A Road Map for Rashtram

published on July 11, 2011

Dr.Vijaya Rajiva

The book Rashtram (2011) by Dr.S.Kalyanraman , Director of the Sarasvati Research Centre, is a path breaking erudite work continuing the general trend in swadeshi thinking started by Indic scholars in the last three decades or so. One could describe it as a work in swadeshi political philosophy/thought because its overarching theme is the concept of Rashtram, one which is hard to translate from the Sanskrit.It is usually translated into English as state or nation. It is higher than state (which is mainly the institutions of governance) and higher than nation (which is a conglomerate of peoples) and yet it animated the entire body politic of Hindu India since ancient times, since that oldest of  our Hindu works, the Rig Veda . Here  the Goddess Sarasvati or Vak or Vaghambrini says : “I am the Rashtri and I move people towards their welfare (abhyudayam)”. Welfare is understood both as material prosperity and spiritual/religious enlightenment.This philosophy or world view animated all of Hindu history and the countries of what is called Greater India. Dr. Kalyanraman would now extend it to what he calls the Indian Ocean Community (IOC) a group of 59 nations around the rim of the Indian Ocean.

The book is an encyclopedic tome,filled with Sanskrit words and cognate terms. The terrain is vast and the motorist is cautioned to proceed patiently and slowly so that  one does not miss the wood for the trees. The illustrations are breathtaking in their diversity and beauty, and the overall vista is one of a vast continent of historical and philosophical thinking hidden in the arguments from a variety of sources on the nature of Rashtra and its historical evolution.

The reader, is therefore, advised to meditate on the arguments of the first chapter, the Concept of Rashtram. It coalesces with the concept of Dharman (in the neuter, standing for that which exists and evolves of its very nature), which another Indic scholar  Dr. Shrinivas Tilak, writing in the swadeshi mode explains in detail in his work Reawakening to a secular Hindu Nation(2008). Since Dharma is a Rig Vedic concept and Rashtram acts in accordance with Dharma, it follows that Rashtram is not either nation or state in the ordinary sense of these two words. Dr. Kalyanraman provides a comprehensive list of the word ‘nation’ as understood in the West. His own explanation of Dharma is continuous with that of Dr.Tilak’s and emphasizes both the transcendant and immanent modes of Dharma, that which simply is, subsisting by itself and which works on its own cosmic trajectory and in the terrestrial world. The reader will recall that the Rig Vedic rishis worshipped the three worlds of terrestrial, atmospheric and cosmic forces. Dharman is what binds all three together in itself.

The remainder of the chapter is an evocation of Goddess Sarasvati’s presence in and through a large number of words (Vak) which the reader with some time (or even otherwise) may wish to meditate on. They are drawn from various sources both directly Indic and from countries largely influenced by Indic culture. The second aspect of Rashtra, as mentioned above, is Dharma and both chapter one and chapter two   define Dharma.

In Chapter Two  the focus is on the movement of Hindu Rashtram to the various regions of the Far East:

“ The Indians nowhere engaged in military conquest and annexation in the name
  of a state or mother country. And the Indian states that were set up in Farther India during the first centuries of the Christian Era had only ties of tradition with the dynasties reigning in India proper ;  there was no political dependence. . . . . “ p. 480

The illustrations and the commentary by the author on this expansion of Rashtram towards the far East is in and of itself an exciting voyage. Meanwhile within India there developed an elaborate and finely honed economic system (which might be described in contemporary terms as Economic Nationalism) which made India an economic hub of the ancient world. Hence too, the development of the Rashtra Kuta, democratic assemblies of Rashtram.The Kuta being the economic spoke in the wheel and after which we have the name for the Rashtrakuta empire. This and as well the development of varna and jati and the growth of srenis and sreni dharma, the economic cell of Indian’s prosperity (similar but not identical with the European guild of medieval times). Chapter Three develops these themes.

Chapters Four and Five focus on the  clash of civilizations in India owing to the invasions and the Occupations (British and Islamic, starting from 700 CE- 1707 CE for the Islamic and 1600-1947 CE for the British) . Both the loss of lives and the destruction of temples during the Islamic occupation are documented. For the British period, the colonial loot and the decimation of Hindu culture and the entire educational system are dealt with, as also a comparison of colonial and neo colonial looting.

Then come the concluding chapters on the Indian Ocean Community comprised of the 59 nation states of today. Here, the author uses the word Super Rashtram, since the founding member of these states is India and the founding philosophy is that of Rashtram. Dr.Kalyanraman  believes that parallel to the evolution of the European Union there should take place an Indian Ocean Community :

“Rashtram as a supranational foundation to remove vestiges of colonial loot, to make such a loot unthinkable and materially impossible and reinforce democracy of all nations along the IOC rim as janapada(peoples’ republics) for peoples’ welfare (abhyudayam) governed by the inexorable Hindu sanatana traditional ethic dharma-dhamma” p.480

The three chapters Nations of Indian Ocean Community, United States of Indian Ocean Community, and Consitutuing Indian Ocean Community (PP 401 -486) are devoted to the history, background and the economic resources of this enterprise. This topic alone deserves separate treatment and it is a tribute to the author that he has managed to convey the essentials in a readable and interesting way.

The book itself is 551 pages long and   the nature of the topic, the illustrations and the erudition of the author’s commentary (which he modestly calls “ a student’s notes”)  is sufficient guarantee that the reader will find the book worth  many readings.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

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