(M. K. Gandhi)
He is an undergraduate having left college after my return to India in 1916.
He is a Sanskrit scholar. He joined the Ashram almost at its
inception. He was among the first members. In order to better qualify
himself he took one year's leave to prosecute further studies in
Sanskrit. And practically at the same hour at which he had left the
Ashram a year before, he walked into it without notice. I had
forgotten that he was due to arrive that day. He has taken part in
every menial activity of the Ashram from scavenging to cooking.
Though he has a marvelous memory and is a student by nature, he has
devoted the largest part of his time to spinning in which he has
specialized as very few have. He believes in universal spinning
being the central activity which will remove the poverty in the
villages and put life into their deadness. Being a born teacher he
has been of the utmost assistance to Ashadevi in her development of
the scheme of education through handicrafts. Sri Vinoba has produced
a text - book taking spinning as the handicraft. It is original in
conception. He has made scoffers realize that spinning is the
handicraft par excellence which lends itself to being effectively used
for basic education.
He has revolutionized takli spinning and drawn out its hitherto unknown
possibilities. For perfect spinning probably he has no rival in all India.
He has abolished every trace of untouchability from his heart. He
believes in communal unity with the same passion that I have. In
order to know the best mind of Islam he gave one year to the
study of the Quran in the original. He therefore learnt Arabic. He
found this study necessary for cultivating a living contact with the
Muslims living in his neighbourhood.
He has an army of disciples and workers who would rise to any
sacrifice at his bidding. He is responsible for producing a young
man who has dedicated himself to the service of lepers. Though an
utter stranger to medicine, this worker has by singular devotion
mastered the method of treatment of lepers and is now running
several clinics for their care. Hundreds owe their cure to his
labours. He has now published a handbook in Marathi for the
treatment of lepers. Vinoba was for years Director of the Mahila
Ashram (an Ashram for women) in Wardha. His devotion to the cause
of Daridranarayan (the God of the poor) took him first to a village
near Wardha, and now he has gone still further and lives in Pavnar,
five miles from Wardha, from where he has established contact with
villagers through the disciples he has trained.
He believes in the necessity of the political independence of India. He
is an accurate student of history. But he believes that real
independence of the villagers is impossible without his constructive
programme of whih khadi (handspun, hand-woven cloth) is the centre. He
believes that the chrakha (spinning wheel) is the most equitable
outward symbol of non-violence which has become an integral part of
his life. He has taken an active part in the previous Satyagraha (non-violent civil disobedience ) campaigns.
He has never been in the
limelight on the political platform. With many co-workers he believes
that silent constructive work with civil disobedience in the background
is far more effective than the already heavily crowded political
platform. And he thoroughly believes that non-violent resistance is
impossible without a heart belief in and practice of constructive work.