Akhand Bharat implies undivided Bharat whose geographical expanse was very wide in ancient times and it included among others present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mayanmar, Thailand.
The idea of Akhand Bharat is as old as Sanatan Bharatiya civilization as it duly got place and described in ancient Bharatiya scriptures. . At the time, the 3rd century BC, the Bharatiya subcontinent–which covered what are now the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Modern Bharat, Nepal, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh–was divided into many independent kingdoms. Chanakya also articulated the idea of an Akhand Bharat, which means all states in the region being under one authority, rule and administration. The great freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, propounded the notion of an Akhand Bharat as well as a Hindu Rashtra (‘Hindu Nation’), emphasizing the cultural, religious and political unity of Hindus ‘. At the time of the Bharatiya Independence Movement, Kanaiyalal Manilklal Munshi advocated for Akhand Hindustan. On 7–8 October 1944, in Delhi, Radha Kumud Mukherjee, a leading intellectual, presided over the Akhand Hindustan Leaders’ Conference.
RSS pracharak and Bharatiya Jansangh leader Pandit DeenDayal Upadhyay further defined the idea of Akhand Bharat in the modern context. He said “The word ‘Akhand Bharat’ (un-divided India) include all those basic values of nationalism and an integral culture.”
“These words include the feeling that this entire land from Attock to Cutack, Kutch to Kamrup and Kashmir to Kanya Kumari is not only sacred to us but is a part of us. The people who have been born in it since times immemorial and who still live in it may have all the differences superficially brought about by place and time, but the basic unity of their entire life can be seen in every devotee of Akhand Bharat.”
M S Golwalkar, the RSS’ second Sarsanghchalak, at a press conference in Delhi on August 24, 1949, termed Pakistan an “uncertain state” and stated “If partition is a settled fact, we are here to unsettle it. There is, in fact, no such thing as a ‘settled fact’ in this world. Things get settled or unsettled solely by the will of man. And man’s will is steeled by a spirit of dedication to a cause, which he knows to be righteous and glorious.”
· I can clearly visualize that Bharat Mata is enthroned again at the seat of Vishwaguru after its reunification
– Aurobindo Ghosh
· Come , Let us strengthen the acquired freedom and take a pledge to make Akhand Bharat
– Vinayak Damoadar Savarkar
· Akhand Bharat is not only an idea but a well thought determined goal. All those who consider, partition as unalterable pillar, are misguided and illusioned. Such views are only reflection of lack of staunch love towards Motherland
-Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay
· Remorse cleanses the sins, but souls who should have been aggrieved with sorrow for misdeeds of partition are pouring the sands over their ignominy and celebrating it with lauds. Come, people should repent-not only for their mistakes but the misdeeds of their leaders also.
-Ram Manohar Lohia
· We, all people living in-Bharat , Pakistan and Bangladesh belong to same nation. Our political identities might be different but our nationality had been one and i.e Bharatiyas
-Jai Prakash Narayan
· The history of last forty years is witness of the fact that none has benefitted from partition. If India was united in its original form, it could have become not only and global power but it would have contributed a lot to world peace and well-being
– Gulam Murtaza Saiyad , Sindhi leader
· My everlasting grievance is that Congress and Mahatma Gandhi were always reluctant towards nationalist Muslims. They always gave weightage to Jinnah and fanatic Muslims. I firmly believe that if they had stood along with us, then we would have been able to reject the aspirations of Jinnah and would have transformed sufficient Muslims Nationalist during early phases of Partition Movement.
-Justice Mohd Karim Chhagla
A detailed Description
The idea of Bharat, as Bharatavarsha or Aryavarta, appears to have been existed and vital for thousands of years in our stories, thousands of years before there was an America or a Great Britain or a Mexico or France.
