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A map of Akhanda Bhārata highlighted in green, consisting of the modern nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
A map of 'Greater India', or those regions of the world influenced culturally, politically and historically by ancient India.

Akhand Bharat (or Akhand Hindustan) is an irredentist term meaning "Undivided India" in Sanskrit and encompassing those nations or regions of South, East and Central Asia that were once part of pan-Indian empires or influenced by the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism.[1][2][3]

History

 
Maurya Empire c.250 BCE
 
Mughal Empire c. 1700 CE
 
British India prior to 1947 CE

The Indian subcontinent has been territorially consolidated under various empires. These include the Maurya Empire at its zenith under Ashoka, the Mughal Empire by 1700 CE or the British Raj throughout the 19th century CE, all of which greatly influenced the development of South Asia.[4]

At the time of the Indian Independence Movement, Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi advocated for Akhand Hindustan, a proposition that Mahatma Gandhi, believing that "as Britain wanted to retain her empire by pursuing a policy of divide and rule, Hindu-Muslim unity could not be achieved as long as the British were there."[5] In addition, Mazhar Ali Khan wrote that "the Khan brothers [were] determined to fight for Akhand Hindustan, and challenged the League to fight the issue out before the electorate of the Province."[6] On 7–8 October 1944, in Delhi, Radha Kumud Mukherjee presided over the Akhand Hindustan Leaders' Conference.[7]

The Indian activist and Hindu Mahasabah leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, in response to both Islamic and European nationalism, propounded the notion of an akhand bharat as well as a Hindu Rashtra ('Hindu Nation'), emphasizing the potential cultural, religious and political unity of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains throughout the Indian subcontinent 'from Kashmir to Rameshwaram and Sindh to Assam', and the alienation of Indian Muslims and Christians due to their 'spiritual homelands' in the Middle East instead of the Indian subcontinent (even comparing Indian Muslims to German Jews in the context of emulating the national unity of Nazi Germany).[8][9]

Contemporary usage

The call for creation of the Akhand Bharat or Akhand Hindusthan has on occasions been raised by Hindu nationalist organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha, Kakbhusundi Revolutionary Forum (KRF), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, Hindu Sena, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Bharatiya Janata Party.[10][11][12][13] One organization sharing this goal, the Akhand Hindustan Morcha, bears the term in its name.[14] Other major Indian political parties such as the left-wing Indian National Congress do not subscribe to a call for Akhand Bharat, although India formally claims the entire region of Kashmir (territorially divided between India, Pakistan and China) as an integral part of India through official maps.[15]

Pre-1947 maps of India, showing the modern states of Pakistan and Bangladesh as part of British India, illustrate the borders of a proto-Akhand Bharat.[12] The creation of an Akhand Bharat is also ideologically linked with the concept of Hindutva (Hinduness) and the ideas of sangathan (unity) and shuddhi (purification) that seek to focus modern Indian politics on a continuous civilizational legacy and heritage of the Indian subcontinent.[13]

A 1993 diary of the trade union wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh included a map depicting Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia as territories that were part of "Akhand Bharat".[16]

While the leadership of the right-wing BJP wavers on the issue, the RSS has always been a strong proponent of the idea.[17][18] RSS leader H. V. Seshadri's book The Tragic Story of Partition stresses the importance of the concept of Akhand Bharat.[19] The RSS affiliated magazine Organiser often publishes editorials by leaders such as the present Sarsanghachalak, Mohan Bhagwat, espousing the philosophy that only Akhand Bharat and sampoorna samaj (united society) can bring "real" freedom to the people of India.[20] The call for Indian reunification has been supported by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,[21] and BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav.[22]

In December 2015, following Narendra Modi's diplomatic visit to Lahore, Pakistan, the BJP National Secretary Ram Madhav (in an interview with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hassan) described that "The RSS still believes that one day [India, Pakistan and Bangladesh], which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created."[23] In March 2019, RSS leader Indresh Kumar claimed that Pakistan would reunite with India by 2025, that Indians would settle in and migrate to Lahore and Lake Mansarovar in Tibet, that an Indian-allied government had been ensured in Dhaka, and that a European Union-style akhand bharat would form.[24]

Former Indian Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju advocated in Pakistani newspaper The Nation that the only solution to the ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan is the reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a strong, secular, modern-minded government.[25][26] He expanded on the reasons for his support for an reunified India in an article for Newslaundry,[27] In a separate article, Katju advocated that such a state would be administered by a secular government.[28] Katju serves as the chairman of the Indian Reunification Association (IRA), which seeks to campaign for this cause.[29][30] The former Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, in April 2004, similarly endorsed a confederation of the sovereign nations of India and Pakistan as a powerful geopolitical entity rivaling the European Union, United States of America, Russian Federation and People's Republic of China.[31]

Hindu nationalist political groups such as Shiv Sena, allied to BJP, have sought the reclamation of Pakistan-administered Kashmir under the pretense of akhand bharat, especially after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution (removing the semi-autonomy of Jammu And Kashmir) in August 2019.[32] Following the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, some posters in Islamabad displayed a map of an "Akhand bharat".[33][34]

