Country’s Crying Need

Full Title: *The Countrys Crying Need*

_A contribution made to A Symposium on Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka-Swabasha Prakasakayo Ltd. Printers – Colombo 1959_

Nations and the world itself, are composed of families, groups, villages and towns. So too, nations and the world itself must develop simultaneously and harmoniously in all directions. The best way this potential can be realised is by the harmonious development of all

The world today is the cock-pit of many warring ideologies, political doctrines, different faiths and the struggle for economic prosperity. Sri Lanka is no exception.

All these conflicts result in a state of seething unrest and violence. While we are shocked at the colour bar in the United States we tolerate an equally hideous caste set-up. Though we are dismayed at the totalitarian tendencies of communist states, we have among us a similar system of oppression arising out of the struggle for power, the greed for wealth and attempts to force down ones point of view, be it in politics, religion or a way of life, on others. And where there is compulsion it naturally follows that some people, often the vast majority, are unhappy and dissatisfied. We are plagued by the myriad ills of unemployment, under nourishment, lack of housing, clothing and shelter and the bare amenities of life. In addition to these material ills our society is faced with a wide-spread lack of recognition of the efficacy of spiritual and moral values in bringing about a well organised community life. So far party and power politics have failed to solve any one of these problems despite the grandiloquent and pious sayings of politicians at election time and afterwards.

The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement is based on Truth, Non-violence and Self-denial. It is the exact opposite of party and power politics and organised religion in that it has no barriers of any sort whatsoever. It aims at the attainment of utmost happiness through doing good without expectation of reward. Anyone, whatever his income, his religion, his caste or race, can give of his best in those talents with which he is most qualified to serve. There is no rigid leadership in the Movement. Everyone serves as an equal in the enterprise. The very nature of the difficulties that face our country gives ample scope for useful and productive activity.

Sri Lanka faces grave dangers today on account of the many evils that permeate our society. The chief among these evils are:

# The loss of faith the individual has suffered in himself or herself as a result of the impact of modern society.
# A life based upon a reliance on the less worthwhile goals such as acquisition and possession of material wealth, power, position and status and the over indulgence that is practical in the pleasures of the senses.
# The adoption of anti-social and immoral means such as violence, deception, competition, corruption and exploitation in order to achieve these goals.
# The disintegration suffered by society by such divisive considerations as caste. class, creed, race and party politics.
# The maldistribution and improper utilisation of the factors of production viz. land, labour, capital, organization and human resources and the resulting failure to achieve the maximum welfare of one and all in a society whose population is increasing rapidly.
# The complete faith that is placed in the efficacy of large scale organisation in the field of politics, finance, commerce and industry.
# Excessive dependence that is placed on an export-import economy based on cash crops instead of on the more sound economy of self-sufficiency.
# The subservience of the village to the city or town.
# The failure to evoke the inherent strength the people have to solve their problems without depending entirely on state assistance.
# Relying too much on the ability of the politician and the administrator to solve both material and spiritual problems of society.
# Failure on the part of our leadership to understand that in the performance of their public duties they themselves have to obey the very moral laws which are recognised to be applicable to the individual.
# Lack of an integrated and coherent plan of national development giving every individual a place in its formulation and implementation.

Like the germs of a terrible disease attacking the body of a helpless victim these evils have eaten into the very fabric of our society. A drastic change is called for to remedy these ills and any delay will result in untold damage being done to the nation.

Our effort is to harness the inherent talents and resources available and lying unavailed of in our country, for the good of the community.

*The Basis of Our Solution*

A solution to these problems, we believe, is possible only through a proper consideration of the following principles:

# Truth, Non-violence and Self denial to be the corner-stone of all human endeavour.
# The means adopted in effecting this change to be as pure as the end itself. We do not agree that the end justifies the means.
# Proper harmonisation of the two disciplines of science and religion and the contribution of science is aimed at.
# The direction of society so as to bring about the full bloom of the potentialities of the individual through co-operative activity.
# Acceptance of a common national philosophy not inconsistent with universal welfare. A good citizen of a country is a good citizen of the world.

One need not go very far to understand that it is not at all possible for an agency like the state alone to create a suitable mental and psychological atmosphere to bring about this fundamental change. With all its bureaucratic limitations and political expediencies the State is hardly in a position to assume full responsibility for a task of this magnitude. It has to be evolved from the hearts and minds of the people who are prepared to dedicate their lives for this cause, which calls for immense personal sacrifice. The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka makes a sincere and bold attempt to create the necessary atmosphere to bring together such individuals with an unwavering faith in the Welfare of All-SARVODAYA.

