Stream of Indian Culture

The Stream of Indian Culture

‘The Stream of Indian Culture’ is a vision of culture, as much as a realistic approach to culture, since it, also, explains culture in a manner enabling the reader to grasp it as a concrete reality. The need of this book on culture, which adds to the already available plethora of books on culture, becomes apparent to the reader when he finds that while this book helps him to clearly see his misty vision of culture, it, also, helps his intellect to understand culture.

In the very beginning, Nirmal Kumar makes it obvious that he does not mean from culture what most people understand culture to be. He takes the definition of culture provided by Mathew Arnold and shows its insufficiency. He shows that most people hardly distinguish between culture and civilization. They nearly treat culture and civilization as synonyms. He says, civilization is a creation of science, while culture is a creation of the soul. One who knows how to use scientific knowledge, and can create efficient machines by using it technically, helps the onward march of civilization. But this technical knowledge does not prevent him from abusing science to destroy whatever civilization has created to make life comfortable and pleasant.

The tragedy with the knowledge of manipulating matter to human advantage is that the human mind, due to its intimacy with the structure and behavior of matter, develops the irresistible desire to destroy matter, since it finds that its exclusive intimacy with matter turns matter overbearing and domineering on the mind. It finds only one option to it. Either it must submit to schizophrenia or it must destroy matter. Otherwise, death wish would impel him to destroy the very civilization and humanity that it wants to serve. Whichever – matter or humanity – that the mind, exclusively absorbed in matter, destroys ultimately, destroys life.

He says that culture is not the shedding of the light of our best ideas on our stock notions and beliefs. The improvements in the means of communication have made the best ideas, which great humans have produced, available to everybody through the newspapers and the Internet; and also through the radio, the TV and the films. The shedding of the light of humanity’s best ideas on our stock notions and beliefs is not enough. We need an effort on the part of our instinct to improve our culture. In this context, he shows that other ancient cultures, in their march, soon got mixed up with civilization; and perished when those civilizations became outdated. The Indian culture has survived because it did not mix up culture with civilization. It continued to be the lyrical expression of the highest spiritual truth attained. Since it is the only culture that began with the beginning of man and has survived as a living thing in the ordinary details of the daily life of the modern Indians, it is the only map for the modern man to trace the evolution of his soul. It is also the only power that humanity has developed from within itself. Its power is no lesser than the nuclear power, since in spite of several genocides of the Indians by people who had identified (and thereby confounded both) culture and civilization, the Indians’ flame for their inborn spiritual culture has not extinguished. Being the only surviving culture, and also because, ever since the beginning, the Indians took not only the Indians but also all of humanity as one family, it is veritably the culture of humanity.

What prevents man from the destructive use of scientific knowledge is not civilization but culture. Culture is a vision of something that is spiritual good, truth and beauty that do not create their opposites, namely, evil, ugliness and falsehood. When modern scientists assert that their job is to create a model of the universe that need not resemble the universe, they are speaking the language of the death wish. Their ambition is impelling them to create, with their mathematical intellect, a better universe than the one that Nature (or God) has created. Creating a better universe would require the annihilation of the universe that Nature (or God) has gifted us. This ambition is, obviously, a supernatural ambition with diabolical wings, since they also admit that they cannot create matter and space. They will use the same space and the same matter, by destroying what Nature has made of them. Obviously, their ambition is showing them a future shrouded in mist, and their diabolic excitement is impelling them not to foresee the problems that might start arising when they start creating a universe, taking their mathematical model as the idea of the scientific universe. It is the same kind of excitement that had impelled Lenin to create a society, which did not have the defects of the society in which he was born. He and the Russians after him, tried hard to create that ideal society and after nearly 70 years suddenly gave up the model, since it had created more problems than it had solved. The scientists, who are creating models of the universe and are dissatisfied with the universe created by Nature, know that mankind trusts them naively, and, due to a deadly compound of naïveté and ignorance, mankind can give them the opportunity to create a better universe. Their excitement does not let them foresee the difficulties that they will face and that will compel them to give up at some later stage. They do not know, perhaps, that the Russians had an option after giving up the Marxian model, while when the mathematicians’ model of the universe will fail, they will have no option. Everybody will have to submit to premature apocalypse.

The Indian Culture has grown so lively and organic (as if it were the work of a single lively human) because a long and still surviving series of teachers and disciples (thousands of spiritually enlightened men and women), over the ages, seeking nothing in return, have carried on a tradition of disinterested contemplation of truth. It was like a mental relay race, in which the disciple began from where the Guru had left. There was no room for skepticism, for the disciple lived with the Guru for several years and witnessed his life, which was morally unquestionable. He heard his speech everyday for years together, and found it free of all sorts of fetters and utterly truthful. Living together with the Guru for decades developed in him a natural reverence for the Guru due to his upright character and infallible speech. He also argued with him on all the points that the Guru told him, rendering his vision into words and action. It was only when the Guru and the disciple had left no room for error that the disciple accepted the Guru’s vision, as if it was his own, and inherited the ancient flame of culture from the Guru, to carry it further, before he further passed it on to his disciple.

The rishis (sages) had discovered certain laws of the spiritual world that are as dependable as the laws of physics. One of the spiritual laws was that the soul overcomes all the obstacles in the path of its evolution from darkness to light, and from inaction to positive action, by sacrificing itself to darkness, ignorance and inaction. It cannot overcome any obstacle in its evolution by fighting it. The happy consequence of this spiritual exercise of the soul was that it evolved the light hidden in the soul to perfection. The attainability of the freedom of the heart by not harboring any negative emotion (not by any other means except this) was another spiritual law that never failed them. The third spiritual law was that the total freedom of the mind was attainable only by freeing it of prejudices, envy, wrath, greed, pride and lust, which are merely variations of ignorance. They are essentially non-existent that become existent by tempting the soul or by making it fight them. The rishis said that the freedom of the heart consisted in its ability to love selflessly. They also said that the freedom of the mind consisted of its ability to become one with truthfulness.

Nirmal Kumar says that after self-realization, Truth lay in the hearts of the earliest rishis for thousands of years. Due to this quiet repose of truth, the hearts of the rishis tried to become one with it. The heart’s continuous effort turned Truth into Beauty, for the heart could imbibe only as beauty what the mind had imbibed as truth. The imbibing by the heart of Beauty triggered a spate of beautiful sensations, emotions and visions in the heart. This spate was the birth of culture. These beautiful emotions in the heart needed to flow out. Mankind then discovered beautiful words, gestures, music, dance and painting to communicate Beauty to other humans. This marked the birth of civilization. This effort to communicate to others transformed Beauty into Good.