Saturday, 7 January 2017

Vinoba Bhave and Humility


It was around 1930-31. Vinoba was spinning yarn on a charkha as he taught me. Some one bought the day's letters for him. I could recognise one of the letters as Bapu's (Gandhiji's) from its appearance and the handwriting of the address. Vinoba read the letter once and tore it to pieces. His usual practice was to read his letters and destroy them later when he replied to them - he didn't have to read the letter again for preparing the reply. So I was familiar with his treatment of his letters.] But this was Bapu's letter. Baba (Vinoba) had torn it without bothering about the reply.! was curious to know the contents of the letter. I took the pieces of the letter, put them together and read it. I was amazed. Bapu had written to Baba, referring to some incident, "I have never come across a great soul like you."

People preserve even routine letters of Bapu with much care. I was angry with Baba for the way he treated this letter with such an important remark in it. In an agitated mood,- I asked Baba, "Why did you tear the letter?"

Baba said calmly, "Our dear and elderly people also err, out of carelessness or affection. It is not correct to preserve it. It has an element of delusion and even violence."

Again, with much excitement, I asked Baba, "Who are you to decide that Bapu has erred?"

Baba said, again, calmly, "Bapu had seen millions' of people. Many of them would have been great, divine souls. Bapu might not have recognised them as such, or even having recognised them, he might have forgotten to register them. By his neglecting to remember, there will be no decrease in the greatness of such souls. Bapu wrote like this about me out of affection for me or due to delusion. He has erred in this. One should recognise this. Where is the need to preserve it?"

"How do you say it is a lapse? He might have written after due deliberation."

"Even if it might be true, what is its advantage to me? It would only boost my ego. Why preserve a useless thing?"

I said , "It is the writing of a great man like Bapu. Even if it refers to you, it is not your property. It belongs to the world. What right do you have to destroy it?"

Vinoba explained, "Such talk rises from one's delusion. Affection is the main part of the letter. I acknowledged it. I gain by destroying the rest of it. If what he wrote about me is the truth, it would not be destroyed by my tearing up of the letter. Truth prevails. But if it is delusion, it is better destroyed. Preserving it is harmful."

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