Culture of india

The Indian culture , Hindustani culture , Indian culture or civilization of India has been shaped by its long ancient history, unique geography, diverse demographics, absorption of customs, traditions and religious ideas from neighboring regions. They have also preserved ancient heritages, formed during the Indus Valley culture (3500 to 2000 BC) and transmitted to the Vedic culture (1500 to 700 BC), in the Muslim conquests (800 BC) and European colonizations they maintained their traditions, but with a mixture of customs. [1]


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  • 1 Geographical location
  • 2 Historical evolution
    • 1 Dravidians
    • 2 Culture of the Indus River Valley
    • 3 Vedic culture
    • 4 Brahmanic period
      • 4.1 Buddhist period
    • 3 Political organization
    • 4 Social organization
    • 5 Economic organization
    • 6 Cultural manifestations
      • 1 religion
      • 2 Literature
      • 3 Art
    • 7 Rules of education and customs
      • 1 Relating to others
      • 2 The clothes
      • 3 In the temples
      • 4 Eating
    • 8 Contributions to the western world
    • 9 Sources

Geographic location

India, also known by the name of Hindustan, is a large peninsula located in South Asia . It is triangular in shape, with the apex facing south, flanked by the Arabian peninsulas (to the west) and Indochina (to the east). It borders the Himalayan mountains (to the north); with the Gulf of Bengal (to the east); with the Indian Ocean (to the south) and with the Sea of ​​Oman or the Arabian Sea (to the west). [1]

Historical evolution


The primitive inhabitants of India were the Dravidians , located in the south of the Indian subcontinent. The Dravidians were short and dark-skinned, lived in communities, and had imposed themselves on other native tribes.

Indus River Valley Culture

In the north, in present-day Pakistan, a great civilization developed, similar to that of Egypt and Mesopotamia – which founded cities like Mojensho-Daro and Jarappa , in the Indus River valley . They dominated agriculture, commerce and the bronze industry. His religion was polytheistic. They worshiped the Mother Goddess, a fertilizing god and the jungle animals. [1]

Vedic culture

It is known by the name of the Vedic period to the most remote times of the Hindu civilization, from the years 1500 to 800 BC. n. and.

They created the oldest text in India, the Rig-veda (the oldest text in India, from the middle of the 2nd millennium BC). [1]

The Aryans came from the northern region of the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea , and in the course of the II millennium BC. n. e., invaded the Indus Valley, introducing the horse , iron weapons, and chariot to India . They subdued the natives and formed small autonomous kingdoms, similar to each other.

Brahman period

It corresponds to the period when India lived under the hegemony of the Brahmins (the priestly caste). In this period two fundamental stages are distinguished: pre-Buddhist and Buddhist.

Buddhist period

It corresponds to the period of reaction of the Indian people against the abuses of Brahmanism, which culminated in the triumph of the Buddhist doctrine . At this stage, the warlord Chandragupta Mauria , after subduing and unifying northern India, founded the Maurian Empire , with its capital in the city of Pataliputra (now Patna ), on the banks of the Ganges River . His grandson, King Ashoka(273-232 B.C.E.) with his troops, he had bloodily eliminated and brought his enemies into captivity. The Buddha’s teachings made him feel remorse for the violence of war. Azoka renounced bloodthirsty methods and began to practice piety, kindness, honesty, and act in favor of her people. Finally, he protected and spread the Buddha’s religion, having messages of love and peace engraved on rocks, metals and wood, throughout his empire. Upon his death and, due to the invasions, his empire declined and dismembered. Later, India suffered the invasion of the Persians , under the command of Darius I the Great; of the Greeks, the Scythians, the Arabs, the Portuguese, the British, etc. [1]

As a result of the struggles between these kingdoms, two epic poems emerged; the Majabhárata and the Ramaiana , works that relate the exploits of the conquerors.

Political organization

In India there was no national unity, but many independent kingdoms, under the authority of the King, the Brahmins, and a powerful feudal aristocracy.

  • The King was considered of divine origin. He was the head of the despotic and absolutist monarchy.
  • The Brahmans made up the upper caste, who collaborated with the King in the administration of justice. They made up the priestly class.
  • The feudal aristocracy was made up of officials of lower rank, owners of large fiefdoms.

