A True Son of the Soil

20th May, 1990

My dear Pranav,

Being a true son of the soil, Vinoba's perceptions of problems affecting India were totally different from those of others who were modernized or Westernized, the looked at India with the eyes of a westerner. British ideas, the English language, and Western modes of thinking formed their base. Our political system, laws, rules and administration were a legacy of the British rule. They were in favour of continuity. We, in India, are largely continuing the same ideas and the same mind-st even today.

Gandhi was a revolutionary. He wanted to change India but you cannot have major changes unless you look at things with a like those of Gandhiji view-point. Vinoba's views were radically different from those of other Indian leaders.

The first thing Vinoba wanted to change was Education. After all, education is the basic industry which provides men for various social needs. Vinoba believed that the education system devised by the British for their colonial aims should be changed. He said that the first thing after Independence that the people and the government of India should have done was to close all educational institutions for a year.

All our educationists should have sat together and decided what kind of India they wanted. Once that was decided, they should have decided on the kind of educational system necessary for it. What kind of India do we want? It must start with the kind of man-making education we provide. Being an adwaita Vedanti, Vinoba wanted to start with "I". Who am I? 'We' Indians, is a plural of 'I'. I have written to you about this idea earlier. Do you remember it?

This basic stage was avoided. A lot of ad hoc experiments were made, committees were appointed new ideas of education were tried out. But all of them were mere amendments. They did bring about some changes. But the basic stem remained the same. A revolution needs a totally new perspective, a new way of working. It never arrived. Successive generations of Indians since 1947 have come up from the same old colonial educational process. We are today producing people for use in Western countries. There is very little for local consumption. All is exported. We are seeing this all around us.

An awareness about our society, our people, our poor and unlettered and who have not received any of the benefits of Independence. is totally missing from the minds of our educated people. The education that we have in India makes us more literate, more vocal, more skilled and more selfish. Where is the consciousness about others who are less privileged? Each one wants all the cake for himself. He does not bother about others. Then what was the purpose in having a struggle for Independence.? Gandhiji's idea of Swaraj was not meant to change from white rulers to brown rulers. That was the political part and a small part of his Total Vision. And it is the Total Vision that moved millions to participate in the freedom movement, which made Independence possible.

Vinoba wanted Swa-rajya (Self-Rule). He was not happy just with Independence. That was only the first step. He wanted every individual to be free and self-(Swa)-governed (rajya). This self-government is possible only when an individual (atman)sees himself as a part of society or the universe (Para-atman). Vinoba expounded this idea in his book "Swa-rajya Shastra", published in 1942.

With love,


L. N. Godbole