INDIAN UNITY IN DIVERSITY
India has always been a melting pot of stupendous paradoxes, extremes, diverse-cultures, religions, languages and the way of living. These colossal diversities and varieties run through the entire fabric of the nation, which present a vision of eternity. Its extra-ordinary oneness and unity amidst adversity and heterogeneity strike people with awe and wonder. One is left breathless and gasping at its sheer vastness, complexity and seemingly paradoxical unity in diversity. About 9000 million human beings, and the following different religions, live here, a fortieth of the earth surface. It is also the world largest democracy.
This ancient land called Bharat or India is so fantastic in colours, dresses, diets, deities, religions, sects, climates, backgrounds, languages, races, faces, and what not, that presents in inexhaustible experience of unity amidst diversity and variety. It has been a meeting point of various cultures, civilizations and religions, for more than five millennia. As a country and a nation it has outlived the test of time and attacks of invaders. It is here that modernity and tradition, urban and rural, religious and secular, peaks and valleys, variety and unity embrace each other in counter balance. There is no other such example of unity and cohesion in diversity. Culturally, India has always been one since ancient times. Politically also it has been a united country with a certain exceptions, its underlying cultural strength, political unity and ethos baffles and defies analysis.
India’s ancient, unique and great culture and civilization has been a great unifying factor. The variety of life here makes a complex but wonderful and a whole pattern. The Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsis etc live here in harmony and trust. India is secular and yet profoundly religious. The Indian constitution guarantees all its citizen freedom of faith, worship, expression, profession etc. One can follow and preach any religion and faith as long as it does not interfere in the religious freedom and practice of the others. It is this diversity, flexibility and dynamism which have enabled India as one nation and one country to survive all odds and attacks since the hoary past. This similarity of outlook and cultural unity runs like a golden thread through its whole colourful fabric.
India’s great cultural and historical heritage is common to all the people and citizens of the country. They are very proud of it. Difference in opinion, way of living, in faith and religious, are its real strength, and not weakness. They reflect a broad horizon of outlook, the depth of tolerance and dynamism. Here people can have different, even opposite view about the life, religion, social structure, economic growth, political system, ways of spiritual development and salvation, and yet belong to one country, one nation, that is Bharat. To envisage a complete unity and regimentation without allowing differences of opinion would be really counterproductive and self-defeating. Unity in diversity of thoughts, life styles and faith has been the main driving force of Indian nationalism.
The one greatest virtue of Indian culture has been its abiding tolerance and respect for others. The tolerance shown by the people of India all these centuries in the face of many challenges, invasions and various provocations has been really tremendous. People of many faiths and cultures came here as invaders, tourists, refugees, seekers of spiritual peace and wisdom, but ultimately they got assimilated into its vast cultural unity and heritage. St. Thomas, one of the first 12 disciples of the Christ, was the preacher of Christianity in India. He was the contemporary of St. Peter in Rome. The Paris came in the 8th century, seeking refugee from religious persecution in Iran and brought Zoroastrianism. The Jews came quite early about 2000 years ago. Muslims in India form the largest the religion population after Hindus. Thus, India is the one of the largest Islamic nations. However, the recent communal flare-ups and clashes are political in nature. They are exceptions than the rule. They should be taken as an aberration or temporary lapse. The Indian masses are basically tolerant, harmonious and peace loving. They feel proud to be Indians. In spite of the two-nation theory propounded by Mr. Jinnah and India’s division into Pakistan and India in 1947, the fundamental cultural unity of India is a living thing, a long established fact and a historical truth.
The moral and spiritual values of India have always been the same in spite of many political and social changes. They have further strengthened the fundamental unity of India. Throughout it’s a long history; Indian people have been deeply religious and spiritual. They have always accorded the highest place and value to spiritual development and evolution of the soul. For them the ultimate and only aim of life is liberation, Nirvana or Moksha. The great saints, rishis, preachers and philosophers have always been an integral part of composite and common Indian heritage and culture. The Vedas, the Gita, the Ramayana, the Quran, the Guru Grantha Sahib, the Bible etc are held in great respect by the people of all sections and classes of the country. They participate in one another’s festivals with great enthusiasm. Different cultures, thoughts, faith and styles of living got so well assimilated into the Indian culture as to strengthen its unity and integrity. Kings, princes, rulers, dynasties religious and faith have come and gone, but India has remained one and united. They all have been very well assimilated into its vibrant culture and heritage. Assimilation, absorption accommodation and incorporation have been the hall-mark of Indian culture and unity. When one ponders little over all these diversities, seeming paradoxes and varieties, they fade away into its basic cultural unity and oneness.