The English word culture is synonym of Hindi word Sanskriti. Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
According to Vajansaneyi Sanhita, Culture means to prepare or to complete. Aitraye brahmin refers culture to composition. The word culture in Mahabharta, has been used for lord Krishna. According to Hindi Sahitya Kosh, culture means to clean or to purify. According to Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Sanskriti is a way of life, which is deposited in society in the period of centuries and it occupies the society in which we live.
Redfield has used the concept of 'Folk Culture' first for the type of society which he encountered in Tepoztlan and subsequently as an ideal type in opposition to city life. Other anthropologists use the terms 'folk culture and society uncritically in the sense of non primitive but relatively simple cultural types which are coming in contact with modern industrial civilization.
The definition of 'folk culture, and society' in terms of ideal polar types (urban and non-urban) groups all non-urban people together. If we use these concepts in this sense the analysis of folk culture in the city is not possible. But anthropologists, using the concepts of folk culture and folk society, thought that these concepts may afford a useful framework for empirical research and the exploration of more general theories of culture.
This shows that neither folk society is whole society, nor folk culture is a whole culture. Instead, they are a part of a larger social unit. The folk component of this larger unit is also a part of the pre-industrial urban centers. In this sense folk and urban are not polar concepts; rather, they are both integral parts of the definition of a certain type of socio-cultural unit in which the pre-industrial city also exists.
But the primitive people are not included in folk category because they are complete in themselves, and their culture is a whole culture in itself. However, the use of the concept of folk culture in latter sense explains that a folk stratum is a part of a pre-industrial society, and is coterminous with the entire community in the rural setting, whereas in the urban setting it is merely a part of the community.
This point of view distinguishes the use of the term folk culture from the concept of folk society which Redfield uses more or less indiscriminately. Thus while dis¬tinguishing the concept of folk culture from the concept of 'folk society' we may say in the words of George M. Foster that a folk culture 'may be thought of as a common way of life which characterizes some or all of the people of many villages, towns, and cities within a given area', and a folk society may be thought of as an organized group of individuals characterized by a folk culture.
Many elements of folk culture may occur in social aggregates which are not basically folk societies but folk societies cannot exist apart from folk culture.
Today, the desert seems romantic, its men and women the inheritors of a gloriously chivalrous past, its arts and expressions are of a brave but sensitive race, its architecture the embodiment of strength and grace. These clichés contain, as clichés often do, a kernel of truth and yet they obscure the very real heroism and tenacity of a people who tamed their hostile environment, creating beauty from the rock and sand of barren lands and developing a code of living that was as implacable as the desert in which they lived.
The earliest inhabitants of this part of western India were tribes who settled in a few fertile tracts, and groups of nomads who travelled with their herds from one oasis to another. The first chieftains who carved themselves tenuous fiefdoms out of this inhospitable landscape were probably more foolhardy than brave. And yet they remained, sustaining their hegemony over their lands through stern vigilance and military strength. Gradually, these early fiefdoms developed into flourishing kingdoms.
The rulers fought each other constantly, so that each one developed a warlike ethos and a defensive style of architecture. Trade sustained them, for the trade route into the fabulously rich plains of India lay through their lands.
As trade burgeoned and traders prospered, cities rose out of the sand, decorated with all the skill of a rich inheritance of craftsmanship and all the decorative influences of a widening horizon of activity nurtured by contact with the other parts of India and with the world.
Steadfastness, loyalty, unflinching courage were valued by the people of Marwar. Unswerving devotion to deities and to leaders was a base upon which their society was built. The warriors of this land never went to war without paying homage to their kul-devis and devatas, the family deities. And the living examples of these deities, the con-temporary saints and seers, made a deep impression upon their minds. War was a part of the ethos. When the fortunes of war turned the practice of Jauhar, the mass self-immolation by women and the men's suicidal defense of beleaguered forts gave the land, an aura of mystic courage and self-sacrifice that time has not dulled. And yet, in a brutal, war-torn past, history is full of examples of human sensitivity.
Meera Bai, the legendary poet-princess, left her palace because she wanted to worship Krishna. She is credited with writing some fine verses and Knshna-bhajans, many of which are still sung today. She travelled from place to place singing songs of love for Krishna.
Marwar, the magnificent sword arm of western India, has been passing through many vicissitudes. Every inch of land in Marwar speaks about the battles, sacrifices, intrigues and many political activities. It is but natural that a land which laced countless battles gave birth to many bold and valiant but chivalrous heroes and saw bloodshed many a time should possess a rich bardic literature. Besides, the kings and chieftains played hosts to musicians, architects, sculptors and numerous other artistes. The land of Marwar has been the scene of Rathore rulers for more than five centuries.
Marwar enjoyed the vast political powers even during the period of Delhi Sultanat, Mughal Empire and British regime. Hence, today we find a rich harvest of forts, temples and other places of historical interest. The people of Marwar who otherwise live in a dry and sandy part, to avoid the monotony of life have been giving an outlet to their feelings and emotions in the Farm of folk songs, folk tales and artisans.
The otherwise unconducive natural environment and war-ridden political atmosphere is likely to turn people towards religious chores and thus there is no dearth of religious fairs and ceremonies in the land.Thus In the annals of Indian history, this territory had ever belonged to brave men and dedicated women. Different tribes, their way of living, style of dress, and cultural charm are unique and colourful.
