The history of Hinduism is often divided into periods of development. The first period is the pre-Vedic period, which includes the Indus Valley Civilisation and local pre-historic religions, ending at about 1750 BCE. This period was followed in northern India by the Vedic period, which saw the introduction of the historical Vedic religion with the Indo-Aryan migrations, starting somewhere between 1900 BCE to 1400 BCE.[note 3] The subsequent period, between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions", and a formative period for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Epic and Early Puranic period, from c. 200 BCE to 500 CE, saw the classical "Golden Age" of Hinduism (c. 320-650 CE), which coincides with the Gupta Empire. In this period the six branches of Hindu philosophy evolved, namely Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedanta. Monotheistic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism developed during this same period through the Bhakti movement. The period from roughly 650 to 1100 CE forms the late Classical period or early Middle Ages, in which classical Puranic Hinduism is established, and Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, which incorporated Buddhist thought into Vedanta, marking a shift from realistic to idealistic thought.
After the Vedic period, between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE, at the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period, the "Hindu synthesis" emerged, which incorporated śramaṇic and Buddhist influences and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the smriti literature. This synthesis emerged under the pressure of the success of Buddhism and Jainism. During the Gupta reign the first Puranas were written,[note 8] which were used to disseminate "mainstream religious ideology amongst pre-literate and tribal groups undergoing acculturation." The resulting Puranic Hinduism differed markedly from the earlier Brahmanism of the Dharmaśāstras and the smritis.[note 9] Hinduism co-existed for several centuries with Buddhism, to finally gain the upper hand at all levels in the 8th century.[web 1][note 10]
From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.[note 11][note 12][note 13] It was aided by the settlement of Brahmins on land granted by local rulers, the incorporation and assimilation of popular non-Vedic gods,[web 2][note 14] and the process of Sanskritization, in which "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms".[web 2][note 15] This process of assimilation explains the wide diversity of local cultures in India "half shrouded in a tattered cloak of conceptual unity."
James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817), distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations. This periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions it has given rise to. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods", although this periodization has also received criticism.
Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which often showed a strong continuity. The division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never completely conquered. According to Thapar, a periodisation could also be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not strictly related to a change of ruling powers.[note 16]
Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:
Pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation (until c. 1750 BCE);
Modern period (British Raj and independence) (from c. 1850).
History of Hinduism
James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817),[a] distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations.[b][c] This periodisation has been influential, but has also been criticised, for the misconceptions it has given rise to.[d] Another influential periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods".[e]
Smart[u] and Michaels[v] seem to follow Mill's periodisation (Michaels mentions Flood 1996 as a source for "Prevedic Religions".[w]), while Flood[x] and Muesse[y][z] follow the "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods" periodisation.[aa]
Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":
Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It's the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism (Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.[ab]), Jainism and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India.[ac]
For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism",[ad] whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".[ae]
Muesse discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic religion, developed in this time.[af]
Muesse, Mark W. (2011). The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction. Fortress Press.
Smart, Ninian (2003). Godsdiensten van de wereld (The World's religions). Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok.
Pre-Vedic religions (until c. 1750 BCE)
The earliest prehistoric religion in India that may have left its traces in Hinduism comes from Mesolithic as observed in the sites such as the rock paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older,[note 18] as well as Neolithic times.[note 19] Some of the religious practices can be considered to have originated in 4,000 BCE. Several tribal religions still exist, though "[w]e must not assume that there are many similarities between prehistoric and contemporary tribal communities".[web 3]
Some Indus valley seals show swastikas, which are found in other religions worldwide. Phallic symbols interpreted as the much later Hindu linga have been found in the Harappan remains. Many Indus valley seals show animals. One seal shows a horned figure seated in a posture reminiscent of the Lotus position and surrounded by animals was named by early excavators "Pashupati", an epithet of the later Hindu gods Shiva and Rudra. Writing in 1997, Doris Meth Srinivasan said, "Not too many recent studies continue to call the seal's figure a "Proto-Siva," rejecting thereby Marshall's package of proto-Shiva features, including that of three heads. She interprets what John Marshall interpreted as facial as not human but more bovine, possibly a divine buffalo-man. According to Iravatham Mahadevan, symbols 47 and 48 of his Indus script glossary The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables (1977), representing seated human-like figures, could describe the South Indian deity Murugan.
In view of the large number of figurines found in the Indus valley, some scholars believe that the Harappan people worshipped a mother goddess symbolizing fertility, a common practice among rural Hindus even today.
However, this view has been disputed by S. Clark who sees it as an inadequate explanation of the function and construction of many of the figurines.
There are no religious buildings or evidence of elaborate burials... If there were temples, they have not been identified. However, House - 1 in HR-A area in Mohenjadaro's Lower Town has been identified as a possible temple.
The commonly proposed period of earlier Vedic age is dated back to 2nd millennium BCE.Vedism was the sacrificial religion of the early Indo-Aryans, speakers of early Old Indic dialects, ultimately deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian peoples of the Bronze Age who lived on the Central Asian steppes.[note 20]
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to ca. 2500 BCE; the orange area to 1000 BCE. (Christopher I. Beckwith (2009), Empires of the Silk Road, Oxford University Press, p.30)
During the Early Vedic period (c. 1500 - 1100 BCE) Vedic tribes were pastoralists in north-west India. After 1100 BCE, with the introduction of iron, the Vedic tribes moved into the western Ganges Plain, adapting an agrarian lifestyle. Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-tribe and realm was the most influential. It was a tribal union, which developed into the first recorded state-level society in South Asia around 1000 BCE. It decisively changed the Vedic heritage of the early Vedic period, collecting the Vedic hymns into collections, and developing new rituals which gained their position in Indian civilization as the orthodox srauta rituals, which contributed to the so-called "classical synthesis" or "Hindu synthesis".
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
The Indo-Aryans brought with them their language and religion. The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion, and the Indo-Iranian religion. According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran. It was "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements", which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma. According to Anthony,
Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rig Veda. He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers.
The oldest inscriptions in Old Indic, the language of the Rig Veda, are found not in northwestern India and Pakistan, but in northern Syria, the location of the Mitanni kingdom. The Mitanni kings took Old Indic throne names, and Old Indic technical terms were used for horse-riding and chariot-driving. The Old Indic term r'ta, meaning "cosmic order and truth", the central concept of the Rig Veda, was also employed in the mitanni kingdom. And Old Indic gods, including Indra, were also known in the Mitanni kingdom.
Their religion was further developed when they migrated into the Ganges Plain after c. 1100 BCE and became settled farmers, further syncretising with the native cultures of northern India. The Vedic religion of the later Vedic period co-existed with local religions, such as the Yaksha cults,[web 4] and was itself the product of "a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations".[note 7] David Gordon White cites three other mainstream scholars who "have emphatically demonstrated" that Vedic religion is partially derived from the Indus Valley Civilizations.[note 7]
A steel engraving from the 1850s, which depicts the creative activities of Prajapati, a Vedic deity who presides over procreation and protection of life.
