Validity of the verse Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

AT the outset of this blog i would like to give pranams to those various people ,  whose wisdom and writings i have quoted here extensively . Often it is important to draw on the wisdom and perception of wise people who would have put enormous research and commitment to arrive at some conclusions, which however may not be acceptable to all. Yet the path to ascertaining truth cannot be sustained without those crutches.

i would also  like to recollect here, the earlier thread of my blogs was to explain the untenability of the word “secular ” in our constitution and usage. in this context i have to bring in a much more widely used  words  ” Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ” from a collection of stories  in Hitopadesha and  a verse from Mahoupanishad .  Efforts have been made in the last 70 years and earlier  to project these two lines   as if it  was  the essense of vedas and the central part of sanatana philosophy, which is no where near the truth.

This two compound words have been so cleverly woven into Indian and Hindu psyche to mean  ” The whole world is on family ” Are they really?


Hitopadesha written around 300 BC

Panchatantra written about    300 to 500 BC

Mahoupanishad written about   500 CE  to 1000 CE


      Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam –

  1. MAHOPANISHAD VI.71-73. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is mentioned here but is the context about the whole world as one family or should  the  verses be read as whole with the  rest to understand that  it is more about detachment  to wordly life, without any attachment to material Possession and  utmost effort should be   made to attain  unity with the Brahman


quote from mahoupanishad

udāraḥ pēśalācāraḥ sarvācārānuvṛttimān |

antaḥ-saṅga-parityāgī bahiḥ-saṁbhāravāniva |

antarvairāgyamādāya bahirāśōnmukhēhitaḥ ||70||

ayaṁ bandhurayaṁ nēti gaṇanā laghucētasām |

udāracaritānāṁ tu vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam ||71||

bhāvābhāva-vinirmuktaṁ jarāmaraṇavarjitaṁ |

praśānta-kalanārabhyaṁ nīrāgaṁ padamāśraya ||72||

eṣā brāmhī sthitiḥ svacchā niṣkāmā vigatāmayā |

ādāya viharannēvaṁ saṁkaṭēṣu na muhyati ||73||

(Mahōpaniṣad- VI.70-73)

or was the verse about blind thoughtless advice to go and embrace the whole world as one family or was it meant to advice the human mind to free itself of all detachment to attain Mukti? It is always easy to take verses in isolation and then position them in  a completely new context. The person who wrote this verses was not a liberal in today’s context, he was not thinking about the world in a “globalization ” way, nor about a mushy sentimental way that the whole world is one great happy family. History over Millenia’s prove it otherwise. He was an ancient teacher who was talking about Mukti not about aligning oneself with the whole world as if it was one big family as it is made out these days

2: Hitopadesha: The same verse  one comes across in Hitopadesha and in panchatantra . But there it comes  in a differant context . More  as a advise to exercise caution while dealing with others as one may never actually know the mind of others in any given situation and to put oneself under the influence of that person may actually become harmful to oneself.In short . ” exercse caution when dealing with strangers”

Said by the cunning fox  ksudrabuddhi the Jackal  As  follows:

Ayam nijah paro vaetti, ganana laghu chetasaam,Udaara charitaanaam tu vaudhaiva kutumbakam.”

“This is my own and that a stranger” – is the calculation of the narrow-minded.

For the magnanimous-hearts however, the entire earth is but a family

The story will prove the clever advice of the wily fox is to actually influence  the gulliable deer, to weaken the deers defence to eventually kill it and consume it. 

Excerpts from  Rajiv Malhotra’s book, Indra’s Net’.

{ The most common Sanskrit phrase quoted in this regard, often repeated at popular gatherings, is vasudhaiva kutumbakam’, which means, ‘the world is one family’. This assertion is recited as a signature of Hindu benevolence towards others and is often used to promote a spirit of unconditional generosity towards others. The earliest occurences of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ are found in the Hitopadesa and the Panchatantra, which are collections of fables discussing practical situations in life through talking animals. These stories are meant as an entertaining educational aid for children, and their popularity has carried them to distant places across Asia and Europe. It is important to note that there fables impart values that are pragmatic and contextual, as opposed to high philosophy.

In these stories the phrase is used in both ways – to advocate harmony towards others and also to advocate vigilance and suspicion towards those one does not fully understand. The moral of the story depends on the context. If one is operating from a position of power over others, and those others have good intentions, then the message is to include them with mutual respect. On the other hand, if one is ignorant of others’ intentions, or one is operating out of weakness, then such behaviour is seen as a mark of foolishness. It is by no means a blanket statement of an unconditional welcome as is often made out in popular usage.

