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The History Of The Bhoodan Gramdan Movement History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Bhoodan movement was started by him in April 18, 1951, and it attracted attention of all people but he was in ignorance of all publicity and he was set to his purpose of a better society. In whole of his life he showed commitment to non-violence, and his faith in human values.

Vinoba was born in a Brahmin family on September 11, 1895 at Gagoda in Kolaba district of Maharashtra. At birth he was named Vinayak . he was greatly influenced by his mother Rukmini Devi,who was a very religious person. He had a younger brother, Balkoba Shivaji,who remained unmarried and adopted a life ofservice to humanity like him.

Vinoba had interest in mathematics and was known among maharashtria’s saints since young age. He was agiated in two years of his college. In 1916 while on his way to Mumbai to give his intermediate examinations he put his certificates on fire. And he decided to go to Varanasi (Benaras). This was due to the fact that he wanted to attain the imperishable. There he studied ancient Sanskrit.

When Gandhi gave speech in Benaras Hindu University it got vinoba’s attention. After that he exchanged series of letters with Gandhi. Gandhi called him to visit ashram in Ahmedabad. Then Vinoba went to the ashram and he met Gandhi on June 7, 1916. Meeting Gandhi marked change in vinoba’s life. After many years the bonds grew stronger between both of them. Vinoba used to do all activities with interest at ashram and helped in improving life of people.

Vinoba went to wardha on April 8, 1921 as he was asked by Gandhi to take charge there. Later on he brought out `Maharashtra Dharma’, a monthly in Marathi, it contained essays on the Upanishads. It went on to become weekly. Vinoba used to actively participate in politics and he was jailed at nagda in 1923 for being part of satyagrah. He was jailed again in 1932. He was selected by Gandhi as first satyagrahi in 1940. He again got imprisoned at vellore and seoni jails for taking part in quit india movement in year 1942. Vinoba was a quick learner while in jail he learned four south indian languages. He also spotted his book ‘Gitai’ in jail only. His writings which used to cover deep topics were easily understandable bye normal people and hence it became popular. The competence of this multi-lingual scholar as an editor was also of high order as displayed by his editing of `Maharashtra Dharma’ (mentioned earlier), Sarvodaya (in Hindi) and Sevak (in Marathi).

After independence of india when gandhi’s idea started to fade from people’s memory, vinoba started his “bhoodan” movement. And in a period of twenty years, he travelled all across india by foot. Persuading landlords to give their land to poor people and he successfully distributed four million of land among poor people.


The Bhoodan Movement (Hindi: भूदान) or Land Gift Movement was initiated and inspired by Vinoba bhave 1951. It was a land reform movement. And it helped in bringing Vinoba to the limelight.

In 1951,the Third Annual Sarvodaya Conference was held at Shivarampali, a village a few miles south of the city of Hyderabad in South India. Vinoba left to attend the meeting and walked three hundred miles to Hyderabad. At that time there was communist rebellion in telangana. This army had tried to break the land monopoly of the rich landlords by driving them out or killing them and distributing their land.Vinoba thought that in future there was a contest between principles of Gandhi and marx. In Hyderabad vinoba’s and other gandhians got their faith in non violence tested.

On April 11th 1951, the final day of conference,Vinoba said that he would tour the areas where communism was at peak in telangana.

On April 18th 1951, was the day when Bhoodan movement started, when Vinoba entered Nalgonda district, where communist were in force. there he was confronted by local landless people and they gave him a warm reception. Vinoba visited harijans colony and later in day harijans came to ask him for eighty acres of land. Then Vinoba suggested that of government is not giving land then possibly villagers can help each other. And then “Vedre Ramachandra Reddy Bhoodhan”, the local landlord promised to give hundred acres of land. This incident which was neither planned nor imagined was the very outset of the Bhoodan movement and it made Vinoba bhave think that this method can be used to solve the biggest root of poverty in india that is land less people. The root of land monopoly, he reasoned, is greed. If greed can be removed from people’s mind,it would lead to end of the exploitation of poor people. As he later put it, “We do not aim at doing mere acts of kindness, but at creating a Kingdom of Kindness.” This movement later on went to become more radical program and turned into village gift or Gramdan movement. This movement was a part of a comprehensive movement which led to the establishment of a Sarvodaya Society, both in India & outside India. In the United States, major articles on Vinoba appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker-Vinoba even appeared on the cover of Time.

