Art and Culture

Art and Culture of Medieval India


  • The current narrative of intolerance and mutual distrust can only be wiped out if the interactive cultural and literary history of medieval India is put together

Cultural syncretism is a distinguishing feature of Indian society and polity of Medieval period:-


  • Medieval period India witnessed a creative synthesis of Hindu and Islamic civilizations and thus grew a composite tradition, a pluralistic synthesis of the Indo-Islamic tradition including inter-faith convergence.
    • There are two interrelated dimensions of the Indo-Islamic tradition. On the one hand, it manifested itself in syncretistic traditions of music, art, literature and architecture, and on the other, it found expression in folklore, dress patterns, food habits, names and surnames.
  • Indian culture is synthetic in character:-
    • It comprehends ideas of different orders.
    • It embraces in its orbit beliefs, customs, rites, institutions, arts, religions and philosophies belonging to society in different stages of development.
  • It eternally seeks to find a unity for the heterogeneous elements which make up its totality.
  • State craft:-
    • This was reflected, among other things, in the composition of the Mughul governing class where by 1707, the Rajputs and other Hindus came to have a share in the resources as well as positions of authority within the state roughly to the extent of a third of those available.
  • Political Rule:-
    • Same like mughals  was the policy in the Deccan kingdoms where in the philosophy of governance the necessity of a pragmatic approach towards the subjects of the state prevailed. Very little differentiation was made between the Hindus and the Muslims so far as the affairs of the state were concerned.
  • While religious communities, and caste sections within each, lived in segments,compulsions of daily life led to normal cooperation. A study of the pre-Moghul period has observed that it was somewhat difficult to distinguish the lower classes of Muslims from the masses of Hindus and that even in the case of conversions the average Muslim did not change his environment which was deeply influenced by caste distinctions and a general social exclusiveness.
  • Paintings:-
    • Same was the case with painting in which the refined Persian style was combined with the lively vision of Indian artists.
    • The Hindu art of mural painting underwent a remarkable change with the arrival of the Mughals.
    • The themes of the paintings were varied and often focused on religion and mythology.
    • Though Rajput school was indigenous by nature, after coming in contact with Muslim painting it was completely transformed and gave birth to Kangra School of painting in the 18th century.
  • Literature:-
    • The cultural intermingling in Persian and Sanskrit literatures was a characteristic of the age and has been dwelt upon by scholars.
    • Abul Faizi and Allama Abul Fazal had rendered the Bhagwad Gita in Persian.
    • From Akbar’s reign to the middle of the 19th Century, Ramayan was rendered into Persian more than 50 times.
    • “Yoga-Vasisth” was translated into Persian more than 15 times, and 80 manuscript copies are referred to by the compiler.
    • Almost all the fundamental works of India on history, archaeology, religion, mysticism culture fiction art, science etc. were rendered into or adopted in Persian.
  • Whatever happened in the medieval India was not just peaceful co-existence, it was heartfelt and organised cooperation of Hindu and Muslims
  • Bhakti and Sufi movements:-
    • Their teachings had an impact on the development of local languages.
    • The two trends imbibed each other’s thoughts, traditions and customs.
    • Both minimized the differences and distinctions between the Hindus and the Muslims and promoted mutual understanding and had a perceptible impact in the cultural domain.

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