Bhoodan Movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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.

Bhoodan Movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave

After the freedom of India, Vinobaji’s most important and most popular movement was ‘Bhoodan’, which became popular not only in India but abroad also.

In 1950, a Sarvodaya meeting was organized at a place called Angul. Being busy in the Kanchan Mukti Aandolan, Vinobaji could not participate in the Sarvodaya meeting. The next meeting of Sarvodaya was to take place in Shivrampalli village near Hyderabad. Vinobaji went to the place of meeting on foot. He reached there after walking for about 500 km. The journey began on March 8, 1951, and concluded on April 7, 1951. On the last day of his march, Vinobaji, suddenly, decided to march to Telangana, because the people of Telangana were suffering at the hands of the police during the day and being tortured by the communists at night.

The Government had sent police to keep peace in Telangana. Vinoba said, “The police however do not deal in ideas. They can hunt down tigers and keep us safe from them, but in Telangana the problem was not of tigers but of human beings. The communists’ methods may be wrong, but their actons are based on a principle, and where principles are involved, the police cannot provide an answer.”

Telangana is an area in Andhra Pradesh which is dry and ‘ backward and neglected by government. After the Shivarampalli Sarvodaya conference from 7th to 14th of April, ’ 1951, Vinoba decided to walk through Telangana, which was plagued by a terrorist movement organised by a group of communists.

Vinoba liked to walk since this would bring him in close touch with the people whom he liked to serve. He spoke to the three groups of people in the villages; the communists, the prosperous landlords and the farmers.

To the communists, he said your ideals are good, but the means employed are wrong. The ideal communist state has not been established by any nation in the world. Violence is – wrong. It is particularly bad in India at present, since the country is now free and the communists can take control of the state government, democratically. Force will not achieve anything.

The prosperous landlords had fled from the villages and had settled down in towns and cities. To them, Vinoba said, go back to your land and serve the people. Police cannot protect you all the time. If you live in the villages boldly in a spirit of service, God will protect you. Those who love and serve the poor can be fearless.

To the common people Vinoba said the whole village should have such a spirit of unity that the wealthy ones are also held in affection. The village should protect all its people, rich and poor.

After the conclusion of the meeting, Vinobaji marched on foot from Shivrampalli to Hyderabad. From there, after a long journey, he reached a village called Pochampalli, on April 18. The Harijan community of the village said to Vinoba Bhave, “If we get 80 acres of land, we can make out our existence on farming.” Vinoba requested the landlords present there to donate 80 acres of land. C.R. Reddy, a landlord, promised to donate 100 acres of land instead of 80. In the evening prayer meeting, he even signed off the donation on paper. This incident inspired Vinobaji. His creative urge offered an opportunity to take up Bhoodan as a nationwide movement. The seeds of the Bhoodan Movement sown by this incident, took the shape of huge tree in due course.

After this incident, Vinobaji began requesting people to donate land every day during his evening prayers. The results were encouraging. By the end of the month, he had received more than twelve thousand acres of land under Bhoodan Movement. He constituted a committee to distribute the land amongst the landless.

Vinoba’s Bhoodan Movementwas welcomed throughout the nation. The people of different provinces decided to donate lands within their limits. The first stage of Bhoodan was Telangana and the second stage was his foot march from Wardha to Delhi. In the third stage, Vinoba toured Uttar Pradesh, where this movement had taken the shape of a public programme. The fourth stage of the Bhoodan Movement was Bihar. Here, Vinobaji got an encouraging response. Here, he got 22 lakh acres of land.

During the Bhoodan Movement, Vinobaji got not only land in donation but villages also. The village Mangroot was the first village in UP, which he received in donation. The Sarvodaya activists used to accept only those villages in donaton, where at least 80 per cent families in the village were ready to accept the programmes. Vinobaji received 719 villages in Orissa under the Gramdan Movement and 20 in Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, he received 175 villages under the Gramdan Movement. Throughout the nation, he received many more villages.

