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ASSOCIATES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VINOBA BHAVE > MY DEAR PRANAV > Sarvodaya

Sarvodaya

20th January, 1991

My dear Pranav,

All said and done, the name of Vinoba is linked in the minds of people with bhoodan. His other contributions, which are mainly in the field of ideas did not get adequate exposure. Even bhoodan was treated as a Gandhian fad. Nobody could understand what it meant.

Vinoba was a Sarvodayi. He believed in the development of all (sarva). He was not a champion of class or of any one part of society. Poor or rich, worker or owner everyone needs to develop. Vinoba wanted the all-round development of everyone. And his ideas were not restricted to monetary or material prosperity. A man must develop his own 'self'. He must enlarge it and cover the universe, bringing all living beings into it.

Any movement, therefore, Vinoba could consider as ultimately aimed at this self-realisation, this Atmajnana. Seeing this connexion of the self (atma) to the Universe (Brahman) was his aim from the beginning.

Vinoba was therefore in a position to see all the basic assumptions differently. He did not divide the people into categories of 'haves' and 'have-nots'. He treated all as 'haves'. He did not, therefore,look at people as classes or as parts of society. He did not believe in class conflict, class-war or 'party politics'. He was for all.

Once you start looking for the good of all, the method of thinking in terms of majority / minority is not adequate for social decisions. Sarva Seva Sangh therefore used to take decisions on unanimity. This approach proved inadequate when emergency divided the Sarvodaya movement into two camps. Still, the validity of unanimity or at least a consensus in decision-making does not become irrelevant. Even today, in the competitive, party-ridden political system, within a party decisions are taken by consensus. The concept of polarisation, antagonism and adversorial relations is essentially a western Darshana. In China and Japan, harmony is considered more important than justice. To divide issues, people or ideas into yes / no, right / wrong, and generally in categories is a western way of thinking.

Japanese Management differs from American Management on this basic assumption. We see it in every sphere. Productivity is inspired and not extracted. Unity of interest is established and nurtured. There are many applications and uses of this Darsana in our day-to-day life.

This innate Indianness was a special aspect of Vinoba's ideas. He did not insist on anything. He was busy sowing ideas and spreading ideas. Many people were inspired by their innate strength. They succeeded or failed according to their strength.

Vinoba put his emphasis on the concept of Sarvodaya in all walks of life. In his life, for thirteen years of Bhoodan-Yatra and another four years on foot, he gave almost 20,000 talks. And what were his Sarvodaya topics? Vinoba put it beautifully,; "When you build a house, you keep a bed-room, a study and a kitchen, but do you keep a separate room for air? You need air everywhere. similarly, Sarvodaya needs no separate room, it is everywhere. It has a place in every sphere and walk of life. I am moving for a total revolution. Nothing short of total revolution will do for me. Each and every aspect of life has to be touched with the alchemy of Sarvodaya to achieve total revolution (1).

More in my next letter.

With love,

Yours,

L. N. Godbole