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What is patriotism? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Question: Sir, how to differentiate between these two things – being patriotic, and to not to identify with an identity?

If we say that we are patriotic to our country, this means that we are involved with an identity that is – being an Indian. So how to differentiate between them?

Speaker: Have you already decided that you need to be a patriot? If you have, then I cannot answer your question. Are you firmly rooted in this belief that being a patriot is a must? If you have already decided that, then I cannot answer your question.

Questioner: Sir, we should be patriotic?

Speaker: Have you already decided that?

Questioner: Yes Sir! (In a feeble voice)

Speaker: (Answering with a smile) Then how can we talk?

Questioner: Sir, I want to get this answer.

Speaker: You don’t want an answer, you just want a reaffirmation. You want me to stamp and verify that it’s alright, or do you really want to come to the truth?

Questioner: We have been taught in the HIDP sessions to not to indulge in any of the identities, so if we are saying that we are patriotic to our country, what is this?

Speaker: We are saying this or that but whatever we are saying, do we understand what we are saying?

What do you mean by country?

What is your name?

Questioner: Sir, Digvijay

Speaker: What do you mean by country, Digvijay?

What is the country? You are so patriotic and you roar aloud, India! India!

What is India?

Listener: (Someone from the audience) It is a geographical division of land.

Speaker: Land! If you say that India is a land, then you are saying that India is some kind of plot, a real estate. What is India?

Listener: (Someone from the audience) Sir, it is a place where we live.

Speaker: Does place mean land?

Questioner: No sir, it is place where we live.

Speaker: Where we live! You don’t live in Tamil Nadu. Is Tamil Nadu not India?

(Everyone laughs)

Listener: (Someone from the audience) Where we live.

Speaker: You are living right now, here. So this is India (pointing to a place as an example) and this is not India because you are not living here (pointing to another place as an example).

I am not an Indian, you want to take away my passport.

(Everyone laughs)

Listener: (Someone from the audience) No sir, all the people who are living in the states of India are Indians.

Speaker: But, what is India?

Listener: Nation.

Speaker: What do you mean by nation? Don’t give a circular answer. What do you mean by country or a nation?

Yes please.(pointing to a questioner)

Listener: Sir, it is a boundary and we name that boundary India.

Speaker: Boundary on the….?

Student: (A few listeners from the audience speak) Map

Speaker: Map.

So we are coming again and again to the issue of land. Is India a piece of land?

Is India a piece of land? ( Asserting the question)

Is that what your patriotism all about?

But you don’t know any India except a piece of land. That’s what you are so firmly rooted to. You know what, that is what animals do.

Being territorial is an animal instinct. Have you ever seen animals? Once they say that this is my territory, they mark that territory and do not allow any other animal to enter it.

Have you seen that dogs do that a lot.

Is India a piece of land?

Listener: Yes sir!

Speaker: No. Don’t disappoint me.

What is India?

Listener: India is a kind of thing which is in our hearts(pointing towards the heart).

(Everyone laughs)

Speaker: Heart contains only blood and flesh. Out of these two, what is India?

Listener: (Someone from the audience) Sir but we don’t have love for any other nation in our hearts.

Speaker: Right. But before we say love for the country, we should know what is this thing called country? If we don’t know what is country then whom do we love? If we don’t know what country is then what we call love as?

This is just a machine (pointing towards the heart), it has heart beats in it. Brain sends electrical impulse and heart beats. If you add anything in it, even a speck of dust particle, it will cause a heart attack. Forget keeping the complete India in it.

(Everyone laughs)

What this country is?

Isn’t it surprising and highly shocking that we claim that we are highly patriotic but we don’t know what we are patriotic about?

And that is reason our patriotism has certain rottenness about it. Our patriotism is limited to posting something on Facebook about that Indian Army soldier, or clapping for a six when an Indian cricketer comes to bat. But we would evade taxes, only 3% of people pay taxes, and India is so very patriotic. These very people who steal money, who spoil public property when it comes to patriotism, they will say, “Long live India,” because we do not understand country. Hence, our patriotism is so very rotten, so very hypocritical. Have we ever tried to understand that the country is full of patriots and these patriots cause so much of damage to everybody around?

Have you looked at Indian Railways? Have you looked at the railway platforms? Have you looked at mothers having their babies piss on the tracks? And they are all great patriots. So, she is having her baby piss on the track, and you go to her and you say, you know India is a great country and she will say, “Yes! India is a great country”. On the other hand, there is the baby irrigating the tracks; one day there would be great trees and orchards coming up.

(Everyone laughs)

Do we understand anything? Or are we living very blind life? Do we understand anything? It’s not only about country? Do we understand anything or we are just living on borrowed beliefs? What kind of life is this?Why must this be our fate?

