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
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.