November 15th is Acharya Vinoba Bhave's Death Anniversary. I was on my way to Europe. Vinobaji has been one of my inspiring spirits. I came to know Vinobaji when I was teenager. He was on his Bhoodan Mission, on a long walk of the whole counrty, for bringing social change through Love and Compassion. He had been walking for fourteen long years through the length and breadth of the whole counrty (1951-1965). This event amazed and impressed me most. I started thinking of this extraordinary man. And I was surprised to see Vinobaji's book, Ishavasyabrithy, commentery on the famous Ishaupnishad, one of the renouned Vedic Books, on my father's reading table. This was the begining of my quest for knowing Vinobaji personally.
During my student days, in 1968, I visited Maitry Ashram, one of the five Ashrams, that Vinobaji started during his Bhoodan Padyatra. It is in Upper Assam, near Lakhimpur-Dibrugarh. There was a South-East Asia Student Seminar, during the Gandhi Centinary 1968-69. I represented University of Delhi in this Seminar. There I met one of close deciples of Vinobaji, Miss Pravina Desai, a very learned lady, with whom I have been intimately connected till today. She has always been inspiring. Pravinaji wrote a comment on my book, Living Nonviolence in 1986. I like her because she has not been a blind follower of Vinobaji, She herself is an original thinker and practioner all along. I have been observing her for the past 38 years.
Maitry Ashram, vinobaji started, with a view of promoting global friendship, with special emphasis on the nearby South-East Asian countries. I have been visiting this Ashram couple of times later also. Actually speaking, my this first visit to this Ashram brought me near to Vinobaji and his Sarvodaya Movement. I joined the movement immediately after finishing my studies in 1970. Co incidentally, this year was the 75th birth anniversory of Vinobaji and my first assignment in the Sarvodaya Movement was to work for Gram Swaraj Fund Central Office in New Delhi, with late Shri Sidhraj Dadda, a very senior Sarvodaya leader and close colleague of Shri Jaiprakash Narayan, JP. Gram Swaraj Fund was to be presented to Vinobaji on his 75th Birthday, 1971.(Cont.)
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