My dear Pranav,
I have told you Pranav, that Vinoba took his sustenance by striking
roots deep into the Upanisads, the Vedas and the Sastras. He always
talked of self-knowledge, atman and paramatman. The picture that comes
before one's mind is that of a Godman. He was not in that mould.
He was essentially a thinker, a jnan-yogi and, more importantly, a
constant Karmayogi. His living was ascetic, but it was not to impress
others. It was a part of his belief system.
It is therefore very interesting to see his reaction to the established
Mathas hierarchies and Devasthanams. He visited many of them. He was
beaten at Vaidyanath in Bihar and was sent away without darshan at
Jagnannathpuri in Orissa. But his reaction was very interesting.
Basically, he was a rebel, and all these institutions,
were a logical anathema to him. He gave a lecture at
Chaturvedamangalam in Ramnad in Tamilnadu. He raised certain issues
concerning thoughts, ideas and these institutions. He criticized them
for not re-checking their ideas, dropping the dead ones and absorbing
new ones. He quoted the Vedas where it is stated that you should
winnow the thoughts and ideas like grain and keep only the good
corn. It is no use repeating old sayings as mantrams. You must
constantly check their validity. He wanted the outdated part of the
Vedas also to be rejected. He wanted new ideas to be added to the
Vedas, and to retain what is good in them.
He told the Dharmacharyas that they should not become mere postmen, who
deliver letters and messages. He gives a smile. A learned father
told his son to hold an umbrella in the morning for protection from
the sun in the eastern direction. However his son must have sense
enough to change the direction in the afternoon, and hold an umbrella
in the western direction. Simply because father said, it should not
compel him to hold it so in the evening. Vinoba said that it is
the obstinate behaviour of believers that created non-believers.
The heads of the mathas did not undertake to the spread of real
religion. They only looked after their properties. Their properties
were gifted by people for the spreading of religion. The maintenance
of such properties became an end in itself. Vinoba wanted Dharma to
be constantly spreading and growing. Why should the saints of
Tamilnadu be as Nalavar (four greats) and not grow in numbers? Why
are the Gurus of the Sikhs restricted to ten? Why not more? We
must be capable of finding new ways to live and be religious.
Those who are bound to institutions do not find such new ways.
Vivekananda, Gandhi, Aurobindo, Sankaracharya, Tolstoy were the people who
really spread Dharma. The established mathas, swamis and churches
opposed these thinkers.
Vinoba wanted to know why such religious institutions
were unable to stop thefts in their near vicinities? Why was the
great Mahaveera, who did not even wear a stitch of cloth on him (Digambara),
is kept in an idol form with gold, diamonds and valuables in
Bihar? The idol was kept with armed guards and enclosed by several
walls and locked gates. Vinoba was very critical of such
institutionalization, and avoided it through out his life.