Introduction:

‘The Heritage of India’ is a short essay written by A L Basham. It talks about the richness of Indian Culture. Despite western influence, it talks about how the Indian culture had managed to retain its originality and traditional values as can be seen in the Upanishads and the epics.

About the Author:

Arthur Llewellyn Basham (1914-1986) was a distinguished British historian and Indologist. He has penned a multitude of books. Famous works of him include ‘The Wonder that was India’, ‘History and Doctrines of Ajivikas, and ‘Papers on the date of Kaniska’. The prescribed text is an extract from his book ‘The Wonder that was India’.

Theme:

The theme of the text, as the title suggests, revolves around the continuity of the culture of India. Despite its flaws, its western influence, the culture managed to withhold its integrity.

Summary:          

Mahatma Gandhi:

The essay begins with a description of how Gandhi, according to the author, was the chief of great Indians. He feels that Gandhi, however, was not the ‘epitome of Hindu tradition’ as generally perceived because his ideals were more owed to European liberalism than Indian culture. Non-violence, again, is not a tenet of Hinduism as opposed to resorting to violent means. So was his stance on women’s rights. Thus, the author states how Gandhi had, in fact, shifted the perception of ancient Hindu tradition.

Retaining continuity:

Having said that, the author goes on to confidently state that people of the following generations will not be ‘unconvincing’ and ‘self-conscious’ copies of this culture but would rather be aware of the continuity of their tradition. Despite imbibing values from various other cultures, India had managed to maintain its unique culture. He cites the Upanishads and the epics to state how people would never forget its values, come what may.

Conclusion:

The author concludes by stating that what was extraneous to Indian culture was already shed. Negative aspects such as barbarous customs- child marriage and caste system- was already rapidly vanishing. Thus, he finally ends that no matter what alters, the culture of India will never get lost.