In one story in the Hitopadesh, a cunning jackal, trying to create a place for himself in the home of a native deer says, ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ in his appeal to the deer. The deer ignores warnings from other animals, who caution that it is unwise to trust someone at face value without first ascertaining his history, nature, and intent, upon deceitfully acquiring the deer’s trust and moving in his home, the opportunistic jackal later tries to get the deer killed. Indeed, the moral of the story is that one must watch out for cunning subversives. Blindly trusting those who preach ‘universal brotherhood’ can lead to self-destruction.}

{quote :

abrv:VK  – vasudeiva Kutumbakam

subuddhi the Crow, chitrA~Nga the Deer, and ksudrabuddhi the Jackal

“Long long ago, in the champakavaTI forest of magadha, there lived two friends – a Deer called chitrA~Nga and a Crow named subuddhi. It so happened that a Jackal named kshudra-buddhi, (the proposer of vasudhaiva kuTumbakam, as we shall soon see), was passing by and his eyes caught hold of the healthy Deer as he was grazing nearby. The lust to devour him immediately arose in the Jackal’s mind, but knowing Deer to be too swift in a chase, he decided to fall back on his cunning – to win first the confidence of the Deer. The VK-preacher therefore approached the Deer, saluted him, and introduced himself as a lonely newcomer with friendly intentions, and proposed a friendship and brotherhood with the Deer. The naive Deer fell for the sweet words of kshudra-buddhi, and not knowing his true intentions, invited him to his own dwellings.

gullible deer and VK-reciting subversionist

So, they started towards the Deer’s place, and on their way sitting on the branches of a champaka tree was Deer’s old and wise friend subuddhi the Crow. Seeing them passing by, the Crow asked the Deer, ‘O chitrA~Nga, who is this second fellow with you? ‘ ‘A Jackal, my new friend’, answered the Deer. To this, the Crow asked: ‘But, do you know him well enough? One should never extend friendship and shelter to anyone without knowing their real nature and intentions, learning the history of their ilk and giving them a test of time.’ The Deer lightly shrugged this aside, saying, ‘But this Jackal is very friendly’.

Seeing his friend in delusions, the Crow began relating to him a story about how jaradgava a Vulture was killed by unwisely trusting an impostor (that story reproduced later below). He warned the Deer against trusting the Jackal without learning more about him.


So far the Jackal had kept quiet, and it is at this juncture that he opened his argument with the famous shloka of vasudhaiva kuTumbakam, demanding the Deer to not be of a narrow mind by considering the Crow a friend and himself an alien. The vasudhaiva-kuTumbakam discourse successfully put to rest all doubts that had arisen in the Deer’s mind, and dismissing the Crow’s wise council he went ahead in bringing the VK-preacher into his home.”

The remainder of the story can be summed up in two sentences. The cunning VK-reciting Jackal started dwelling with the naive Deer, and as soon as the opportunity arose, pushed him into a deadly trap. However before he could kill the Deer, our wise hero subuddhi the Crow devised a clever trick by which not only the Deer was rescued but also the VK-reciting Jackal was slain.

Now, that is the context in which VK is recorded in the hitopadesha by the great paNDita of politics nArAyaNa, and he is unambiguously clear about its application when he assigns this shloka to come from a brotherhood-preaching shrewd subversionist. It gives a clear warning against blindly welcoming any idea, individual or group without due diligence of studying their history, nature and intent.

However, let us also read the other story, in response to which the VK is uttered in hitopadesha, which would leave absolutely no room for any doubts in this matter of how hitopadesha treats vasudhaiva kuTumbakam:

jaradgava the Vulture and dIrghakarNa the Cat

While warning his friend against trusting the Jackal, subuddhi the Crow thus addressed the Deer:

“There, on the banks of the mighty bhAgIrathI is a cliff called gR^idharakUTa, and upon it grew a great fig-tree. In the shelter of its hollow lived an old Vulture named jaradgava, who due to old age had neither any eyesight left in his eyes nor nails in his claws. The other birds that lived on that tree were friendly to him, and out of pity used to donate from their own food small portions to him, and this way the poor fellow was passing his days. In return, jaradgava used to guard the little offspring of the birds when the parent birds were away.


One day, when the older birds were gone, a Cat called dIrghakarNa (‘Long Eared’) came there to make a meal out of the nestlings; and those tiny birds alarmed at seeing him, created noise that roused jaradgava from his slumber. ‘Who comes there?’ demanded jaradgava. Now dIrghakarNa, on noticing the big Vulture, aborted his meal plans, but as a flight was not possible he resolved to trust his destiny and to approach tactfully. ‘Arya,’ he responded, ‘my salutes to you!’ ‘Who is that?’ asked the Vulture. ‘A Cat,’ answered dIrghakarNa. ‘Lay off, Cat, or I shall slay you,’ shouted the Vulture. ‘I am ready to die if I deserve death,’ said the Cat, ‘but first let me be heard.’ ‘OK then, tell me first your purpose of arrival.’ asked jaradgava.

