The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave Role in Freedom Struggle, Religious and Social Service
Role in Freedom Struggle
All revolutions are spiritual at the source. All my activities have the sole purpose of achieving a union of hearts.
Vinoba Bhave was associated with Mahatma Gandhi in the Independence movement of India. In 1932 he was sent to jail by the British colonial government because of his fight against British rule. There he gave a series of talks on Gita, ;n his native language Marathi, to his fellow prisoners.
These highly inspiring talks were later published as the book: “Talks on the Gita”, and it was translated to many v languages both in India and elsewhere. Vinoba felt that the source of these talks was something above and he believed that its influence would endure even if his other works were forgotten.
In 1940 he was chosen by Mahatma Gandhi to be the first Individual Satyagrahi (an Individual standing up for Truth i instead of a collective action) against the British rule. It was said that Gandhi envied and respected Vinoba Bhave’s celibacy, a vow he made in his adolescence, in fitting with his belief in the Brahmacharya principle. Vinoba Bhave also participated in the Quit India Movement.
On 8th August, 1942 Gandhiji proposed a “Quit India” resolution in All India Congress Committee in Bombay. The resolution called upon the British to quit India immediately. And it gave a call to India to “do or die.” It was to be a last battle, the biggest of all the satyagraha mass movements.
He was thinking that he would start fasting from the moment he was put in jail. He felt that all satyagrahis should join him in fasting when they were imprisoned. Many doubted if this strategy was sound. They tried to dissuade Gandhiji.
Mahatma Gandhi then consulted Vinoba Bhave. He called Vinoba to Sevagram and put the idea before him; if Gandhiji could do satyagraha after considering all aspects of his action, could his followers, who may not have the wisdom, follow him from faith in the leader?
Vinoba’s reaction was, “What Rama can do in fullness of his knowledge, Hanuman can do in the fullness of his faith.” Gandhiji was satisfied with this.
But, Gandhiji was arrested on the 8th August night itself, the day the resolution was passed in All India Congress Committee, along with all Congress leaders. Gandhiji felt that he should not undertake a fast before he had a correspondence with Government on the issue.
Vinoba did not know about this development. When he was arrested, he told the jailer, who knew Vinoba well as a model prisoner who abided by all the jail rules meticulously, that he would go on a fast and required no food. He ended his fast only when he received a message from Gandhi to do so.
After the World War-II in March 1946, the British Government sent a Cabinet Mission to negotiate the transfer of power to India. This led to the formation of an Interim Government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. All the political prisoners were released from jails across India. Finally India attained Independnce but along came the partition of India- Pakistan. Vinoba called the Partition a ‘Himalayan Blunder’.
He then decided to remain aloof from any political activities and continue his religious and social service. He chose Surgaon, Maharashtra to continue his services. But in the aftermath of Partition there were Hindu-Muslim riots and bloodshed in Delhi and many parts of India, Vinoba was requested by Nehru to come to Delhi and pacify the people.
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30th January, 1948. Vinoba was deeply upset. He reached Delhi on 30th March, 1948. He spent about ten months among the refugees in and around Delhi. He pacified them and tried his best to solve their problems and bring communal harmony. After Delhi he also visited Punjab, Bikaner, Ajmer, Hyderabad and Baroda, and helped people in every possible manner.
Religious and Social Service
Human life is Full of Che play of samskaras—tendencies developed by repeated actions.
Vinoba Bhave religious outlook was quite broad and it synthesised the truths of many religions. This can be seen in one of his hymns “Om Tat” which contains symbols of many religions.
Vinoba Bhave translated Gita from the original in Sanskrit into Marathi in 1930-31 and gave it the name of Gitai (Gita mother), which has been sold in several lakhs. His l vinobaBhmeat05abha devotion to Gita was matchless and utterly beyond description. As he says, he always remains immersed in the ocean of Gita and while in contact with the world outside he floats on its warm bosom. Gitai is verily his mother. Says he in his Gitai:
“Gita is my mother and I am her innocent child:
While I stumble or weep she lifts me up in her arms”.
Thus, Vinoba’s life was a living commentary on the great classic. His Marathi discourses on Gita, Gita Pravachan, given to fellow prisoners in the Dhulia Jail in 1932, formed a wonderfully original and popular exposition of the Gita doctrine vis-a-vis our daily life. It has been translated and published in Hindi, Gujarati, Oriya, Sindhi, Kannada, Telegu, Tamil, Malayaiam, Urdu and Bengali.
Vinoba Bhave observed the life of the average Indian living in a village and tried to find solutions for the problems he faced with a firm spiritual foundation. This formed the core of his Sarvodaya (Awakening of all potentials) movement. Another example of this is the Bhoodan (land gift) movement started at Pochampally. He walked all across India asking people with land to consider him as one of their sons and so give him a one-seventh of their land which he then distributed to landless poor. Non-violence and compassion being a hallmark of his philosophy, he also campaigned against the slaughtering of cows.
During his tour of the country from south to north and from west to east, Vinoba Bhave changed the hearts of many people. Not only landlords and rich people but dreaded dacoits also responded to his mesage.
On May 7, I960, Vinoba Bhave, accompained by Major- General Yadunath Singh, toured the dreaded Chambal ravines. He believed ‘no one was born a dacoit’. The notorious dacoit, Lachhi, who had a reward of ₹ 5,000 on his head, came to Vinoba and surrendered at his feet. He said, “I read in the papers that you are touring the Chambal area, asking us to surrender and repent. I want to abandon the wrong path. I place myself and my family in your hands”. “It is all His will. I feel I am facing the Lord,” said Vinoba Bhave in a choked voice.
This was the beginning. Within a few days eleven dangerous dacoits led by Lukka surrendered. All of them declared, “Till now we have committed many misdeeds and we are sorry for them”. The people and the police were simply wonder-struck at the power of this humble, saintly disciple of Mahatma Gandhi—Vinoba Bhave.
Vinoba Bhave continued his mission till June 7, 1960. He covered eight to ten miles a day, visiting 26 villages. All these villages wee associated with the names of notorious dacoits. In all, about 20 dacoits surrendered to him including the dreaded gang of Man Singh-Rupa. The gang carried a reward of ₹ 20,000 on its head. Vinoba Bhave brought a change of heart in these dacoits. He asked them to accept the punishment awarded by the law of the country. The dacoits pleaded guilty in court. The cases closed before they could begin.
Thousands of letters and telegrams came, congratulating Vinoba on the miracle at Chambal.
The President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad wired: “The whole nation looks with hope and admiration upon the manner in which you have been able to rouse the better instincts and moral sense and thereby inspire the faith of dacoits leading to their voluntary surrender”
“Your efforts came to most of us as a refreshing proof of the efficacy of the moral approach for reforming the misguided and drawing the best out of man. I can only pray for complete success of your mission and offer you my regards and best wishes.”
From Chambal, Vinoba Bhave went to Rajasthan and from there to another State, another city, explaining ‘Sarvodaya’, a movement for the upliftment of people, irrespective of caste, creed or sex. Despite his health being weak and his living on frugal meals, curd and honey, Vinoba never stopped his padyatras.
Spreading non-violence, brotherhood, love, justice, removing untouchability and poverty, Vinoba Bhave continued his journey. He never stopped. He was a karmayogi (one who works regardless of results). “In all my actions the Gita has been my guide,” Vinoba used to say.