India's art, culture and literature

The fountainhead of human wisdom, culture and science, India has a deep history spanning 8000 years.



From Indus Valley to a vibrant Democracy


The word culture is derived from the latin word ‘cult’ which means cultivating or refining our actions. The Hindi equivalent for culture is ‘Sanskriti’, a word derived from the Sanskrit word ‘kriti’ which means action. Sanskriti signifies refining our actions, or refining whatever we do. Thus, the words ‘Culture’ and ‘Sanskriti’ essentially signify refinement or development. Culture varies from place to place, as history, events and evolution shape it strongly.

[Read this Bodhi in Hindi, here]

Resplendent, deep, colourful, evolving - the culture of India!
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During the process of our development as human beings over thousands of generations, we have never been required to develop from scratch new cultures or language scripts for each generation. What we did was to build and develop on the base provided by our past generations. We stood on the shoulders of our ancestors, and peeped into the future! The first major civilization in the world was the Sindhu Ghati or the Indus Valley civlizationspanning more than 1000 urban centres replete with personal bathrooms, toilets and sewers along all major roads! And that was 3000 years ago – a mind-boggling feat indeed. The Vedic culture replaced the IVC later. Though it is dead and gone now, recent excavations have tantalizingly shown the artifacts and culture of those times, and some pleasant shocks may be in store.

Here's a small excerpt from a detailed session on IVC. Lecture conducted bilingually (English + Hindi). Enjoy! (full lectures in Premium section. Click here to know more, and enrol.)






India is a nation with a deep history spanning at least 10 thousand years. The vast diversity of art, culture and literature has witnessed constant changes and developments, shaped as per changing times, circumstances and invaders’ outlook. They convey the direction of our thought and living. Culture is reflected in our art and literature, religious practices and even in our ways of recreation and entertainment. We are a product of culture, as much as culture is our offspring.

The variety of festivals celebrated in India is a manifestation of the rich tapestry stitched over time. We find that though celebrations differ from region to region, but the overriding themes are the same. Almost all states in India have their own harvest festivals but are celebrated differently across states. But the occasion is common – the harvest season, in a primarily agricultural society. The music, art forms, dances and dramatics of India take a myriad hue, and a lifetime may not be enough to master or even enjoy them all.

[इस बोधि को हिंदी में पढ़ें, यहाँ]

Culture and its many facets


Culture can be material, related to the physical aspects of our life, or non-material, related to thoughts, ideologies and beliefs. Both run deep roots in our existence, and ample proofs bear testimony to it. Indian culture has had an enduring character, assimilating many cultures within itself and allowing each one to develop and grow on its own in a different way.  Today, many of the antiquated traditions and practices no longer exist, but one can feel their echo. When people call the USA as a “melting pot”, they overlook the original prototype – Hindustani civilization!



A variety of invading foreign ethnic groups like the Mongols, the Mughals and the British added new dimensions to India, at times forcefully. But India never gave up its originality. We accepted Urdu, Persian and the English languages as our own, for means of communication and even literature. This is the enduring greatness of Indian culture, although it seems we have swung too far away now from our roots.


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This Bodhi will be regularly updatedKeep visiting. And do share your thoughts in the Comments thread.

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    • Bodhi Links (for deeper study; Caution: some may be external links, some large PDFs)
      •  ##chevron-right## Government of India archives – Culture here ##chevron-right## List of IVC sites here ##chevron-right## Ministry of Culture, GoI – Archives here ##chevron-right## Ministry of Culture, GoI – Annual Report – English pdf here ##chevron-right## Ministry of Culture, GoI – Annual Report – Hindi here ##chevron-right##  List of Hindu festivals here ##chevron-right## Vedic Sanskrit  here



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Bodhi Booster: India's art, culture and literature
India's art, culture and literature
The fountainhead of human wisdom, culture and science, India has a deep history spanning 8000 years.
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