Mar 31, 2023
Mar 31, 2023
by T. A. Ramesh
Spiritual Nature of Culture
Basically Indian culture is spiritual in nature which means that it is governed by religion. All the religious people of India believe in Dharma, Karma and Moksha. Not only that, it supports materialism and family life also. Everyone has to do duty suitable to each one and the sufferings and enjoyments in duty are only for purifying the soul so that salvation or moksha can be successfully achieved in the future or future births. Therefore the up gradation of human life is the philosophical motive of Indian culture.
Because of the cultural unity India stands as one country. Otherwise it would have been a sub-continent of many countries based on many cultures, religions, languages, etc. So, it is an interesting question to trace back how the cultural unity of India has taken place. The process of unifying India, which was previously divided into many provinces, started long, long ago in many ways such as the name of places, languages, religion, literature, culture, etc.
About 1500 B.C. Aryans came and settled in India. Sanskrit became a well developed language. It was the common language of the learned Indians. Four Vedas, the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc., which were previously orally passed on from one generation to another generation, were for the first time written in the Sanskrit language around 500 B.C. Before it was about to have become popular among the common people and a link or common language of India its natural course was affected by the direct interference of the foreign powers such as the Mohammedans and the British rulers for more than 500 years.
However Sanskrit has influenced the life, culture and literature of India. For example it can be quoted that 1. many Sanskrit words have mingled with all the languages of India for communication purpose, 2. the life principles of Sri Rama and the philosophy of Lord Krishna's Bhagavad-Gita have become the basis of Indian culture through literature and 3. the names of places such as Kasi and Madura of North and Thenkasi and Madurai of South bear similarities especially to bring about familiarity and oneness between the North and the South India politically by the noble kings of the past.
In the Vedic period the Aryans divided the society into four classes based on the profession or job of the people for the purpose of administration. In the Brahmanic period profession by birth of the respective class became the job of the particular caste. So caste system came into vogue. Unable to bear the domination of the high caste men people embraced Buddhism which was democratic in character. In the Hindu period participation of all the people in the worship of God in public and in the temples as in the social festivals of today replaced Hinduism to its previous position at the expense of Buddhism.
However caste system continued as usual but without much vigor. Though it was exploited by the foreign rulers, due to Hindu reforms and developments in the country caste system has lost its ground during the post independence times. But after independence due to too much politics casteism is again exploited making democracy a farce today.
Language and Literature
The course of unification of India changed to the course of dis-unification and diversification first by the caste system, then by the system of the foreign rulers and by the wantonness of the Indian politicians that slowed down the pace of development very much, increased the population and poverty remained a permanent thing in India. First without knowing the noble course of unification by Indian culture and the richness of Sanskrit literature in education the foreign rulers introduced their own languages and literatures in education for communication and administrative purposes so that their government could be run effectively and efficiently. In that way Urdu language developed and English became a common language of India later. Though that was a blessing in disguise, language problem, caste problem, religious problem, regional problem, etc. created big split among the people and the foreign rulers easily divided the people in that way and ruled the country.
After the independence of India the principles of Indian Constitution such as liberty, secularism, socialism, democracy, etc. keep united the people of India. Though Indians are basically divided by food, dress, language, religion and region, they are united by their attitude and way of living. However, it is a reality that due to the developments and modernization of India by education, industries, employments, etc. one new common culture or modern culture has developed and is developing. Now the new common culture is the Indian Culture that reflects various cultures or sub-cultures of India based on the philosophy of unity in diversity.
Socialism, Secularism, Democracy
What India got is only political freedom and that too because of the principles of truth and non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi, but economic freedom, social freedom and individual freedom still look to be an impossible dream to achieve because of large scale corruption and violence everywhere in India. The continuation of the past project works even after independence with wrong policies and methods has not developed the country's economy, changed the society and improved the individual's life but has increased the problems and has brought India to the present state of crisis economically and communally.
All government run public organizations met with failure and loss because of socialism. Prices have increased, taxes have increased and so corruption has increased. Rich has become richer, poor has become poorer and so economy has not developed. The principle of secularism has not been strictly followed by both the political parties and the respective religions in education, employment and elections and so communalism and communal parties have developed much. Only democracy is surviving but without disciple, revision of govt. policies and reforms of social conventions according to the changes of time and the developmental needs of the country which pose a great threat to the freedom, integrity and unity of India.
