The halt for three days of Vinoba Ji’s ‘Bhoodan Padyatra’ in April 1957 was in Kanyakumari. On the morning of April 16, 1957, Vinoba ji went to the sea coast of Kanyakumari, where, sitting at a stone by the shore, touching the waves of the ocean, seeing the rising ‘Surya Narayan’ (The Divine Sun) and remembering Kanyakumari, he vowed thus - “Until the ‘Swarajya’ is transformed into ‘Gram Swarajya’, this body of mine will continue to be engaged in this work.”
Today, after 65 years, under the leadership of Shri Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is about to start a ‘padyatra’ on September 07, 2022, from the same Kanyakumari. This ‘padyatra’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir is about 3500 km long and would take about 150 days. Vinoba Ji, in his vow, had went out to transform ‘Swarajya’ into ‘Gram Swarajya’. But today, the ‘Swarajya’ itself along with independence, democracy and secularism is endangered! And the ruling class is moving towards dictatorship. Rahul Ji, in other words the Congress, single-handedly, is fighting the battle against this situation. This fight is not BJP vs Congress but this fight is dictatorship vs democracy!’
Sarvodaya and Congress
Soon after Gandhiji’s martyrdom, Sarvodaya Samaj and Sarva Seva Sangh were established under the guidance of Vinoba ji in a conference held from 13 to 15 March 1948 at Sevagram, Wardha. Congress leaders like Vinoba ji and President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad, Shankar Rao Dev etc. were present in this conference. Congress General Secretary Shankar Rao Ji Dev took charge of the ministerial post of Sarva Seva Sangh as well. In this way, Sarvodaya and Congress got linked with each other. Gandhi Ji’s two heirs - Vinoba and Pt. Nehru, started the work of nation-building afresh and in cooperation with each other as soon as they got independence. Vinoba Ji carried forward the ‘Sarvodaya Movement’ on the basis of ‘Ekadsh Vrat’ (Eleven Vows) to create a rule-free, exploitation-free, class-free, non-violent society, and Pandit Ji started the work to create a new form of Congress on the basis of multilateral democracy, secular nationalism, composite economy and elitist international policy. The idea of Vinoba-pioneered ‘Sarvodaya’ and that of Pandit Nehru-pioneered Congress are mutually complementary and were raised by the two heirs of Mahatma Gandhi - Vinoba and Nehru. We should understand that Sarvodaya and Congress are siblings.
‘Congress: In Vinoba Ji’s words’
“The condition of Congress today is quite different from what it was before. Since it is the ruling Party, its responsibility has increased manifold. Before independence, the Congress had to go to jail, to exile, so those who entered it entered a sort of purgatory and emerged refined. Today, the Congress is not exiled, but is coronated. Therefore, there is a danger of unwanted elements too entering it. In such a situation, if there is no special programme of renunciation, of exile, then at least one of ‘Janwaas’ should be there. ‘If we expect moral strength in any institution, then that institution needs a programme of renunciation.’ Congress has no programme of renunciation today. There is no work to serve the public, there is no opportunity for renunciation, so the Congress has started to fall. ‘If the virtue of Congress is to be maintained, then one should be engaged in the work of Sarvodaya.’ Many a times, they talk about purification of Congress, but unless some programme of sacrifice and service comes before the Congress, it will not be purified. No such programme has been given to the Congress after ‘Swarajya’ which could become the bellwether for the members of the Congress. Congress workers and creative workers can work together only when all the Congress workers become creative workers. When this happens, the creative workers will also become Congressmen and will be called ‘Political’. And because of doing creative work, political workers will be called ‘Creative Workers’. In fact, after ‘Swarajya’ there can be no difference between the political point of view and the creative work. What is there to be done in ‘Swarajya’? It is all about creative work. So, there can be no difference between the two.”
Today, Rahul ji has set out on a ‘Padyatra’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, to embody the programme of sacrifice, service and ‘Janwas’ that Vinoba Ji had envisioned for the purification of Congress. Vinoba Ji’s dream of building a non-violent society will be fulfilled only if Swaraj, independence, democracy and secularism remain intact in the country. Today, Rahul Ji has started a sort fight by initiating the ‘Padyatra’ of ‘Dictatorship vs. Democracy’. All the workers of Sarvodaya and Congress, standing in favour of democracy, should join Rahul Ji’s ‘Padyatra’ or at least give him moral support.
This is an ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ year of Vinoba-pioneered ‘Sarvodaya’. Similarly, this is also the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ year of Nehru-pioneered Congress. It is also 75 years of the cooperation of Vinoba and Pandit Nehru i.e. Sarvodaya and Congress. Both Sarvodaya and Congress must remember this and must work together for nation building!
(The author is a dedicated Sarvodaya public servant.)