India is probable the only country in the world where people belonging to different religions, castes and creeds, speaking different languages, having different cultures, different modes of living, different clothing, different feeding habits, worshiping different gods and deity live together in harmony and believe to be the children of one mother-MOTHER INDIA. They are one nation at large. They are governed by one central authority, have one Prime Minister, one president, one Supreme Court and one army chief. This is why we say we have unity in diversity.
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Geographically India is a vast country so much so that even one of its states in bigger than many countries of Europe. But the whole country is well bounded by nature. In the north is the Himalayan Range. On the other side is the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea. This provides, natural geographical unity to INDIA>
we have different religions in India. Apart from Hinduism we have the followers of Budhism, Jainsm, Islam, Sikhism, Christiantity and parsees. But Hindus form the greater majority. There are, no doubt, different factions, sections and sub-section but basically we all believe in the theory of Dharma and Karma. The theory of rebirth, purification of soul, salvation, Heaven and Hell holds good for each and every one. We untidily celebrate the festivals like Holi, Diwali, Chrismas, Id, Budh Jayanti and Mahavir Jaynti. This provides unity in diversity.
India philosophy has developed on India soil. It has not been borrowed from anywhere. This has blended the various cultures together. There are differences in overall conception of gods, and modes of worship. These changes have been gradual due to interaction of different groups. But the ultimate aim of achieving salvation and the fear of Hell keeps them all bound together.
Very important characteristic of Indian society is the coexistence of different ethnic groups. These groups formulated inter-group behavior. Hence there is no mutual interference as also no merging of their identity.
There might be some drawback in our constitution such as separate provision for different castes; particularly the backward and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes but industrialization policy and agrarian reforms have generated a new secular outlook giving rise to a new culture. Members of different castes and communities and followers of different religions have come together in forms, factories and educational institution. As a result different cultures have been blended together thereby bringing unity among them.
We have a cultural unity in India in as much as our philosophy of life, our customs, creeds and traditions are basically, more or less, the same. The institution of marriage, the very foundation of a society, exists all over the country and most of the rituals and sanskars are similar everywhere.
Emotional unity plays its own part. The name of Bharat Mata brings us closer and closer together. In spite of different languages and dialects, Sanskrit, the language of Vedas, brings us all together because Sanskrit is the mother of all languages.
The outstanding features of Indian culture responsible for bringing unity in diversity may be summarized as follows:
(a) We Indians lay emphasis on spirituality, not on material wealth.
(b) Religion has the most important place in India. We believe in Karma and Sanskar. Performance of duty is our religion.
(c) Religion tolerance is the unique feature of religions in India. Hence there is no difficulty in coexistence of follower of different religion.
(d) Hinduism, which forms majority of the population, has the capacity to absorb all good cultures. It has either absorbed the immigrant cultures or has largely influenced them.
(e) We have a very broad outlook. We preach and follow religion and spiritualism without ignoring married life and worldly things.
(f) We firmly believe in freedom of thought and freedom of expression because such freedom enriches the culture which then becomes dynamic.
Although unity to the desired extent has not been attained but all attempts by foreign agencies to disrupt it or disprove it have proved futile. We might be subject to regionalism and casteism in trifling matters but we always rise to the occasion in times of need such as foreign interference or invasion on our territory. This is sufficient to prove our unity in diversity.
Here is an essay on Unity in Diversity in India.
Geographically India may not be a united by itself but from times immemorial India has been considered as-one country. The single name Bharatvarsha given to this country emphasis this unity.
According to the authors of ‘Advance History of India’, this name and the sense of unity which it denotes, “was ever present before the minds of the theologians, political philosophers and poets who spoke of the thousand yojans (leagues) of land that stretches from Himalayas to the sea as the proper domain of a single universal emperor.”
During the medieval times the Muslim rulers also considered it as one country and made efforts to capture all parts. The nature has also bestowed a geographical unity by providing Himalayas in the North and Ocean in the other three sides of the country, and thereby completely separating India from other countries.
The rivers of India have also been responsible for giving a sense of unity in the country. Some of the rivers are ascribed divine origin and are considered sacred by every Indian. For example, Ganga is worshipped in all the Tour direction of the country.
Pilgrims from all over the country continue to visit the various holy places situated on its banks. Other rivers like Yamuna and Saraswati are also considered sacred by people all over the country. In short we can say that in spite of the geographical diversity the country has enjoyed a typical unity.
