Hinduism and Premarital Relationships
East Indian and American dating cultures are both very diverse and can vary by religion, geographic location and regional backgrounds. Typically, East Indian. A bride during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony in Punjab, India. Bride in Sari and Groom In recent years, with the onset of dating culture in India, arranged marriages have seen a marginal decrease, with . In the Kashmiri tradition, women wear a small gold chain (with a small gold hexagonal bead hanging from the. The essay presents an analysis of trends in Hindu socieity towards Unless you understand the subtle nuances of its traditions and customs and lived for long .. should not see each other until their fixed marriage, dating was unheard of.
In that they display a clear bias against women, holding them as weaker of the two and more culpable in inciting lust in men. Hence, they vehemently advise men to curtail the freedom of their women and keep them within bounds so that they will not distract men from performing their obligatory duties or succumb to temptations and cause the intermixture of castes and decline of their families.
Premarital sex and sexual morality in ancient India Sexual mores of ancient India were determined largely by social structure, caste rules, and the caste status of the individuals. The scope for premarital sex was virtually absent in Brahmana families as their lives were guided by the law books and strict moral conduct.
However, we cannot say the same about the princely families, feudal lords, land owning communities, lower castes, and people who were outcastes or lived in the forests. These communities enjoyed considerable freedom, especially if they were not subject to Vedic morality or traditional Vedic laws. While we do not know whether the Hindu law books were really enforced by the rulers, or they just painted a world of ethical idealism, we can safely assume that the priestly families adhered to righteous conduct and followed the moral percepts of the Vedic religion.
Therefore, although they treated women with considerable respect and gave them a place of honor in their families, they ensured that neither their conduct nor the conduct of their woman would result in the decline of their families and the order and regularity of society. A Brahmana was supposed to live virtuously, as a paragon virtue and express the ideals of God's creation through his words and deeds.
Those who took liberties were either excommunicated or subjected to social humiliation. However, since the Vedic laws were not universally practiced or promulgated, people in ancient India did not adhere to the same sexual morality or moral conduct everywhere.
It was probably true even with regard to even premarital sex. For example, as we learned from Greek sources that unmarried women were often auctioned off by their fathers and sold into slavery or bonded labor. Such women probably lived at the whims of their masters and earned their freedom by paying off the debt or earning the favors of their masters.
Women were also abducted or captured during wars and sold into slavery or forced into marriage. Since the kings enforced the laws, they often considered themselves above law.
They married many women and received maidens as gifts from other kings, vassals, and local princes. The princes must have also enjoyed considerable freedom in choosing their sexual partners before marriage and eligible princesses for their marriage. Megasthanese, the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya recorded that men practiced polygamy. They married many women and kept many women, some for work, some as wives and some for pleasure. As a result their houses were full of children.
Polygamy was the common practice in ancient India. People from all classes engaged in it.
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The following are a few exceptions to what the law books suggested, which are worth mentioning in this regard. Tantric practices allowed sexual intercourse with virgins as part of initiation ceremonies. Certain tantric practices required the presence of lawful wives and unlawful partners for the sexual rituals.
Prostitution was a recognized profession in ancient India and some of them had access to the royal court. The Devdasi or Jogini tradition was prevalent in certain regions of southern India. It went by many names.
The women who were part of the tradition served the gods in the temples as their earthly partners. They also worked as dancers, singers, menial servants, etc. Outside the temples, in their private lives, they served the men whom they chose as their husbands or life partners. We have to believe that cases of adultery were common since the law books prescribed punishments for the same. Women engaged in various professions as bodyguards to the king, soldiers, spies, artisans, entertainers, teachers, singers, dancers, fisher women, boat-women, prostitutes, and farm wokers.
It meant that the usual rules of seclusion and isolation of women which were common in some families were not enforced or practiced in their case. However, circumstantial evidence strongly favors the view that the kings as well as the people in ancient India upheld morality, believed in karmic repercussions, fate and divine justice, and adhered to their caste laws, duties, and moral responsibilities.
Families protected their children to uphold and continue their lineages and family traditions. Faith provided basis for their conduct and morality, while caste rules limited their ability to disobey their elders who held the key to occupational knowledge. The laws and punitive punishments were mostly disproportionate to the crime if the accused were lower castes. Since they formed the majority, it deterred them from breaking the laws. As observed by Megasthanese and later by Hieun Tsang, people in ancient India lived frugally and led simple but virtuous lives.
