brought about by any law howsoever ingeniously framed. Moral revolution must precede any other revolution if it is to be effective. His Bhoodan movement was an attempt to bring that about. It was certainly “a spiritual pilgrimage to the shrine of a new order of society” as R.P. Masani puts it. Moral revolution took place in the minds of the 20 ferocious dacoits whom no criminal law and police operation of any type could make surrender but Vinoba personal spiritual influence that worked as a magic.
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