‘I live,’ melodramatically began dIrghakarNa, ‘on the banks of ga~NgA, bathing daily, performing the penance of chandrAyaNa vrata, strictly being a vegetarian like a bramachArI. The birds that come there, speak very highly of you as the one firmly established in dharma and worthy of all respects. So with my curiosity greatly aroused about you, I decided to drop by Sir, to learn from you about nIti and dharma.’

‘You appear like so deep gone in learning,’ he continued, ‘and still Sir, I am surprised that your sense of dharma tells you to be ready to slay a guest! Doesn’t the nIti say unambiguously about what a man’s dharma is towards his guests?’ The Cat then went on delivering an elaborate speech, quoting eloquently from the shAstra-s about the dharma and cut quite an impressive lecture on peace and non-violence.

Shrugging that onslaught of quotations from shAstra-s aside, wise jaradgava interrupted, ‘Listen, I know only this, that you are a cat and the cats eat meat. Since here are young birds that I am given to protect, I warn you one last time – leave immediately.’

Upon this, dIrghakarNa intensified his drama, and touching the ground with his two claws and then his ears, invoking all the Gods, he said, ‘I have overcome all the passions by practicing the chandrAyaNa vrata; I have learnt the shAstra-s; and I am a follower of the religion that is called non-violence itself. And so he went on.

Such prolonged drama of the Cat finally silenced the old Vulture, who at last allowed him to live in the hollow of the tree with himself.

With the passage of days, and having gained more confidence of the Vulture, the Cat slowly began picking the nestlings for his meal. After devouring them one by one, the cunning fellow would drop their bones near the hollow of jaradgava, who being blind did not notice it.


One day, alarmed at their children going missing, the parent birds began investigating. The shrewd cat quickly made his escape, and the birds soon discovered the bones near the hollow of jaradgava. They at once inferred that their children had been eaten away by the old Vulture in whom they had placed their trust. Thus enraged the birds swiftly executed jaradgava in no time. Although being innocent and a true well-wisher of the birds, he paid for the folly of giving shelter to the wrong kind.”

Above story is which evokes the vasudhaiva kuTumbakam from the cunning subversionist in hitopadesha.}

i have uploaded the following video on the subject “durjanasneha” from Hitopadesha.where you can apply the misplaced vasudeiva kutumbakam.This is in sanskrit, and any one  who understand hindi can understand the story.



My take will be  instead of taking the literary meaning on the verse as it is in Mahoupanishad ,the proper and relevant understanding in today’s context should be based on what the  jackal  ksudrabuddh‘s  quote of the  vasudeiva  kutumbakam and the end result.  what  is happening in in Europe to day by the mindless genorosity in accepting refugees from strife torn areas of the world applying this benevolent idea that the world is one big happy family  , the negative results are there for everyone to see, To get carried away by a verse by isolating it and not able to see it in actuality in different context is dangerous. That is what happened to the vulture jaradgava  who was undone by the deceitful cat dIrghakarNa . whatever is available in our vedas, scriptures or stories like these should never be used and quoted in isolation. The wily fox says that not for any world peace and brother hood, it  successfully fooled the old  gullible vulture jaradgava.

This  verse  is inscribed on the portal of the Indian parliament and did became a welcome sign for Pakistani terrorists to come and attack Indians sovereign symbol. How ironic it is and still the silly Indian politicians keep parroting these lines , the latest to  join that illustrious bandwagon is  Narendra Modi.This lie of this quote legitimized by Nehru, Gandhi and ad nauseum quoted by  all shades of ,” bhudhi jeevis” including Mullahs and priests of Christian church who  most of the time are busy undermining the integrity of the notion of India than doing their gods work

The world as one big happy family is a big myth, Nations operate on their own sovereign interests and will not be swayed by philosophy or Religious sentiments, United nations  is a prime example about how the world functions in times of crisis. India’s own experience in the last 70 years of its existence,  how its neighbor  is continually undermining it by cross border terrorism .where is the magic of this vasudeiva kutumbakam.

i would like to take in my next  blog one more myth perpetuated by Mohandas Karam Chand  Gandhi in his  mispresented verse from Ram charitramanas- Raghupathi Raghava Raja ram……..

Ref {

Book-of-Hitopade%C5%9Ba-1.pdf} ( read chapter 39 of the jaradgava and dirghakarna story )