From the ancient texts, we learn of the land of Aryavarta stretching from the Himalayas and Vindhyas all the way to the eastern and western oceans. Without the idea of Bharata, there could have been no epic called the Maha-Bharata that engaged kings throughout this land of Bharata. The story of Mahabharata shows a remarkable degree of pan-Bharatiya context and inter-relationships, from Gandhari, the wife of Dhritarashtra who came from Gandhara, (spelled as Kandahar in present-day Afghanistan), Draupadi from Panchala (present day Jammu and Kashmir), all the way to Arjun meeting and marrying the Naga princess Uloopi on a visit to Manipur in the east (from where he gets the `Mani‘ or Gem). Interestingly, Arjuna is said to have gone on a pilgrimage to the holy places of the east when this happens, showing the current North-East was very much linked in this. Finally, Krishna himself is from Mathura and Vrindavana (in UP) though his kingdom itself was in Dwarka (Gujarat).
Similarly, the story of Ramayana draws the north-south linkage from Ayodhya all the way down to Rameshwaram, at the tip of which is finally the land of Lanka (known as Sri Lanka today). The idea of India or Bharatavarsha or Aryavarta as a culturally inter-linked entity existed in the minds of the story-tellers and ultimately in the minds of the people to whom these stories were sacred. And these stories were then taken and told and retold in all the languages of the people of this great civilization, till the stories themselves established a linkage among us and to the sacred geography they celebrated. This sacred geography is what makes northerners flock to Tirupati and southerners to the Kumbha Mela.
And the diffusion of these common ideas was certainly not only from the north to south. The great Bhakti movement started in the 6th and 7th centuries AD had its roots in the south in the Tamil and Kannada languages. Even while the boundaries of kingdoms changed, enormous cultural and religious unity continued to take place across Bhatat. It started off with the Alvars and the Nayanars (Tamil, 7th to 10th century AD), Kamban (Tamil, 11th century), Basava (Kannada, 12th century) and moved on to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Bengali, 15th century), Ramananda (15th century, born in Prayagraj to a couple of southern Bharatiya parentage, Guru of Kabir), Raskhan (16th century, U.P.), Surdas (Braj, 16th century), Mirabai (Rajasthan, 16th century), Tulsidas (Avadhi, 16th century), Nanak (Punjabi, 16th century) and Tukaram (Marathi, 17th century), among the many. All these together weaved a garland across the land that spoke again of our common truths, our common cultural heritage.
The Bhakti movement retold our ancient stories in the language of the common people, in Marathi and Bengali, in Avadhi (present day UP) and Bhojpuri (present day Bihar), in Gujarati and Punjabi and in Rajasthani. We can marvel at the cultural unity in Bharat, where while the Bhakti poets initiated the great movement for devotion to Shiva in the south, the erudite philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism was being developed coevally in the north. Or that Kamban in the south was the first poet to take the story of Rama to the major regional languages, and Tulsidas, much closer to Ayodhya, came centuries later. Or that the great Krishna Bhakta Chaitanya was celebrating his devotion to the King of Dwarka in Bengal while Tukaram sang praises of Lord Vithal in the west. An immense body of pan-Bharatiya worship revolved around the triad of Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti in their various forms – whether as Rama, Krishna, Sri Venkateshwara, Sri Dakshinamurti, Jagdamba, Durga Mata or Kali. These common stories were told and retold without the mandate of any central church and seeped through the pores of the land of Bharat, forging a shared bond, unlike any other seen on the planet.
It was this idea of civilizational unity and sacred geography of Bharat that inspired Shankaracharya to not only enunciate the mysteries of the Vedanta but to go around setting upmathas circumscribing the land of Bharat in a large diamond shape. While sage Agasthya crossed the Vindhya and came down south, Shankracharya was born in the village of Kalady in Kerala and traveled in the opposite direction for the establishment of dharma. If this land was not linked in philosophical and cultural exchanges, and there was no notion of a unified nation, why then did Shankracharya embark on his countrywide digvijay yatra? What prompted him to establish centers spreading light for the four quadrants of this land – Dwarka in the west (in Gujarat), Puri in the east (in Orissa), Shringeri in the south (Karnataka) and Badrinath (Uttaranchal) in the north? He is then said to have gone to Srinagar (the abode of `Sri’ or the Shakti) in Kashmir, which still celebrates this in the name of Shankaracharya Hill. What better demonstration that the idea of the cultural unity of the land was alive more than a thousand years ago?
