Sarvodaya Movement: The Gentle Anarchists

After Gandhi’s death, Sarvodaya, a movement based on his spiritual, ethical and political principles emerged. Vinoba Bhave (1895–1982), the leading figure in the movement for many years, taught absolute nonviolence, social organization based on universal love, decision making by consensus, the replacement of coercion by the recognition of moral authority, and the minimization and eventual abolition of state power. Vinoba’s social philosophy was fundamentally anarchist and communitarian. In pursuit of the movement’s goals he pursued a policy of asking landowners to donate land to the poor (Bhoodan, or “gift of land”) and of establishing village cooperative agriculture (Gramdan or “village gift”). Over a decade, Vinoba walked 25,000 miles across India and accepted eight million acres of Bhoodan land. The history of the Sarvodaya movement is recounted in Geoffrey Ostergaard and Melville Currell’s study, The Gentle Anarchists.


Source: John Clark, “Anarchism,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor (London & New York: Continuum, 2005).



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