India has a rich cultural heritage. Thought is has been subjected in a series of cultural invasions, yet it has retained its originality and traditional character even after absorbing the best of the external influences.
Western societies today are turning to India for spiritual solace and peace. India is the cradle of one of the earliest civilizations of the world – the Indus Valley Civilization. Tolerance of all faiths is a part of our cultural heritage. The Indian paintings and sculptures have left their mark on different civilization. Our ancestors excelled not only in philosophy but also in science. The Indian literary heritage is the oldest in the world. Indian music and dance have made their own mark in the cultural scenario. It encompasses a large body of poetry, drama and treatise on various arts and sciences written in Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tamil and many other Indian languages. We should pick and follow the good points for the sake of a better society and nation.
Cultural heritage stands for things such as works of art, literature, music, cultural achievements and customs that have been passed on form earlier generations to the present generation. India has a rich cultural heritage. There is a harmonious blend of art, religion and philosophy in the India cultural. Indian culture is actually an outcome of the continuous fusion of different cultures. World religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Zoroastrianism have co-existed with Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and others. From the dawn of the Indus Valley Civilization in 6000 BC, to the recent past, we have been exposed to a series of cultural invasions, it has retained its originally and traditional character even after absorbing the best of external influences. The Indian culture is unique in its character and it is this uniqueness which attracts the western societies. Frustrated with their materialistic pattern of lives, they are turning to India for solace and peace.
India is the cradle of one of the earliest civilization of the world – the Indus Valley Civilization. People lived in cities, and had access to public baths, wide roads and were engaged in maritime trade. They used metal coins as the medium of commercial exchange. The script they used resembles the Dravidian languages. The worship of the Mother Goddess is linked with the present day worship of Goddess Durga.
The wisdom of our ancient epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata holds the eternal lesson of the victory of good over evil. The Bhagwad Gita is a book of full of philosophical principles. Lord Buddha preached that perfects happiness could be gained if one exercises control over one’ passions. Hinduism has a vast number fog gods and goddesses, besides the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. It teaches the existence of one God but allows it followers to worship Him in any form they like. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism preached against humbug and hypocrisy in religion. He laid supreme stress on true faith, simplicity and purity of life and religious tolerance. Buddhism, Jainism. Christianity and Islam are among the major religions followed in India. Traditionally, tolerance of all faiths is a part of our cultural heritage. India is a secular country and the Sate treats all religions equally.
The Indian paintings and sculpture have left their mark on different civilizations. Rock caves in Hoshangbad, Mirzapur and Bhimbetka are witness to the paintings of primitive men. The paintings of the Ajanta cave are a rare piece of work. Many painters emerged during the colonial rule. Amrita Shergill, Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore were the pioneers of modern painting. The statues, terracotta toys, jeweler etc. excavated in the Harappan site testify the knowledge of stone carving and borne casting among the inhabitants. The Ashokan pilar, the Sanchi stupa, the temples at Konark, Khajuraho and Mahabalipuram are unique works of Indian sculpture. In the later centuries, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb show a blend of Indian and Mughal architecture.
Our ancestors excelled not only in philosophy but also in science. The Atharaveda is a storehouse of information of the Ayurveda school of medicine. Astrology and Astronomy were quite popular in ancient India. Aryabhatta precisely calculated the time of solar eclipse more than two thousand years ago. The concept of ‘Zero’ was invented in India. Indian scientists like C.V. Raman, Chandrasekhar and Hargoving Khurana have won Nobel prizes of their contribution in science.
Music is one of the oldest forms of expression of human thought and emotion. Indian music is based on the concept of ragas and talas. There are two major schools of classical music – the Carnatic and the Hindustani. Both derive their rules from the classical threatises Natya Shastra of Bharata and Sangeet Ratnakar by Sarangdeva. There are about 250 ragas commonly used. Indian musicians like Bhimsen Joshi, M.S. Subhalkshmi, Kishori Amonkar, Pr. Jasraj, Ustad Ajmad Ali Khan, Ustad Bismillah Kahn, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. Ravi Shankar and others have contributed richly to the promotion of Indian music abroad.
Folk and tribal dances of India are of innumerable types. The origin of classical dances are the Hindu temples. There are four forms of classical dances in India – Bharatnayam, Kathak, Kathakali and Manipuri, Other prominent dances are Kuchipudi, Odissi, Mohiniattam etc. In dancing, rasa (sprit the art produces in people) is conveyed thought bhava (expression) and obhinaya (acting).
The Indian literary heritage is one of the oldest in the world. It encompasses a large body of poetry, drama are treatise on various arts and sciences written in Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tamil and many otehr languages. Sanskrit is the basis of Aryan and Dravidian languages. It has enriched the cultural heritage of Indian literature. Kalidasa’s Abhigyan Shakuntalam and Meghdutam, Vishakadatta’s Mrichhakatikam, and Jaideva’s Geet Govindam are rated very highly for their literary excellence.
Hindi comprises a number of dialets, some of which are used for literary compositions. Khariboli became the chief medium in the 19th century. THe period of Hindi literature up to the mid-14th century is known as the Adikala. The period from mid-14th century to mid-17th century, was dominated by the Bhakti Kavyas or devotioanl poetry. Kabir, Surdas and tulsidas were famous poets of this era.The mdoern period of Hindi was ushered in by Bhartendu Harishchandra who used Khariboli for his prose and dramatic writings and Brajbhasha for his verse. Maithili Sharan Gupta, R.N. Tripathi, Jayashankar Praasd, Sumitra Nandan Pant, Premchand and Mahadevi Verma have major contribution to modern Hindi Literature.
There are certain aspects of our cultural heritage. Davison of society on the basis of division of labor gave birth to the caste system. The caste system created a gulf among people leading to disunity, conflicts and bitter antagonism in the society. Child marriage, sati, unsociability, female infanticide and many other social evils were born in the Indian society. It was only in the ninetieth century, after the cultural revolution started by Raja Rammohan Roy, Dayananda, Ramkrishna, Vivekananda and others, that these social evils were checked.
Since independence, Indians have become keen on promoting their sense of rational identify of cultural unity. There has been a revival of interest in music, dance and painting. India is rich in the spiritual aspect of life and we should not adopt the ill effects of western culture. We should pick and follow only the good points, and assimilate them in our social and cultural environment, for the sake of a better society and nation.