India culture traces its origin back to almost the beginning of human civilisation. When you talk about Indian culture, you have to go back to the Hindu roots of the Rig Veda. Hinduism, the Sanatan Dharma, has no known date of origin. The Vedic rishis through generations of spiritual research and meticulous study of matter, energy and spirit evolved the wisdom of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita. No aspect of human existence, from the basic values of life to education, medical science (ayurveda), astronomy (jyotisha) is left untouched. Thus were the beginnings of what we refer to as the Indian culture today.
It is worth remembering here that Christianity arrived in South India in the first century AD much before it spread throughout Europe. The spread of Islam, courtesy the Delhi Sultanate and followed by the Mughal Empire, had a profound impact on Indian culture. Thus Indian culture as we understand it today blends the ideas of different religions and hence cultures.
From the Buddhism of Ashoka to the Hinduism of the Guptas, from the music of the Sufis to the humanitarianism of the Bhakti movement, from the simple wisdom of Guru Nanak to the Khalsa of Gobind Singh, from the glorious ‘jowhar’ of the Rajput women to the fight against evils like ‘Sati’ by Rammohan and Vidyasagar, Indian culture has truly come a long way.
The strength of Indian culture has always been in its broad heartedness, its ability to accept and assimilate whole-heartedly. It is this that made our founding fathers declare India a ‘Sovereign, Secular, Socialist, Democratic Republic’. As Indians, we need to ensure that the richness of our heritage is not left in a shambles.
Our identity should not be thwarted by narrow disintegrative tendencies and a cheap surrender before buffoonery masquerading as modernity. Touching the feet of his/her elder to mark every joyous occasion, humility and grace being our precious ornaments, to move from tamas (darkness) to jyoti (light) being our aim, Indian culture has evolved with the eternal values of life as its basis. This is no myth, but a reality.