Mahatma Gandhi first coined the term, ‘Sarvodaya’ as his ideal political philosophy. It is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Progress for all’ or ‘Universal uplift’. The aspect of Sarvodaya is adopted by the followers of Gandhi in intensifying their non-violence movement. If non-violence was associated with Sarvodaya during the pre-independence era, the post-independent era witnessed the Sarvodaya Movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s avid follower, Vinoba Bhave nurtured the Gandhian philosophy and steered the Sarvodaya Movement. Sarvodaya or well-being for all aims depicts the richness of Gandhi’s political thought. The Sarvodaya Movement enunciated by Bhave after the Indian independence steered self-determination and equality among the people belonging to different levels of the community. Thoughts and movements like Sarvodaya though a century old, teachings still resonate in contemporary times. 


Do philosophies like Sarvodaya go well with contemporary times?

We live in a globalized village having new waves of economic policies. The youths are growing in a cosmopolitan setup having sorts of technological innovations at their disposal. But they seem disillusioned having ambiguity in their approach making them partly dedicated to their work. The solution lies in the Gandhian principles – Swaraj, Non-violence, Swadeshi, and Sarvodaya. These principles were advocated by Mahatma Gandhi in the manuscript of Hind Swaraj in 1908. Among these philosophies, Sarvodaya is a crucial element. It can bring a metamorphic change among the contemporary youths to get a proper direction in their lives. 


From where did Mahatma Gandhi get the inspiration for Sarvodaya?

Mahatma Gandhi mentioned Sarvodaya for the first time while translating the book of John Ruskin, “Unto This Last”. It was on political economy that prompted Gandhiji to champion Sarvodaya as his political philosophy. Ruskin’s way of thinking inspired him to change his course of life-based on the following principles of life –

  • The well-being of an individual is possible if he stands for the well-being of others as well. 
  • A lawyer possesses the same work ethic as a barber and also an equivalent right to work and earn for their survival.
  • Life is all about labour, be it the tiller who toils for his soil or the craftsman who strives to work for the worth of his life. 


Gandhiji came across these realizations after reading Ruskin and adopted the principles as his political philosophy for the betterment of all. The noble thoughts germinated the seeds of Sarvodaya as a prime Gandhian principle that gradually led to Sarvodaya Movement in post-independent India. 

What is Sarvodaya Movement?

The Gandhian principle of life inspired the concept of Swaraj during the Indian Independence Movement. The image and philosophies of Gandhiji inspired many people and the same was evident during post-independence as well. The prime example is Vinoba Bhave, a noted Gandhian who strived to promote a sort of society that Mahatma envisioned. 

Sarvodaya Movement aimed to establish a comprehensive network of self-supporting village communities. It strived to do away with sorts of discrimination, a chief principle of Gandhiji. It is to have a society wherein everyone will be treated equally. The focus was to establish the Utopian society of ‘Ram Rajya’ wherein each member of the community delivers their responsibilities effectively. And every individual will have their share of opportunities to prosper in life and contribute to the community. The main features of the Sarvodaya Movement are –


Trusteeship paves way for a classless society giving up the privileges by birth. An individual ought to achieve his position in society through hard work and righteousness. Sarvodaya promotes the concept of non-violence and the complete transformation of the community into a just society. 

Economic equality

Economic equality stood at the crux of the abolishment of the ongoing tussle between labour and capital. Only a non-violent government can provide for such opportunities for millions of hungry and poor people in our country. The solution lies in self-sustenance, the reigning principle of Sarvodaya. 

Sarvodaya network

Gandhiji believed that Sarvodaya is not meant for any sort of institutionalization. We need to reach the grass-root level to help the marginalized sections. It constitutes training skills, income generation workshops, and genuine efforts to help people. 


The Bottom Line of Sarvodaya 

Gandhiji conceived Sarvodaya both as a social and political concept to help people at their optimum. The concept stands for self-government or decentralization, a stark contrast to the concept of democracy. It is a little controversial as critics think it looks good on paper but not so feasible to apply in real-life scenarios. Irrespective of such criticism, Sarvodaya is a Gandhian principle that offers a different perspective to life and is relevant even today.  

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