Diversity of India, Cultural, Religion, Society, Geography & Ethnic

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Diversity of India, Cultural, Religion, Society, Geography & Ethnic

The Making of Indian Society

  • Six ethnic groups in India —
    • Negrito — South India | Some Western areas 
    • Proto — Australoid 
    • Mongoloid — East and NER 
    • Mediterranean — Dravidian language 
    • Western Brachycephaly
    • Nordic 
  • Tholkappiyam — Tamil Grammar book (200 AD)
  • Tirukkural — Tamil Vedas
  • Flexible Varna system in India — King Janak, Valmiki, Ved Vyas 
  • The Rig-Veda had ridiculed phallus-worhsippers and even prohibited their entry into Indo-Aryan sanctuaries. Later on Shivaism got much popularity.
  • As Hinduism is loosely structured (not one or two, but numerous religious books and customs) — it accepted the growth of various heterodox doctrines, cults, and sects — eg. Ajivikas, Charvakas 
  • Christianity in India by — St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew in 50 AD | Christianity firstly spread out in Kerala and slowly to Maharashtra (Kalyan region) 
  • Christianity developed along with Buddhism in the western part.
    • St. Josaphat (distorted from Bodhisatthvas
    • Buddha is a part of Catholic heritage too.
  • Islam came into India through peaceful ways and often due to encouragement of Hindu rulers.
    • Merely 100 years after the demise of Prophet Muhammad, Islam spread out across from Eastern China to the Spanish Atlantic Coast — But India was not much effected by this spread. In India it came (properly) though the raids of Muhammad Ghazni and Muhammad Ghori.
  • In India — Islam got Indianised and assimilated with the local customs — both affecting each other. 

Diversity and Unity 

Factors of Diversity and subsequently ‘Unity in Diversity’ 

  1. Religion — about 8 major religious community resides in India from Hinduism to Judaism along with the extreme minority of Zoroastrians
    1. Apart from the major religions, several local sects and splinter groups also developed within the major ones — Kabirpanthi, Satnami, Lingayats etc
    2. Not as prominent as in Hinduism, subdivision and cast hierarchy do exist in Sikhism, Christianity etc. 
  2. Language — More than 227 mother tongues are recognised in India | Eighth Schedule recognises 22 languages
    1. Nagaland — more than 19 languages are spoken within the State. All India Ration has to broadcast in more than 25 languages 
    2. Similar situation in the Southern region also.
  3. Powerful Kings and Empires — also contributed to the shaping of cultural regions. Ashoka’s Dhammas, Gupta Kings, Southern tri-kingdoms, Kushanas in NW and the influx of the Islamic kings from Ghazni to Khalji to the mighty Mughal Empire — carved out the Indian society 
    1. Not only this, with powerful empires came the cultural unity also because of a common king — eg. Ashoka’s empire spread out from the Afg to Bangladesh — his Dhammas and Edicts can be found all across the territory of India
    2. Northern Kings went to South and Southern Kings moved to North in search of power and expansion of their empires. eg. Raja Rajendra Chola went to the Gangetic plains
  4. Literature, Epics, Poems etc — Ramayana and Mahabharata have so many different variants as per the local customs and requirements, keeping the basic essence intact. Poems and proses on Krishna and Rama can be found across the India with adaptations — they acted as an unifying factor and as a common god. 
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“If you look at the diversity of Indian literature you come to see its unity, and if you look for unity, you are struck by its diversity.”

  1. Ram Lila, Ras Lila and various kinds of plays also played their part 
  2. Bhakti and Sufi Movement — across the territory also spread the message of unity — the padas of Surdas, Sakhis of Kabir and the Bhajans of Meera — shaped the Hindu religious orientation
    1. Guru Nanak Dev, Kabir and others
    2. Kirtan and Qawwalis are much in use across India and even beyond.
  1. Geographically Religious — with major temples, edicts, pilgrimages of different sects and religions spread across India from the mighty Himalayas to the coast of Rameshwaram and from the Somnath in Gujarat to the Kamkhaya Shakti Peeth of Assam — much cultural assimilation | Prominent rivers of religious importance are also spread across the territory — Ganges to Cauvery in extreme south.
    1. Religious and otherwise architecture — beautiful mosques (Jama Masjid etc), temples (Golden Temple) and even victory marks together with the Buddhist Stupas spread across India. Taj Mahal and other touristy important places also. 
  2. Music and Art — Hindustani and Carnatic music acted as a assimilating and integrating factor as a major art-form. Stalwarts from across India contributed to their development.
    1. Carnatic Music is believed to be establish by Vidyaranya — the same guy who led to establishment of Vijaynagar Kingdom.

Common Hindu traditions across India — 

  1. Jati and Varna — upward mobility is difficult and slow 
  2. Hierarchy in Hinduism — stiff jati and varnas 
  3. Ritual status parity over the economical and political status.
  4. Purusharthas — Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha 
  5. The four Aashrams — Brahmacharya, Grahastya, Vanaprasthan, Sanyas (only to the dwija)
  6. Concept of Rin — debt and obligation towards God, Society, sages, parents etc 
  7. Doctrine of Karma — concept of rebirth 
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Even after migration of the low castes of Hinduism to the newly developed religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Islam etc did not change much in their social status and source of livelihood — Deep seated beliefs cannot be done away with merely through the act of conversion. It was Jati and Varna which provided them with a livelihood and source of Income — as certain jobs are reserved as per their Jati.