The Indian worldview of ‘change and continuity’ could be understood from different perspective. Let me illustrate with one real example.
I know a family in Tamilnadhu. The husband is from Andhra and the wife from Kerala. Both are highly educated, but from different community. So as per the trend of ‘change’ they had a love marriage. But once they started their ‘home’, they never kept their need and interest alone as part of their family life. The wife, realizing that she is now married to her husband family, quickly learnt Telugu and also cooking as per her husband’s family tradition. This she has done voluntarily and never insisted upon any of her individuality. Interestingly her husband, who holds a Post-doctoral degree and a scientist, never learnt Malayalam, the mother tongue of his wife. His wife never insisted or expected her husband to learn Malayalam as she found no need for it. The important thing for me in this is that the whole family of her husband are living in Chennai (head quarters of Tamilnadu) and they all know Tamil very well. However, remaining to the cultural sensitivity of her husband’s family and need, she quickly adopted to it.
So as per the change though married against their family tradition, yet to keep the continuity with the past, she understood her role now not merely the wife of her husband but the daughter-in-law of his entire family. Though I don’t have much knowledge about the families in the West, most of the couple will keep the need of their own home first and will never think the importance of their role and relationship to their parents. This doesn’t mean that they are going to completely severe their relationship with their parent’s family and will keep focused on their immediate family alone. However, the role and place of a wife in Indian societies is one good example to show the ‘change and continuity’ in India.
Though ‘change’ is inevitable as it brings new perspective to our views, yet it also brings its own inherited challenges, which the continuity with our past will help us to keep a balance. Forgetting the past which gave our security and identity, those who only focus on the change soon will end up messing their life.
Another important value in our Indian society is that when a couple start their family life—either as part of the joint family under one roof or as a new family separately, yet they remain still part of the family of the husband. To say in other words, in all kinds of marriage, the girl, now as a wife become part of the husband family completely integrating herself with them. Unlike western societies where couple can focus only about themselves, here the (new) couple, while like to have their own privacy, needs, visions etc. still keep the need and welfare of their birth family and will continue to serve them in all possible way. The marriage, education and other needs of the siblings will still remain part of the responsibility of the husband, though he need not take full responsibility.
For this the involvement and cooperation of the wife is important to the husband, which thankfully most of the wives do—though as usual several exception are there to this general rule.
But when the young generation, in the name of modern (or read western) value began to forget their past, soon they will feel the dryness in their life too. There are few young couple, who in the name of ‘our own family’ try to avoid their role and involvement with their parents’ need and life or refuse their parent’s (continuous) service to them, very soon realize the ‘emptiness’ in their life. Mean while their ego—that too based on their education and earning, refuse to repent and reconcile with their parents value began to search a life of their ‘own’ even remaining husband and wife. Then such selfishness soon end up in misunderstanding finally end up in divorce.
We old generation are not against the change, but our only request and longing is that the young generation should not forgot the importance of continuing with the past which will help them to enjoy their life and serve them as well. The uniqueness of Indian civilization is that while accepting changes, it never gives up its old values as meaningless and purposeless. Of course India does not remain the same, yet it never gave up its unique identity which is inherited from the past.
Gurukulam, October 18, 2012