Bharat: What Makes Us a Nation? - Dr. Kiran Bedi with Sadhguru
Kiran Bedi engages Sadhguru on the issue of what holds Bharat together as a nation, despite being ethnically and culturally so diverse. Sadhguru starts by explaining that what we know as India or Bharat varsh has existed for over 8,000-10,000 years. Though it was divided into various political entities, it is the fundamental spiritual longing in people which has kept India together for so long.
Recorded live on June 6, 2014, during the "In Conversation with the Mystic" event with Dr. Kiran Bedi and Sadhguru.
Kiran Bedi: Sadhguru, we said…we just talked about Vande Mataram. Why do we call our country Mataram why not Patram…pita why Mataram? Why is it motherland, why not fatherland, why not both?
Sadhguru: Because though essentially a nation is the people but the boundaries and the definition of a nation comes from a land. A land or earth we’ve always seen it as mother because if we sow a seed, life comes back at us. So we see it as a woman. So almost everywhere except in certain very martial cultures, always nation has been seen as a woman or a mother because it's a definition of a defined aspect of geography which makes a nation in a certain sense.
Kiran Bedi: Yes. Is that the only reason? When did it begin?
Sadhguru: I would say it began with this nation because this is the oldest nation on the planet. It defies what people think is a nation today. The modern nations are made – people are making nations based on language, religion, race, ethnicity, maybe little bit of ideology, one or two – essentially it is the sameness of people which makes a nation. But we as we have known this nation for over eight – ten thousand years as Bharatvarsh – we have never defiled ourselves with sameness. If you drive fifty kilometers, people look different, wear differently, eat differently, speak different languages, everything is different.
So what makes this one nation? When the Europeans came here they…they went about saying “This country that we have heard about, it doesn’t exist because there is nothing binding this, how can they say this is the nation?” But for over eight – ten thousand years within this subcontinent and also in the remaining part of the known world of those days, everywhere people referred to this as one nation though at some points we were over two hundred political entities. So what is it that makes this nation? This is something that leadership in this country and the people of this country must really look at. It is not language, it is not religion, it is not race because this nationhood predates all religion. When there was no religion there was this nation. We called this Hindustan. It did not mean representing a particular group of people who belong to a certain religion, it is only a geographical description.
The land between Himalayas and the Indu Sarovar is Hindustan. It does not represent a particular religion. We never had a religion, we still don’t have, we’re struggling to compete with others (Laughs) but we still don’t have because this is not a religious identity, this is a geographical and cultural identity. But what kept us together for so long? No nation on the planet has stayed together for so long. It is essentially – if you look at it we have always been a land of seekers versus people be…when…when we look for sameness we try to become land…land of believers. People believe in one thing, so they come together. Here we’ve been always a land of seekers, seekers of truth and liberation. In this seeking we found oneness because this seeking is not something that you invented, this is the nature of human intelligence. The nature of human intelligence will naturally want to know, realize and liberate itself.
So this nation was built on that fundamental – you cannot even say it's built, at the same time it's been managed on that fundamental that you are seekers. When you are a seeker you are not aligned to any one particular thing. It is just that you are aligned to the life process within you and that never goes wrong. Always, every life, it doesn’t matter how badly you contaminate them with belief systems, with you know brainwashing and whatever you do still an individual once his survival is taken care of, he seeks to know… he wants to know what is the nature of his existence, what is everything around him. Whether you call it science or spiritual process or enquiry or quest, it doesn’t matter what you call it, essentially human intelligence wants to know…wants to transcend its present limitations, wants to liberate itself from the fetters in which we’re existing right now.
So we built a nation on this longing, this seeking and it cannot be destroyed as long as we keep this seeking alive. If we do not transform ourselves towards sameness, we will always be one. If you try to transform yourself towards belief and sameness, we will not be one.
Kiran Bedi: Then was that Bharata? Is India different? Has India changed and changed the Bharata, was that Bharata?
Kiran Bedi: Bharat.
Sadhguru: Bharat means – bha – ra – ta. Bhava means sensation because your whole experience of life is sensory right now. What you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, what you touch are different types of sensations. So sensation is the basis of your experience right now. This is the fundamental of your experience. Bha means sensation out of which comes emotion. Ra…ra means raga or the tune. The tune is not yours, the existence has already set the tune, you cannot set the tune. Now you have to just find the rhythm which is the thala. If you find the right rhythm you are a fantastic human being, if you miss the rhythm you’re crushed by the process of life.
