My dear Pranav,
I have written to you many letters so far, and tried to introduce some
ideas which Vinoba talked about in his life time. Incidentally, 11th
September is the birth date of Vinoba. I have told you that he was
born at Gagode in the Raigad District of Maharashtra on that day in
1895. He would have been 95 if he were alive. He died on 15th
November, 1982 at the age of 87.
Vinoba developed his ideas of Nai Talim (New Education) when he was
implementing that idea of Gandhiji. His book on education has so
many thought-provoking ideas. He was always fascinated by new ideas,
and he wanted Nai Talim to remain Nitya Nai Talim (continuous new
education). Change is the only permanent part of life. He therefore
wanted education to be continuously in flux.
Vinoba considered himself first and foremost a student. His teaching was
really a bye-product. He was continuously searching for a meaning in
life. He went on changing. He always wanted to remain alert for
changes in the life around him. His basic values were firm. But he
was continuously learning new ones.
He was a Lok-shikshak (teacher of the people).
Whatever he learnt, he went on disseminating to others.
He was not happy with the educational structure in India. Immediately after
independence, he wanted to close the educational institutions, give a
holiday to children to play and wanted educationists to think of new
kind of education necessary for Independent India. Nobody listened to
him. We went on producing students who were fit for jobs but not
so much for work.
All over the world, education is in the hands of the government. Vinoba was
opposed to that. He said that education is used by government for
indoctrination. A fascist government will teach fascist ideas, a
communist government will teach communist ideas. He wanted governments
to pay for education but not to control it. The curriculum should be
decided by Acharyas, and they must be beyond party politics. Vinoba
once said that great Loka shikshaks like Jnanadeva, Tulsidas and Kamban
did not have in their days authority to decide the curriculum for
students. But what they taught and wrote, still remains a part of
our folk memory. Tulsi Ramayan is a part of the education of the
people in the North. So is Jnanadeva in Maharashtra and Kamban in
Tamilnadu. There were kings and emperors in their times; nobody
remembers those kings and emperors today!
Incidentally, Pranav, 1290 AD is the year when Jnaneshwar completed his
commentary on the Gita. He was a contemporary of Chaucer. His
Marathi is still a cultural bedrock of Marathi civilization. In 1990,
after seven hundred years you cannot understand Marathi without
knowing Jnanadeva. Vinoba was greatly influenced by Jnanadeva.
Vinoba once wondered why the present Director of Education, a government
official has power to decide what people should read or learn. This
right was not given even to Jnanadeva.