Sadhguru and Kiran Bedi, during “In Conversation with the Mystic”, explore the science behind Bharat – India’s original name – and how this culture was carefully crafted for people’s well-being.
Kiran Bedi: Why do we call our country Mataram, not Patram? Why is it “motherland,” not “fatherland,” or both?
Sadhguru: Because though essentially a nation is the people, the boundaries and the definition of a nation come from a land. We have always seen land or earth as a mother, because if we sow a seed, life grows. Almost everywhere in the world, except in certain very martial cultures, a nation has always been seen as a woman or a mother, because in a certain sense, a nation is defined by an aspect of geography.
Kiran Bedi: 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 today’s concept of a nation. Modern nations are made based on language, religion, race, ethnicity, maybe ideology – essentially, it is the sameness of people that makes a nation. But in this nation, which we have known as Bharatvarsh for thousands of years – we have never defined ourselves by sameness. If you drive 50 kilometers, people look different, wear different clothes, eat differently, speak different languages – everything is different.
When the Europeans came here, they did not understand how this could be one nation if there is nothing binding it. But for over thousands of years, within this subcontinent and also in the remaining part of the known world of those days, people referred to this as one nation, though at some points, we were over 200 political entities. What is it that makes this nation? This is something that the leadership and the people of this country must really look at. It is not language. It is not religion. It is not race. Nationhood predates all religion. When there was no religion, this nation was. We called the land between Himalayas and the Indu Sarovar (Indian Ocean) Hindustan only as a geographical description – not to represent a particular religion.
This is not a religious identity – this is a geographical and cultural identity. What kept us together longer than any other nation on the planet is that essentially, we have always been a land of seekers – seekers of truth and liberation. In this seeking, we found oneness. When we look for sameness, we try to become a land of believers. This seeking is not something that we invented. It is the nature of human intelligence to want to know, realize, and liberate itself.
This nation was based on this foundation that we are seekers. As a seeker, you are not aligned to a particular thing on the outside but to the life process within you, and that never goes wrong. No matter how badly you contaminate human beings with belief systems and brainwash them, once their survival is taken care of, they always want to know the nature of their existence and of everything around them. Whether you call it science, spiritual process, inquiry, or quest, essentially, human intelligence wants to transcend its present limitations, wants to liberate itself from the fetters in which we exist right now. We built our nation on this longing, this seeking. Our nationhood cannot be destroyed as long as we keep this seeking alive. If we do not try to transform ourselves towards sameness, we will always be one.
Why “Bharat” matters
Kiran Bedi: Earlier, it was known as Bharat?
Sadhguru: Yes. Bharat comes from bha – ra – ta. Bhava means sensation. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching are different types of sensations. Your whole experience of life is sensory right now. Or in other words, sensations are the basis of your experience. Bha means sensation, out of which emotion arises. Ra means raga or the tune. The tune is not yours – existence has already set it. Now you have to find the rhythm, which is the tala. If you find the right rhythm, you are a fantastic human being. If you miss the rhythm, you get crushed by the process of life.
We called this nation Bha-ra-ta, and one of the great kings of the past was Bharata. People say the country is named after him, but actually, he was named after the country. There are so many Bharats and Bharatis in this country – they are named after this nation. King Bharata had nine sons, but when the time to hand over the empire came, he gave it to Bhumanyu, who was the son of the sage Bharadwaj. This boy grew up in the forest. When he came to the court one day, the king looked at him and said, “This boy must become the king – not my sons.” People were shocked because the emperor’s sons, nine of them, were waiting in a queue – probably fighting with each other over who would become the king. People argued, “Who is he? He has grown up in the forest.” Bharata said, “I see an enormous intelligence in his eyes and a raging fire in his heart. He is able-bodied and stable. He should be the king.” This was the first demonstration of democracy in this nation, thousands of years ago. I hope we follow this example today.
Kiran Bedi: I have a question. If we had continued to call India “Bharata,” would a woman have felt more secure than in India today? You know what is happening with women, particularly in the rural and weaker sections of society.
Sadhguru: It is not that the name will do everything, but the name has to inspire passion for the nation. Right now, they only have hormonal passions – there is no passion for the nation. That is why these things are happening to women.
A nation is important because you expand the scope of your passion, involvement, and concern beyond your own likes and dislikes. “Why can’t we think about the whole world?” As a spiritual being, I am not a nationalistic person. I would like to look at every human being and every creature on the planet in the same way – that is how I am. But A nation is the largest piece of humanity that you are able to be committed to right now. When you are committed to this nation and its wellbeing, if not to 7.2 billion people, at least you are committed to 1.2 billion people, which is a great step forward from being committed to your own personal wellbeing.
What makes Bharat a nation
Kiran Bedi: I think in the last ten days (refers to the recent change of government with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India), Hindi has returned much more. We might hear “bharatvasi” (one who lives in Bharat) and “bharatiya” (of or relating to Bharat) much more.
Sadhguru: You are leaving us out – we are from the South.
Kiran Bedi: You learn a little bit of Hindi then.
Sadhguru: No, we won’t.
Kiran Bedi: Why?
Sadhguru: Because it is not the sameness that holds us together. We are different people, but we are fine together. That is the nature of this country. That is what has to be encouraged. Don’t try to teach everyone Hindi. Don’t try to teach everyone Tamil. I speak Tamil – you speak Hindi. You eat paratha – I eat idli. I think this is the best thing – you think that is the best thing. Still we have no issues. In the same family, five people can worship five different gods in the same room – no problem.
