While there are challenges involved, even when the psychological unity is being developed on the basis of common geographical area, language, background, cultural traditions, etc., these challenges are raised to a new level when the requirement is to build a psychological unity for diverse peoples who differ as to language, cultural traditions, religious perspectives, and geography. An example of these issues arises in the case of India, which for several hundred years was controlled and dominated by the British Empire as a colony. As the eventual freedom of India from British domination came about, the question arose as to what status India might have in the confederation that was being formed under the rubric of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Sri Aurobindo describes the issues: “There is first that geographical separateness which has always made India a country and a people apart, even when it was unable to realise its political unity and was receiving by invasion and mutual communication of cultures the full shock of the civilisations around it. There is the mere mass of its population of three hundred millions whose fusion in any sort with the rest of the nations of the Empire would be a far other matter than the fusion of the comparatively insignificant populations of Australia, Canada and South Africa. There is the salient line of demarcation by race, colour and temperament between the European and the Asiatic. There is the age-long past, the absolute divergence of origins, indelible associations, inherent tendencies which forbid any possibility of the line of demarcation being effaced or minimised by India’s acceptance of an entirely or predominantly English or European culture. All these difficulties need not necessarily mean the insolubility of the problem; on the contrary, we know that no difficulty can be presented to the human mind which the human mind, if it will, cannot solve.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 8, The Problem of a Federated Heterogeneous Empire, pp. 62-64