Religious life and customs of medieval India

Religious life and customs of medieval India


At the beginning of our era, Buddhism in India is declining. During the VIII-XII centuries. Hinduism comes to replace it, That has established itself as a state religion.

Among the many gods in Hinduism, the most respected are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They constitute the “Trimurti” – the triad of the main gods. In the center of Hinduism, Brahma is the creator of all living things. Completing his hard work, he gets tired and falls asleep. While Brahma is asleep, the world comes to frenzy and burns. Brahma wakes up, creates the world and falls asleep. And so it repeats itself every time. Lord Visnu performs justice and brings good, struggles with evil. Lord Shiva embodies a destructive power. These three gods are usually pictured together as a whole.

According to the basic provisions of Hinduism, nature and everything that surrounds a person is considered sacred. Especially Hindus worship water as a great cleansing force, therefore one of the main rites is the ritual of daily washing. The true sanctity is given to the waters of the Ganges River.

The main position of Hinduism is the doctrine of Samsara, in its next lives a person can come to earth in any way: plant, man, animal. Hindus honored cows and snakes as sacred animals; the killing of a cow scared the Hindus more than killing a person.

Hindus in their own way perceive death. The dead are burned. With ashes settles all the unworthy and useless, and with fire in paradise flies away the purified soul. However, not all the deceased deserved paradise bliss. Here everything was decided by dharma, that is, the fulfillment by man in his earthly life of his duties, observance of rules of conduct, etc. Hinduism teaches that every person, depending on his way of life, deserves belonging to a higher or lower caste. If a person lived honestly, his caste status will increase in the next birth, and if not, one can be born an inviolable or some kind of nasty creature.

When the wife was dying, the husband had the right to marry again. However, in the event of the death of her husband, the woman had a poor choice: either sati, or the disappointing and humiliating fate of the widow. If a woman chose life, then after burning her husband, she was shaved with all her hair and destroyed all ornaments that were left of the marriage, and the new ones were forbidden to wear. The widow was not allowed to communicate. Doomed to loneliness and condemnation a woman even sleep,



eat and work was forced separately. It was believed that meeting with her brings misfortune.

XIII century. A story about the customs of Hindus from the book “On the Diversity of Peace” by Marco Polo

… When one dies and his body is burned, the wife rushes into the fire and burns herself with her husband; these women are very praised. To tell you the truth, many women do what I told you now. The local people pray to idols, and many bulls; bull, they say, is the most remarkable animal. His meat will never be eaten, nor will anyone kill him.

… They do not kill animals or cattle, but they want to eat lamb, or other meat or birds, then they are forced to kill Saracens or other people not of their faith and custom. They have such a custom: every day twice, in the morning and in the evening, all men and women are washed and, without washing, they will not start eating or drinking; And who does not wash twice a day, they consider them heretics…

Most Hindus worshiped holy places. Numerous pilgrims made ablutions with the water of the sacred Ganges, offered luxurious garlands of flowers to their deities, lit their images or statues with fragrant smoke, and celebrated their festivities before them.

Hindus worshiped the gods in temples and monasteries. The heart of the temple was the sanctuary – the home of the main deity, here people prayed. Often a pond leaned against the temple. If he was not there, then they built a ladder that led down to the river. There were ritual ablutions. In the temple there was also a separate hall where ritual dances were performed. After all, besides artisans or clerks, there were also musicians and dancers. Temples and monasteries were exempted from taxes. In their submission there were entire villages, whose inhabitants supplied food and essential goods

Indian dancers in folk costumes. Modern photos

Muslims brought to India a tradition of wearing hats, shoes and shoes. With their arrival, sewn clothing appeared, primarily shalwar and pants, a shirt and frock coat for men and a skirt for women.

Medieval Indians fed mainly vegetable food and dairy products. They almost did not eat meat and alcohol. Natural conditions allowed Indians to harvest two or three times a year. Grown up wheat, peas, sugar cane and more than 20 varieties of rice. In India there are always a lot of vegetables and fruits. It is interesting that the medieval Indians did not know the tea – it was later brought to India by the British.

VII century. Chinese traveler Xuan Zang about clothes of Indians

Indians do not wear clothes and do not sew. They are very fond of white fabrics and appreciate little color or decorated with a pattern… Indian dress is made of silk and cotton. Silk produces wild mulberry. They have a dress made of ksauma – a special type of cannabis. Clothes are made from a so-called flounder, woven from fine goat hair, and from the carnel that is made from the fine wool of a wild animal.



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Religious life and customs of medieval India