Idam Rashtraya Idam Na Mama
Shree Gurubhyo Namaha (Obeisance to the guru, the one who handholds me from darkness towards light).
“Rashtra”, the vibrations generated by the mere sound of this phrase gives goose bumps, such is the power of this phrase for any indic. I’m no exception.
Arfa Khanum Sherwani a journalist had once publicly asked via her tweet, what is a Rashtra? And then proceeded to reply very simplistically the question herself saying, a Rashtra is made by people who live in it .
A genuine thought given to this deeply loaded self answered question reminded me of what I had read about Guru Golwalker when I wanted to find out what the so called “liberals” had against the RSS (I profusely thank them, If they had not exhibited their hate for the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangha I would probably never have cared to read about them).
“Idam Rashtraya Idam Na Mama” in the phrase coined by Guru Golwalker lies the genesis of RSS. I am leaving the reader with this thought here, to come back to it later.
Discourses from my guruji Swami Paramananda Bharati ji from the days when I was influenced by “Che Guevara” to my acquaintance with works of Rajiv Malhotra and Sanskars from my parents have had a collective influence on my understanding of what a “Rashtra” means. The following paras are an amalgamation of all those influences in answering what is a Rashtra?
Is Rashtra a sacred Geography?
“Bharat” as we are called, has been united as a Sanskriti or meta-civilization through various threads. The concept of geography being treated as the “Mother” has come from our age old Sanatana thought of “prithavi” earth, being the nourisher. Nourisher of all forms of life that take refuge in her.
Then, what is the boundary? question may be asked, the meta-civilization, the sanskriti is a common thread that binds those beings that are nourished by that geography. The concept of geography of the place where beings have been a part of that same sanskriti forms a Rashtra. How?
Rivers, Mountains, Plains, Valleys, Oceans are all constituents of a geography, and how these are treated in the collective psyche of those who these geographical features have nourished forms the Sanskriti.
All major civilizations have flourished around the sources of water, so has the Sindhu Saraswati civilization, as the civilization advanced towards the plains with its tributaries, the Nadi Stuti in Rig Veda expresses the divinity of them all.
Mountains which are the land marks of a geography have also had similar impact on the collective psyche of Indics. Kailasa, Govardhan and many more have been a part of our reference from times immemorial.
Flora and Fauna too has been an important part of our sanskriti. The Aushadhis and herbs have been an integral part of our daily lives. Ayurveda, a treatise written on the health and well being leave no ambiguity about the fact how seriously this sanskriti has taken the Flora and fauna and protected it.
What else is Rashtra?
All elements that give a sense of “shared identity” to those who belong to that geography and sanskriti constitute a Rashtra.
Pilgrimages, that are inseparable part of a Sanskriti also have geographical connections, Adi Guru Shankaracharya establishing four Mathas in the four corners of our geography the “char dham” yatras, the Shakti peethas a network of Shakti centres spread across the vast geography of Bharat the Jyotirlingas, all cover a vast part of the geography that encompasses the land that we call India today.
Kumbha Mela, the world’s oldest and largest congregation of humans gathering at a point, repeatedly, at the predefined times since thousands of years is a part of that “Shared identity”. Sheer purpose of organizing an event of that scale was to invite people who shared same ethos and sanskriti to come together for knowledge exchange, for communities to interact with each other and bond.
Kailasa in Tibet, Kashi in the north and Rameshwaram in the south are prominent examples that illustrate how the sacred geography has unified India and given its people a sense of unity as a nation with a shared identity.
Since I personally belong to this sanskriti and carry the same sanskars, I will discuss “Rashtra”, based on my understanding of this Sanskriti which is called Sanatana (old) Vedic (based on the ancient system of knowledge from this part of Geography) Sankriti. Sanatana Vedic Sanskriti.
Rashtra, Hard power and physical borders alone do not form a nation. A nation is the one that fosters unity, continuity of thought and culture and offers social cohesiveness. “Bharat Ek Jeeta Jagta Rashtra Purush Hai” is a profound statement about India as quoted by Smriti Irani.
1200 years of invasions and suppression has allowed the import of the western ideas of a Nation State which is based on ideologies not organic to this geography.
Then, what is organic to this geography?