Its liturgy is preserved in the three Vedic Samhitas: the Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda and the Yajur-Veda. The Vedic texts were the texts of the elite, and do not necessarily represent popular ideas or practices. Of these, the Rig-Veda is the oldest, a collection of hymns composed between ca. 1500-1200 BCE. The other two add ceremonial detail for the performance of the actual sacrifice. The Atharva-Veda may also contain compositions dating to before 1000 BCE. It contains material pertinent to domestic ritual and folk magic of the period.
These texts, as well as the voluminous commentary on orthopraxy collected in the Brahmanas compiled during the early 1st millennium BCE, were transmitted by oral tradition alone until the advent, in the 4th century AD, of the Pallava and Gupta period and by a combination of written and oral tradition since then.
The Hindu samskaras
...go back to a hoary antiquity. The Vedas, the Brahmanas, the Grhyasutras, the Dharmasutras, the Smritis and other treatises describe the rites, ceremonies and customs.
The gods in the Rig-Veda are mostly personified concepts, who fall into two categories: the devas – who were gods of nature – such as the weather deity Indra (who is also the King of the gods), Agni ("fire"), Usha ("dawn"), Surya ("sun") and Apas ("waters") on the one hand, and on the other hand the asuras – gods of moral concepts – such as Mitra ("contract"), Aryaman (guardian of guest, friendship and marriage), Bhaga ("share") or Varuna, the supreme Asura (or Aditya). While Rigvedic deva is variously applied to most gods, including many of the Asuras, the Devas are characterised as Younger Gods while Asuras are the Older Gods (pūrve devāḥ). In later Vedic texts, the Asuras become demons.
The Rigveda has 10 Mandalas ('books'). There is significant variation in the language and style between the family books (RV books 2–7), book 8, the "Soma Mandala" (RV 9), and the more recent books 1 and 10. The older books share many aspects of common Indo-Iranian religion, and is an important source for the reconstruction of earlier common Indo-European traditions. Especially RV 8 has striking similarity to the Avesta, containing allusions to Afghan Flora and Fauna, e.g. to camels (úṣṭra- = Avestanuštra). Many of the central religious terms in Vedic Sanskrit have cognates in the religious vocabulary of other Indo-European languages (deva: Latin deus; hotar: Germanic god; asura: Germanic ansuz; yajna: Greek hagios; brahman: Norse Bragi or perhaps Latin flamen etc.). In the Avesta, Asura (Ahura) is considered good and Devas (Daevas) are considered evil entities, quite the opposite of the Rig Veda.
Ethics in the Vedas are based on the concepts of Satya and Rta. Satya is the principle of integration rooted in the Absolute. Ṛta is the expression of Satya, which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. Conformity with Ṛta would enable progress whereas its violation would lead to punishment. Panikkar remarks:
Ṛta is the ultimate foundation of everything; it is "the supreme", although this is not to be understood in a static sense. [...] It is the expression of the primordial dynamism that is inherent in everything...."
The 9th and 8th centuries BCE witnessed the composition of the earliest Upanishads.:183 Upanishads form the theoretical basis of classical Hinduism and are known as Vedanta (conclusion of the Veda). The older Upanishads launched attacks of increasing intensity on the rituals, however, a philosophical and allegorical meaning is also given to these rituals. In some later Upanishads there is a spirit of accommodation towards rituals. The tendency which appears in the philosophical hymns of the Vedas to reduce the number of gods to one principle becomes prominent in the Upanishads. The diverse monistic speculations of the Upanishads were synthesised into a theistic framework by the sacred Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita.
In Iron Age India, during a period roughly spanning the 10th to 6th centuries BCE, the Mahajanapadas arise from the earlier petty kingdoms of the various Rigvedic tribes, and the failing remnants of the Late Harappan culture. In this period the mantra portions of the Vedas are largely completed, and a flowering industry of Vedic priesthood organised in numerous schools (shakha) develops exegetical literature, viz. the Brahmanas. These schools also edited the Vedic mantra portions into fixed recensions, that were to be preserved purely by oral tradition over the following two millennia.
Buddhism and Jainism are two of many Indian philosophies considered as Śramaṇic traditions.
Increasing urbanisation of India in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE led to the rise of new ascetic or sramana movements which challenged the orthodoxy of rituals. Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563-483 BCE), founder of Buddhism, were the most prominent icons of this movement.:184 According to Heinrich Zimmer, Jainism and Buddhism are part of the pre-Vedic heritage, which also includes Samkhya and Yoga:
[Jainism] does not derive from Brahman-Aryan sources, but reflects the cosmology and anthropology of a much older pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India - being rooted in the same subsoil of archaic metaphysical speculation as Yoga, Sankhya, and Buddhism, the other non-Vedic Indian systems.[note 26]
The Sramana tradition in part created the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation, which became characteristic for Hinduism.[note 27]
Pratt notes that Oldenberg (1854-1920), Neumann (1865-1915) and Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) believed that the Buddhist canon had been influenced by Upanishads, while la Vallee Poussin thinks the influence was nihil, and "Eliot and several others insist that on some points the Buddha was directly antithetical to the Upanishads".[note 28]
The Mauryan period saw an early flowering of classical SanskritSutra and Shastra literature and the scholarly exposition of the "circum-Vedic" fields of the Vedanga. However, during this time Buddhism was patronised by Ashoka, who ruled large parts of India, and Buddhism was also the mainstream religion until the Gupta empire period.
Since Vedic times, "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms", a process sometimes called Sanskritization. It is reflected in the tendency to identify local deities with the gods of the Sanskrit texts.
Hinduism regards Buddha (bottom right) as one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu.
Between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE developed the "Hindu synthesis", which incorporated Sramanic and Buddhist influences and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the smriti literature. This synthesis emerged under the pressure of the success of Buddhism and Jainism.
According to Embree, several other religious traditions had existed side by side with the Vedic religion. These indigenous religions "eventually found a place under the broad mantle of the Vedic religion". When Brahmanism was declining[note 29] and had to compete with Buddhism and Jainism,[note 30] the popular religions had the opportunity to assert themselves. According to Embree,
[T]he Brahmanists themselves seem to have encouraged this development to some extent as a means of meeting the challenge of the heterodox movements. At the same time, among the indigenous religions, a common allegiance to the authority of the Veda provided a thin, but nonetheless significant, the thread of unity amid their variety of gods and religious practices.
According to Larson, the Brahmins responded with assimilation and consolidation. This is reflected in the smriti literature which took shape in this period. The smriti texts of the period between 200 BCE-100 CE proclaim the authority of the Vedas, and acceptance of the Vedas became a central criterium for defining Hinduism over and against the heterodoxies, which rejected the Vedas. Most of the basic ideas and practices of classical Hinduism derive from the new smriti literature.[note 31]
Of the six Hindu darsanas, the Mimamsa and the Vedanta "are rooted primarily in the Vedic sruti tradition and are sometimes called smarta schools in the sense that they develop smarta orthodox current of thoughts that are based, like smriti, directly on sruti. According to Hiltebeitel, "the consolidation of Hinduism takes place under the sign of bhakti". It is the Bhagavadgita that seals this achievement. The result is an "universal achievement" that may be called smarta. It views Shiva and Vishnu as "complementary in their functions but ontologically identical".
