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वसुधवैकुटु बकम: The Old Testament of Globalism

Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family. (Maha Upanishad, 6; 72) Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Sanskrit: from “vasudha”, the earth, “iya”, is and “kutumbakam”, family) is a Sanskrit phrase that means that the whole world is one single family. The unity of the whole cosmos and creatures into one divinity is the essence of Bhartiya darshana. We as a living civilisation in Bharat have seen the embodiment of One Supreme Soul (Paramatma) in every creature (Atman). No wonder that the ancient idea of Akhand Bharat was not merely limited to a geopolitical and territorial expanse; rather it was a singularity of ideas. One idea which could have been disseminated throughout the globe was that of unity and integration.


It is then logical to suggest that emanating ideals of unity from the ancient Aryavrata forge the process of civilisation state. It is to suggest that ancient Aryavrata was more than a nation-state, but a cultural entity with an identity founded on unique values has been around for a long time. What were these unique values which amalgamated politically antagonistic Mahajanpadas in a robust togetherness? No wonder it was Chanakya’s vision that even the politically embattled kingdoms in Bharat could stand together to give a fight to the invaders from Greece because they belonged to ‘one’ origin.


The emphasis on this oneness is not limited to the territoriality of one geographical region alone, but extends to the world as a whole. We, in the Bhartiya way of life, have never believed in creating dichotomies and contradictions. Thus we never relied on categorical divisions such as ‘East and West’ and ‘Orient and Occident’. What Rudyard Kipling famously wrote in ‘The Ballad of East and West’ which symbolises the colonial and imperialist attitude of West does not stand validated for us. We have always maintained that East and West, the twain shall meet. It is not an attempt of forging unity, since the separation does not exist for us.


Whenever in the past, ambassadors of Bharteeyta have step forward on the world stage, they have emphasised the need to live together as a family. Swami Vivekananda famously remarked that, “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” As it was asserted above that such an understanding of the cosmos is inherently Bhartiya. It stated that every constituting element of the life system and creation share a similar life force, and thus in kind they are similar as well. Even modern political leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi have accentuated this phrase of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ at different international stages.


Globalism and the Oneness

Globalism, at its core, seeks to describe and explain nothing more than a world which is characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances. It implies that there are always connected histories which are regulated by circulation of ideas. For example, today the whole world uses the Indian numeral system as an international standard system. It could not have been possible without the invention of zero (shunya) in Bharat. Had it not for the work of Brahmagupta’s (589-665 AD) Brahmasphutsiddhanta, the world would have never known the rules to compute with zero, and thus using the number system with ease. The treasure of our knowledge, such as ancient Science (Vigyan), Darshana of Upnishadas, Ayurveda or Yoga was always accessible to the world without any discrimination.


However, to label ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ as some sort of globalism would be really impeding its vast expanse and its internationalist outlook. Globalism is a phenomenon with ancient roots. Thus, the issue is not how old globalism is, but rather how “thin” or “thick” it is at any given time. In crude economic terms as it is understood these days, one can refer to the example to Silk Route as an example of Globalism in the ancient past. But somehow the concept itself marks out the distinction between political boundaries of the countries and thus embarks on their connectivity. Apart from the economic dimensions, Globalism can also take up the kinds such as one of economic, military, environmental, and social. However, what about the cultural integration which operates at the level of spirit and not the matter?


Sri Aurobindo and ‘The Ideal of Human Unity’

Sri Aurobindo as a Yogi always stood for the dharma yudha and in the due process for an inevitable ideal of human unity. This unity, according to Sri Aurobindo, could not take place unless Man’s vital and mental nature was uplifted by a spiritual Super nature. Therefore, if true human unity is to be achieved Man needs “to pursue its upward evolution towards the finding of expression of the Divine.” Certainly for Sri Aurobindo, the human unity could not be expressed in the materialistic terms of economy, military, environmental and social interconnections. It has to be a connection based on the spirit and the transformation of human nature itself.


Sri Aurobindo was optimistic about the above said transformation, for he believed that humanity is evolving towards what he preferred to call ‘supramentalisation’. This stage in the human evolution and transformation of consciousness suggested that human beings would start visualising divinity in every other being. This would eliminate the distinctive characterisation of others vis-a-vis the self. Every human being would consider everyone else, not as others, but an extension of themselves. Thus such a forging of unity would then lead us to live like a family in harmony both in the realm of matter as well as spirit.


More than Globalism

It won’t be an overstated truism to assert that the conception of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ is more than globalism. It never believed in the perception of the ‘other’ as different from the self. The idea of a family and its togetherness is based on the unity of the one.

Moreover, globalism as we understand it today hardly takes cultural and spiritual attributes into an account. But the idea of a ‘Kutumb’ is based on these attributes alone. For example, one event which brought the whole globe together as one was Yoga Day, because as a cultural and spiritual practise it transcended any political and economic competitiveness and thus enmity among the participating nation-states.


We need to realise that in a persistently globalising world, the materialistic ideals can only garner the possibilities of conflict. These conflicts can be summed over the attributes of economy, society, military, environment, and resources. However, the peace and unity can be forging only on the basis of cultural and spiritual longing and belonging. Thus, today in a world painted in violent disturbances, the ideal of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ is the Bhartiya gift to the cosmos, which never defines the human goals in the limited terms of nationality, but idealises it for the whole of humanity as one.



Shaan Kashyap : The author is a student of MA in Modern History at JNU


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