Each State of India is like a separate country in the world with its own language, culture, history, climate and geographical feature. All these States put together make one nation called India! The desire to see India as one country was achieved by independence. Then the desire to have single national language for India came up before independence itself. Hindi, just 150 years or so old language was spoken by the largest number of peoples in the North and as it was similar to Urdu and seemed to be a substitute for Sanskrit, a dead language now, it was decided to be used as a single national language for communication, administration and national identity soon after independence.
But opposition to Hindi rose from the North Eastern States and the Southern States of India especially from Tamil Nadu and so, Nehru , the first Prime Minister of India gave the assurance in the Parliament that English also would be used as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted. From then on both Hindi and English are used as the official languages of India with the hope that the latter can be replaced by the former after Hindi is developed and popularized all over India. Even after 58 years of independence it remains only as a hope, because not only Hindi but also all the languages of India have hardly been possible to develop as English having more than 600,000 words, 3 times more than the words of each language of India!
Not only the language problem but also the communal, caste and race problems remain unsolved. India got freedom after the partition of the Sub-Continent into India and Pakistan. From the partition time onwards the communal problem is there in India because the Indian Muslims live separately and have their own culture without mingling with the main stream everywhere. They have got security and unemployment problems. Pakistan which wanted to have Kashmir as part of Pakistan takes advantage of the problems here, trains the Kashmiri youths in terrorist activities and creates turmoil in Kashmir State.
Sometime back (1990) unable to bear the terrorist activities many Kashmir pandits (Hindus) have migrated to Delhi. Punjab problem, Assam problem, etc. are solved but Kashmir problem even after local elections there remains yet to be solved because of non-cooperation of Pakistan Govt. under Shimla Agreement, which clearly says that disputes between India and Pakistan over Kashmir should be settled only on bilateral talks, which means that violence should be curbed; but in reality only the contrary thing is happening, which India and Pakistan should first pay attention to so that friendship and cooperation between them will easily help to solve the problem in a peaceful way at a quicker pace.
Caste and Violence
Like the Kashmiri Hindus for 600 years the life and works of Sourashtrians were very much disturbed by the assaults, attacks, atrocities, looting, burning, plundering and destruction of properties by Mohammed of Ghazini, Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Kilji and Bahmani Sultan, they migrated from the Sourashtra region of Khatiawar peninsula to Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra and then to Madurai and other towns of Tamil Nadu in search of peaceful life and settled there 400 years ago. Tamil Nadu, which was described as a peaceful park and noted for its high culture, had almost become a battle field because of casteism and its name had been tarnished by rowdyism of the worst kind some eight years ago making one believe that it was in the dark ages then.
At that time a Sourashtra woman councillor of the Madurai Corporation had been murdered without human sense or fear in the day time in the market place by some rowdies of the then ruling party because she was boldly fighting against corruption in the Fair Price shops and due to political rivalry. Then the statues of the nationalist Spiritual leader, Muthuramalinga Thevar and the champion of the untouchables, Dr. Ambedkar were broken by some miscreants and due to those incidences violent clashes between Thevar Caste and harijan caste peoples went on without an end.
The morale had gone down so low that the political criminals and rowdies there after burnt houses with petrol bombs, damaged and burnt buses and vehicles, broke open house doors, destroyed TV, fridge, etc., stole valuables and went away scot-free with the indirect support of the political parties, police and courts. As the situation was so, how women, children and youths could have moved out from the house to anywhere for anything after the evenings! Generally with uncertainty people went out for work in the morning and returned home in the evening then! Therefore it became a necessity to have a clear appraisal of the culture we esteem high.
If some community people like the Sourashtrians can migrate from the North to somewhere in the South and live for more than 3 centuries or so it is only because of the similarities of their own culture, the State culture and the National culture. The Sourashtrian culture is so unique that they easily mingled with the local people and became one with them in such a way that they never had any sort of difficulty or differences of caste, class, creed, race and language to cope with. This is because they have acquired the habit, on their migrations from place to place, of learning the local language for communication and business purposes and their mother tongue for home use only. As they are naturally pious they could not find any difficulty to participate in all the local religious festivals that made them reliable to the natives. More over they have the custom of easily adjusting themselves to the behavior, dress pattern and manners of the local people in such a way that nobody would believe that they are Sourashtrians.