They upheld virtue, truth and morality. Thefts were exceedingly rare, since the punishments were severe. In such a morally sensitive and restrictive environment that showed no lenience for the weak and the poor, there was hardly any incentive for people to engage in any sexual misconduct or immorality.
Marriage types and traditions of ancient Hindu society The complex nature of Hinduism and the privileges that were enjoyed by the higher castes and by men of status in society also led to a complex set of marriages laws, customs and traditions.
They prescribed the ground rules for people of different castes, governed their public conduct, and gave them an opportunity to legitimize and sublimate their sexual mores, desires, preferences and indulgences through scriptural authority and the backing of an established tradition.
They suggested the manner in which men of different social backgrounds could marry and raise their families according to their wealth, power, status, and strength and how they could channel their desires in permissible ways without disrupting the orderly progression of society. The Hindu law books thus approached the institution of marriage from a very broad perspective to reflect the diverse ways and circumstances in which men could enter marital relationships or consummate their marriages.
In doing so, they used human conduct as the criteria and considered the extremes to which men could go in their pursuit of marriage and relationships with women. Indeed, it was a unique feature of Hinduism, which is not found in any other culture or tradition outside India.
The Hindu law books recognize either six Apastamba or eight types of marriages Manusmriti by which men could marry and become householders. All the eight types were prevalent in ancient India since the Vedic times. It was probably not true that the law books invented the eight types. They might be prevailing practices to which the law books might have given their stamp of approval.
The classification was done mainly according to the manner in which the bride was chosen by the groom and the specific rituals and practices that were associated with each type of marriage. The law books gave specific names to each marriage type and specified which of them were lawful or unlawful and which of them were suitable or unsuitable to the practice of Dharma and continuation of family.
They are considered increasingly lawful in the ascending order, and increasingly unlawful in the descending order, according to the karma and the progeny they produce and how far they comply with the tenets of the faith. The Manusmriti declares that one should avoid unlawful marriages because they produce children with evil impurities. According to such criteria, the first one Brahma is the most lawful and produce most virtuous children and the eighth one Paisachika is the most unlawful and produce most evil children.
Manu suggested that of them, were lawful for Brahmanas, for Kshatriyas, and for Vaisyas and Sudras. The last two were to be avoided by all means. In most classifications, the first four are considered auspicious and lawful, and the last four are considered unlawful and inauspicious. Although we do not find any descriptions of it in the law books, it appears that in ancient times the Brahma type marriage was practiced by the Brahmanas since it led to the birth of virtuous progeny, and the Daiva type by the Kshatriyas, since gods like Indra, Varuna, or Soma, who acted as the witnesses to the marriage were warrior gods.
The Arsha type was practiced by the seers and sages, since they required to gift at least a cow and bull to the bride's father, which they generally kept in their households. As the name suggests, the Prajapatya type was probably practiced by the common folk praja since among the first four, which were generally deemed lawful, it was the simplest and the least expensive.
The Asura type marriage suited the feudal lords, kings, and wealthy merchants who occupied positions of power and enjoyed wealth and influence. With their wealth and power they could easily bribe the fathers of the brides whom they desired and obtain their consent to marry them.
The Gandharva type marriage was probably more prevalent among kings, warriors, artists, writers, musicians, entertainers, etc. Of the eight types, the last two, namely the Rakshasa and the Paisachika types were probably practiced by certain tribes who were not yet integrated into Vedism. The Rakshasa type marriage suited those who relied upon their individual or collective aggression in a display of brute power to settle scores with their rival groups or humiliate them.
In the marriage, they would kidnap and forcibly carry away the girl without her parent's consent and marry her forcibly by threats or coercion to a member of their group.
According to a recent report, such marriages are still practiced in some parts of northern India, and it is usually the groom rather than the bride who is kidnapped and forced to marry. The last type of marriage is called demonic Paisachika and considered the most heinous because in it the bride is first raped when she was asleep, intoxicated or out of senses, and forced into a marriage.
Rapes are rampant in present-day Indian society, but unlike in the past now they result in court cases rather than marriages. The law books are clear about which types of marriages are lawful. They make it abundantly clear that the consent of the father is of utmost importance because as her father and chief provider or nourisher he is primarily responsible for her birth, life, and existence.
