Letter 43

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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Anushasan Parva (Chapter on Discipline)


25th November, 1990

My dear Pranav,

There is one more episode in Vinoba's life which I must tell you about. Immediately after emergency was declared by Indira Gandhi on 25th June, 1975, Shri Vasant Sathe, then Minister for Information and Broadcasting went to meet Vinoba at Pavnar. Vinoba was observing his one year of silence from 25th December, 1974. Sathe went to Vinoba to seek his opinion about the emergency.

Vinoba showed Sathe a page from the MahabharatA titled "Anushasan Parva" (chapter on discipline). Since he would not speak, Sathe as Minister of Information and Broadcasting told the world through AIR, Doordarshan and the newspapers, that Vinoba had indicated his approval emergency by calling it a Chapter of Discipline. Everyone swallowed this interpretation by Sathe. That was the reason why Vinoba was called "Sarkari Saint" (government patronised saint).

This one action of Vinoba was used by politicians in power to full extent. Sarva Seva Sangh, which always transacted its business with unanimous resolutions, split. Most people went along with Jayprakash Narayan and very few remained with Vinoba.

For all members of Sarvodaya Samaj this was a testing time. The 1977 election victory was attributed to the slogan of Total Revolution. They felt that JP was right, and that they were vindicated. People elected the Janata Party to power. Indira Gandhi was totally routed in the general election of 1977. Humiliation was heaped on Vinoba. He remained steadfast in his views. He showed no bitterness. His love for JP, and JP's love for him remained unchanged.

Within 28 months, the Janata Party could not survive in power. In the 1980 election, Indira Gandhi came back to power. Vinoba after his year of silence explained that what he meant by Anushasan (discipline) was the anushasan decided by Acharyakula. This he had described in detail earlier in his concept of Acharyakula. The Acharyas who are non-partisan, not interested in political power but in social welfare should decide the rules of discipline and the government should only implement them. This he had decribed in detail earlier in his concept of Acharya Kula in 1968.

A man who shunned politics all his life, who advised against politics was dragged into party politics by clever politicians. His name was misused, but he remained steadfast. The words "Anushasan Parva" and "Sarkari Saint" became popular epithets to describe Vinoba. Sadly it all turned meaningless. JP died with remorse for the exploitation of the idea of Total Revolution. Politicians we interested in power: total revolution and JP were tools in their hands.

Politicians also used JP for partisan ends and dumped his advice once they were in power. People's power turned sour. It all happened in just three years. JP died as a disheartened man. Like Gandhi, he was killed, though metaphorically, by his followers.

Vinoba, inspite of much vilification, remained aloof and effective till the end. He did not get into politics, though many of his followers ditched him during emergency. He remained Vinoba till the end.

With love,


L. N. Godbole

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