Indian mindset

Updated 16 June 2014

Indians are (according to Dr Agrawal of the Indian Archaeological Society, as we explained on a previous page):

Philosophical, the need to find ‘meaning’


Transcendental – “head in the clouds, feet on the ground”.

For Indian of almost all religious persuasions, religion dominates daily life; and this life is but one of many reincarnations.


Having lived in Calcutta in West Bengal for many years, I personally experienced the philosophical nature of Indians – and be aware that the Bengalis are regarded as highly philosophical and intellectual by other Indians. Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner 1913, is their folk hero, even today. Unlike Bollywood films mostly produced in Bombay, Bengali films tend to be more intellectual and philosophical such as those by Satyajit Ray.

And the West Bengal Communist Party has been in charge for three decades, making it the world’s longest-running democratically-elected communist government! (It got voted out in 2011.) Someone once said that the British Raj may have had a much harder time if the East India Company decided to set up in Bombay rather than Calcutta. It is not clear that the Marathas would have become loyal soldiers as the Bengal Sepoys and Lancers were – up until the Sepoy Mutiny (first Indian war of independence). Anyway, after the second and final Anglo-Sikh war, the Sikhs joined the (British) Indian Army and the Sikh Regiment fought for the British until the end of WWII and won many battle honours, including several Victoria Crosses.

In particular, Indians are interested in metaphysics the study of reality and being – the basis of all four religions that originated in India.


An example of the spiritual nature of Indians is the attendance of the Kumbh Mela. According to Wikipedia: “The Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place at four places (Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik) after every twelve years, while the Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad. Over 45 days beginning in January 2007, more than 17 million Hindu pilgrims took part in the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, and on January 15, the most auspicious day of the festival of Makar Sankranti, more than 5 million participated.

“The Maha Kumbh Mela (‘Great’ Kumbh Mela) which comes after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas which is after every 144 years is also held at Allahabad. The 2001, it was attended by around 60 million people {larger than the population of Britain!} making it the largest gathering in the world.”

Also, as shown on the pages on Body, mind and spirit, Indians are more religious than Chinese.

If you are not familiar with Indian spirituality, I recommend you read Nine Lives – in search of the Sacred in modern India by William Dalrymple. As Rory MacLean’s review says:  “Nine Lives is a collection of short stories that explores how south Asia’s religious traditions are being affected by modernity. Dalrymple asks: “What does it actually mean to be a holy man or a Jain nun, a mystic or a tantric seeking salvation on the roads of modern India, as the Tata trucks thunder past?” In response, he interviews nine individuals with remarkable stories: a young nun who tests her powers of detachment by watching a dear companion starve to death, a prison warder who transforms himself into a medium for the god Vishnu, a Rajasthani Homer who sings medieval poems 600 years old and 4,000 lines long, a Tibetan monk who took up arms against Chinese invaders and atones for the violence by printing perfect prayer flags.”


And the transcendental attitude of Indians is well illustrated by the combination of drive to build significant businesses with the need to pay homage to ancient customs such as consulting astrologers for the best day and time to open a new factory.

Finally, Indians are more open than Chinese and very warm. This has been so for a very long time. Consider a poem by the fourteenth century Indian poet Amir Khusro Dehlavi, a Muslim Sufi – who brought qawwali music into India –  who wrote in Urdu, ancestry was Turkic, counted himself the luckiest man alive to have been born in India and to have India as his motherland. He wrote:

“How exhilarating is the atmosphere of India!
There cannot be a better teacher than the way of life of its people.
If any Foreig