History Essays Example - Indian Culture-History, Religion, Social Structure, & language
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Indian Culture-History, Religion, Social Structure, & language
India being a vast and big country both in terms of geographical space and population, and its culture is the amalgamation of several cultures existing within the country. Indian culture is often referred as a way of life. Languages, dance, music, religion, food, architecture, social stratification, and fine arts are some of the elements that come under the ambit of culture. (Culture of India).
India has a rich and age-old cultural history developing right from the Stone Age. Numerous rulers and emperors since the ancient times brought with them different social ethos and social practices, and the way of life developed by saints and seers through millions of years constitute the culture of India. Each part of the country has its different, unique and distinct culture of its own, and they blend beautifully to give shape to a unified Indian culture (Zimmermann 2015)
India has been the birthplace of several religions such as the Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The Hinduism has great traditions and cultural heritage while Islamic rule brought with it the religion of Islam in India. Other religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism spread to several other countries of the world. The art and craft evolved from the drawings of animals and birds during the Stone Age to such monuments age Taj Mahal, Khajuraho, Ellora and Elephanta, Konark Temple, and many more. Besides fine arts, Yoga, meditation, dances, music, and architecture have been the hallmark of the Indian culture. Rich in music and dance, there developed several forms such as Kathak, Hindustani, Bharatnatyam, Carnatic, Kathakali, and several other dance and music forms. Since the ancient times, India has produced several authors who have written such epics as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Abhigyan Shakuntalam, and numerous others. Sanskrit is declared as the oldest form of language from which all other languages of the world have developed (History of India; Zimmermann 2015).
Diverse religious beliefs and practices have been the characteristics of religion in India. Birth places of the four major religions of the world namely the Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism; India has the amalgamation of several religious beliefs and practices. Religion has been an important ingredient of any culture and India is no exception. As per census organized in 2011, the Hindus constituted 78.35% of the Indian population while Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism. This accounted for 14.8%, 2.5%, 1.9%, 0.8%, and 0.4% respectively. Home of one of the oldest civilizations of the world, the Indus Valley Civilization, representative of the Vedic culture. This led the foundation stone of the Hinduism, widely believed to be the oldest religion of the world. Religions in India boast of numerous saints and monks who had been the harbingers of the different religious ethos of the society. Allahabad, a place in central India and the scene of the confluence of the three rivers the Ganges, Yamuna and the mystic Saraswati; hosts the biggest religious festival of the world Kumbhmela. During this festival, the Hindus from across the world throng the place and take a dip in the holy rivers at this place. India has the largest population of those believing in the Zoroastrianism, the religion not native of India; while there have been a large segment of the population having allegiance to another religion Judaism. Also, there have been different sects within the Hindu religion such as Hare Krishna, Brahm Kumaris, Anand Marg and others that have spread to several parts of the world. The Indian majority religion, the Hinduism, believes in incarnation and emancipation, and advocates Yoga, Karma, renunciation of worldly pleasures, and becoming an ascetic.
The Sanskrit language that is native of India is widely believed to be the mother of all languages of the world. It has a wonderful structure, more copious than Latin, more perfect than Greek, and unmatched by any other form of language in the matters of vocabulary, verbs and grammars (Culture of India).
The evolution of language in India has gone through three phases; starting from the chaste Sanskrit to the Prakrit, the ‘Apabhransh'. After then, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, and several other languages in use in the contemporary society. All languages in use, today have a distinct and discernible impact of Sanskrit on them. Urdu is another language that requires mention in this context as it spread through the Muslim rulers who invaded India and ruled for a considerable period. Other languages in use in India are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Oriya, and several others along with numerous dialects spoken in different areas of the country (Culture of India).
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been the oldest known epics of India and have been reproduced in almost all languages of the world. The Ramayana, written by the great sage Rishi Vyas, contains seven chapters called Kands, 24000 verses called Sholakas, and 500 cantos called Sargas. Mahabharata depicts the contemporary society of the 400 B.C.. This describes circumstances leading to the epic battle called Mahabharata between the two groups-the Pandavas and the Kauravas- of the same clan (Culture of India; Indian Social Structure, 2015).
The languages spoken in the south of India are mainly Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada while Hindi is the language of the north. Bengali, Oriya, and Assamese are languages spoken in the eastern part of the country while Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, and Rajasthani are the languages of the west. In addition to all these, there are several dialects spoken in various parts of India. Hindi is the dominant language as it is spoken by the largest number of people and is followed by Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu in that order.
The social stratification of the Indian society is characterized by caste system that has originated in the ancient period. There have been ethnic tribes such as Munda, Oraon, Kol, Santhal, Khasi, Garo, Naga, Mizo, and the likes inhabiting different parts of the country since the Vedic period. Some other tribes include Bharatas, Durvasas, Druhyus, Anus, and Purus with their heads as king or Raja. These tribes were differentiated on the basis of Varna or color. Later, this Varna developed into a complex Varna system that stratified the society into four distinct groups of people and were called Braham, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra. Initially, people belonged to one of these groups based on their Karma or occupation. Those performing religious rituals and having knowledge of Vedas were the Brahmins; those engaged in warfare were the Kshatriyas.those doing businesses and trades were the Vaisyas and the rest and performing menial work were the Sudras. In the course of time, these groups got ritualized on the basis of birth, meaning thereby those taking birth in a certain group became a member of that group automatically. Brahmins have been at the top of the social strata followed by Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras the members of which were subjected to discrimination and were branded as untouchables.(Indian Social Structure, 2015; Zimmermann 2015).
Through political initiatives and legal decree, the practice of untouchability and other discrimination against lower caste groups now stand abolished. Numerous other changes have taken place with the passage of time. Within the broad group, several sub-groups have developed, and those are referred as castes. That is why; Indian society is referred as a caste-based society. The caste system has gone tremendous change with the lapse of time due to the reform movements undertaken by such reformists as Ramanand, Kabir, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and others. Even the Muslim community is divided into caste-based groups like Sheikhs, Pathans, and the likes. (Indian Social Structure, 2015).
Conclusively, the Indian culture is best described as unity in diversity, and the richness of it is manifest in the harmonious relations among numerous diverse groups. In addition they have artistic, architectural, and monumental creations like Taj Mahal famous all over the world.
Culture of India (2015).Wikipedia, Retrieved 5 April 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_India
.History of India. (2015). Wikipedia, Retrieved 5 April 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_India
Indian Social Structure. (2015) (1st ed., pp. 273-289). Retrieved from http://www.nios.ac.in/media/documents/secichcour/english/ch.19.pdf
Zimmermann, K. (2015). Indian Culture: Traditions and Customs of India. LiveScience.com. Retrieved 5 April 2015, from http://www.livescience.com/28634-indian-culture.html
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