Background and History

On the 6th of May 1934, Vinoba Bhave and his path mates founded Gram Seva Mandal near Wardha city. Vinoba had a good vision of connecting struggles to constructive works in such a way that the principles for which we struggle become part of lifestyle. Gandhiji gave a call of ‘Let’s go towards village’ during the freedom struggle to reach to the last person. As a result, many youngsters started working in the villages – with ‘Charakha’ as an effective weapon of peace. Vinoba connected several such diligent youngsters along with their families to raise ‘Gram Sewa Mandal’ with the objective of establishing a model village which is self sufficient in the aspects of food, clothing; at the same time it would produce small machinery for cottage industries to bring about ‘gram swavalamban’ – village self sustenance in nearby villages. This work started in Nalwadi village. Soon as the work got expanded, more families got associated, with the help of Jamnalal Bajaj and with the monitory aid raised by Gandhiji, more land was bought near Wardha- Nagpur road.

Many eminent Gandhian researchers who were youngsters back then started working collectively with Gram sewa mandal. Namely, Shri. Manohar ji Diwan (first lepracy activist), Shri. Gopalrao Walunjkar (who developed science of using naturally dead animals leather for making footwear), Shri. Gopalrao Kale, Shri. Bhausaheb Panse, Shri. Thakurdasji Bang and many more. As the work expanded in 1940, some simple but gorgeous, durable, eco-friendly houses were built for activist and artisans families under the supervision of Radhakrishna Bajaj. Some small scale industries, goshala (byre), offices were built keeping in mind the objective of serving the village community. Gandhiji gave name to this tiny village as ‘Gopuri’. The buildings standing here are best example of architecture of its own kind. They are the historical heritage from our freedom struggle period.

Today also the work is carried on, keeping the basic notion and thoughts behind the place alive. Still agriculture, khadi cloth making, oil extraction processes are carried out here. Some changes are also happening considering the contemporary struggles and by connecting them to the constructive works.

Various types of Charkhas and machinery needed for gramodyog (cottage industry) are assembled at ‘Saranjaam’ department. Parandham Publication is working as media to spread ideology of Khadi, Gram Swaraj (village self sustenance) and Vinoba’s thoughts and ideas. Some activists are operational in the nearby villages keeping Gopuri as their base. They are visiting nearby villages and understanding issues faced by village communities at the same time discussing with them and connecting the villages with thoughts of Gramodyag. In today’s globalized, centralized world, such small villages are challenging the giant ascendancy through their peaceful work.