The major Sanskrit epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, which belong to the smriti, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE.[web 5] They contain mythological stories about the rulers and wars of ancient India, and are interspersed with religious and philosophical treatises. The later Puranas recount tales about devas and devis, their interactions with humans and their battles against rakshasa. The Bhagavad Gita "seals the achievement" of the "consolidation of Hinduism", integrating Brahmanic and sramanic ideas with theistic devotion.[web 6]
The Sangam literature (300 BCE – 400 CE) is a mostly secular body of classical literature in the Tamil language. Nonetheless, there are some works, significantly Pattupathu and Paripaatal, wherein the personal devotion to God was written in the form of devotional poems. Vishnu, Shiva and Murugan were mentioned gods. These works are therefore the earliest evidence of monotheistic Bhakti traditions, preceding the large bhakti movement, which was given great attention in later times.
"Golden Age" (Gupta and Pallava period) (c. 320-650 CE)
During this period, power was centralised, along with a growth of near distance trade, standardization of legal procedures, and general spread of literacy. Mahayana Buddhism flourished, but orthodox Brahmana culture began to be rejuvenated by the patronage of the Gupta Dynasty, who were Vaishnavas. The position of the Brahmans was reinforced, the first Hindu temples dedicated to the gods of the Hindu deities, emerged during the late Gupta age.[note 32] During the Gupta reign the first Puranas were written,[note 8] which were used to disseminate "mainstream religious ideology amongst pre-literate and tribal groups undergoing acculturation." The Guptas patronised the newly emerging Puranic religion, seeking legitimacy for their dynasty. The resulting Puranic Hinduism, differed markedly from the earlier Brahmanism of the Dharmasastras and the smritis.
According to P.S. Sharma "the Gupta and Harsha periods form really, from the strictly intellectual standpoint, the most brilliant epocha in the development of Indian philosophy", as Hindu and Buddhist philosophies flourished side by side.Charvaka, the atheistic materialist school, came to the fore in North India before the 8th century CE.
The Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries) saw a flowering of scholarship, the emergence of the classical schools of Hindu philosophy, and of classical Sanskrit literature in general on topics ranging from medicine, veterinary science, mathematics, to astrology and astronomy and astrophysics. The famous Aryabhata and Varahamihira belong to this age. The Gupta established a strong central government which also allowed a degree of local control. Gupta society was ordered in accordance with Hindu beliefs. This included a strict caste system, or class system. The peace and prosperity created under Gupta leadership enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors.
The Pallavas (4th to 9th centuries) were, alongside the Guptas of the North, patronisers of Sanskrit in the South of the Indian subcontinent. The Pallava reign saw the first Sanskrit inscriptions in a script called Grantha. Early Pallavas had different connexions to Southeast Asian countries. The Pallavas used Dravidian architecture to build some very important Hindu temples and academies in Mamallapuram, Kanchipuram and other places; their rule saw the rise of great poets, who are as famous as Kalidasa.
This period saw the emergence of the Bhakti movement. The Bhakti movement was a rapid growth of bhakti beginning in Tamil Nadu in Southern India with the Saiva Nayanars (4th to 10th centuries CE) and the Vaisnava Alvars (3rd to 9th centuries CE) who spread bhakti poetry and devotion throughout India by the 12th to 18th centuries CE.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the largest Hindu monuments in the world. It is one of hundreds of ancient Hindu temples in Southeast Asia.
Hindu influences reached the Indonesian Archipelago as early as the first century. At this time, India started to strongly influence Southeast Asian countries. Trade routes linked India with southern Burma, central and southern Siam, lower Cambodia and southern Vietnam and numerous urbanised coastal settlements were established there.
For more than a thousand years, Indian Hindu/Buddhist influence was, therefore, the major factor that brought a certain level of cultural unity to the various countries of the region. The Pali and Sanskrit languages and the Indian script, together with Theravada and MahayanaBuddhism, Brahmanism and Hinduism, were transmitted from direct contact as well as through sacred texts and Indian literature, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata epics.
From the 5th to the 13th century, South-East Asia had very powerful Indian colonial empires and became extremely active in Hindu and Buddhist architectural and artistic creation. The Sri Vijaya Empire to the south and the Khmer Empire to the north competed for influence.
Langkasuka (-langkhaSanskrit for "resplendent land" -sukkha of "bliss") was an ancient Hindu kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom, along with Old Kedah settlement, are probably the earliest territorial footholds founded on the Malay Peninsula. According to tradition, the founding of the kingdom happened in the 2nd century; Malay legends claim that Langkasuka was founded at Kedah, and later moved to Pattani.
Funan was a pre-AngkorCambodian kingdom, located around the Mekong delta, probably established by Mon-Khmer settlers speaking an Austroasiatic language. According to reports by two Chinese envoys, K'ang T'ai and Chu Ying, the state was established by an Indian Brahmin named Kaundinya, who in the 1st century CE was given instruction in a dream to take a magic bow from a temple and defeat a Khmer queen, Soma. Soma, the daughter of the king of the Nagas, married Kaundinya and their lineage became the royal dynasty of Funan. The myth had the advantage of providing the legitimacy of both an Indian Brahmin and the divinity of the cobras, who at that time were held in religious regard by the inhabitants of the region.
The kingdom of Champa (or Lin-yi in Chinese records) controlled what is now south and central Vietnam from approximately 192 through 1697. The dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism and the culture was heavily influenced by India.
Later, from the 9th to the 13th century, the Mahayana Buddhist and Hindu Khmer Empire dominated much of the South-East Asian peninsula. Under the Khmer, more than 900 temples were built in Cambodia and in neighboring Thailand. Angkor was at the centre of this development, with a temple complex and urban organisation able to support around one million urban dwellers. The largest temple complex of the world, Angkor Wat, stands here; built by the king Vishnuvardhan.
After the end of the Gupta Empire and the collapse of the Harsha Empire, power became decentralised in India. Several larger kingdoms emerged, with "countless vasal states".[note 33] The kingdoms were ruled via a feudal system. Smaller kingdoms were dependent on the protection of the larger kingdoms. "The great king was remote, was exalted and deified", as reflected in the TantricMandala, which could also depict the king as the centre of the mandala.
The disintegration of central power also lead to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry.[note 34] Local cults and languages were enhanced, and the influence of "Brahmanic ritualistic Hinduism" was diminished. Rural and devotional movements arose, along with Shaivism, Vaisnavism, Bhakti and Tantra, though "sectarian groupings were only at the beginning of their development". Religious movements had to compete for recognition by the local lords. Buddhism lost its position after the 8th century, and began to disappear in India. This was reflected in the change of puja-ceremonies at the courts in the 8th century, where Hindu gods replaced the Buddha as the "supreme, imperial deity".[note 35]
The mythology in the Puranas has inspired many reliefs and sculptures found in Hindu temples. The legend behind the Krishna and Gopis relief above is described in the Bhagavata Purana.
