India is blessed with a vast and rich heritage. One has only to see the various architectural marvels and cultural institutions that dot the geographical expanse of India to glimpse the richness of our heritage.
The science and technology of ancient India was quite advanced. Many historians believe that most of the scientific advances believed to have been made in Europe had been achieved centuries ago in India. Such advances covered major fields of human knowledge and activities like mathematics, astronomy, physics, medicine, metallurgy, surgery, fine arts, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding, navigation, etc.
Indian mathematicians have made important contributions to the study of the decimal number system, zero, negative numbers, arithmetic and algebra. The study of linguistics was initiated by Indian grammarians who began the trend by first attempting to catalogue and codify the rules of Sanskrit. Even today, the main terms for compound analysis are taken from Sanskrit.
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India is the birthplace of Ayurveda and Yoga; these systems are now finding many followers in the West. India’s rich spiritual tradition has attracted many troubled Westerners, fleeing the materialistic and spiritually empty worlds they inhabit, to her shores, seeking solace and salvation. India’s urban civilization traces its roots to Mahenjodaro and Harappa, now in Pakistan.
Their planned urban townships were very advanced for their time. Metallurgy is central to most civilizations. The science of smelting was highly refined and precise in ancient India. As early as the 5th century BC, Herodotus, the eminent Greek historian, noted that iron was used in the arrows used by Indian and Persian soldiers.
The idea of the atom is derived from the classification of the material world into five basic elements by Indian philosophers. This classification has been in existence since the Vedic age (c.1500 BC). Indian monuments testify to the different influences in her history – Buddhist, Indo-Saracenic, Victorian, Mughal, etc.
Classical Indian music and dance have a wide fan following all over the world. Each state has its own art forms which are well documented. Imposing and architecturally splendid temples, mosques and churches embody the diverse religious and cultural influences that have made India unique. Cuisine too is an important part of our heritage.
As Indians, we ought to be proud of our rich heritage and strive to preserve it for our descendants by respecting it and ensuring its survival.
Our Cultural Heritage
For thinking minds to blossom for arts and science to develop a primary condition is a safe and secure society. A rich culture is impossible in a community of nomads where people struggle for life. India has got all the gifts of nature. Nature yielded enough food and man did not have to toil very hard for meeting the basic needs.
Accumulated store of symbols, ideas and material products associated with a social system. In India great civilization and cultures have flourished from time immemorial. The diversity of India is tremendous. It is a land of many languages. It is home to many ethnic groups. But there are certain common links which act as threads and prove unity among diversity. India has much great tradition.
Cultural heritage stands for things that have been passed on from earlier generations to the present generation. Of special significance are the works of literature, music and arts in all its forms and shades. India has a rich cultural heritage. It is a healthy blend of various cultures.
India can rightly boast of being one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The Indus Valley civilization is among the oldest and the best civilizations of the world. The people were fairly advance and had access to public baths, neat and clean houses good towns with wide roads and other best facilities.
The Vedas are the earliest documents of the human mind that we possess. The Vedas give us abundant information. There are four Vedas Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharv. In them we find freshness simplicity and charm and an effort to understand the mystery of the world.
The wisdom of our ancient epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata holds the eternal lesson of the victory of the good over evil. The Bhagvad Gita is a book full of philosophical principles. Lord Buddha preached that perfect happiness could be gained if one exercises control over one’s pinions. Hinduism has a large number of gods and goddesses besides the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. It allows its followers to worship God in any form they like.
Guru Nanak Dev the founder of Sikhism laid supreme stress on true faith simplicity purity of life an religious tolerance. Hinduism, 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 state treats all religions equality.
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. India scientists of Indian origin like C.V Raman Subramanian Chandrashekhar, Hargobind Khorana and Venkataraman Ramakrishan have won Nobel prizes for their contributions in the field of science.
Music is one of the oldest forms of expression of human thoughts and emotions. Indian music is based on the concept of ragas and tales. There are two major schools of classical music the Carnatic and the Hindustani Indian musicians like Bhimsen Joshi, M.S. subhalakshmi, Kishori Amonkar, Pt. Jasraj, Ustad Amjad Ali khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussains and others have popularized our music in India and abroad.
Dance in India has an unbroken tradition of over 2000 years. Its themes are derived from mythology, legends and classical literature. There are two main forms of dances in India. these are folk dance and classical dance. India dance is based on rasa, bhava and abhinaya. There are five main classical dance forms namely Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Manipuri kathak and Odissi. Others prominent dances are Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam.
India has a rich literary heritage. India also has a rich regional literature. Regional literature in fact has often contributed to the fostering of a national identity and a national culture. India has always been a linguistically diverse community. Sanskrit was only the language of the elite whereas prakrit and ardha agahi were more commonly spoken by the masses. During the Mughal rule Persian took the place of Sanskrit as the court language while Urdu and Hindustani were the language of the common masses in north India.
It is without doubt that India has a rich cultural heritage and that we have excelled in different spheres. However it should also be acknowledged that we have inherited some negative aspects of our culture as well. Division of society on the basis of division of lab our gave birth to the caste system. The caste system created a gulf among people leading to disunity and conflicts in the society.
The philosophical thoughts of Raja Rammohan Roy , Dayanand Saraswati , Ramakrishana Paramhansa Dev , Swami Vivekananda , Rabindranath Tagore , Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have contributed a lot to the enrichment of the Indian culture.
Culture is dynamic cross currents of other cultures always influence the culture of a country. It is more so in the present day world where distances virtually have ceased to exist. Let us keep our windows and doors open to other cultures and to their healthy influence but we should stand firm and tall and should not be swept off our feet.