India’s one billion people have descended from a variety of races. The oldest ones are the Negroid aboriginals called the Adivasis or First settlers. Then there are the Dravidians, The Aryans, the Mongols, The Semites and innumerable inter-mixtures of one with the other.
The great Epic, The Mahabharata and the sacred text, the Bhagavad-Gita teaches the Indians that survival can only be in terms of quality of life. It provides a framework of values to make the Indian culture well- groomed.
Swami Vivekananda (1863- 1902) laid stress on physical development as a prerequisite for spiritual development, which in turn leads to the development of the culture of the country. For the past 1000 years various foreign invasions like that of the Huns, the Kushanas, The Arabs, The Muslims, TheDutch, The French and the British took place. So the Indians were exposed to cultures that were totally alien to them. Several attempts were made by the Indian rulers like the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, the Palas, the Rashtrakutas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagar Emperors to give the Indians an administration, which was in consonance with the cultural heritage of the country.
Later, religions became an important part in the culture and places of worship became community centers. The innovations in religious thinking brought two popular beliefs in India, namely Buddhism by the Buddha and Jainism by the Saint Mahavir. Then there was a socio-religious shift or orientation in the Indian culture.
Later in the century Westernization of Indian culture began , but it was stemmed by the efforts of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswathi, Swami Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, Maharisi, Aurobindo, etc. Then there took place a Renaissance, that emphasized the need to recognize the country’s own culture while ushering in an age of modernity.
If India’s culture tended to become tolerant, accommodating, open-minded, deeply but not ostensibly spiritual and concerned with the common human welfare, then it is due to the great and relentless efforts of our great ancestors and leaders. Thanks to them our country has achieved a common culture, despite a staggering pluralistic society.