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Education : Ever eternal, ever changing
25th February, 1990
My dear Pranav,
Vinoba was basically a teacher. In Sanskrit, the word for teacher is Acharya. He was therefore called Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Do you know what acharya means? A similar word for it is one-who-acts. If he teaches goodness, he acts like a good person. You must act as you preach. The Hindu concept of learning is to sit with someone (up/ni/sad) who has acted on his knowledge. Vinoba was truly an acharya. Whatever he preached he practised.
There are two stories about this way (1). Vinoba was considered a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who used to stay in Mani Bhavan on Laburnum Road in Bombay. Vinoba's disciples too had their office at Mani Bhavan. They had all their books and furniture in that house. Once, the trustees of Mani Bhavan asked Vinoba's disciples to vacate the office. They went to Vinoba, requesting him to talk to the trustees so that they may not have to vacate the office. They said, "We have used Mani Bhavan as our office and now they have given us notice to vacate. If you talk to them they will allow us to stay." Vinoba told his disciples, "Go now and give notice to the trustees that you are vacating their office one day earlier than their date." The disciples said, "But, Baba, we have a lot of furniture. Where can we put it?" He said, "Give it to Mani Bhavan as a gift. You have taken help from Mani Bhavan all these years. Now you can give help to it." One fellow said," But, Baba, we have so many books. What do we do with them?" Go to all the neighbouring houses and distribute them. It will be Vichar Prasar." (dissemination of thoughts).
Vichar Prasar is the main theme or action of Vinoba's life. I will speak about it quite often in the future. But the disciples persisted. They said," Then where will we have our meetings?" Baba said, " In the great city of Bombay, don't you have a garden where you can meet?" He then preached that we should not have any attachment to property. This was his "action."
His other continuing theme was that one must grow continuously. One must change. Gandhiji wanted the education system to be changed and called it Nayi Talim (New Education). Vinoba practised that idea in reality. He used to call it Nitya Nayi Talim (Continuous New Education ). This continuous change, grappling with new ideas, experimenting with new ways, continuous change through spreading of thoughts (Vichar Prasar) was Vinoba's way of life. He evolved persistently every day. He used to compare life with the Ganga. The Ganga is permanent but the molecules of water you see every moment are new. The Ganga is thus eternal as well as changing.
Here is another story about Vinoba (2). He once asked Meera and Arun, (two ashramites): "Have you seen Mahatma Gandhi's room at Sevagram (at Wardha)?" They obviously had seen it. Wardha is just 8 kilometers from Pavnar. "Have you seen the things Bapu used to use?" They are preserved. "Yes, Baba." "Did you see a tree next to the room?" "Yes." Then Meera and Arun realized what Vinoba was driving at. The chappal (slippers), the charkha (spinning wheel) and the other things which Gandhiji used to have remained unchanged. They are today as they were when Gandhiji was alive. But the tree has grown. It has become a big tree. Because it continued growing every day.
Pranav, that is what you should do. Grow every day.
Vinoba wanted Gandhiji's thoughts to grow and not become static.
With love,
L. N. Godbole