Let’s Preserve Our Rich Heritage
Our heritage is all that has been passed to us by previous generations. Heritage refers to something inherited from the past. The word has several connotations. Natural heritage refers to, an inheritance of fauna and flora, geology, landscape and landforms, and other natural resources. Cultural heritage refers to the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society – man-made heritage. Food heritage refers to recipes and ingredients and procedures of cooking, industrial heritage refers to monuments from industrial culture. Virtual heritage refers to an ICT (information and communication technology) work dealing with cultural heritage. Inheritance of physical goods after the death of individual; of the physical or non-physical things inherited. Heredity refers to biological inheritance of physical characteristics. Birthright refers to something inherited due to the place, time, or circumstances of someone’s birth. And, Kinship refers to the relationship between entities that share a genealogical origin.
It is all around us. It is in the houses we live in, our educational institutions, our places of work, the transport we use, our places of worship, our parks, our gardens, beaches, the places we go to for our social life, in our language, literature, music, sports, in the ground beneath our feet, in the shape of our landscape and in the placing and arrangement of our fields, villages, towns and cities. Heritage is also found in our moveable possessions, from our national treasures in our museums, to our own family businesses, and in the intangible such as our history, traditions, legends and language. While all that we inherit is strictly our heritage, the term has become synonymous with the places, objects, knowledge and skills. I strongly feel that we must learn to value our inheritance for reasons beyond their mere utility and their functional use.
This is because each heritage is unique and exceptional; it is the responsibility of the current generation to preserve it. It’s so sad that due to us – the citizens of this nation and our government’s sloppy attitude we have lost a lot of historical, geographical, cultural heritage. This clearly shows we lack respect for our history. In order to build a great future every nation must connect with its past. Our past is loaded with brilliance, heroism, ethnicity, empires, inventions, also a lot of suffering and sorrows. The peaceful native people were massacred and virtually wiped out by invaders. Our history has experienced slavery in its most brutal and oppressive form. I have this strong belief that all generations born after independence have taken governance, rules and regulations, law & order for granted. They grew up in a very different world where a transition began towards Western culture.
We achieved independence but forgot the freedom fighters, we won so many wars but forgot the warriors, we believe in equality today but forgot those great rebellions who struggled for it, and we are enjoying industrialization today but forgot the first generation of industrialists who had to bear the brunt of the Britishers; who were not given good treatment and equal chances. We have some of best musical inheritance, paintings, artifacts which we are hardly bothered about. We are so callus to not even make a mention of all those mammoth contributions made by thousands of people to create a powerhouse economy in our country due to which we can boast of many other laudable achievements today.
Our national accomplishments are the result of long journeys and numerous processes. It is these processes and journeys that we have no detailed records of and the very few persons who still remember may not be around much longer. There were long and sometimes painful steps that had to be taken to create the country we have today.
India is home to some great traditions. What are they? The first is spirituality of India. Nowhere else in the world will you find such profound and deep spirituality that can win over the hearts of people and make them blossom from within. The second is Ayurveda, it is such a unique tradition in which the medicines have no side effects, and only work to protect and enhance our mind and body. The third is Yoga; regardless of the country, people all over world are rapidly adopting and incorporating Yoga in their lives. The fourth tradition is music. India is home to so many different types and schools of music. I don’t think in any other part of world you will find such a rich diversity in music and dance.
The other mentionable heritage is of the language and dialect. You will find that after every 200-300 kilometers, the language or the dialect changes; the music and dance changes; the local culture and beliefs change. You will not find such diversity anywhere else in the world. Music, dance and drama (full of Navarasas) are inseparable from our culture. How can we forget our food? India has a fantastic basket of variety of recipes across the country. Next is our dressing and attire; you will see such a variety of clothes and dressing styles, and even the opulence of ornaments and accessories worn along with them. We decorate our idols in temples also with beautiful fabrics and ornaments. Due to such fascinating diversity in all aspects of life Indian tourism stands tall in the world. I have to mention proudly about our Sanskrit language. Do you know that Sanskrit fits the bill to become a computer language? Forbes in 1987 reported that Sanskrit is very suitable to use in computer as a programming language, because of its perfect syntax. Interestingly, Sanskrit has very little room for error as well. We have to take all efforts to nurture and conserve Sanskrit by compulsorily teaching it from primary standards in schools.
Our national anthem mentions about all regions, language, geographical inheritance, natural resources and culture of India and it advocates the people of India to preserve and cultivate its rich cultural heritage.
Albert Einstein said “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”
Max Mueller, German scholar has quoted “If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India”.
Anthropology, as a discipline of Humanities can do quite a lot in treasuring and nurturing our rich heritage. Universities can take some positive steps to stimulate Anthropology branch with adequate facilities and infrastructure; so that many youngsters opt for this branch of study. Besides collecting and preserving the narrative of our past, we should also be proud of it. We lack any real nationalism and pride. This is ruthlessly demonstrated in the way we treat our environment, how shabbily we have kept our heritage monuments, forts, architectural sites. We are very poor because we have not preserved our rich heritage.
Ignorance and shame regarding our own country is not only limited to the younger generations, the older generations are no less to hold closer the western culture with much fervor. Look at any Indian soap operas – they project unreasonable and unsound culture and customs.
I feel unless we wake up from our deep slumber to accept who we are, our authenticity, and begin to take pride in it, we may lose whatever little inheritance is left with us. We should take enormous efforts to maintain our uniqueness of heritage. We cannot displace our past, and if do so, we will become a bland and soulless country.