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Civilization of India

India presents one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilization in the whole world ((other well advanced civilizations of ancient world were of Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia). 

The origin of Indian civilization can not be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single founder. It leisurely evolved roughly between 2000 BC to about 600 BC and kept on coping with the changes slowly, time had brought in. Its influence on people’s mind is much deeper and  much wider in scope than that of a nation state.

It evolved in a natural way, when many small and primitive groups of people came to terms with a more advanced economic and social system. Starting with arrival of Aryans in waves and mixing up of their culture with native culture of the land evolved Vedic culture, which was based on the principles of “Varna”, “Dharma” and “Karma”.

The experiences and deep thinking of many learned sages and intellectuals belonging to different communities at different points of time together these principles contributed to the growth of Indian society and gave Vedic society a distinct character, defined roles and organized smooth inter-relationship of various sections of society.

The assimilation of multi-ethnic groups and their value system tended to enrich Indian culture. As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every group left its influence on its culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. It still provides Indian society with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction.

Indian civilization has been been a continuous process of assimilation and fusion many cultures. All sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous together enriched the culture of India.

In the beginning a cultural synthesis took place, when Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of culture of Aryan invaders with culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD.

Then, a major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture.

Another assimilation was seen after 10th century, when thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this.

Once again, during the period between 18th century to 20th century, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British. Islam and Christianity, these two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed and brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

During mediaeval period, continuous invasions of Turks, Afgans and Mugals – Ghazani (998-1030) and others, establishment of slave dynasty (1206- 1030), Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320), Tuglak Dynasty (1320-1412), Sayyad Dynasty (1414-51), Lodi Dynasty (1451-1526) and Mughal Empire (1526 to 1757) – all this resulted not only in the downfall of Hindus’ value system, but also gave rise to religious fundamentalism and emergence of many social evils and practices like child marriage, Sati Pratha, Dowry, Purdah system to save one’s honour, untouchability, Polygamy,   ignorence and superstitions etc. 

Intolerance of rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve their culture properly. Reaction of Hindus to Muslim excesses resulted in rigidity of rituals and prepared ground for stiffening / hardening / crystallizing social norms, practices and rituals. People blindly followed the dictates of Hindu and Muslim priests, who arbitrarily distorted and misinterpreted tenets of their respective religions. It tended to make people superstitious. Indian society was torn by acrimony between Hindus and Muslims. Sometimes it took an aggressive form.

Aso, during this period, feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mogul rulers and those at helm of authority, increased disparity between rulers and ruled.

During British rule, introduction of modern education brought social awakening. It opened up the doors of knowledge, offered key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia.

Modern education attracted the attention of educated persons towards social evils, weaknesses, and made educated people aware of rigidity and harshness developed in the system so far. As a result India got many great national leaders and reformers.

However, there emerged a group of Indian intelligentsia which was deeply influenced by western thinking and greatly influenced by British rulers, missionaries and writers and historians. It vehemently denounced culture, character and social value system of India. It regarded the culture of the land as indefensible, responsible for creating many discriminatory social values. It disassociated itself from traditional way of living, thinking, classical roots and knowledge.

The number of such people is continuously increasing. The more its number of such persons grows, especially amongst Indian intelligentsia, the more intolerant, people would become towards their own culture.

A new neo- rich elitist class of youth is emerging in Metros. It want to enjoy pleasures of modern life without any restriction. Its thinking and value systems are quite different from the older ones. Most of them generally regard Indian value system as rubbish and its epics as irrelevant. Some of them become so intolerant and aggressive, that they outrightly discard all social norms and etiquettes. They do not like any limitation/comment on their behavior or way of life. They set their own rules. Loosening grip of social bondage and observances have made many of them selfish, self-willed and arrogant.

Modern generation is influenced in a big way by the social, political, economic norms of western world, especially alarming are the changes in Indian social values and etiquettes, which are being gradually replaced by the western ones. A drastic change is visible in the life style and behavior of modern generation. The present yardstick of smartness is interest in stock exchanges, glamour, pubs, parties, discos or late night culture, which gives rise to many kinds of social problems. People are more conscious of their rights and want to enjoy life fully in any possible way without any bondage. With growing cult of materialism and consumerism, finer values of life are disappearing fast. Lust for material gains, comforts, craze for luxurious and glamourous life style has made mankind incapable to face harsh realities of life. Friendship/relationship prospers only if these cost-effective. Otherwise people do not hesitate in showing their helplessness due to lack of time or energy. The persons, who readily helps people in need are considered fools in modern society.

 The influence of Western culture is so deep in the minds of some intellectuals, especially settled abroad that they have developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society. Seeing which way the wind was blowing, many intellectuals and reformers of early twentieth century tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien culture. Araya Samaj founded by Swami Dayanand, asserted the superiority of Hindu Vedic culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’, as Vedas were to them the source of all knowledge and truth. Swami Vivekanand founded the Rama Krishna Mission to reveal to the world Indian Philosophy and culture. People should neither swayed away by alien cultures easily, nor should they follow blindly the old values. They should not reject outrightly the good intentions and wisdom of their ancestors or elders. 

 

 

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February 16, 2010 - Posted by | Social and political values and systems |

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