Hence, no marriage is lawful if his permission is not taken before her marriage or if she is obtained by tempting him with money against his free will. According to the law books, women who are married in this manner are not qualified to be called lawful wives or have the right to share the obligatory duties dharma of their husbands.
The importance of maidenhood in marriages The Hindu law books prevaricated the possibility of premarital sex with their emphasis upon maidenhood as a precondition for marriage.
Traditionally, the Hindu code of conduct, as enshrined in the law books, does not recognize any marriage in which the bride is not a maiden. This is true in case of all the eight types of marriages which we have discussed before. The bride has to be a virgin for the marriage to consummate. Otherwise, she is automatically disqualified. Such unequivocal emphasis upon virginal purity of the bride precluded any possibility of premarital sex by maidens.
It also discouraged men from engaging them in sexual relationships and incur evil karma. The evidence that the Hindu law books intended the sacrament of marriage for maidens only and men were meant to marry only maidens as part of their family tradition and professional duties can be found in the tradition of Hindu marriage itself.
It becomes obvious when you consider the names that are used to describe the various customs and practices of a typical Hindu marriage. For example, in all the ceremonial practices associated with Hindu marriages, the bride is invariably referred to as maiden kanya only, not as woman, as evident from the following.
In the marriage, acceptance of the bride by the groom is called kanya- grahanam. The very act of giving away the bride by the father to the bridegroom is called kanya-dan, which means giving away the maiden in a marriage. Both the words mentioned above, kanya-dan and kanya-grahanam, are also alternative terms to Hindu marriage. The price that is meant to be paid to the father by the groom or his parents is called kanya-sulkam, meaning tax, or debt, paid to obtain the virgin.
The father has a right to collect it because he takes care of the bride up to her marriage in good faith as his duty, whereas her husband is morally and karmically responsible for her upbringing from the day of her birth. If the bride has any defect or blemish which effects her suitability or compatibility for marriage, it is called kanya-dhosham.
For the good of all, it has to be resolved before she is married. The dowry given by the bride's father to the groom's parents is called kanya-dhanam. It is currently one of the major social evils of Hinduism in several parts of India. The abduction of a maiden in the rakshasa type of marriage is called kanya-haranam. From the above clearly Hindu marriages traditionally recognized only maidens as qualified for marriages.
Virginity of the bride in traditional Hindu marriages is not just a moral or social imperative, but a spiritual one also. During the marriage ceremony, the bride has to be gifted to the gods before she can be married to the bridegroom.
Upon receiving the virgin bride as a gift, the gods give her away in turn as their gift to the groom in good trust, and the groom has to promise them in the presence of celestial witnesses that he will look after well until his last breath. The agreement is important to the gods, because they depend upon it ensure their nourishment, which will come to them as offerings when the married couple perform rituals, sacraments, and sacrificial ceremonies as part of their obligatory duties to discharge their karmic debts or to commemorate auspicious events in their lives, such as birth, conception, initiation, etc.
Thus, every marriage in Hinduism is a covenant between humans and gods in which the bride becomes the consideration or the gift for its execution. For the gods it ensures the continuity of the tradition and another addition to their network of providers.
Therefore, during the marriage ceremony the bride's father first gifts his daughter to the gods, and gods then give her away as their gift to the bridegroom in return for a promise that he would protect her and nourish them, and ensure the order and regularity of society through his progeny.
Maidenhood of the bride is vital to the agreement because gods will not accept the bride if she is already taken by another or gifted to another.
Hence, Vedic beliefs make virginal purity a divine necessity in Hindu marriage tradition. Rules of celibacy The rules of celibacy and chastity prescribed by the law books for the boys and girls precluded any possibility of premarital sex among the children of upper castes.
In fact, boys faced even stricter regulations than the girls before their marriage and during their education, which precluded any possibility on their part to indulge in premarital sex or sexual misconduct. The phase itself was called the phase of celibacy brahmacarya, which in most cases lasted until the age of During this phase, they were not allowed to put on any make up, wear ornaments, and seek any form of pleasure or entertainment.
For them the law books prescribed several rules to keep them segregated from the opposite sex and help them focus upon their education which was vital to their future survival and continuation of family tradition. Thus by prescribing a strict code of conduct for both boys and girls, providing ideals, prescribing punishments as deterrence, and by enforcing them through various institutions, the elders in Vedic society prevented the incidence of premarital sex and the problem of misconduct among them.
