Forty Years Ago: Vinoba speaks

The ringing of Christmas church bells mixed with the rattle of machinegun fire as Christian and Muslim gunmen fought on in Lebanon’s civil war.

By: Express News Service | Published:December 26, 2015 12:15 am
Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Indira Gandhi, satyagraha, mahatma gandhi, Lebanon civil war, The Indian Express newspaper on 25 December, forty years ago

Acharya Vinoba Bhave, ending his year-long silence, extolled the merits of self-discipline and deprecated the resort to satyagraha as a means of solving the country’s problems. In a 40-minute speech, punctuated with cheers from a crowd of about 15,000, Bhave said solutions to problems through anushashan (self-discipline) would ensure a social order based on peace and mutual respect. Since the government was responsive to anushashan, there was no need for satyagraha. Bhave expressed his hope that the Bhoodan movement, celebrating its silver jubilee, would grow and succeed and provide livelihood to the landless millions.

PM Extols Bhoodan

The prime minister expressed the hope that the voice of Acharya Vinoba Bhave would be heard for long years to come. In a message, Indira Gandhi hailed Bhave’s work in moulding satyagraha into an instrument of positive social change: “At the time of the individual satyagraha in 1940, Mahatma Gandhi acclaimed Acharya Vinoba Bhave as his principal spiritual disciple. Vinobaji has carried forward the message of satyagraha and shown that it is not merely a form of negative political protest but an instrument of positive social change. Through Bhoodan, he has demonstrated that love of justice and energy of spirit can be utilised to basic changes in rural economic and social relationships.”

Lebanon’s woes

The ringing of Christmas church bells mixed with the rattle of machinegun fire as Christian and Muslim gunmen fought on in Lebanon’s civil war. The state radio played “Jingle Bells” and Christmas carols and announced that the streets in Beirut were unsafe because of snipers and roadblocks. But radio reported that clashes at the port of Tripoli and the farm town of Zahlah died down on Christmas morning after a bloody Christmas eve. The police said 25 were killed and 60 wounded in 36 hours.

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