Indian history and culture
The history and culture of India is the way of living of the people of Indian subcontinent. India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs differ from place to place within the country and an amalgamation of several cultures.
Who are we Indians? Difficult to say, with so much of invasion, immigration and interaction with rest of the world. Many empires have disappeared, with out a trace including last British empire after second world war.
India as we know today is very different from the notion of 'ancient India'. Ancient India spanned from Iran, Afghanistan to Indonesia, Tibet to Sri Lanka in present.
Geographically, it is a land of contracts in numerous ways. It provides almost every type of climate, from extreme heat to extreme cold all the year round. The hilly regions in the North and elsewhere are as cold as some of the coldest parts of Europe. Certain areas in South are the hottest in the world.
India is a plural society and a repository of multiplicity of cultures.
Indian civilization, stretching over five thousand years, provides the most distinctive feature in the coexistence of unity in diversity.
And one rule, or one food, or one clothing cannot be ascribed to entire India or Hindus. Women living in Hindkush mountains, Tibet do not wear dresses which people in Northern India, or Southern India would have.
History is a dots game
Everything is a dots game of connecting dots. We observe some dots (shapes) and can create our own dots. Every one connects in whatever way he wants and creates shapes. History is also like dots representing some facts or information. Each historian or a story teller create their own story, with his own additions. Few out of many, become popular and gets established as authentic. Others are lost for ever.
From Early Neolithic culture to 20th century (Tentative period only)
- 7500 BC: Early Neolithic culture
- 4300 BC: Mehrgarh Neolithic sites in archaeology begins on the "Kachi plain" of now Balochistan
- 3300 BC: Kot Diji phase of the Indus Valley, Indus signs or script.
- 3000 BC: Indus Valley (Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro), Saraswathi river
- 1500 BC: Indo-Iranians, Chaldeans, Akkadians etc, Rigveda (to 1000 BC)
- 800 BC: Upanishads, Shatapatha Brahmana etc..
- 500 BC: Magadha, Kalinga, Darius of Persia
- 300 BC: Alexander, Chandragupta Maurya, Cholas and Pandyas trade with Greek and Rome
- 100 AD: Kushan,
- 200: The Sunga state, Sassanid, Satavahanas disintegrate
- 300: Ganga, Pallava, Gupta, Kadambas
- 400: Shakas Licchavi, Huns, Vakataka
- 550: Chalukyan, Pallava Gupta, Harshavardhana
- 700: Arabs, Palas, Rashtrakutas,
- 800: Cholas, Pratihara, Pallava
- 950: Rajputs, Chandellas
- 1000: Mahmud of Ghazni, Solanki, Chola, Palas
- 1200: Turks, Ghurid, Yadava, Kakatiyas
- 1300: Delhi sultanate (slaves, Khalji, Tughluq, Lodi etc), Hoysala, Vijayanagar, Kadambas
- 1500: Bahmani (Deccan sultanates), Mughal/Mogul Afghan, Safavids, Mysore, Rajputs, Maratas
- 1600: Europeans, British entry, Mughal, Nayakar, Maratas (Sivaji), Rajputs
- 1700:Britain colonial power, Mysore sultans, Nizam
- 1800:East India Company replaced by British India, Queen Victoria empress of India
- 1900: The Indian National Congress, Muslim League, Justice Party. So called independence from British dynasty, not freedom from British colonial mind set and bureaucracy. Slave attitude continues.
- 2000: New Political alignments, Globalization, IT age. Professionals and commoners can take part in administration, ending in dynasties
Tribes, castes and class
Indians are more than thousands of tribes. Castes or jatis meaning birth, are are complex social groups that lack universally applicable definition or characteristic, and have been more flexible and diverse to fit in to any model. Varna, a theoretical model may be translated as "class," and refers to four social classes, namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Like Aryan and Dravidian theorey, these are very over simplification of reality. The four varnas can not represent complex systems of thousands of castes. The term Castes, means different things to different Indians.
India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people. According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practice Hinduism followed by Islam (14.2%) and Christianity (2.3%). There are other religions such as Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Bahá'í Faith and tribal religions, such as Sarnaism. Atheism and agnostics also have visible influence in India, along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other faiths. There are also numerous cults in India, each practicing their own ideologies and interpretations of the major religions.
There is no such thing as the Indian language. By some counts there are over 200 languages in India (almost 1600, if you include dialects), with about twenty of them being very prominent ones. Imagine a nation where the population does not understand their national anthem or the President's address to the nation. That is India. The Indian currency is printed in 15 languages.
Modern India is a country of very diverse cultures with many languages, religions and traditions. Children begin by coping and learning to accept and assimilate in this diversity.
Inspite of all these India is united by Indianness. There is a strong unity among diversity due to:
- Indians tolerate differences among themselves.
- Traditionally Indians welcomed traders and experts from all parts of the world (like arabs, persians, greeks, huns etc) - open society.
- History created by immigrants and invaders who have become locals in the long run
- Unity in diversity - accepting we all children of Bharatha mata (Mother India)
- Interdependence - one region needs resources from other regions.
- Hindusim is not a religion, but way of life for Indians. It unites different belief systems, philosophies, different deities and varied ritual practices. Hinduism has ensured India is one country, uniting all Indians, irrespective of their belief system.
- The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are the oldest preserved and well-known epics of India. Versions have been adopted as the epics of Southeast Asian countries like Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Versions of this epic is available in all languages. It has stories from all parts of India and unites all Indians.
- Railways and National institutions like ISRO, atomic energy, IITs ...
- Popular media such as Cinema and sports (cricket)
- Rich potpourri of social habits, festivals, and customs.
We don't record peace. We record things that are Important: war, agreements, leaders. Nobody cares about the half a century of bumper crops except for farmers and taxmen. The famine that killed a million people that one year gets written about. Nobody cares about the schools for teaching medicine.