Some argue that the land given as a gift is often poor quality, barren, rocky and uncultivable. But its said that no land can be called useless. He used to say that more than the quality of the land,it should be seen that there is willingness among people to give their property for a social cause.and that is the seeds of a mighty revolution. And the poor quality land could be utilized for pastures, afforestation, the rehabilitation of displaced people.

The movement had its ups and downs. Vinoba went on to demand fifty million acres of land from whole of india for the landless people by 1957. And hence a movement which was personal became a mass movement. But its downfall started in 1971 and it collapsed under its own weight. And the land gift movement got changed into village gift or “gramdan”. In gramdan major part of village was donated by majority of villagers in favour of distribution of land equally among all village’s families. Meanwhile the land gift was still there but it was neglected.

The main reason for the decline was the fact that it was not popular in non -tribal areas.

There were other programs also such as Sampattidan (Wealth-gift), Shramdan(Labour-gift), Jeevandan ( Life-long commitment to the movement by co-workers), Sadhandan (gift for agricultural operations).There were questions as to why the sampattidan, for example, was not launched at the same time as the bhoodan. As the Landless people receiving land due to bhoodan can’t work on it unless they have the required materials. But acharya ji said “he knew it from the beginning, but he chose to follow the formula which says ‘attend yet to the root and all else will grow automatically.’ As everyone knows that fundamental problem is land.

The movement not only brought land to landless people but it also helped in igniting interest of people in gandhian philosophy as educated people were overlooking those ideas if not considering irrelevant.

Many people got moved by this movement among the prominent were Jayaprakash Narayan, a renowned Marxist, and a Socialist. He was a big leader in politics before and even after india’s independence. He came close to the movement and realized that it was a very good idea which had its basis on gandhian philosophyand he devoted his life for sarvodaya society.

The movement was attracting not only attention from indian people but also from foreigner’s. Louis Fischer, the famous American said: “Gramdan is the most creative thought coming from the East in recent times”. Hallam Tennyson, wrote a book, “The Saint on the march” in which he shared his experiences as he travelled with vinoba bhave in rural india. And an American ambassador to India Chester Bowles, said in his book, “The dimensions of peace”: “We experienced in 1955, the Bhoodan Movement it is giving the message of Renaissance in India. It offers a revolutionary alternative to communism, as it is founded on human dignity”.

The British Industrialist, Earnest Barder was so much impressed by the Bhoodan movement that he implemented the Gandhian concept and alloted 90% share of his company to his industrial workers. Arthur Koestler, in 1959 wrote in London Observer, that the Bhoodan Movement was presenting itself as a substitute to the Nehruvian model of Western development.

It can be concluded by saying that even after having its limitations “bhoodan movement” was a splendid attempt for soving land problems thorough means of gandhian philosophy. And it helped in construction if socio-economic-political order of relevance and significance.


Vinoba bhave said that we in india respect cow, think of it as a member in family. Its protection is there in our philosophy. And in this respect we are ahead of the western people. In western socialism equality and protection of men is asked, but in india we respect cow. But even though respect is there the care of cow is not being taken. It’s being used for many things in day to day life like for milk, dung for manure, fields plough in villages.

Vinoba bhave made it clear that ban should be there on cow slaughter.And he argued that some people who say that india being secular country should not do so, be asked that if hindu religion is against it than which religion supports it. No religion says its meritious to kill an animal. And hence he used to say that nothing should stop a secular state from preventing cow, and we must do it.

Later life and death

Even during his final years, he tried to start new programs. He launched an campaign against “cow slaughter” reminding people of usefulness of cow in our lives, and how our religion tells us to respect it. He also started woman’ power awakening, it was a gandhian way of liberating women. He was in paunar,Maharashtra in later part. He alienated himself from sarva seva sangh when he backed the indian emergency by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as his fellow gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan was against the government . he called it Anushasana Parva (Time for Discipline). But in his end days he opposed then prime minister as she had ordered shooting of sant samaj. He died on November 15, 1982. He suffered heart attack and after it he decided to leave his body. And he simply stopped consumption of food till his soul was free.

Another Great Soul had left us.

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