(Indian Art & Culture) Civilization, Essentials, Geographical Factors, Fundamental Unity in Diversity
CULTURE AND CIVILISATION
Culture is a concept which cannot be easily defined . There is no single character or mark which can be regarded as the essence or differential of culture. It is always a combination of many strands of varying importance and vitality. If we attempt to differentiate between culture and civilisation, we might say that civilisation is organisation of life which makes civil society grow. Such civil society is a necessary condition for corporate life on which alone individuals can pursue fruitful and creative activity.
Culture, on the other hand , is the outcome of such organisation and expresses itself through language and art, through philosophy and religion, through social habits and customs and through political institutions and organisations. None of them is separately culture, but collectively they constitute an expression of life which we describe as culture. In so far as civilisation is organisation of society which creates the conditions needed for development of culture, there can be no culture without civilisation, but there may be civilisations which have not yet developed their culture. Culture is the efflorescence of civilisation.
GEOGRAPHICAL FACTOR IN INDIAN CULTURE
The name India that is Bharat has been given to the Indian sub continent in different periods. In its original Persian sense it meant the Sindhu river , what the Greeks called the Indus. The name ‘India’ comes from the name of the river ‘Sindhu’ flowing on India’s North-West Frontier. The Greeks called the river as Indus and the country as “the land of Sindhu”. Since the Persianas pronounced the letter “S” as “H” , they pronounced the word as Hindu. Closely connected with “Hindu” are the latter designations “HIND” of “HINDUSTAN” as used by the Medieval Persian. Arab and other Muslim authors.
Indians themselves called their land Bharatvarsha, which has shortened into Bharat, after the name of the leading Vedic tribe Bharatas or the famous legendary king Bharat. The Indians regarded Bharat-Varsha as the southern division of Jambudvipa, one of the seven islands making up the world.
ESSENTIALS OF INDIAN CULTURE
Connected with the question of culture is the value and importance of Indian contribution in this sphere. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, India’s constant effort has been to find a basis of living in the higher spiritual truth and to live from the sprit onwards”, An integral conception of spirituality stands for a synthesis of the best in western materialism and the best in Eastern philosophy, life and spirituality. Its vitality springs, not from any particular man of genius, but from the uninterrupted flow of generations of men across the centuries. Culture, which is am ethereal message of the spirit, floats above the most violent upheavals, or remains hidden in the shadow for generations , patiently awaiting the opportunity of claiming its right to live.
Continuity and Change: The Indian Culture which has developed during the course of several centuries is the only surviving culture of the world, which has not fundamentally changed for many thousand years. India and China have, in fact, the oldest continuous cultural traditions in the world. But with the success of the Chinese revolution, the cultural continuity in China has to great extent, been disturbed, while Indian culture still survives with vigour and vitality and is receptive to modem thoughts.
Human Culture with universal Appeal: From the immemorial Indians have called their culture by the same of human culture, it has tried to be so comprehensive as to suit the needs of every human being, irrespective of age, sex, colour or race. Without any state support or patronage, it has flourished and endured, The human element has been dominant in almost every facet of Indian culture and in almost every aspect of its thought.
Tolerance: The tolerances of the differences of opinion and creed within its own fold and even outside itself, is an essential characteristic of Indian culture. This tolerance was manifested int the Philosophical doctrines known an Anekatvad – the concept of one in many.
Positivist Thought: The element of positivist thought has greatly influenced Indian culture through the ages. It is sometimes assumed that Indian culture is more concerned with the other word than with the interests of this world and its material life. But this is a misconception. In fact, a student of Indian culture investigating its principles, contents, and characteristics will find that a good deal of what now passes as socialism or communism is contained in essence in some of the traditions and institutions in which the Indian culture has manifested itself.
Catholicity: One of the most attractive things about Indian culture is its catholicity. It not only believes in universal toleration but also accepts all religions as true. Indian culture has room for all. It is “tolalitarian’ in accepting everything through a deep understanding of the fundamentals and of the ultimate reality. In fact, the enrichment of Indian culture has been achieved through its catholicity.
Universality: The essential characteristics of Indian culture have a universal appeal. In its hey days, it was carried across the frontiers of India and was adopted in different parts of the world. Its memory has become a part of the Asiatic Consciousness, tingling its outlook on life.
FUNDAMENTAL UNITY IN DIVERSITY
(a) Geographical : India is well-known as a land of diversities and has been described as the “epitome of the world” . from the geographical point of view there are endless varieties.
(b) Racial: There is a great variety of racial diversity which India presents through her teeming millions, making India an ethnological museum. Almost all the major racial groups of the world are represented in India.
(c) Linguistic: The racial diversity and vastness of the country have been well reflected in the linguistic diversity. India has as many as 179 languages and 545 dialects, though the number of languages that count for their literature is reduced to fifteen.
(d) Religious: There is also to be found an equal variety of religions, and India may be described as a museum of world religions. India has been the adobe of all the principal religions of the world. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism and Buddhism all have their sects and sub-sects in India. The tribals have their own cults.
(e) Social: The organisation of society, numerous castes, based on the occupational, racial and regional groups have added to the magnitude of social diversity. The social beliefs, customs, and socio-cultural differences vary from state to state.
(f) Political: Owing to the vastness of the country and magnitude of its population, it has not been possible to establish a strong political unity through the long course of its history. North and South remained two distinct political units. The North-East remained almost aloof. During numerous phases in history, India was divided into a number of small States.
(g) Cultural: Conflicting and varying shades of blood, strains of culture and modes of life, all together have built up rich and complex cultural diversity in India. India’s culture has developed against a regional and linguistic background. Continuous influx of foreign races into India gave composite character to Indian culture and has added yet another diversity to the existing diversities.