The mention of integrated Bharat causes many to raise their eyebrows. It is imperative that this concept be differentiated from the typical geopolitical expansionism.

Some time back in the city of Mumbai, a Shiv Sainik threatened the shop owner of one “Karachi Sweet Mart”, demanding a change in the title of his shop. Pakistan instigates terrorist activities against Bharat, therefore the name must go, he reasoned. To safeguard his commercial interests and defuse tension the shop owner promptly complied and shrouded the word “Karachi” under a sheet of paper, thus averting a conflict. It has also been reported that Shiv Sena has officially distanced itself from this incident. This pitiable exchange is an indicator of the lowly mindset, a lack of historical insight and political power-fuelled arrogance on that Shiv Sainik’s part. Had he developed a little sense of the history of Bharat he would’ve shown sensitivity towards the agony of the tumultuous times which compelled that shop owner’s ancestors to wind up businesses and flee from Karachi overnight to arrive in Bharat. It is possible that in their heydays in Karachi ten servants like that tormentor were at the beck and call of the members of that business house. Either due to weaknesses or helpless attitude of the then Hindu society and the political leadership of Bharat that such families were forced into exile and take refuge in their own country. Slowly, bit-by-bit, without indulging in any malpractices they pieced together their business again here, generating wealth and employment for the country. Numerous migrants from Sindh and Punjab regions have made their fair share of contribution in enriching the country’s wealth reserves since their arrival. They also established many educational and vocational institutions that continue to serve and aid all sections of society till date. Firmly holding the memory of one’s roots in the mind is a moral responsibility for each successive generation of migrants so that some day when the conditions are conducive, they can lead their kin back into their homeland.
“Akhand Bharat Smriti Divas”, a day that commemorates and celebrates pre-partition integrated Bharat is celebrated on 14 August among the youth of Bharat in a big way. The heart-wrenching tale of the partition catastrophe is reminded and the resolve to reunite the separated parts of Bharat is reaffirmed. It is possible that this Shiv Sainik is oblivious of this fact. At the time of partition, Yogi Arvind remarked, “It is an unnatural partition and unnatural things are impermanent. Sooner or later Bharat will be reintegrated.” That our roots lie in Karachi or we were under compulsion to leave our homeland and that one day we will return where we belong—such volition should not offend anyone. And for the future generations to behold the memory of their roots in their hearts retaining the name “Karachi” is important. Forced out of their homeland the people of Israel were in exile for over 1,800 years. For those 1,800 years, each New Year’s Day they renewed their vow by chanting “Next year in Jerusalem,” and today Israel is a prosperous and powerful nation.
Supporters of Pakistani terrorist activities and jihadi militants and anti-national elements disguised as legitimate organisations operate within Bharat and are active in Mumbai too. A review of their audacious activities can send shivers down the spine of any regular patriot. Stills of Mumbai’s Raza Academy followers kicking and desecrating the Shaheed Smarak (martyrs’ memorial) testify one such incident. However, any Shiv Sainik’s vehement opposition of it is yet to be heard.
The mention of integrated Bharat causes many to raise their eyebrows. It is imperative that this concept be differentiated from the typical geopolitical expansionism. No one king ever was the sole ruler of the entire landmass of Bharat before the one-regime umbrella rule of the British government, yet Bharatiya life was intricately interwoven across kingdoms. Bharat is a geo-cultural phenomenon, deeply rooted in the conscience of its land. This eternal truth of our lives deserves to be embraced. A spirituality-based holistic and integral view-of-life that we have been adherents of is what gives Bharat its distinct identity and character. This is how the world has known us for ages now. It is this identity which has come to be popularised as “Hindutva” or Hinduness in lands outside of Bharat. “Hindutva” as a mere clarion call of some political sub-group is one thing. But identification with Hindutva as the cultural essence of this landmass will force one to stop and think. In his seminal research work titled “World History of Economics”, the famous British economist Angus Maddison has claimed between 1st Century AD and 17th Century AD, Bharatiya contribution in global trade was up to 33%, which was the highest in the whole world. Members of various ethnic groups and followers of different belief systems sought asylum in varied parts of Bharat at different points in time—Jews in the 2nd century AD, Parsis in 6th century AD and Syrian Christians in 8th century AD. Despite having received asylum in varied geographies, ruled by the different kings, and the people speaking various languages and worshipping different deities, aliens to the land from a denominational, linguistic and dynastic viewpoint, those victims of homelessness and persecution were welcomed, accepted, nurtured and integrated within existing cultures