about unity in diversity, Relevance of Present to Past
About unity in diversity
A notable feature of ancient Indian culture is the arrival of cultural elements from north and south and east and west. Aryan elements are similar from pre-Aryan with the Vedic and Puranic culture of the north and the Dravidian and Tamil culture of the south. However, many Munda, Dravidian and Teliyar non-Sanskrit words date back to 1500–500 BCE in Vedic texts.
They indicate the ideas, institutions, products and settlements associated with peninsular and non-Vedic India. Similarly, many Pali and Sanskrit words, denoting ideas and institutions that developed in the Gangetic plains, appear in the earliest Tamil literature, known as Sangam literature, which was used around 300 BCE–AD. is done for the year 600. The eastern region was already inhabited. Aryan tribals made their contribution.
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The people of this region spoke Munda or Kolerian language. Several words indicating the use of cotton, navigation, digging stick, etc. in Indo-Aryan languages have been discovered by linguists in the Munda languages. Although there are many Munda pockets in the Chotanagpur plateau, the remnants of the Munda culture are quite strong in the Indo-Aryan culture. Many Dravidian words are also found in Indo-Aryan languages. It is believed that the change in phonetics and vocabulary of the Vedic language can be explained as Munda on the basis of Dravidian influence.
India has been a country of many religions since ancient times. Brahmanism or Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism originated in ancient India, but all these cultures and religions interacted and interacted with each other. Thus, although Indians speak different languages, practice different religions, and follow different social customs, they follow some common styles of life. Our country shows a deep underlying unity in spite of great diversity.
The ancestors strived for unity. The Indian subcontinent was geographically well defined and its geographical unity was complemented by cultural integration. Although many states, languages, cultures and communities existed, people gradually developed regional identities. State or territorial units, called janapadas, were named after individual tribes.
However, Aryavarta as a whole was named after the dominant cultural community of the Aryans. Aryavarta denoted northern and central India and extended from eastern to western coasts. Another name by which India was known was Bharatvarsha or Bharat Bhoomi.
Bharata, in the sense of tribe or family, is found in the Rigveda and Mahabharata, but the name Bharatvarsha is found in the Mahabharata and Gupta Sanskrit texts. The name was applied to one of the nine divisions of the earth, and denoted India in the post-Gupta period. The word Bharati or resident of India appears in the Gupta texts.
Iranian inscriptions are important for the origin of the word Hindu. The word Hindu occurs in inscriptions from the fifth–sixth centuries BCE. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu. Linguistically, H appears in Irani, for the first time in Iranian inscriptions Hindu is mentioned as a district on the Indus. Therefore, at the initial stage, the word Hindu meant a regional unit. It neither indicates any religion nor any community.
Our ancient poets, philosophers and writers saw the country as an integral unit. He spoke of the extension of the land from the Himalayas to the sea as the proper domain of a single, universal monarch. The kings who tried to establish their authority from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and from the valley of the Brahmaputra in the east to the lands beyond the Indus in the west were admired everywhere.
He was called Chakravarti. This form of political unity was achieved at least twice in ancient times. In the 3rd century BC, Ashoka expanded his empire throughout the south. Its inscriptions are scattered over a large part of the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent and even in Afghanistan. Then, in the 4th century AD, Samudragupta extended his victorious arms from the Ganges to the borders of the Tamil land.
In the seventh century, the Chalukya king, Pulakeshin defeated Harshavardhana who was called the lord of the whole of North India. Despite the lack of political unity, political structures across India assumed more or less the same form. The idea that India constituted a single geographical entity remained in the minds of conquerors and cultural leaders. The unity of India was also recognized by foreigners.
They first came in contact with the Indus or the people living on the Indus and hence they named the whole country after this river. The word Hind or Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, and on that basis, the country is known as ‘India’, which is very close to the Greek word for it. India came to be called ‘Hind’ in Persian and Arabic languages. After the Kushan period, the Iranian rulers conquered the Sindh region and named it Hindustan.
We are making constant efforts to establish linguistic and cultural unity in India. In the 3rd century BC, Linga served as the Prakrit language in major parts of India. Ashoka’s inscriptions were mainly engraved in Prakrit language in Brahmi script. Later, Sanskrit took over the same place and served as the state language in remote parts of India. This process was typical during the Gupta period in the 4th century.
Although India saw the rise of several small kingdoms after the Gupta period, the official documents were written in Sanskrit. Another noteworthy fact is that the ancient epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were studied in the land of the Tamils with the same enthusiasm and devotion as in the intellectual circles of Benares and Taxila.
Originally composed in Sanskrit, different versions of these epics were produced in different local languages. However, in whatever form Indian cultural values and ideas were expressed, the substance was uniform across India.
Indian history in particular deserves our attention because of a peculiar type of social order that developed in India. In North India, the varna/caste system developed which eventually spread throughout the country, and even affected Christians and Muslims. Even converts to Christianity and Islam continued to follow some of the old caste practices of Hinduism.
Relevance of Present to Past:
The study of India’s past assumes special importance in the context of the problems we face in the present. Some fight for the restoration of ancient culture and civilization, and a large number are passionately cast off what they consider to be the pride of India’s past. It is distinguished by a concern for the preservation of ancient heritage in art and architecture.
What they really want to bring back is the old pattern of society and culture. It demands a clear and correct understanding of the past. There is no doubt that old Indians have made remarkable progress in various fields, but these progress cannot enable us to compete with the achievements of modern science and technology. We cannot ignore the fact that ancient Indian society was marked by gross social injustice.
The lower orders, especially the Shudras and the untouchables, were attached with disabilities which are shocking to the modern mind. Similarly, laws and customs discriminate against women in favor of men. Restoration of the old way of life will naturally revive and strengthen all these inequalities.
The success of the ancestors in the face of difficulties presented by nature and human factors may build our hope and confidence in the future, but any attempt to bring back the past would mean a crime of social inequality afflicting India. All this is necessary for us to understand what the past means.
We have many surviving ones from ancient, medieval and later to the present. The old norms, values, social customs and ritualistic practices are so deeply ingrained in the minds of the people that they cannot easily free themselves from them. Unfortunately, these existences impede the development of the individual and the country, and were deliberately promoted in colonial times.
India cannot develop rapidly until such evils of the past are not eradicated from our society. The caste system and communalism are a hindrance in the democratic integration and development of India. Caste barriers and prejudices do not allow educated persons to appreciate the dignity of manual labor and hinder our integration for a common cause. Although women have been empowered, their age-old social subjugation prevents them from playing their proper role in society, and this is also true of the lower orders of society.
Studying the ancient past helps us to deeply examine the roots of these prejudices and discover the reasons that perpetuate the caste system, subjugate women, and promote narrow religious sectarianism. Therefore, the study of ancient Indian history is relevant not only to those who wish to understand the true nature of the past, but also to those who hinder India’s progress as a nation.