The rich heritage of India, one of the world’s oldest civilizations, is an all-embracing confluence of religions, traditions and customs. The highlights of Indian heritage lie in the treasure of its art, architecture, classical dance, music, flora and fauna, and the innate secular philosophy of its people.

What are the 7 natural heritage of India?

Natural World Heritage Sites

Sl. No.Name of WH SiteState Location
1Great Himalayan National Park Conservation AreaHimachal Pradesh
2Western GhatsMaharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
3Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National ParksUttarakhand
4Sundarbans National ParkWest Bengal

The first sites to be listed were the Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Agra Fort, and Taj Mahal, all of which were inscribed in the 1983 session of the World Heritage Committee. The most recent site listed was Dholavira, in 2021.

. Objectives
In this lesson, students investigate various facets of Indian culture. Throughout the chapter,
emphasis will be on the concept and importance of Indian culture through various ages of India.
After studying this lesson you will be able to:

  • understand the concept and meaning of culture;
  • establish the relationship between culture and civilization;
  • establish the link between culture and heritage;
  • discuss the role and impact of culture in human life.
  • describe the distinctive features of Indian culture;
  • identify the central points and uniqueness of Indian culture;
  • explain the points of diversity and underlying unity in it; and
  • trace the influence and significance of geographical features on Indian culture

Culture has two types: (i) material, and (ii) non-material. The first includes technologies, instruments, material goods, consumer goods, household design and architecture, modes of production, trade, commerce, welfare and other social activities. The latter includes norms, values, beliefs, myths, legends, literature, ritual, art forms and other intellectual-literary activities. The
material and non-material aspects of any culture are usually interdependent on each other. Sometimes, however, material culture may change quickly but the non-material may take longer time to change. According to Indologists, Indian culture stands not only for a traditional social code but also for a spiritual foundation of life.

Culture and Heritage;
Cultural development is a historical process. Our ancestors learnt many things from their
predecessors. With the passage of time they also added to it from their own experience and gave up
those which they did not consider useful. We in turn have learnt many things from our ancestors. As
time goes we continue to add new thoughts, new ideas to those already existent and sometimes we
give up some which we don’t consider useful any more. This is how culture is transmitted and
carried forward from generation to next generation. The culture we inherit from our predecessors is
called our cultural heritage.

General Characteristics of Culture;
Now let us discuss some general characteristics of culture, which are common to different cultures throughout the world.
Culture is learned and acquired: Culture is acquired in the sense that there are certain behaviors which are acquired through heredity. Individuals inherit certain qualities from their parents but socio-cultural patterns are not inherited. These are learnt from family members, from the group and the society in which they live. It is thus apparent that the culture of human beings is
influenced by the physical and social environment through which they operate. Culture is shared by a group of people: A thought or action may be called culture if it is shared and believed or practiced by a group of people.
Culture is cumulative: Different knowledge embodied in culture can be passed from one generation to another generation. More and more knowledge is added in the particular culture as the time passes by. Each may work out solution to problems in life that passes from one generation to another. This cycle remains as the particular culture goes with time.
Culture changes: There is knowledge, thoughts or traditions that are lost as new cultural traits are added. There are possibilities of cultural changes within the particular culture as time passes.
Culture is dynamic: No culture remains on the permanent state. Culture is changing constantly as new ideas and new techniques are added as time passes modifying or changing the old ways. This is the characteristics of culture that stems from the culture’s cumulative quality. Culture gives us a range of permissible behavior patterns: It involves how an activity
should be conducted, how an individual should act appropriately.
Culture is diverse: It is a system that has several mutually interdependent parts. Although these parts are separate, they are interdependent with one another forming culture as whole.

Importance of Culture in Human life;
Culture is closely linked with life. It is not an add-on, an ornament that we as human beings can use. It is not merely a touch of color. It is what makes us human. Without culture, there would be no humans. Culture is made up of traditions, beliefs, way of life, from the most spiritual to the most material. It gives us meaning, a way of leading our lives. Human beings are creators of culture
and, at the same time, culture is what makes us human. A fundamental element of culture is the issue of religious belief and its symbolic expression. We must value religious identity and be aware of current efforts to make progress in terms of interfaith dialogue, which is actually an intercultural dialogue. As the world is becoming more and more global and we coexist on a more global level we can’t just think there’s only one right way of living or that any one is valid. The need for coexistence makes the coexistence of cultures and beliefs necessary. In order to not make such mistakes, the best thing we can do is get to know other cultures, while also getting to know our own. How can we dialogue with other cultures, if we don’t really know what our own culture is? The three eternal and universal values of Truth, Beauty and Goodness are closely linked with culture. It is culture that brings us closer to truth through philosophy and religion; it brings beauty in our lives through the Arts and makes us aesthetic beings; and it is culture that makes us ethical beings by bringing us closer to other human beings and teaching us the values of love, tolerance and peace

