Diversity, vasudheva and nationalism

Individuals, I believe, have at least one profound, unique and magnum opus story to tell based on their experiences and diversity in their cultures, religions and beliefs. Stories, it is said, hold myriads of people together. Fictions create a powerful belief in imagined realities. You cannot ask lakhs of people to work towards a common goal or be united without a powerful story.

The unity in diversity is the outcome of such stories and it stands in stark incompatibility against nationalism, I have realised. But then, I may be wrong. So let's hear me out.

I do agree that the diversity in cultures and religions brings in powerful stories. I would have quit reading books by different authors and interacting with people if they were to be holding the same beliefs, practices, culture, and mannerisms. It is the diversity which makes people interesting and not the commonality. The powerful stories brought in because of the diversity holds my attention and make me feel closer to them, make me easily accept them as my own.

In Sanskrit, we have a saying which goes as " Vasudheva kutumbakam" which when loosely translated means that the entire world (vasudhev) is my family (kutumb). In a better perspective , this philosophy doesn't hold a person to a fixed boundary and allows a person to experience greater diversity and accept the entire world as its own without the prejudice towards any culture or religion or even towards the belief in gods. After all he is bound to get united and absorbed in the stories formed by the entire world. Stories with multitude of vibrant colors, beliefs and practices.
Of course I would be laughed at and taken as a fool by most of the people because of this thought because people are blinded and bounded by the concept of nationalism. How do you define nationalism? Is it about exhalting one's nation beyond any other nation?

But how would you define boundaries? How would you justify partitions? How would you distinguish cultures and religions? Can you go back in time and segregate the colors of hundreds of beliefs, practices and shared myths which took the shape of cultures and religions that exist today?

Some far right groups go as far as wanting to make a nation into one religious rashtra, which will hold similar beliefs and stick to an obvious banality!

If that is so then will there be any diversity present in that so called rashtra? Will there be stories to hold our collective imagination? Will there be any unity in diversity?

Yes, I am a fool. I am yet to find the common link between diversity and the imperial nationalism. Are we in a fractured "vasudeva" still searching for our " kutumbakam" under the garb of nationalism?


  1. Any kind of 'ism' is a mental prison.

    That is the essence of vashudhaiba kutumbakam. The whole sloka goes as thus - Ayam nijo paroveti ganana laghuchetasam, udaracharitanam cha vasudhaiba kutumbakam. It is only the narrow minded who divide people thus- someone belongs to my category and others do not belong to me. But for the broadminded the whole world is one family.

    At the same time, for practical purpose, some kind of affiliation becomes unavoidable. As the staunch believers say - trust in God but do not forget to lock your car.

    1. The last line is impressive and completely rational.

      Yes, narrowmindedness makes the whole world narrow and restricted. At the end what matters is perspective of individuals. And, I believe that education, education about the world, its cultures, arts, songs, people and history does to most of the extent make one a broad minded being.


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