In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Administration of India during 650-1200 A.D. 2. Economic Condition of India during 650-1200 A.D. 3. Culture and Civilisation 4. Religious Condition 5. Progress of Literature 6. Growth of Fine Arts.
- Administration of India during 650-1200 A.D.
- Economic Condition of India during 650-1200 A.D.
- Culture and Civilisation of India during 650-1200 A.D.
- Religious Condition of India during 650-1200 A.D.
- Progress of Literature in India during 650-1200 A.D.
- Growth of Fine Arts in India during 650-1200 A.D.
1. Administration of India during 650-1200 A.D.:
A. The Central Government:
The republican states were wiped out of existence by this time in India and monarchy was the only accepted form of government in its every part. But no Indian ruler could form an all-India empire during this age. In the past, the ambitious and powerful monarchs had attempted to create extensive empires and unify the country under one rule The Mauryas had largely succeeded in it.
They had established an empire which covered nearly all territories of India and even extended beyond its natural frontiers. No other ruler or dynasty could succeed in this field as compared to the Mauryas. However, the ideal of an all-India empire persisted and was attempted by many other rulers. The Guptas partially succeeded in it by bringing the entire north India under their control and claiming suzerainty over a part of south India.
After them the attempt was repeated by emperor Harsha, the Palas and the Gurjara-Pratiharas in the north. In the south, the ideal was attempted by the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Pallavas and Cholas. But the attempts of all of them brought them only partial success. Then, the ideal itself was lost. India was divided into regional states and remained so during the so-called Rajput age and the coming of the Muslims in India.
The Jagirdari system among the Rajputs helped in enhancing the regional loyalties and, thereby, formation of regional States. Therefore, when the Turks invaded India they found it divided into many states which were constantly fighting against each other. They failed to unite themselves against a common enemy and therefore, were defeated one by one.
The king was the head of the state. All powers, judicial, executive and legislative, were concentrated in his hands. He was also the Commander-in-Chief of the army. The office of the king was hereditary.
Normally the eldest son used to succeed to the throne of his father but the king had the right to nominate any of his sons as his successor. The kings assumed high-sounding titles like Paramabhattarka, Maharajadhiraja, Paramesvara, etc. Legally, there was no limit to the powers of the king but the king could not be despotic.
He had to consult his ministers, high officials of the state and his eldest son (Yuvaraja) in matters of state. Besides, the king ruled according to the rules of Rajya-Dhartna among which the primary duty of the king was to look after the welfare of his subjects.
Yet, the welfare of the subjects and the state depended very much on the personal capability and concepts of the king. While many kings looked after the welfare of their subjects, there were many others who ruled primarily to enhance their personal power and glory. It was particularly true of the Rajput kings.
The king was assisted by ministers. The ministers were appointed by the king and worked till he desired them to do so. The number of the Ministers was not fixed. They did not work on the basis of joint responsibility, though they could be consulted collectively by the king.
Certain references point to the existence of the post of Mahamantri or Rajamatya (Prime Minister) but it was not the usual practice. Each minister was assigned certain duties and was responsible to the king. The ministers, sometimes, wielded much influence on the king Sometimes the office of a minister became hereditary, though it was not the normal practice.
There were many high officials to assist the king in administration. Most important among them were the Sandhivigrahika (Foreign Minister), Akyapatalika (Finance Minister), Bhandagarhika (Treasurer), Mahapratihara (bodyguard of the person and palace of the king), Mahadandanayaka (head of the police department), Dharmasya (Chief Justice), and Senapati (Commander-in-Chief). Besides, Yuvaraja (successor to the throne), provincial governors and Samantas (feudatory chiefs) also helped the king in administration.
The one unique feature of this age of Indian polity was growth of feudalism (Jagirdari system) which became one of the primary causes of the disintegration and political weakness of India. The kings gave extensive lands called Jagirs to their relations and high officials which became their hereditary property.
That gave them the status of Jagirdars (feudal lords) and quite fair independence to look after their Jagirs. They kept their own army, looked after the administration of their Jagirs and even the right to extend their Jagirs at the cost of neighbouring kingdoms.
Of course, they were dependent on the king, owed allegiance to him, presented themselves in the royal court and helped the king with their armed forces in times of war but, in practice, they were semi-independent rulers who aspired and contended among themselves to increase their power and influence at royal court and sometimes became so powerful so as to aspire even the royal throne or become independent rulers themselves.
