This is my own and that a stranger — that is the calculation of the narrow minded; for the magnanimous hearts however, the entire earth is but a family.— ancient Sanskrit shloka.
This shloka with the words “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (“entire world is but one single family”) has become very popular in recent decades. India’s leaders quote it in their speeches. India’s foreign policy is claimed to be based on it. It has actually been inscribed in stone at India’s parliament house! It has been gratefully internalised by Indian liberals (‘internationalists’) as well as Hindutva-types both as a way to give legitimacy to their respective world views. Hindus proudly showcase it as a proof of their intellectual sophistication.
However, one intrepid researcher Sarvesh K. Tiwari has discovered that “its usage in public discourse springs from a superficial or even a perverted understanding.” He says:
If we study the original sources which recited it in the first place, it becomes amazingly apparent that its popular understanding is simply blundered, and its application in the matters of policy is a height of ignorance and squarely flawed.
This Sanskrit verse is found neither in Rig Veda or Mahabharata, nor in Puranas or Manusmriti. So where was it lifted from? It actually occures mainly in Hitopdesha and Panchatantra (both a collection of fables imparting wisdom to children). But here is the bombshell: In all the two, people who prescribe this verse or believe in it have been declared either as fools or as scam-artists out to cheat others and take over their property!
For example, in Hitopdesha, “the verse is spoken by a shrewd subversionist. The lesson being that one has to exercise discretion from unwittingly trusting such brotherhood-preachers, and that the price for befriending and sheltering the wrong kind under the influence of such unconditional brotherhood, is nothing less than self-destruction.”
The message these fables impart is very clear: Do not quote this philosophy of “whole world is one family” and indiscriminately welcome all kinds of people into your house (or country), otherwise you will lose your life, property and everything else you hold dear. You will be destroyed if you are not discreet about the company you keep or the kind of people you allow into your home. In the fables, everybody who followed this “universality” lost his life and possessions at the hands of crooks and fools due to their misplaced generosity.
As Sarvesh K. Tiwari says:
Vedas did NOT propogate ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam,’ nor does this shloka really mean what is commonly understood . In general, surprising as it might seem, Sanskrit sources (not Vedas) that presented the ‘vasudhaiva kuTumbakam’ are actually warning AGAINST the tendency of such brotherhood-preaching!!
This is really fascinating. I would recommend you read the article in original. Quoting this verse by modern Indians is nothing but self-deception. Here goes: