Letter 32

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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Nai Talim, Lok-Shikshak 9th September, 1990 My dear Pranav, I have written to you many letters so far, and tried to introduce some ideas which Vinoba talked about in his life time. Incidentally, 11th September is the birth date of Vinoba. I have told you that he was born at Gagode in the Raigad District of Maharashtra on that day in 1895. He would have been 95 if he were alive. He died on 15th November, 1982 at the age of 87. Vinoba developed his ideas of Nai Talim (New Education) when he was implementing that idea of Gandhiji. His book on education has so many thought-provoking ideas. He was always fascinated by new ideas, and he wanted Nai Talim to remain Nitya Nai Talim (continuous new education). Change is the only permanent part of life. He therefore wanted education to be continuously in flux. Vinoba considered himself first and foremost a student. His teaching was really a bye-product. He was continuously searching for a meaning in life. He went on changing. He always wanted to remain alert for changes in the life around him. His basic values were firm. But he was continuously learning new ones. He was a Lok-shikshak (teacher of the people). Whatever he learnt, he went on disseminating to others. He was not happy with the educational structure in India. Immediately after independence, he wanted to close the educational institutions, give a holiday to children to play and wanted educationists to think of new kind of education necessary for Independent India. Nobody listened to him. We went on producing students who were fit for jobs but not so much for work. All over the world, education is in the hands of the government. Vinoba was opposed to that. He said that education is used by government for indoctrination. A fascist government will teach fascist ideas, a communist government will teach communist ideas. He wanted governments to pay for education but not to control it. The curriculum should be decided by Acharyas, and they must be beyond party politics. Vinoba once said that great Loka shikshaks like Jnanadeva, Tulsidas and Kamban did not have in their days authority to decide the curriculum for students. But what they taught and wrote, still remains a part of our folk memory. Tulsi Ramayan is a part of the education of the people in the North. So is Jnanadeva in Maharashtra and Kamban in Tamilnadu. There were kings and emperors in their times; nobody remembers those kings and emperors today! Incidentally, Pranav, 1290 AD is the year when Jnaneshwar completed his commentary on the Gita. He was a contemporary of Chaucer. His Marathi is still a cultural bedrock of Marathi civilization. In 1990, after seven hundred years you cannot understand Marathi without knowing Jnanadeva. Vinoba was greatly influenced by Jnanadeva. Vinoba once wondered why the present Director of Education, a government official has power to decide what people should read or learn. This right was not given even to Jnanadeva. With love, Yours, L. N. Godbole
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