This gave rise to their constant mutual rivalries and fighting much against the interest of the unity of the country or even that of the ideal of a big empire. This tendency of fighting among themselves of the Jagirdars went on increasing from 1000 A.D. onwards. This was one of the primary causes of the political division of India in the eleventh and twelfth centuries because of which it became an easy prey to the invasions of the Turks.
Infantry, cavalry and war elephants constituted the main ingredients of the defence forces of the Hindu kings at that time. The Cholas and the Palas maintained a navy also while the Rajput rulers kept a camel force also. The military officers were given titles like Mahasenapati, Senapati, Mahabaladhikrata, Baladhikrata., Yudhapati, Pilupati, Asavapati etc.
The highest Commander-in- Chief of the army was the king himself who himself used to participate in the war. The forts were regarded as the safest means of defence and every king used to build them. Therefore, strong forts were constructed all over India, particularly in Rajasthan, Madhya Bharat, Gujarat and South India. The officer who looked after the management of the fort was called Kottapala.
The military position of India, however, was weak at that time. We find that the political condition of India between 1000-1200 A.D. did not alter much except for changes in dynasties. Different Indian rulers constantly fought against each other but none could succeed in establishing a powerful empire in India.
It meant that none of them was able to make any improvement as compared to others in either military tactics or in development of arms. This remained a serious weakness of the Rajputs against the Turks and was one of the primary causes of their defeat in the eleventh and the twelfth centuries against them.
The primary source of the income of the state was land revenue which was called Bhagabhoga or Rajabhoga or Uparikara. It was collected both in cash or kind and ordinarily was between one-sixth to one-third of the produce.
Besides, trade tax, tax on industries, salt tax, irrigation tax, import and export duties, fines on culprits, etc. were other sources of the income of the state. The main items of the expenditure of the state were the expenditure on the person and palace of the king, the army, the civil services and the public welfare works.
B. Provincial and Local Government:
The kingdom was divided into provinces (Mandala, Bhukti), provinces into Visaya or Nadu, Visaya into districts or Kurrama and then lastly into villages for the convenience of administration. The head of the provincial administration was Rajapala, Rajaputra or Mandalesvara.
Similarly, there were various senior and junior officers to look after the administration at different places within the kingdom. The administration of the village was mostly in the hands of hereditary local officers. The Cholas had established the most efficient system of local self- government.
Feudalism and Its Effects:
In the North, feudalism grew during the age of the great Guptas while, in the South, it had its origin during the rule of the Satavahanas. It originated when the kings started granting land and even villages to the Purohitas attached to the temples. The grantee was not only free from payment of revenue to the state but also became the owner of the donated land or villages in all respects.
This system grew sharply from the 7th century onwards and was perfected during the so- called Rajput age. From the 7th century onwards, the rulers started the practice of granting land to their relatives and officers also in lieu of their services in place of salaries or cash grants. It resulted in the formation of that system which has been called feudalism or jagirdari-system.
Thus, donations of land to the Purohitas and officers by the rulers gave birth to the practice of feudalism. In many cases, the land was free of taxation particularly that land which was granted to the Purohitas or, in other cases, the scholars. Rest of the land was given as jagirs to the state-officers or relatives of the rulers on condition that they would collect the revenue from the land assigned to them and, out of it, pay a fixed yearly amount to their overlord.
The ruler had the right to take back the land or jagir from the assignee any time or transfer him to another jagir. It so happened in the beginning. But gradually the powerful feudal lords called Jagirdars or Samants made their jagirs hereditary because of which the land or jagir transferred through hereditary succession and the overlord was left with no option except to accept the successors.
Thus, the kings or emperors granted a large part of their land to their jagirdars or feudal lords whose office or jagir became mostly hereditary. The king did not administer jagirdari land directly. This right was handed over to the jagirdar while the king received only fixed annual revenue. This system has been called the jagirdari system or feudalism.
The system included certain other conditions as well. Every jagirdar or feudal lord was under the command of the king; he had to present himself before him on several occasions and give presents to him; and. he got acceptance of his titles or was rewarded by the king on occasions. The one special responsibility of the jagirdar, however, was to assist the king militarily whenever asked for it.
Every jagirdar, therefore, was obliged to keep a standing army for that purpose though he was free to fix its number, provide training, arms, dress, salary etc. to it according to his own choice.
