Saturday, July 16, 2011


A Road Map for Rashtram

July 11, 2011 01:25:38

Dr.Vijaya Rajiva

This review is from: Rastram: Hindu history in United Indian Ocean States (Paperback)
This review is also on

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).


Rastram, supranation, is about a golden page in the history of human civilizations. It is an opportunity to realize almost 2 millennia of dharma-dhamma values enshrined in the hearts of over 2 billion people along the nations of the Indian Ocean Rim.

This is a compilation of insights, analyses and excerpts from works of by many savants and scholars about Hindu history.

R'''ram is pronounced as in Latin rostrum (rĂ´ stru m) with a long -a in the first syllable, R'. The Rgvedic word connotes a federation of peoples' republics - a supranational covenant as the true foundation of an organized Indian Ocean Community (IOC) -- a counterpoise to European Community. This IOC should remain open to all nations of Indian Ocean Rim. The states located along the rim of the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Tasmania constitute the Indian Ocean Community which has the attributes of R'''ram. The Hindu historical traditions and the amended UN Law of the Sea help use the potential to create a 6 trillion dollar GDP and act provide for enhanced welfare of over 2 billion people. Along the 63,000 mile long rim of the Indian Ocean work can start on Trans-Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway Projects and build upon the civilizational heritage.
The 1994 modified Law of the Sea extends territorial waters into 200 nautical miles from the baseline as economic zones.
This historical account is an attempt to delineate the wealth of nations, along the Indian Ocean Rim. Together, these nations neighboring the Ocean, can chart out a path for establishing R'''ram in dharma-dhamma continuum.
This account provides the portraits from Hindu history on the travails of a nation caught in the throes of civilizational clashes with jihadist onslaughts during mediaeval periods of barbarism and loots of 17th to 20th century periods of a British Colonial empire and the 21st century in a swarajyam Hindusthan by post-colonial marauders, suffocating the potential for forming a R'''ram. This account is clearly NOT intended to be a chronologically organized Hindu history for two millennia until 2000 CE. Portraits are presented of political economy on the banks of Hindu civilization in modern epoch for the last two millennia. It is a record since the turn of the Common Era, informed by earlier five millennia of history of Sanatana Dharma in Bharata R'''ram. (aham R'''r' samgaman' vas'n'm ... V'g'mbh''' sukta in Rigveda; trans. `I am the R'''ra moving people together for abhyudayam...) Hindu history is presented as a quest for the establishment of such a R'''ram.

This book is a tribute to George Coedes who concluded, after a study of fourteen centuries of history of Southeast Asia: " the importance of studying the Indianized countries of Southeast Asia- which, let us repeat, were never political dependencies of India, but rather cultural colonies - lies above all in the observation of the impact of Indian civilization on the primitive civilizations... We can measure the power of penetration of this culture by the importance of that which remains of it in these countries even though all of them except Siam passed sooner or later under European domination and a great part of the area was converted to... Read more ›