*The Basic Tenets of Sarvodaya Philosophy*

* One who knows can learn more, there is no one who knows nothing.
* One who does much evil today can do less tomorrow. There is no one who is always evil.
* One who thinks a little can think more deeply. There is no one who does not think.
* One who shares of the fruits of the earth is small. Increase it.
* One who is bound by possessions can loosen the bonds of attachments.
* One who thinks of self, can become selfless.

In all there is the possibility of progress, on one is worthless.

Everyone has the potential to develop his or her personality to the fullest.

Families, groups, villages and towns are composed of individuals, So too, families, groups, villages and towns have the potential for all-round development.

Nations and the world itself, are composed of families, groups, villages and towns. So too, nations and the world itself have the potential for all-round development.

The existence of this potential for all-round development is the first tenet of the philosophy.

Knowledge, virtue, wisdom, detachment from possessions, selflessness and other qualities are possessed in varying amounts by all.

All these qualities have a potential and given an opportunity they can develop individually or as a group.
If only one quality was cultivated there would be an imbalance.

The gain to the individual would be small. The development of each quality depends upon every other one. If all the qualities are improved a little, then the individual would gain more.

Just as a childs legs, fingers, ears, in fact all the parts of the body, grow together into a man, so too a mans potential must develop harmoniously in all directions.

When a balloon is blown up all the parts of the skin must stretch together or else the balloon will be distorted. So too, all of mans qualities must be developed together.

Families, groups, villages and towns are composed of individuals. So too, the potential of families, groups, villages and towns must develop simultaneously and harmoniously in all directions.

Nations and the world itself, are composed of families, groups, villages and towns. So too, nations and the world itself must develop simultaneously and harmoniously in all directions.

That the best way this potential can be realised is by the harmonious development of all, is the second tenet of the philosophy.

One can more easily learn when with those who are learning.
One can more easily be virtuous when with those who strive to be virtuous.
One can more easily think when with those who are thinking.
One can more easily prosper when with those who are practising detachment.
One can more easily be selfless when with those who strive to be selfless.
One reads the thoughts of others and is influenced by them.
One hears the music of others and gains pleasure from it.
One sees the work of artists and is stimulated by it.
One uses the product of others labour and life is made more convenient by it.

The life-giving environment of a fish is water. It supplies a fish with all it requires. Mans environment is other men and their work. A fish living in impure water does not develop its potential to the full. So too, a man living in an environment contaminated with hatred, violence, distrust, competition and selfishness does not develop his potential to the full.

A fish living in pure water can develop its potential to the full. So too, a man living in an environment filled with compassion, non-violence, mutual trust, co-operation and selflessness can develop his potential to the full.
The ones development can be realised in such an environment is the third tenet of the philosophy.

*Some thoughts on the Basic Tenets*

Until very recently problems in technology had to be solved by taking each aspect of the question in turn and tackling it in isolation. With the advent of sophisticated data handling systems it has become possible to measure, record and process a large number of simultaneous aspects of the same problem.

The second tenet is a statement of confidence in this approach. The Sarvodaya worker does not try to solve problems one by one, he tries to solve them all at once. He does not view man as a father; then as a worker, then as a member of a club, then a member of a village, taking each aspect of him separately. Instead he tries to see him under all aspects simultaneously, as a total personality. In the same way he sees society as a whole, not merely as a collection of individual groupings.

The Sarvodaya worker does not work for a society directed to-wards the provision of the greatest good for the greatest number. He works for the welfare of all and a society which will attain the greatest good as a whole. This is a nice distinction but an important one. A society set up so that only some of its members could develop individually their potential to the fullest would be a competitive society, since some must progress at the expense of others.
Society is made up of individuals. For society as a whole to develop to the maximum, there must be harmony in the development of its members. Some may hold back to allow others to develop more fully, thus allowing a more efficient use of the existing resources, both human and material.

Harmony between groups is now more than ever necessary for the safety of the whole human family because of the availability of weapons of mass destruction. The dumb progress of science demands that the Sarvodaya solution be implemented.