The jagirdars of a king were not expected to fight against each other though in practice, they used to fight for the sake of honour, marriages and other petty affairs and the king overlooked that because that weakened them against the king and also kept alive their war-like instincts.
The jagirdars besides fighting among themselves used to engage in fighting with other kings or their jagirdars with a view to extend their respective jagirs and the king did not check that also, though, legally he had the right and was expected to do so. It was again advantageous to the king as benefit to his jagirdar was a benefit to him also.
This feudal system gradually developed one of its special peculiarity. The jagirdars started donating land to their subordinates and, thus, became their overlord. That resulted in the formation of another group of jagirdars who were not dependent or owed allegiance to the king but to the jagirdar who assigned them jagirs out of his jagir.
The process went on increasing which resulted in the formation of several groups of jagirdars owing allegiance to their respective higher jagirdars or overlords. It resulted, finally, in formation of several groups of people lower, higher and still higher in the ladder between the king and his subjects. This could be possible because the king gave the jagirdars the right to collect the revenue from their jagirs and also by allowing their offices becoming hereditary.
This system helped the king in some ways. He had not to appoint his own officers for collecting the revenue from the land of jagirdars while he was assured of a fixed annual income from it.
He was free from the administrative and judicial responsibility also of the land and subjects of the jagirdari-land as it was done by respective jagirdars. The Brahamanas who were donated lands were expected to increase the area of cultivation and also undertake the responsibility of educating the people in their respective areas.
Thus, the king became free from certain responsibilities. The system helped in the growth of regional languages and fine arts as well. Feudalism encouraged regional loyalties. Therefore, different scholars in different regions wrote in praise of their emperors, kings and feudal lords or that of their family’s achievement in their respective regional languages which helped in the growth of literature of regional languages. The same way, different rulers constructed forts, palaces and temples which were influenced by their respective religious views and regional architectures.
That helped in the growth of regional architecture and sculpture having different forms of their own. We, therefore, find that, during the Rajput age, innumerable number of forts, palaces and temples were constructed both in the South and the North in different forms of architecture. The system proved advantageous in another way also.
When different scholars wrote in praise of their respective kings and feudal lords and described their family’s achievements, they threw light on historical events of their respective period and region. That has helped us in finding out the history of different rulers and dynasties of different regions Thus, feudalism brought about certain advantages.
But feudalism brought about disastrous results from the point of view of national, political, military, economic and public welfare. The people developed loyalties only towards their respective feudal lords with whom they were in direct contact. Emperors, kings and feudal lords themselves encouraged regional loyalties in their own interests.
That resulted in mutual rivalries and conflicts among kings and feudal lords because of which the political unity of India became impossible and, finally, the very concept of one nation, one country, one kingdom or one Emperor was lost. Therefore, the Rajput rulers failed to put up a common cause and fight against the foreign invaders, the Turks in the 11th and 12th centuries and therefore, were defeated by them one by one.
Feudalism also weakened the military system of the Indians. Under this system, the economic resources of the state could not be pooled at the Centre and therefore, it was not possible to utilise the entire economic resources of the state for the betterment of military strength The soldiers were recruited on regional and community basis; they could not be provided similar training: they were not kept under one command: and, were more loyal to their feudal lord than the king.
An army consisting of such soldiers lacked unity and a common ideal and therefore, was certainly weak against an army which was under one command and pursued a common ideal. Feudalism, certainly, encouraged mutual rivalry, enmity and conflicts among feudal lords.
It, certainly, kept the chivalrous and war-like spirit of the Indians alive and, instead of withdrawal or fleeing away from the battlefield to die with swords in hand became their cherished ideal. But that was a misguided ideal particularly when the Indians fought against the foreigners, the Turks.
We find that the Rajputs fought against the Turks less with an ideal to win battles but more to display their chivalry and contempt for death. Feudalism was, certainly, responsible for this wrong ideal of the Rajputs to much extent.
Basically feudalism was the result of an economic system. The emperors or kings found in it an easy process to collect the revenue. But, the system proved worst from the economic point of view. It created a large number of intermediaries between the king and the peasants each of whom was interested in keeping maximum part of revenue to one’s own-self before it could reach the royal treasury.
