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Indian Culture & Tradition – The Basis Behind Its Elements

Sadhguru: Every culture is valuable to that particular population largely for emotional and territorial reasons. But the significance of Indian culture is that it is a scientific process towards human liberation and well-being. No other culture has looked at a human being with as much depth and understanding as this culture has. No other culture has looked at it as a science and created methods to evolve a person into his ultimate nature. We know if you do certain things, this will happen to a human being. To put it very bluntly, I would say we have technologies as to how to manufacture an enlightened being.


Indian Culture: A Tool for Wellbeing

This spiritual ethos is not about belief systems. It is about systematic practices which sharpened the mind and body in a certain way. Wherever I travel, whatever kinds of groups of people I meet, I have spoken to top-level scientists, academics and students at very prestigious universities, and various other kinds of people, but I always find that the groups I meet in India are far sharper and smarter than most people anywhere in the world. The country is so effortlessly going ahead in the information technology age while everyone else is struggling essentially because the spiritual ethos in the culture has sharpened the intellect in a certain way. This ethos was so magnificently and intelligently presented in the past, but because of over two centuries of extreme poverty, it has gotten twisted out of shape over a period of time. Every generation has to twist it back into shape where it can be an effective tool for one’s liberation and wellbeing.

Western societies talk about freedom and liberation in political systems. But liberation is the core value of who we are. The significance of this culture is that in every way, we created support for a human being to nurture himself towards his liberation because the only goal in this country was mukti. In the West, they may talk about freedom in physical and social atmospheres, but in terms of real life, there is no freedom because God will decide. Here, God does not decide anything. Here we say whatever is happening to you is your karma. That means it is your making. You are the maker of your life. This is constantly present in everything we do. Somewhere along the way because we lost battle after battle and were conquered, the same karma came to be perceived in a fatalistic negative way. Otherwise, when you say, “Your life is your karma,” we are saying your life is your making. No God is influencing you. And the ultimate goal, the core value of your life is freedom – freedom from prejudice, fear, death – everything.

If you want a family and work towards your liberation, you work that way. If you don’t need it, you work directly. But the only value once you are born in this culture is your mukti. That is how every aspect of this culture – even the simplest thing – was arranged. How should you be if you want to move towards your ultimate freedom?

Indian Culture: Strategically Designed

For example, people who come to our Isha Vidhya schools for the first time notice the children sit on the floor. This is not to save furniture. Sitting cross-legged has immense benefits for your physiology and the development of your mind. Like this, every aspect of life was thought of very strategically.

This is the reason this culture must be nurtured – not because we are emotional about it but because it is a scientific process. It would take thousands of years to set up such a complex scientific mechanism that constantly drives you towards your liberation. Whether you sit, stand, or do anything else, it leads to your wellbeing. Music, dance – everything – is oriented towards making you free. People who get deeply involved in classical music or dance naturally turn spiritual. There is no other way to be.

If we look at ourselves as a nation, the way people look, their language, food, way of dressing, music and dance, everything is different every 50 or 100 kilometers in the country. Everything about people who live in this country is different, but a cultural thread has held us together. This culture of what India has been, which cannot be quantified, is simply there. Wherever you go in the world, if you see an Indian, the very way he sits and walks, you know he is an Indian! It is extremely important that we strengthen this cultural thread because if you destroy this culture, there will be no spiritual process on the planet. There may be individual people in the rest of the world but culturally, there will be no spiritual process on the planet because this is not a culture that accidentally happened for convenience. This is a culture that was engineered by realized beings where every human being is working towards his ultimate liberation.

Indian Culture: Engineered with Gentleness

A certain gentleness was engineered into this culture by the enlightened ones of the past to ensure that its basic skeleton can never be misused in the name of the divine. Individual people may misuse so many things but it will never be empowered by divine sanction. Because of this, a certain gentleness flowered, but when this gentleness was treated as weakness by outside forces, the culture has paid a price and they were exploited.

Now that the world has moved on from military power to economic power, this is the time for this culture to manifest itself. A time has come to reinstate these cultural strengths. If the fundamental focus of this culture, which is to work towards liberating yourself from everything, is reinstated, and everyone strives for that, physically and intellectually, people can function effortlessly. Reestablishing that focus is most important today because every human being tends to get encumbered hugely by these things. But once a person is seeking his liberation and nothing else is important for him, he is greatly empowered.


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