March , 2018
Indian Culture and the Sanatana Dharma
15:55 pm

Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Indian culture is the oldest culture of the world. It is, undoubtedly, the most influential culture of the world. The ideological glory of Indian culture could be well assessed from its long and successful journey through the last five thousand years. Indian culture has stood the test of time and has emerged brighter than ever. It has always conveyed exemplary message to the people of the world. Indian culture emanating from the ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam –the world is one family”, has continued to exist and influence other cultures.

History of Indian culture goes back to the ancient times. Evidence of evolutionary sacraments (established values) – Sanskaras of Indians is readily available. These sacraments are like the fundamentals of the conduction of the eternal –the Sanatana system appropriately. These Sanskaras prevailed regardless of inevitability of the reality of the process of up-down, development-destruction or uplift-fall of all aspects of life. It is, undoubtedly, the command of these sacraments that Indian culture has successfully completed its journey of thousands of years. Bharatiya Sanskriti is alive today and it will remain so in future. 

Continuous process of development paves the way for the rise of civilisations. Development on the other hand – in a state taking opposite direction (especially, in a state when the purpose of development in place of large-scale welfare of people remains in the fulfilment of self interest or interest of a particular group of people) and in some cases, natural calamities cause fall of a civilisation only to harbour the rise of a new civilisation in new situations – environments. It is an eternal law. The role of human Sanskaras in the process of development remains decisive in forming a culture. If sacraments are guided by the Sanatana Dharma, development made on the basis of them would indeed be prolonged. It is the reality in the context of Indian culture. Indian culture is developed by the fundamentals of the eternal Sanatana Dharma. Therefore, it is not only long-lasting, but evolutionary in nature.

Now, it is pertinent to know about those fundaments of the Sanatana Dharma, which are responsible for making Indian culture exclusive and long-standing. In other words, it is necessary to have familiarity with those fundaments of the Hindu Dharma, which have played a vital role in the development of Indian culture and its continuity.

We need to get introduction to the constitutive characteristics of Indian culture. In this regard, we need to have acquaintance with forbearance, tolerance, harmony and acceptance, the four basic ideals of Indian culture. It is these four features that make Indian culture distinctive, extraordinary and matchless. These characteristics played the vital role in saving Indian culture from atrocities and attacks of tyrants, oppressors and fanatics who continuously came to India as plunderers. These ideals were also instrumental in making Indian culture universal and timeless.

In fact, all these four elements – forbearance, tolerance, harmony and acceptance are connected to each other. These elements are needed to develop active goodwill towards living beings. They also inspire to develop the spirit of acceptance, bring co-ordination among people to lay ground for peaceful co-existence and welfare. These principles also promote universal unity, which is the core spirit of the Sanatana Dharma.

Let us go in some detail in this regard, i.e., to discuss these four in particular starting from forbearance –Sahishnuta! Forbearance is a quality highly developed in a human being incorporating patience, love, benevolence and pity. It is the restraint in the face of provocation reflecting contentment and prudence. Being an excellent expression of Ahimsa, or a corollary of non-violence, forbearance is not a sign of cowardice or an indication of bowing before injustice. Rather, it is a sign of inner strength.

Tolerance – Sahansheelta, is synonymous with forbearance to a large extent as expressing patience, liberality and quietness, is, indeed, willingness to embrace others by thought, utterance and action. It approves and honours others’ opinions and practices without prejudices unless they become obstacles in one’s own way to freedom. Respecting every other individual is Sahansheelta.

Harmony – Sauhard is the reflection of concordance and reconciliation. It brings consistency in mutual relations leading to a pleasing arrangement in behaviours in a state of Susangati.

Acceptance – Sweekaryata, according to its basic spirit, amasses a broad concept within. It calls man to embrace the reality of life by self-realisation and welfaristic mutual practices. It also conveys the message to accept the truth of diversities and to establish unity in diversities without losing their characteristics. It is instrumental in attaining a state of equilibrium and to bring co-ordination by mind, utterance and deed maintaining discipline in life and by self-control. Attitude-adjustment is a leading aspect of acceptance.

These qualities are connected. They are complementary to each other. They eventually divulge the truth of universal unity and reflect the core principle of the Sanatana-Hindu Dharma. These features have paved the way for people who came to India. The Indian land –Bharat-Bhoomi accepted all those who came to its refuge.

Indian culture is itself evolutionary by nature. And, the basic source of this is also the Sanatana-Hindu Dharma, the holy scriptures of Hinduism, especially the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Shrimadbhagavad-Gita. Continuous development is declared by the holy Hindu scriptures as the ultimate duty of man. Development includes the advancement at all levels in all walks of life. The duo of knowledge and action –Jnana and Karma relates to incessant progress. Chapter five of the Shrimadbhagavad-Gita lays down the importance of the uniformity of knowledge and action. It elucidates the status of one accomplished with Jnana and Karma. To quote one Shloka 48 of Chapter Second of the Shrimadbhagavad-Gita is quite contextual here. Through this Shloka the Lord says:

“Yogasthah Kuru Karmaani Sangam Tyaktvaa Dhananjaya/

Siddhyasiddhayoh Samo Bhuutvaa Samatvam Yoga Uchyate//”   

(“O Dhananjaya! Be steadfast in the Yoga. Perform your duty (as action is in the nature) and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called the Yoga.”)

For a prosperous one – the one who is undoubtedly fraught by knowledge and action, human equality is the supreme in mutual practices. Such one takes the universal unity – Sarvabhaumik Ekta as an eternal principle and dedicates himself in the service of humanity making it the ultimate purpose of his life.

The imperative features of Indian culture are developed by the evolutionary fundamentals of the Sanatana-Hindu Dharma. These characteristics are altogether affected by the vital concept of the Sanatana Dharma – continuous development and welfare of all, which clearly appears in the opening Mantras of the Rigveda. Therefore, the basic Indian culture – Hindustani Sanskriti could abound with such unique features –acceptance, forbearance, harmony and tolerance.

Indian culture is the sole culture that, besides defending its own basic ideals and principles successfully, could patronise others’ values, traditions, customs and beliefs on the Indian land. In the guidance of the basics of the Sanatana Dharma, Indian culture became an exclusive and worth following Sanskriti of the world.

Human equality is an eternal truth –Shashvat Satyata and universal unity – Sarvabhaumik Ekta is a reality. The Sanatana-Hindu Dharma is dedicated to this eternal truth – reality, and propounds it through its holy scriptures. The Sanatana Dharma calls man to realise the divinity in all living beings, to accept all human beings as the fragments of one Divine soul and carry out activities accordingly.

All problems of the world can be solved to a large extent by comprehending and wearing the classic spirit of Indian culture and its espousal in mutual behaviours and practices.

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