Vinoba Bhave, Founder Of The Bhoodan Movement
1953, Bihar, India, Vinoba Bhave, Photo By Frank Horvat

Vinoba Bhave, Founder Of The Bhoodan Movement

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Vinayak Nathar Bhave, popularly known as Vinoba, was born on 11 September ,1895 , at Gagode in Pen Taluka of Konkan. While studying at Vadodara, he was attracted to Sanskrit. So he planned a visit to Varanasi to study this ancient language. He learnt the Brahma Sutras at Pradnya Pathshala, Wai. He was inspired by Gandhiji’s thoughts and started correspondence with him. It is through this correspondence that the Mahatma named him Vinoba. Later Vinoba started living in Bapu’s Ashram, first at Sabarmati & afterwards at Sevagram, Wardha. Gandhiji selected him as his first Satyagrahi, as a result he was sent to Vellore jail for taking part in civil disobedience movement. In jail, he learnt Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam. By this time he became known as Acharya due to his scholarship & command over a number of languages. No religion, language or country seemed foreign to him. He coined the term “Jai Jagat” meaning hail to the world.

After Ganghiji’s death, his followers gathered at Sevagram and they decided to form a Sarvodaya Samaj & a Sarva Seva Sangha for the upliftment of all. Vinoba plunged into this work wholeheartedly. On 18 April ,1951, he called a meeting of villagers of Pochampally village near Hyderabad to solve the problem of landless peasants. After his appeal, a rich landowner Ramachandra Reddy donated 100 acres of his land. This land was distributed among the landless farmers. This was the beginning of the Bhoodan Movement. There was a huge response to this call of Bhoodan throughout India. My wife’s maternal uncle, the late Shri Vamanrao Jadhav donated 25 acres of his land as a Bhoodan. Jai Prakash Narayan or JP, a great socialist leader, joined the Sarvodaya movement. I was greatly impressed by Vinobaji’s work. So when he came to Hyderabad, l too joined his Padayatra to Pochampally, the Gangotri of Bhoodan movement. It was a mesmerising moment for me as I followed the great man.

Vinoba translated Geeta in Marathi & named it as Geetai. His other well known books include Geeta Pravachane, Madhukar, Sthitapradnya – Darshana, Kiran-sar and Vichur-Pothi. He had edited a magazine called “Maharashtra-dharma. When Indira Gandhi declared emergency, Vinoba called it an Anushasana Parva ( a period of discipline). He was criticised as a Sarkari Sant – a Government Saint. After eight days of fasting, he passed away on 15 November, 1982. His brother Shivaji N Bhave has written his biography viz Vinoba – Charitra in which he describes his death as Brahma – Nirvana. The essence of his teachings is summed by him in his Shloka thus: Veda – Vedanta Geetanam Vinuna Sara Uddhratah, Brahma Satyam Jagat Sfoortih Jeevanam Satyashodhanam – It Means That The Essence Of Veda, Vedanta & Geeta As Perceived By Vinu ( His Mother Used To Call Him Vinu ) Is Brahma, Is Truth, The World Is Inspiration And Our Life Is A Lifelong Search For The Truth. His description of God is given in the following prayer, sung daily in Pavnar Ashram, Wardha, even today : Om Tat Sat Shri Narayan Tu, Purushottam Guru Tu, Siddha,Buddha Tu Skanda Vinayak Savita Pavak Tu, Brahma Majda Tu Madhva Shakti Tu. Eash – Pita Prabhu Tu Ramakrishna Tu Rahim Tao Tu Vasudeva Tu Go -Vishwanath Roop Tu Chidananda Hari Tu, Advitiya Tu Akal Nirbhaya Atma-Linga Shiva Tu. May this prayer of this modern saint remove all your stress, illness, ignorance, intolerance, superstition & arrogance. May it give you joy and peace of mind! Here one is tempted to quote a Marathi Shloka of Vinoba, written as a preface to Geetai which is sold in millions along with its translation in several languages: Geeta I Mauli Mami Ticha Mi Bal Neonatal Padata Radata Ghei Uchlooni Kadevari It Means That Geeta Is My Mother And I Am Her Innocent Child. She Takes Me In Her Lap Whenever I Fall Or Cry. May That Geetai ( Geeta The Mother ) Protect You At All Times! Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Govind Tekale

A retired teacher at Sainik School Kazhakootam, besides his lifelong reading passion he is now an avid writer.

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