Author: Aditya D Thorat.
Editorial Note: Young IK Aditya Thorat takes on the popular and dangerous notion of “No India before 1947”. Watch him discuss the thinking behind this article in a conversation with Divya Nagaraj.
Questioning the existence of Bharat before pre-colonial times is an old game played by the Breaking India forces. They claim that India was nothing but a geographical mass and that the British morphed it into a nation state. This claim has been also made by Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan recently during an interview in which he said that, “ there was no concept of India before the British gave it.”There are also many “eminent” historians making such claims” for example Ramachandra Guha and Dr. Rakesh Batabyal. Many naive people fall prey to such things and they even start believing such things assuming that it makes them “cool”.
Not only them but even our civil servants believe in this because of the colonised examinations they have to go through. Therefore, I find it absolutely important that we should look at this issue from a Swadeshi Drishti, hence I write this article to present sensible arguments to prove the existence of Bharat as a nation state before 1947.
Religious (Sanatana Dharma’s) unity is the most self-evident and self-sufficient example of Bharat’s unity. All the Bharatiyas followed the ancient and timeless Sanatana system, they worshipped the same (Supreme Brahman) god with different manifestations and at a deeper level, all have similar rituals.One may argue that there are different names for different rituals and they are carried out in different ways, however the basic framework of rituals remain same for eg: the नामकरण विधी happens all over India with different names but the essence of this ritual remains same. Same is true with rituals after death even if they are carried out with different names and procedures but even they have same essence throughout the country.
Another classic example of our religious unity are our pilgrimages. Kumbh Mela is a festival which happens in all the four corners of our country. If India was balkanised in those times then why would a Sadhu from Varanasi want to come to Nashik for worship or why would a Tamil Sadhu go to Prayagraj for worship. Important thing to note here is that no king stopped these kind of pilgrimages in fact they welcomed all the Sadhus even those from other kingdoms. Even the 12 jyotirlings of Shiv are distributed in all parts throughout the country and they are still visited by devotees. Another example is the 52 Shakti Peeths of Devi  even they are distributed in all parts of the country, some are even in Sri Lanka, China, Nepal and Pakistan.
Shakti Peeths denote a special energy at that particular place. Now did Devi bless only her North Indian or South Indian devotees alone with Shakti? So I really wonder whether the claims of “eminent” historians and “cool” people are true. Even the four Mathas established by Adi Shankaracharya in four directions of Bharat and chaurasi baithaks established by Shri Vallabhacharya are an example of united fabric that Bharat was.
The most important aspect to note about religious unity is our epics- Ramayan and Mahabharat. Original versions of these epics written by Valmiki and Ved Vyas respectively have a detailed mention of each and every part of Bharat. Important thing is that they do acknowledge that all kingdoms of this land unite as one country called Aryavart ( land of noble people ). Also these epics were recalled in every Bhartiya household in those times. In case of Ramayan, every person irrespective of whether he is from south or north recognised Shri Ram as Maryada Purushottam. Isn’t this amazing, why would a Malayalee in the south want to praise Shri Ram, who was the king of far flung Ayodhya in the north?
Another fascinating thing to note is that all the kings in India had the exact same laws and legal system throughout their kingdoms, and all the kings of Bharat derived their laws from the exact same text called the Dharmshastras . In simple words there was the exact same constitution throughout the country even if there were different kings. So in this case should we call Bharat a ‘balkanised war zone’ or ‘a country with different states having different independent rulers who had a sense of national unity.
The four Ashramas ( Bramhacharya,Grihasth,Vanaprasth and Sanyasa) were followed throughout the country not only these but even the 4 Varnas were followed in the same way in Bharat. This unified social structure tells us that not only the ruling folk but also the most common man shared a sense of unity.
Another important part in our religious unity are the Vedas. All the Bharatiyas, from rulers to common man would follow the Vedas for guiding their whole life. In case of their duties, responsibilities or any other thing for that matter, Vedas were the ultimate authority. The most interesting thing about Vedas is that they were transmitted from person to person orally. This tells us how free and liberal Bharat was, an entire text was in the DNA of people just through oral transmission!!! This also tells us that boundaries between kingdoms weren’t such a big deal and that’s because people were united by one big thought and that is Vedic thought.
