I have been blessed to be in the company of Mahathma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Shri Jeyaprakash Narayan and Shri. Shankar Rao Dev, to name some of the people who molded my thinking in the right path, inspiring me to lead a life dedicated toward the uplift of the landless poor, particularly women. They were the role models, living a life of renunciation and voluntary poverty, consuming less and less from the Mother Earth, much before the climate change and the perils of consumption were ever discussed or known to humanity.
I was inspired by Vinoba Bhave, Gandhi's 'spiritual guru', who walked the length and breadth of India to find a nonviolent solution to end the suffering of the landless poor. I marched with Vinoba in his 'Bhoodhan (land-gift) movement', the 'silent revolution' promoting social transformation. He appealed to the landlords to donate the land to the village community, bringing about a paradigm-shift in thinking, making the landlords and the landless-poor come together to share the resources in the community, voluntarily. Vinoba called himself a 'spiritual terrorist', setting fire to the hearts of people. I was set on fire when I came to know about the incident of carnage in Kilavenmani village and resolved to end the suffering of the landless poor, in a nonviolent way.
Whether it is the land that provides sustainable livelihood for the American Indians, native Australians, or the landless peasants of India, or employment and food security for the poor and the needy, the change has to come from within the hearts and minds of people, prior to effecting sustainable change in the society. While the problems are global and at times seem insurmountable, they can be addressed locally, through nonviolent social action. Vinoba Bhave took Gandhi's call for Gram Swaraj (independent, small, sustainable self-governing communities) one step further by giving a new slogan 'Jai Jegath' (Long Live the World), - a world devoid of exploitation and suffering. This had given Jagannathan, my life partner and myself a lifelong vocation, to spearhead the movement for Gram Swaraj in India, particularly the Tamilnadu in southern India.