The progress of human evolution and development is a two fold process resulting in Civilisation and Culture. The former is an external activity and the latter is an internal preoccupation. They are not contradictory, but complimentary. One can influence the other and vice versa. This adventure of human race has produced Rishi, Poet, Sculptor, Yogi, Prophet, Mahatma, Acharya, Saint and Paramahamsa. The national consciousness is a by-product of collective consciousness of millions of people. This spontaneous overflow of a torrent is similar to the advent of Great Ganges from Himalayas finally reaching Ganga Sagar. The word “Samskriti” (culture) has a meaning, which is multi-dimensional and complex. We cannot define it in one word or in one sentence! It can at best be described as flowering of “Chith” and the man’s soul seeking an all-round growth to achieve its final objective of self-realisation through cultural pursuits.
The human mind is trying to unravel the mysteries of nature through a study of Science and History. One such attempt has been made through the study of evolutionary biology. We study the evolution of Man from a single celled Amoeba. It has taken millions of years for Man (Homosapien) to arrive on the scene from the stage of humble Apes. The Aryans settled in the Indian Sub-Continent and composed Vedas and Upanishads to create a composite Indian Culture. Are the Harappans Dravidians or Aryans.? Which culture appeared first – Harappan or Aryan on the Indian Sub-Continent.? Only research scholars can answer this question. Because of the available evidence being scanty, it is difficult to come to any definite conclusion.
The pulse of Indian Culture can be felt for the first time in the Vedas and Upanishads. We sense the power of knowledge and receive a key to the mysteries of nature in these revealed holy texts for the first time. The mystical visions of great sages (rishis) are internalised in the hymns of Rigveda and Upanishads. These seekers went in search of ultimate universal truths. That is what makes Indian Culture unique. The other civilisations tried to realise great truths with the help of Science and Philosophy. But Indian Philosophy and Science became only vehicles to express the already realised ultimate truths.
There is ample evidence to prove that Indian Civilisation showed remarkable degree of urban culture thousands of years ago. By 3000 B. C., Harappa people were using Copper, Bronze, Gold, Silver and Lead. In the Indus Valley town houses, separate kitchens and Puja (prayer) rooms were in existence. Modern research has proved that Music and Dance flourished in these cities.
In the Rigvedic age the “Chaturvarna” (four castes) system did not prevail. Gradually different professions practised by citizens crystallised into castes. This gave birth to the concept of higher castes and lower castes. If we understand the famous “Chaturvarnyam Maya Srushtam Guna Karma Vibhagasha” – there will be no friction in society. It is Bhagavan Krishna, who says “Maya Srushtam”. It is God’s own creation. Hence, there does not exist narrow man-made divisions. This is a natural division of human labour depending on one’s own profession. This kind of division of labour is universal and found in all ages. In every family and in each house the daily labour is divided among the members. No work is high or low.
The continuity and survival of Indian Culture depends on an understanding of the tenets of the caste system. It is a wrong assumption and claim made by some people that caste system solved such burning problems as famine, pestilence and unemployment. The acme of Indian Culture is a true understanding of the basic philosophy hidden in Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita. This is considered as a true achievement of an individual’s personal endeavour.
The cardinal principle of Indian Culture is a continuous revival of Spiritualism throughout the ages. The great saints and savants have taken birth in this holy land from time to time, only to interpret and convey the ultimate truths couched in different idioms and phrases, so that the laity gets ennobled in due course. No one school of Philosophy is superior or inferior to another School of Philosophy. The message of Sri Ramakrishna is like a beacon light guiding ships in a stormy sea. Swami Vivekananda did not preach only Advaita in Europe, America and India. He preached a universal religion of love and harmony. It is beyond the various schools of Philosophy like Advaita, Vishista Advaita and Dvaita.
Modern man is caught in a web of fast paced industrialisation. He is going after mundane goals. He is after material comforts such as bread, a home and modern gadgets. If the modern man turns his vision towards India, he will discover untold spiritual treasures waiting to be picked up. The moral corruption and decadence seen all over the world will vanish into thin air, when the magic wand of Indian Spiritualism touches the heart of the problem. India has produced such spiritual giants to cleanse the soul of humanity in 19th century and 20th century. The galaxy of great spiritual saints such as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Ramana Maharishi and Sri Aurobindo not only became trail-blazers in India but also in other continents. Muslims and Christians invaded India and began to spread their religion. Their efforts of proselytisation did not yield good results. The foreign religions and cultures could not wipe out Indian Culture. In fact in the 19th and 20th century, Indian Culture and Philosophy has reached the four corners of the globe and offered succour to humanity. Indian Culture is a personification of all that is divine, beautiful and truthful and this living entity has gained in strength and volume to spread the message of “Shanti” (peace) in this age.
It is a gargantuan task to enumerate and record in a book the achievement of a civilisation which is thousands of years old. The author of this book, Dr S. Srikanta Sastri is a scholar and polyglot, who has produced this profound research work. This treasure trove called “Bharatiya Samskruthi” is a valuable gift to Kannada literature. This rare book will eventually become a useful tool to University of Mysore – which has embarked upon spreading universal knowledge.
1 – 1 – 1954 K. V. Puttappa
Mysore (Chief Editor)