Every feudal lord and his dependents or junior lords kept their share out of revenue, the final burden of which fell on the peasants who were forced to pay ever-increasing revenue besides other taxes. Normally, the peasants were expected to pay 1/6 of their produce as revenue but, in fact, they were forced to pay 1/3 of the produce or even more. Besides, the peasants were forced to provide free services to their feudal lords in several forms.
The peasants, therefore, suffered much and agriculture remained no more a remunerative profession. The agricultural production, therefore, suffered and that harmed the interest of trade and industry as well. We do not find growth of cities in large numbers during the 11th and 12th centuries. Its reason was that the trade and industry of India were in bad shape. By that time, north India had practically lost its foreign trade.
Of course, in south India we find many flourishing cities and ports which were the centres of foreign trade but there too the sea-trade was practically monopolised by the Arab traders who had become the master of the seas. India had virtually lost all its direct links with foreign countries by the 11th century. Its foreign trade which was primarily responsible for its prosperity, therefore, suffered very much. Thus feudalism, in its own way, became responsible for the economic weakness of the Indians Of course.
India was a wealthy country even in the 11th and 12th centuries and therefore, attracted foreign invaders. Yet, the resources of the prosperity were gradually vanishing. Besides, feudalism encouraged accumulation of wealth mostly with kings, feudal lords and in temples consisting of those people who, in no way, participated in the production of wealth but desired to enjoy the best of worldly possession and therefore, became parasitic and oppressive to the Indian society. The accumulation of wealth at fixed places tempted foreign invaders who found in them easy targets for plunder.
Feudalism affected the Indian society adversely in certain other respects also. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the Kshatriyas and Brahamanas encouraged social divisions and lowered further the status of the Sudras and untouchables. The high ideal of the safety of honour of women among the Rajputs encouraged the practice of Sati.
The destruction of foreign trade resulted in loss of contacts of the Indians with foreign countries. Finally, foreign travel was banned by the society. It resulted in isolation of the Indian society which restricted its progress practically in all fields of life. The parasitic class consisting of Kshatriyas and Brahmanas led to the degeneration of morals of the Indian people in general. It also proved a deterrent to the progress of the Indians.
Thus, we find that feudalism was largely responsible for the weakness of the Indians in different fields of life particularly in the 11th and 12th centuries.
2. Economic Condition of India during 650-1200 A.D.:
Economically India was a prosperous country. Agriculture, industries and trade, both internal and external, flourished during this period. The external trade was very much in favour of India which helped in making it rich. Mostly it exported cloth, ivory, pearls, costly stones, spices, etc. to foreign countries, both in the east and the west, while the main items of import were silk, wine, gold, horses, etc. India had trade relations with Burma, Nepal, Tibet, China, countries of southeast Asia, western Asia and countries of Europe as well though it was mostly carried on with the help of middlemen.
The Arab traders on the western coast and the Chinese on the eastern coast had become middlemen for carrying on Indian foreign trade. There were many ports both on the eastern and western sea- coast of India. On the eastern coast, Tamralipti, Saptagroma, Puri and Shikakosh were important ports while on the western coast, the prominent ports were Baroach, Thana and Deval.
Besides, internal trade was also in a flourishing state in India at that time though there was absence of security and every state charged trade-tax on its border which hindered trade. Yet it was carried on both by roads and rivers. As compared to roads, rivers were felt more secure. So, large trade was carried on through rivers though there was no shortage of roads.
One route was from Kannauj to the port of Tamralipti and then up to Kanchi; one route was from Kannauj to Ghazni; one route was from Bayana to Karachi via Rajasthan and another route was from Delhi to Ahmedabad via Ajmer. There were routes to Burma, Nepal and Tibet also. Thus, India was well connected by roads internally as well as to some foreign countries. That had helped both in internal and external trade.
Yet, the prosperity of India primarily depended on its flourishing agriculture. Agriculture had improved also during this period. Land was measured and it was divided into different categories on the basis of produce. There had been progress in means of irrigation as well. It was regarded the duty of the state to provide proper means of irrigation. Besides, it was regarded a pious duty as well and so rich people also constructed wells, ponds, etc. for public welfare.
The Rajatarangim described that a dam was constructed on the river Jhelum and a canal was attached to it. The Chandela rulers constructed many big ponds among which the Rahila-Sagar and the Karit Sagar were most prominent.
The Paramara rulers had done the same and among the ponds constructed by them the Bhunj-Sagar and Bhoj-Sagar were the prominent ones. Therefore, agricultural production had increased during this age and it had helped in increasing the prosperity of India.
