In this article we will discuss about the mutual impact of Hindu and Muslim culture in medieval age.
A great controversy exists amongst the historians regarding the impact exercised by the two cultures on each other. Certain scholars like Dr. Tarachand hold the opinion that the Hindu religion and society were influenced to the core by the forces of Islamic culture.
In his famous book “The Influence of Islam, on Indian Culture, Dr. Tara Chand holds “Not only did Hindu art, Hindu literature and Hindu science absorb Muslim elements, but the very spirit of Hindu culture and the very stuff of the Hindu mind were also altered”.
Certain other scholars like A. L. Srivastava, E. B. Havell, Titus and Prof. S. R Sharma are of the opinion that the Hindu culture instead of being influenced by Islam exercised deep influence on Islam and its followers.
For example Titus in his book Indian Islam says that when “all is said there seems to be little doubt that Hinduism has wrought a far greater change in Islam than Islam has wrought in Hinduism which still continues to pursue the even tenure of its way with a complacency and confidence that are amazing.”
Havell has emphasised the same point thus:
“Islam seized her political capitals, controlled her military forces and appropriated her revenues, but India retained what she cherished most, her intellectual empire, and her soul was never subdued.”
In other words the political triumph of Islam did not lead to intellectual or moral conquest. Whatever India lost in the battle-fields was regained by her spiritual forces.
The Hindus did not relax the caste system which emphasised on the inequality of mean as against brotherhood and equality preached by Islam. The influence exercised by Islam was only superficial and no material changes took place in the fundamentals of the two cultures.
Prof A. L. Srivastava says “It is significant that the clash between these two powerful religions and cultures did not produce any real fertilizing effects on the Medieval Indian Society whereas the contact of India with British people and western civilisation brought about a profound renaissance in the nineteenth century.
There was no such phenomenon in the medieval age. The reason perhaps was that in the early days of the British rule Indians particularly the Hindus, were so hypnotized by the dazzling success of the material aspects of the Western civilization, the merits of the English language and the disciplined and sympathetic character of the British people that they readily fell in with and felt that the British rule was a divine dispensation.
On the contrary they did not notice any such virtues in the Islamic peoples and their culture which repelled them on account of its rigidity and iconoclastic character, and looked upon them as “unclean….Hence there was no sympathetic understanding of each other’s religion and culture, no give and take in a real sense, and no renaissance.”
The two sets of views expressed above stem to be extreme. The truth lies in between the two views. The Islamic culture could never fully transform the Hindu culture and it was mainly confined to the external phases of life. The basic character of the Indian culture remained unaltered.
This can be fully understood if we analyse the impact of the two cultures on each other in some details. At the outset it may be noted that whenever two different types of cultures come into contact with each other and continue to exist side by side, they are bound to leave impact on each other.