Civilizations have forever inspired each other; but the traffic has not always been even. Working as the powerhouses of innovative ideas, some civilizations have exported more thoughts than others. India is one of these civilizations. Inspired by its role as world guru in ideas, Dr. Jean Le Mee mused:
The Pyramids have been eroded by the desert wind, the marble broken by earthquakes, and the gold stolen by robbers, while the Veda is recited daily by an unbroken chain of generation, travelling like a great wave through the living substance of mind.
India Inspires will provide the platform to intellectuals, academicians, scholars, saints, profound thinkers & experts to help seekers get a deeper understanding of Indic Civilization. It wish to provide a holistic vision which was the hallmark of Indian civilization which helps in resolving multiple conflicts that globalized world is facing today. To achieve its vision, India Inspires will carry out diverse activities that include:
She [India] had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of material wealth; she was populous with deep thinkers and subtle intellects; she had mines, and woods, and a fruitful soul.
Persia, one of the largest civilizations of its time, was an offshoot of the ancient Vedic civilization. It took most of its ideas from India. Even Ancient Egypt was influenced by it. The cotton in which they embalmed their pharaohs came from India; and along with it came many ideas. They persisted long enough to influence Gnostic Christianity. India's reputation as the fountainhead of great ideas led Voltaire to say:
I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, - astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis...It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry...But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins' science not been long established in Europe.
Not only the West but the Far East was also a benefiter of Indian ideas. Buddhism was the great export from India to the Far East. The word 'Zen', meaning the method of meditation in Japan, has its roots in the Sanskrit word 'dhyana'. Even the martial arts, the hallmark of the Sinic civilizations, were an import from India.
Being the most advanced civilization for most of its history, India has contributed significantly to the development of science. Physicists like Einstein, Schrodinger and Heisenberg; mathematicians like Laplace; cosmologists like Carl Sagan; and psychologists like Carl Jung and philosophers like Voltaire and Alduous Huxley have taken inspiration from Indian philosophy and science. The universal reach of Indian ideas is emphasized by Sylvia Levi in the following words:
She (India) has left indelible imprints on one fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim...her place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of humanity. From Persia to the Chinese sea, from the icy regions of Siberia to Islands of Java and Borneo, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales, and her civilization!
Another important feature of Indian civilization is its continuity. It is not only most ancient but has the longest continuous historical record.
Rome and Greece fell to the onslaughts of the barbarians and the Bible toting early Christians. Egypt died with the burning of the ancient library of Alexandria. Persia fell like a pack of cards against Islam. China survived long enough but fell against the Communists in the twentieth century when Confucian ethics, the foundation of Chinese civilization, came under heavy attack. Only India endured.
Though India had more than enough of its share of foreign invasions, it managed to maintain the civilizational continuity through the ages. While in the medieval ages, India became economically weak, its social fabric managed to endure, even while under assault. During its long life, it has been spreading its timeless message of sustainability and immortality.
Looking at our own history from a borrowed vision for the last two hundred years, we are accustomed to see only defeat and division, resulting in a guilt-ridden conscience. This guilty-conscience has led to a collective amnesia; we have forgotten what was and is great in our civilization. While discussing contemporary problems, these issues of civilizational importance are often forgotten. We seldom ask:
How did India manage to survive so long without losing its identity? How did it manage to pass its philosophy, rituals and customs on, down the generations? What is it that has kept Indian culture from disintegrating for millennia?
When a country is economically weak, it invites criticism, but when it rises, opinions change and people start seeing it in new light. Before 1991, Indians were accused of being lazy, other-worldly, risk-averse and corrupt. The economic reforms of 1991, which ended the socialist era in India, helped create an image of Indians as hard-working, disciplined and visionary.
In the twentieth century, when India is economically rising, the world expects it to play the fountainhead of ideas again. The West, having saturated itself with wealth and luxuries, is now searching for peace. Having secured itself materially, it now aims to get hold of a spiritual anchor; and India can provide for this need.
India can play a unique role in the modern world as it holds a special philosophical position. While the West is skeptical of spirituality, the Middle East scorns science. India, respectful of both science and spirituality, can bridge this gap and provide unique inspiration.
Whenever a nation rises, it looks upon its historical roots. Roots are necessary for the continuous nourishment of a tree. When they are neglected, the leaves fall; the branches wither; and the tree dies. Europe was languishing in the Dark Ages till the Europeans rediscovered their pagan roots in Greece and Rome, resulting in the Renaissance.
India is in a similar position today. The economic boom has infused Indians with a certain pride. This pride is now compelling them to look at their roots. In a place like India, where cultural continuity is maintained, one does not have to go far to seek the roots. Indians are still following the same customs, same rituals and same traditions, which they practiced thousands of years ago.
What remains to be done, is to bring Indian sciences and humanities in the mainstream. India has a tradition of shastratha
- mutual exchange of ideas through debate and discourse. In it, one calmly shares one's opinion and also listens to the opponent's view. It makes exercising freedom of expression real. This wonderful method of exchanging ideas inspired Will Durant to write:
It is instructive to see with what calmness the Hindu thinkers discuss these questions, seldom resorting to persecution or abuse, and keeping the debate upon a plane reached in our time only by the controversies of the mature science.
The team of India Inspires
wishes to invite prominent scholars, dharma gurus, leaders, artists and social activists etc. to debate and discuss: why India has been a fountainhead of ideas for thousands of years; and how can it contribute to the modern world. India Inspires
aims to become a humble platform for facilitating civilized debate on these topics, using the medium of Internet, the medium most familiar to the youth.
The sessions of speeches of these intellectuals will be recorded in High Definition and will be posted on the site of India Inspires - www.indiainspires.org
, making it available to the audience worldwide. Using the power of the social networking tools, it will try to spread the ideas as far and wide as possible.