The Idea of India Before India

   The Idea of India Before India

Nuances matter. It matters even more when establishing(स्थापित /सिद्ध करना) a dialogue with people who hold a different view from one’s own.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to an RSS congregation (समूह/जनसमूह) in Nagpur on Friday was not probably(संभवतया/मुमकिन है) what the audience expected to hear. But, he deftly used history to delineate(चित्रित करना/वर्णन करना) India’s character as a secular, tolerant and inclusive (सम्मिलित) country.

His description of India as a nation having its origins(उत्पत्ति/मूल) in the universalist philosophy of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ (the world as one family) was not just a potent reminder of a ‘civilisational’ character, but also what a modern nation-state should hold on to. Mukherjee delineated the pre-Mauryan and Mauryan era as the churning(मंथन pot for a future India. These entities(संस्थाओं/वास्तविकता) were not a nation-state as defined by the Treaty (संधि) of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Days’ War in Europe.

He then went on to say that “many dynasties(राजवंशों/वंश) ruled till the 12th century, when Muslim invaders(घुसपैठ करनेवाला
/आक्रमणकारियों) captured Delhi and successive dynasties ruled for the next 300 years”.

With no nation in place when Central Asian general Qutubuddin Aibak established the Mamluk (slave) Dynasty across northern India the matter of ‘Muslim invaders capturing Delhi’ in 1206 can seem problematic(समस्यात्मक/अनिश्‍चित) , especially in the context of the later reference to “centuries of colonial rule”.

That ‘colonial rule’ can be (mis)interpreted beyond the British rule of India among those Mukherjee was addressing might have made him consider to be more specific, more nuanced. Especially when assimilation(परिपाक) and co-religionists fighting for territory make terms like ‘invaded’ and ‘invaders’ nebulous.

But Mukherjee’s description of India’s national identity having emerged “after a long-drawn process of confluence and assimilation”, was worth listening to—in Nagpur and beyond.


Important Vocabulary

1.Congregation (समूह/जनसमूह)
Synonyms: audience, crowd, flock, gathering, parish
Antonyms: division, separation

2.Inclusive (सम्मिलित)
Synonyms: broad, comprehensive, across-the-board, all the options, all together
Antonyms: exclusive, incomprehensive, narrow

Synonyms: ancestor, mancestry, connection, element, influence
Antonyms: conclusion, effect, end, ending, result

Synonyms:body, individual, article, being, creature
Antonyms: abstract, inanimate, concept, idea

5.Probably(संभवतया/मुमकिन है)
Synonyms: apparently, doubtless, no doubt, perhaps, possibly
Antonyms: improbably, uncertain, unlikely

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