The Brahmanism of the Dharmashastras and the smritis underwent a radical transformation at the hands of the Purana composers, resulting in the rise of Puranic Hinduism, "which like a colossus striding across the religious firmanent soon came to overshadow all existing religions". Puranic Hinduism was a "multiplex belief-system which grew and expanded as it absorbed and synthesised polaristic ideas and cultic traditions" It was distinguished from its Vedic Smarta roots by its popular base, its theological and sectarioan pluralism, its Tantric veneer, and the central place of bhakti.[note 9]
The early mediaeval Puranas were composed to disseminate religious mainstream ideology among the pre-literate tribal societies undergoing acculturation. With the breakdown of the Gupta empire, gifts of virgin waste-land were heaped on brahmanas, to ensure profitable agrarian exploitation of land owned by the kings, but also to provide status to the new ruling classes. Brahmanas spread further over India, interacting with local clans with different religions and ideologies. The Brahmanas used the Puranas to incorporate those clans into the agrarian society and its accompanying religion and ideology. According to Flood, "[t]he Brahmans who followed the puranic religion became known as smarta, those whose worship was based on the smriti, or pauranika, those based on the Puranas." Local chiefs and peasants were absorbed into the varna, which was used to keep "control over the new kshatriyas and shudras." The Brahmanic group was enlarged by incorporating local subgroups, such as local priests. This also lead to stratification within the Brahmins, with some Brahmins having a lower status than other Brahmins. The use of caste worked better with the new Puranic Hinduism than with the Sramanic sects. The Puranic texts provided extensive genealogies which gave status to the new kshatriyas. Buddhist myths pictured government as a contract between an elected ruler and the people. And the Buddhist chakkavatti[note 36] "was a distinct concept from the models of conquest held up to the kshatriyas and the Rajputs."
Many local religions and traditions were assimilated into puranic Hinduism. Vishnu and Shiva emerged as the main deities, together with Sakti/Deva. Vishnu subsumed the cults of Narayana, Jagannaths, Venkateswara "and many others". Nath:
[S]ome incarnations of Vishnu such as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and perhaps even Nrsimha helped to incorporate certain popular totem symbols and creation myths, especially those related to wild boar, which commonly permeate preliterate mythology, others such as Krsna and Balarama became instrumental in assimilating local cults and myths centering around two popular pastoral and agricultural gods.
The transformation of Brahmanism into Pauranic Hinduism in post-Gupta India was due to a process of acculturation. The Puranas helped establish a religious mainstream among the pre-literate tribal societies undergoing acculturation. The tenets of Brahmanism and of the Dharmashastras underwent a radical transformation at the hands of the Purana composers, resulting in the rise of a mainstream "Hinduism" that overshadowed all earlier traditions.
Rama and Krishna became the focus of a strong bhakti tradition, which found expression particularly in the Bhagavata Purana. The Krishna tradition subsumed numerous Naga, yaksa and hill and tree-based cults. Siva absorbed local cults by the suffixing of Isa or Isvara to the name of the local deity, for example, Bhutesvara, Hatakesvara, Chandesvara. In 8th-century royal circles, the Buddha started to be replaced by Hindu gods in pujas.[note 37] This also was the same period of time the Buddha was made into an avatar of Vishnu.
The first documented bhakti movement was founded by Karaikkal-ammaiyar. She wrote poems in Tamil about her love for Shiva and probably lived around the 6th century CE. The twelve Alvars who were Vaishnavite devotees and the sixty-three Nayanars who were Shaivite devotees nurtured the incipient bhakti movement in Tamil Nadu.
During the 12th century CE in Karnataka, the Bhakti movement took the form of the Virashaiva movement. It was inspired by Basavanna, a Hindu reformer who created the sect of Lingayats or Shivabhaktas. During this time, a unique and native form of Kannada literature-poetry called Vachanas was born.
Not all Brahmins specialized in this Smriti tradition. Some were influenced by Buddhism, Jainism or Charvaka tradition and philosophy. This did not mean that all these people rejected the authority of Vedas, but only that their tradition of worship and philosophy was based not on Smriti texts. In time, Shankaracharya brought all the Vedic communities together. He tried to remove the non-Smriti aspects that had crept into the Hindu communities. He also endeavoured to unite them by arguing that any of the different Hindu gods could be worshipped, according to the prescriptions given in the Smriti texts. He established that worship of various deities are compatible with Vedas and is not contradictory, since all are different manifestations of one nirguna Brahman. Shankaracharya was instrumental in reviving interest in the Smritis.[web 11]
Under the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad had replaced Gundishapur as the most important centre of learning in the then vast Islamic Empire, wherein the traditions, as well as scholars of the latter, flourished. Hindu scholars were invited to the conferences on sciences and mathematics held in Baghdad.
Medieval and Early Modern Periods (c. 1200-1850 CE)
Though Islam came to the Indian subcontinent in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders, it started impacting Indian religions after the 10th century, and particularly after the 12th century with the establishment and then expansion of Islamic rule.Will Durant calls the Muslim conquest of India "probably the bloodiest story in history". During this period, Buddhism declined rapidly while Hinduism faced military-led and Sultanates-sponsored religious violence. There was a widespread practice of raids, seizure and enslavement of families of Hindus, who were then sold in Sultanate cities or exported to Central Asia. Some texts suggest a number of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. Starting with 13th century, for a period of some 500 years, very few texts, from the numerous written by Muslim court historians, mention any "voluntary conversions of Hindus to Islam", suggesting its insignificance and perhaps rarity of such conversions. Typically enslaved Hindus converted to Islam to gain their freedom. There were occasional exceptions to religious violence against Hinduism. Akbar, for example, recognized Hinduism, banned enslavement of the families of Hindu war captives, protected Hindu temples, and abolished discriminatory Jizya (head taxes) against Hindus. However, many Muslim rulers of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire, before and after Akbar, from 12th century to 18th century, destroyed Hindu temples[web 12][web 13][note 39] and persecuted non-Muslims. As noted by Alain Daniélou:
From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of 'a holy war' of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races.
Hinduism underwent profound changes, aided in part by teachers such as Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya. Followers of the Bhakti movement moved away from the abstract concept of Brahman, which the philosopher Adi Shankara consolidated a few centuries before, with emotional, passionate devotion towards the more accessible Avatars, especially Krishna and Rama. According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and the 16th century, "certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy."[note 40] Michaels notes that a historicization emerged which preceded later nationalism, articulating ideas which glorified Hinduism and the past.
Early Modern period (c. 1500-1850 CE)
The fall of Vijayanagar Empire to Muslim rulers had marked the end of Hindu imperial assertions in the Deccan. But, taking advantage of an over-stretched Mughal Empire (1526–1857), Hinduism once again rose to political prestige, under the Maratha Empire, from 1674 to 1818.
Market place at Hampi and the sacred tank located near the Krishna temple.
The Vijayanagara Emperors were tolerant of all religions and sects, as writings by foreign visitors show. The kings used titles such as Gobrahamana Pratipalanacharya (literally, "protector of cows and Brahmins") and Hindurayasuratrana (lit, "upholder of Hindu faith") that testified to their intention of protecting Hinduism and yet were at the same time staunchly Islamicate in their court ceremonials and dress. The empire's founders, Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, were devout Shaivas (worshippers of Shiva), but made grants to the Vaishnava order of Sringeri with Vidyaranya as their patron saint, and designated Varaha (the boar, an Avatar of Vishnu) as their emblem. Over one-fourth of the archaeological dig found an "Islamic Quarter" not far from the "Royal Quarter". Nobles from Central Asia's Timurid kingdoms also came to Vijayanagara. The later Saluva and Tuluva kings were Vaishnava by faith, but worshipped at the feet of Lord Virupaksha (Shiva) at Hampi as well as Lord Venkateshwara (Vishnu) at Tirupati. A Sanskrit work, Jambavati Kalyanam by King Krishnadevaraya, called Lord Virupaksha Karnata Rajya Raksha Mani ("protective jewel of Karnata Empire"). The kings patronised the saints of the dvaita order (philosophy of dualism) of Madhvacharya at Udupi.