In India the Bhoodan movement by abolishing the instinct of private property paved the way for collective farming in the voluntarily donated lands. On 13 November, 1951, Vinoba r reached Delhi to meet the members of the Planning Commission and the Prime Minister who was its Chairman.

The meeting went on for three successive days. There were 5 two vital points of difference between Vinoba Bhave and the Planning Commission, the one relating to self-sufficiency in food and the other to full employment. He objected to the imports of food.

He could not convince the members of Planning Commission on these two issues and they parted company. He said, “There is a difference between their approach and mine, though they have also the interest of the country at heart”.

Thoughout his arduous march, Vinoba Bhave had been the unwearying, enviable Satyagrahi. His penetration into the interior and explaining to the people the real Dharma and urging them to do their duty, his insistence on truth and resistance to evil, all this is Satyagraha. Unlike the Satyagraha campaigns launched by Gandhiji there was. not much excitement in the present case. One might call the latter as ‘acute’ form of Satyagraha, while the former as ‘gentle’. Obviously the suffering involved in ‘gentle satyagraha’ is no less severe than in the ‘acute’ one, rather it might be more. But Vinoba Bhave did not anticipate either and carried on his work with no cares on his head, having placed them on the broad shoulders of God.

The total Bhoodan donations exceeded 32 lakhs. It was not a big-amount to look at but viewed in the perspective in which it had been obtained, it was a proof positive of the influence this gentle form of Satyagraha has produced in the atmosphere of our country. When the entire world was torn with strife and dissensions and our own country was marked with rivalries of caste, creed, untouchability, provincialism, languages, political parties, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, a successful execution of a pledge to collect 25 lakh acres within two years was no mean achievement. Presently when ‘All India’ outlook was at a discount, this was perhaps the only large scale and solid programme which has an ‘All India’ out-look and contributes to the integrated solidarity of the nation. Its message had already reached millions of people. It showed readiness, partly if not wholly, of the people to view its implications with sympathy and concern.

Bhoodan Yagna was not mere a transference of land from one man to another, but a symbol of the shedding of ownership of land and property and a provision of the supply of means of production to the producer, it got a profound import and vital relevance. It presupposed a new human outlook and approach to all problems.

This was the voice of our India, real India and Bhoodan was the way to build her truly. What was wanting was the number of workers to carry the Sarvodaya message, the robust youths who could act as missionaries in this work. It was a programme to create a new economic order, a new political order and a new social order and bring in Sarvodaya. Our fathers and grandfathers, born in the beginning of this century or earlier did the stupendous task of freeing India from the British yoke. Let us be grateful to them for it and now see to what we could do.

The famished masses at home and the war-fear-ravaged millions abroad looked to us with hope and faith. It was ours to be the crusaders of a new order, a new India and a new world. The Bhoodan movement has established that it could show us the way in the deepest gloom we were involved in. Land-distribution was only a minor part of it. Virtually it aimed at re-discovering the dormant quality of man and make the same a social force with wide wings. Bhoodan was a march in the further evolution of the human kind. It was just paving the way for the quicker and greater development and prosperity of the society.

It was an endeavour to direct man’s course from the rails of distrust, aggression and bloodshed to those of trust, self suffering and love. Bhoodan was to set up a new world, to create a new man. It had a message for every country, for every citizen of the world. Upon India’s youth it enjoined a duty we could not forego. Should we realise it before it was too late!

Vinoba Bhave gave the call:
“I appeal to you all to help me. This is revolutionary work I am doing. I want to revolutionise thought, revolutionise the means. The youth has in him the urge for new creation, so say the sages. There is a new world to create, a new mission to do, that I have opened up for you.”

In January 1959, when Vinoba Bhave was in Rajasthan, the famous black leader of America, Martin Luther King along with his wife, Coretta, came to meet him.

In 1962, Vinoba went to Pakistan, where he stayed for 16 days. Vinoba had trekked more than one lakh km in his life.