My dear Pranav,
An interesting facet of Vinoba's life is his continuous growth. He was
always evolving, changing and becoming a better person.
He was an intelligent student. He was a voracious reader. He was a leader in
his student group. He developed his life with very simple living. The
most important thing about him was that he remained a continuous
As a young boy he was influenced by the books of Veer Savarkar. The 1857
war of Independence (which was called the Sepoys Mutiny by historians)
and the life of Mazzini (an Italian leader) were some of the books
that he circulated amongst his friends. They were all proscribed books
In 1916, instead of going to Bombay for his Intermediate University
Examination, he left for Varanasi. He was influenced hailed by the
Bengali revolutionaries. His ascetic mind which called him to the
Himalayas. He went to Varanasi, where he read Mahatma Gandhi's speech.
He saw the unity of his ascetic search and the revolutionary new
approach of Gandhi in the political field in 1916. That year marks
the end of the first chapter in his life.
For the next thirty years he kept developing as a Vedic scholar,
experimenter in khadi, propagator of non-violent Satyagraha, working as
a scavenger to end the idea of untouchability attached to scavenging
and a teacher who crystallized the Gandhian idea of a New Education.
He was a rather harsh, disciplined, intensely intelligent, scholarly
individual who was already recognized as an interpreter of the Gita.
He became an ideal satyagrahi in the mind of Gandhi. He was
therefore chosen as the First Individuals satyagrahi by Gandhi in 1940.
Most of Vinoba's early ideas were already established after thinking and
working them over for thirty years. Thenceforth we come to the
third and most creative stage of his life.
Mahatma Gandhi died on 30th January, 1948. The political aim of independence
from Britain was achieved on 15th August, 1947. The political process
of the constitution making and governing was taken over by leaders
such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
All of them had their political training with Gandhi. The Sovereign
Democratic, Republic of India was established by the Constitution of
26th January, 1950.
But that was only the political part of Gandhi's Mission. Vinoba was not cut
out for it. He was attached to the rest of Mahatma's ideas. The
political part was a transient one. The eternal part of Gandhi was
his belief in Truth, Non-violence and Sarvodaya. The rational and
logical base of these Gandhian beliefs was the forte of Vinoba. They
used to call him the spiritual heir of Mahatma Gandhi, while
Jawaharlal Nehru was called the political heir.
The lasting part of Gandhi's Mission grew through the person of Vinoba.
That is where he stood, head and shoulders above others. He had
drunk at the fountain-head of Indian thought. He had gone deep into
the roots of India. He struck his roots in the Upanisads, Vedas and
the Gita. He traveled through every part of India and imbibed it
basic spiritual base. He knew English well, but he was not westernized
in any way. He remained till the end a true son of the soil. (bhoomiputra).
More about it in my next letter.