During the inauguration of India’s new Parliament building, history repeats itself as the same Scepter given to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947 heralding the dawn of an independent India is placed where it belongs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi shall receive the scepter from the priests, replicating the ceremonies of that day. Surprisingly, many Indians remain unaware of this powerful symbolism of transfer of power even after 75 years of independence. The golden scepter is to be brought from the Anand Bhavan Museum in Uttar Pradesh. It is a gold-plated silver scepter adorned with a bull, representing Nandi, the vahana of Lord Shiva.
Nandi holds a sacred position as Shiva’s devotee and signifies purity and justice. These events have sparked discussions on India’s national identity, whether it is a secular country or a Hindu nation. Understanding the Indian Constitution is essential to explore these questions, as it embodies the country’s values, culture, and aspirations, including freedom, equality, fraternity, peaceful coexistence, democracy, and respect for nature, which are intrinsic to India’s ancient and enduring culture.
The framers of the Indian Constitution displayed a deep understanding of Indian culture and values, as evident in the name of our country. Article 1 states that India, i.e., Bharat, shall be a Union of States, affirming that the name of our country is Bharat. Bharat signifies more than just a name; it represents a glorious past predating the British and the Mughals, symbolizing a spiritually enlightened nation.
The name Bharat has its roots in ancient Hindu traditions. Since ancient times, our country has been known as Bharat, Bharatasvara, or Hindustan. Bharat encompasses the vast land created by the Gods, stretching from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. It derives its name from King Bharata, a legendary emperor who founded the Bharata dynasty and was the ancestor of the Pandavas and Kauravas from the epic Mahabharata. King Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta and Queen Shakuntala, had conquered the entire Bharatvarsha, which encompasses the present-day Indian subcontinent.
The term “Union of States” highlights the multicultural, pluralistic, and tolerant nature of Sanatana Dharma, the basis of Indian culture. India’s cultural unity has thrived despite the existence of diverse sub-cultures, many of which are influenced by Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma is not just a religion but a way of life, characterized by unity in diversity. This inherent unity has allowed for centralized authority while providing space for local subcultures to flourish.
The value of brotherhood enshrined in the Constitution’s Preamble is rooted in the Upanishadic concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which translates to “the entire universe is one family.” The framers of the Constitution acknowledged that Indian morality is essentially Hindu in character, emphasizing respect and tolerance for all faiths.
Sanatana Dharma encompasses a way of life that promotes the coexistence of humans with nature. Daily prayers include seeking harmony among all living beings, including animals and plants, for the prosperity of the entire world. Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution mandates every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife, and to show compassion towards all living creatures.
The Fundamental Duties outlined in the Constitution expect citizens to adhere to a spirit of public brotherhood, strive for excellence, and conserve the natural environment. The concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, central to Hinduism, advocates tolerance of other faiths, unity, and a shared sense of brotherhood among all Indians, regardless of religious, linguistic, regional, or sectarian diversity.
Sanatana Dharma extends respect not only to humans but also to animals. Cows, considered mothers, have been worshipped and revered in Indian society since Vedic times. Cow worship is deeply ingrained in Hindu cultural psychology, with various festivals dedicated to cows. Article 48 of the Constitution directs the states to organize agriculture and animal husbandry in a modern and scientific manner and to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves for their protection and improvement. This provision reflects the constitutional mandate to protect cows and prevent their slaughter, aligning with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals.
Sanskrit, the language that united the Indian subcontinent under Sanatana Dharma, holds great significance. Sacred texts like the Vedas, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, and Yoga Sutras were written and compiled in Sanskrit. Articles 343 and 351 designate Hindi as the official language of the Union and encourage states to promote Hindi, incorporating primarily Sanskrit and other languages into its vocabulary. The Constitution emphasizes the propagation of Hindi, drawing inspiration from the Sanskrit language.
The Supreme Court has prudently protected crucial aspects of the Constitution’s basic structure, including the Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, Fundamental Duties, and other provisions. At its core, the Indian Constitution is rooted in Sanatana Dharma, which encompasses humanity and human values.
The framers of the Indian Constitution acknowledged that Indian morality is predominantly Hindu in character, emphasizing respect and tolerance for all faiths. They believed that the Constitution is rooted in Sanatana Dharma, which encompasses human values and promotes inclusivity. While the Constitution upholds secularism and guarantees religious freedom, it draws inspiration from the moral principles of Hinduism without explicitly declaring it as the foundation. The Constitution aims to establish a diverse and inclusive society that respects all religions.
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