The government was characterized by being an absolute monarchy, despotic and considered of divine origin “Theocratic”, exercised by the caste of the rulers of each kingdom. The local king was the supreme governmental authority, who also administered justice through the Brahmin priests.

Social organization

The social distinctions of India constituted a unique case in the history of the World , which was based on law, customs and religion. Hindu society is divided into four castes :

  • Brahmans: They were the custodial priests of knowledge. They were dedicated to the repetition of memory and the teaching of the Rig-veda , and the performance of animal sacrifices for the rich people who gave them donations.
  • Chatrias: They were the warriors and politicians, who held power. Until the time of the Upanishad (philosophical and religious texts, composed from 700 BC) they were those who held the secret knowledge about reincarnation.
  • Vaisias: They were the landowners and merchants.
  • Sudras: They were the slaves. They did not receive a salary but worked for the roof and food. Possibly they were the descendants of the original tribes of India. They were dark-skinned, and their main role was reduced to serving the other three castes, descendants of the Aryan conquerors.

Marriages were to be only between members of each caste. Those who violated this norm were declared pariahs (untouchables), groups of people who were outside the social organization, lacking all rights.

This social division possibly began at the time of the composition of the Code of Manu (around 400 BC), in which it is stated: “From the mouth of the four-headed god Brahma, came the Brahmans, the chatria of the arm; the vaisyas of the thigh and the sudras of the foot.

Economic organization

Economic power was in relation to property. They were dedicated to livestock and agriculture . They developed an intense commercial activity with the Egyptians, Persians and Greeks. They sent large amounts of merchandise, in elephant caravans, to be sold or to barter. In the industry, they were mainly dedicated to the manufacture of yarns, shawls, tapestries, ceramics, porcelains, fabrics, ivory objects , metal glasses , etc.

Cultural manifestations

The religion

In India there were formerly two fundamental religions: Brahmanism and Buddhism .

Brahmanism and the Code of Manu : Brahmanism was the polytheistic religion of the primitive Indians, who had several supreme gods, such as Indra, Varuna or Mitra.

Brahmanists considered the soul to be immortal. That upon the death of the person the soul reincarnated in another human being if it had led a dignified life, or in an animal, if it had not complied with this precept. They developed the belief of transmigration of souls.

All the fundamental principles of this religion were considered in the Laws of Manu , where conformity was explained and demanded from all members of the different castes.

Buddhism and its current survival : Buddhism is a religious doctrine founded by Sidarta Gautama , son of the King of Sakia. This prince renounced riches and became a beggar, taking the name of Buddha, which means ‘the enlightened one’.

Buddha, after six years of deprivation, fasting and suffering, began to preach against Brahmanism. He ignored the division of society into castes and attacked the differentiation of man by the color of the skin . He considered that the end of man was Nirvana, a state of eternal happiness granted to the just ( heaven or paradise ). Buddha said that the soul should be conducted with the practice of charity, good, love and other virtues.

He concluded that old age, pain, illness and death are inevitable. His moral teachings are universal: do not take other people’s goods; always tell the truth; Do not ingest alcoholic beverages; etc. Today, Buddhism is practiced by more than 500 million people, especially in East Asia, but it is also popular in Europe, Africa, America, Oceania and Asia.


The Hindus bequeathed such important literary works as the Rig-veda , the Majabhárata and the Ramaiana .

1) The Rig-veda is a set of epic and mythological hymns, composed in a very ancient type of Sanskrit , Vedic Sanskrit (different from classical Sanskrit, in which 90% of Hindu literature is composed). From the Rig-veda three other books were created, which practically contain the same text as the original, ordered differently: the Iáyur-veda , the Sama-veda and the Atharva-veda ), which contain ritual melodies, magic formulas to kill enemies, poetry dedicated to the gods, stories of battles, etc.

2) Majabhárata is an epic of a mythological and religious character, composed between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. n. and. It is attributed to the sage Viasa . It contains approximately 220,000 verses. It recounts the war between the different peoples of the same Aryan ethnic group, in the Ganges river basin .

3) Ramaiana is another important Hindu epic poem, consisting of seven books, written in Sanskrit. The author is possibly Valmiki ( 4th century BC ). It narrates the adventures of the god-king Rama , in search of his wife Sita, kidnapped by the monster Ravana , who had ten heads and twenty arms. It has 24,000 stanzas.

