August , 2022
Nationalism in The Vedas
20:48 pm

Dr. Ravindra Kumar

While presenting their views or perspectives on Indian nationalism, many contemporary-modern historians have mentioned that its history is not ancient. It is also said by the same historians that Indian nationalism emerged during the struggle of the country’s liberation from English slavery - in the nineteenth century and onwards. The views of such people are, in fact, the result of their half-knowledge. At the same time, it is also the result of their complete lack of knowledge of the basic and ancient Indian scriptures, especially the Vedas.

It is a  globally accepted and established truth that the history of writing the Vedas is centuries old. The time of inscription of the first Veda, the Rigveda (comprising about one thousand six hundred Mantras in one thousand twenty-eight Suktas of ten Mandalas) is accepted to be about two thousand years ago. It is the oldest scripture of the world. Along with being the source of knowledge in almost all walks of life including spirituality-philosophy, Dharma and science, information about history is also obtained from it. Along with the Rigveda the concept of nationalism, in the centre of which is the Motherland, clearly gets revealed in the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda and through it the spirit of ‘Swarajya’ (self-rule) ‘Swadeshi’ and service to fellow beings also manifests. Further, a call to work for the protection and prosperity of humanity divulges through the growth of nationalism. Thus, the roots of the basic spirit of Indian nationalism, which is, undoubtedly, quite ancient and also completely different from the contemporary-modern idea or concepts of nationalism of the Western world, and that is eventually devoted to humanity as a whole or universalism could be traced in the Vedic hymns.

In the first of the Vedas, the Rigveda (10: 18: 10), man has been called,"उप सर्प मातरं भूमिमेतामुरुव्यचसं पृथिवीं सुशेवां"(“Upa Sarpa Maataram Bhuumimetaamuruvyachasam Prithiviim Sushevaam”), i.e., “O man! Serve with Mother-like respect this enormous land of happiness continuously.” In this call, the duties of human beings towards the Motherland and cordial behaviours with compatriots with unbroken fraternal spirit are expected. In an atmosphere surcharged with co-operation, co-ordination and harmony, there is an urge to move forward together for the purpose of common welfare of one and all. The Mantras of the Rigveda, (5: 66: 6 and 1: 8: 4 respectively) "यतेमहि स्वराज्ये"(“Yatemahi Swaraajya”) and "सासह्याम पृतन्यतः" (“Saasahyaam Pritanyatah”), i.e., “Let us always strive for Swarajya (which also includes Swadeshi)” and “Victory over invaders” are the foundations of Indian nationalism. In other words, Indian nationalism has developed in accordance with the basic spirit of such Vedic Mantras. It is that best form of Indian nationalism, which makes it exclusive expecting man to take initiatives from his Motherland to step forward for the welfare of humanity as a whole.

In the Mantra of the Yajurveda (22: 22), which is dedicated to the upliftment of the nation, security and prosperity of Motherland at all levels in all walks of life, it is prayed, "आ ब्रह्मन् ब्राह्मणों ब्रह्मवर्चसी जायतामा राष्ट्रे राजन्यः शूरऽइषव्योऽतिव्याधी महारथो जायतां दोग्ध्री धेनुर्वोढ़ाऽनड्वाना शुः सप्तिः पुरन्धिर्योषा जिष्णू रथेष्ठाः सभेयो युवास्य यजमानस्य वीरो जायतां निकामे नः पर्जन्यो वर्षतु फलवत्यो नऽओषधयः पच्यन्तां योगक्षेमो नः कल्पताम्"(Aa Brahman Braahmanon Brahmavarchasii Jaayataamaa Rashtre Raajanyah Shuuraaishavyoativyaadhii Mahaaratho Jaayataam Dogdhrii Dhenurvodhaa Anadwaanaa Shuh SaptihPurandhiryoshaa Jishnuu Ratheshthaah Sabheyo Yuvaasya Yajamaanasya Viiro Jaayataam Nikaame Nah Parjanyo Varshatu Falavatyo Na Aushadhayah Pachyantaam  Yogakshemo Nah Kalpatam”), which means, “O Brahman! May our nation (state) be enlightened with knowledge of (majestic) scholars, (safe and prosperous by) brave-warriors-knights (Kshatriyas) warriors who suppress the enemy, milch cows and capable animals (horses etc.); let there be virtuous women, civilized people; there should be (enough) rain as per the expectation, (trees) full of fruits and flowers, and food and medicines.”

In the Yajurveda (9: 22) itself there is a strong wish to create, through national development and growth, an equally welfaristic situation for the whole world beyond the limits of nationalism, which is generally considered to be dedicated to the nation. It is mentioned therein, "नमो मात्रे पृथिव्यै नमो मात्रे पृथिव्याऽइयं ते राड्यन्तासि यमनो ध्रुवोऽसि धरुण:/ कृष्यै त्वा क्षेमाय त्वा रय्ये त्वा पोषाय त्वा//"(“Namo Maatre Prithivyai Namo Maatre Prithivyaa Aiyam Te Radyantaasi Yamano Dhruvoasi Dharunah/ Krishyai Tvaa Kshemaaya Tvaa Rayye Tvaa Poshaaya Tva//”) That is, our salutations to the Mother Earth, salutations time and again; going beyond (the territorial limits of the nation), for mutual benevolence of one and all (whole of humanity) with friendly spirit let us dedicate ourselves for the achievement of collective welfare.

