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, Parses etc., live here in harmony and trust. India is secular and yet profoundly religious. The Indian constitution guarantees all its citizens freedom of faith, worship, expression, profession etc. One can follow and preach any religion or 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 colorful 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. Differences in opinion, way of living, in faith and religions, are its real strength, and not weakness. They reflect broad horizon of outlook, the depth of tolerance and dynamism. Here people can have different, even opposite views about 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 faiths 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 Christ, was the first preacher of Christianity in India. He was contemporary of St. Peter in Rome. The Parses came in 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 religious population after the Hindus. Thus, India is 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. Jonah and India’s division into Bharat and Pakistan 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 its 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 Moesha. The great saints, rashes, preachers and philosophers have always been an integral part of composite and common Indian heritage and culture. The Vedas, the Gita, the Ramayana, the Koran, the Guru Grantham 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, faiths and styles of living got so well assimilated into the Indian culture as to strengthen its unity and integrity. Kings, princes, rulers, dynasties, religions and faiths 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 a little over all these diversities, seeming paradoxes and varieties, they fade away into its basic cultural unity and oneness.