My dear Pranav,
You will be
surprised to get a letter from me whom you hardly know. But we
have met in your home, when you were busy doing sums. Your grandpa,
who is my Guru, suggested that I should write to you a letter every
week. I have to obey his order. Therefore this letter.
asked that I should write to you about Vinoba. Vinoba was a great
THINKER, who was living amongst us till 1982. Very few people know
him now, still fewer people read his books. But as you grow older
you will know more and more about him, if you read his books. My
weekly letters will tell you what I know about him. I will be very
happy if these letters make you read more about Vinoba.
What I write
will have numbers in brackets after the sentence. These numbers will
tell you which book of Vinoba includes that sentence. This will be
useful if you want to read more about Vinoba. Otherwise, you can
forget them. If you find the letters themselves useless, please pass
them on to someone who may like to read them. Your grandpa, for
Vinayak Narhar Bhave (VINOBA) was born on 11th September, 1895 at Gagode in the Raigad District of Maharashtra, about 125 Kms from
Bombay, where you live. He died on 15th November, 1982 at Pavnar, 80
Kms from Nagpur or about 900 Kms from Bombay. This is just to tell
you about History and Geography. All of us live at a place. So we
relate to distances from that geographical point. You already know
where you stay and have a picture of that place in your mind. That
much geography is already known to you. After all, what is Geo +
Graphy, but a graph or picture of Geo, which is our world. The dates
of birth and death tell you how many years older or younger he was
than you. Time being a continuous river, these dates tell you how
many years before this day such a man lived. That is his story in
time which we call History. Time and Place are two continuous
straight lines. Where they cross each other, a point gets fixed. That
point is you. There was some such point that was Vinoba. I want to
introduce you to that point.
Vinoba has written and spoken millions of words. A few thousands of them are
recorded in printed form. Those words changed my life. By telling
you about those words I am doing my duty.
Each one of us owes a certain duty to parents. It is called Pitr-Rna. We also owe a duty
to our teachers. It is called Guru-Rna. My letters are my repayment
of my Guru-Rna.
Vinoba was a firm believer in God. He is called Brahman. It is not some idol,
though you can see it in an idol form or even in empty space.
Once he was asked, "Are you as quite sure of God's existence as you
are of the existence of this lamp in front of us?" He said, "I
positively believe that God exists. As for the lamp in front of us,
I cannot guarantee that it does in fact exists" (1). This is
difficult to understand. You will learn later in your life when you
read Bertrand Russell on "Reality and Appearance", how Russell proved
logically that a table is possibly not a table (2).
Therefore, if you want to learn and understand Vinoba's thoughts, it is very
necessary to understand that he was a firm believer in Brahman.
He explains this axiom in a simple way. We learn Geometry or Science (metry) of
God (land or world). The first definition that is taught in Euclid's
Geometry is that of a point. It has existence but no magnitude. It
means that a point has no length, breadth or depth. If that is so,
how can you "see" it? How can you "imagine" it? If you cannot
imagine it, then how can you say that it "is"? But you start with
an assumption of its existence. You start with its existence as a
reality. The point moving in a direction is a line; a straight line
is the shortest distance between two points. The intersecting lines,
angles, triangle, rectangle and the whole of geometry, engineering and
designing are all based on this definition of a point. Vinoba says
that for him Brahman is such a self-evident truth. Because it "is".
I think, I have written enough for one letter.
L. N. Godbole