HIGHLIGHTS

  • VINOBA BHAVE dedicated himself to the propagation of a new kind of social revolution in India.
  • The vehicle he originated known as the Bhoodan Movement, its primary tangible objective “land for the landless.” Its tangible implications are even more significant.
  • Emphasizing a voluntary giving—first of land and more recently also of cash, kind, labor, intelligence, life and of whole villages—he has sought to bring his people to a fuller realization of man’s nobler nature.
  • He has awakened a consciousness of inner strength and nurtured a social morality. Seven years of walking to the villages of India, he has labored to create with gentle persuasion the climate of for social reform.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his furtherance of the cause of arousing his countrymen toward voluntary action in relieving social injustice and economic inequalities.”

 CITATION

Seven years ago, seeing the force of a simple act of human generosity “one man’s voluntary gift of land” in the solution of a bitter village conflict, VINOBA BHAVE dedicated himself to the propagation of a new kind of social revolution in India.

The vehicle he originated for this work, known as the Bhoodan Movement, has as its primary tangible objective “land for the landless.” Its intangible implications are even more significant. Emphasizing a voluntary giving, first of land and more recently also of cash, kind, labor, intelligence, life and of whole villages, he has sought to bring his people to a fuller realization of man’s nobler nature.

Many among his countrymen have responded to his abiding faith in the basic goodness of human character and the tempering effect of human conscience. In them, he has awakened a consciousness of inner strength and nurtured a social morality. Thus, in his seven years of walking to the villages of India, he has labored to create with gentle persuasion the climate for social reform wherein, by ways he has proposed, needed change could be accomplished voluntarily.

He has sought nothing for himself, least of all recognition of his achievements. Rather, his has been a life selflessly devoted to finding and conveying to his people an approach to the problem of poverty that is within the means of every man. He, in his way, as our late President Ramon Magsaysay did in his, has given himself humbly and unstintingly in service to his people.

In electing ACHARYA VINOBA BHAVE to receive the first Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes his furtherance of the cause of arousing his countrymen toward voluntary action in relieving social injustice and economic inequalities.

 RESPONSE

ACHARYA VINOBA BHAVE has conveyed to the Foundation his thanks for the Award which he has “most humbly accepted.” He has said he would have been happy if he could have come to Manila for the presentation ceremonies, but his padyatra, or walking to villages, must continue “until the land problem of India is satisfactorily solved.”

 BIOGRAPHY

VINOBA BHAVE was born on September 11, 1895, of Brahmin parents in Maharashtra in Western India. He left his formal studies at Baroda at the age of 18 to seek a life of self-denial and striving for understanding and to learn Sanskrit at Benares.

In 1916, he met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time at Sabarmati Ashram. Until the Indian leader’s death, VINOBA BHAVE was one of Gandhi’s most trusted and faithful followers. Asking once for a year’s leave of absence, he spent it studying intensively “to train his mind” and scavenging in the villages “to train his soul.” In 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, when Indian leaders adopted a policy of nonparticipation in the war effort, Gandhi chose VINOBAJI as the first satyagrahi to offer himself for arrest as protest against British edicts barring public speeches and assemblies espousing nonparticipation. Most of the next five years he spent in jail.

Today, ACHARYA VINOBA BHAVE is one of India’s greatest Sanskrit scholars, deeply learned in Eastern philosophy and skilled in mathematics. He has mastered much of the religious and philosophic lore of his land and “seems to live and move and have his being in it.” His utter simplicity of manner and dress bely the fact that he is a savant at home in 18 Indian and foreign languages, including Persian, Arabic, French and English. The title ACHARYA, given by popular acclaim for his wisdom and scholarship, has become a part of his name.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)