Here is an essay on Unity in Diversity in India.
Geographically India may not be a united by itself but from times immemorial India has been considered as-one country. The single name Bharatvarsha given to this country emphasis this unity.
According to the authors of ‘Advance History of India’, this name and the sense of unity which it denotes, “was ever present before the minds of the theologians, political philosophers and poets who spoke of the thousand yojans (leagues) of land that stretches from Himalayas to the sea as the proper domain of a single universal emperor.”
During the medieval times the Muslim rulers also considered it as one country and made efforts to capture all parts. The nature has also bestowed a geographical unity by providing Himalayas in the North and Ocean in the other three sides of the country, and thereby completely separating India from other countries.
The rivers of India have also been responsible for giving a sense of unity in the country. Some of the rivers are ascribed divine origin and are considered sacred by every Indian. For example, Ganga is worshipped in all the Tour direction of the country.
Pilgrims from all over the country continue to visit the various holy places situated on its banks. Other rivers like Yamuna and Saraswati are also considered sacred by people all over the country. In short we can say that in spite of the geographical diversity the country has enjoyed a typical unity.
No doubt, the people of India belong to different races but they are so much absorbed in the Hindu fold that they have virtually lost their separate entity. It is a well-known fact that the people of India, to which ever race or region they might belong, are known as Indian or Hindustani. This is a clear proof of the underlying racial unity of the people.
Although India possesses a variety of language, but she has enjoyed a linguistic unity from the earliest times. In the 3rd century B.C. the Prakrit served as the common language of the people. According to Dr. Ray Chaudhri, “Prakrit was the one single language sufficient to bring the message of a royal missionary to the doors of his humblest subject throughout this vast kingdom.” After Prakrit, Sanskrit became the common language of the masses.
The other local languages which subsequently gained prominence originated out of Sanskrit. Some of the prominent Indian languages which owe their origin to Sanskrit include Hindi, Gujarati, Telgu and Tamil. In fact Sanskrit served as the lingua franca during the ancient times.
During the Medieval times also though the Sanskrit language was not extended royal patronage by the Muslim rulers, the rulers in the South continued to patronize it and it continued to flourish. With the coming of British, English became lingua franca. After independence this role has been taken over by Hindi.
The script of the various languages used in India also possess a certain amount of uniformity. In fact almost all the scripts are based on the Brahmin script. The literature produced in different Indian languages also possess an element of unity.
Most of the literature in Indian language drew inspiration from the Sanskrit literature and maintained the unity. No doubt, certain local pieces of literature like Vedas, Puranas, Dharma Sastras and Upanishads were written in Sanskrit and are regarded as the common treasure by the people all over the country.
Religious and Social Unity:
In the religious sphere also despite the manifold diversity a sort of unity has prevailed amongst the various religious sects in the country. India was primarily a Hindu country and its culture was based on Varna Ashram Dharma Vya-vastha, i.e. caste, Ashrams and Dharma.
People in all the four corners of the country followed these principles. The people also worshipped the same Hindu gods all over the country, although they were assigned different names in different regions. The Hindu religious works Ramayana and the Mahabharata were also popular throughout the country and Indians both in the north and the south as well as east and west attach great importance to these works.
Similarly, the Vedas, Puranas and other religious scriptures are given due regard by the people from all parts of the country. Again, every Indian irrespective of his caste, creed and race believes in the doctrine of transmigration of soul, monotheism, immortality of the soul, re-incarnation karma, deliverance or Moksha etc.
The people staying in different parts of the country followed the same religious rites and rituals. Even the religious places of the Hindu like Ayodhya, Avantika, Mathura, Gaya, Kashi, Sanchi, and Puri are located in the four directions of the country.
Hindu festivals like Holy, Diwali are also celebrated in all the regions of the country. In fact, people from all religions participated in these festivals. Thus we find that in spite of the religious diversities there has been an undercurrent of cultural unity which to a large extent nullified the peculiar effects of various religions.
Dr. V.A. Smith says, “The essential fundamental Indian unity rests upon the fact that diverse peoples of India have developed a peculiar type of culture and civilization, utterly different from any type in the world and that civilization may be summed up in the term of Hindustani.”
He further observes, “Her type of civilization has many features which differentiate it from that of all other regions of the world, or rather sub-continent in a degree sufficient to justify its treatment as a unit in the history of the social, religious and intellectual development of mankind.”
The religious and cultural unity has also led to unity in the social sphere. The people belonging to various religions have been following common customs both with regard to the dress and eating habits.
In the political sphere, the unity of the country has been one of the greatest goal which most of the Indian rulers cherished. No doubt, India was divided into a number of small principalities but the powerful rulers were always keen to bring all these areas under their control. They were keen to assume the title of Chakravarti. According to Kautilya, Chakravarti kings domain extended from Himalayas to the seas.
In other words, according to Kautilya, the king was considered to be a Chakravarti only when he succeeded in extending his power or supremacy over the whole of the country. Usually such titles were assumed by the king after due performance of rites and sacrifices.
In the ancient times Chandra Gupta Maurya, Ashoka and Samudra Gupta carved out all India Empires. During the medieval times also kings like Ala-ud-Din Khilji and Aurangzeb made efforts and succeeded in establishing their control over the entire country.
These Muslim rulers have been provided similar system of administration, uniform laws and customs, common coinage etc. and thus imparted a type of political unity to the entire country. Thus we find that despite the variety of religion, cultures, languages, geographical diversity etc., India has enjoyed some sort of the unity.