In today’s fast-moving and rapidly developing cosmos, the living cultures of the world are striving to change and adapt to external or internal set of values. Colonization, globalisation, advances in communication and technology, have left no scope for our age-old civilising values to persist. Therefore, what remains constant in this scenario is the human character. The never-ending struggle for survival makes us forget the very ideals that govern us. In order to comply with change, we are so engrossed in trying to adjust with it that over a period of time, we tend to go with the flow of change and forget our traditional Indian culture.
Traditional Indian Culture
From being the land of snake charmers to becoming the next generation superpower, India has undergone the most drastic socio-political and economic changes. Adhering to a strong value system, Indians are known for their modesty, dignity and placidity, yet there are a few practices in Indian society that need re-assessment. Being inhabitants of the largest democracy in the world, Indians strongly believe in people power and group harmony despite their diversification. However, this unity is gradually diminishing as people are divided by a stereotypical mind-set and are unwilling to co-operatively come together for a national cause. The belief in one’s own religious superiority while claiming to be proud citizens of a secular state has only led to uncalled violence, terrorism and innocent deaths. On one hand, our mythology teaches us to worship trees, while on the other hand, the demands of the industrial era and the increasing rates of deforestation are posing serious environmental threats and we are helpless about the situation.
Empowering changes seen in Traditional Indian Culture
The age-old tradition of Goddess worship across different parts of India, abolishment of sati-pratha and approval of widow remarriage has not managed to empower women but only oppressed their status in a male-dominated patriarchal society. Steps have been taken towards female careerism and improvement of their position in society but today’s woman is still struggling against female foeticide, dowry deaths and child marriage. Moreover, the growing gender bias, rape culture and the resultant savage cultural psyche have been a curse to women and blight our supposedly emancipated view of a civilised world.
Education and being pro-technology have made parents impose their dreams and aspirations on their children but the burden of work does not allow them to spend qualitative family time with them. Thus, the mental stress on a child increases as his or her talent remains unidentified and they indulge in overtly pleasurable activities. The youth which are the backbone of India are therefore, unable to discern good from bad, have become ostentatious and fancy Westernization, threatening the traditional, simplistic way of life manifested by our ancestors.
In bygone days, people generally lived in joint households, but the recent prevalence of nuclear families and dissolution of marriages have made us so selfish that we forget to draw a line between familial relationships and ambitions. The independence we aim to attain distances us from the older members of the family to such an extent that we no longer find the need to be responsible and caring towards our own ageing parents and grandparents. In a country where a guest is welcomed like God (“atithi devo bhava”), the insensitive treatment meted out to our elders is disgraceful to our society’s code of conduct. A generous attitude is slowly making way towards an ego-centric mentality.
Change is a constant phenomenon, likewise even values change over time, they have to, or else society would degenerate and stagnate. But before defying traditional ethics and values, it is wise to learn, observe and introspect the need for change and to specify what part of the society needs to change. To create room for further development, we need to ask ourselves, “Is our value system outdated?”, “Do we need to alter some common practices that are no longer relevant, or even evil, in their current form?” With the advent of global media and technology which have become all-pervasive, our attempt should be to learn different methodologies and cultures from different parts of the world and incorporate them in our culture too, but in a civilised way so that we can also preserve our own culture. After all, it is these morals and values that keep up our spiritual lead and well being, and make India the wonderful country that it is today.