As per Hindu thought, ‘Rashtra’ means people. It does not mean just the headcount of individuals living on a particular land but their mindset, attitude towards life, relationship with nature and the universe, approach towards history and tradition etc. In short, all things that form and impact the entire society.
All the people living on this great land of Bharat, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, despite having diverse languages, castes, deities, ways of worship, food habits, costumes, etc, have the same approach towards life, ideals, nature, society and entire humanity. For thousands of years this approach has been cultivated and practiced as a culture that binds the society together. This bonding makes it a ‘Rashtra’. The main reason for inherent unity expressed in diversity forms the spirituality-based integral and holistic worldview that is the hallmark of Bharat and Bharatiyta.
Due to this spiritual churning, the same spirit lies in everything that is manifested in diverse forms, to all Bharatiyas. Ishavasyam Idam Sarvam, which means everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is the manifestation of the same Spirit (Chaitanya). Seeing inherent unity in apparent diversity forms the core of our belief system. Therefore, diversity does not mean ‘difference’ for us. This ‘unity expressed in terms of diversity’ cannot be elucidated by the Western concept of ‘plurality’. Plurality essentially believes in differences that somehow have to be made to coexist with each other while as per Bharatiya thinking harmony and unity amidst diversity, is Dharma or way of life. Thus, the fundamental disconnect between the Western and Bharatiya thought is that while the former strives for ‘all are one’, the later organically believes in ‘all is one’. The practical manifestation of this thought is the manner in which Bharat deals with things, people, processes or ideologies that is different from its own. Bharat does not regard differences as hostility. She does not regard the ‘other’ as enemy. That is why without the use of force or violence, she peacefully accommodates all with respect and provides space for their existence and growth, thereby forming one great all-inclusive Rashtra that is greater than the sum total of its parts. This noble virtue of acceptance and accommodation is at the heart of Bharatiya philosophy and way of life and has made Bharat what it is – unique, unparalleled and all-encompassing. The obvious corollary of this core spiritual thinking is that there can be many ways to reach God and all are equal and true. Precisely on the basis of this, Swami Vivekananda could firmly assert in the Chicago World Parliament, “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”
Another important aspect of this integral thinking is the belief that human existence consists of body, mind, intellect and soul. Human soul (atma) is an expression of the Supreme Soul (Chaitanya), that is expressed in the form of an individual. Realising the full potential of the human spirit enables one to be one with the Supreme Spirit, which is nothing but Mukti or Moksha, the ultimate goal of life.
(The article is translation of original article in Marathi titled Bharatachi Rashtriyata)