because Bharat was geo-culturally uniform. Therefore, there’s a prevalence of the places of worship of Bharatiya people across this landmass. Hinglaj Devi temple, Nankana Sahib gurudwara in present-day Pakistan, Dhakeshwari Devi temple in modern-day Bangladesh, Pashupatinath temple and Goddess Sita’s birthplace in Nepal, Ramayan-era sites in Sri Lanka. Holy sites for Buddhists residing in Brahmadesh (present-day Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan and several other countries are located in Bharat. Bharatiya people have venerated and circumambulated the Kailash Mansarovar for time immemorial. Undertaking pilgrimages to these holy places has been a way of life for the people of integrated Bharat. One can witness a consolidation of the collective conscience of our land in the new born’s “naamkaran sanskaar” (naming rite) at times. A family that hailed from Karnataka was residing in Gujarat. They named their daughters Sindhu and Saryu. Saryu river does not flow through Karnataka and Sindhu river flows through present-day Pakistan. Given the current scenario it is possible that this family might be threatened that they need to change their daughter’s name as Pakistan instigates terrorist activities against Bharat. One ISRO scientist based in Karnavati, who hailed from Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh named his daughter Kaveri. The daughter of a family in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar is named Jhelum and a girl who was born in a family in Vidharbha has been named Raavi. This conscience that has flowed seamlessly and been a source of a great cultural splendour is backed by the spirit of geo-cultural oneness.
If we pan our view towards our neighbouring countries, it is evident that not a single country that distanced itself from the cultural spirit of our land and severed ties with Bharat is contented or satisfied. The essence of wholeness through security, prosperity, peace and happiness for all those countries lies in seamless integration with Bharat because those countries are not just neighbours of Bharat, these are in fact integral units of a larger geo-cultural consciousness and were always so. However, to realise this in a concrete form, Bharat has a considerable role to play. Its initiatives since 2014 in that direction are notable and consoling. Attendance of the leaders of all the neighbouring countries at the Prime Minister’s oath-taking ceremony in 2014 and Bharat’s promise of unconditional support to strengthen their economic condition are well-known to the rest of the world. While retaining the governance structures of all these countries if efforts are made to strengthen the emotional bonds around the geo-cultural component then together we will be able to reclaim our economic glory. History of the modern world holds that the economic prosperity of the so-called developed nations of Western liberal democracies has its base in torture, plunder and inhuman trade of slaves. But these were never the basis of the economic prosperity of the Bharatiya geo-cultural unit. Merchants, traders and businessmen from this landmass travelled great distances to carry out trade with people from distant lands, but they never enslaved the native people, plundered their wealth, colonised their land or tortured them in any way. In fact, Bharatiya people enriched the lands where they engaged in trade in terms of both economic and cultural prosperity. The sweet memory of this unique exchange is still fresh in many minds. Chinese ambassador to America, Hu Shih, for this reason, said: “India conquered and dominated China culturally for over 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.”
People of Bharatiya origin were enslaved and forced into labour in the Caribbean islands by the Englishmen 150 years ago. Countries like Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana have retained a common identity that is based in the shared geo-cultural past of these countries. Their history as independent nation-states is recent but the memory of a long-shared common past is intact and guides the policies around interstate travel, trade and culture despite separate governments of each country. A general sentiment of overall mutual cooperation and support prevails between these countries, making the exchange of goods, knowledge and ideas easier to flow.
The geo-cultural history of the integrated Bharatiya landmass predates at least 10,000 years. The heights of economic prosperity and cultural prowess achieved by human civilisation here served as lighthouses guiding the path for many newer civilisations that sought her knowledge and wisdom. If the larger, integrated Bharat were to achieve similar economic and cultural heights then the memory of the shared values and shared past of this geo-cultural entity must be remembered. Lowly mindset, the lack of historical insight and political power-fuelled arrogance deserve to be frankly and openly criticised and forbidden. Every effort must be undertaken to retain the memory of the past glory of the civilisation our ancestors erected and strive to achieve similar or even greater civilisational heights by routinely repeating the resolve to ourselves. We must not forget that the 1,800-year-long struggle did not prevent Israel from realising the goal of reclaiming the lost land.
Dr Manmohan Vaidya is Sah Sarkaryawah (Joint General Secretary), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.