Yashraj Singh Bundela’s Integration of Bharat offers a comprehensive analysis of Bharat’s journey as a nation and as a civilization, including the spiritual existence that has endured despite facing extreme foreign invasions over thousands of years. It also delves into philosophical aspects and notions that have kept Bharat integrated.

The author, Yashraj Singh Bundela, is an Advocate-on-Record in the Supreme Court of India and works as a Standing Counsel for the State of Madhya Pradesh. He has worked on several landmark cases, including the EWS Reservation case, Kone Elevator’s case and the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A. In addition, the author has dedicated a separate chapter to examine the accession, integration and reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (including Ladakh).

The book is an extensive and insightful read, divided into nine voluminous chapters that chronicle Bharat’s existence as a nation since ancient times. It examines the notion of the state, which has evolved in different periods, and the process of empire building from Nandvansh up to the times of Harshvardhan and their confrontation against Greeks, Saka, Kushan and Huns.

Yashraj narrates the shielding of Bharat against the Arabs, Turks, and Mughal invasions, highlighting the contribution of local dynasties and rulers in repelling the foreign invaders. The book also delves into the arrival of different colonial imperialist powers in Bharat and how the British established themselves as supreme among them. The author provides an insightful analysis of Bharat's struggle for independence and the post-independence integration of different provinces and princely states into Bharat.

Chapter eight of the book is exclusively dedicated to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, its accession with the dominion of India, the incorporation and introduction of Article 370 and 35A into the Indian Constitution, as it then applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the blatant misuse of power and violation of fundamental rights and human rights resulting from these provisions and ultimate abrogation of the provision from the constitution of India and Consequent reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh.

The book unequivocally establishes Bharat's foundational principles, evolution, and existence since ancient times. The author emphasizes the unwavering consciousness of cultural nationhood that has bound the people of Bharat together, even in the face of foreign invasions. This consciousness has been instrumental in keeping the identity of the nation alive. The author validates these claims with the findings from ancient literature such as Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads, which prove Bharat's existence as a nation-state for a long. Moreover, the book cites the visionary ideas of great thinkers and philosophers like Swami Vivekanand and Shri Aurobindo, whose profound insights have contributed to shaping Bharat's vision.

The author has provided a compendium of sources from ancient literature to the constitutional assembly debates on including "Bharat" in Article 1 of the Constitution, which was a matter of great debate in the recent past.

The book narrates the political Integration of Bharat and empire-building from the time of Nandvansh and the rise of the Magadh empire under the time of Nandvansh, Maurya, and the Rulers of the Shuga and Kanva Dynasties. Among the sixteen Mahajanpada that emerged after the post-Mahabharat era, the Magadh was united into a single state in North Bharat and a considerable part of the South. The Magadh under the Nanda Empire and the Maurya Empire was an integrated monarchy under a single ruler. After the great battle of Mahabharat, the Magadh Empire once again unified the entire Bharatvarsh.

Bharat has witnessed a series of Islamic invasions from Arabs, Turks, and Mughals, which also suffered defeats from the rulers of Bharat and their strong alliance. It was the victory of Muhammad-bin-Qasim that the caliphate could gain a slight advantage on western frontiers, but that, too, did not last for long. The strong aliens of various rulers like Nagabhat Pratihar, Chandelas, Yashvardhan of the Indo-Gigantic Belt, and Lalitaditya compelled the forces of the caliphate to return, having suffered crushing defeat.

The book then takes us to the invasion and loot of Muhammad Ghazni. It states that even though Ghazni was successful in looting the Somnath temple, the organised forces under the command of Raja Bhojcompelled him to return via Sindh, where he lost a substantial portion of his army and wealth, which he looted in Bharat; it is also significant to marks that Ghazni in his lifetime failed to establish any permanent base in Bharat, except in Afghanistan. At the time of invasions of Khilji, who had massively expanded his territories among Bharat and reached up to Madurai in Tamil Nadu, the danger of Islamic invasion united the whole south under the flag of the Vijayanagar empire, which reached its peak under the reign of Krishna deva raya,

When the south was united under the Vijayanagar Empire, the northwest was united under the Mewad and other principal states of Rajasthan, even though the Mughals were expanding under Akbar. Mewar and different dynasties of Rajasthan, Bundelkhand, Vijaynagar, Orissa, and Bengal, the Northeast, kept their flame of resistance alive.

