Letter 36

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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7th October, 1990

My dear Pranav,

Many people in India considered bhoodan and gramadan a failure. They said that only useless land was given in Bhoodan. The government tried the way of law; it officially allowed the landlords to give away discarded land but the land problem is not solved. But bhoodan was a novel way to solve it. What was not possible to imagine could be achieved. Intellectuals and academics moulded in the western way of thinking could not understand this phenomenon. But it happened.

Since the 1930s in India, Marxist thought was a very powerful influence on the minds of Indian intellectuals. Vinoba read his Marx, but did not copy. The ethical appeal of marxism, which was for equality amongst men was accepted by him. But he did not accept Marxian insistence on the State as the Agent of Change. He rejected the State as an instrument of change. He did not accept the view that the world is full of 'haves' and 'have nots'. He believed that everyone is a 'have'.

This division of people between 'haves' and 'have nots' leads to class war. Marxist analysis believes that this class conflict between the 'haves' and the 'have nots', the rich and the poor is inevitable. The poor can win only when they defeat the rich. Equality cannot be established without annihilating class enemies. Millions of people have been killed in Soviet Russia, China and other countries in the world have paid a heavy price for this theory of class war. Intellectuals, who almost invariably never even get hurt in violent conflicts were great supporters of this idea of Class War. This became an accepted 'religion' in many countries. India also made half-hearted efforts in that direction by making our country a 'Socialist' republic in 1976.

Because of the inherent strength of Indian tolerance and the liberal educational influence of the British, India did not go communist. India blundered through a socialist phase. This great 'economic' ideology has been rejected now all over Europe. Their economies are in ruin. People paid the price for it with their blood. Philosophy based on economics collapsed with their economies.

The States and their leaders became dictators, power-mad, and ruined their economies. The intellectuals gave respectability to their crimes in the name of Socialism. The communists wanted a similar revolution in India. They started it in Telangana in Andhra Pradesh. That is where Vinoba offered an alternative. He took the ethical fervour of Marx, moulded it in the crucible of Indian reality, and offered bhoodan.

Democracy survived in India. It flourished here, people got a better deal, a better life without violence, bloodshed and state terror. It was achieved in non-violent ways.

Vinoba never claimed success for bhoodan. He said he wanted to plant ideas for a better tomorrow. If they fail, he would not worry. New thoughts would sprout, new ideas, better ideas would come and replace the old ones. Ideas never fail. They change life, they change the society. They try to make the life of the people better. Vinoba was happy with this action. Effects and results are for others to judge and evaluate. As a Karmayogi, he was not interested in the fruits of his karma. He did his duty.

With love,


L. N. Godbole

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