Monday, December 14, 2009
Today, when the fire rages in Telangana and a debate on a Marathi Manoos rages on in Maharashtra, perhaps we need to remember and pay a tribute to people like Vinoba Bhave, who had seen the anguish of the Telanganites much earlier and yes incidentally happened to be a Maharashtrian.
In 1973, When Acharya Vinoba Bhave decided to see how he could help the landless people in India, he went to one of the most poverty striken areas, Telengana.
Setting himself up in the courtyard of a prayer compound, he was soon receiving visitors from the entire village. The landless people told Vinoba they had no choice but to support the people fighting for land, because they had no land. They asked him if he could ask the government give them land so they could grow the crops.
Vinoba replied, “What use is government help until we can help ourselves?”
Late that afternoon, by a lake next to the village, Vinoba held another prayer meeting that drew thousands of villagers from the surrounding area. Without really expecting a response, he said, “Brothers, is there anyone among you who can help your landless friends?”
The people were all silent, but they did realize Vinoba had no selfish interest, only their own interest at heart. “Why else would he coming walking all the way?” they thought.
Slowly, a prominent farmer of the village stood up. “Sir, I am ready to give one hundred acres.”
Vinoba could not believe his ears.
A farmer willing to part with 100 acres out of simple generosity. And Vinoba was just as astounded when the landless people declared that they needed only 80 acres and wouldn’t accept more!
Vinoba suddenly saw a solution. .
So began the movement called Bhoodan—“land-gift.” Over the next seven weeks, Vinoba asked for donations of land for the landless in 200 villages. “We do not aim at doing mere acts of kindness, but at creating a Kingdom of Kindness,” Vinoba Bhave used to say.
Yes, Bhoodan did not succeed as much as Vinoba wished, but surely, a remarkable way of solving problems through simple kindness had been shown..