Nation is a philosophical term describing a geographic portion of land where all people staying had similar thinking and common heritage, traditions, culture and inherent affinity towards one another. The heritage sites were pilgrimage centers spread all over the land and they are equally sacred to people whichever corner of the land they may be staying in.
A Country is that Geographical portion of the land where people reside. The Geographical region, where the people have the same culture, have similar belief systems about life and have same respect for sacred places and great persons born anywhere in the region, can be called Nation. It is not necessary that the whole Nation be governed by the same ruler/s or has the same administrative system. Such country where one ruler rules under same administrative system is called The State. A Nation may have many states within as was the situation in ancient India.
In ancient India, the states were small having mostly only the Capital as a town while all other localities were rural and about 10-20 Km apart. The Jungles as well as high hills outside the state belonged to the Nation; so also were the rivers and other water courses. In the hilly jungles or river bank regions many a times some small kingdoms of Nishad, Dheevar or Kirat tribes of people flourished. The Jungles on the boundaries of the states had Gurukuls established by Rishis as (residential) learning centers for the young people in Vedavidyaa. The Gurukuls were supported by all the states around whose students were taught in the residential organizations. The students used to enter the Gurukul after their Upanayan Sanskaar by 8 to 12 years of age, complete their education in about 12 years at the Gurukuls after which they used to return to their homes for entering Grihasthashrama, and performing duties normally following their fathers’ vocations. Since the Gurukuls were common for many states, the Rishis used to advise the rulers in religious and Social matters as well as in those aspects that can reduce any tensions that may be generated amongst the states/rulers.
The states used to be at peace normally. Occasionally, a rular might feel like initiating a battle with his neighbouring state for some reason but very soon it stopped as one or the other got defeated. Then also the winner won’t rule the subjugated state directly, but some local chieftain (normally heir of the deposed/killed Ruler only) was anointed as new Ruler and administration went on. The defeated state may pay some Tribute, Compensation or (ransom) Fine to the successful one and the animosity vanished between them. All the state rulers were advised by their Rajgurus as Dharmic (moral and ethical ways) controllers of the States. The duties and responsibilities of the rulers of the states have been seen described quite in details in ‘Shantiparva’ of Mahabhaarata, and most of the rulers used to follow them. The people were free to travel anywhere in India for pilgrimage, sight-seeing or trading. The people, having educated in Vedic studies, had only love and affinity towards India as a Rashtra or other Bhaarateeya people as brothers. The boundaries of India were rather extended towards West to include Persia and Aravastan and towards East to Vietnam. It was Vishaal Bhaarat and was living as one Rashtra having same culture, traditions and respect towards the Scriptures, sacred places, The Nation and its people. The language being spoken was Sanskrit with some modified versions in some states. There never was any problem amongst the States about the languages being spoken. After the huge destruction in Mahabhaarata War by the start of Kali-Yug the Western boundary was contracted to the NW passes and Eastern one to the Malaysian Peninsula. Even then India was so prosperous that foreigners used to attack through the NW passes to rob riches. The NW states along with occasional support from interior States like Magadh (at Pataliputra or modern Patna) used to fight and defeat the invaders. Most of the times after getting defeated, the tribal invaders as a group got assimilated in Indian population. They became Indian Nationals. Sanaatan Dharma ruled the Nation. It became Rashtra Dharma. This Dharma could be called Manav Dharma since it was quite effective for all persons living.
The people in India were following the guidelines for life which were laid down+ in Vedas. The Vedas gave out guidelines in its Adwait philosophy indicated in Vedaant. To practice this philosophy Rishi-Munis were following Meditation as per the Vedas teachings. The Meditation has power to clean your mind of negative thoughts as well as of bad habits like selfishness, hate, anger, jealousy etc after adequate length of the practice. The Vedic Meditation being part of Bhaarateeya Culture, the bad thoughts that it drove out of people’s minds made the people loving the Nation as their motherland. Similarly they had developed human bondage as brotherhood with all people in Bhaarat as well as those coming in contact. This was possible since the Sanaatan or Bhaarateeya Dharma was having a Universal appeal, it did not exclude anyone just because he liked to worship something/someone else in different manner or even if he did not believe in God. It was not restricted to people of unique religious practices The Rishi-Munis who practiced the Vedaant for long could develop their minds to such an extent that other minds in their vicinity could be influenced to love Bhaarat and its people. This is the reason that though to start with, Bhaarat had its Eastern and Western boundaries limited by Hindukush and Arakaan mountains, the people beyond them also were influenced by the Sanaatan Dharma and in no time Bhaarat became Vishaal or extended Bhaarat including countries up to Vietnam in the East and up to Arabian Peninsula in the west. All this was possible because the helpful nature of the learned Bhaarateeya people. This Vishaal Bhaarat was so united that their culture had become one and the people were intermarrying amongst various states involved therein. During Dwaapaar-Yug, Dhritarashtra the samraat of Hastinapur married the princess of Gandhara (Kandhahar in Afghanistan); Gandhari and her brother Shakuni was the principle advisor of Duryodhan, the Yuvraj of Hastinapur. Similar to this well known one, many such relations existed amongst the states in Vishaal Bhaarat.