Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Oldest, Continuous and Uninterrupted living civilization of India

What is civilization – civilization is generally defined as a highly organized group of people with their own language and ways of living, an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. Civilization usually defines the parameters of the shared way of life in different spheres like having a shared and long-term sense of closeness in language, beliefs, and cultural artifacts such as art, literature, music, and religion etc. over a large population. Its culture enhances our quality of life and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities.

In the past many civilizations developed in river valleys like Indus Valley in South Asia, Nile river Valley in northeastern Africa, and Huan-He-Valley of China. These civilizations had well-organized cities, powerful governments, complex religions (well-developed religious beliefs), specialized skills and jobs, social classes and methods of keeping records.

About civilization of India – Indian civilization is considered one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilizations in the whole world.[i]  Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region have always been given importance. When the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It has always been a cheerful land. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of Indian culture.

During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.  Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life.  Each person found a niche in the social system.  Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.[ii] An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen,  Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it.[iii]

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolith.  India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities.  As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social group. As is known so far, civilization of India starts with a mysterious culture along the Indus River.

New evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilization in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia. Such continuity and flexibility is difficult to be seen in any other part of the world.  When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions.  Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully. However, the influence of Indus Valley civilization has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. 

Continuous attacks and migrations – Since time immemorial, invaders attacked from the North and led to migrations to South. Local rulers often competed for power. Many new social groups migrated from Europe, Middle East and other parts of Asia. And finally settled down in India. Geographic features tended to separate people into regional and local groups, each with its own way of life, customs and practices, different values, different languages, different scripts, different religious beliefs, different ways to worship, different dress style, different food habits.

Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures – The history and culture of India are dynamic. Throughout its long history, local cultures have blended with those brought by invaders. Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization.

In other parts of the world, usually local authorities have tried to convert people of other communities, be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, or professionals into their own culture and faith, thus imposing on the newcomers their own value system. But India has shown its unique capability to absorb into its mainstream, all willing new coming social groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language. It has never tried to liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather it has given each one an opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, as well as an atmosphere to flourish in their own way.

Absorptive nature of Indian civilization – Not only that, it has carefully nurtured and preserved the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, it has also absorbed the good points of other cultures also, which has enriched the composite culture of India. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Adaptability of Indian civilization – Indian civilization has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability. It has taken different shades and meaning with changing times and places. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. The multi-centricity of Indian society has given it a syncretic character, a pluralistic tradition and an absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. That is why, it presents one of the oldest social institution and a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.[iv]

[i]  The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

[ii]           Basham, Ibid  p9.

[iii]           Dr. Albert Swhweitzen,  Indian Thought and its development.

[iv]           The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

May 28, 2020 - Posted by | General |

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