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Vasudaiva Kutumbakam: Cognizance and Significance in the Present World

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Vasudaiva Kutumbakam:  Cognizance and Significance in the Present World

K. V. Dominic

(Published in 5.1 January 2015 issue of IJML)


The concept of Vasudaiva Kutumbamkam originated long back in India in the BC and is found used in The Maha Upanishad and Panchatantra. It is a combination of three Sanskrit words ‘vasudha’, ‘eva’ and ‘kutumbakam’ which means that the world is certainly one family. The Maha Upanishad chapter 6 Verse 72 reads, ‘Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family.’ Thus the Vedic sages had disclosed the truth that the world is like a small, tightly knit, nuclear family. Vasudaiva Kutumbamkam is a social philosophy based on the spiritual understanding that the whole of humanity is made of one life energy. It is a solution to the philosophical questions: If the Paramatma is one, how then an Atma can be different? If Atma is different, how then can it ultimately be dissolved in the Paramatma? If the whole ocean is one, how then a drop of the ocean be different from the ocean? If the drop is different from the ocean, how then can it ultimately be dissolved in the ocean? (“Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”). After a scientific progress of 400 years, scientists of world have come to this view that the whole cosmos is an inter-connected oneness. The whole existence is inter-woven and inter-twined. This is the result of quantum physics. Life on earth is interdependent—lives of man and animals and plants are interconnected. Existence of one is dependent on others. Similarly one’s comfort, happiness and peace are dependent on others. It is applicable to individuals as well as nations.

This universe is a big concert led by the Paramatma and all objects or Atmas play their individual notes. To the displeasure of Paramatma or God, Man alone plays a discordant note. Let me quote a few lines about it from my poem “Write My Son, Write” where God tells man:

Don’t you feel

the symphony

of the universe?

It grieves me that

your species seldom

senses my rhythm.

Plants and animals

dance to my number.  (“Write My Son, Write,” Write Son, Write 22)

It is because of the selfish, petty mind of human beings that they consider themselves as separate entities having no connection to other beings and objects of this world. How many of us think gratefully of that star 150 million kilometers away which nourishes us as well as other beings and plants? If the sun is not showering its light and energy how will life continue on this planet? It proves that human beings are dependent of other beings, plants and objects of this universe. Let me quote again from “Write My Son, Write”:

Living beings and

lifeless objects

all inter-related.

Your existence

depends on others;

all my creations,

useful and beautiful.

It’s your pettiness,

viewing things

in different ways,

thinking in opposites;

good and bad,

beautiful and ugly. (“Write My Son, Write,” Write Son, Write 25)

It is ironical that homo sapiens, the only being on earth having reasoning power, goes against the flow of this system and makes irreparable damages. Instead of learning the values from other beings man annihilates them and tries to destroy the universe itself. Kindly see how I have put the idea in my above mentioned poem:

Why don’t you

learn from Nature?

Animals and birds

present you models.

Models of pure love,

happiness, hard work,

suffering, kindness,

patience, sharing,

fellowship, gratitude. (“Write My Son, Write,” Write Son, Write 30)

The Creator has bestowed upon this planet with sufficient resources for all its inhabitants. Other beings take from this planet only for their survival whereas human beings are greedy and they are not just sufficient with their necessities but run after comforts and luxuries. Among human beings 12.5% are hungry and starving when others are wasting tones of food. Let me quote a few lines from my poem “Multicultural Harmony”:

Dear my fellow beings

though you are created a vegetarian

your greed for delicacies

extinguish other beings

Your greed for luxurious shelters

exterminate trees and forests

Your construction mania

defiles the sky and

topples the climate

You turn your villages to towns

and become more and more civilized

but less and less cultured

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Your indiscriminate felling of trees

chased away all birds

Many have become extinct now

In place of cuckoos and nightingale

which lulled you to sleep

mosquitoes disturb your slumber

through injections and drone. (“Multicultural Harmony,” Multicultural Symphony 21-22)

