From ancient times, the premise of a nation has been defined as finite geographical borders. As we evolved in an increasingly inter-connected world, the definition of a nation continues to evolve and refine itself so
A nation has defined geographical boundaries that define its sovereignty, its identity and essence on a map
A nation is likely to have a formal constitution or at least a core set of informal rules, traditions regulations and governance from those in charge
A nation's administration could be a monarchy, a dictatorship, a band of elders/chiefs/senators/military officials or elected officials as part of a civic government
The state acting through its administrators, is likely to levy taxes from its citizens living within its boundaries in exchange for services provided to the citizens
The taxes are often used to build an army, a navy and in recent times an air force to protect and enforce the borders (the USA has marines, coast guard and space force as well)
The taxes are used to wage war against territorial aggressors, states or nations who willfully violate its borders
The nation's taxes foster economic development including building infrastructure for living, economic pursuits, transport, health and other welfare for its citizens
The nation also engages in and controls trade relationships with nations outside the borders using its own issued sovereign national currency/coins
The nation trades with its neighbors with a set of negotiated terms that include recognizing boundaries and peaceful interdependency including controlled immigration relevant to achieve regional stability goals and economic development and stability
Those states(nations) that refuse to recognize territorial sovereign borders and boundaries including international waters are considered rogue nations that risk triggering war due to their lack of respect for geographical boundaries and national sovereignty
The Mahabharata Context:
Prince Yudhisthira is crowned the King of Indraprastha, a brand new nation separate from the kingdom of Hastinapura, which remained under the sovereignty of King Dhritarashtra and his regent, Prince Duryodhana.
Lord Krishna knew that in order for the forces of good to win in the inevitable Kurukshetra war, some powerful kings needed to be eliminated before the apocalyptic war started.Lord Krishna therefore advised King Yudhisthira to conduct the Rajasuya Yagna in order to establish his ascendancy over the neighboring states and build military alliances early in his rule.
The Rajasuya Yagna begins with the fabled Ashwamedha sacrifice where a royal horse roams uncontested across the national borders subjugating nearby princely states into accepting the supremacy of the horse's owner, the soon to be crowned Emperor. Peaceful sovereign kings could choose to let the horse wander across their borders without stopping it or the army that followed it closely. This passive act would then signal their willingness to accept King Yudhisthira as their Emperor. They could then avert an unnecessary war, remain sovereigns in their nations, engage in bi-lateral trade, and agree tacitly to Emperor Yudhisthira's military ascendancy over them and become his military allies, when needed.
Alternately, the kings could stop the ceremonial horse in its wandering path, once it crosses their borders, as a signal of war and defiance of the military ascendancy of Emperor Yudhisthira. This exemplifies the strategic role of borders that defined nations in war and peace. Emperor Yudhisthira had great success in this sacrifice and made many new allies. He also triggered immense jealousy and resentment from his cousin, Prince Duryodhana leading to the unfortunate chain of events that unleashed the terrible Kurukshetra war.
Our null hypothesis for the practice of the Rajasuya Yagna
The core attribute of the Rajasuya Yagna is military ascendancy and conquest, even colonization, but not peace. The wandering horse represents its owner's unbridled ambition to conquer new lands, people and nations. The title Emperor really means the King of Kings and King Yudhisthira became Emperor Yudhishira by successfully completing this ceremony. The passive act of not stopping the horse in its path symbolizes a passive acceptance of military defeat. The passive nation hopes to reap the benefits of peace through economic trade and stability assuming honorable post-war conduct by the victorious nation and its sovereign ruler . So often, that is just not how things unfold.
The winner sometimes agrees to not topple the government of the defeated nation thereby ensuring regional stability and earns the military loyalty of the subjugated nation. Some winners are more brazen economic/religious/racial/cultural/military colonizers who decapitate the existing state, topple the rulers, appoint their own administration and exploit the geographical and human resources for their selfish benefit. These forces over history have wrecked multiple genocides, created slavery, terror, suffering, destroyed art, cities, infrastructure and pillaged the wealth of the defeated nations and held them back from progress and prosperity. So many of today's developing nations were ravaged by their colonizers through a combination of religious proselytization, cultural exports, territorial expansion or simply economic harvesting of their rich natural resources.
Relevance in today's world:
After the second world war was over, nations like France, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. all gradually gave up their colonies and set these young nations on a path to independence and national sovereignty. A new post WWII political and global apparatus was created to foster and administer global co-operation that included NATO, United Nations (including the UN Security council), WHO, WTO, Red Cross, etc. The hope was that together, we could decisively move forward in a period of peaceful reconstruction. We have made much progress in pulling large parts of the world out of poverty and into economic well being. However, the work ahead remains daunting and uphill.
We have not avoided war and are closely monitoring several fronts of geographical battles that that have brought us to the brink of a larger WWIII. As we speak, we are watching Russia-Ukraine after meeking watching Russia brazenly take over Crimea. China continues to threaten Taiwan and refused to acknowledge the right to self-determination for the people of Tibet. North Korea continues its military moves against Japan and South Korea. Multiple other regional conflicts remain including India-China-Pakistan over disputed areas like Kashmir, etc. Parts of Africa are still in ethnic strife with each other and poverty remains a rampant global problem. Political pressures are heavier on those globalist leaders who focus too much time, effort and tax payer funds on problems that emanate from outside their national boundaries and don't pay enough attention to their own nation's organic needs.
Today's global refugees clearly violate national boundaries in their life-or-death run to safety away from their home nations which are these poor, impoverished nations. These countries are ravaged by natural calamities, war, abuse, apathy, lack of education, tolerance for diversity and inadequate economic opportunities for the poor citizens. These refugees seek to live in dignity, with some health and respect. The refugees all seek better economic futures for their children and safety from oppressive gangs/mobs supported by dictators or authoritarian players not interested in much more than self-enrichment. How much can we do and when do we say we can't do more while others with more local influence remain passively on the sidelines or encourage the crisis?
Focussing on the refugee crisis alone is not adequate at all and the USA is after all the world's fairest immigration system and most welcoming nation (even if flawed)
Ignoring the marching horse is only procrastination as the Mahabharata epic taught us
We are seeing a growing list of failing global government not being held accountable for their failure? who can and who should hold them accountable? UN? or those whose borders are voilated like the USA, UK, Germany, etc.?
The large economies are doing a lot for the UN, NATO, EU, but are always being beseeched to do more often at the expense of their indigenous population
There are some UN sanctions on the bad actors which are only weak economic disincentives since rogue nations brazenly flout international rules without consequence
Should all US/UN economic aid packages tied to strings that are time-bound and actionable?
Should we demand fair, free democracies as a pre-requisite for economic aid ?
Now as a legal immigrant to the USA and a tax-paying US citizen, may I ask you what % of a roaming horse are you?