Production of cotton and silk cloth which was the primary item of export was the chief industry of India even during this age. There were many places and cities in different parts of the country such as in Magadh, Bengal, Kalinga, Kamrupa, Gujarat, Kashmir, Multan, Madhya Pradesh and several other places in south India which were famous for the production of silk and cotton cloth.
Utensils made of copper, bronze and brass, idols of gold and silver, ivory products and several other articles of wood and leather were other important industries at that time. Different professions and industries were organised into guilds which, besides looking after the interests of their members, served many other purposes like giving loans, depositing money with themselves, etc. which are done by modern banks.
Coins of this age have not been found in large quantities particularly coins of gold. The reason was that most of the rulers issued only silver and copper coins. Therefore, it is believed that mostly internal trade was carried on by barter-system and foreign trade had reduced as compared to its previous period during this age.
There were two basic reasons of losing its advantageous position in foreign trade by India. One, that the trade of India with Roman empire had reduced; and, the second, that the Arabs had become middlemen in the trade of India with western countries and, thus, drew their share from this trade.
Therefore, it is accepted that as compared to previous times, the economic condition of India was not very such satisfactory during this age, yet, India was a rich country and therefore, became a prey to foreign attacks. Besides, the Indians did not make use of their economic prosperity properly. The prosperity was shared only by the members of the ruling class like kings, feudal lords, etc. or it was concentrated in religious organisations and temples.
The common people of India led a simple life and were deprived of their due share in the wealth of their country. Besides, the rich people and the rulers did not utilise their economic resources even to defend their country and therefore, failed to check the invasions of the Turks in the eleventh and the twelfth centuries and, thus, became responsible for the loot of this country’s wealth by invaders and also for dishonour of its people.
3. Culture and Civilisation of India during 650-1200 A.D.:
The society adhered to the traditional Varna-system and the rights and duties as well as the status of the four varnas were yet based on the lines laid down in the Smritis. It was the duty of the king to uphold this system. Thus, the society was yet primarily divided into Brahamans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and the Sudras. But, now we find the existence of various sub-castes as well. Comparatively, earlier period of this age remained liberal than its later period.
All foreigners who settled down in India were absorbed in the Indian society. Its best example was inclusion of the Rajputs into Kshatriya-caste while several clans among them were foreigners. Liberality was observed in pursuing different professions as well.
The Brahamanas were permitted to take up agriculture as a profession; the Vaisyas mostly left agriculture and animal-husbandry and primarily accepted trade as their profession; and the Sudras were allowed to take up agriculture, animal husbandry and other occupations concerning production of handicrafts.
The Parasara-smiriti permitted even the Sudras to carry on trade. Thus, both the Vaisyas and Sudras were able to improve their economic status which helped them in raising their social status as well. Their position improved from religious point of view also. The Sudras were given the right to perform certain Yajnas. The same way, the Vaisyas too got several facilities from religious point of view.
However, this liberal attitude did not continue later on. During the later period of this age, the position of the Vaisyas and the Sudras had, certainly, deteriorated very much. In the 11th century, A1 Baruni wrote that Vaisyas and the Sudras were not allowed to recite the Vedas. If anyone did so, his tongue was cut down. Untouchability also increased during this age.
Besides the Chandalas, washermen, shoe-makers, basket-weavers, potters, etc. were also included among untouchables. The slave-system also developed and relatively the position of the slaves deteriorated. Thus the distinguishing feature of the Hindu society during the later period of this age was the loss of liberalism and increased rigidity of the caste system. Every caste and sub-caste claimed superiority over others, refused to inter-marry or interdine with each other and, thus, change of caste became impossible.
The Hindus lost that spirit of liberalism by which they could absorb even foreigners within their society and religion. The Indians lost contact with the outside world, failed to accommodate or understand foreigners and divided themselves into rigid castes and sub-castes which became the root cause of their ignorance, intolerance and loss of unity. The social divisions not only weakened the Hindu society but also led to its deterioration.
The position of women had also deteriorated. Of course, women were respected as wives and sisters and women of the upper strata received education and the right to choose their husbands, yet, women, in general, suffered from many handicaps.
The practice of sati, jauhar, polygamy from which the Hindu women suffered had increased. The birth of a girl was regarded ignominious for the family because of which infanticide and early marriages came into practice. The number of Devdasis and prostitutes also increased.