Since in the Vedic society maidenhood was important to the marriage of girls, they were closely guarded by her parents or her guardians and not allowed to go out or meet men alone. They were also denied schooling. Whatever education they received was either from their parents or husbands. Mass education of women in India became possible only in the last years during the last phase of the British rule. Such controls, and carefully laid out strategies of the Vedic society, prevented the possibility of premarital sex among young people.
They helped them regulate their conduct around the central purpose of practicing dharma and ensuring the order and regularity of society. Adherence to dharma, and belief in rebirth and karma inspired them to live responsibly knowing that their lives were the result of their past deed and they had an obligation towards their parents, gods, and others to continue their family tradition, and preserve their name and reputation.
The Royal exceptions Although India derives its original name Bharat from the legendary King Bharata who was born out of a secret wedlock gandharva marriage between Shakuntala, a beautiful princess, and Dushyanta, a native king, it is important not to generalize such incidences and infer from them that premarital sex was common or lover marriage were popular in ancient India.
The truth is, in the earlier days, as it is now, mainstream Hinduism neither approved free sex nor condoned premarital sex. If there were any exceptions to them in the past, they very rarely happened and mostly with regard to princely families and warrior classes who considered themselves above the law they promulgated.
Shakuntala herself was born out of a union between Meneka, a celestial nymph, and Viswamitra, a renowned warrior sage. Indra sent her to tempt him and disturb his austerities. She succeeds in her attempt to entice him, which led to her motherhood. After giving birth to her, neither of them took care of her. Menaka left for heaven and Vishwamitra returned to his austere life, abandoning the newly born child. A sage named Kanva took pity on her and brought her up in his hermitage.
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Young Shakutala who was by birth a heavenly beauty grew in his care to become a beautiful and virtuous maiden. During one chance encounter with Dushaynta, a neighboring king, she fell in love with him and secretly married him, which subsequently led to a lot of problems for her. She became pregnant, and when she went to the royal court, due to a curse Dushyanta could not recognize her or acknowledge their marriage.
Bharata, who was born out the union grew up to become the ruler of the entire Indian subcontinent. In marrying Dushyanta, Shakuntala did not violate any Vedic law nor engaged in misconduct. She was not brought up by her original father. Beyond this, welfare organizations have helped, but they are largely private and often religious foundations with relatively little financing.
The population in need of social welfare support is too vast for the facilities that are available, and these people are disproportionately concentrated in the cities. Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations There are numerous nongovernmental organizations of social, political, religious, educational, or sporting natures.
Every village, town, and caste and most temples have at least one associate formal organization and sometimes dozens. Beyond some attempts at registration, for example, of cooperative societies and charitable endowments, the government does not attempt to control organizations. Gender provides the basis for a fundamental division of the work force, with perhaps only the lowest day-labor jobs and the most modern professions being regularly staffed by people of both genders.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. This is true in all family systems except the defunct matrilineal system of the Nayar castes in Kerala. Within all branches of Hinduism, priests can only be male, though they may be boys. In Islam, the leaders of a prayer group are males. In Zoroastrianism and Roman Catholicism, only men can function as priests.
It is said that a woman must first obey her father, then her husband, and then her son; this seems to be the normal pattern as she goes through life. The opinion of the male head of household is especially important in the arrangement of marriages, because in most religious communities these are effectively marriages between two families.
At such times, romantic preferences get little consideration. Since it is the male head who typically controls the family's finances, it is he who pays or receives a dowry at the time of a child's marriage. Although older women may be very influential behind the scenes, they wield little legal authority in property and marriage matters. Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage.
Although the different regions and religions have considerable variety in marital arrangements, the arranged marriage is a traditional feature of virtually every community; today, except among the urban middle classes, it still is widely practiced.
Marriages that are not arranged by the couple's parents, often termed "love marriages," are looked down on as impulsive acts of passion. The more usual style of marriage unites a couple who have barely met beforehand. It is through the institution of arranged marriage and its correlate, caste endogamy, that parents exercise control not only over their adult children but also over the social structure and the caste system.
Generally, the country has two main types of marriage: Many south Indian castes also permit uncle-niece marriage. Maharashtra state has intermediate forms. The residential unit is normally the household, but this unit varies widely in its structure, from housing a large extended family of three or four generations to a household made up of a lone widow.
In large buildings with many rooms, it is common to find a number of discrete households, especially in cities; each of these households may be distinguished by its use of a common cooking hearth and perhaps by depending on a common source of funds.