What kind of life is this?

Questioner: It is a life of common man.

(Everybody laughs)

Speaker: Why must the common man be so stupid? Why must that be your fate to live completely in ignorance? You don’t want to be common in several other things.When it comes to choose an engineering college you say, “I want the best.” When it comes to life and all the goodies that you can have you say,” I want to be the best”, then you don’t say, “I just want to be a common man.” You want to be a common man, the common India man earns just 3500 per month.


Be the common man. No! You don’t want to be common in that regard. But when it comes to looking at your mind, you find a defense, you will say,” I want to be the common man, I am happy to be a common man.” In everything else you want to be uncommon. You say, “my marks should be good.” Or do you want common marks?

“My girlfriend should be the most beautiful”, or do you want a common girlfriend? But in all this, look at this cunning-ness of the mind that says, “Common man.”

The common man has no more than 6 or 7 years of education, what are you doing here? The common man is not to be found in the class rooms, he is found in the farm. 65% of the India’s population is agrarian, what are you doing in the classrooms? The common man is found in the farm. Be there!

Are you sure you want to become a common man, a commoner, or do you want to shine brilliantly.

Yes! What do you want to do?

Listeners: (Unanimously) Shine!

Speaker: If you want to really shine, then stop being that common man.

India cannot be a piece of land.

Listener: Sir, we are Indian.

Speaker: But, what is India?

Listener: Sir, we all are Indians. To some extent we can say, “It is a region where we live, but we do not belong to only this region. It is all of us, our mind, thoughts which create India

Speaker: So it’s not really land but something in the mind. Is it a particular quality of mind?

See the mind can be two things.

First: All the conditioning that has come to the mind.

Second: What did you discover about mind in the previous question?

Listener: Understanding.

Speaker: Yes! Understanding. So what would you want India to be?

That belief, that conditioning or it has something to do with the understanding and intelligence.

I tell you what my India is. I don’t know about your common India.

My India is not a piece of land because lands come and go.

A few years back Karachi and Lahore were in India. Today you say, “Bomb them, kill them.” Tomorrow another state of your country may not remain the part of your country, there is extremism and separatism everywhere, then you will say, “kill them, bomb them”.

I was reading a news article yesterday. There is a Japanese cartoon serial which is dubbed in Hindi and it has become very popular in Bangladesh. The government has decided to ban it, just because it is in Hindi and that same Bangladesh was Sonar Bangla till yesterday. Boundaries keep getting redrawn. It is not about boundaries drawn on land, it is something else.

My India is the intelligence that first shone upon this earth.

My India is the first intelligent word that came from the mouth of man.

*My India is the place which gave the world ‘the Witness’, t* he very understanding of the Self

Anybody who has intelligence, who can look at himself, is an Indian. Anybody who lives a stupid common life, even if he holds an Indian passport, is not an Indian. The way I look at it, Einstein is an Indian, Martin Luther King is an Indian, Jesus is an Indian and the vast majority of all of us living on this land, we are not Indians, because India is not a piece of land.

India is brilliance and Intelligence and Truth and if India is not that, then India is worthless.

There is very little you know. You go to somebody living in a distant land you ask him that how you know India and if he happens to be an intelligent being, he will not say, “I know India for its food items for its food items, dances, for the Taj Mahal or anything else”.

If he is really intelligent he will say, “India is place that gave the world its most important religions”. India is a place that first gave the world first brightness of intelligence, that it is possible to understand; India is that.

If you live in understanding, only then you deserve to be called as an Indian. No drunken idiot going on with this common life deserves to be called as an Indian. NO! It’s not so cheap to be an Indian.

My India doesn’t have 1.3 billion, it has a handful, just a handful. Want to be real Indians or want to be one of those 1.3 billion?

Listener: (Unanimously) Real Indian

Speaker: If you want to be real Indians, then please stop thinking that India is about India’s cricket team or India is about raging a war against Pakistan, or that India is about the Agni missile,

Sorry! India is not about any of these,

Yes! Look at it broadly. Try to understand, this is the way we are living our entire life, these are the pillars of our life. Right? (Silence)

Speaker: Patriotism, Family, education, career – these are the few words around which our life exists. Am I right?

(Silence prevails)

These are the very pillars over which our goal structure, our mental structure rests. Am I right?

Today you are studying and then you will have a career, and a family, and then kids, and money, and these 6-8 words they sum up your entire life. Love and children and security, that is all this life is all about. Life is nothing but that which fills up the mind. That’s what our life is. Correct? Do we understand it?


Speaker: Patriotism is such an important part of our everyday life. Is it or is it not? And we don’t understand what patriotism is.

Unfortunately, we do not understand anything.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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