The basic tenets of Sarvodaya are found in one form or another in most religions. For all their differences the religions have it in common to work for a Sarvodaya society.

Man is subject to environmental forces many of which are not conducive to his welfare. He needs courage to rise above them. This courage can be derived from a consideration and application of Sarvodaya Philosophy.

We should seek to optimise the utilisation of human and material resources for the greatest welfare of all.

We are none of us still. Daily we are swept on by the stream of life. Unconsciously perhaps, we are undergoing a process of development, we are being moulded by our environment. Through Sarvodaya we are made conscious of this process and encouraged to play our part in it. We are Awoken to the implications of our potential. But Sarvodaya does not only seek to awaken individuals, it aims to awaken the families, the villages, the towns and the nations that crowd this globe of ours.

To be awakened is to realise that one has a role in the harmonious development of all and to strive to fulfil that role.
This idea of awakening applies to all the components of society, human and material. A field cultivated efficiently and contributing its maximum to the good of all can be said to be awoken.

*What Sarvodaya Stands For*

Sarvodaya literally means the complete awakening of all in society. Sarva in the compound word connotes totality or a complete whole – a gestalt as psychologists would say; and Udaya signifies uplift or all -round progress. The complete awakening of every single individual in society in body, mind, intellect and spirit to his maximum potentiality is called Sarvodaya.

When applied to an individual, Sarvodaya means the integrated growth of his physical, emotional, intellectual, moral and spiritual potentialities to a harmonious whole. An individual attains Sarvodaya when his body becomes healthy, vigorous and shining; his heart pure and rich in love, truth, goodness and beauty; his intellect steady; clear and penetrating and his spirit so all-pervading as to include the whole world in its fold. The attainment of Sarvodaya is thus the fulfillment of the human being, the realization of the purpose of his or her existence on this earth and is not different from the attainment of the Supreme Goal often referred to as Mukthi or Nirvana or Self-realization or the Kingdom of God.

In the case of society, Sarvodaya means the attainment by all its members of the total progress each is capable of. It aims at the greatest good of the whole of humanity without any distinctions of nationality, race, caste, creed, sex and so forth. Exploitation in any form is completely repugnant to the Sarvodaya Social Order. Love, understanding, co-operation, mutual trust, and self-denial take the place of rivalry, fierce competition, distrust, self interest and so forth. Unification takes the place of division. If the Sarvodaya Society could be compared to the human body each member therein is like its limb contributing actively to the well-being of the whole body. Each limb attains its maximum well-being by striving its utmost without rivalry or selfishness for the maximum well-being of the body. Just as a body becomes ill when one limb does not function properly, so society will suffer when individuals either do not contribute their maximum or do not receive their full requirements. The individuals have all to co-operate wholeheartedly and discharge their obligations to themselves and others fully, if Sarvodaya is to be realized. It is clear therefore that a Sarvodaya society aims at a much higher target than a democratic, socialist or even a communist society.

The idea of the Welfare of All as different from the concept of The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number is a principle inherent in Buddhist thought. For over two thousand two hundred and fifty years it was the teaching of the Buddha that guided our spiritual, social, political, economic and cultural life. The fundamental thought that runs through the entire Buddhist teachings is May All Beings be Well and Happy. One only has to glance through the well-preserved and the recorded history of our land or visit the archaeological remains in the ancient cities to realize for oneself the fact that our fore-fathers succeeded in making the building of a great non-violent social order, where equality, justice and prosperity prevailed and where all were happy, the goal of their common endeavour. This small island only a few miles away from the great sub-continent of India retained its separate cultural and political identity throughout the known history because of this spiritual force that was the lifeblood of Lanka. They called this country the Dharma Dweepa – the island of Righteousness.

As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Sarvodaya is a revival of this ancient thought of the Welfare of All. One who believes in the Welfare of All transcends all man-made barriers such as caste, race, creed, class, party-politics and nationality. Sarvodaya looks at the total man and total society. Sarvodaya is not another ism neither is it a reaction to any other ism. It aims at reconstruction of man and society by a progressive and integrated programme of evoking the best in individuals, village and national communities and humanity as a whole. It begins with a fundamental revolution in the minds and hearts of men who believe that human life is capable of attaining nobler and more joyful realms of human existence than those presented by the mere satisfaction of the pleasures of the senses. Those inspired by Sarvodaya dedicate themselves to a life of selfless service in all spheres of human activity raising the poor, who have never risen, as well as the rich, who have been long past fallen.

