Letter 25

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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Power of the Word


22nd July, 1990

My dear Pranav,

Vinoba was a great believer in the fusion of science and spirituality (Self-knowledge). The bridge between the knowledge of the outer world (science) and the knowledge of the inner world (self-knowledge) is the word. He has referred to this power of the word in many of his speeches.

"The Sanskrit word of poet, kavi has a deep meaning. The kavi is the seer of revolution, whose vision pierces beyond the immediate. These two eyes of ours see what lies immediately around us, and shows us all the beauty of the world for our enjoyment. But their powers are limited. Beyond this present world is another world of interest and delight which they cannot reach; but man is blind to the beauty of that world because his two eyes are open only to this immediate world. It is only when this third eye opens that he becomes aware of a world of energies at work behind, beyond and within the common experiences of the visible world. It is this vision, this awareness, that inspires great literature and which deserves our reverence.....

"The great poets - Valmiki, Vyasa, Dante, Shakespeare, Homer, Rabindranath - have enriched the world's life forever by the power of their creative and transforming thought. They brought peace and vigour and hope, when peace and vigour and hope were needed. Their insight, their thought, their transcendent vision, are the hidden springs from which have arisen the world's great revolutions....

"The power of science, the power of self-knowledge, the power of the word - these three forces have shaped the world we know and will mould it in future Science changes the material aspects of life and creates an environment which makes its impact on the mind of man also. However, it does not influence the mind directly. The word, on the other hand, directly touches the heart; self-knowledge illuminates life from within. The light of science comes from without, the light of self-knowledge comes from within, and the Word is the bridge between the two, bringing them together and shedding light on both. To use the image of Tulsidas, both the inner world and the outer can be illumined if the lamp of the Name (Hari nam) is sent upon the threshold of the door - which is the tongue.

Such is the power of the word, of speech (vani) which is God's supreme gift to man. It is a gift potent for good and for evil; use it wrongly and society is doomed; use it well, and society goes forward for everybody's well-being. As the Rigveda says, the wise man winnows his speech as the housewife winnows grain, rejecting the chaff and stones, and choosing the healthy corn. A society whose speech is clean and pure, strong and simple, is a happy society. For speech is the binding force joining the inner world with the outer, and science with self-knowledge, and all the energies of the world with one another. The word is the subtle power, and many other powers are hidden within it." (1)

The word is the clothing of the idea and thought. Vinoba constantly wanted to propagate thought. His idea of Sarvodaya Samaj was the fellowship of people who believed in the power of thought.

With love,


L. N. Godbole

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