This is a book with an extraordinary sweep. It speaks of the commonalty of the nations (Ráshtras: States) bordering the vast expanse known as the Indian Ocean. It recalls their history, and shows the power and prestige of ancient Indic culture in these regions, not just in ages past but in modern times also. In this context it explains the significance and relevance of dharma, the powerful and enlightened worldview that inspires and fosters our collective well being in an ethical framework. There are painful reminders of the impact of Islamic onslaughts in these regions in past eras, resulting in the obliteration of countless Hindu places of worship and of Hindu culture too in regions far and wide.
The book evokes the potential that these nations possess industrially, intellectually, and in terms of material resources. It elaborates on the concept of a United States of Asia as the Eastern counterpart of the United States of Western European culture. The possibilities are immense. With the economic and technological resurgence of these new nations which had their rebirth in the twentieth century, there is no telling how such a Rashtram will unfold itself, and how it will direct some day the course of world history as the West has been doing during the past five hundred years.
Authored by a scholar whose love for his Hindu roots is as deep as his erudition on India’s history, this book is a solid contribution to an awakening India. Indeed, it is a clarion call to all the nations of South East Asia to join forces in creating a powerful new entity to take charge of their destiny. There are obstacles, for sure. It is difficult to overcome national self-interests for a larger good (as one sees in the still shaky European Union). The Islamic allegiance to Mecca is a stronger force than any trans-religious quilt. And the linguistic links will still be there through European languages (English and French). But these can and probably will be overcome in due course.
This book can be an eye-opener. It is the work of a visionary, whose ideal is to form a union from the rich cultural diversity and economic powerhouse that lie scattered in the nations that have the Indian Ocean as their shores.
August 2, 2011