10th June, 1990
My dear Pranav,
In my previous letter, I referred to the achievement of the land gifts movement (bhoodan) and the efforts of the government. Many people have dismissed this achievement of bhoodan by saying that only useless land was donated. But possibly they do not know that under the law of land ceiling, the landlord whose land is being confiscated has the choice to decide which part of his land he will give. What kind of land will any "economic man" give when he is threatened by confiscation? It is easy to reject the success of bhoodan because it is a totally new way of looking at Man and his Motives. You have to be alive and observant. Many new things are always happening around us but we close our eyes and therefore do not see them. One thing is very clear; the idea of communism never struck deep roots in rural India.
Vinoba had serious doubts about the real power of the state. He was not against laws. He said, "I am not blocking legislation, on the contrary, the work I am doing will make legislation much easier. I am creating a climate of opinion in its favour. If I were to go further and declare that without making laws, nothing can be done, I should have betrayed my Dharma. My Dharma calls on me to believe that we can evoke such a spirit in the hearts of the people, that without the aid of legislation and no matter what the law may say, they themselves will distribute the land. Do mothers need a law to induce them to nurse their babies? There is a power in the heart of man which enriches his life, and that power is love. Man depends on love, he is born of love, he is nourished by love and when the time comes for him to leave the world, he dies content if he can see his dear ones around him at the last moment. If, in spite of this experience of the power of love, we have not the courage to appeal to it in the wider life of society, and go on demanding legislation instead, we shall not be able to help our government in the way it expects of us by building up 'people's power' (lok shakti); to build up a people's power which is different from the power of the state (1).
Pranav, have you not seen this people's power recently in the Philippines, in Eastern Europe and everywhere else? Vinoba talked about it in 1954. We saw it after 35 years in 1989. If our Government, democratic as it is, decides to tackle the land problem, it will do so by legislative authority. There is nothing wrong in that, it is merely a different way of doing things. But governmental help of this type will not nurture the power of the people, although it may increase their prosperity. Our aim on the other hand is not merely that people should be prosperous, it is that they should realize their power.
This is why Vinoba insisted on Lok Sakti (People's Power). He used to say, "Government alone is like a Zero(0). People are like one. (1) If people are behind Government, its power is raised to Ten. (10)" Did I not refer to this in one of my earlier letters?
L. N. Godbole