The word Nation is an English word and we know the meaning as given by English people to the word Nation.
But what is the original word for it in our Sanskrit? What is the term we use in Hindi? The word is 'Rashtra'. Rashtra is translated in English as Nation. But the meaning of the word 'Nation' in English and 'Rashtra' in our language is different. As there is no other word for that in English we use the word Nation to denote Rashtra.
How is it different? The concept of Nation in the West was born only two, three hundred years back. Before that, there were no Nations in the West. So it is only within these three hundred years, the concept, the meaning the significance of the term Nation was evolved in the West. But you will find the word Rashtra in Atharva Veda which must be at least five or six or ten thousand years old. So, ten thousand years ago, we had the concept of Rashtra, understood its multi-dimensional meaning as connoted in our Sanskrit language. That meaning cannot be conveyed in English when you say Nation. It is like a fully grown up man. The concept of Nation in the West is just like a child. It is yet to grow. Whereas the concept of Rashtra in our country, is a very mature one. A fully developed concept. Therefore, when we use the word Nation, we have to understand it as the meaning of Rashtra – not the Western Nation but the Hindu Rashtra. You will have to understand it in that context. The word is like a vessel. But the contents are different. The content in our terminology for the word Rashtra is qualitatively different. Even quantitatively different.
It is like the word Dharma. How do you translate the word Dharma in English? . . . Religion? Dharma is not Religion. But there is no word for Dharma in English, because they have no concept of Dharma. Dharmena hina. They are devoid of Dharma. In the Western terminology, there is no concept of Dharma. Even for us it is very difficult to understand dharma, "Dharmasya Tattvam Nihitam Guhaya". It is very difficult to understand even in our own country where this word has grown. It is very difficult to understand Dharma. You ask ordinary people what is Dharma? Very difficult to say. So the Westerners cannot understand the connotation or meaning of the word Dharma. So they say it is religion. What is religion? Going to Church and praying. Is it Dharma? That can be a very small part of Dharma. Dharma is much wider. The Putra Dharma. The Pitru dharma, the Dharma of the husband, the Dharma of the wife, Dharma of the teacher, Dharma of the student. All these are included in the word Dharma. So Dharma cannot be translated as Religion. And if you think that Religion is Dharma, you are doing injustice to Dharma.