The Bhakti (devotional) movement was active during this time, and involved well known Haridasas (devotee saints) of that time. Like the Virashaiva movement of the 12th century, this movement presented another strong current of devotion, pervading the lives of millions. The haridasas represented two groups, the Vyasakuta and Dasakuta, the former being required to be proficient in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas, while the Dasakuta merely conveyed the message of Madhvacharya through the Kannada language to the people in the form of devotional songs (Devaranamas and Kirthanas). The philosophy of Madhvacharya was spread by eminent disciples such as Naraharitirtha, Jayatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vyasatirtha, Vadirajatirtha and others. Vyasatirtha, the guru (teacher) of Vadirajatirtha, Purandaradasa (Father of Carnatic music) and Kanakadasa earned the devotion of King Krishnadevaraya. The king considered the saint his Kuladevata (family deity) and honoured him in his writings. During this time, another great composer of early carnatic music, Annamacharya composed hundreds of Kirthanas in Telugu at Tirupati in present-day Andhra Pradesh.
The Vijayanagara Empire created an epoch in South Indian history that transcended regionalism by promoting Hinduism as a unifying factor. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Sri Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagara armies were consistently victorious. The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga, while simultaneously maintaining control over all its subordinates in the south. Many important monuments were either completed or commissioned during the time of Krishna Deva Raya.
Vijayanagara went into decline after the defeat in the Battle of Talikota (1565). After the death of Aliya Rama Raya in the Battle of Talikota, Tirumala Deva Raya started the Aravidu dynasty, moved and founded a new capital of Penukonda to replace the destroyed Hampi, and attempted to reconstitute the remains of Vijayanagara Empire. Tirumala abdicated in 1572, dividing the remains of his kingdom to his three sons, and pursued a religious life until his death in 1578. The Aravidu dynasty successors ruled the region but the empire collapsed in 1614, and the final remains ended in 1646, from continued wars with the Bijapur Sultanate and others. During this period, more kingdoms in South India became independent and separate from Vijayanagara. These include the Mysore Kingdom, Keladi Nayaka, Nayaks of Madurai, Nayaks of Tanjore, Nayakas of Chitradurga and Nayak Kingdom of Gingee – all of which declared independence and went on to have a significant impact on the history of South India in the coming centuries.
An aerial view of the Meenakshi Temple from the top of the southern gopuram, looking north. The temple was rebuilt by the Vijayanagar Empire.
The official state religion of Mughal India was Islam, with the preference to the jurisprudence of the HanafiMadhhab (Mazhab). Hinduism remained under strain during Babur and Humanyun's reigns. Sher Shah Suri, the Afghan ruler of North India was comparatively non-repressive. Hinduism came to fore during the three-year rule of Hindu ruler 'Hemu Vikramaditya' during 1553-56 when he had defeated Akbar at Agra and Delhi and had taken up the reign from Delhi as a Hindu 'Vikramaditya' after his 'Rajyabhishake' or coronation at 'Purana Quila' in Delhi. However, during Mughal history, at times, subjects had the freedom to practise any religion of their choice, though non-Muslim able-bodied adult males with income were obliged to pay the Jizya, which signified their status as Dhimmis.
Akbar, the Mughal emperor Humayun's son and heir from his Sindhi queen Hameeda Banu Begum, had a broad vision of Indian and Islamic traditions. One of Emperor Akbar's most unusual ideas regarding religion was Din-i-Ilahi (Faith of God), which was an eclectic mix of Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Jainism and Christianity. It was proclaimed the state religion until his death. These actions, however, met with stiff opposition from the Muslim clergy, especially the Sufi Shaykh Alf Sani Ahmad Sirhindi. Akbar's abolition of poll-tax on non-Muslims, acceptance of ideas from other religious philosophies, toleration of public worship by all religions and his interest in other faiths showed an attitude of considerable religious tolerance, which, in the minds of his orthodox Muslim opponents, were tantamount to apostasy.
Akbar's son, Jahangir, half Rajput, was also a religious moderate, his mother being Hindu. The influence of his two Hindu queens (the Maharani Maanbai and Maharani Jagat) kept religious moderation as a centre-piece of state policy which was extended under his son, Emperor Shah Jahan, who was by blood 75% Rajput and less than 25% Moghul.
Religious orthodoxy would only play an important role during the reign of Shah Jahan's son and successor, Aurangzeb, a devout Sunni Muslim. Aurangzeb was comparatively less tolerant of other faiths than his predecessors had been; and has been subject to controversy and criticism for his policies that abandoned his predecessors' legacy of pluralism, citing his introduction of the Jizya tax, doubling of custom duties on Hindus while abolishing it for Muslims, destruction of Hindu temples, forbidding construction and repairs of some non-Muslim temples, and the executions of Maratha ruler Sambhaji and the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and his reign saw an increase in the number and importance of Islamic institutions and scholars. He led many military campaigns against the remaining non-Muslim powers of the Indian subcontinent – the Sikh states of Punjab, the last independent Hindu Rajputs and the Maratha rebels – as also against the Shia Muslim kingdoms of the Deccan. He also virtually stamped out, from his empire, open proselytisation of Hindus and Muslims by foreign Christian Missionaries, who remained successfully active, however, in the adjoining regions: the present day Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa.
The Auto-da-fé procession of the Inquisition at Goa. An annual event to publicly humiliate and punish the heretics, it shows the Chief Inquisitor, Dominican friars, Portuguese soldiers and religious criminals condemned to be burnt in a procession.
Portuguese missionaries had reached the Malabar Coast in the late 15th century, made contact with the St Thomas Christians in Kerala and sought to introduce the Latin Rite among them. Since the priests for St Thomas Christians were served by the Eastern Christian Churches, they were following Eastern Christian practices at that time. Throughout this period, foreign missionaries also made many new converts to Christianity. This led to the formation of the Latin Catholics in Kerala.
The Goa Inquisition was the office of the Christian Inquisition acting in the Indian city of Goa and the rest of the Portuguese empire in Asia. St. Francis Xavier, in a 1545 letter to John III, requested for an Inquisition to be installed in Goa. It was installed eight years after the death of Francis Xavier in 1552. Established in 1560 and operating until 1774, this highly controversial institution was aimed primarily at Hindus and wayward new converts.
