Dr.B.Kalyani, M.A, M.Phil, B.Ed, P.Hd, Senior Lecturer, RMK Engineering College
Cultural diversity is an inalienable part of the human race. This is so because the culture of a country is molded by the geographical set up and the historical background among other various factors.
This fact is more than true for an extensive and varied country like India. ‘A crucible of cultures’ is as often used phrase in the context of India. Hence, a discussion on the Indian culture as a homogenous whole becomes a complex process. Culture can be defined as patterns of learned behaviors which are transferred from one generation to another.
Thus, the culture of a country encompasses a plethora of activities and is generally perceived as consisting of dance, music, food, drama, religion, cinema, etc. The definition is often stretched to include the long unbroken conventions of mannerisms and the value system. From the very definition of the word culture, it becomes clear that Indian culture does exist in a certain form because Indians do indulge in the various activities in a particular manner and style peculiar to them.
There is certainly an Indian way of life. India is home to various art forms, classical and folk dances, music, craft etc. These are the cultural gems of which every Indian poor or rich, rural or urban, literate or illiterate-is proud. These artists are respected throughout the world and are the cultural ambassadors of the nation.
No one can invalidate the existence of these high cultural achievements. Religion is a crucial component of culture. India is the birth place of three religious-Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism’s and various other sects. Equally important are the religions which were brought to its shores by the traders and the kings and have over the centuries both influenced and been influenced by the other religions. Thus the harmonious coexistence of different religions is an integral part of culture.
Of course there have been differences between the various communities over time. But these were placed in certain political and social set up. It is dynamic like all other religions and has had various influences over the centuries. Hence the task of defining Hinduism is indeed cumbersome. Hindu religion has been equated to the Vedic religion by these fundamentalists.
They consider the Vedas as being the purest since they are the oldest text. The essence of Indian culture lies in its diversity and not exclusiveness. Indian culture is branded as archaic many times. It is true that there is a strong sense of timelessness in Indian culture owing to the rich heritage and long unbroken traditions.
For example the caste system has proved to be a bane to healthy politics. Certain characteristic of the Indian value system are priceless and have stood the test of time, for instance the guru- shishaya parampara, etc.It is an often repeated lament that Indian culture is decaying in the face of western influence and the indifferent attitude of the younger generation, that it is fast becoming a myth. It is counter argued that the Indian culture is too much embedded in the past and blocks the avenues of development.
As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.In India, the western culture has many a times proved to be stimulant of progress and has broken pre-conceived notions. However improper and mindless applications of western ideas has led to disastrous results. The youth, on their part, should profoundly evaluate the Indian culture before generalizing it as outdated and ineffectual.
The Indian culture is both mythical and real in nature. While it is a mere myth in the minds of the bigoted, it lives in the carefully preserved and meticulously mastered art of the artist. It is indeed ironical and unfortunate that while the real culture in the form of disappearing arts and value systems lie in negligence, mythical and imprecise idea of Indian culture is placed on a pedestal and employed for the inglorious ends of the few.