Yoga: A retrofitted tool for advancing Akhand Bharat specter


Yoga has been added as a latest tool to spread influence by India over its neighbors. The High Commission of India in Bangladesh has decided to invite everyone there in a Yoga program organized by it in the Country’s national stadium in the holy month of Ramadan [1]. What seems to be merely a laudable recreational activity by many happens to be deeply controversial and contradictory to the Muslim majority society. The activity Yoga itself is confrontational in nature with Islam, which strictly prohibits any activity that supports polytheism [2].  Even many Muslims are going to participate in the program without knowing the prohibition pointed in Islam, which has the chance to cause another flurry of uproars in a society, which has already witnessed hate speech in the name free speech and subsequent assassinations of controversial bloggers. 

Since the ascendance of Modi in power of India, the voice of hardliner Hindutva nationalists has reached new heights. The goal of creating an “Akhand Bharat” (Union of India with all its neighbors for creating mythical Hindu empire) is echoing through the political arena of India ever since. RSS’s idea of “Akhand Bharat” includes not only Pakistan and Bangladesh, but Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Tibet as well. It considers the whole region as a “Rashtra (State)” based on “Hindu cultural” similarities.

Suruchi Prakashan, a publishing house run by the RSS, has even brought out a map calling ‘Punyabhoomi Bharat’ where Afghanistan is called “Upganathan”, Kabul as “Kubha Nagar”, Peshawar as “Purushpur”, Multan as “Moolsthan”, Tibet as “Trivishtap,” Sri Lanka as “Singhaldweep” and Myanmar  as “Brahmadesh”, among others [3]. To attain the goal comes the necessity of establishing old Indian “Hindu” customs in national level for crafting a truly “Hindu” state and through the course of action, Yoga has followed suit [4].  

The foreign policy of Narendra Modi resembles Kautilya’s Arthashastra in a retrofitted manner [5], which Kissinger saw as “a combination of Machiavelli and Clausewitz [6]. Hence it can concluded that the foreign policy of Modi in South Asia is a following the steps of Kautilya’s Mandala theory. “Your neighbor is your natural enemy and the neighbor’s neighbor is your friend”– It’s the fundamental insight of Kautilya’s Mandala concept [7]

The timing and nature of the program in Bangladesh again hints to the India’s ever evolving Mandala concept. As Chanakya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya once noted that “Mind is the ultimate weapon”, India is slowly but surely assimilating the taste of Bangladeshi culture with Indian one, largely due to vast similarities via satellite TV networks. The Indian TV programs aired in Bangladesh has generated a huge wave of debate and controversies [8].  The latest addition to mind and cultural invasion is the Yoga. The beginnings of Yoga were developed in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests [9]. The Vedic origin of Yoga is hence marketed by the Modi government inside India and its neighbors.  

India’s overtures to Bangladesh are largely viewed negatively by a large cross section of people, particularly due to the unabated killings in border [10] and unilateral withdrawal of water from several common rivers [11] and big brother attitude in Bangladeshi politics [12],[13]. The cultural invasion of India in Bangladesh is already resented there, and the latest addition of Yoga can only make the matters worse, especially in a month which teaches restraint. 

Meet Yoga, the latest retrofitted weapon in the Akhand Hindutva India’s arsenal. 


  6. Kissinger, Henry, World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History (New York, Penguin Press: 2014), p. 195: Machiavelli believed that public and private morality should be regarded as two different things, in order to rule wisely. Clausewitz, as experts point out, introduced systematic philosophy into western military thinking—both for the purposes of analysis and practical policy. Long before them, the Arthashastra presented these and other fundamental concepts of ethics, dharma (which is much wider in scope), warfare, and statecraft in a holistic and practical manner.
  7. Political thoughts of Kautilya: An overview by Mithun Howladar, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, Volume 4; Issue 3; March 2017; Page No. 78-80