The Battle of Plassey would see the emergence of the British as a political power; which later expanded to cover much of India over the next hundred years, conquering all of the Hindu states on the Indian subcontinent, with the exception of the Kingdom of Nepal. While the Maratha Empire remained the preeminent power in India, making it the last remaining Hindu empire, until their defeat in the Second Anglo-Maratha War which left the East India Company in control of most of India; as noted by acting Governor-General Charles Metcalfe, after surveying and analyzing the conditions in India, in 1806 wrote: "India contains no more than two great powers, British and Mahratta." During this period, Northeastern India was divided into many kingdoms, most notable being the Kingdom of Manipur, which ruled from their seat of power at Kangla Fort and developed a sophisticated Hindu Gaudiya Vaishnavite culture, later the kingdom became a princely state of the British. The Kingdom of Mysore was defeated in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War by the British East India Company, leading to the reinstatement of the Hindu Wadiyar dynasty in Mysore as a princely states. In 1817, the British went to war with the Pindaris, raiders who were based in Maratha territory, which quickly became the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and the British government offered its protection to the mainly Hindu Rajput rulers of Rajputana from the Pindaris and the Marathas. The mainly Hindu Palaiyakkarar states emerged from the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, and were a bastion of Hindu resistance; and managed to weather invasions and survived till the advent of the British. From 1799 to 1849, the Sikh Empire, ruled by members of the Sikh religion, emerged as the last major indigenous power in the Northwest of the Indian subcontinent under the leadership of MaharajaRanjit Singh. After the death of Ranjit Singh, the empire weakened, the alienation of Hindu vassals and Wazirs; and leading to the conflict with the British East India Company, marked the downfall of the Sikh Empire; making it among the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to be conquered by the British. The entire subcontinent fell under British rule (partly indirectly, via Princely states) following the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Sri Ramakrishna and his pupil Swami Vivekananda led reform in Hinduism in the late 19th century. Their ideals and sayings have inspired numerous Indians as well as non-Indians, Hindus as well as non-Hindus.
An important development during the British colonial period was the influence Hindu traditions began to form on Western thought and new religious movements. An early champion of Indian-inspired thought in the West was Arthur Schopenhauer who in the 1850s advocated ethics based on an "Aryan-Vedic theme of spiritual self-conquest", as opposed to the ignorant drive toward earthly utopianism of the superficially this-worldly "Jewish" spirit.Helena Blavatsky moved to India in 1879, and her Theosophical Society, founded in New York in 1875, evolved into a peculiar mixture of Western occultism and Hindu mysticism over the last years of her life.
In modern times Smarta-views have been highly influential in both the Indian[web 15] and western[web 16] understanding of Hinduism via Neo-Vedanta. Vivekananda was an advocate of Smarta-views,[web 16] and Radhakrishnan was himself a Smarta-Brahman. According to iskcon.org,
Many Hindus may not strictly identify themselves as Smartas but, by adhering to Advaita Vedanta as a foundation for non-sectarianism, are indirect followers.[web 15]
Map of Akhanda Bhārata proper, consisting of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh
In the 20th century, Hinduism also gained prominence as a political force and a source for national identity in India. With origins traced back to the establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha in the 1910s, the movement grew with the formulation and development of the Hindutva ideology in the following decades; the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925; and the entry, and later success, of RSS offshoots Jana Sangha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in electoral politics in post-independence India. Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement.[note 42][note 43]
The "oldest living major religion" in the world.
Laderman: "world's oldest living civilisation and religion"
Turner: "It is also recognized as the oldest major religion in the world"
Smart, on the other hand, calls it also one of the youngest religions: "Hinduism could be seen to be much more recent, though with various ancient roots: in a sense it was formed in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century." See also:
^There is no exact dating possible for the beginning of the Vedic period. Witzel mentions a range between 1900 and 1400 BCE. Flood mentions 1500 BCE.
^Lockard (2007, p. 50): "The encounters that resulted from Aryan migration brought together several very different peoples and cultures, reconfiguring Indian society. Over many centuries a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian occurred, a complex process that historians have labeled the Indo-Aryan synthesis." Lockard: "Hinduism can be seen historically as a synthesis of Aryan beliefs with Harappan and other Dravidian traditions that developed over many centuries."
^Hiltebeitel (2007, p. 12): "A period of consolidation, sometimes identified as one of "Hindu synthesis," Brahmanic synthesis," or "orthodox synthesis," takes place between the time of the late Vedic Upanishads (c. 500 BCE) and the period of Gupta imperial ascendency" (c. 320-467 CE)."
White (2006, p. 28): "[T]he religion of the Vedas was already a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations."
Gombrich (1996, pp. 35–36): "It is important to bear in mind that the Indo-Aryans did not enter an unhabitated land. For nearly two millennia they and their culture gradually penetrated India, moving east and south from their original seat in the Punjab. They mixed with people who spoke Munda or Dravidian languages, who have left no traces of their culture beyond some archaeological remains; we know as little about them as we would about the Indo-Aryans if they had left no texts. In fact we cannot even be sure whether some of the archaeological finds belong to Indo-Aryans, autochthonous populations, or a mixture. It is to be assumed - though this is not fashionable in Indian historiography - that the clash of cultures between Indo-Aryans and autochtones was responsible for many of the changes in Indo-Aryan society. We can also assume that many - perhaps most - of the indigenous population came to be assimilated into Indo-Aryan culture.
^ abThe date of the production of the written texts does not define the date of origin of the Puranas (Johnson 2009, p. 247). They may have existed in some oral form before being written down (Johnson 2009, p. 247).
^ abMichaels (2004, p. 38): "The legacy of the Vedic religion in Hinduism is generally overestimated. The influence of the mythology is indeed great, but the religious terminology changed considerably: all the key terms of Hinduism either do not exist in Vedic or have a completely different meaning. The religion of the Veda does not know the ethicised migration of the soul with retribution for acts (karma), the cyclical destruction of the world, or the idea of salvation during one's lifetime (jivanmukti; moksa; nirvana); the idea of the world as illusion (maya) must have gone against the grain of ancient India, and an omnipotent creator god emerges only in the late hymns of the Rgveda. Nor did the Vedic religion know a caste system, the burning of widows, the ban on remarriage, images of gods and temples, Puja worship, Yoga, pilgrimages, vegetarianism, the holiness of cows, the doctrine of stages of life (asrama), or knew them only at their inception. Thus, it is justified to see a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions." See also Halbfass 1991, pp. 1–2
^University of Oslo: "During the period following Ashoka, until the end of the 7th century AD, the great gift ceremonies honoring the Buddha remained the central cult of Indian imperial kingdoms".[web 1]
^Samuel (2010, p. 76): "Certainly, there is substantial textual evidence for the outward expansion of Vedic-Brahmanical culture." Samuel (2010, p. 77): "[T]he Buddhist sutras describe what was in later periods a standard mechanism for the expansion of Vedic-Brahmanical culture: the settlement of Brahmins on land granted by local rulers." See also Vijay Nath (2001).
Samuel (2010, p. 199): "By the first and second centuries CE, the Dravidian-speaking regions of the south were also increasingly being incorporated into the general North and Central Indian cultural pattern, as were parts at least of Southeast Asia. The Pallava kingdom in South India was largely Brahmanical in orientation although it included a substantial Jain and Buddhist population, while Indic states were also beginning to develop in Southeast Asia."
^Larson (1995, p. 81): "Also, the spread of the culture of North India to the South was accomplished in many instances by the spread of Buddhist and Jain institutions (monasteries, lay communities, and so forth). The Pallavas of Kanci appear to have been one of the main vehicles for the spread of specifically Indo-Brahmanical or Hindu institutions in the South, a process that was largely completed after the Gupta Age. As Basham has noted, "the contact of Aryan and Dravidian produced a vigorous cultural synthesis, which in turn had an immense influence on Indian civilization as a whole."