Next the Tamil culture which is considered to be one of the best cultures of the world is noted for its hospitality, courage, sense of attachment, human sense, self-respect, respect for women, elderly people, brotherhood, friendship, love, following monogamy in family life and valuing highly the modesty of women. That is why unlike other language literatures of the world they hold high the great epic, Silappathikaram by Elango on the modesty of a good woman, Kannagi as everything is created because of woman and destroyed because of woman.
Then the Indian National culture is so universal in nature that the essence of Indian culture is mainly said to be the international brotherhood (Vasudavaya Kutumbhakam). According to the national culture all peoples give respect and obey to their parents, maintain unity among brothers, protect their family and children, maintain the promise of friendship, respect woman as mother, sister, aunt, etc., maintain one's dharma and save social justice in life, respect the nation as motherland, mother goddess Sakti, as they know that everything starts from Mother Goddess ' education from Saraswati, wealth from Lakshmi, power from Sakti, and even the earth is called as Mother Earth or Bhumadevi. Therefore one brought up in this culture can live anywhere in the world as one among the humanity in harmony, peace and happiness.
These are the important and vital aspects of Indian culture which everyone is supposed to know in the childhood itself at home or through literature in the school. If one acts otherwise not in accordance with this culture something is wrong at home or in the school or the social group in which one is a member. To educate such people about the greatness and the value of our culture, Cinema, TV, Radio, magazines and news media play a great role. Even then if untoward incidences occur in the country it is only due to the unwillingness, wantonness and the criminal nature of the hard core antisocial elements, who have to be dealt with legally and eliminated if possible so that human society can survive and do valuable service to the nation and the world.
Indeed cultural deterioration due to 500 years of foreign rules, modernization on the western model and pornographic aspects of Cinema films, TV programs with hypnotizing advertisements, photos and articles in the popular magazines, etc. are the root cause for the antisocial, antinational problems and activities in the country. Naturally corruption and violence dominate in all walks of life leading to national loss and economic failure. Only the colonial driver is driven out replacing the Indian driver on the seat. But if the local driver follows the same methods, and goes on the same route in a wrong manner without expertise, effortlessly and inefficiently how can economic success and self sufficiency in all respects be achieved?
Development of India
The dream of developing India like the industrially well developed western countries led to venture upon big industries with central planning on the socialistic model met with failure while implementing the plans with the colonial type of Indian bureaucratic machinery, because in the centralized administration the funds allotted to various projects drained in wastages at various levels and before reaching the last point funds were so meagre that it was scarcely possible for any worthwhile work as a result of omissions and commissions in the system.
Immediately after the British went out, if the educational system, bureaucratic system and legal system were changed according to the Indian nature, condition and culture and decentralized type of administration was introduced in the execution of plans giving importance to 1. Agriculture sector in the creation of many Agro-Industries mass of India would have got employments and the Country's Economy would have been developed to everyone's satisfaction through Exports of Agro-Products to other countries of the world and 2. Fishing Industries as we have vast sea resource wide open always mainly to Export Sea Foods to western countries India's Economy would have developed at a faster pace.
Even now the opportunities are very bright if Agro-Industries and Fishing Industries are encouraged with the foreign know-how the existing Export Potentials can well be profitably exploited by the Govt. and the Economy can be developed to a great extent giving job opportunities to many unemployed people whose mental diversion to violent paths due to financial difficulties or frustrations for not getting jobs can be averted.
Measures to Stop Corruption
The slow pursuit of socio-economic developments due to the many bottle necks of bureaucracy gave politicians and bureaucrats enough chances to make money. Instead of economic development self-development of the politicians went on full swing. Then corrupt culture rather than Indian culture maintained the unity of India. Many political parties on the basis of language, religion, case, race and religion increased day by day. Many entered politics, came to power and made black money through corrupt practices.