Sarvodaya is not another religion, even though the best in all religious teachings as found applicable to the above mentioned social goals are imbibed in the Sarvodaya thought. On the other hand it is not a materialistic dogma where all spiritual tenets are ruled out for the sake of achieving material goals. It is a harmonious integration of spiritual teachings and modern science where men and society are viewed from a nobler perspective and with confidence. Sarvodaya thought is continuously enriched by new knowledge and is re-orientated and does grow with changing times and with more human beings who embrace a life directed towards self-knowledge and enlightenment through service to fellow-beings.

Thus Sarvodaya aims at an integrated programme of the fullest Personality Development of the Individual (Purna Paurushodaya), Village Re-awakening (Gramodaya), National Re-awakening (Deshodaya) and Universal Awakening (Vishvodaya).

*Revolution from Below*

The Sarvodaya appeal is primarily directed towards the transformation of the individual, the family, the village community, the nation and the world. However, the approach is not exclusively in the realm of human values nor is its growth linear in character. It is a very much practical and an integrated application of the Sarvodaya thought to the solution of numerous social, economic and political ills and injustices, which are inter-dependent and inter-related. Sarvodaya Movement attempts to bring about a revolutionary change in society towards a non-violent social order by bringing about a parallel and closely linked transformation in the three spheres of ideas and ideals of people, their methods and techniques of economic production, distribution and consumption, and their social and political institutions and organisations. The technique adopted is not by the capture of organised violence respectably named State Power (Rajya or Danda Shakthi) but by a process of awakening the inherent goodness and non-violent strength of the people (Jana Shakthi). This is why Sarvodaya is named as a revolution from below, democracy at the grassroots, socialism of the head, heart and actions.

In India the most significant technique adopted by Sarvodaya workers led by Acharya Vinoba Bhave is the Bhoodan (land gift mission) and Gramdan (voluntary communisation of village lands) Movements. Whatever the overall effect of this Movement was on the socio-economic system of India the fact that social change could be brought about by non-violent and voluntary techniques was established beyond doubt by the great results it has achieved. Sampathdana (Sharing of Wealth) Jeevandana (Dedication of ones life to service) and Shanthi Sena (Peace Army) were the other techniques that were adopted by them.


Sarvodaya workers in Sri Lanka adopted Shramadana as the chief mode of taking the Sarvodaya message to the people. It has an equal appeal to the rich and the poor, the well-educated and the less-educated, young and old, urban and rural people, the sustaining persuasion being the mental and psychological environment that a Shramadana Camp provides for every participant to realize his own stage of development in relation to his total personality, development potentialities and the exact place he occupies in this world of time and space, men and matter. Sarvodaya has faith in the potentiality of every human being to develop to the utmost his personality at any time if each phase of his physical, emotional, intellectual, mental and spiritual life could be harmonized as it emerges with a suitable motivating environment. In other words, Sarvodaya as applied to the individual is the emergence of the best in him at any time culminating in the accomplished personality (Purna Paurushodaya) who is then capable of progressing on his own towards still higher goals of perfection such as purely spiritual pursuits. A Shramadana Camp, as different from a religious activity or a work-camp designed purely for religio-moral or socio-economic purposes, is a place where the individual is given full scope to identify himself with society (lose himself to society and discover himself) thus becoming an effective instrument for a social revolution.


In our culture the family unit has occupied a very important place in all matters of social and economic life. It was a cohesive and integrated social institution which not only moulded the individual in to his cultural milieu but also formed the foundation on which the broader village communities were built. A good member of a family was invariably a good member of the community. There was no dual set of values, one applicable to family living and another controlling the rest of ones social relationships. There was no exploitation either; and the family was a sort of broader society in microcosm providing the individual a training ground while growing up into full membership of community. life. There was a mutually supporting set of moral and ethical values which fitted the individual harmoniously into his family and the family to the village community. The individual did not look into the family as a source of exploitation; neither did the family take the wider society as such a field. This state of affairs does not prevail anymore in economically advanced societies and the disintegration of the family seems to have already set in even in our own country. Sarvodaya Movement attempts to prevent this disintegration as far as possible. The atmosphere created in a Shramadana Camp helps to revitalise the family as a basic and crucial institution not only for cultural progress but also for material and spiritual development.