So we called this nation Bha-ra-ta and the first - or not necessarily - the first one of the great kings of the past was Bharata. People say the country is named after him, no, he is named after the country. There are so many Bharats and Bharatis in this country. Their country is not named after them, they are named after this nationhood. So he in many ways was the first demonstration of democracy. He had five sons but when the time to hand over the kingdom or the empire came, he gave it to Bhumanyu, who was the son of a sage - Bharadwaj was the sage - he gave it to him. This boy grew up in the forest. And he came one day, the king looked at him and said “He must be the king not my sons.” People were shocked because the emperor’s sons, five of them are waiting in a queue – probably fighting over each other (Laughs). And he looked at this boy and said “This boy.” Then people argued who is he, he’s grown up in the forest. Emperor Bharata said, “When I look into his eyes, I see an enormous intelligence behind his eyes and I see a raging fire in his heart and he is able bodied and stable. He should be the king, not my sons.” This is the first demonstration of democratic process in this nation, which is almost six – eight thousand years ago. I hope we take that example today.
Kiran Bedi: Did we make a mistake then in converting our name from Bharat to India?
Sadhguru: A serious mistake. Because… you need to understand this - whenever somebody occupies a nation – any conquering forces when they take over certain nations, first thing they will do is they’ll change your name. This is the technology of dominance, this is the technology of enslaving. You must see – if you look at the African-American history when African people were brought in, the first thing is at the port their names were changed – whatever they had African names they were taken away and some silly names will be given.
That’s what has been done to us. Thiruvananthapuram is Trivandrum, okay. Chennai is Mad-ras (Laughs) - we don't know whether we are mad or we’re rascals (Laughter). Like this –“India”. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean anything. So if I give you a meaningless name, you will become a meaningless stupid person in front of me because I have a meaningful name, I have a tradition, I have a culture – you have nothing. So in that context we have become India. This is the first thing because the concept of a nation must sink into everybody’s mind because nation is just an idea. When this idea burns through your… burns through your mind and sinks into your heart and your passion is risen towards that, then you have a real nation, otherwise nation is just in the paper. This is the unfortunate reality for us right now.
So at least when they left in 1947 the first thing we should have done is change the name in such a way that it resonates in some way in everybody’s mind. Now you… you’re using an English name for an Indian nation. Hardly two, three percent of us can speak English language in this country properly, okay? The remaining people are essentially left out. I think this is one thing I would like to request the present Prime Minister – we must rename this country in a way it reverberates in everybody’s hearts. (Thumping his heart?)
Kiran Bedi: Wow, wow, wow (Applause).
Sadhguru: People – I know a whole lot of intellectual crowd will say “What is in a name?” Okay call yourself Tobu, (Laughter) call yourself Momo (Laughter) - people are doing that. I am not saying…I am not against anything, all I am saying is when you utter your name you must understand there is sound, whatever we utter is only a sound. The meaning is only a psychological thing, a social thing. right now if I say “Kiran,” it's only a sound, the meaning is psychological and social – leave the meaning of it, the sound is existential and it has a power. Bharat has power, this power has to reverberate through everybody’s hearts in this country. And the idea of what it means to be an Indian, the fundamental concept – five things you must know about being an Indian. This must get across to every human being. Because… if every human being who live this… lives in this country, if his aspirations are not the same as the national aspiration, then you don’t have a nation, you just have names.
Kiran Bedi: You said five things, which are the other four? (Sadhguru Laughs) You said five; alignment is one, which are the others? But I have a question. I think it’s going to be answered there, the other way. Before I come to the main question which I have in mind is that, that means if we had called… if we’d continued to call India, Bharata, would a woman have felt securer (secure?) in that than in India today? You know what's happening with women around in rural…with the weaker sections particularly. Would the women security would have been more protected if India had been called Bharata and with the sanskar in than to be India?
Sadhguru: It is… it is not just that the name will do everything. Name has to inspire passion in people, for the nation. Right now they have only hormonal passions going, there’s no passion for the nation, okay? So that is why what is happening to the women is happening. So, it is not that a name is a solution for everything but nationhood, why a nationhood is important is – “Why can't we think about the whole world?” We can, but nationhood is the largest piece of humanity that you can be committed to right now. That’s why a nation is important. When we say “You are committed to this nation and its well-being” that means at least if not 7.2 billion people at least you’re committed to 1.2 billion… 1.25 billion people which is a great step from being committed to your own personal well-being.
So in that sense nature… nation is important. As a spiritual being for me – I am not a nationalistic person that way, I would like to look at every human being and every creature on this planet the same way. That’s how I am. But nation is important because the scope of one’s passion, involvement and concern has expanded beyond likes and dislikes of two people sitting here.
Kiran Bedi: I think with the return as we notice return of Hindi much more, in the last ten days Hindi has returned much more. We might hear Bharatvasi much more, Bharatiya much more.
Sadhguru: You are leaving us out, we are from the south.