The very first shloka of Ishavasya Upanishad” Isha Vasyam Idam Sarvam, Yat Kincha Jagatyam Jagat, Tena Tyaktena Bhunjitha, Ma gridhah Kasyaswiddhanam”
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by Eashwara, one should therefore accept only those things and in the quantity that is necessary for his survival and not for amassing, one must not accept any thing extra knowing very well to whom they belong.
“Indulgence in the opulence of nature with a sense of renunciation for the sake of well being of all living forms”. Tyag ke bhav se bhog karna.
Dharma, is organic to this civilisation. it may raise many eyebrows, but what does Dharma essentially mean, quoting Rajiv Malhotra, “Dharma, refers to the natural order of things, of ‘that which holds or sustains’. “Embedded in the philosophical concept of the rashtra is a deep appreciation of the ultimate interdependence and interconnectivity of all living beings.
This ethos is reflected in the Pancha Maha Yajnas. Which essentially means to be thankful to 5 groups of living beings. They teach us the concept of sacrifice and sharing and to be grateful to the beings that have provided us with those materials.
Brahma Yajna: Sacrifice to the Bramhan (here, Brahman refers to that, which is formless and attribute less)
Deva Yajna: Sacrifice to the devas
Pitru Yajna: Sacrifice to departed souls
Manushya Yajna: Serving the poor and atithis (Guests)
Bhuta Yajna: Sacrifice to all living beings, plants, animals and to the natural environment in general.
This five level framework reflects the fact that we are not isolated islands onto ourselves, rather out well being depends on the well being of others and vice versa. This interdependence is very eloquently described by Rajiv Malhotra in the metaphor “Indra’s Net”.
At the core of Dharma therefore, defined by the Sanatana Vedic Sanskriti, is the well being of the entire cosmos or the universal good.
The Shanti (peace) Mantras of the vedas ask for the peace and well being of all life in the world and realms of existence, not only humans but all sentient and non-sentient beings and manifestations of life.
Sanatana Vedic Sanskriti necessitates us to focus on the spiritual well being of individuals via the pursuit of “sva dharma” which is most appropriate to ones own innate qualities and conditioning. That, which is the best for the spiritual evolution of each individual which ultimately is the best model for cosmic order.
This system is flexible and does not straight jacket all beings into one dogma of belief system because these is diversity in the cosmos.
The indic civilization is based on providing space to this acknowledged diversity hence has an “open architecture” a self-explanatory term coined by Rajiv Malhotra, it is vast and all encompassing unlike the inorganic expansionism deliberated by the Western and non-indic cultures based on rigid dogmas that lack self enquiry .
As Maha Periyava beautifully sums up “We must give, that’s what the vedas urge us to do everytime every where. The vedas ordain the “Karta” (doer of action) not to think in a self centered fashion and take credit for all the karmas he does, he has to specifically remind himself from time to time that the fruits of his karma must be ceded for the welfare of the world at large and not only him” and that is why the Karta is made to say “Idam Na Mama” thrice, meaning not by me, not for me the fruits of the karma that was performed by my body, my mind , my sensibilities is not for my benefit alone it is “Brahmarpanam astu” that is, the benefits may go to the entire community.
Now I would like to go back to what Guru Golwalkar said in the same vedic tradition, “Idam Raashtraya Idam Na Mama” meaning profoundly that this Rashtra belongs not to me alone but to all who take refuge in its sacred geography, have shared ethos and belong to the same sanskriti. My respect for Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangha has increased many folds ever since I read their genesis.
“Rashtrahit” therefor means the welfare of all those who belong to this Rashtra, of the Sanskriti that prays for the peace for all Cosmos.
“Om Dyauh Shantir-Antariksham, Shantih Prithavii Shantir- Aapah Shantir Aushadhayaha Shantih | Vanaspatayaha Shantir- Vishvedevah Shantir- Brahma Shantih, Sarvam Shantih- Eva Shantih Saa Maa Shaantir-Edhi | Om Shantih Shantih Shantih” ||
Om , Peace is in the Sky;
Peace is in Earth
Peace is in Water
Peace is in Plants
Peace is in Trees
Peace is in Gods (presiding over the various elements of Nature)
Peace alone is in Peace
Peace is pervading everywhere,
Om Peace, Peace, Peace