TITLE: ON INDIAN CULTURE
AUTHORS: Mrs.Shanta & Dr.Rajendra Dubey
ABSTRACT: Mrs.Shanta & Dr.Rajendra Dubey
of Waterloo have lived in England,
Germany and India. Motivated by
Guru Swami Bawraji, Dr. Dubey
extensively studied yoga and
meditation in the 1970's, then
went on to teach both.
They constantly discuss Indian philosophy, and read widely in
ancient texts and translated Sanskrit works into English.
According to Webster's Third New International
Dictionary, culture is “The pattern of human
behaviour and its product embodied in thought,
speech, action and artifacts” and “dependent
upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting
knowledge to succeeding generations through the
use of tools, language, and systems of abstract
thought”. The Oxford English Dictionary
considers it the intellectual side of civilization.
These definitions suggest that the culture and
civilization of a nation is a reflection of thought
of its people. If the culture of a nation develops
on the basis of conviction born of an
understanding of truth and reality of existence,
its foundation runs deep. A deeper foundation
allows for building a bigger, grander and taller
edifice that can survive longer and can be
witnessed from far and wide. That is the history
of Indian culture and civilization. People external
to Indian sub-continent admired, envied and
invaded this area many times during the last
several millennia. The invaders even tried to
change its culture. It did create brief periods of
turmoil and disturbance. Ultimately, the truth on
which its culture and civilization was founded
prevailed. The incoming groups accepted the
basic principles of Indian culture and the
harmony and tolerance that India cherished,
practised and propagated was restored.
People from Ionia came even before Alexander.
Invasion by Alexander and his leaving behind a
group of people to rule India is well documented.
A group of followers of Moses came early and
settled in India perhaps even before the time of
Christ. Christianity came to India in 52 AD.
The descendants of people who converted to
Christianity at that time still live in India.
Zoroastrians came after they were driven from
their homeland in what is now known as Iran.
Most of them still practice their faith but they
were assimilated into Indian culture.
The followers of Islam established contact with
India before 8th century AD and invaded the
country for occupation early in the second
Indian culture evolved in the process of search
for unity behind apparent diversity. The thought
process used in the search led to the concept of
Brahman and Atman. If Brahman is a vast ocean
of water, Atman is a drop of that ocean.
Brahman is soul of universe. Atman is soul of
individual. Both share a common spiritual
principle but exhibit different external features.
The message that Indian sages and seers gave for
people of India to follow was simple:
the common spiritual connection must transcend
the difference visible in external appearance.
That connection is available to all in the form of
consciousness. In absence of consciousness,
there is no meaning to existence, life and thought.
In absence of thought, there can be no culture
and no civilization. Individual life, thought and
belief may differ but they all owe their existence
to same consciousness. Perception, thought and
belief reflect multiplicity of universe and
therefore create difference and division.
An understanding that perception, thought
and belief are mere reflections in consciousness
helps transcend the difference and clears the
way to unity in diversity.
The acceptance of difference in appearance
as fundamental and real is a recipe for
promotion of turmoil, fundamentalism and
The acceptance that the difference is only
in appearance, not in the essence of existence,
promotes harmony and tolerance.
This deep-rooted conviction of unity in
consciousness of diversity in visible universe
has been the prime mover of thought in Indian
The search for unity in diversity led to many
fields of learning like Philosophy, Astronomy,
Literature and grammar, Psychology, Science,
Medicine and Geometry etc. It also led to
development of well-planned and well-
rganized urban centers. They are part of what
is now known as Indus Valley Civilization.
This name is misleading because many urban
centers of that time were spread over a much
wider area, far removed from the river Indus.
The concept of zero and of numbers also came
from Indian mind. Buddha gave his message
to masses to overcome a short period of social
turmoil in Eastern India. His message was
collected and propagated under the name of
Buddhism. It was accepted in China, Japan
and South East Asia. It is necessary to
remember that not a single soldier went from
India to enforce its message. No swords were
drawn, no intimidation practised to spread
Buddhism. It spread because of universal
nature of its message. Yoga is another outcome
of Indian culture with universal appeal. How
many Indians have come out of India with
blazing guns in their hand to enforce
practice of Yoga? Yoga, Buddhism and Indian
way of life evolves around the concept of
consciousness. Does one know what
consciousness is? People have experience of objects while awake.
An analysis of such experience leads to
knowledge about the object. It is easy to conclude
that there are three factors involved in knowledge:
a subject that wants to know, a process of
knowledge and an object. The result of the
process is expressed in terms like I see, I hear,
I smell, I taste, I feel and I know. Dream offers
another kind of experience. When people wake
up, they recall experience in dream and make
statements regarding their dream.
On waking up after deep sleep, people
remember the experience of being in deep sleep
and would say that I slept well. In all these kinds
of experiences, there seems to be a common
factor that one would identify as self or I. Even
then, it would be necessary to be conscious of
the experience that the self has and is able to
recall. It would seem that the reason for
experience and consequent knowledge is the
reflection in individual consciousness of objects,
dream sequence and of deep sleep. If a specific
object evokes similar experience and the identical
knowledge in different individual, it only points
to similarity in nature of their consciousness.
In short, consciousness within every one is the
same in nature and evokes identical experience
and knowledge in regard to the same object or
event. Because the number of beings and non-
beings exist is infinite, the total aggregate of their
consciousness would also be infinite. A system of
such aggregate may be called universal
consciousness. Indian philosophers relate Atman
to individual consciousness and Brahman to
universal consciousness and they declared that
both are alike in essence. This indeed is a bold
statement and would be considered a heresy in at
least some religion especially if they identify
universal consciousness with God. But such
boldness is typical of Indian sages and seers who
gave India its culture and civilization, the one that
survived for more than five thousand years in
spite of numerous invasions and attempts to
change it. They also declared that the whole of
humanity is part of one family. The common tie
is because of consciousness we have.
The legacy of Indian culture can be seen in
numerous temples with intricate carvings,
colourful parade of Indian textile, the Indian
culinary art, the Indian thought of global kinship,
the graceful Indian dances and above all the fact
that many different faiths have lived and survived
in India in peace and harmony for over thousand
of years. There of course has been a brief period
of friction and turmoil during and just after British
rule in India. It is certain that situation will
become normal and peaceful again. India would
then be like India of the old, India of sages and
seers, India of bold thought and deep conviction.
This article was originally published in Cross Cultures Magazine in Volume 10 - Issue 1 - 2004. Unauthorized copying, distribution or other usage without express written permission of the publisher is prohibited.