Every culture has three aspects: first, upward will, core ideal and thought turned upon the ideal; second, creative self-expression and appreciative aestheticism and imagination; and thirdly, practical and outward formulation. These three are represented, respectively, by religion and philosophy; Art, poetry, literature; Society, politics, and outward frame of external life. In addition, it is the function of the culture to lead these four elements of life in man and to build some kind of harmony of these forms and motives.
India has a history going back thousands of years and a prehistory going back hundreds of thousands of years. There was a long phase of Paleolithic hunting and gathering cultures parallel in time and characteristics with the Paleolithic peoples of Europe and East Asia. This was followed, eight thousand to ten thousand years ago, by the development of settled agricultural communities in some areas.
In 2700 B.C.E. , the first genuinely urban civilization in the Indus Valley and western India emerged. After its disappearance around 1500 B.C.E. , there was a bewildering variety of princely states and kingdoms, small and large, throughout the subcontinent, creating a long history of war and conquest that was punctuated by foreign invasions and the birth of some of the world’s largest religions: Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.
Despite the extent of the Empire of Asoka (272–232 B.C.E. ) and the Mughal Empire (1526–1707), it was left to the last foreign invaders, the British, to establish a unified empire that covered most of the subcontinent during its final century.
India was ruled by the British government after 1858 through a viceroy and a council, although several hundred “princely states” continued to maintain a measure of independence.
Indian culture throughout has been a spiritual and inward looking, a philosophical culture, and that everything else has been derived from this central uniqueness; even external life has been influenced by it.
Indian culture has beautiful human qualities imbibed inside it while being secular land and home to different religions. It is easy to get mesmerized by learning about many qualities of this great civilization.
Indian Culture remains the most beautiful culture and tradition in the world. Visit some village and also you would discover that although technology has entered their lives they are maintain great Indian qualities of welcoming guests and hospitality. Exactly the same warm welcome, exactly the same innocence, exactly the same tradition and beliefs-Atithi Devo Bhavah, exactly the same respect. Nothing has changed, same purity.
Indian cultural history continues to be derived through the absorbing customs, traditions, and rituals from both invaders and immigrants. Many Indian customs, cultural practices, and languages are product of this co-mingling over centuries. It had been the birthplace of numerous religious systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, which influenced the country internally as well as the neighboring countries. Consequence of invasion from the Islamic rulers the culture of India was heavily influenced by Persian, Arabic, Turkish cultures.
Any culture is really a term that defines the development and growth of its people through the influence from the social and political situation. Indian culture is really a blend of various cultures across the world, at different points in time and blending with its very own rich traditions. Despite the development and influence of modernization, the people of India remain firmly rooted within their strong and rich heritage.
The distinctiveness of Indian culture is based on its strong social system and family values. The elders are seen as the driving force, “the matriarch” and are respected and loved. Your guests are considered as gods and therefore are treated with respect and love. Indians will always be ready to help each other in times of need. The philosophy of distributing joy and sharing sorrows is an important part of Indian culture.
Indian festivals, food, religions, rituals, artifacts, monuments, costumes, music and dance, language and literature form an inseparable a part of its culture. The diversity may also be seen in all of the languages spoken here – around 1000, regional dialects.
India is easily the most diverse and secular country with individuals from all religious backgrounds practicing their beliefs and teachings. Having this type of diverse and varied population, India is really a country of festivals and occasions. The festivals of all religions are celebrated across the entire nation bringing everyone closer. The 3 national holidays – Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanthi are celebrated nationally. Apart from that you will find different other religious festivals observed across India. There are some local or region specific festivals celebrated through the people of that particular region.
Another notable facet of Indian culture may be the importance of cuisines in the life of people. The cuisine finds diversity from East to West, and from North to South; a particular dish with the same name may be prepared in 100’s of different ways. The primary ingredient may be the various herbs and spices. Each region features its own mix of spices and elaborates cooking approach to make variety of dishes. Food plays an important role in bringing the household together. It’s a time when all family members sit and share experiences of their day.
Historically, the arts flourished under the support of two main categories of patron: the larger Hindu temples and the princely rulers of states both small and large. India has a multiplicity of visual arts extending back over four thousand years. Early painting has not survived, but urban architecture and some small sculptures have. Most of the thousands of stamp seals that have been found are masterpieces of glyphic art, showing the large animals of northwestern India in miniature relief.
The main visual arts arose in the context of religious worship. Sanskrit handbooks still survive stipulating the rules for the production of Hindu religious statues, temples, and paintings. Distinctive regional styles of temple architecture are a feature of the landscape and a clear marker of the presence of Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Hinduism in each part of the country. Within the Hindu temples there is a great variety of images of the deities, some skilfully carved in stone, some cast in bronze, or silver, and some modeled in terra cotta or wood.
Painting was an ancient accomplishment, although the climate has not been conducive to preservation. One can still see second and third-century wall paintings and monumental Buddhist sculptures in caves in Ajanta (Madhya Pradesh).
Despite Islamic prohibitions on the representation of the human face, painting and drawing flourished under the Moghul emperors. Realistic portraits, historical scenes, and botanical and zoological subjects were evoked with a sensitive line and a subtle pallet of colors during that period.
Painting in oils dates back two centuries, to the time when the first European portrait painters began to work in India. Today there are many professional graphic artists, some inspired by old Indian traditions and some by modern abstract expressionism. Art schools, public exhibitions, and coffee-table books are the means of reaching their public today, while religious patronage has practically evaporated.
India has some of the earliest literature in the world, beginning with Sanskrit, which may be the oldest literature in any Indo-European language. The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas , long religious texts composed in an early form of Sanskrit some time late in the second century B.C.E. It was followed by three other Vedas , all liturgical in character, and then by the principal Upanishads during the eighth through fifth centuries B.C.E. The first significant secular document in Sanskrit was a sophisticated grammar that fixed the structure of the language, probably in the fourth century B.C.E. Then, during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the text of the great epic Mahabharata , the world’s longest poem, was established around 300 B.C.E. , although it continued to be developed until about 100 C.E. About 200 B.C.E. there emerged the second great Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana , which probably took on its final form four centuries later. Both epics incorporated material from extant folklore.
By roughly the third century B.C.E. , the Tripitaka or Three Baskets , the Buddhist canon in the Pali language (closely related to Sanskrit), was fixed. It was soon to become the most influential body of literature in the eastern half of Asia and has remained so to the present day, especially in Chinese and Japanese translations.
In that era the image of the social structure of India was codified by two books. During the late fourth century Kautilya, who is said to have been the prime minister Chanakya, wrote the Arthasastra , a Treatise on the Good , which was rediscovered in 1909. Shortly thereafter came the compilation of Manu’s Laws (Manusmrti). This treatise on religious law and social obligation described in detail a society, possibly a utopian one, in which there were four caste blocks, the varna , each of which had its own occupation, status, and religious duties. This book continued to exercise an immeasurable influence on Indian society for the next two thousand years and the varna model is still a popular image of Hindu caste society.