What does ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ mean from an evolutionary standpoint?

My answer to What does 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' mean from an evolutionary standpoint?

Answer by Vijayendra Mohanty:


It sounds Sanskrit, but it is not. It is a word from the Amharic language. Dinkinesh means “you are marvellous”. This word has been used to describe a particular set of fossilised bones that were discovered in Ethiopia in 1972. These bones are the remains of a member of the Australopithecus Afarensis species — a woman who lived 3.2 million years ago. The name she has been given by us is AL 288–1.

She is also called Lucy[1].

(Image Source: WKSU.org[2])

Lucy, and others like her all over the world, are our mothers and fathers. That’s right — this ape is our mother. She is more ancient than any god, any heavenly father, any prophet and any nature spirit that has come to dictate human affairs since, and frankly, she is someone we can afford to think of more often. Her generation (loosely speaking) was the first (to the best of our knowledge) to start walking on two legs and later to start using tools to dig, cut, and carve. They were the first ever engineers and artists. They had no religion, no caste, and they spoke no languages that we may understand.

The story of the oldest known human ancestor seems like an apt point to start making a point about how the whole world is a family[3]Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a phrase from the Upanishads which literally means “the world is one family”. It is an expression of Upanishadic thought that seeks to place all human beings everywhere in one pair of brackets. It seeks to make the reader understand that there are no strangers and outsiders and that everyone who you consider removed from yourself by walls like religion, language, and national borders, is actually a brother or a sister. Distant and difficult brothers and sisters perhaps, but brothers and sisters nevertheless. Who said relatives had to be fun?


[1] Lucy (Australopithecus) – Wikipedia

[2] WKSU News: Exploradio: Lucy and our tangled family tree

[3] Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – Wikipedia

What does 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' mean from an evolutionary standpoint?