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Books about Arts

  • India’s greats classic culture—art, poetry, literature and music


People flock to museums like never before, so they must have their motives. But when it comes to art, people get strangely afraid to ask too directly what it all might be for, because everyone except you might know the answer already. It’s perhaps too obvious; it’s perhaps too complicated; the result is an awkward silence.

What is described as the culture of India is often more correctly viewed as the culture of northern India. Much of India’s greats classic culture—art, poetry, literature and music—has its roots in or was strongly influence by Persian culture. Nationwide, there are traditions of folk music, religious music and music associated with theater, radio and film. In addition, India's ethnic groups, each have their own entertainment, religious and folklore traditions. In the past music, dance and theater were often associated with prostitution and entertainers traditionally belonged to lower castes. Many traditionalists in India find Western music and culture offensive.

It has long been argued that the goal of art and culture in India is tap into something universal and spiritual. On the Indian concept of aesthetics, the Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta wrote n the 10th century: “Artistic creation is the direct or unconventionalized expression of a feeling of passion ‘generalized,’ that is, freed from distinction in time or space and therefore from individual relationships and practical interests, through an inner force of the artistic core creative intuition within the artist. This state of consciousness (irasa) embodied in the poem is transferred to the actor, the dance, the reciter and to the spectator.

South Asia “has been the seat of great civilizations from time immemorial. From the Himalayan mountains to the vast island chains of the equator, from the Indian subcontinent to the Pacific, the peoples of this region have produced magnificent art for thousands of years. Included are examples of Buddhist and Hindu sculpture in stone and bronze, later Indian court art, miniature painting, and elegant personal possessions. These artworks demonstrate that the people who created and owned them keenly appreciated the things of this world—the luxury and fine craftsmanship that power can command—and at the same time probed deeply into spiritual and cosmic matters of great complexity. South Asia encompasses the modern nations of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The subcontinent was the source of a great civilization which spread to Afghanistan in the northwest, to the Himalayan region (modern Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet) in the northeast, and eastward to Southeast Asia.

Culture plays an important role in the development of any nation. It represents a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices. Culture and creativity manifest themselves in almost all economic, social and other activities. A country as diverse as India is symbolized by the plurality of its culture. India has one of the world’s largest collections of songs, music, dance, theatre, folk traditions, performing arts, rites and rituals, paintings and writings that are known, as the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) of humanity. In order to preserve these elements, the Ministry of Culture implements a number of schemes and programmes aimed at providing financial support to individuals, groups and cultural organizations engaged in performing, visual and literary arts etc.

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