Sri Lanka has always been a country of villages. The vast majority of our people, over 80%, still live in villages. During the colonial era these rural people suffered most due to the disruption of their social , economic and political institutions. The disintegration of villages resulted in their subjugation to the towns resulting in a state of helpless dependency on the latter in all matters ranging from obtaining their day to day needs to political and administrative patronage. After independence introduction of power and party politics has brought about a tendency to create more destructive divisions in the village than bringing about an understanding of the process of democratic government. A debased form of democracy, which may be more rightly named Partycracy, has debarred any integrated development programme from being carried out successfully in village communities. Sarvodaya Movement through its Shramadana technique has been successful in breaking through these divisive forces and bringing the village people to one common endeavour of rural reconstruction. Gramodaya, Re-awakening of Village Communities in all departments of their community living including village self-government (Grama Swarajyaya), is the Sarvodaya objective with regard to village life. An all round awakening by improving their livelihood, health, civic consciousness, education, social integration and organisational efficiency is aimed at so that the village communities become the strong foundation for a progressively non-violent state.

The most fundamental and effective working unit in a Sarvodaya Social Order is the village community which will consist of between 100-150 families. This village instead of playing a subservient role as it does today in its relationships with the town or city should have strength to stand on its own legs to regulate and order its. own affairs to bring about the maximum good for all its inhabitants with the least external assistance possible. Acharya Vinoba Bhave describes the plight of the modern village thus: Even in villages which are small with barely a hundred families there is no social cohesion or comradeship. Each one lives for himself and all of them are exploited ruthlessly by the trader, money-lender, advocate and doctor from the town. They also exploit one another when they can. Isolation corrodes the human feeling in man. Like the erosion of the soil there is a deterioration in the quality of human beings. The institution of the money economy has made things worse. There is litigation between father and son. Marriages in the family add substantially to the indebtedness of the householder. All this had reduced man to the position of beast. He has lost all sense of human dignity.

He continues, In a Gramdan Village all this will change. Man will live in happy union with the society around him. The whole village will be one family. Private ownership in land will end and people will learn to live together in happy co-operation.

The Sarvodaya Movement has as its target the establishment of a whole network of such self-supporting village communities. The family relationships which are confined at present to the blood group will be extended to cover the whole village where distinctions based on race, creed, caste, language and so forth will completely be eliminated. Agriculture will be so planned that all the people will have enough to consume. Industry will be conducted on a cottage basis till all the people in the village are gainfully employed. The needs of the village will be determined by the people of the village themselves, through a Village Council, representative of the whole village.

The realization of this ideal village set-up demands strenuous and concentrated effort on the part of all those who have accepted the Sarvodaya philosophy and have pledged to work ceaselessly till such a society is accomplished. The Sarvodaya Shramadana workers in the village, therefore, have a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders. The organization through which they have to function is the Village Sarvodaya Shramadana Samitiya.

*Nation and World*

Sarvodaya philosophy believes in an integrated national community. Though it is solidly based on our own cultural background it is sophisticated enough as to endeavour to bring together people of diverse linguistic and religious groups into one human national community. Deshodaya, the awakening of the entire national community, is the Sarvodaya objective for all our citizens. Sarvodaya view of Nationalism is not contradictory to internationalism and it believes in a Federation of Independent National States of the World where non-violence, peace, mutual help and co-operation are the salient features. Vishvodaya, awakening of the world community in its entirety, is its lofty ideal with regard to the human family.


Scientific and technological advancement in our world demands an immediate end to all forms of violence by all-between individuals, groups and nations, if the human species and their cultures are to survive on this earth. Violence whether it takes the form of economic exploitation, loss of human freedom, or loss of human lives presents different facets of the same evil. Economic exploitation, loss of human freedom, and loss of human lives etc., are different forms of violence. What is required is a revolutionary and total change starting from below. In this world of organised violence, full of legal and political sanctions backed by police forces, armies and nuclear armaments, individuals exploit other individuals, the haves exploit the have-nots and nations exploit other nations. They only hope for unarmed non-violent people bringing about a revolutionary change in mans thinking, in his actions and in his grassroots organisations. Their efforts can make non-violence meaningful and bring about the necessary change in the social structure beginning with their own families, villages, nations and the world. Sarvodaya demands greater courage and self-sacrifice from its adherents than followers of ideals based on violence, untruth and self-aggrandizement.