And yet, these stories are not taught to us in our schools in Bharat. We learn instead, in our schools, that the British created Bharat and gave us a link language, as if we were not talking to each other for thousands of years, traveling, telling and retelling stories before the British came. How else did these ideas travel so rapidly through the landmass of Bharat, and how did Shankaracharya circumscribe Bharat, debating, talking and setting up institutions all within his short lifespan of 32 years?
These ideas of our unity have permeated all our diverse darshanas. We have talked about Bhakti and Vedanta and the epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. But this idea of unity was not limited to particular schools. They were equally present in the tantric schools that exerted a tremendous influence on popular worship. Thus, we have the legend of Shakti, , landing in 51 places throughout the landmass of Bharat that are now the site of the Shakti Peetham temples. The body of Shakti, or so the story goes, fell all the way from NeelayadakshiKovil in Tamil Nadu to Vaishno Devi in Jammu, from Pavagadh in Gujarat to the Kamakshi temple in Assam and 47 other places.
Why would the story conceive of these pieces of Shakti sanctifying and falling precisely all over the landmass of Bharat, rather than all of them falling in Tamil Nadu or Assam or Himachal (or alternately, Yunan (Greece) or China, or some supposed `Aryan homeland’ in Central Asia) unless someone had a conception of the unity of the land and civilization of Bharatavarsha?
Whether these stories are actual or symbolic, represent real events or myths, it is clear from them that the idea of Bharat existed in the minds of those that told these stories and those that listened. Together, all these stories wove and bound us together, along with migration, marriages and exchange of ideas into a culture unique in the story of mankind. A nation that was uniquely bound together in myriads of ways, yet not cast into a mono-conceptual homogeneity of language, worship, belief or practice by the diktat of a centralized church, intolerant of diversity.
And this unity as nation has been with us far before the idea of America existed. Far before the Franks had moved into northern France and the Visigoths into Spain, before the Christian Church was established and Islam was born. They have been there before Great Britain existed, before the Saxons had moved into Britannia. They have been there while empires have fallen, from when Rome was a tiny village to when it ruled an empire that rose and collapsed.
Thus the Arabs and Persians already had a conception of Hind far before the Mughal Empire was established. If we suggest that their conception of Hind was derived only from their contact with Sindh in western Bharat, why would the British, when they landed in Bengal, form the East India Company, unless the conception of the land of Bharat (a term derived from the original Hind) was shared by the natives and the British? They used this name much before they had managed to politically hold sway over much of Bharat, and before they educated us that no Bharat existed before their arrival. Why would the Portuguese celebrate the discovery of a sea-route to Bharat when Vasco de Gama had landed in Calicut in the south, if Bharat was a creation of the British Empire?
The answer is obvious. Because the conception of Bharat, a civilization based in the Bharatiya sub-continent, predates the rise and fall of these empires. True, that large parts of Bharat were under unified political rule only during certain periods of time (though these several hundreds of years are still enormous by the scale of existence of most other countries throughout the globe) such as under the Mauryas or the Mughals. But those facts serve to hide rather than reveal the truth till we understand the historic social, political and religious unity of this land. We are not merely a country; we are a most ancient living civilizational country, among very few other countries on the planet.
• At the time, the 3rd century BC, the Bharatiya subcontinent – which covered what are now the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bharat, Nepal, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh – was divided into many independent kingdoms.
Chanakya articulated the idea of an Akhand Bharat, which means all states in the region being under one authority, rule and administration.
• To a great extent, he was successful. He discovered Chandragupta Maurya, powered him to throne and then through war, wit and alliances he conquered all the princely states to form Akhand Bharat. Fractures, however, appeared after the fall of Chandragupta Maurya, although these were temporarily plastered over by the arrival of Ashoka as king. This was not to last, as we all know.