Values and Moral excellence In Marwar
Every stratum of Hindu Society of the Marwar region honours Hindu values, moral excellence and beliefs. Hindu values, moral excellence and beliefs are based upon ancient religious literature. The treasure of Hindu religious literature is enriched with four Vedas (The Rigveda, The Yajurveda, The Samaveda and The Atharvaveda. The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. The Samhitas date to roughly 1700–1100 BCE.), more than 200 Upanishads (More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main Upanishads. These are- Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Isha, Brihadaranyaka, Kena, Katha, Brihadaranyaka, Mandukya, Maitri, Svetasvatara. Radha krishnan describes their time between 800 BC to 600 BC.), eighteen Puranas (Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Naradeya Purana, Garuda Purana, PadmaPurana, Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana, Kurma Purana, Matsya Purana, Brahma Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana. The date of the production of the written texts does not define the date of origin of the Puranas. On one hand, they existed in some oral form before being written while at the same time, they have been incrementally modified well into the 16th century.), two epics (Mahakavyas - Ramayana and Mahabharata) and several Smrities.
This vast range of literature was created in the long span of centuries. This literature ordains about principles of right conduct, values and rituals, sacred, sin, good, bad, pure and impure. The people of Marwar also believe in the values and duties depicted in the holy literature. Though the time has changed but the people of Marwar still practice the traditional values.
In the post Gupta age or Rajput period (648 A.D to 1206 A.D.), a number of smritis viz. Vyasa, Usana, Atri, Angira, Yama, Laghu-Vishnu, Daksha, Devala etc. were written. The period of the Smritis is assigned between 600 to 900 A.D. Among the treatises on dharma of this period the followings are very important viz. Krityakalpataru of Lakshmidhara (1100-1130 A.D.), Smritichandrika of Devannabhatta (1200-1225 A.D.), Chaturvargachintamani of Hemadri (1260-1270 A.D.) and Vyavahara Nirnaya of Varadaiaja (1200-1300 A.D.) A number of commentaries were written on Manu and Yajnavalkya during this period.
The commentators on Manu are Medhatithi (825-900 A.D.), Govindaraja (1080-1110 A.D.) and Kultuka (1150-1300 A.D.) The commentators on Yajnavalkya are Visvarupa (800-850 A.D.), Vijnanesvara (1080-1100 A.D.) and Apararka (1100-1130 A.D.). Madhava (1300-1380 A.D.) wrote a commentary on Parasarasmriti. They have now and then added their own views in the commentaries. The Puranas which were compiled during this period are Vishnudharmottara, Varaha, Agni, Siva, Skanda, Brahmavaivarta and Padma.
To some of the previous Puranas the sections about vows (vrata), ceremonies and pilgrimage were added in this period. A number of books for propagation of Jainism were written by the Jainas during Rajput period. Authoritative information is received also from the inscriptions of this period.
Dharma, Varna and Ashrama
Devala smriti ordains one to listen to the quintessence of dharma and not to do to others what one would not like to be done to one's oneself. Sankhya smriti stresses that forbearance, truthfulness; self restraint and purity are the common duties of all the varnas. (There were four Vernas— Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra.) Medhatithi, the commentator on Manu who flourished between circa 825-900 A.D., classified dharma as five-fold viz., Varna dharma, Asrama (There were four Ashrams— Brahmcharya, Grihstha, Vanprastha and Sanyasa) dharma, Varnasrama dharma, Gun dharma and Naimittika dharma.
But Vijnanesvara who flourished in circa 1000-1180 A. D. and wrote the famous Mitakshara, commentary on Yajnyavalkya has mentioned the above five forms of dharma together with the sixth called Sadharana dharma. Hemadhi (1260-1270 A.D.) the writer of Chaturvarga Chintamani has classified dharma under six heads. This means that the six-fold classification of dharma was quite old and well established during this period.
It is quite clear from the above classification that every varna had a specific dharma to be followed. A man in every stage of life (asrma) was to follow a specific set of rules. Every person who belonged to a particular varna was also in a particular stage of life and he had to follow the rules pertaining to the varna and asrama.
Every post and position also had specific dharma attached to it called guna dharma. There was also a form of dharma which was called naimittika dharma i.e. expiation for doing what is forbidden. Last but not the least important was sadharana dharma which was common to all the varnas and stages.
Statue Worship and Construction of Temples
In Rajput period, sacrificial (Ista dharma) rites of the vedic period did not completely disappear but they were no longer very popular in this period. Instead of it Purta dharma had become very popular. Puranas made this dharma very popular, because they propagated the worship of Pauranic gods viz. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Vinayaka, Shakti etc. and that led to the construction of statues and big temples for their adoration. The images of Brahma belonging to the temples of Sewadi, Kiradu and Osiyan of Marwar reveal the prevalence of the worship of Brahma before the commencement of our period. They are also found in the museums of Amber, Ajmer and Jhalawar.
An image of 7th-8th century of Lakulish (Veenadhari Shiva) in Bhur-bhavah-seshwar temple at Sundha hill depicts early mediaeval cults of Marwar. Figures of Nag-Nagin at a outer panel of a Prtihara's time Baori of in Chhoti-Khatu (Nagaur district) indicates the effect of the Pauranik lores (Kalia Daman) over the society of Marwar. The images of Parwati and other female deities of latter period referred to in Ride Excavation Circle etc., indicate their worship in Marwar. People of that era also included the excavation of wells, step wells, tanks, establishment and maintenance of public gardens and satras (distribution of food). The erection of stupas and chaityas was an old practice with the Buddhists. Buddha's image came to be worshipped by the time of the Kushanas. The Hindu and Jainas did not lag behind in building temples for adoring their own gods or incarnations. Thus the place of sacrifice was taken by Purta dharma.