India has a long history behind it, though as an independent nation it is still a rich. India is rich in almost every aspect of human activity. This richness is not of the recent past but dates back to thousands of years. We, living today, are heirs to a rich, healthy heritage which is the envy and admiration of the rest of the world. Our culture is one of the best and oldest. The nations which are highly developed and which hold an important place today in the comity of nations, were little known at a time when the glory of India was widespread. Many things have contributed to the proud heritage that has been handed over to us by our forefathers.
Evidence of our heritage and culture can be got from the excavations made in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The Indus Valley Civilisation is one of the oldest and offers proof of a great culture that existed in the distant past. The Vedas and the Upanishads, the oldest of literatures are rich in pearls of wisdom. Spiritual and moral ‘tenets’ and guidance are got in plenty from these. They transcend boundaries of nations or creeds or religions, but apply to the whole world. Among the greatest epics of the world are the Ramayana and the Mahabaratha. The Bhagavat Gita is a Universal Document of Wisdom and Truth, holding a rich store of knowledge in various aspects of life. One who is an avid reader and follower of the Gita will get its truth instilled into one’s nature and such a one will be looked upon with love, respect and admiration by others, such is the value of the classic.
Kings and Emperors in ancient days were patrons of art and literature. They have had counsellors who gave them valuable guidance and advice not only religious matters but also on the economic, social and political aspects of life. There were also men of genius who entertained the kings and the people with their poetic skill and imagination. There is no subject left untouched or unadorned by our ancients. Great men like kalidasa and kautilya will live as long as human beings inhabit this world. “Shakunthalam” and “Meghadoot” of Kalidasa and “The Arthasastra” of Kautilya are immortal. The latter is a treatise on political philosophy of the highest order.
Art, architecture, painting and sculpture, weaving, music and dance…. there is no field left undistinguished by our ancients. Artists of every description were patronised by great Emperors and Kings some of whom were themselves eminent in the arts and music.Temples are repositories of architectural beauty and monumental proof of the artistic skills of people of the past. Many examples of beautiful temples can be found. The Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is a standing testimony to the technological protection that was the hallmark of such structures. It offers proof for the technical proficiency of the builders who did not have any of the advantages that modern technology offers to builders.
Arts and architecture of the ancients were developed later by others and even foreign rulers of India admired them and made them blend with other cultures. Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri among dances, the Kushan, Gandhara and Guptha forms among art forms, were revelations to the innumerable foreign travelers who visited India at various times in the past. Painting was not far behind these, as is evident from the Ajantha paintings. A modern marvel of art and architecture that had its roots in the past and which is a fine legacy left to us in Mamallapuram or better known as Mahabalipuram near Chennai.
Considering all these facts, it may be said that our heritage is one of the valuable treasures handed over to us by our forefathers. Western education, adoption of Western modes of dress and ways of life, faith in rationality, disbelief in religious tenets and truths tend to undermine the value of our heritage. It is the bounden duty of everyone, every Indian worth his salt, to preserve the ancient heritage handed over to us, so that we would be in a position to pass on this wealth of wisdom to posterity. We have to see to it that divisive tendencies do not destroy the cultural heritage that has come down to us through the centuries. India and culture should ever be an inseparable combination that should act as a model and a beacon light to the rest of the world.