In the Atharvaveda (12: 1: 62), while on the one hand there is the wish, दीर्घ न आयुः प्रतिबुध्यमाना वयं तुभ्यं बलिहृतः स्याम"(“Diirgha Na Aayuh Pratibudhyamaanaa Vayam Tubhyam Balihritah Syaam”), i.e., “Let our long lives sacrifice for the cause of the Motherland”, on the other even before this a commitment manifests through a Mantra of the Atharvaveda (12: 1: 12) itself, तासु नो तेह्ययभि नः पवस्व माता भूमिः पुत्रो अहं पृथिव्याः"  (“Taasu No Tehyayabhi Nah Pavasva Maataa Bhumih Putro Aham Prithivyaah” ), i. e., “The land that protects us from all around is my Mother and I am her son.”

It is quite clear from the above-mentioned quotes of the Rigveda, the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda that the rise and development of Indian nationalism did not take place during the struggle for the liberation of the country from British Imperialism. The history of Indian nationalism is very ancient and its roots are present in the Vedas. The Vedas are the basic source of Indian nationalism.

The Vedas are the proclaimers of the truth of Indivisible Totality and Universal unity. There is nothing outside the periphery of the Indivisible Totality. Everything is contained in the Universal Unity. Indian nationalism, which has its roots in the Vedas, therefore, can never be narrow-minded like the contemporary-modern nationalism developed in the West.

Indian nationalism calls upon every Indian to be duty-bound towards the Motherland, for its protection, prosperity and upliftment in all forms, i. e., at all levels in all walks of life; for this, it emphasizes on the development of an atmosphere of inevitable large-scaled co-operation, coordination and harmony among the compatriots. At the same time, it holds the same sentiment for the welfare of one and all around the world through India’s security, prosperity and all-round development. It is committed to the upliftment and protection of each and every one on the planet Earth. For this, Indian nationalism expects Hindustanis to embrace positive and pure thoughts, and act accordingly.

The basic spirit of the Mantra of the Rigveda (10:191:4) समानी व आकूति: समाना हृदयानि व:/ समानमस्तु वो मनो यथा व: सुसहासति//”(Samaanii Va Aakutih Samaanaa Hridayaani Va:/ Samaanamastu Vo Mano Yathaa Vah Susahaasati//”), i.e., “let our aim be one, our feelings be consistent, our thoughts united, in the same way as there is unity and harmony in the various aspects and activities of the universe” and the Mantra of the Atharvaveda (first part of 12: 1: 62) “उपस्थास्ते अनमीवा अयक्ष्मा अस्मभ्यं सन्तु पृथिवि प्रसूता:”(Upasthaaste Anamiivaa Ayakshmaa Asmabhyam Santu Prithivi Prasuutaah''), i.e., “O Mother Earth! May we always be present in your service by being free from all diseases like caries etc.” is to encourage one to dedicate her/himself to the service, security and prosperity of humanity through her/his Motherland.

The basic spirit of all the Mantras related to subjects of environment-nature, economic-political and social arrangement, which  manifest in the Vedas while keeping the nation in the centre, especially those that appear before us through the Atharvaveda, is, ultimately, the welfare of the whole world. Not only this, the acid test of patriotism, which is related to man’s duties towards the nation, is also directed towards the large-scale human welfare. In the Atharvaveda (12: 1: 1), it appears as a burning human desire, सत्यं बृहद्दतमुग्रं दीक्षा तपो ब्रह्म यज्ञ: पृथिवीं धारयन्ति/ स नो भूतस्य भन्यस्य पत्य्युरुं लोकं पृथिवी नः कृणोतु//"(“Satyam Brihaddatamugram Diikshaa Tapo Brahma Yajnah Prithiviim Dhaarayanti/ Sa No Bhuutasya Bhanyasya Patyyurum Lokam Prithivi Nah Krinotu//”), i.e., “The Mother Earth, the holder of the truth, supreme knowledge, places, seasons, that provides food, medicines and strength etc., be huge and welfaristic for one and all.” This very sprit is, in fact, the basis of Indian nationalism eventually dedicated to humanism also making it exclusive, and which was, undoubtedly, at the core of the ideas and actions of the pioneers who were leading the Indian renaissance movement and the struggle for the country’s freedom from British colonialism including Swami Dayanand ‘Saraswati’, Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Devendra Nath Tagore, Keshav Chandra Sen, Lala Lajpat Rai, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Keeping this spirit in the centre, there is a need to understand Indian nationalism even today, which is devoted to humanity. Along with making the younger generation acquainted with this reality, work according to this basic spirit for the greater human welfare is also expected. India nationalism is an ancient belief system with pride and service for one’s motherland vis-à-vis the mother Earth.

*A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.


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