The Essence of Indian Culture: Inspired Personalism.
The movement of Indian culture is always from collective violence and chaos and destruction to personal peace, unity, harmony and cultural creation.
What can be said of a culture whose gesture for "yes" is a head wiggle? Isn't that a particularly personal and indiosyncratic gesture?
This primal duality between tradition and personal expression is impersonal and cosmic in nature. That is to say, it is impersonal, in that: EVERYTHING is passing from tradition to personal expression; and it is cosmic, in that: war and chaos and destruction are FOREVER finding their resolution in the person of the mystic, the warrior and the goddess. (These clusters of personality rarely manifest alone, incidentally, but always in the form of narrative drama. The inner logic of the Ramayana and Mahabharata is an inspired narrative personalism.)
The final resolution of the Indian duality is in the creation of exquisite personal beauty. This is a beauty not from externalization of the ideal/idea (as with Western culture), not as an expression of a tradition as a mode of permanent becoming (Chinese culture), but an expression of beauty as unique and personal as if there had never been any other Indian culture than that particular expression now! This accounts for the remarkable freshness and youthfulness of Indian culture, a quality which never seems to fade.
The abovementioned will be found to resolve all questions of distinction and difference between Indian and the other great world cultures. It draws directly from the inspired source of dream and inspired utterance. Here's how:
Yesterday Peter and I went to the Art Gallery. Peter, a devout Christian, was shown the Virgin Mary and Infant Christ first, then some superb Indian prints of the Indian Gods. When he was shown Adi-Shakti, and the personal connection I felt with the goddess was expessed, he asked
"How does this tally up with our Christianity, then?"
I replied, "Adi-Shakti is the Virgin Mary. It's the same symbol, for the same experience, expressed in a different culture."
I then showed him how the other Indian Gods express themselves in Western culture, one by one. He was astonished. But the subconscious mind continued to work away at the question, and it manifested in a dream.
Then, on waking today, I had from the now-forgotten dream the immediate knowledge of the essential cultural distinction of Indian culture implanted in my waking consciousness. Putting it down in words it elaborated itself almost instantly, but it was captured for an instant in personal consciousness, before it became "Westernised" into this blog post. So this attests not only to inspired source of this information, but also to its inevitable Western contamination by elaboration and conceptual artistry. The primal way - as the Chinese Taoists say - that can be named is not itself the primal way! But at least we can point at the magnificent source of Indian culture and admire.