Medieval India
Medieval Indian Dynasties
 Gupta Era: 320-550 ce
 Huna Invasion: 455-528 ce
 Kushan Era: 5th -7th c. ce
 Hindu Dynasties: 3rd-15th c. ce
 Rajputs: Western India 7th -12th c. ce
 Muslim Invasions: 7th-11th c. ce
 Delhi Sultanate: Northern India 12th-16th c
 Mongols under Tamerlane sack Delhi 1398-99
 Vasco da Gama reaches India: 1498
 Mughal Empire:1526-1858
Sanatana Dharma
“The Everlasting Way”
that which hath no beginning or end
all-embracing structure of thought
All creation linked in huge web of
 Transmigration of souls through
various life forms
 Proper behavior linked to purgation
and renewal
 Dharma: the duty of the believer
God is Infinite.
The Infinite manifests in billions of ways.
Hinduism believes not only in One God, but also in His
Supreme Personality.
This personality is manifested in different forms
around us and within us perpetually. Therefore, the
Infinite manifests in billions of ways to help mankind
visualize the Divine Being.
This belief of Hinduism is often confused with
That the Supreme can be worshipped in any form is a
unique concept in Hinduism.
Hinduism recognizes multiple forms of the one God.
Hindu Concept of Time
 The transcendence of time is the aim of
every Indian spiritual tradition.
Time is often presented as an eternal
wheel that binds the soul to a mortal
existence of ignorance and suffering.
"Release" from time's fateful wheel is
termed moksha.
Hindus believe that the universe is
without a beginning or an end .
The universe is projected in cycles.
Each cycle is divided into four yugas
(ages of the world).
Shiva dancing
BRAHMAN: Universal Power
ATMAN: Individual Manifestation of the
Universal Spirit
Brahman is the indescribable, inexhaustible,
omniscient, omnipresent, original, first, eternal
and absolute principle who is without a beginning,
without an end , who is hidden in all and who is
the cause, source, material and effect of all
creation known, unknown and yet to happen in
the entire universe.
Major Hindu
BRAHMAN: divine source
of all being
 Brahma/Sarasvati, the
 Vishnu/Lakshmi, the
preserver: benevolence,
forgiveness, love
 Shiva/Kali, the destroyer:
disease, death, the dance
 Ganesha, god of wisdom,
writing, elephant-headed
The Creator
His 4 heads represent the four
Yugas or cycles of time in
At the end of these cycles of time
the Universe is ripe for
destruction and must be created
The God Shiva will then destroy
the universe so that it can be
created again.
The Lord has in his four hands
a water-pot (kamandalu), a
manuscript (Vedas), a sacrificial
implement (sruva) and a rosary
Vishnu the
Protector of dharma
(righteousness) and the
guardian of humanity.
His particular task is the
conservation or
preservation of the Divine
Order in the world.
Vishnu has 10 avatars or
incarnations. He assumes
these and comes down to
earth in order to help
Lord Vishnu lies
on the universal
waters with
massaging His
feet. From His
navel sprouts a
lotus flower on
which Lord
Brahma is born.
Rama is the 7th avatar of
Lord Rama, the hero of
the Ramayana, is one of
the most adored gods
He is always holding a
bow and arrow indicating
his readiness to destroy
More commonly he is
pictured with his wife
Sita, his brother
Lakshmana and his
devotee Hanumana
Krishna is the 8th avatar of Vishnu.
The mythology around Krishna is the most colorful and the
richest in lyricism, adventure and in love in all its forms.
Krishna is central to the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic
that is eight times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey put
Krishna is a loyal ally of humans and always helps his
friends. His worship is popular all over India and there are
many sacred shines to him.
In Hinduism there is a concept known as Bhakti. Bhakti is
the emotional attachment and love of a devotee for his or
her personal god. This is common in the worship of
Lord of the Dance
He performs the
dance of
destruction so that
the world can be
Shiva is the
acknowledgment that
everything that comes
to birth comes
ultimately to death and
from death comes new
He is cruel and yet
tender, wrathful and
merciful, unpredictable
and yet ever the same.
The Great Goddess
Parvati and Uma are the
benign aspects of the
goddess; the destroyer
goddesses Kali and Durga
are in turn all aspects of
the Devi, or the Great
Kali is the negative aspect
of the Goddess and
symbolizes death. In this
form she is sometimes
considered the presiding
deity of famine and
Hindu Dynasties
3rd-15th c.
 Confused political scene especially in South
 Warlike clans in Rajasthan: Rajputs
 Pallave dynasty dominates the south warring with
Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas
 Christianity and Zorastrianism introduced into
 Turkish raids 1000-1206
 Decline and disappearance of Buddhism in India
around 13th c.