^Flood (1996, p. 129): "The process of Sanskritization only began to significantly influence the south after the first two centuries CE and Tamil deities and forms of worship became adapted to northern Sanskrit forms."
^Wendy Doniger: "If Sanskritization has been the main means of connecting the various local traditions throughout the subcontinent, the converse process, which has no convenient label, has been one of the means whereby Hinduism has changed and developed over the centuries. Many features of Hindu mythology and several popular gods—such as Ganesha, an elephant-headed god, and Hanuman, the monkey god—were incorporated into Hinduism and assimilated into the appropriate Vedic gods by this means. Similarly, the worship of many goddesses who are now regarded as the consorts of the great male Hindu gods, as well as the worship of individual unmarried goddesses, may have arisen from the worship of non-Vedic local goddesses. Thus, the history of Hinduism can be interpreted as the interplay between orthoprax custom and the practices of wider ranges of people and, complementarily, as the survival of features of local traditions that gained strength steadily until they were adapted by the Brahmans."[web 2]Vijay Nath (2001, p. 31): "Visnu and Siva, on the other hand, as integral components of the Triad while continuing to be a subject of theological speculation, however, in their subsequent "avataras" began to absorb countless local cults and deities within their folds. The latter were either taken to represent the multiple facets of the same god or else were supposed to denote different forms and appellations by which the god came to be known and worshipped. Thus whereas Visnu came to subsume the cults of Narayana, Jagannatha, Venkateswara and many others, Siva became identified with countless local cults by the sheer suffixing of Isa or Isvara to the name of the local deity, e.g., Bhutesvara, Hatakesvara, Chandesvara."
^Wendy Doniger: "The process, sometimes called "Sanskritization," began in Vedic times and was probably the principal method by which the Hinduism of the Sanskrit texts spread through the subcontinent and into Southeast Asia. Sanskritization still continues in the form of the conversion of tribal groups, and it is reflected in the persistence of the tendency among some Hindus to identify rural and local deities with the gods of the Sanskrit texts."[web 2]
^Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":
Smart (2003, p. 52) calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It is the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism[subnote 4] Jainism and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India.
For Michaels (2004, pp. 36, 38), the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism", whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".
Muesse (2003, p. 14) discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic religion, developed in this time.
Stein (2010, p. 107) The Indian History Congress, formally adopted 1206 CE as the date medieval India began.
^Doniger (2010, p. 66): "Much of what we now call Hinduism may have had roots in cultures that thrived in South Asia long before the creation of textual evidence that we can decipher with any confidence. Remarkable cave paintings have been preserved from Mesolithic sites dating from c. 30,000 BCE in Bhimbetka, near present-day Bhopal, in the Vindhya Mountains in the province of Madhya Pradesh."
^Jones & Ryan (2006, p. xvii): "Some practices of Hinduism must have originated in Neolithic times (c. 4,000 BCE). The worship of certain plants and animals as sacred, for instance, could very likely have very great antiquity. The worship of goddesses, too, a part of Hinduism today, maybe a feature that originated in the Neolithic."
^Mallory 1989, p. 38f. The separation of the early Indo-Aryans from the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage is dated to roughly 1800 BCE in scholarship.
^Michaels (2004, p. 33): "They called themselves arya ("Aryans," literally "the hospitable," from the Vedic arya, "homey, the hospitable") but even in the Rgveda, arya denotes a cultural and linguistic boundary and not only a racial one."
^There is no exact dating possible for the beginning of the Vedic period. Witzel (1995, pp. 3–4) mentions a range between 1900 and 1400 BCE. Flood (1996, p. 21) mentions 1500 BCE.
^Allchin & Erdosy (1995): "There has also been a fairly general agreement that the Proto-Indoaryan speakers at one time lived on the steppes of Central Asia and that at a certain time they moved southwards through Bactria and Afghanistan, and perhaps the Caucasus, into Iran and India-Pakistan (Burrow 1973; Harmatta 1992)."
^Kulke & Rothermund (1998): "During the last decades intensive archaeological research in Russia and the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union as well as in Pakistan and northern India has considerably enlarged our knowledge about the potential ancestors of the Indo-Aryans and their relationship with cultures in west, central and south Asia. Previous excavations in southern Russia and Central Asia could not confirm that the Eurasian steppes had once been the original home of the speakers of Indo-European language."
^The Aryan migration theory has been challenged by some researchers (Michaels 2004, p. 33, Singh 2008, p. 186), due to a lack of archaeological evidence and signs of cultural continuity (Michaels 2004, p. 33), hypothesizing instead a slow process of acculturation or transformation (Michaels 2004, p. 33, Flood 1996, pp. 30–35). Nevertheless, linguistic and archaeological data clearly show a cultural change after 1750 BCE (Michaels 2004, p. 33), with the linguistic and religious data clearly showing links with Indo-European languages and religion (Flood 1996, p. 33). According to Singh 2008, p. 186, "The dominant view is that the Indo-Aryans came to the subcontinent as immigrants."
^Zimmer's point of view is supported by other scholars, such as Niniam Smart, in Doctrine and argument in Indian Philosophy, 1964, p.27-32 & p.76, (Crangle 1994, p. 7) and S.K. Belvakar & R.D. Ranade in History of Indian philosophy, 1974 (1927), p.81 & p.303-409 (Crangle 1994, p. 7).
^Flood (2008, pp. 273–274): "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterise later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history [...] Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism, in particular, were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara - the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana - the goal of human existence."
^King (1999) notes that Radhakrishnan was a representative of Neo-Vedanta, which had a specific understanding of Indian religions: "The inclusivist appropriation of other traditions, so characteristic of neo-Vedanta ideology, appears on three basic levels. First, it is apparent in the suggestion that the (Advaita) Vedanta philosophy of Sankara (c. eighth century CE) constitutes the central philosophy of Hinduism. Second, in an Indian context, neo-Vedanta philosophy subsumes Buddhist philosophies in terms of its own Vedantic ideology. The Buddha becomes a member of the Vedanta tradition, merely attempting to reform it from within. Finally, at a global level, neo-Vedanta colonises the religious traditions of the world by arguing for the centrality of a non-dualistic position as the philosophia perennis underlying all cultural differences."
^Michaels (2004, p. 38): "At the time of upheaval [500-200 BCE], many elements of the Vedic religion were lost".
^Hiltebeitel (2007, p. 13): "The emerging self-definitions of Hinduism were forged in the context of continuous interaction with heterodox religions (Buddhists, Jains, Ajivikas) throughout this whole period, and with foreign people (Yavanas, or Greeks; Sakas, or Scythians; Pahlavas, or Parthians; and Kusanas, or Kushans) from the third phase on [between the Mauryan empire and the rise of the Guptas].
^Larson (2009, p. 185): "[I]n contrast to the sruti, which "Hindus, for the most part, pay little more than lip service to."