Now corruption is corroding the very vitals of the country and due to bad politics eating away the tissues and fibers of the society. To overcome this crisis reforms are needed in the political system of the country so that unnecessary political parties can be banned; by means of election reforms election malpractices can be arrested; collection of party funds made out of the black money from various sources can be unearthed; and spending of too much money by them on election times can be stopped permanently for the good the nation.
Religious Unity and Elimination of Castes
Religion which is the basis of culture cannot be banned. But castes of each religion can be banned if efforts are taken by the respective religious leaders of India. Rich-poor differences in each religion, Brahmin, harijan and other castes of Hindu religion, differences like Shias, Sunnis and Sufis of Islam religion, etc. should be first eliminated by the respective religious leaders' efforts. Then unity in each religion can be established and after that only unity of all religions under the Indian constitutional principle, Secularism can be really achieved. Till then differences of all religions will be there. But casteism, which is dominating the affairs of men for hundreds of years, is more deadly than other evils in India.
This sort of caste system is not found in any other country in the world expect in India. This shameful caste system, which is degrading human prestige, can be eliminated only by educating the people through Cinema, Radio, TV, magazines and books by broadly explaining to them as to how it has been standing as a hurdle and spoiling the progress of the country. As truly said by Mahatma Gandhi the enemy of Indian freedom is not outside but within in the form of castes which the political parties are exploiting more than 100% to deceive the people and betray the country for their personal gains. Therefore only when castes are eliminated and unity of religions is established, culturally India can be united for good and everything can be achieved for its people.
What is modernization? Modernization is introduction of scientific technology, developments with new technologies, materialistic developments with intellectual power and knowledge to bring about economic and social changes for the peaceful journey of social life of the country in accordance with the pace of the modern world. But culture is development of humanism, refinement of human nature and in short development of human spirit. The achievement of excellence, quality is what culture is all about. There cannot be a good civilization without the foundation of a good culture. Without material wealth this world is not there for one, but at the same time without the credit of spiritual achievement that world will also not be there for one. Therefore the best course of action will be that to achieve the priorities and the long term goals of the nation all matters should be scientifically approached with human spirit.
History cannot be changed and the mistakes of the past cannot be corrected because economically it is a waste and also a waste of time for the nation now. History should reveal the truth and remain as a warning so that old type mistakes won't be repeated in the future.
Now modernization is going on everywhere in the world because of Science and Technology.
According to the trend of the world modernization not at the demise of culture like in the western countries (where due to this fact machine-beast-like-men are increasing in quantity and indulging in crimes and violence with powerful destructive weapons in large scale) should be welcomed in all fields for the well being of the individuals, up gradation of human life and the progress of the Indian society. Because of the Universal nature and the international approach Indian culture can easily assimilate and adopt modernity in knowledge, attitude, way of living, food, dress, manners, behavior, movements, relationships, etc. in the human society of the world.
1. Sanskrit language, which was supposed to have developed into a language of the common people has become a dead language today due to historical reasons; but if it is introduced in the schools and thereby spread to various parts of the country, because of its capacity to be used for expressing scientific terms, explanations, etc. and because it is possible to use it as a Computer language also, Sanskrit can become an effective National language as well as a prideful identity of India in future; and in that way language problem of India can be solved once and for all.
2. Hindu religion, because of its variety, universal approach, all embracing nature and its ability to answer convincingly all scientific enquires and its ability to convert naturally soon all the people of the world to Hinduism, should be officially honored in India being a great Indian religion so that the demise of its greatness and thereby the greatness of India, its rich culture, civilization and great achievements in the past, the present and the future can be averted.
3. Fortunately the great Indian literature, which was inspiring, encouraging and guiding the people is still wonderfully sustaining itself to lead the people in the right path and will do so even in the future also.
In view of the facts and reasons I have analyzed so far I have to say that the cultural thread is keeping India intact and will keep intact in the future also, because it reflects the truth as ascertained long ago by Max Mueller, a German philosopher, which is worthwhile to quote here conclusively as follows:
'If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life and has found solutions of some of them which will deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we here in Europe ' we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of the Greeks and the Romans and of one Semitic race, the Jewish ' may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our life more perfect, more comprehensive, more Universal, in fact, more truly human, a life not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life, again I should point to India.'
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