Characteristics of Indian culture;
Traditional Indian culture, in its overall thrust towards the spiritual, promotes moral values and the attitudes of generosity, simplicity and frugality. Some of the striking features of Indian culture that pervade its numerous castes, tribes, ethnic groups and religious groups and sects are as follows;

. A Cosmic Vision;
The framework of Indian culture places human beings within a conception of the universe as a divine creation. It is not anthropo-centric (human-centric) only and considers all elements of creation, both living and non-living, as manifestations of the divine. Therefore, it respects God’s design and promotes the ideal of co-existence. This vision thus, synthesizes human beings, nature
and God into one integral whole. This is reflected in the idea of satyam-shivam-sundaram

Sense of Harmony;
Indian philosophy and culture tries to achieve an innate harmony and order and this is extended to the entire cosmos. Indian culture assumes that natural cosmic order inherent in nature is the foundation of moral and social order. Inner harmony is supposed to be the foundation of outer harmony. External order and beauty will naturally follow from inner harmony. Indian culture
balances and seeks to synthesize the material and the spiritual, as aptly illustrated by the concept of purushartha

An important characteristic of Indian culture is tolerance. In India, tolerance and liberalism is found for all religions, castes, communities, etc. Many foreign cultures invaded India and Indian society gave every culture the opportunity of prospering. Indian society accepted and respected Shaka, Huna, Shithiyan, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist cultures. The feeling of tolerance
towards all religions is a wonderful characteristic of Indian society. Rigveda says-“Truth is one, even then the Scholars describe it in various forms. In Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Those praying others are actually praying me.” This thought is the extreme of tolerance. There is a peaceful coexistence of various religions in India and all have been effecting each other – although this
tradition has been badly affected by activities of converting religion by some religious organizations. All the religions existing in India are respected equally. Indian culture accepts the manifoldness of reality and assimilates plurality of viewpoints, behaviors, customs and institutions. It does not try to suppress diversity in favor of uniformity. The motto of Indian culture is both unity in diversity as well as diversity in unity.

. Adaptability;
Adaptability has a great contribution in making Indian culture immortal. Adaptability is the process of changing according to time, place and period. It’s an essential element of longevity of any culture. Indian culture has a unique property of adjustment, as a result of which, it is maintained till today. Indian family, caste, religion and institutions have changed themselves with time. Due to
adaptability and co-ordination of Indian culture, it’s continuity, utility and activity is still present. Dr. Radha Krishnan, in his book, ‘Indian culture: Some Thoughts’, while describing the adaptability of Indian culture has said all people whether black or white, Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Jews are brothers and our country is the entire universe

Spirituality is the soul of Indian culture. Here the existence of soul is accepted. Therefore, the ultimate aim of man is not physical comforts but is self-realisation. Radha Kumud Mukerjee, in his book, ‘Hindu Civilization’, has analysed that Indian culture, which kept it’s personal specialities, bound the entire nation in unity in such a way that nation and culture were considered
inseparable and became unanimous. Nation became culture and culture became nation. Country took the form of Spiritual World, beyond the physical world. When Indian culture originated in the times of Rigveda, then it spread with time to Saptasindhu, Bramhavarta, Aryavarta, Jumbudweepa, Bharata Varsha or India. Because of its strength, it reached abroad beyond the borders of India and established there also.

9.Thoughts about Karma and Reincarnation.;
The concept of Karma (action) and Reincarnation have special importance in Indian culture. It is believed that one gains virtue during good action and takes birth in higher order in his next birth and spends a comfortable life. The one doing bad action takes birth in lower order in his next birth and suffers pain and leads a miserable life. Upanishads say that the Principle of fruits of action
is correct. A man gets the fruits as per the action he does. Therefore, man needs to modify his actions, so as to improve the next birth also. Continuously performing good actions in all his birth, he will get salvation, i.e. will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This concept is not only of the Upnishads but is also the basis of the Jainism, Buddhism, etc. In this way, the concept of
reincarnation is associated with the principle of action. The actual cause of reincarnation is the actions done in the previous birth