Unity of India

The presence of diversity in geography, population, race, language, religion, social system, etc., has made critics remark that India has always lacked unity and never presented the spectacle of a united country. But, under the facade of diversity India has always enjoyed fundamental unity, which cannot be discovered by a superflous observer.

India has been regarded as a single entity since earliest times. The theologians and political philosophers have always regarded Bharatavarsha as a single country and talked of the thousand yojans of land that stretched from Himalayas to the sea as the proper domain of a single universal emperor. The Vishnupuran also emphasised the fundamental unity of the country when it observed that the country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharata. The seperation of India from other countries through Himalayas in the north and ocean in the other three sides of the country has also greatly contributed to the sense of unity of the country. The location of various religious places in different parts of the country and insistence on visit to these places as a sacred religious duty also emphasises the geographical unity of the country.

In the political sphere, the sense of unity of India has been a dominant feature since the Mauryan period. Though the country was divided into several political units, it has always been a cherished ambition of most of the rulers to carve out an all-India empire or become a Chakravarthi. According to Kautilya's Arthashastra, the domain of a Chakravarthi ruler extends from Himalayas to the seas. In other words a king could claim to be a Chakravarthi only if he was able to establish his rule over the whole of the country. Generally, the king desirous of assuming the title of Chakravarthi performed Asvamedha Yajna (Horse Sacrifice). The Mauryas as well as the Guptas during the ancient times carved out all-India empires. In the medieval times, Alauddin Khilji, Mohd. Tughlaq, Akbar, Shah Jahan also tried to establish all-India empires. These rulers also tried to provide an identical system of administration in different parts of the empire.

In the religious sphere also people of India have enjoyed considerable amount of unity despite the prevelance of different religions. The same Hindu gods and goddesses are worshipped throughout the country, even though they are known by different names in different regions. Like wise the Hindu religious works like Ramayana and Mahabharata are held in great esteem throughout the country and read with great devotion. The Vedas, the Puranas and other religious scriptures are looked with utmost respect all over the country. Religious places of Hindus are located in the four corners of the country and devout Hindus are expected to go on pilgrimage to these places. Rameshwaram is located in far south, Kailash in extreme north, Jagannadh Puri in extreme east and Somnath in the west.

Despite the presence of people of different races in the country, a sense of unity exists among the people. In the course of time they have become a part of the Indian or Hindu society which has assimilated the features of almost all races. Similarly, despite the presence of large number of languages, the country has enjoyed linguistic unity. Different languages weere developed for common use. In the 3rd Century B.C., Prakrit served as common language and was used for the communication of message of Royal missionaries to all the people in the kingdom. Thereafter, Sanskrit emerged as a common language of the people. Many region languages in use today have been derived from Sanskrit. With the advent of the Muslims in the northern India, Sanskrit suffered a setback but continued to thrive in Southern India. After the advent of the Britishers, English became popular and is widely spoken at present.

Some of the basic features of Indian culture such as Varna, Ashrama, Dharma, etc. are accepted and practised all over the country. Most of the festivals like Diwali and Holi are celebrated nation wide irrespective of religions. The sanctity of family life has also been accepted throughout the country and the various social ceremonies closely resemble one another. The essential fundamental unity rests upon the fact that diverse people of India have developed a peculiar type of culture and civilization utterly different from any type in the world.

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