Letter 8

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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People's Power

25th March,1990

My dear Pranav,

Vinoba always expressed himself with mathematical precision. He believed in People's power and not in Government power. He created a beautiful simile about this, when he said that Government is like a zero. It has no value by itself. Put it ahead of the people and it acquires power. Put it after 1,2,3 it gets a power. The real value is that of 1,2,3 or of people. If a government is supported by people, it is powerful; remove the peoples' support and it disappears (1 ). Vinoba said this on 17th November, 1956 at Palani in Tamilnadu. We saw the reality of it on TV in November, 1989. We saw it in East Germany, Romania, Czechoslovakia. We saw it in action 33 years after he had made his statement about the relation between Government and the People.

Vinoba said that in a democracy the people are power. The Government has no power independent of its people. How did it come about? Vinoba said that it was the result of the thoughts planted in the minds of the people for generations. Those thoughts were expressed in action. Vinoba's basic message was the need to spread good thoughts. He called it Vichar Prasar (dissemination of thoughts).

Vinoba provided many examples to support his conviction about the relation between the Government and the people. Who changed the society in their own times? Were they kings? Were they the Government? No! they were thinkers. They were promoters of thoughts. Jean Jaques Rousseau and Voltaire laid the idea-base for the French Revolution of 1789. Karl Marx offered the thoughts for the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution of 1948. Gandhiji's ideas of non-violent non-cooperation moved the masses, and Independent India in 1947.

People remember the Buddha and Mahavira but nobody remembers the kings who ruled at that time. So too we remember Kabir and Tulsidas in North India; Chaitanya Mahaprabhoo, Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Ravindranath Thakur in Bengal; Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, Manikawachkar and Nammalvar in Tamilnadu. The Chola, Pandya or Pallava kingdoms are in history books, but these great men remain alive in the lives of the common people through their ideas.

It is the people's power which Shri Krishna used to protect the villagers of Mathura. When there was a deluge of rain, Lord Ktishna taught self-help to the people of Mathura and saved them from it. He joined everyone in that task. He asked them to give him a hand in the task. Each one was asked to help. The old and the young, men and women everyone joined him and they achieved a miracle. Miracles can happen with the People's power. Lord Krishna planted the idea of self-help and self-reliance which moved the people to action. Legend made it into a physical miracle. The story in the Mahabharata is that Krishna lifted the Govardhana mountain to save the people of Mathura.

Such is the power of thought. Ideas must be broadcast, they must be spread to the people. They must be deep casted in their minds. They sprout often in the most unlikely places. Such is their power. They take wings. Incidentally, Vinoba left his home for Varanasi on 25th March, 1916 and started the Brahmavidhya Mandir, an ashram for women who sought spiritual knowledge as a group, at Pavnar on 25th March, 1957. Today is 33rd anniversary of that institution.

With love,


L. N. Godbole


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