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Religious Movements and Beliefs (800 -1200 AD)

Religious Movements and Beliefs (800 -1200 AD)

The period is marked by a revival and expansion of Hinduism, and a continued decline of Buddhism and Jainism.


  • Buddhism was gradually confined to eastern India. The Pala rulers were patrons of Buddhism and with their decline, Buddhism lost royal patronage.
  • The rise of Mahayanism and it’s deviation from the teachings of the Buddha also contributed in certain measure to the decline of Buddhism. The Palas patronized Mahayana form of Buddhism.


  • Jainism continued to be popular, particularly among the trading communities. The Chalukyan ruler of Gujarat patronized Jainism and built the Dilwara temple at Mount Abu and many other Jain temples.
  • The Paramara rulers of Malwa also built many huge images of Jain saints and Mahavira was worshiped as a God. In South India, Jainism attained its high water mark during the 9th and 10th centuries and the Ganga rulers of Karnataka were great patrons of Jainism.  Religious Movements and Beliefs (800 -1200 AD)
  • The statue of Gomateswara in Sravanabelagola made of granite was built in this time. In course of time, the growing rigidity of Jainism and the loss of royal patronage led to the decline of Jainism.


  • There was a revival and expansion of Hinduism and it took many forms. Shiva and Vishnu became the chief gods, many local gods and goddesses including those of tribals became Hinduized.
  • In eastern India, the consorts — Tara, the consort of Buddha, Durga, the consort of Shiva, themselves became the chief objects of worship. There was a process of cultural synthesis and in an era of political disintegration, religion played a positive part.
  • But the religious revival also increased the power of the brahmins which resulted in a series of popular movements which emphasized the element of human equality and freedom, such as Tantrism, Bhakti movement and Virshaivism.
  • Tantrism grew in north India in which anyone, irrespective of caste, could be enrolled. The most famous of the Hindu tantric yogis was Gorakhnath.
  • The followers of Gorakhnath were called Nath — Panthis. Many of them belonged to the lower castes and they denounced the caste system and the privileges of the caste system.
  • Bhakti movement in South India was led by a series of popular saints called Nayanars and Alvars. Nayanars worshiped Siva and Alvars worshiped Vishnu.
  • They called for pure and intense devotion to a personal God. They spoke and wrote in Tamil and Telugu. Some of them belonged to the lower classes and thee were also a few women Saints.
  • The path of Bhakti was open to all, irrespective of caste and it won to the fold of Hinduism, many adherents of Buddhism and Jainism and also many tribals.
  • Basava and his nephew Channabasava who lived in the court of Kalchuri Kings of Karnataka founded the Lingayat or Virshaiva movement. They established their faith after bitter disputes with the Jainas. The Lingayats are worshippers of Shiva.  Religious Movements and Beliefs (800 -1200 AD)
  • They strongly opposed the caste system and rejected fasts, feasts, pilgrimages and sacrifices. In the social sphere, they opposed child marriage and allowed remarriage of widows. Their religious text is Sunyasampadane.
  • At the intellectual level, the most serious challenge to Buddhism and Jainism was posed by Shankaracharya (788 — 822 AD) who reformulated Hindu philosophy and emphasized on Vedanta, based on Advaita philosophy.
  • He is said to have been persecuted by Jainas, and after attaining fame, he returned to a warm welcome by the king of Madurai and caused banishment of the Jainas from the king’s court.
  • Ramanuja, though differing with Shankaracharya intellectually, carried forward the rich philosophical tradition set by Shankaracharya.  Religious Movements and Beliefs (800 -1200 AD)



Medieval History

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