Thus, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam meets Gyalyong Gakid Pelzom

Many winters ago, I meditated on what I then called Globalisation: The Forgotten Phase. In it, I bemoaned the premature demise of what was indeed the flourishing of the all-embracing ideas of authentic globalisation without ever being called by that name.  Today, globalisation presents itself as a great new discovery of the smart moderns who trivialise the global concept to mean little more than internantionalised or cross-border trade and often spinelessly interconnected economic transaction, as indeed run-away technological over-reach.

The Buddha-mind was truly global, so was the Krishna-mind, Christ-mind, Prophet-mind, Plato-mind, Shakespeare-mind, Zhabdrung-mind, and so were all the big minds and large hearts that flourished and embraced all time and all space in an eternal dance of mutually reinforcing grace and greatness. The current notion of globalisation is largely a travesty of the ideals and vision that underlie the inter-connected nature of phenomena in all spheres.

The ancient Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam stands out as one of the earliest manifestations of the idea of globalisation in the truest sense of the term, sharing much the same spirit as the holistic development vision of Gross National Happiness. It is an infinite credit to the awakened minds of the past that envisioned and embraced ‘the whole world as my family’. At a time like the present when specialisation and segregation routinely demonstrate the poverty of small minds, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam may sound too remote and archaic.

This global view of humanity and the world as ‘my family’ speaks to a culture and a civilization that apprehended the subtle and the obvious, the profound and the enduring that transcend the specificities of the here and the now and move on to beckon and hug all and everywhere.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, as Gyalyong Gakid Pelzom, addresses and embraces all men, women and children, on all parallels and meridians, from coast to coast, hemisphere to hemisphere, in the spirit of brotherhood, inclusion against exclusion, cooperation instead of competition, and desire to fit all as opposed to the principle of the survival of the fittest – on an ethical plane that befits the human of the species.  

In its broadest sense, Gyalyong Gakid Pelzom, or Gross National Happiness, is founded on the ethic of universality, interdependence as the principle of human relationships, and interplanetary support for mutual sustenance and flourishing of all life-forms in all realms. The GNH vision of progress derives its life-force from an understanding of the profound truths about life and natural phenomena, and their inter-relatedness the fair and just mode of expression.   

A classic manifestation of the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam has been the extraordinary generosity of India as it shared with as many as 70 countries, and counting, around the world the precious ‘Made in India’ Covishield vaccine under the auspices of the Maitri outreach programme. Bhutan has been a special beneficiary as the first recipient of the life-saving gift that has enabled the country to cover all the eligible citizens within one week of the record-setting vaccination programme. 

India’s gesture of goodwill comes as a chastening contrast to the costly vaccine-nationalism impulses that have made the urgent need to reach the precious vaccines to as many people in as many countries in as short a time as possible a near-nightmare. It is an irony that the tireless efforts of the scientists and medical experts who produced the life-saving drugs in record-time and the hard-work of the healthcare professionals and frontline workers to respond to the crying need of the hour so often get sabotaged by competitive politics and derailed by tardy management.

I like to imagine a situation where all countries in the world decide to share their finest gifts in support of life and well-being instead of exporting costly weapons of mass destruction, exchange goodwill and trust rather than trade suspicion and betrayal, celebrate and support each other instead of trying to get ahead of everybody else at any cost.  

And, surely, “the world has enough for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed”, as the enlightened Mahatma warned.

Imagine the world…

As a humble Bhutanese citizen carrying the Pune-based Serum Institute’s life-saving fluid in my body, I am most grateful to the Government and the people of India for the precious gift to my country. I submit my deepest gratitude to His Majesty our beloved King for the extraordinary leadership to secure the well-being of our people and the country, to the Royal Government and all the frontline heroes for their tireless efforts to serve our people.

Standing at the confluence of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Gyalyong Gakid Pelzom, I see that there is more to this relationship than vaccine. It is the blossoming of an abiding friendship built over many years on the principle of mutual respect, sublime integrity and genuine goodwill. It is our nations and our peoples rising to the next level in faith and celebration.

May this beautiful relationship blossom into ever deeper meaning and ever higher purpose till the eternal blue dome arches over our nations and the sacred Himalayas bless our peoples…

Thakur S Powdyel

Former Minister of Education.

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