• With the Mughal invasions, many princely states surrendered their power and while others such as the Mewars and Raj puts tried to put up a fight, they did not make much headway and the idea of Akhand Bharat became an ideal of the past. Meanwhile, the British set foot in Bharat and changed the course of history forever.
• However, it was not until the revolutionary fight of 1857 that the British realized that the nation could be broken along the faultlines of religion. And thus they adopted the policy of divide and rule. They practically broke Bharat into various states and literally brought every princely state under their rule by threatening, buying or negotiating. Not only that, in order to avoid unification in future, the Britishers brought out differences among them which led them to become arch enemies of each other. This way, their energies were directed away from a bid for freedom.
With great efforts, Bharat gained back its freedom in 1947 – but it wasn’t the Bharat that once was.
• The damage done by the British was immense. Apart from breaking Bharat into two nations, the states in Bharat had different princely rulers. Bringing all the states under one government and one Constitution was a mammoth task.
• Just when global experts were busy predicting that the newly independent nation of Bharat will collapse soon, another Chanakya-like man, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, rose and gave everyone an idea of a United Bharat. It couldn’t have been called Akhand Bharat because the country was divided into many fractions.
Finally, in early 1950s Sardar Patel fulfilled his ambition of a United Bharat. That, however, wasn’t the Bharat that once was.
• Hindu Dharma is practiced by the majority of Bali’s population. The Cham people of Vietnam still practice Hindu Dharma as well. Though officially Buddhist, many Thai, Khmer, and Burmese people also worship Hindu gods. This echoes the beliefs of the past Hindu civilizations such as the Khmer Empire.
• Even today many monarchies such as the royal court of Thailand still have Hindu rituals performed for the King by Hindu Priests.
• Garuda, which found mention in several ancient Bharatiya texts as a pious figure, is revered in Indonesia, Thailand and Mangolia.
• Muay Thai, a fighting art that is the Thai version of the Hindu Musti-yuddha style of martial art.
• Kaharingan, an indigenous religion followed by the Dayak people of Borneo, is categorised as a form of Hindu Dharma in Indonesia.
• Philippine belief system includes the supreme god Bathala and the concept of Diwata and the still-current belief in Karma – all derived from Hindu-Buddhist concepts.
• Malay folklore contains a rich number of Bharatiya-influenced ancient characters, such as Bidadari, Jentayu, Garuda and Naga.
• Wayang shadow puppets (Indonesia) and classical dance-dramas of Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand took stories from episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Architecture and monuments
• The same style of Hindu temple architecture was used in several ancient temples in South East Asia including Angkor Wat, which was dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu and is shown on the flag of Cambodia; Prambanan in Central Java, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, is dedicated to Trimurti – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
• Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia, is the world’s largest Buddhist monument. It took shape of a giant stone mandala crowned with stupas and believed to be the combination of Bharatiya-origin Buddhist ideas with the previous megalithic tradition of native Austronesian step pyramid.
• The minarets of 15th- to 16th-century mosques in Indonesia, such as the Great Mosque of Demak and Kudus mosque resemble those of Majapahit Hindu temples. Majapahit was one of the last major empires in the history of Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
• The Batu Caves in Malaysia are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside Bharat. It is the focal point of the annual Thaipusam festival in Malaysia and attracts over 1.5 million pilgrims, making it one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
• Erawan Shrine, dedicated to Brahma, is one of the most popular religious shrines in Thailand.
Devendra Swarup (2016) Akhand Bharat : Swapan Aur Yatharth, Prabhat Prakashan,
KM Munshi (1942) AkhandHindustan , Kitab Mahal, Mumbai
RK Mookerji (1945) Akhand Bharat Kitab Mahal, Mumbai
Sadanand Damodar Sapre (2015) Pratyek Rashtrabhakta Ka Sapna: Akhand Bharat, Archna Prakashan, Bhopal