Explained: What is the idea and origin of Akhand Bharat?

A mural installed in the new parliament depicts the map of Akhand Bharat, spanning across South Asia.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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A mural in India’s new parliament, depicting Akhand Bharat, has been courting controversy since union minister Prahlad Joshi tweeted its image on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the parliament building. 

The map of Akhand Bharat depicts a unified territory spanning across South Asia, from Afghanistan to Myanmar, embracing Sri Lanka in the south and extending to the towering Himalayas in the north. It also extends to parts of China and Iran. 

This brings us to the questions of what is the idea of Akhand Bharat? What is its source of origin? What was the rationale behind aspirations of a ‘greater India’? And, finally, what are its implications on present-day geopolitics and realpolitik? 

In this episode of NL Cheatsheet, Newslaundry takes a deep dive into this cultural spread of an undivided India, which is rooted in a combination of mythology, history, and a potent dose of politics. 

We’ll take a look at how Akhand Bharat – a cherished pre-independence vision, with a manifesto and several conferences dedicated to it – became a rallying cry of the Hindu nationalists. To this day, the idea of Akhand Bharat is held onto by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which annually celebrates 'Akhand Bharat Day' on August 14.   

This 'greater India' vision even reimagines names of oceans and seas, with a Sanskrit twist, with the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean becoming 'Ganga Sagar' and 'Hindu Mahasagar', respectively. 

Watch.

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