Many people argue that even if there was Dharmic unity in Bharat, it cannot be called a nation state but just a piece of land having many small kingdoms whose people followed one religion. They say that there has to be some kind of political unity if we want to call ancient Bharat a nation state. Therefore in this section of article I will give you some glimpses into political unity of ancient Bharat.
First of all, what does political unity in a country mean ?
The most common reply will be, “a country which is ruled by one central government which may have state governments under it for administrative ease”. However this concept of political unity is a western concept. Sadly this concept has been forced in our minds by our education system from 200 years and the Bharatiya concept of political unity is lost somewhere.
According to the Bharatiya concept a country has two manifestations , a Rajya and Rashtra . Rajya means the governance and administration of the country, so the President and the Prime Minister are actually the head of our Rajya. Rashtra however is a more deeper concept. It can be understood as the common grand narrative, the shared culture and history of the state.
Interestingly ancient Bharat had a very strong sense of Rashtra identity, because of the Dharmic unity they had ( as mentioned in previous section of the article ). The point that I want to make here is that Bharat may not be a nation state before British came according to the western model of a nation state, however we were a united nation state according to the Bharatiya concept, because integral unity is inherent in a Rashtra and this ultimately manifests as Bharat. So I want the readers to decide which model they want to believe in – the alien western model or their own Bharatiya model.
Rajya : Bharat of those times was ruled by kings. Now before you ferociously and proudly declare that monarchy was a vehicle to damage and oppress common people let’s get some things cleared about monarchy of ancient Bharat. First of all, even this concept that you have about monarchy has originated in the west after the renaissance, and this western concept can’t be applied to Bharatiya kings. Both are completely different things which cannot be compared.
Monarchy in the west was king centric. However, monarchy in Bharat was प्रजा(citizen) centric. The purpose of a Bharatiya king was to serve the प्रजा, and this can be proven by the fact that Bharat accounted for more than 25% of world GDP at least up until the colonial times. This is just impossible if the rulers were oppressors. Also famous scholars like Chanakya say that the king should have no desires in his life. His whole and soul should be only and only for प्रजा. This tells us that the monarchy in Bharat was not oppressive as framed by western Indologists.
Another thing about monarchy in Bharat was that there were certain conditions to become a king. You couldn’t just become king because your father was one. There were institutions to train the sons of kings, and to select them unbiasedly. However these institutions no longer exist because of years of Muslim and Christian invasions which destroyed them.
The monarchy of Bharat does not mean a one man show. A king had some बंधन (limitations and obligations). If you read the kind of rules Chanakya has drafted for kings you’ll actually be surprised. A king had to take advice from his ministers on every matter and seriously consider it before taking the final decision. There was also कुलगुरु (not translatable to English) for each and every king who kept a check on the decisions of the king from a moral perspective . Things like these were unknown to western monarchy, so it is but natural that they will label it as oppressive. However the problem arises when Bharatiyas try to evaluate Bharat through these western lenses.
So the truth is that not all of our kings were oppressive, most of them were loved by the common folk for their services, and if all the kings were bad then monarchy wouldn’t exist in Bharat for such a long time. People would have rebelled and replaced it with some other type of government. However this did not happen as most of our kings were good and efficient and it is important to note that a bad king has been mentioned as bad in our records of history. The point that I want to make here is that our kings were people who were actually trying to hold the country, they were not breaking it as claimed by “eminent” historians and “cool” people.
Wars in Ancient Bharat
The nature of wars in ancient Bharat, need to be examined differently because you may argue that even if there were good kings who cared for their subjects they did have wars among each other and ultimately the common folk remained oppressed because of these wars and that these wars are the most undeniable proof of the balkanised state that Bharat was at that time.
First of all, let’s understand that wars happened at very rare instances in those times. The reason behind that is the Dharmic unity about which I have given a detailed explanation in the first part of article. Another reason is matrimonial alliances among the kings. The matrimonial alliances formed family relations among kings which kept them away from wars. Now before the feminists label matrimonial alliances as male supremacist ideas, let’s understand the truth about these kind of marriages. First of all women were given the right to choose a husband from many royal families through swayamvar. Second, even if polygamy existed the woman got all the respect that a queen gets and she lives a life of honour, which is completely contradictory to examples of polygamy we see in other countries . The most important thing is that polygamy in those times was allowed only in royal families and not for common man. These things tell us that the matrimonial alliances were not at all male supremacist, in fact they were the tradition that held our Bharat together in harmony.