The primary objective of any state government is welfare of the people and peace in the society for which it has to work towards the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The moment there is a gap in the feeling of oneness in the society it may give rise to injustice and depletion of peace and the same may have many other consequences. As problems of a family can be solved only through the collective efforts of all its members, the problems of the world can be solved only through the collective efforts of all member nations. The global issues of border crisis, poverty, health, education, unemployment, shelter, pollution, terrorism, cyber crimes, piracy, racism, communalism, global warming etc. are to be handled and solutions sought out by the entire nations of the world. The developed nations should pioneer in this attempt and the other countries should give them full support.

Global warming is the serious most issue the world is facing now. It is a long term and cumulative effect of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, on earth’s temperature which blocks sun’s light and heat. Destruction of eco-system, loss of biodiversity, conflicts and wars for food, water and land, economic losses, diseases, droughts, storms and floods, heat waves, shrinking glaciers, rising sea level etc. are the consequences of global warming. Concerted efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases are going on in international level under the leadership of developed countries like USA, UK, and France etc. Let me quote my poem “Global Warming’s Real Culprits”:

America and other developed countries

stamp poverty stricken third world

and developing countries as

main culprits of global warming!

To them firewood and fossil-fuel gas

the arch villain of greenhouse gases

But thousands die every day

since smokes don’t

emit from their kitchens

Billions survive each day

since such noxious gases

come out from their fireplace

Carbon dioxide produced by

home appliances of the rich

room heaters, air conditioners,

refrigerators, washing machines,

and the toxic emissions

from their cars and planes

plays the major share

in polluting air and

resultant global warming. (“Global Warming’s Real Culprits,” Multicultural Symphony 26)

Poverty is another crucial issue the world has to find solutions. As per the millennium development goals report 2007 of the UN, more than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death. Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.

This widening gap between the rich and the poor is the main reason for loss of peace and harmony in this world. The root cause of conflicts between communities and even nations is this disparity in wealth. The rich people as well as rich countries do not want to alleviate the problems of the poor but rather they want the poor people and poor nations to remain poor for ever so that they can market their consumer products among them and become richer and richer. 99% of human beings are selfish who nurture tamasik* and rajasik* character and involve in such karmas. The vast majority of have-nots in this world when they learn that the wealth of the planet is legitimate to them also, naturally feel envious and result in confrontation, conflicts and even wars. The main cause of Maoist attacks is this. The same disparity can be attributed as one of the causes of terrorism, the main being religious fundamentalism. The rich or the rich countries should be indebted to the poor or the poor countries for their affluence because they have indirectly looted the possession of the have-nots. As Frantz Fanon has stated in his masterpiece postcolonial treatise The Wretched of the Earth, the wealth of the imperial countries, amassed through capitalist exploitation, is in reality the colonized people’s wealth too. Hence the colonized peoples are not blinded by the help which an imperial state offers them; it is only moral reparation. Vasudaiva Kutumbamkam can be materialized only if the rich and the privileged people or nations nurture their satvik* nature and treat the poor and their under privileged people and nations as their siblings. Then there will be shanti or peace on earth. The rich or developed countries can live peacefully only if their poor neighbours are fed well and live happily.


*TamasikRajasik and Satvik: The very fabric of creation consists of three basic subtle components (trigunas) of Tama, Raja and Sattva. A man whose predominant nature is Tamasik has the characteristic of ignorance and inertia and he has no problem about stepping on other’s toes to get ahead or harming society. A man whose predominant nature is Rajasik has the characteristic of action and passion and he lives more for personal gain and achievement. A man whose predominant nature is Satvik has the characteristic of purity and knowledge and he lives in service of society with no expectation of recognition or reward or any ulterior motive.


Works Cited

Dominic, K. V. Multicultural Symphony. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2014. Print.

—. Write Son, Write. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. Print.

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. London: Penguin Books, 1967. Print.

“Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.” Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

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