The Culture Of India Essay Research Paper

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The Culture Of India Essay, Research Paper This paper will review some of the recent literature on the culture of India. This is an important culture to study, because India s population of more than 900 million makes it one of the most heavily populated countries of the world. India is also important to study because it possesses one of the world s oldest surviving cultures. In addition, there have long been ties between India and the nations of the West. Beyond these considerations, Indian culture is fascinating to study because it is extremely diverse and complex. Regarding this, Pandian (1995) notes the existence of an underlying Indus or Hindu cultural unity (melting pot) which enables us to understand the nature of Hinduism and the caste system (p. 9). Despite this

apparent unity, however, Pandian also points out that India is indeed a salad bowl with groups who do not blend or mix, and this fact of non-blending renders the label Indian meaningless to signify the cultural, linguistic, or religious unity of India (Pandian, 1995, p. 9). Therefore, the situation of India poses an interesting challenge for anthropological study. Yet another reason why it is important to study Indian culture is because, although many of the nation s traditions remain strong today, the nation is also undergoing rapid change and development. This paper will examine the diversity that exists in India s religious beliefs, language, and social and gender roles. It will then conclude with some views on what people should be aware of when they travel to India to do

business. In terms of religion, the majority of people in India (80 percent) are followers of the Hindu faith. The concepts of karma and reincarnation are among the predominant beliefs of Hinduism. Karma is the belief that a person s actions, good or bad, will result in either good or bad things happening in that person s life. This belief has an effect on behavior because it influences people to treat others, as they themselves would like to be treated. Reincarnation is the belief that a person s soul will return to an earthly body again and again until it is liberated from the cycle of life and death. The way to become liberated is by becoming increasingly detached from worldly things, a process that is understood to take innumerable lifetimes. Belief in reincarnation has an

effect on behavior by giving Indians a more casual attitude toward the demands of time than is found among Westerners (Lewis, 1996, p. 80). Hindus also believe that the goal of reincarnation is to eventually become united with Brahman, the ultimate ground of being, which has no attributes that can be seen or felt. Aside from these basic beliefs, Hindus have a great deal of choice in adapting their own personality to their style of worship. There are different spiritual paths that can be chosen, depending upon whether the worshipper is more disposed to work, devotion or knowledge. In addition, there are hundreds of different deities, both gods and goddesses, that a worshipper can choose from in picking a personal god. The personal god is meant to provide a focus for worship and

devotion and to thus help the believer become more aligned with the impersonal god known as Brahman. Even after choosing a personal deity, Hindus still have flexibility in their style of worship. According to Pandian (1995), a Hindu may change the focus of worship, emphasizing the worship of different deities in relation to changes in his or her own intellectual/emotional growth, or may remain devoted to the worship of a particular deity (p. 56). Although there is a great deal of flexibility in Hinduism, it restricts behavior in certain ways because there are many rituals and obligations that must be consistently followed. In addition to the village temples where people gather to worship, each Hindu home has its own shrine for the purpose of worshipping the family deity. Religion