Happy Independence Day to my fellow countrymen in whichever part of the world you maybe…don’t forget your roots and where you come from!
70th year! One of the world’s youngest nations and oldest civilisation…that’s us; a breathing, living image of dichotomy with the best and the worst of the world within us…it’s up to us to fight the worst and bring out the best in us for the world to see…
On the eve of independence , it wasn’t just the freedom that we had gained after the loss of inumerable lives and centuries of struggle to break free from the shackles of slavery , treachery, abuse and deceit and forceful religious conversions amongst several other atrocities.
Along with our glorious past, we had inherited the scars of centuries of slavery and tyranny inflicted on us by several foreign regimes and invaders over millenias, who all invaded us for our enormous wealth, be it cultural, spiritual, material or the wealth of knowledge which is evident from the invention of “Zero” by Brahmagupta as an algebraic value and not just a place holder that it was used as by several civilisations including ours, prior to this.
Although, many argue that it was Aryabhatta who had invented zero… But I’m not fretting over it since he too was an Indian and I’m just glad knowing that the most sought after value that the world runs after was invented by an Indian. Don’t we all want to add those elusive zeros ahead of bankbalance! Besides, it was such a lease of new life to the metric system and mathametics as we know today, knowing that the count doesn’t end at 9 and that there’s a world of infinite possibilities after 9, that starts with a very humble “Zero”.
The wealth of our knowledge was also manifested in our architecture that can still be seen today in our temples that date thousands of years back and ancient caves like the Kanheri Caves and the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Mumbai, that I have mentioned in my previous post Me Mumbaikar! However, this wealth of knowledge wasn’t merely restricted to mathematics or architecture as it could also be seen in other fields and faculties like Indian Astronomy and Astrology, Medicine amongst others.
India was known as the Golden Bird or “Sone ki Chidhiya” in Hindi, that lured foreign invaders who wanted to rule India, including Columbus who had set out to explore India but due to faulty navigation (oops) ended up discovering what we know as modern day America.
However, this Golden Bird was left wounded with its wings clipped, as it was let out of the cage and allowed to breathe free for the first time in ages on the 15th of August 1947. With our troubled and tumultous past and scars of slavery, we had also inheirated the scourge of partition that haunts us till date.
70 years hence and we have developed leaps and bounds despite being the youngest compared to other great nations like America or China and even at a time of global recession we still seem to be doing better. But it’s not enough. From being the first civilisation to have developed money based trade while the rest of the world still practised barter system, our contribution to global economy has plummeted to a megre 2% from 24% of world trade in the 1500AD which is resultant of the legacy we received post Independence. With over a billion mouths to feed and wide spreaded poverty and illeratacy we have a long road ahead of us till we can call ourselves a developed nation…we’re still developing!
Amongst all social evils, what threatens our growth the most is the demon of corruption and greed. We must learn to keep our nation and its growth ahead of our personal gains and only then will we be able to make us a nation of greats rather than just calling India a great nation which it always was. We’re the culture where we say “Atithi Devo Bhava” Which is Sanskrit for “Guest is equivalent to God” and “Vasudeva Kutumbhakam” which means “World is my family” it’s time to live up to that!
Guests must be treated with care and respect as we would treat our Gods, as that’s our culture and family mores preached to us by our scriptures and ancient texts. However, while we treat our guests like Gods, we mustn’t allow the shadows of our colonial past eclipse our pride that stems from a glorious civilisation that predates every foreign invasion that Mother India endured. It is only our own complexes and insecurities that would allow others to develop a God complex, assuming the role of a saviour that was sent to rule us, turning us into slaves as we allowed to happen in the past.
That’s where the concept of “Vasudeva Kutumbhakam”, World is one Family comes in. We’re all equals and members of the same family where no one is superior and none lesser or inferior than the other. We’re all brothers and sisters, Children of the same, omnipresent God that dwells in each one of us and not just in shrines and temples and mosques and churches.
Let’s open our hearts along with our doors and greet the world as our Godly Guests with a warm smile and folded hands as we say “Namaste” which is Sanskrit for “The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you” …… Happy Independence Day India!!!
-by Abhishek Sen