Vinoba Bhave also known as Vinayak Narahari Bhave born on September 11, 1895 in Gagode, British India & died on November 15, 1982 in New Delhi, India, often called Acharya (Sanskrit for teacher), was an Indian advocate of nonviolence and human rights. He is best known for the Bhoodan Andolan. He is considered as a National Teacher of India and the spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi.
He was born in Gagode village in Colaba (now Raigad District of Mumbai State, Maharashtra) into a pious family of the Chitpavan Brahmin clan. He was brought-up in Baroda. He was highly inspired after reading the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharat, Ramayan at a very early age. His father, Naraharishumbhurao Bhave was a devout Hindu and his mother, Rukmini Devi who died in 1918, was a great influence on him. In his memoir, Bhave states that, “there is nothing to equal the part my mother played in shaping my mind”. Specifically, her devotion and spirituality.
His two brothers, Balkoba Bhave and Shivaji Bhave, were also bachelors devoted to social work.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave was a freedom fighter and a spiritual teacher. He is best known as the founder of the ‘Bhoodan Movement’ (Gift of the Land). The reformer had an intense concern for the deprived masses. Vinoba Bhave had once said, “All revolutions are spiritual at the source. All my activities have the sole purpose of achieving a union of hearts.” In 1958, Vinoba was the first recipient of the international Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He was also conferred with the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian awards) posthumously in 1983.
Vinoba Bhave was born at Gagode in Kolaba district, Maharashtra on 11 September, 1895. His original name was Vinayak Narahari Bhave. His mother Rukmini Devi was a very religious person. At a very young age Vinoba was deeply interested in Mathematics. In 1916, on his way to Mumbai to appear for the intermediate examination, Vinoba Bhave put hisschool and college certificates into a fire. It was believed that Vinoba took the decision after reading a piece of writing in a newspaper written by Mahatma Gandhi.He was the father of “BHUDAN” andolan.
After a series of exchange of letters between Gandhi and Bhave, on 7 June, 1916 Vinoba went to meet Gandhi. Five years later, on 8 April, 1921, Vinoba went to Wardha to take charge of a Gandhi-ashram there. During his stay at Wardha, Bhave also brought out a monthly in Marathi, named, `Maharashtra Dharma’. The monthly consisted of his essays on the Upanishads. Over the years, the bond between Vinoba and Gandhi grew stronger and his involvement in constructive programmes for the society kept on increasing.
In 1932, accusing Vinoba Bhave of conspiring against the colonial rule, the British government sent him to jail for six months to Dhulia. There, he told the fellow prisoners about the different subjects of ‘Bhagwad Gita’, inMarathi. All the lectures given by him on Gita in Dhulia jail were collected and later published as a book.
Until 1940, Vinoba Bhave was known only to the people around him.Mahatma Gandhi, on 5 October, 1940, introduced Bhave to the nation by issuing a statement. He was also chosen as the first Individual Satyagrahi (an Individual standing up for Truth instead of a collective action) by Gandhi himself.
In November 1982, Vinoba Bhave fell seriously ill and decided to end his life by refusing to accept any food and medicine during his last days. He died on 15 November, 1982.
He was associated with Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian independence movement. In 1932 he was sent to jail by the British colonial government because of his activism against British rule. There he gave a series of talks on the Gita, in his native language Marathi, to his fellow prisoners.
These highly inspiring talks were later published as the book “Talks on the Gita”, and it has been translated to many languages both in India and elsewhere. Vinoba felt that the source of these talks was something above and he believed that its influence will endure even if his other works were forgotten.
In 1940 he was chosen by Gandhi to be the first Individual Satyagrahi (anIndividual standing up for Truth instead of a collective action) against the British rule. It is said that Gandhi envied and respected Bhave’s celibacy, a vow he made in his adolescence, in fitting with his belief in the Brahmacharya principle. Bhave also participated in the Quit India Movement.
Vinoba’s religious outlook was very broad and it synthesized the truths of many religions. This can be seen in one of his hymns “Om Tat” which contains symbols of many religions.
Vinoba observed the life of the average Indian living in a village and tried to find solutions for the problems he faced with a firm spiritual foundation. This formed the core of his Sarvodaya (Awakening of all potentials) movement. Another example of this is the Bhoodan (land gift) movement started at Pochampally on April 18, 1951, after interacting with 40 Harijan families. He walked all across India asking people with land to consider him as one of their sons and so give him a one seventh of their land which he then distributed to landless poor. Non-violence and compassion being a hallmark of his philosophy, he also campaigned against the slaughtering of cows.
Vinoba Said “I have walked all over India for 13 years. In the backdrop of enuring perpetuity of my life’s work, I have established 6 Ashrams. Although I have accomplished a lot, one of the achievements “Baba” would like to be remembered, is for establishing these Ashrams. Hence, 6 geographical sites were chosen. 3 in the three corners of India and three in the middle, on the lines of Adi Shankara.
Vinoba Bhave was a scholar, thinker, writer who produced numerous books, translator who made Sanskrit texts accessible to the common man, orator, linguist who had an excellent command of several languages (Marathi, Hindi, Urdu, English, Sanskrit, Kannada), and a social reformer. Shri Vinoba Bhave called “Kannada” script as “Queen of World Scripts” – “Vishwa Lipigala Raani”. He wrote brief introductions to, and criticisms of, several religious and philosophical works like the Bhagavad Gita, works of Adi Shankaracharya, the Bible and Quran. His criticism of Dnyaneshwar’s poetry as also the output by other Marathi saints is quite brilliant and a testimony to the breadth of his intellect. Vinoba Bhave had translated Bhagavad Gita into Marathi. He was deeply influenced by the Gita and attempted to imbibe its teachings into his life, often stating that “The Gita is my life’s breath”.
In 1955, Great saint of India Vinoba Bhave had started land donation movement. He took donated land from rich Indians and gave to poor free of cost for making houses and living. He got more than 1000 villages in the form of donation for poor Indians. Out of these, he obtained 175 donated villages just in Tamil Nadu.this was called bhoodan movement.
Vinoba spent the later part of his life at his ashram in Paunar,Maharashtra. He controversially backed the Indian Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, calling it Anushasana Parva (Time for Discipline).
However, in his end days he was very much against the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as she had ordered shootout of sant samaj who did gherao of Parliament against cow slaughter. It was under this depression that Vinoba Bhave end his life. He died on November 15, 1982 after refusing food and medicine for a few days.
Indira Gandhi cut short her visit to attend the funeral of Brezhnev and came back to attend the funeral of Vinoba Bhave.
V. S. Naipaul has given scathing criticism of Bhave in his collection of essays citing his lack of connection with rationality and excessive imitation of Gandhi. Even some of his admirers find fault with the extent of his devotion to Gandhi. Much more controversial was his support, ranging from covert to open, to Congress Party’s government under Indira Gandhi, which was fast becoming unpopular.
In 1958 Vinoba was the first recipient of the international Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1983.