^Inden (1998, p. 67): "Before the eighth century, the Buddha was accorded the position of universal deity and ceremonies by which a king attained to imperial status were elaborate donative ceremonies entailing gifts to Buddhist monks and the installation of a symbolic Buddha in a stupa [...] This pattern changed in the eighth century. The Buddha was replaced as the supreme, imperial deity by one of the Hindu gods (except under the Palas of eastern India, the Buddha's homeland) [...] Previously the Buddha had been accorded imperial-style worship (puja). Now as one of the Hindu gods replaced the Buddha at the imperial centre and pinnacle of the cosmo-political system, the image or symbol of the Hindu god comes to be housed in a monumental temple and given increasingly elaborate imperial-style puja worship."
^Thapar (2003, p. 325): The king who ruled not by conquest but by setting in motion the wheel of law.
^Inden: "before the eighth century, the Buddha was accorded the position of universal deity and ceremonies by which a king attained to imperial status were elaborate donative ceremonies entailing gifts to Buddhist monks and the installation of a symbolic Buddha in a stupa... This pattern changed in the eighth century. The Buddha was replaced as the supreme, imperial deity by one of the Hindu gods (except under the Palas of eastern India, the Buddha's homeland)...Previously the Buddha had been accorded imperial-style worship (puja). Now as one of the Hindu gods replaced the Buddha at the imperial centre and pinnacle of the cosmo-political system, the image or symbol of the Hindu god comes to be housed in a monumental temple and given increasingly elaborate imperial-style puja worship."
^See also "Aurangzeb, as he was according to Mughal Records"; more links at the bottom of that page; for Muslim historian's record on major Hindu temple destruction campaigns, from 1193 to 1729 AD, see Richard Eaton (2000), Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pages 283-319
^The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley (2007, p. 34). Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus (Lorenzen 2006, pp. 24–33), and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other" which started well before 1800 (Lorenzen 2006, pp. 26–27). Both the Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term "Hinduism" in the 19th century were influenced by these philosophers (Nicholson 2010, p. 2)
^Rinehart (2004, p. 198): Neo-Vedanta also contributed to Hindutva ideology, Hindu politics and communalism. Yet, Rinehart emphasises that it is "clear that there isn't a neat line of causation that leads from the philosophies of Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan to the agenda of [...] militant Hindus."
^Ghurye: He [Hutton] considers modern Hinduism to be the result of an amalgam between pre-Aryan Indian beliefs of Mediterranean inspiration and the religion of the Rigveda. "The Tribal religions present, as it were, surplus material not yet built into the temple of Hinduism".(Ghurye 1980, p. 4)
^Tyler, in India: An Anthropological Perspective(1973), page 68, as quoted by Sjoberg, calls Hinduism a "synthesis" in which the Dravidian elements prevail: "The Hindu synthesis was less the dialectical reduction of orthodoxy and heterodoxy than the resurgence of the ancient, aboriginal Indus civilization. In this process the rude, barbaric Aryan tribes were gradually civilised and eventually merged with the autochthonous Dravidians. Although elements of their domestic cult and ritualism were jealously preserved by Brahman priests, the body of their culture survived only in fragmentary tales and allegories embedded in vast, syncretistic compendia. On the whole, the Aryan contribution to Indian culture is insignificant. The essential pattern of Indian culture was already established in the third millennium B.C., and ... the form of Indian civilization perdured and eventually reasserted itself (Sjoberg 1990, p. 43).
^Hopfe & Woodward (2008, p. 79): "The religion that the Aryans brought with them mingled with the religion of the native people, and the culture that developed between them became classical Hinduism."
^Smart (2003, pp. 52, 83–86) distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.
^Inden, Ronald. "Ritual, Authority, And Cycle Time in Hindu Kingship." In JF Richards, ed., Kingship and Authority in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p.67, 55
^Holt, John. The Buddhist Visnu. Columbia University Press, 2004, p.12,15 "The replacement of the Buddha as the "cosmic person" within the mythic ideology of Indian kingship, as we shall see shortly, occurred at about the same time the Buddha was incorporated and subordinated within the Brahmanical cult of Visnu."
^Johannes de Kruijf and Ajaya Sahoo (2014), Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora, ISBN978-1472419132, p. 105, Quote: "In other words, according to Adi Shankara's argument, the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta stood over and above all other forms of Hinduism and encapsulated them. This then united Hinduism; (...) Another of Adi Shankara's important undertakings which contributed to the unification of Hinduism was his founding of a number of monastic centers."
^Vincent A. Smith, The early history of India, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, pages 381-384
^ abWill Durant (1976), The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, Simon & Schuster, ISBN978-0671548001, page 458-472, Quote: "The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within. The Hindus had allowed their strength to be wasted in internal division and war; they had adopted religions like Buddhism and Jainism, which unnerved them for the tasks of life; they had failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals."
^ abRichard M. Eaton (2006), Slavery and South Asian History (Editors: Indrani Chatterjee, Richard M. Eaton), Indiana University Press, ISBN0-253348102, page 11, Quote: "In 1562 Akbar abolished the practice of enslaving the families of war captives; his son Jahangir banned sending of slaves from Bengal as tribute in lieu of cash, which had been the custom since the 14th century. These measures notwithstanding, the Mughals actively participated in slave trade with Central Asia, deporting [Hindu] rebels and subjects who had defaulted on revenue payments, following precedents inherited from Delhi Sultanate".
^Andre Wink (1991), Al-Hind: the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Volume 1, Brill Academic, ISBN978-9004095090, pages 14-16, 172-174, etc
^ abP Hardy (1977), Modern European and Muslim explanations of conversion to Islam in South Asia: A preliminary survey of the literature, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume 109, Issue 02, pages 177-206
^Burjor Avari (2013), Islamic Civilization in South Asia, Routledge, ISBN978-0415580618, pages 66-70; Quote: "Many Hindu slaves converted to Islam and gained their liberty".
^From the notes of Duarte Barbosa (Kamath 2001, p. 178)
^Wagoner, Phillip B. (November 1996). "Sultan among Hindu Kings: Dress, Titles, and the Islamicization of Hindu Culture at Vijayanagara". The Journal of Asian Studies. 55 (4): 851–880. doi:10.2307/2646526.
^Woodhead, Linda. Religions of the Modern World. Routledge. pp. 57, 58. ISBN978-0-415-85881-6. The term 'Neo Hinduism' has been applied to reformed Hinduism by Paul Hacker and others. According to Hacker, the ethical values of Neo-Hinduism stem from Western philosophy and Christianity, although they are expressed in Hindu terms.
^"Fragments for the history of philosophy", Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume I (1851).
Harman, William (2004), "Hindu Devotion", in Rinehart, Robin (ed.), Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice, ABC-CLIO, pp. 99–122, ISBN978-1576079058
Harshananda, Swami (1989), A Bird's Eye View of the Vedas, in "Holy Scriptures: A Symposium on the Great Scriptures of the World" (2nd ed.), Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math, ISBN978-81-7120-121-1
Hardy, P. (1977), "Modern European and Muslim explanations of conversion to Islam in South Asia: A preliminary survey of the literature", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 109 (2): 177–206, doi:10.1017/s0035869x00133866
Benjamin WalkerHindu World: An Encyclopaedic Survey of Hinduism, (Two Volumes), Allen & Unwin, London, 1968; Praeger, New York, 1968; Munshiram Manohar Lal, New Delhi, 1983; Harper Collins, New Delhi, 1985; Rupa, New Delhi, 2005, ISBN81-291-0670-1.