Women were respected more among common people than amongst the rich who regarded women as a sex-symbol and an article of pleasure. The primary reason for the deteriorating condition of the society was that India lacked political unity and no attempt was made by the rulers to adopt progressive legislation so as to bring about desirable changes in the society or to provide incentive for change suited to changed circumstances. In that case every social practice, whether right or wrong, was supported on the basis of religion.
Therefore, it became difficult to change even those social practices which had lost their utility. It hindered the progress of the society because it was difficult to change social practice which was supported by religion. Thus, on the whole, the Hindu society became rigid, incapable of improvement and developed serious defects which became quite visible from the tenth century onwards.
Further, the invasions of the Turks in the eleventh and twelfth centuries put the Hindu society on defence. The Hindus tried to defend everything in their society, right or wrong, as the only means to safeguard it against the onslaughts of Islam. All this led to a state or rather a decadent Hindu society, the signs of which we find even in present-day India.
The common people observed rules of personal morality and led a simple life but the upper strata of the society became corrupt and easy-going. The division of the society into castes and sub-castes, the deteriorating condition of women, the increased gap between the rich and the poor and different codes of conduct and morality for different sections of the society, ultimately, resulted in loss of the sense of social responsibility. The Hindu society became ignorant, divided, weak and corrupt which resulted in its slavery in the coming centuries.
4. Religious Condition of India during 650-1200 A.D.:
Hinduism remained the predominant religion in India during this age. Most of the rulers supported it. The prevalent form of Hindu religion was either Bhagvatism or Saivism. Buddhism had lost its all-India popularity and was limited only to a few places. It, however, remained popular in eastern India under the protection of the Palas for a long time. Jainism was popular in Gujarat and south India. But the spirit of the age was religious toleration.
Barring a few examples, no ruler tried to impose his own religion on his subjects. The same way, the people also observed religious toleration in their behaviour. The Hindus, the Buddhists and Jainas tried to propagate their own faith peacefully and by persuasion for which religious discourses were accepted as one of the best means, but none of them tried to force the issue and lived with each other with understanding. Even the Arabs and the Turks were treated well and there was no enmity against Islam as a religion.
Besides, there existed certain common practices among all the religions of India. The Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jainas practised image-worship, emphasized Bhakti (devotion to God), believed in religious pilgrimages and the theory of incarnations (Avatars) of god and developed faith in Tantrik religion. Each of them, thus, encouraged ritualism and blind faith.
Mahayanism and the religion of the thunderbolt (Tantrik sect) or (Vajrayana) were the popular sects of Buddhism while, in Jainism, both, Svetambara and Digambara sects were popular. Vishnu and Siva were the most popular gods among the Hindus. They and their different incarnations were worshipped by the Hindus. Besides, Brahma, Ganesh, Sun and Kartikeya were also popular gods of the Hindus.
Sakti-worship (worship of goddesses) had also become very much widespread among the Hindus. Every god had his spouse who was also worshipped along with him. Lakshmi, Saraswati, Parvati and her different forms like Kali, Bhairavi, etc. were the chief goddesses.
In Hinduism, Saiva and Sakti worship were influenced most by the Tantrik religion. Thus, the Hindus worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses. All of them were equally revered by them and images of different gods and goddesses were kept and worshipped in the same temple.
Kumarila Bhatt (700 A.D.) opposed the Bhakti cult among the Hindus and propagated Mimansa philosophy during this period. Another Hindu saint and well-known philosopher of this age was Sankarachaiya who preached monism by declaring that Atma (soul) and Paramatma (god) were one. Sankaracharya helped very much in reviving the glory of Hinduism against Buddhism. Yet, the philosophy of Kumarila Bhatt and Sankarachaiya did not affect adversely the popularity of the Bhakti cult among the Hindus. It still remained the most popular form of worship and the easiest way to attain God.
Both Hinduism and Buddhism were deeply affected by the Tantrik form of worship during this period which, though helped them in making them popular among the masses, became one main cause of immorality and corruption in religion.
5. Progress of Literature in India during 650-1200 A.D.:
Literary progress also took place during this period. Scholars and educationists were patronised by rulers and many of them were scholars themselves. There were many centres of education and learning in India at that time. Among them Nalanda, Vikramasila, Odantapuri, Dharangari, Vallabhi and Kanchi got widespread fame where scholars and students from all over India, and even from foreign countries, gathered for further enlightenment and education. Literary progress was achieved in many languages, including the languages of the South like Tamil and Kannada, but the progress of the Sanskrit literature remained at the top.
