Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam meanings expands from “All the world is one family” to “We are all part of the same consciousness pool.”
The entire world is one family
I have a friend in Trinidad and his name is Raviji Maharaj. We were traveling together in a car from Jaipur to New Delhi after attending a meeting. There was a lot of time and amongst many conversations we had, one of them was about his endeavor of finding his roots. I come from Bihar and he had traced his ancestors to a village in my district of Bhojpur. He ended up at the door of his ancestral home. What happened next was not as wonderful and pleasant as he had anticipated.
There are many such people in Trinidad or in the USA who are looking for their roots. If roots are traced deeper and longer, we all will end up at the homo novas, possibly somewhere in India or Africa. And logically speaking, we may all have come from the same one origin, a mother and a father. Is that what Vasudhaiva kutumbakam is talking about? The entire world is one family,’ is a common translation of this verse, and in the least we can understand that we may all have a common origin.
In my view, the verse means much more than that. If you dig deeper in time you come to a point where all humans end up being related. Just because we are all related does not answer any questions. We can still hate each other and be ready to kill one another because we may like something more than our relations with each other. Pandavas and Kauravas were cousins and so is India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan as a country have the same heritage and so are Indians and Pakistanis. That has not prevented them from having had three wars. Having blood relation or having genetic connection does not appear to give us any higher understanding. I am sure that it is good to know that we may all be related, but it does not necessarily produce any love for each other.
Inter-related and Interdependent
If we explore sideways in space, we may find something interesting. There appears to be a close relationship between our surrounding and us. An event happening in one part of the world may have profound effects at another completely distant part of the world. An airplane goes through the world trade center in the USA and then there are bombs falling on Afghanistan. You destroy the rain forest and there may be draught in a completely remote area. Just imagine if sun did not rise one day. The whole world may disaapear. Or, just imagine that all the polar snow and ice melts. Soon all of us will be under water. So, it is not hard to understand that we have close and vital relationship with our surroundings. We are interrelated with and interdependent on the moon, the sun, the rivers and the whole lot.
Do we really know that? If you go to India, you may experience and appreciate this relationship a little bit. You may find yogis doing surya namaskar. People say Ganga mayya (mother ganga) and worship the Kailash Mountain. They call the city of Varanasi holy and pronounce cow as sacred mother. Is this all insane? May be in some one’s eyes, but sooner or later humanity is going to realize that this relationship is real. Consumerism has created a big gap. We need so many chopsticks that trees can be dispensed. We are prepared to kill whales and elephants for our so-called luxury. Who needs to care about our relationship with our surroundings? But, it is definitely vital to our very existence. But, is that what is the meaning of Vsudhaiva Kutumbakam.
Then there is the esoteric space where we all relate to different gods. And the gods are related to each other as well. Shiva is related to Parvati. Ganesh is there child. Vishnu and Laxmi are related and they are all related to us through bhakti. Shiva lives in Kailash while Varanasi is located on the trishul of Shiva. But, is this the meaning of Vasudhaiva Kutubakam?
In my view, to understand the complete meaning of this formula of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, we have to dig inside of our consciousness. We all know that our planet earth is connected all through and is round. The miles of ocean are mere interruptions on the surface; a mile or two deeper there is still the presence of earth surface. There may be peaks and valleys, but still they are all continuous. The consciousness is one such continuum.
The Rishis in their deep meditation could see this eternal truth. This is important to understand. The Upanishadic Rishi does not see individual human beings as we see them. We see ourselves as islands of existence. The Rishi knows that we are not islands. All the consciousness is a unit and we are peaks and valleys. Even a rock on the path has a little of consciousness in it; we may have a little more than those rocks.
This simple understanding is not a theory or a philosophy. The Rishi knows this as a matter of fact. He can see it and we can experience it too, if we want to. This experience is potentially available to all of us. And once this experience happens, it is impossible to do anything that may contaminate this consciousness. When you are angry, you are pouring anger to this pool of consciousness. And when you are happy you are pouring happiness to this pool. When a man kills another being out of hatred, he is contaminating this vast ocean of existence, the consciousness itself. And we in the east have called this Adharma. Any act that contaminates this consciousness is Adharma and anything that purifies it is Dharma.
I think that the Rishi, when he proclaims this statement of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ is talking about the relationship that is happening at the level of this consciousness. Knowing this, a man becomes Dharmic. There is no possibility of performing any act that will contaminate this pool of consciousness, because this will ultimately contaminate the individual itself. Any other kind of relationship will not really help. We all know that we are blood relatives and we all know that our surroundings make a difference, at least to some extent. This has not helped us in becoming happy and peaceful. We continue to place emphasis on the relationships that we want and ignore the ones that we do not really care.
If we dig deep in time (our past), we end up knowing that we are all related to each other by blood. If we explore in space, we find that we are related to the surrounding nature with environmental forces. If we look around in the esoteric divine space of gods and goddesses, we find that we are related to them by devotion (bhakti). And, if we dive deep inside ourselves we find that we are related to each other and to the whole Universe by consciousness. In fact there is no two, there is just Consciousness itself. And knowing this, one can proclaim and say, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”