Letter 52

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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VINOBA : The Man of Ideas


27th January, 1991

My dear Pranav,

It all started as a joke. Vinoba is a great influence on my life. Veer Savarkar and Vinoba Bhave are the two Marathi authors, thinkers, revolutionaries and literary writers, who have dominated my life. For many, they appear to be at two different ideological poles. I do not think so. Both have influenced my thinking.

Whenever I talk to people I quote from Savarkar or Vinoba. But more often, Vinoba. Your grandfather and my guru Dr. N. H. Atthreya, used to tell me every now and then that I should write in English about Vinoba and his ideas. I kept promising him that I would but failed repeatedly to do so.

In January, 1990 one Sunday morning, he told me in his own gentle persuasive style that I should write to him a letter every week, regularly telling him something about Vinoba, his life and his ideas. That was something which I could not resist. Then, as a smart move, I said: it was not much use writing about a great man to an elderly person. I could write to his grandson. It would be more useful to him, and for a longer time-span . He readily agreed.

That is how this letter -writing started on Sunday, the 4th February, 1990. It continued for a whole year and this is the last letter, dated 27th January, 1991.

The main purpose of writing these letters is not to write anything definitive about ideas. This is not a scholarly work. It is an introduction to a fascinating, truly Indian, bhoomiputra mind. If these letters induce you to read any of the original books or talks by Vinoba their purpose will be more than fulfilled.

Vinoba had many enchanting original ideas. He was a true bhoomiputra. He was exposed to Western thought but his understanding of India was that of an insider. Even Mahatma Gandhi started looking at Indian life, after his South African journey, from the eyes of a Westerner. Vinoba was totally desi. He was a Vishwa-Manusha but rooted deep in Indian soil. He was not parochial, but a deep Hindu thinker.

Vinoba's ideas therefore have a special fragrance of India's mother earth . My purpose was to introduce a truly Indian Mind of high calibre to you, Pranav. If you read his talks and books in the later years of your life, and even if you reject every idea in these letters the basic purpose of dissimination of ideas, Vichar Sasan, and Vichar -Prasar is achieved. Vinoba himself used to say that very little remains once a person is dead. Vinobaji died on 15th November, 1982. Now he remains as pure thought or idea. I have throughout referred to him as Vinoba. Vinobaji was a human being whom I respected, and met only once in 1976 when he was being vilified all around. I have interpreted his Goraksha fast unto death in one of my letters. His human body (Deha ) is no more. What remains is pure, bodyless thought. That is why I have called him Vinoba and not Vinobaji.

As a Hindu I have to pay three debts : Deva - rna, Pitr - rna and Acharya - rna. These letters are my offering to Vinoba as a "Acharya Tarpana by Vichar - Parasar.

With love,


L. N. Godbole

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