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Oldest and uninterrupted Civilization of India

“…. What civilization is all about – farming replacing hunting.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

Introduction

Many civilizations, systems and principles have been evolved throughout the world for time immemorial. They remained in vogue for some time, then faded and gave way to the newer ones with new structures, culture, systems and concepts. But 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). While other nations passed through many bloody revolutions, India has kept on adapting itself to changing times. Indian civilization has given Indian society a distinguished identity, and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life and a sense of direction.

Origin – evolved in a natural way

The origin of Indian civilization cannot 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”.

Based on experiences and deep thinking of many learned saints

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.

Assimilation of multi-0ethnic groups and their value system

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.

Fusion many cultures

Indian civilization has been a continuous process of assimilation and fusion of 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 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.

Emergence of social evils and practices in the system

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 Mughal rulers

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.

Also, 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.

Impact of Modern education on Indian society

During British rule, introduction of modern education brought social awakening. On one hand, 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. It gave birth to many national leaders and social reformers. There emerged a group of Indian intelligentsia, which was deeply influenced by western views and thinking of British rulers, missionaries, writers and historians. It vehemently denounced Indian culture, character and social value system of India. This group of Indian intelligentsia regarded the culture of the land as indefensible, responsible for creating many discriminatory social values.

On one hand, modern education system had attracted the attention of the people towards social evils, that had developed in the system, on the other it disassociated Indian people from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions.

Scenario after the independence

The influence of ‘West’ continuously increased. The number of Westernized educated Indians has grown continuously after the Independence of India in 1947. And after the era of globalization during 1990’s. With their number increasing continuously, Indian people have become more intolerant towards their own culture.

Emergence of a neo- rich elitist class

A new neo- rich elitist class has emerged in urban areas. It want to enjoy pleasures of modern life without any restriction. Its culture is only of ‘I, my and me’ and has no concern or ‘time’ for others. All its activities are confined within its comfort zone. Loosening grip of social bondage and norms have made many of them selfish, self-willed and arrogant. Its thinking, style of living and value systems are quite different from the traditional ones. Most of them generally regard traditional values as rubbish and its epics as irrelevant to modern times. Some of them are so intolerant and aggressive, that they discard all social norms and etiquettes out rightly. They do not like any kind bondage on themselves. They set their own rules.

Growth of money culture

Modern generation is influenced in a big way by the social, political, economic norms of Western world. 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. Money culture is growing. 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 plus law and order problems.

More stress on rights

Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights forming the natural foundation of human relationship, caste system evolved around the concept of duty, tolerance and sacrifice. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant.

In modern India, now-a-days people are more conscious of their rights and neglect their duties. 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 cope-up with the challenges or face harsh realities of life. Friendship/relationship only prospers, if it is 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 by modern society.

Brain drain

The influence of Western life style is so deep in the minds of Indian youth. Most of talented persons go to foreign lands in search of greener pastures and better work culture. Most of them get settled abroad in advanced countries to make secure their comfort zone. They gradually develop a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society.

‘Indian reformers suggesting to go back to ‘Vedas’

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 cultures. 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.

 

Latasinha's Weblog

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”…

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November 27, 2014 - Posted by | General |

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