Kiran Bedi: What is needed to build a successful nation?
Sadhguru: A nation will be successful only when people’s aspirations are kept alive. They must see that their life is a possibility. If people lose their aspiration, it is a finished nation. It is important to nurture an aspiration and create the possibility within one’s lifespan. We also need to make people’s aspirations into the nation’s aspirations, and the nation’s aspirations into people’s aspirations.
For example, we have been trading with the rest of the world for over ten thousand years. In Syria and many parts of Arabia, there are stories of Indian traders. Aleppo City, which was one of the most beautiful cities, was at one time built on taxes paid by Indian traders. In Lebanon, there is a temple in Baalbek which is over 4,000 years old. Children in Lebanon schools study that Indian labor, elephants, sculptors and yogis constructed this. It is a massive temple. Some of the foundation stones weigh three hundred tons. Sculptures of lotus flowers are hanging from the ceiling. Obviously, there are no lotuses in Lebanon; it was sculptured by Indians. Every Lebanese child knows this. Has any Indian child heard about it?
Over a thousand years ago, Tamil kings went to Cambodia and built Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. If you see the work that has been done there, you will feel proud of being human. The Angkor Wat is the largest religious building on the planet. Does any Tamil child in Tamil Nadu up to twelfth standard read a line about it in his textbook?
When you don’t feel pride, how do you build a nation? If you are not proud of who you are, why the hell should you stay here? Right now, if Western countries open up their visa policy, eighty percent of Indians will swim across the ocean and go away. That means you are holding them back by force – it is a prison. People should want to be here, but everybody wants to go away and we are holding them. That is not the way to run a nation.
Bharat or India?
Kiran Bedi: Did we make a mistake in converting our name from Bharat to India?
Sadhguru: A serious mistake. Whenever somebody occupies a nation, the first thing they will do is change your name. This is the technology of dominance; this is the technology of enslaving. If you look at African–American history, when the African people were brought to America, the first thing they did was took their African name away and gave them some silly name. That is what has been done to us – Thiruvananthapuram is “Trivandrum.” Chennai is “Madras.” Like this – “India.” What does it mean? It does not mean anything. 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.”
The concept of a nation must sink into everybody’s mind because a nation is just an idea. When this idea burns through your mind and sinks into your heart, and your passion rises, you have a real nation. Otherwise, “nation” is just on paper. This is the unfortunate reality for us right now. When the British left in 1947, the first thing we should have done is change the name in such a way that it resonates in everybody’s mind. You are using an English name for an Indian nation. Hardly a few percent of us can speak English properly in this country. The remaining are essentially left out. One thing I would like to request of the present Prime Minister is that we rename this country in a way that reverberates in everybody’s heart.
I know a whole lot of the intellectual crowd will say, “What is in a name?” When you utter your name, you must understand there is sound. The meaning is only psychological and social. The sound is existential and 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 must get across to every human being because if everyone’s aspiration is not the same as the national aspiration, then you don’t have a nation.
A vision for Bharat
Kiran Bedi: What is your dream and vision of India in 2020?
Sadhguru: One of the most important things is food security, which we are losing out on because we are yielding to certain forces in the world. India has to ensure food and water are taken care of for our people. By 2020, we must be 100% on the ball with food and water. Otherwise, other nations will not attack you with bombs – they will control your food and you will fall at their feet. Right now, seeds are coming from outside the country. If in a certain year, they don’t send seeds, you must see what will happen. Millions of people will go, just like that!
So food and water must be secured 100%. After that industrial development, IT, etc., – these things will happen anyway. But whatever food we eat in this land of Bharat must be generated here. We have land that produces food 12 months of the year, which is a phenomenon. Very few countries in the world can do that. And we must ensure that this happens, or somebody will trip us very easily.
I have said that there are two major problems in the country – poverty and corruption. Corruption is humiliating, but poverty is debilitating. First poverty, let people eat. Then we can talk to them about ethics and values.
Participant: I do pray that soon the Bharatiya Parliament invites you to address them. What would be the agenda you would guide them on for a Sampurna Bharat?
Sadhguru: In Tamil there is a saying. When it comes to selecting a king, do you want a good man or a capable man? If you want to get married, you choose a good man. If you want a king, someone who rules the nation, then you want a capable man. One aspect of capability is strategy. Whether you want to run a small organization or a nation, one very important aspect of managing something successfully – towards a certain direction – is strategy. A strategy works best when it is handled with a certain level of secrecy, a certain discretion as to what everyone should know, and what they should not know. Even if you have a family of two children, you don’t tell them everything. There is some strategy as to what you should tell the child today, tomorrow and the day after. They must be led on.
If you tell the people of this country right now what the ultimate aspiration is, nobody will go there. Everybody will give up right here. You must tell them, “Just this one step right now.” If they walk that step successfully, they are energized and then you give them the next step and the next step. So let us not talk about Sampurna Bharat right now. I would like to talk to the people who manage the country about Sampurna Bharat, but not the people. The people must be led one step at a time. Otherwise, they won’t go.
Building a great nation on one level means building great people, great institutions and an atmosphere which allows people to express their greatness. Right now we have created a situation with an ambiguous and unnecessarily complex rulebook which does not allow an ordinary citizen to be able to fulfill his daily activity without breaking rules in some way. Or in other words, we are making criminals of people who have no intention to be that. Simple and unambiguous rules to conduct economic, social and other activity is the most important need of today. This is something which needs the best minds in the country to work upon – simple rules with minimum loopholes. Bharat Mata Ki Jai!