No doubt, the people of India belong to different races but they are so much absorbed in the Hindu fold that they have virtually lost their separate entity. It is a well-known fact that the people of India, to which ever race or region they might belong, are known as Indian or Hindustani. This is a clear proof of the underlying racial unity of the people.
Although India possesses a variety of language, but she has enjoyed a linguistic unity from the earliest times. In the 3rd century B.C. the Prakrit served as the common language of the people. According to Dr. Ray Chaudhri, “Prakrit was the one single language sufficient to bring the message of a royal missionary to the doors of his humblest subject throughout this vast kingdom.” After Prakrit, Sanskrit became the common language of the masses.
The other local languages which subsequently gained prominence originated out of Sanskrit. Some of the prominent Indian languages which owe their origin to Sanskrit include Hindi, Gujarati, Telgu and Tamil. In fact Sanskrit served as the lingua franca during the ancient times.
During the Medieval times also though the Sanskrit language was not extended royal patronage by the Muslim rulers, the rulers in the South continued to patronize it and it continued to flourish. With the coming of British, English became lingua franca. After independence this role has been taken over by Hindi.
The script of the various languages used in India also possess a certain amount of uniformity. In fact almost all the scripts are based on the Brahmin script. The literature produced in different Indian languages also possess an element of unity.
Most of the literature in Indian language drew inspiration from the Sanskrit literature and maintained the unity. No doubt, certain local pieces of literature like Vedas, Puranas, Dharma Sastras and Upanishads were written in Sanskrit and are regarded as the common treasure by the people all over the country.
Religious and Social Unity:
In the religious sphere also despite the manifold diversity a sort of unity has prevailed amongst the various religious sects in the country. India was primarily a Hindu country and its culture was based on Varna Ashram Dharma Vya-vastha, i.e. caste, Ashrams and Dharma.
People in all the four corners of the country followed these principles. The people also worshipped the same Hindu gods all over the country, although they were assigned different names in different regions. The Hindu religious works Ramayana and the Mahabharata were also popular throughout the country and Indians both in the north and the south as well as east and west attach great importance to these works.
Similarly, the Vedas, Puranas and other religious scriptures are given due regard by the people from all parts of the country. Again, every Indian irrespective of his caste, creed and race believes in the doctrine of transmigration of soul, monotheism, immortality of the soul, re-incarnation karma, deliverance or Moksha etc.
The people staying in different parts of the country followed the same religious rites and rituals. Even the religious places of the Hindu like Ayodhya, Avantika, Mathura, Gaya, Kashi, Sanchi, and Puri are located in the four directions of the country.
Hindu festivals like Holy, Diwali are also celebrated in all the regions of the country. In fact, people from all religions participated in these festivals. Thus we find that in spite of the religious diversities there has been an undercurrent of cultural unity which to a large extent nullified the peculiar effects of various religions.
Dr. V.A. Smith says, “The essential fundamental Indian unity rests upon the fact that diverse peoples of India have developed a peculiar type of culture and civilization, utterly different from any type in the world and that civilization may be summed up in the term of Hindustani.”
He further observes, “Her type of civilization has many features which differentiate it from that of all other regions of the world, or rather sub-continent in a degree sufficient to justify its treatment as a unit in the history of the social, religious and intellectual development of mankind.”
The religious and cultural unity has also led to unity in the social sphere. The people belonging to various religions have been following common customs both with regard to the dress and eating habits.
In the political sphere, the unity of the country has been one of the greatest goal which most of the Indian rulers cherished. No doubt, India was divided into a number of small principalities but the powerful rulers were always keen to bring all these areas under their control. They were keen to assume the title of Chakravarti. According to Kautilya, Chakravarti kings domain extended from Himalayas to the seas.
In other words, according to Kautilya, the king was considered to be a Chakravarti only when he succeeded in extending his power or supremacy over the whole of the country. Usually such titles were assumed by the king after due performance of rites and sacrifices.
In the ancient times Chandra Gupta Maurya, Ashoka and Samudra Gupta carved out all India Empires. During the medieval times also kings like Ala-ud-Din Khilji and Aurangzeb made efforts and succeeded in establishing their control over the entire country.
These Muslim rulers have been provided similar system of administration, uniform laws and customs, common coinage etc. and thus imparted a type of political unity to the entire country. Thus we find that despite the variety of religion, cultures, languages, geographical diversity etc., India has enjoyed some sort of the unity.