The art

In the field of arts, the Hindus developed a series of important crafts such as the production of shawls, tapestries, yarns, polychrome porcelains, ivory objects, etc. In painting and sculpture they worked motifs inspired by religion, traditions and real life. In architecture they achieved appreciable advances, characterized by their grandeur. The temples or pagodas are magnificent and massive, with profuse and variegated decorations.

Rules of education and customs

One of the experiences in India is to converse with the locals, which is not difficult as they tend to engage in conversation in an extremely formal way themselves.

In India the most important thing is social class, so any conversation will start directly with questions about studying and working abroad. That helps them see if it is a conversation between equals (the Hindu mentality is very racist). The Indian mentality is very curious, and they immediately want to know if the foreigner is married, if he has a religion, and all kinds of personal information, which generally causes irritation in the Westerner. This is how social relationships work and they are simply trying to understand what kind of person they are talking to. More than one tourist has been deeply offended when he has been approached in the street by an Indian and after two minutes he asks about his salary. [2]

Talking with Indians always offers moments of stupor for both parties. Things that an Indian will not be able to understand is that the foreigner travels with his partner even if they are not married, or that he is an atheist (he will not care about the foreign religion as long as he has one), or that he wears humble clothes when he is supposed to be a person with money to travel. [2]

Once this moment of modesty is over, it is possible to converse on any subject with an Indian. Those from the middle class tend to have an excellent education and can surprise with their knowledge. They are very open to explaining anything about India and, although the poorest can be very annoying asking for some money, in general they are high level conversationalists. [2]

Relate with others

In India it is not usual for couples to kiss or hug in public, it is considered offensive. Walking hand in hand is more typical of men (as a sign of platonic friendship) than couples. [2]

Communication with the Indians will generally be in English. They use very formal formulas. [2]

The clothes

In India, tourists who wear comfortable and worn clothes provoke a stupor. This type of clothing is typical of the lower classes and we Westerners are the image of wealth, so it will be difficult for them to understand why you want to wear camping pants when the Indian lower classes yearn for good shirts and dress pants. [2]

If you want to make a good impression, Indians highly value wearing a clean shirt for men and modest and discreet suits for women. Although when one is on tourism it is not necessary to give such a good image, this is important for Westerners who want to do business or do business in India. [2]

The Indians are quite conservative when it comes to dressing. Indian women can wear pants, but the short skirt can be offensive. In men, shorts are synonymous with being of a low caste. These rules are strictly followed in places of worship and relaxed in urban life. [2]

If you are a woman, you should not wear very short clothes unless you know the area well, especially so as not to arouse misgivings. Nudity is frowned upon on the beaches, even in easygoing Goa . [2]

In the temples

The label on clothing must be observed especially in temples, adapting behavior to the norms of the specific cult. Many tourists do not respect the minimum standards when entering a temple, but in less touristy areas this can lead to serious altercations. Both in the Hindu mandires or yainas and in the Muslim mosques you have to enter barefoot (although you can enter with socks), without fur or leather articles, and they even prohibit access to women during their menstrual period. The signs at the entrance of the temples usually indicate the rules of access in English . In Sufi shrines you have to cover your head with a cap or scarf. It is rude to take pictures of the deities Hindu (idols or statues).


When drinking, the lips should not touch the food or drink of others. If a drink is shared, the liquid is poured into the mouth instead of the lips. This custom is very healthy in India, where public health problems are rampant.

The Indians eat with their fingers, a custom that can be difficult for a Westerner. They have the belief that the right hand does noble tasks (such as eating, drinking, or touching the holy books) and the left the other tasks (such as removing shoes when entering a temple or a house, or cleaning in the bathroom) . If a gift is given, it is given with the right or both, but never only with the left.

Contributions to the western world

The Indian people, the focus of the great eastern civilization, contributed countless religious doctrines to the world. It was they who introduced millet and zebu into agricultural activities . In the sciences, through the Arabs, they contributed decimal numbering , arithmetic and algebra . Transcendental works such as the Majabhárata and the Ramaiana bequeathed in literature . [1]

India is currently the second most populous country in the world, with about 900 million inhabitants (while China has about 1.2 billion).

In 1950, after its independence from the British Empire, the former country of Bhárata – due to the religious intolerance of its inhabitants – had to split into three countries: Pakistan (with its capital, Karachi ), which is the Muslim part; India (with its capital New Delhi ), and later Bangladesh emerged (with its capital in Dhaka ).


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