Nehru too is Gandhi's heir—but a modern, half-Westernized one. Gandhi had a political core which Bhave ignores and Nehru has inherited. Nehru, moreover, believes in industrialization and irrigation and vast schemes; Bhave believes in self-denial and spinning wheels.
Journey to Delhi
Prime Minister Nehru's government was delighted. After Bhave's triumph in Telingana, Nehru wanted him to come to New Delhi and discuss Bhoomidan-yagna with the National Planning Commission, and offered to send a plane down to fly Vinoba back. Vinoba said: "I will come, but in my own time, and as always." He walked, with members of his ashram. New Delhi was 795 miles away.
That slow plodding to the capital, which took two months, was a triumphant journey. At nearly every town and village, Bhave found arbors of palms and mango leaves erected for him to walk through. Underfed, ragged villagers crowded around to touch the holy man's feet, and to bathe them when he would stop for a rest. Municipal dignitaries garlanded him with flowers, which the little ascetic passed back to the crowd. At each departure, the elders walked with him a mile toward the next village. And at every stop, he held a prayer meeting and carried on with Bhoomidan-yagna.
At New Delhi, he stayed in a bamboo hut near the concrete ghat in which Gandhi's body was cremated. Nehru called twice, in the midst of a busy election campaign. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of India, came and told Bhave to take as much as he wanted of Prasad's land holding in Bihar. Members of the Planning Commission came and stayed for hours. Even a delegation of Communists, headed by Party Boss Ajoy Ghosh, paid a courteous visit. After eleven days, Bhave left New Delhi and has not been back to the capital since. He dislikes cities.
No animal matter
Around March 1953, while walking through Bihar, Vinoba Bhave was seized with acute malaria. His temperature rose above 103, but he kept on walking as long as he could, then continued by bullock cart. In Chandil, a small village, he collapsed and was put to bed, but he refused all medication. "God," he said, "either wants to free me or desires to purify this body for employing it again in His work." He also refused to be taken to a hospital in Patna, the state capital. Said he: "Do not people also die in Patna?"
Crowds gathered around the house where the holy man lay ill. Half a dozen state and national government officials sent doctors to care for him. Dr. Prasad and others pleaded with him to take the drugs they prescribed.
Finally, on being assured that the medicines contained no animal matter, Bhave consented. He improved almost immediately. During his convalescence, Nehru and Prasad flew down for a visit. And his disciples carried on with Bhoomidan-yagna, collecting 33,000 acres of land. When Bhave took to the road again, the donations came in so fast that the ash ram's bookkeeping system was almost snowed under. Around May 1953, after 110 miles of dusty tramping in Bihar, he had picked up another 365,000 acres.