In spite of these alliances even if there was a war among the kings, the war was a धर्मयुद्ध. Which means that the motivation behind the war was not to loot or destroy the rival kingdom but it was to guard the Dharm in the entire country. This can be proved by the Mahabharat war in which the reason for not crowning Duryodhan was that he could destroy peace in Aryavart or Bharat by his rule. The reason for him not being crowned the king was not his enmity with Pandavas but his inefficiency as an ideal king of the great nation, Aryavart. This tells us that the battles happened for the collective good of Bharat and not one particular kingdom or family.
The most fascinating things about these wars was that they were fought with a certain set of rules. The rules were as follows :
- The battle stops after sunset.
- One warrior can fight with another warrior of his type only, which means that cavalry can fight only cavalry and swordsman can fight only swordsman.
- Two warriors can’t fight with one warrior together.
- An unarmed or surrendered soldier cannot be attacked.
If you look at these rules carefully then you’ll understand that they tried to avoid bloodshed as much as possible and that is because the fellow soldiers had a sense of brotherhood and love for each other, or else why would they want to go so soft on their enemies.
The most important thing to note in these battles was that they remained limited to only soldiers and the common man remained undisturbed. The victorious king didn’t kill the common people, nor did his soldiers rape the women of that kingdom and nor did he destroy any architecture and monuments of that kingdom. In fact, most of the time the kingdom was returned to the original ruler if he had surrendered or half of the kingdom remained with previous king and other half with the victorious king. There was never an absolute takeover of the territory won! This was all because the kings saw each other as humans and citizens of a country and the other citizens too had love for each other.
Historic Unity of a nation – what does this mean ? It means that a nation which goes through ups and downs, happy times and bad times together which experiences invasions and rebellions together, is a nation with historic unity. In short, this means the common history that we share with the people of our country. If you look at Bharat from this drishti then you’ll notice that there is a common history which binds us together because when we were the richest nation in the world, all parts of the country were rich, when there were Muslim invasions all parts of the nation were looted, when there was British colonisation all parts of the nation were enslaved and when we became independent all parts attained freedom.
This is the common history that we share and this is what binds us together because history determines the thinking of the people and this common history determines our common thinking and ultimately our common identity.
So even if the map of our country has gone through millions of changes and even if there have been billions of kings of kingdoms in our country, we still have common history that binds us. If we see globally then we’ll understand that changing maps of a country doesn’t break the identity of a nation. For eg: at the time of independence USA had only 13 states, other states were added later, but “eminent” historians do not question the existence of USA. Another example is Soviet Union. It broke down in 1991 and it’s map went through drastic changes, but no one says that Russia came into existence only after 1991. Even the German map has gone through many changes from the past 100 to 200 years but no one questions whether it existed before Hitler’s death.
“Eminent” historians” (Guha,Babtiyal) and “cool” (Saif Ali Khan) people question the existence of Bharat , but turn a blind eye to the deeper realities I discuss here.
I really wonder if this issue is a historical controversy or a well planned political agenda ?
People question whether India’s existence as a country in ancient times really matters today. They fail to see the hidden strategy of Breaking India forces here. If Breaking India forces can successfully create the narrative that Bharat was a war zone before British arrived, then future generations will believe that it is natural for Bharat to break up.
Note : Some parts which I highlighted in this article like monarchical system may not be possible to implement today but this knowledge should be propagated as a challenge to Breaking India forces. It is important today , that we propagate the sense of national unity that ancient Bharat had. It can be used as an efficient centripetal force to restore the united fabric of Bharat.
Aditya Thorat is a grade 10 ICSE student from Nashik in Maharashtra. He is deeply inspired by the works of Rajiv Malhotra and believes in Savarkarite Hindutvavad. He is also interested in pursuing Swadeshi Indology in the future and looks at pursuing law as a career option. (View More)
 Watch Dr. Rakesh Batabyal’s interview here, https://youtu.be/scb-rrDcIZQ
 Shakti Peethas
 To read some glimpses from dharmashastras
 For further information on Rashtra and Rajya watch this talk by Rajiv Malhotra Ji. https://youtu.be/SnkbmERdyBg
 Watch the original map of USA here https://images.app.goo.gl/1DxEXoHKYGcrtYbu8
 Watch the changing German map here. https://youtu.be/N98TfKiiCe8