Bharat is called aatma (soul) of the whole world. It is because Bharat is the only nation in the world that thinks up to the level of aatma, whereas people of other nations think only about body, mind and wisdom. They do not even know the meaning of aatma, as they never thought to that level. If there is any land in the world that thinks beyond body, mind and wisdom, it is Bharat. It was because of this thinking that our ancestors recognised the whole world as one family—vasudhaivakutum-bakam.
All our rishi-munis who thought so deeply for the welfare of the whole universe lived in forests and villages. That is why Bharat is said to be the soul of the whole world and villages are said to be the soul of Bharat. The village life is still so peaceful that if one has to conduct atmachintan, it is possible only in villages, not in cities.
Our great personalities said if Bharat has to survive, her soul (villages) must be protected. Until villages are unsafe, we cannot say Bharat is safe. Since farming has been the foundation of our rural life, our ancestors said: Krishi to nasti durbhiksham (famine can never strike the region where farming is done). They adopted cow-based farming and developed a healthy system of living. If we think deeply about it, we can say Bharat is the soul of the world, village is the soul of Bharat, farming is the soul of villages and the cow is the foundation of the farming. In this way the cow becomes the soul of the whole world. That is why our ancestors said: Gavo vishvashya matrah (cow is the mother of whole world).
Our ancestors thought very differently, which does not match with the present-day thinking. They described the land as the most important property—bhu sampada. Water is the second important property—jal sampada, forest is the third—van sampada, the cow is the fourth—gou sampada and living creatures are the fifth—jeev sampada. During the ancient era the prosperity of a person used to be counted with the quantity of all these things one possessed. Our rishis propagated that all the living creatures on this land have the similar right to live as we all have. They recognised the biodiversity as one of the most important properties and developed a healthy system of living. This type of meaningful life was there in every village of our country. Village was the centre of infusing samskars into everybody. Our overall culture developed and flourished in villages. All the gurukuls were in villages only. That is why rishis and munis attracted people from all across the world to impart knowledge of this meaningful life. In this way Bharat achieved the status of vishwa guru.
Our ancestors recognised the whole village as a family and every member of the village including the living creatures was member of it. Every hand had a work and everything required in day-to-day life was available in the village itself. The villages were autonomous and self-reliant. Whatever people needed was manufactured at the village level itself. The skilled artisans for doing all these works were there in the village. Therefore, in those days there was no problem of unemployment, as the children used to get the education of their traditional profession from the age of 10 to 12 years. They did not need any certificate or degree for it. They got the practical knowledge of their occupation by looking their parents doing it.
The system was basically complementary to each other and extended support to each other. Each of the persons making footwear used to offer a set of footwear to the gram devta (village deity) in the beginning of every year. They used to meet the footwear needs of all villagers. On the other hand, whatever they needed for their family like foodgrains, clothes, etc. used to be provided by others in exchange of the footwear. Similarly, the potter used to provide earthen pots to all people. They were expert in making high quality pots in different designs. By and large everything of their requirement used to be exchanged with products that other manufactured. The benefit of this system was that everybody realised the need of everyone like cobbler, weaver, washerman, carpenter, blacksmith, barber, labourer, potter, etc. The farmer was necessary for all.
There was no conflict in the village. When everybody is complementary to each other there cannot be any conflict. When there was no conflict there was no need of police, court and any other law-enforcing agency at that time, as is seen today. The villagers themselves used to have a gram suraksha samiti for the protection of their village. Everybody was aware of the unknown person entering the village. When there was any wedding ceremony in the village, the members of every profession contributed in the function as per their capacity. The wedding ceremony in a family used to be the function of the whole village. Despite this much inter-complementarity and dependence on each other, sometimes there used to be some minor conflicts in the village as the people living there were after all human beings. If there was any conflict, the village elders used to settle it in the village itself. This type of village life was seen in the country not much ago but till about 100 years back.
There was very rich system of imparting samskars to the new generation. For example, when the mother prepared the food, the children used to insist for taking it first. But the mother realised them their duties they had to discharge before taking the meals. Even the youngest child used to be taught all these things. After preparing the food the mother took the children outside the house and indicating to the birds sitting on trees she told them that all these birds too are your brothers and sisters. They also feel hunger as you feel. Therefore before taking meals you have to feed them all. Through this method she taught the children how to feed the birds, etc. Then she took the children to the cow and reminding them her importance that she is also your mother as she gives milk to you, the children used to feed the cow too. Dogs and cats were also fed. Then the guests of the family used to be fed. Then the other family members took food. By and large every mother used to teach her children how to feed birds, animals, etc. and how they should maintain relations with these living creatures. In this way, every house in the village was like a gurukul instilling good samskars into the new generations.
When any foreigner visited the village and looked at this cultured and healthy lifestyle there, he too used to settle there. This was the rural life of an Indian village. On the other hand, when we look at the village life today we find so much change, which is very depressing. Every countryman should think about it and how we can restore that life again. In order to create the similar lifestyle, the second freedom struggle (swatantrata sangram) is being started in the name of Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra. The real meaning of sangram is to develop a good village—samyak gramah sangramah. It is the struggle for reconstructing the village that once used to be there in the country. Sangarm also means war. It is in a sense war too. It is not against any person, political party or religious community, but against the mentality that is damaging the human life today. It is basically a fight between the two mentalities—one has been explained above about our rural life and the second is of today’s urban people. Every countryman has to be exhorted to reconstruct that ideal and healthy lifestyle again through this Yatra. It is the joint endeavour of the leading saints. They are hopeful that the similar healthy life will be created in our villages again. This will enhance the strength of the nation and in this way Bharat will become the superpower in the world. It will ultimately make the life of the whole world happier.
(The writer is Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh of RSS.)