See also

References

  1. ^ Erdman, H. L. (17 December 2007). The Swatantra Party and Indian Conservatisum. Cambridge University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780521049801. The ultimate reunification of the subcontinent is a professed goal, as it is for the Mahasabha, but here, too, there is a difference in emphasis which deserves note: for the Sangh, the goal is 'Akhand Bharat', while for the Mahasabha it is 'Akhand Hindustan'.
  2. ^ Chitkara, M. G. (1 January 2004). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. APH Publishing. p. 262. ISBN 9788176484657. Those who dub Shri L.K. Advani, the Home Minister of India and others as foreigners, must realise that the freedom struggle was a mass movement of all the people of entire Akhanda Hindusthan (United Bharat).
  3. ^ Prasad, Sumit Ganguly, Jai Shankar. "India Faces a Looming Disaster". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  4. ^ Bangash, Yaqoob Khan (8 August 2019). "From India to Bharat". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  5. ^ Ghose, Sankar (1 January 1991). Mahatma Gandhi. Allied Publishers. p. 315. ISBN 9788170232056. Later, K.M. Munishi, with Gandhi's blessing, also resigned from the Congress to plead for Akhand Hindustan as a counter blast to Pakistan. Gandhi, who previously thought that swaraj was impossible without Hindu-Muslim unity, subsequently came to the conclusion that as Britain wanted to retain her empire by pursuing a policy of divide and rule, Hindu-Muslim unity could not be achieved as long as the British were there.
  6. ^ Khan, Mazhar Ali (1996). Pakistan: The First Twelve Years. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195776768. Retrieved 23 July 2014. Many months ago, when the Pakistan issue was still in the melting pot, the Khan brothers determined to fight for Akhand Hindustan, and challenged the League to fight the issue out before the electorate of the Province.
  7. ^ Sharma, Jai Narain (1 January 2008). Encyclopaedia Eminent Thinkers. Concept Publishing Company. p. 88. ISBN 9788180694929. On 5 August 1944, he issued a common letter to the leaders of various parties making a proposal to hold Akhand Hindustan Leaders' Conference. Such a conference was held on 7 and 8 October in Delhi. It was presided over by Dr. Radha Kumud Mukherji.
  8. ^ Sampath, Vikram (7 August 2019). "Savarkar Wanted One God, One Nation, One Goal". The Print India.
  9. ^ "Vinayak Damodar Savarkar", Wikipedia, 4 August 2019, retrieved 8 August 2019
  10. ^ Suda, Jyoti Prasad (1953). India, Her Civic Life and Administration. Jai Prakash Nath & Co. Retrieved 23 July 2014. Its members still swear by the ideal of Akhand Hindusthan.
  11. ^ Yale H. Ferguson and R. J. Barry Jones, Political space: frontiers of change and governance in a globalizing world, page 155, SUNY Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-7914-5460-2
  12. ^ a b Sucheta Majumder, "Right Wing Mobilization in India", Feminist Review, issue 49, page 17, Routledge, 1995, ISBN 978-0-415-12375-4
  13. ^ a b Ulrika Mårtensson and Jennifer Bailey, Fundamentalism in the Modern World (Volume 1), page 97, I.B.Tauris, 2011, ISBN 978-1-84885-330-0
  14. ^ Hindu Political Parties. General Books. 30 May 2010. ISBN 9781157374923.
  15. ^ "Irredentism", Wikipedia, 1 August 2019, retrieved 8 August 2019
  16. ^ Ghosh, Papiya (21 March 2014). Partition and the South Asian Diaspora: Extending the Subcontinent. Routledge. ISBN 9781317809654.
  17. ^ Jyotirmaya Sharma, "Ideological heresy?, The Hindu, 2005-06-19
  18. ^ Radhika Ramaseshan, "Advani fires Atal weapon", The Telegraph, 2005-06-16
  19. ^ Ashish Vashi, "Anti-Sardar Patel book sold from RSS HQ in Gujarat", The Times of India, 2009-08-27
  20. ^ Manini Chatterjee, "Only by Akhand Bharat", The Indian Express, 2007-02-01
  21. ^ "Sindhis want Sindh in India?Modi gives example of Jews". DeshGujarat. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  22. ^ "One day, India, Pak and Bangladesh could reunite as Akhand Bharat: Ram Madhav". The Indian Express. 27 December 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  23. ^ "RSS and the idea of Akhand Bharat". The Indian Express. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  24. ^ Staff, Scroll. "Pakistan will be part of India after 2025, claims RSS leader Indresh Kumar: Report". Scroll.in. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  25. ^ "The truth about Pakistan". The Nation. 2 March 2013. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Pakistan all-praise for Markandey Katju". Indian Express. 7 March 2013.
  27. ^ "We must reunite: Why Pakistan, India and Bangladesh should be one country". Newslaundry. 8 December 2015.
  28. ^ "India And Pakistan Must Reunite For Their Mutual Good". HuffPost India. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  29. ^ "Mission Statement of the Indian Reunification Association". Indica News. 7 February 2019.
  30. ^ Markandey Katju (10 April 2017). "India And Pakistan Must Reunite For Their Mutual Good". The Huffington Post.
  31. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Opinions". tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  32. ^ "Dream of 'Akhand Bharat' fulfilled partially with Article 370 abrogation: Shiv Sena lauds Modi, Amit Shah". Zee News. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Undivided India is real terror, says banner in Islamabad". outlookindia.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  34. ^ Wasim, Amir (8 August 2019). "Govt, opposition united on Kashmir, divided on domestic issues". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 8 August 2019.