50. Panch-Jana Shakti

13th January, 1991

My dear Pranav,

Another concept Vinoba created is in relation to social organisation. As usual, being basically a walking university, he put it before the common people in their own idiom. The impact was long-lasting. Words have to be few, but when used effectively they linger in people's minds for a long time. Vinoba had a great felicity with words.

Vinoba compared society with a hand (1). We have five fingers. He said that these fingers are part of the same hand but they have different roles. First take the thumb; he called it Jana-sakti or people's power. It is the sturdiest finger, a collective sturdy power of the people.

Then there is the small finger. It is the smallest. It is the power of good men, or Sajjan Sakti. It is an inner urge, it keeps society on the right path. Yet it is small in size and looks weak. These Sajjans are the sevaks or servants of the people. They have a mission to live life according to the dictates of conscience and moving in the right direction. The base consists of moral and ethical principles such as Satya (Truth) and Ahimsa (Nonviolence). The servants of the people live by these principles and so acquire a distinctive power. Though apparently weak, they have the major role of a small finger.

The third is the index finger. This stands for the role of Acharyas. They show the right path to society. Thinkers and scholars have to guide all. While keeping themselves aloof, they study the events in the world disinterestedly and place their opinions before the world. They have to be aloof, discerning and weighing good and bad points, pointing out the right way.

The middle finger is reserved for the enterprising and the rich. This represents Mahajan-Sakti. Businessmen, industrialists and entrepreneurs who are a power by themselves. Gandhiji put the idea of trusteeship for such people. They should not consider themselves as owners of wealth but as trustees of the wealth for society.

The fifth finger is called "Anamika" in Sanskrit. It means 'nameless'. That is the role of Danda-Sakti or Government. By itself, it does nothing, but it co-ordinates all the other fingers. Its role is to bring together all these powers in society. That is the role of Government. Today, it may have assumed supremacy of power, but its real role is that of anamika. It should occupy less and less importance and should remain power in name only. Hence Vinoba compared it with anamika.

All these five fingers make a hand a complete power. It can move mountains, provided it works like a hand as a united whole. Each finger is a power in itself but effective only when they are together.

Vinoba called this Pancha (five) Jana-Sakti (peoples' power). Jana, Sevakjana or Sajjana (social workers), Vidvatjana (Acharyas), Mahajana (rich people) and the government. Together they make a Pancha-jana-sakti.

More in my next letter.

With love,


L. N. Godbole