Cultural Unity of India
India though a well-marked unit geographically is in size and dimensions, more like a continent than a country. It is as large as Europe without Russia and about twenty times the area of Great Britain. In its vastness are found such varied physical features and social conditions that India has aptly been described as the epitome of the world.
It is true that superficial observers are liable to be bewildered by the astounding variety of Indian life that they fail to discover the one in many, the individual in the aggregate, the simple in the composite. With them the whole is lost in the parts. What is needed is the superior interpretation synthesis of the power of mind that can give rise to a vision of the whole.
A keen penetrating insight will not fail to recognize a fundamental unity beneath the manifold variety in India. The diversity itself far from being a damaging cause of disunity and weakness, is a fertile source of strength and wealth. Sir Herbert Risely has rightly observed :
“Beneath the manifold diversity of physical and social types, languages, customs and religions which strike the observer in India, there can still be discerned a certain underlying uniformity of life from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin”.
From his long and firsthand experience in India, Vincent. A. Smith says that the civilization of India has many features which differentiate it from that of other regions of the world, while they are common to the whole country in a degree sufficient to justify its treatment as a unity in the history of human, social and intellectual development.”
Even the early Indian history unmistakably shows that the political consciousness of the people has from the very early times, grasped the whole of India as a unit and assimilated the entire area as theatre of its activities. India is not a mere geographical expression, not is it a mere collection of separate peoples, traditions and conventions, India is more, much more, than this. The best proof lies in the fact that Indian history has quickened into life.
India has many races, castes, sub-castes, nationalities and communities, but the heart of India is one. We are all heirs to a common and rich culture. Our cultural heritage consists of our art and literature as they flourished centuries ago. Our cultural heritage serves as a bond of unity between people of different faiths and creeds.
The streams of different cults and cultures have flown into our sub-continent to make us what we are and what we will be. There were Dravidians in India before the coming of the Aryans and the Hinduism is a blend of cultures of the North and the South.
India has one hundred and fifty dialects and fifteen recognized regional languages, but Hindi like English, has come to stay as the “lingua franca” of our nation. From Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and from Mumbai to Nagaland, Hindi is now understood and is recognized as the National language of India.
India has a rich cultural heritage. We are inheritors to several great treasures in the fields of music, fine arts, dance, drama, theatre and sculpture. Our sages and seers have left behind a tradition of piety, penance, spiritual greatness, conquest of passion, etc. Our scriptures are the storehouses of spiritual wisdom. Our Saints and Rishis aspired to the realization of the infinite. We have inherited great spiritual values contrasted with which the materialistic progress of the west appear, insignificant. The west has lot to learn from India, and it has now been realized when people in the United States and Europe are turning to the Indian way of life. Indian Yogis and Maharishis, musicians and spiritual leaders, have all attracted them in a big way. A significant move to project India’s cultural unity has been the holding of Festivals of India in various parts of the world. The west is fast inclining towards our spiritual values which include meditation and contemplation, charity and love, universal brotherhood and fear of God, piety and unselfishness, control of passions and peace of mind.
Our cultural unity is further exemplified by the temples of the South, the caves of the Khajuraho, Ajanta and Elora, which are shining examples of India’s proficiency in sculpture and architecture. Our music has come to enjoy worldwide popularity.
Indian classical music, like the Indian dances, is built on the concepts of ‘Ragas” and “Talcs”. Each Raga is regarded appropriate to certain emotion, a certain mood suitable for a certain time of the day or the night. There are believed to be 250 Ragas in common use in the North as well as in the South. In the modern times people like Ravi Shankar have taken music to the west and thus bridged the gap between the music of East and West.
It is to this strand of cultural unity running through the country that we are heir to, and to which people in the west are increasingly turning now. It is up to the younger generation to uphold this torch of cultural unity for the rest of the world to see, follow and emulate and not get dazed by the superficial prosperity and material achievements of the west where man has set foot on Moon in his quest for space travel, but fords insulated in his own society and community.