There were many scholars of repute who enriched the intellectual life of their age by their writings. Bharavi wrote the Kiratarjunia; Bhatti wrote the Ravana Vadha and the Bhakti-Kavya; Magha wrote the Sisupala-Vadha; Kshemendra wrote the Vrahatakatha Manjari, the Dasavataracharit and the Kala-Vilasa; Maravaka wrote the Srikandh-Charita; Sriharsha wrote the Khandana Khandakhadya: Padma Gupta wrote the Navasahasanka-Charita: Bilhana wrote the Vikramandadeva-Charita: Kalhana wrote the Rajaranginv, Bhavabhuti wrote the Mahavira-Charit; the Uttara-Ram-Charita and the Malti-Madhava; Bhadranarayana wrote the Venisanhara; Jayadeva wrote the Prasanna-raghva; Rajashekhara wrote the Bala-Ramayana and the Korpoora-Manjan; Dandina wrote the Kavayadarsha: Hemachandra wrote the Chandonushana: and Damodara Misra wrote the Vanobhushana.
In the field of religion and philosophy, though there is absence of original or new philosophy, yet many scholars interpreted the already existing religious texts and philosophies and gave them fresh meanings and a new respect. Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina scholars of repute worked in their respective fields and enriched the religious literature.
Among them a few notables were Vachaspati Misra, Jayanta Bhatt, Udayanacharya, Sivacharya, Sridharacharya. Mandana Misra, Kumarila Bhatt, Sankaracharya, Vallabhacharya, Madhavacharya, Raghavnanda Saraswati, Dharmakirti, Shantirakisht, etc.
Popular literature in different languages also grew up during this period. Mostly it was in poetic form. The Amarakosa written by Amarasingh, the Vaijayanti of Yadava, the Abhiyana-Chintamani of Hemachandra, and, among regional languages the Prithviraja-Raso of Chandra Baradai, the Hammira- mada-mardana of Jayasingh Sura, the Hammira-Maha-kavya of Nayachandra Sura are but a few notable examples.
Fine arts and sciences were also not neglected during this period. Many scholars wrote on subjects like music, dance, medicine, mathematics, grammar, astrology, etc. A few of the notable scholars in these fields were Saranadeva, Jinendra, Madhavakara, Nityanath, Vachaspati, Brahmadeva, Bhaskaracharya, Haradatta. Hemandra, and Govindaraja.
Thus, in every field of knowledge, progress was made during this period in which the saints, philosophers, religious preachers, court-writers etc. had their share.
6. Growth of Fine Arts in India during 650-1200 A.D.:
The period witnessed the growth of fine arts, particularly the arts of architecture and the sculpture. Palaces, forts, temples and images of gods and goddesses were constructed and made in great numbers during this period and they were also of the best quality which have assigned this period a distinguished place in Indian history in these fields.
Primarily, the growth of architecture and sculpture of this period has been divided into two parts. The first part includes the period between 600 A.D. and 900 A.D. A few best specimens of this period are the Kailas temple of Ellora, Rath temples of Mamallapuram and the images at Elephanta caves near Bombay, particularly that of Trimurti (Siva, Vishnu and Brahma in one image).
The second part includes the period during 900-1200 A.D. During the period the temples at Khajuraho (Bundelkhand), Orissa, and Rajputana were constructed and it also includes the temples built up by the Cholas, the Pallavas and the Rashtrakutas in the South.
From the point of view of style, too, the art of this period has been divided primarily into two parts i.e., north Indian style and the south Indian style. The north Indian style has been basically called the Nagara style, though it has its nomenclature on a regional basis also such as Rajasthani, Bengali, Gujarati, etc. The south Indian style has been further divided into two styles.
The style which developed in the region between the Vindhyas and the river Krishna has been called the Vesara style while the style which grew in the territories between the river Krishna and the cape of Kanyakumari has been called the Dravidi style.
The prominent features of the north Indian style were its round domes, high Sikharas, circular pathways and assembly-halls while that of the south Indian style were its pyramidal towers, assembly-halls of many pillars, huge Gopuratnas (entry-hall) and construction of images in every part of the temple.