By the time Aurangzeb came to the throne and started imposing Islam on the people of Bharat, and started forced conversion and demolition of temples. The war in Rajputana coinciding with the Maratha pressure in the south, the rise of Maharaja Chhatrasal in Bundelkhand and the establishment of Khalsa pant by guru gobind singh in the north and the leadership of banda bahadur led to the decline of the Mughal empire. After the Mughals collapsed, the Marathas, under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's leadership, rose as supreme authority in Bharat.

The author narrates how Bharat's wealth, knowledge, and cultural reserves attracted the attention of European powers such as Portugal, Britain, France, and the Dutch. At the beginning of the 19th century, the British replaced the Marathas and emerged as Bharat's supreme military and political power and their political-administrative and religious policies over the Indian rulers and Provinces/Presidencies, which used to expand their power in Bharat before the advent of national war of Bharat’s Independence in 1857, even though British government was so powerful. Still, they couldn’t suppress the undercurrent of Bharat’s voice for independence from the foreign rules.

The book touches on the impact of the First and Second World Wars on the political developments due to the world wars and the passage of different acts like the Government of India Act 1919 and Government of India Act 1935; Cripps mission plan and reasons and impact of its failure; and launch of Quite India movement under Mahatma Gandhi, the declaration of 3rd June plane of the British Government, which became the cornerstone of Bharat's independence and its partition.

The author has beautifully covered one of the most significant phases of Bharat's political and constitutional integration: Sardar Patel's role in saving Bharat's unity and integrity. The book covers the entire historical, political, and legal background of the accession and mergers of different states and provisions into the dominion of India, which was the first step towards Bharat's political and administrative integration.

Following the political integration, the process of constitutional integration begins with the adoption of the Constitution; initially, it was thought that each provision and state of the union would have a separate constitution and constituent assemblies. A committee under B.N. Rao was assigned to form a model constitution for provisions and states. However, it was realised that it would take a lot of time to settle down and function correctly. Additionally, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was facing aggression from Pakistan and the accession of Hyderabad was also awaited. Therefore, the constituent assemblies needed to be set up in these states.

The provisions of the model constitution of provisions and states were incorporated in part VI of the original Constitution. Once the Constitution was drafted, all the rulers and rajpramukhs of respective states and unions issued a proclamation accepting the Indian Constitution's enforceability in their states and unions, and the united Bharat started being governed in terms of the Constitution's provisions.

The book briefly accounts for the integration process after the constitution came into force, including the reorganisation, liberation, and integration of Goa, Pondicherry, and Sikkim.

The Author has played a significant role in the landmark case of abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A,so he has exclusively dealt with the Accretion, Integration, and reorganisation of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in a separate Chapter; the author has busted all misunderstanding and false propaganda of historians, journalists and so-called leftist intellectuals about Article 370. He has pointed out no exception for Jammu and Kashmir to have a separate constitution; it was for all the Indian states or union of Indian states in Bharat were supposed to have their constitution, but later on, their constitutions were merged with the constitution of India and when the right time came the temporary provision of Article 370 was removed from the constitution on 6th of August 2019.

The author has shown the political and constitutional developments post-1947 in Jammu and Kashmir in chronological order and the role of Maharaja Hari Singh where he never differentiated the interest of Jammu and Kashmir from Bharat and always tried to keep the interest of Jammu and Kashmir and Bharat in one alignment.

The book is a compelling read that not only provides an exhaustive overview of Bharat's rich history but also underscores the continuing spirit of unity and cultural nationhood throughout the ages, with the compilation of whole historical events, philosophical insight, and legal analyses, Yashraj Bundela’s work serves as a valuable resource for understanding the complex notion of Bharat and its journey towards integration and nationhood.

The author of the review is a student at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

[The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Verdictum does not assume any responsibility or liability for the contents of the article.]