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Sarvodaya Simplified

B. Vivekanandan

By Detlef Kantowsky
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 228, Rs. 75.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 4 January-February 1981

'SARVODAYA' movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi and pursued by others like Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan in India, and A.T. Aryartne in Sri Lanka, has attracted the attention of scholars an over the world. The move­ment, which is aimed at development without dehumanization, is a challenge to the modern urban-industrial culture devoid of humane approach. Sarvodaya has underlined the fact that material well being of man alone can hardly bring him happiness since the ‘economic man’ alienates himself from the social affection and from the society as well. Therefore, as Jayaprakash Narayan once said, ‘the cities have become great human forests’ with econo­mic and social relationship ‘utterly im­personal’ and created a new civilization which turned even neighbours into stran­gers. Moreover, according to him, ‘In a material civilization man has no rational incentive to be good’. However, Sarvo­daya is emphatic that in pursuit of deve­lopment if the rules of morality are broken, happiness and contentment can never be achieved. Village was the nucleus of Gandhiji's sarvodaya. For him India's soul was in villages. In 1936 he wrote ‘I would say that if the village perishes, India will perish too. It will be no more India. Her own mission in the world would get lost.’ Indeed, the village reconstruction based on truth, non-violence, enlighten­ment and self-sufficiency was central to the sarvodaya concept developed by Gandhiji. Of course, the economic and social equality occupied a pivotal posi­tion in his "Constructive Programme." In Sri Lanka, the concept took the form of Sarvodaya Shramadana Move­ment which was based on the ‘sharing of one's time, thought and energy for awakening of all". A notable aspect of the movement in Sri Lanka is the domi­nant religious flavour in it and its close association with the Buddhist culture and the substantial participation of Budhist monks in the promotion of the movement. Also notable is the movement's heavy dependence on foreign sources for financial and other support. Still the movement seems to have not got off the ground. The book under review analyses the development of Sarvodaya concept both in India and Sri Lanka and examines the theory and practice of it in both the countries and tries to examine its rele­vance as a model for development. It begins with the background and the ideas which had initially influenced the thought process of Mahatma Gandhi in this direction. ...

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