Vinoba Bhave was one of the great spiritual leaders and social reformers of modern India, whose work and personal example moved the heart of all Indians, from Prime Ministers to the poor. Born in 1895, at the age of ten he took a vow of lifelong celibacy and service to others. Searching for a way of life that would embody both spiritual truth and practical action, he discovered Gandhi and joined in his work for the regeneration of India.
Vinoba participated in Gandhi’s non-violent resistance (satyagraha) to the British Raj. Later, after independence had been achieved, Vinoba started out on his extraordinary bhoodan (Land Gift) movement. Over a period of twenty years, Vinoba walked the length and breath of India, persuading landlords to give to their poor neighbors a total of over four million aces of land.
Vinoba’s social activism was founded on a lifetime’s study of the spiritual traditions of India, and also of the other major world religions. These memories reveal both the inner and outer life of a great man who has an unwavering commitment to the practice of non-violence, to an engaged spirituality, and to the power of love.
This book is not Vinobaji’s autobiography. He himself used to say that if he were to sit down and write, the result would not be ‘the story of the self’, but a story of the ‘not-self’, because he was ‘Vinoba the forgetful’. But he neither wrote nor dictated any such story of the not-self. But during the course of his thousands of talks he used to illustrate his topics by examples from experience, and these naturally included some an attempt to pick out such incidents from various place and string them together. This is not a complete story, only a glimpse of it. There is no attempt to give a full picture of every event, every thought, every step of the way. It brings together only those incidents and stories which are to be had in Vinoba’s own words.
About the Authors:
Kalindi joined Vinoba in 1960, soon after taking her Master of Social Work degree. As his companion, she took notes of his speeches and conversations, and acted as a representative in dealings with the Press. When Vinoba started the Hindi monthly magazine Maitri in 1964, she became its editor, a Brahmavidya Mandir, the ashram founded by Vinoba at Paunar. The material translated into English for this book was originally published as a special edition of Maitri in 1985.
Marjorie Sykes spent the greater part of her life in India, and became an Indian citizen in 1950 when this became constitutionally possible. She worked with Rabindranath Tagore at his innovative university at Shantiniketan and translated some of his work into English. After Indian Independence she helped Gandhi in his Basic Education programme at Sevagram. In 1957 Vinoba invite her to convene the first all-India Shanti Sena (Peace Army) Committee, which he wished to be led by women. She later went to Canada and U.S. as a consultant to the non-violent Civil Rights movement, and from 1964-67 was a member of the Peacekeeping team monitoring the ceasefire between the Indian Government and the Nagaland Government fighters. Her published work includes biographies of Rabindranath Tagore and C.F. Andrews, translations of Vinoba’s Thoughts on Education and other works, and a book of personal reminiscences of Gandhi, Gandhi: His gift of the fight. A biography, Marjorie Sykes: Quaker Gandhian by Martha Dart, was published in 1993.