Vinoba Bhave


Vinoba Bhave : biography

11 September 1895 – 15 November 1982

Literary career

Vinoba Bhave was a scholar, thinker, and writer who produced numerous books. He was a translator who made Sanskrit texts accessible to the common man. He was also an orator and linguist who had an excellent command of several languages (Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, English, Sanskrit). Vinoba Bhave was an innovative social reformer. Shri Vinoba Bhave called Nagari script the "Queen of World Scripts". He wrote brief introductions to, and criticisms of, several religious and philosophical works like the Bhagavad Gita, works of Adi Shankaracharya, the Bible and Quran. His criticism of Dnyaneshwar’s poetry and works by other Marathi saints is quite brilliant and a testimony to the breadth of his intellect.

Vinoba Bhave had translated the Bhagavad Gita into Marathi. He was deeply influenced by the Gita and attempted to imbibe its teachings into his life, often stating that "The Gita is my life’s breath".Minor Robert(1986) Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavad Gita. State University of NY press. ISBN 978-0-88706-298-8

Some of his works are:

  • The essence of Quran
  • The essence of Christian teachings
  • Thoughts on education
  • Swarajya Sastra

A University has been named after him, Vinoba Bhave University, which is located in Hazaribagh district in the State of Jharkhand.

Vinobha Bhave and Land Donation Movement

In 1951 Vinoba Bhave started his land donation movement, the Bhoodan Movement. He took donated land from land owner Indians and gave it away to the poor and landless, for them to cultivate. Then after 1954, he started to ask for donations of whole villages in a programme he called Gramdan. He got more than 1000 villages by way of donation. Out of these, he obtained 175 donated villages in Tamil Nadu alone.

Early life and background

He was born in Ghagode village in Raigad District, Maharashtra on 11 September 1895 to father, Narahari Shumbhurao and mother, Rukmini Devi. His original name was Vinayak Narahari Bhave. He was brought up in Ghagode and then went for studies in Baroda, Gujarat. He was highly inspired after reading the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana at a very early age. His two brothers, Balkoba and Shivaji, were also bachelors devoted to social work.

Association with Mohandas Gandhi

After a series of exchange of letters between Mohandas K. Gandhi and Bhave, Vinoba went to meet Mahatma Gandhi. Five years later, on 8 April 1921, Vinoba went to Wardha to start a Gandhi ashram there. During his stay at Wardha, Bhave also brought out a monthly in Marathi, (the official language of Maharashtra) named `Maharashtra Dharma’. The monthly consisted of his essays on the Upanishads. Over the years, the bond between Vinoba and Mahatma Gandhi grew stronger and his involvement in constructive programs for the society kept on increasing.

In 1932, accusing Vinoba Bhave of conspiring against the colonial rule, the British government sent him to jail in Dhule for six months. There he gave talks in Marathi on the Bhagavad Gita to fellow prisoners. All the lectures given by him on Gita in Dhulia jail were collected by Saneguruji and later published as a book.

Until 1940, Vinoba Bhave was known only to the people around him. On 5 October 1940 Gandhi introduced Bhave to the nation by issuing a statement. He was also chosen as the first individual Satyagrahi by Gandhi.

Acharya Vinoba Bhave was a freedom fighter and a spiritual teacher. He is best known as the founder of the Bhoodan Movement (Gift of the Land). The reformer had an intense concern for the deprived masses. Vinoba Bhave had once said, "All revolutions are spiritual at the source. All my activities have the sole purpose of achieving a union of hearts." In 1958, Vinoba was the first recipient of the international Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He was also conferred with the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian award) posthumously in 1983.


In November 1982, Vinoba Bhave fell ill and, realizing that the purpose of his body had become exhausted, decided to end his life by fasting to death – that is, refusing to accept any food or medicine during his last days. He died on 15 November 1982.


In 1958 Vinoba was the first recipient of the international Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. accessed in January 2010 He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1983. accessed in January 2010