Letter 9

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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Change in 'I' is the change in 'We'

1st April, 1990

My dear Pranav,

In one of his articles Vinoba has described a very interesting story from the Vedas. There were ten travelers passing through a dense forest. They were naturally worried about their safety. They decided that since they were all walking through the forest they should keep track of their number: Ten. Each one started counting and found that there were nine people. All tried their hand and came to the same conclusion "Nine". They got terribly worried. Where did they lode one of them?

After a great deal of argument they realized that the missing number was "I". Each one of them had counted the others and had forgotten to count himself! That was why all the ten of them had by one voice decided that they were only nine, and that one of them was missing (1).

Don't we behave in the same way? We always say, We must have clean homes, clean rooms, clean schools, clean streets and a clean city. We should do this and we should do that. But things remain as they are. Why?

The reason according to Vinoba is simple: "We" is the plural of "I". If "I" count myself out, "We" are out. We will do what I start. Many "I"s will have to come together to become "We". But who should start? "I". Vinoba pointed out that in the Vedas there is a sentence Sva tantrah Kasta. "Sva" the self alone is "tantra" capable of being Karta (doer). I alone am free, that is, self-capable. Every thing should start with me. And I should start things. All good things are started by some one "I". What "I" start, "We" complete.

Vinoba then proceeds to say that lots of people say there are no people available for social work, because they count themselves out, and then expect things to happen! See the world in yourself. "Sva-roop" is the "Visva-roop".

Changing oneself, starting with oneself is in our hands. Without bothering whether others will follow you or not start a good thing which you think is right. Leave the rest to God. He will take care of it. You are like a centre point of a circle. The people, the world is like the circumference of a circle. You have to keep control over the centre point, which alone is in your hands. The world will then remain within sight and control.

What I will not do, we will not do. If I want a change in "we", it must start with me. Because "we" is the plural of "I".

I shall be telling you many such stories which will bring home Vinoba's points. Hope you like them.

With love,


L. N. Godbole


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