Sarvodaya Samaj-1

1st July, 1990

My dear Pranav,

After the power and purpose of disseminating ideas is discussed, Vinoba turns his attention to Sarvodaya Samaj which in his view was the strongest entity. "Sarvodaya Samaj will not be an organisation at all. It will be a fellowship of those who believe in the power of the idea. We do not want to create merely a disciplined group. We must, work to make it more fruitful of ideas and more ready to accept ideas as the basis of living." (1)

Pranav, have you noticed that whenever Vinoba states anything he uses the plural. He believed that in ancient India all the thinking was done as individuals. He wanted to implant the idea of thinking together as a group. In the Koran, it is said that saints work with mutual consultations. "Amra Hum Shoora Bain Hum" (koran). this has an echo in the Bhgvadgita as well. "Matshila Madgatah Pranah Bodhayant-parasparam (Bhagvadgita 10.9). This fellowship concept is Vinoba's fusion of ideas from ancient religions.

Together with this fellowship of believers in the power of the idea, Vinoba wanted complete decentralization of decision-making powers. Decentralization is a very basic idea in Hindu civilization. Even God becomes gods and gets decentralized in every house. There is no need to visit a common Mandir. There is no compulsion to visit a Church or a Masjid. Each one conceptualizes his own idea of God. Vinoba wanted that every human being should be empowered. Therefore, he wanted the unit of administration to be as small as possible. He pleaded for Gram Swarajya." We want to see the power to manage its own affairs vested in the village, that is is in the hands of the villagers. They should, for example, stand up and decide for themselves what things they will produce, and they should inform the government what things they wish to exclude. If the government cannot or will not stop these things coming in, the villagers must be bold enough to oppose it...

"Even if Delhi were to acquire the intellect of Lord Brahma, with four brains and eyes for all the four points of the compass it could never plan for and manage all the affairs of every village with benefit to them all. Therefore, we should have village planning instead of national planning. I said, "instead of". It would be far better if 'national planning' really meant 'village planning' and that Delhi should give the villagers whatever help they may need in their planning. Whatever we do is in the direction of decentralization of the authority." (2)

This concept of decentralization as a core concept of planning was never accepted by the Government in New Delhi. Vinoba was pleading for this decentralization in 1953, when Jawaharlal was moving in the opposite direction. We were imitating GOSPLAN or Central Planning as practiced in the U.S.S.R. in 1920. The edifice of Central Planning is collapsing in the entire bloc of East European countries and in Soviet Russia. It has simply not stood the test of practicability. It has just vanished. It is time we looked at Vinoba's economic ideas without blinkers.

With love,


L. N. Godbole