Kiran Bedi: Then you learn a little bit of Hindi then.
Sadhguru: No, we won't (Laughs).
Kiran Bedi: You won't?
Kiran Bedi: Why?
Sadhguru: That is why I am telling you, it is not the sameness which binds us. We are different people, but we are fine together. That is the nation… that is the nature of this country. That is what has to be encouraged. You don’t try to teach everybody Hindi. You don’t try to teach everybody Tamil. I speak Tamil, you speak this thing, you eat paratha, I eat idli, I think that’s the best thing, you think that’s the best thing – it doesn’t matter, but we have no issues. In the same family you can wo… five people are there, they worship even five different gods but no problem. In the same room.
Kiran Bedi: I don’t see an imposition, I see more of promotion. That’s what I feel.
Sadhguru: That will happen anyway. We are in a cusp, we are in a position today, we’ve got a decisive mandate. I’m not being political but that’s a political reality today. We have a decisive mandate today. Where does this mandate begin from and where do we all fall in? Where do we fall in place? Because you being… This is being webcast and millions of people are watching you all over the world, as Indians I think you got two responsibilities – one is a people’s responsibility… I’ve decided, from now on I will not use the word “Indian”. (Applause)
Kiran Bedi: Why?
Sadhguru: I would like to use the word Bharat. (Applause)
Kiran Bedi: I told you! Hindi is coming in. That’s the Hindi name of India anyway.
Sadhguru: No, it is a…
Kiran Bedi: Hindustan. We also call it Hindustan.
Sadhguru: Yes, actually Hindustan describes the geography, Bharat describes the culture. I think a time has come where (Applause)… where our identity has to be cultural. Because culture is inclusive. This is something we must understand. When his seven sages who are now considered the celebrated saptarishis of this country… you must understand this first of all – the greatness of this nation is in pursuit and accomplishment of spiritual dimensions. It is this spiritual thread which is holding the country together – this longing to know. If you hack it, then you’ll…you cannot maintain the sovereign of this country, believe me.
Kiran Bedi: Is it religion?
Sadhguru: It is not religion.
Kiran Bedi: No?
Sadhguru: No, I am telling you the nationhood, what we call as Bharat predates all religion. So when Adiyogi was asked by these seven sages, “How many ways can we attain?” He said “If you use your physical body as a foundation, there are hundred and twelve ways of realizing the divine. But if you transcend the physical body, then as many atoms there are in the universe, that many doorways are there. Do you call this a religion?
Kiran Bedi: No
Sadhguru: Religion means that you believe “This is it.” And unfortunately religious teachings… a whole lot of religious teachings do not believe in nationhood. They do not believe in the fundamental existence of a nation. Now this is not about going with somebody, for somebody, no. First of all we must decide – are we a nation? If we are, the idea of nation should… should be burnt into everybody’s head.
Kiran Bedi: How? Where do we begin from?
Sadhguru: Schooling, of course.
Kiran Bedi: With the teachers with no general knowledge? (Laughter)
Sadhguru: You can train them in a summer.
Kiran Bedi: Who trains them?
Sadhguru: This is what needs determination in the leadership. That is what I am saying. What is this country…? See, I must tell you this. This is a fantastic thing. I wish I had… I wanted to tell our people to get that little sketch. I… I just… Somebody gifted me this almost like about twenty years ago. The United States of America, in the twenties particularly when a whole lot of Italians and others, particularly Italians - a lot of them moving to United States, now they speak their own language, they eat their own food, they are among themselves, they will not mix with the so called American thing because their culture they think is richer, they’re… they’re somewhat you know like exuberant population like India at that time, so they won’t mix. So the US government did something which is amazing which today I’m sure a whole lot of intellectuals will brand this as fascist but they’ll all queuing up to go to United States of course – is US government made posters. For Germans one kind of posters, for Italians one kind of posters, Jewish people another kind of posters. Within the kitchen of every home they must fix this poster, okay? It’s a government released poster where an Italian housewife – how she should serve an American breakfast every day in the morning. How she should be dressed, how the table should be set, what should be for breakfast. For lunch, dinner you can eat Italian but breakfast should be American. You understand?
Kiran Bedi: Wow.
Sadhguru: I’m saying this may sound fascist…
Kiran Bedi: Yes
Sadhguru: …but it is with this they integrated different ways… I’m saying even something so small as what you are eating for breakfast, the government is looking at it because they are interested in making a nation.
Kiran Bedi: Wow.
Sadhguru: I was amazed. I saw…that poster is still with me somewhere. I was amazed to see that somebody went into such elaborateness of putting people together. If you had left them like that they would all be separate separate nations within a nation and fighting with each other. Whatever said and done, America is such a melting pot but one nation, you know.