The best example of the forts constructed during this period are the forts built at Chittor, Mandu, Ranthambhora and Gwalior. Among the palaces, the most distinguished ones are the palaces at Jaipur, Udaipur and Gwalior while the temples are distributed all over north and south India. In Orissa, the temples which were constructed at Bhuvanesvar are the best and among them the temple of the Muktesvara, the Rajarani and the Langaraja with its 160 ft. high sikhara are the three best specimens.
The famous temple of Konark in Orissa has been regarded remarkable for marvellous sculpture, and praised as “the most perfectly proportioned structure.” The temple of Jagannath at Puri is another fine specimen. India was studded with beautiful temples like these from the Orissa coast in the east to Kashmir in the west. The temples of Khajuraho in Bundelkhand have now earned world-wide fame.
Among them the Kandriya- Mahadeva temple, the Chaturabhuja Vaishnava temple, the Visvanath temple, the Vishnu temple and the Jaina temple of Adinath are the most prominent ones. Among the beautiful temples in Rajputana are the Sun temple and Mahavir temple near Jodhpur, the Vishnu temple at Gwalior and the temples of Rishabhanath and Neminath at Mt. Abu.
The temple of Somnath in Gujarat and Martanda (Sun) temple in Kashmir also occupy an important place among the temples of north India. The city of Mathura was also the city of temples, the account of which was given by Al Utbi, secretary to Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in marvellous terms. The same way the entire south India was also studded with temples by different rulers of different dynasties like the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Chalukyas and the Hoysalas.
Among the prominent temples of south India are the Minakshi temple, the Durga temple, the Sangamesvara temple, the Vishnu temple at Aihole, the Kailash temple at Ellora, the Kashi Vishvesvara temple, Ambarnath temple, the Rath temples at Mammallapuram, the Kailash temple and Vaikunth temple at Kanchi, the Koranganath temple at Nallore, the Rajarajesvara temple at Tanjore, the Cholesvara temple at Gangikondacholapuram and the Hoysalesvara temple at Dwarasamudra.
All these temples have been regarded as marvellous specimens of Indian architecture. However, these are but a few examples. It is particularly true of north India where most of the temples were destroyed during the period of Muslim invasions and their occupation of north India. Yet, whatever has remained is a sufficient proof that probably at no offer period of Indian history temples and images were constructed on such a vast scale.
The Indian temples, which were constructed during this period, have received unique praise even from foreigners. Fergusson has described the Kailash temple of Ellora as “One of the most singular and interesting monuments of architectural art in India,” while V.A. Smith has commented, “The most extensive and sumptuous of the rock-cut shrines and the most marvellous architectural freak in India.” This temple was constructed by Rashtrakutas king, Krishna I.
The art of sculpture grew as a support to architecture. Images were carved to be kept in temples. Therefore, mostly, the images were of different gods and goddesses. Images which were produced during the later part of this period clearly exhibit the impact of Tantrik religion on them, because of which naked images of males and females engaged in sexual acts were produced.
The images of Bhuvanesvara occupy the most prominent place among such images and next come the images of the temples of Khajuraho. Among the gods and goddesses, images were constructed of practically all Hindu gods and goddesses but the most popular images were those of Vishnu, Siva, Durga, Kali, Kartikeya and Brahma. The bronze images of Nataraja (Siva) from south India have elicited high admiration from art critics.
In the Deccan, some of the sculptures of the Kailash temple, Ellora, and the relics of Elephanta caves may be regarded as the finest examples of sculpture of this age.
Besides, the image of Uma-Mahesvara, found in Bengal, the 64 images of Yogini temple of Madhya Pradesh, the 56 feet high images of Gomtesvara in Mysore, the Varaha (Boar) image at Mamallapuram, etc. have also been regarded as the finest specimens of Indian sculpture. Thus, the art of sculpture, too, occupied an important place during this period.
Painting also progressed during this period. A few paintings of Ajanta, Bagh and Sittannavasal caves were prepared during this period. Besides, three new styles of painting, viz., Rajasthani, Kashmiri and Kangra style also grew up which proves that the art of painting was progressing.
Music and dance also progressed. Devadasis and the prostitutes were expected to be experts in these arts and all those who specialised in them were accorded a respectable place in the society.
Thus, we find that this period was that of growing weakness and decay in polity, society and religion but respectability was maintained in literature and fine arts, and from both the points of view it occupies a distinct place in Indian history.