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Vinayak Narahari


Vinayak Narahari "Vinoba" Bhave (11 September 1895 – 15 November 1982) was an Indian advocate of nonviolence and human rights. Often called Acharya (Sanskrit for teacher), he is best known for the Bhoodan Movement. He is considered as a National Teacher of India and the spiritual successor of Mohandas Gandhi. The Gita has also been translated into Marathi language by him with the name as Geetai means mother Geeta.

Early life

Vinayaka Narahari Bhave was born in a small village called Gagoji in Maharashtra. His father was a trained weaver with a rationalist modern outlook, and worked in Baroda. Vinayaka was greatly influenced by his mother Rukmini Devi, a religious woman from Karnataka. Vinayaka was highly inspired after reading the Bhagavad Gita, at a very young age. A report in the newspapers about Gandhi's speech at the newly founded Banaras Hindu University attracted Bhave's attention. He wrote a letter to Gandhi and after an exchange of letters, Gandhi advised Bhave to come for a personal meeting at Kochrab Ashram in Ahmedabad. Bhave participated with keen interest in the activities at Gandhi's ashram, like teaching, studying, spinning and improving the life of the community. His involvement with Gandhi's constructive programmes related to Khadi, village industries, new education (Nai Talim), sanitation and hygiene also kept on increasing.

Bhave's Political Activities

Bhave was arrested several times during Indian freedom movement for leading non-violent resistance to British rule. Bhave participated in the nationwide civil disobedience periodically conducted against the British, and was imprisoned with other nationalists. He gained national prominence when Gandhi chose him as the first participant in a new nonviolent campaign in 1940. He took part in programs of non-cooperation and especially the call for use of Swadeshi goods instead of foreign imports.

Bhave’s Social, Cultural, Ethial and Moral Philosophy

He also learnt four South Indian languages and created the script of Lok Nagari at Vellore jail. In the jails, he gave a series of talks on Bhagavad Gita in Marathi, to his fellow prisoners. Vinoba Bhave worked tirelessly towards eradicating social evils like inequality. Influenced by the examples set by Gandhi, he took up the cause of people that his guru lovingly referred to as Harijans. It was his aim to establish the kind of society that Gandhi had envisioned in an Independent India. He adopted the term Sarvodaya from Gandhi which simply means “Progress for All”. The Sarvodaya movement under him implemented various programs during the 1950s, the chief among which is the Bhoodan Movement.

Vinobha Bhave’s Religious View

Vinoba was greatly influenced by the Bhagvad Gita and his thoughts and efforts were based upon the doctrines of the Holy Book. He set up a number of Ashrams to promote a simple way of life, devoid of luxuries that took away one’s focus from the Divine. He established the Brahma Vidya Mandir in 1959, a small community for women, aiming at self-sufficiency on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings. He took a strong stand on cow slaughter and declared to go on fast until it was banned in India.

Literary work of Vinobha Bhave

In his lifetime he authored a number of books most of which were based on spiritual content. He had command over multiple languages including Indian regional languages like Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu, apart from English and Sanskrit. He got the content of scriptures written in Sanskrit legible to the masses by translating them to the various common languages. Some of the books written by him are:
  • Swarajya Sastra,
  • Geeta Pravachane,
  • Teesri Shakti or The Third Power etc.

What is Bhudan Movement

Vinoba Bhave a reformer of Independent India started the Bhoodan movement which mission was to persuade wealthy landowners to willingly give a small share of their land to the landless people. Once India became an independent nation, about four years later Vinoba Bhave carried out a unique movement of his own. He travelled across all of India to convince the wealthy land-owners or land-lords to share a small area of their land with their poor and downtrodden neighbours with the condition that they can’t sell the land.

How Bhudan Movement started

Bhoodan movement began with Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1951 in Telangana. Vinobha Bhave visited the ‘untouchables’ or Harijan colony, where they asked for 80 acres of land for 40 families in Telangana. As documented in history, while the discussion was going on, Ram Chandra Reddy who was the local landlord, got up and exclaimed, “I will give you 100 acres for these people.” This made Vinoba come up with an idea, that this may have the solution for possibly resolving land issues across the country. Soon, this movement led to become the Gramdan or village-gift movement and went through many levels of allied programmes and initiatives. However the success lasted till 1957, post which it slowly faded.

Concept of Sarvodaya:

This concept was first of all adopted by Mahatma Gandhi. It is a comprehensive, social, economic, political, moral and spiritual philosophy. After Gandhi, It was subsequently adopted by Achaiya Vinoba Bhave. He developed it taking into consideration of Indian social systems and conditions. Sarvodaya means “the welfare of all.” Sarvodaya movement is the movement which aims at rural reconstruction and uplifting the people of rural India by peaceful and co-operative means. Sarvodaya stresses on coexistence and mutual love. In order to implement high Ideals of Sarvodaya, Vinoba Bhave established Sarvodaya Samaj. The Sarvodaya philosophy received considerable attention of Jai Prakash Narayan. Sarvodaya provides opportunity for the all-round development of the individual and the society.

Sarvodaya in Economic field

  • The most Important economic wealth of the nation is the human being.
  • Everyone should be given an opportunity to contribute in national production. It aims at equitable distribution of land.
  • It attaches Importance to the principle of trusteeship as implying the abolition of private ownership and the application of the principle of non-possession to public institutions.
  • Inequalities in Income and wealth should be reduced to the extent possible.
  • Industries should be decentralised and land redistributed equally.
  • Sarvodaya gives importance to planning.

Sarvodaya in Political Field

  • Vinobajl believed in stateless society. According to him, State is not a natural creation but an artificial one.
  • State was the source of the evil of the centralised economic and political power. It favours party-less democracy.
  • A Sarvodaya society believes in individual freedom and decentralised government.
  • About the government Vinobajl said that there is nothing more terrible than the institution of government.
  • In Sarvodaya philosophy, political power is not an end in itself, but it is only means to an end. The end is the human welfare.

Sarvodaya in Social field

  • A Sarvodaya society believes in individual freedom and it is totally opposed to untouchability.
  • It is opposed to child marriage.
  • It promotes inter-caste marriages.
  • It promotes human dignity and universal brother hand.
  • It believes in universal adult franchise.
  • Vinobaji believes that all ends should be achieved by pure means only. Pure means is purity of action, ideas, body and mind.
  • Vinobaji was of opinion that everyone is expected to be non-violent and live with love and co-operation.
  • In Sarvodaya philosophy, human values and goodwill alone will dominate.
  • The Sarvodaya society believes in human equality and welfare of mankind.
  • Sarvodaya philosophy believes in the concept and basic philosophy of secularism.
  • Sarvodaya aims at universal education and voluntary family planning.
  • In social field, it pleads for an “Open society” where the distinctions of caste and class do not prevail.
  • The basic ideal of Sarvodaya is the welfare of all depending upon the principle of “from each according to his opportunity and talent to the each according to his need.”


Vinoba Bhave received serious brickbats in 1975 for supporting the state of emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Bhave advocated that the emergency was required to teach people about discipline. According to many scholars and political thinkers, Vinoba Bhave was a mere imitator of Mahatma Gandhi.