 Princely members of the Kashitrya “warrior”
 Ruled northern and western India 7th-12th c. in
local kingdoms, often at rivalry with each other
 Champions of dharma and devotees of Siva and
 Predominantly Hindu, but tolerated all worship
within their realms
 Prolific fort and palace-builders
Kumbhalgarh fort built by Maharana Kumbha.
Kumbhalgarh fort : Perimeter wall is 20
miles long. Six horses could ride abreast
on the fort ramparts.
Tower) built
Udai Palace at Udaipur (city founded by Maharana Udai Singh).
 The temples at Khajuraho were built during the
Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between
950 and 1050.
 Only about 20 temples remain; they fall into three
distinct groups and belong to two different religions –
Hinduism and Jainism.
 They strike a perfect balance between architecture
and sculpture.
 UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kandariya Mahdeo in Khajuraho
Hindu Religious Literature:
The Puranas
 18 religious books preserving Hindu myths and
legends contain 5 major subjects
 Sarga: the creation of the universe.
 Pratisarga: secondary creations, mostly recreations
after dissolution.
 Vamśa: genealogy of the gods and sages.
 Manvañtara: the creation of the human race and the
first human beings.
 Vamśānucaritam: the histories of the patriarchs of the
lunar and solar dynasties.
Hindu Religious
Epic Poetry
 The Gita Govinda is a work
composed by the 12th-century
poet, Jayadeva.
It describes the relationship
between Krishna and
the gopis (female cow
herders) particularly one gopi
named Radha.
Important the development of
the bhakti traditions
Gita Govinda manuscript c. 1550.
Hindu Religious Literature:
Bhakti Poetry
 Bhakti: mystical devotion to god
 Lyric poetry spoken
and sung by poet-saints
 Tamil hymns (6th-9th c) – earliest bhakti poetry –
focused on Shiva and Vishnu
 Tradition of bhakti poetry spread throughout
India and its 16 major languages
 Popular and populist: poets came from all castes,
including untouchables and women
 Belief that mysticism was the highest path to
release from karma
 Highly personal and individual: a form of
spiritual autobiography
12th c
 Princess who left her
royal husband
 Wandered naked
through countryside –
total devotion to Siva
meant giving up
conventional coverings
society required for
 350 poems express her
passionate thoughts on
God, love and the world
You can confiscate
money in hand;
can you confiscate
the body’s glory?
12th c
Or peel away every strip
you wear,
but can you peel
the Nothing, the Nakedness
that covers and veils?
To the shameless girl
wearing the White Jasmine’s Lord’s
light of morning,
you fool,
where’s the need for cover and jewel?
Muslim Incursions
711 -- Arabs take Sind
11th c. -- Invasions of Muslims from Central Asia
led to political dominance of Muslims in N. India
and introduction of Persian culture and Islam into
South Asia
 Development of Sufism
Delhi Sultanate
1192-1526: Turko-Afghan chieftains establish
sultanate at Delhi and dominate N. India
 Multiple Muslim dynasties rule Northern India
from the 13th-16th centuries.
 The Sultans based their laws on the Qur'an and
the sharia and permitted non-Muslim subjects to
practice their religion if they paid jizya or head tax.
 Temporarily successful in insulating the
subcontinent from the potential devastation of the
Mongol invasion in the 13th century.
 "Indo-Muslim" fusion left lasting monuments in
architecture, music, literature, and religion.
Delhi Sultanate
13th-16th c.
sacks Delhi
 Mongol ruler who
attempted to
reclaim Genghis
Khan’s empire
 Attacked India
and conquered
Delhi after
100,000 captives
Vasco da Gama reaches India 1498
 Opened the Indian or Cape
Route for regular sailings
between East and West
 Expansion and consolidation
of Portugese empire and trade,
dissemination of Portugese
culture and Christianity
 Portugese settlements in Goa
and Cochin
 1524: Da Gama named
Portugese viceroy in India by
King John III.
Moghul Empire
Unification of N. India and parts of S. India under its
 Amalgam of Persian and Indian culture created in
courts and territories
 Establishment of trading outposts in India by
 1609: Dutch
 1612: English
 1674: French
Dynasty I
Founded by Babur
2nd Classical Age
of North India
 Delhi flourishes as
Imperial Capital
 Amalgamation of
Dynasty II
 Akbar consolidates and
builds strong empire
 Akbar commissions
illustrated Persian
translations of Sanskrit
epics, The Ramayana and
Jahangir succeeds his
1600: Elizabeth I of
England gives charter for
trade to East India
King Akbar
The Red Fort
Agra’s magnificent monument, the Red Fort,
was begun by Akbar in the 16th c. and embellished by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th c.
Taj Mahal, Agra, 1630-48.
Mausoleum built by Shah Jahan for hisWife, Mumtaz Mahal
 “Rajput”:
 “Khajuraho”:
 “The Mughals”:

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