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Indian Culture

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The word Hindustan comes from the word Sind (Indus) a riverthat flowsthrough the Indus valley. It got distorted from Sind to Hind. The country was named Hindustan, and the people living in the Indus valley were called Hindustani. The religion they practice is called Hinduism and individual who believes in that philosophy of life is called a Hindu.

Pre-Aryan Civilizations

Indus Valley civilization excavated in the 3rd decade of the 20th century Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in the Sind Punjab region metropolitan centers in the two cities that flourished during the second millennium B.C. from Balochistan to Doab, and from Punjab to Arabian Sea, Lotahal in Ahmadabad District. The construction of the streets and houses with public baths, elaborate systems of drainage, sanitation, their interest in histrionics, the careful attention paid to personal appearance as seen in art treasures unearthed, their love of jewelry, extensive use of seals to mark personal property speak to the fact that Indus Valley people knew the arts of writing-seals bear writing in a script not yet deciphered. They were a fairly advanced civilization mainly supported by commerce both inland and foreign, by overland and overseas trade routes.

Thomas, P. Indian Women Through the Ages. Bombay, Asia Publishing House, 1964, p.4

Aryans

Around 3500 B.C.E. Aryans invaded India in various groups and over a period of time. These invasions forced the local population to move inland and to the South. They were Hunting nomads. Later when they settle down, they divided the society into four groups according to their duties in life, and profession. The four groups are 1) Brahmans the learned scholars as the highest class; 2) khatryas the warrior and the ruling class as the second highest; 3) Vaishyas the traders or the business class; 4) Shudras the servant class. The last group mostly included the locals who had been conquered by the invaders. This group also included the untouchables or Harijans (The Gods people, Mahatma Gandhi) who performed the menial tasks of cleaning after birth and death. There are four ways to end the cycle of birth and death Raja Yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga or Budhi yoga, Later this class division came to be known as caste system. They spread themselves through out India during the next five centuries.

Human life is divided into 4 stages 1) Bramacharya upto 25 years - One is expected to acquire education ; 2) Grasta Ashram from 25 to 50 years - one is expected to lead a family life; 3) Van Prasat Ashrama 50-75 - one is expected to get rid of the responsibilities and devote the time to meditation and reading of philosophy; 4) Sanyas 75-100- leave the world, live in jungles and devote the life to learning, prayer and worship of God.

Aryans are also accredited with the composition of religious texts called Vedas which form the bases of Hindu religion. The Vedas are four in number 1) Rigveda, Chanted songs, 10 b00ks, ( composed 1500 to 1200 b.c.e. 2) Sama Veda, sacrificial verses and formulea, 1200-900 b.c.e. 3)Yajur Veda, soma sacrifices and 4) Athrava Veda, house ceremonies . These are written in poetic or song form in Sanskrit and they describe the sacrifices, formulae and duties of people of all the four classes. Commentaries:-Samhitas (1200 to 900 b.c.e.); Brahmana (600 b.c.e to 500 a.d.e.); Upanishads (500 b.c.e.) have been written on all these books during later years, interpreting and reinterpreting the texts. Vadanta Sutra is methods of sacrifice. The consists of verses; almost the length of Illiad and Oddesy put together (Encyclopedia Collier). High priest Hotar , next level Udugatar

Aryans are also accredited with the astronomical calculations. The whole planetary system had been mapped by them. According to that calculation the world was created in 1,972, 947,101 b.c.e.., and the present age Kaliyuga dated back to 3102 b.c.e.. Planetary gods like Sun, Moon, and Wind etc., have special names and powers according to Aryan astrology. Position of these planets influence human nature, fate and actions according to the time and place of birth.

Gods

Brahma/Sarasvati (Creater of the universe)

Vishnu/Parvati (Preserver of universe)

Shiva or Mahesh/Lakshmi (Destroyer of universe)

1950 b.c.e :- Rama and Ramayana.

1400 b.c.e.:- Krishna and Mahabharta and Bhavad Gita.

8th century b.c.e.:- Sanskrit ceased to be a spoken language

624-544 b.c.e.:-. Buddha and Buddhist faith

527 b.c.e. : -Mahavera and Jain religion

200-100 b.c.e. :- Laws of Manu

327-325 :- Alexander invaded India

319-540 c.a.: - Maurya and Gupta dynasties

1211-1650 : - Muslim Rule: Baber, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, AurangJeb. Taj Mehal of Agra was constructed in 1631.

1580: - Akbar invites spme jesuits missionaries to court

1469 : - Guru Nanak and the five Gurus: founders of Sikh religion

1510:- Portugese set up a company in Goa

1651:- East India company opened its first factory in Hugly.

1675:- French set up their colony in Pondichery.

1757:- Battle of Plasy- Clive became master of India.

1869:- Founding of Brahmo Samaj for the reform of Sati.

1835 :- English school system introduced

1857 : - Mutiny for independence

1858 :- British crown took over

1947:- India got independence.

Hindu Religion

Indians are a mixture of many cultures and races. The major religious groups are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parses, and Christians. It is a secular state. Each group is free to practice their own religion in the privacy of their own home and /or in a designated place of worship.

Hindu religion is practiced by 80 percent of the population in India. Hindu religion is actually a philosophy of life. The two main dictates are Karma and Dharma. Karma means duty of the individual as determined by his or her birth, and Dharma means duty of the individual to fellow beings. This ties in with the Theory of Transmigration of soul. The life (soul) is the same in every one, and every form of life should be respected. The aim of life is to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death or Nirvana or Moksha. According to the religious prescriptions if one lives a pious life in the service of humanity and does not think evil, do evil and see evil, Moksha is attainable. It takes many lives to overcome temptations of life and reach that pure state, and so the concept of Transmigration of Soul.

Costumes

As you can well imagine, because of its rich history, there is a great variety in costumes depending upon the religion, weather, age group, tradition, fashion and personal preference. Usually the costumes are colorful. Most states have their typical costume, for example Punjab ladies wear Kurta and Salwar, and Rajistani women wear a skirt and a Choli. Men also have a different costume in the way they tie their turban or style of tunic and pajama. The official costume for men is Nehru Jacket and Gandhi Cap. Most women wear a Sari like I am wearing today. Most young men and women wear jeans these days and most men have taken to western style of dress.

Food

Again according to the family background, religion and the weather and tradition there is great variety in food. The style of preparation also varies. A majority of Hindus are vegetarians. The food is spicy. Special dishes are prepared, offered to the Gods, and than eaten by the family members, during festivals. The guests are treated with great respect.

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