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I've transcribed words pronounced by Ramanand Puri during the Kumbh Mela 2001:
(Source: see this video from 1:50 to 2:25)

"Every place, every society, every country is famous for its specialization.
If you talk of righteousness, spiritualism, then India comes first.
If you talk of electronics then Japan comes first.
In richness, America is very powerful."

Question: Why India "comes first"?

If I stop the post here, it would sound a bit "not politically correct" and "primarily opinion-based".

Nevertheless, the last Maha Kumbh Mela (2013) welcomed more than 100 million people !
The sages are very respected in India. A completely naked sādhu can cross a modern city and this is normal for most people, and sometimes, a suit dressed man, seeing the sādhu in the street, goes to him for a pranāma before joining his workplace, and this is also normal.

So, through this post, what I really want to understand is:
Why the spirituality is so respected, so "alive" in India (compared to other countries)?
Are there historical or geographical explanations?

Why do most of the avatars took place in this country? Why so many sages and gurus was born India? Is there any special mentions about these in scriptures?

closed as primarily opinion-based by The Dictator, Pratik Bhat, user3459110, Mr_Green, Ankit Sharma Aug 8 '14 at 7:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I heard it is so because Hinduism supports karma which is related to righteousness.. – Mr_Green Aug 1 '14 at 16:45
  • @Mr_Green: what do you mean by "supports karma". – Sebastien Palcoux Aug 1 '14 at 16:53
  • It is a great question, why close votes? I was thinking about asking the same question. – user11 Aug 1 '14 at 17:18
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    @Mr_Green:We can't analyze a question based on the answer(which is not accepted). It is a nice question which deserves a detailed answer. There are special mentions of BharathaVarsha in texts and being born here is considered as a rare privilege in a human life. Please no more close votes.. – user11 Aug 1 '14 at 17:21
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Bharat Aug 1 '14 at 22:12
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This is from the concluding cheaper of the book Journey from Many to One / Essentials of Advaita Vedanta by Swami Bhaskarananda.

I found this relevant to your question.

Hinduism, the oldest of all major religions, belongs to the oldest living civilization of this planet.The difference between a young civilization and an old civilization is comparable to the difference between the young and the elderly.

The young usually have a lot of physical vigor and intelligence, which no matter how keen, tends to be superficial. It has expanse but not much depth. On the other hand, the elderly do not have their youthful vigor anymore. Having crossed the storms of passion they have acquired relatively calm and serene minds and are now capable of deep and unbiased thinking. Relieved of the intellectual arrogance of their youth, they become fit for acquiring “wisdom,” that rare and precious commodity which is the outcome of their many years of experience. Their wisdom enables them to become broadminded, forgiving, and tolerant of other people’s views.

In ancient times, when civilization was very young, all human ancestors lived in tribal societies. The idea of nationhood came much later. A tribal society didn’t have as many moral and ethical injunctions and prohibitions as we have today. Thus it was a much freer society. At the same time, it had extreme rigidity in religious thinking.

For example, let us consider a typical tribal society of the prehistoric period. Let us suppose that the tribe lived on a volcanic island cut off from the rest of humanity. Its world was one of ignorance, mystery, magic, superstition and fear. The strongest man in the tribe became the chief. He was also the best hunter and warrior. As in any animal pack, this tribe also maintained a strict pecking order, the chief being at the top of the social ladder. The second most powerful member of the tribe was the medicine man cum priest, imagined to possess great magical power. Even the chief treated him with awe.

The island had a dormant volcano that erupted periodically spewing out lava and causing a lot of suffering to the tribe. The medicine man had determined that a deity must live inside that volcano. Judging by the great devastating power of the volcano, he had concluded that it must be an enormously strong male deity. As with any dormant volcano, when pressure would build up inside, the volcano erupted and lava started flowing out of its crater until the pressure was relieved. Then it became dormant again for some years.

Once in the past, when pressure had built up inside the volcano, lava started pouring out of its crater. Terrified people went to the medicine man seeking his advice. He said that the volcano god had become angry, and to appease him a young woman had to be sacrificed. Then one hapless young woman was forcibly thrown into the red-hot, flowing lava as an offering to the deity. Some days later when the lava flow stopped on its own, the medicine man claimed all the credit for this. Had anyone in that tribe questioned or doubted the existence of that so called volcano god, he most probably would have been killed. Such lack of tolerance caused by extreme rigidity in religious thinking is a common characteristic of people belonging to younger civilizations.

The civilization in India is the oldest living civilization of the world. The only other comparable ancient civilization that’s still alive today is China. The ancient Egyptian civilization has long ago gone out of existence. So also has the relatively younger Aegean civilization. The Greeks, who destroyed the Aegean civilization and later built their own, appeared on the stage only around 1500 B.C.

As the civilization in India grew older it acquired wisdom. Along with that wisdom came broadmindedness and the spirit of tolerance to accept newer religious and metaphysical thoughts. That’s why the word “blasphemy” is not to be found anywhere in Hindu religious thought. In Hinduism any sincere and rational question can be raised. As a result, over the past several thousand years, all possible questions have been asked. And numerous Hindu thinkers, who appeared on the stage at different periods of time, have provided appropriate answers to those questions. Those questions and answers form the foundation of Hindu philosophy.

Aside from that, not having a known founder also has been a blessing to Hinduism. Had it been a religion with a specific founder, it would have been hard for Hinduism to undergo the kind of evolution it has had over the past many thousand years. Various saintly souls and philosophers at different times have appeared on the stage, played their individual roles, and enriched Hinduism with their teachings. They have reformed and revitalized this religion and made it relevant to the changing times and people. This would not have been possible had Hinduism had a single known founder.

Why the spirituality is so respected, so "alive" in India (compared to other countries)?

From the above discussion, we can see that India being a very old civilization is more mature and hence values spirituality more.

  • Thank you! Did he explain also why the Hindu civilization survived up to now and not (most of) the others former civilizations? – Sebastien Palcoux Aug 2 '14 at 8:40
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    @SébastienPalcoux, one of the reasons for Hinduism's survival is geography. It was surrounded by mountains on the north & ocean in the south. Also Hindu kings like Sivaji had shown stiff resistance to Islamic invaders. Even before Sivaji there was resistance to invaders which S.R.Goel documents in his book Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders (I haven't read this book fully yet). – Bharat Aug 3 '14 at 2:29
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Hindu religion is the oldest religion in the world. Indians are culturally very rich as well as their religion. Comparing with other religions would be a sin. But, Hinduism has seen different era's. It has survived through different generations and is spiritually very advanced. That is a reason why Indians come in the first place when speaking of "Righteousness".

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