In crowded urban conditions, each room may constitute a separate household, as may each small grass hut in a roadside encampment. The written will is largely unknown except in modern urban areas. The tradition has always been that sons inherit property and status from their fathers and that daughters can hope to receive a dowry at the time of their marriage.
However, there is much local and caste variation in precisely who inherits. In some groups, the oldest son inherits everything and then makes an accommodation for his younger brother and provides his sisters' dowries. In other groups, the brothers may inherit equal shares, except that the youngest brother inherits the house.
Other patterns occur, but in general, although modern law states that daughters should inherit equally with their brothers, this almost never happens except in Islamic families. The largest kin-based group is the caste, of which there are several thousand. A caste is an endogamous unit with its own traditional occupation and rank. It is made up of a number of clans, which are also kin-based but are exogamous and often intermarrying units.
The clan in turn is made up of smaller and more localized groups called lineages, which are also exogamous. A caste may include hundreds of lineages of varying size and status, depending on how many generations of depth they claim. Major lineages commonly are composed of minor lineages, but the smallest are so localized that they are made up of a number of neighboring and closely related extended or nuclear families.
Thus, a caste is endogamous, but all the kin-based units below it are exogamous and follow rigid rules about which clans or lineages are allowed to inter-marry. Infant care is almost completely the responsibility of mothers, older siblings, and grandmothers. When the mother works in the fields or a factory, a grandmother commonly is the chief provider of daytime care for an infant.
After about the age of two, older sisters spend much of their time in this activity. Child Rearing and Education. Inthe government spent over 2 percent of its resources on education. Although the government's goal of eradicating illiteracy among people age fifteen to thirty five by the year has not been achieved, there has been a steady decrease in illiterary since the late nineteenth century.
Among people above age six in52 percent were literate, a 9 percent increase from Kerala state has the highest rates of literacy.
However, nationally there remains a great sexual disparity: While 64 percent of men were literate inonly 39 percent of women were.
The central government is more interested in military power than in literacy, and millions of rural parents, especially Muslims, feel that the schooling of girls is a waste of time and money. Only the establishment of sixteen as the minimum legal age for marriage has made it possible for many girls to get their parents' reluctant permission to attend school. While in earlier times missionary-run schools were important, especially in rural areas, in the last century local and state schools have educated the vast majority of students.
Over the last half century universal school attendance for eight years, equal opportunities for female students, relevant vocational training, and improvement in the quality of classes and textbooks have been national goals, with an emphasis on free and compulsory education for everybody from ages six to fourteen.
However, there has been a recent growth of privately run schools, many associated with religious organizations, which tend to do a better job but commonly charge fees.
There were universities inincluding thirteen central universities which are the oldest, best known, and best funded. The rest are run by state governments or religious foundations. Funding, hiring professors, and setting educational standards in all universities are centralized through the University Grants Commission, which was established in About a hundred colleges throughout the country have an autonomous status, but others are branches of major universities within their states.
In there were 6. There are institutions that grant degrees in engineering and technology and 1, that award diplomas. Adult education programs combat illiteracy, lack of knowledge about family planning, and inadequate understanding of new farming techniques. Such programs tend to be more accessible in urban areas. A major hurdle has been the language of university instruction. The central universities generally teach in English and produce graduates with internationally acceptable credentials, but most of the smaller universities teach in the local state language so that their students' skills are not easily transferable even to other parts of the country.
The opportunities for graduate study overseas are much reduced for this category of students, and even the acquisition of up-to-date textbooks can be a problem. Etiquette Indians are usually very hospitable even when poor and go to considerable lengths to make a visitor feel comfortable. Women normally adopt a deferential attitude toward men, especially to their husbands and fathers-in-law.
All the people tend to show deference to religious figures and government officials. A woman decorates the streets with vibrantly colored rice powder paintings during a festival in Madurai, India. In the census, 82 percent of the population was enumerated as Hindu. However, 12 percent of Indians are Muslim, a fact that makes this one of the largest Islamic nations in the world.
The next largest religious category is Christians, who make up only over 2 percent of the population and are closely followed in number by Sikhs. The only other groups of numerical significance are the Buddhists less than 1 percent and the Jains less than half a percent. Rituals and Holy Places. The thousands of rituals and millions of shrines, temples, and other holy places of many faiths defy categorization here.
For Hindus, large pilgrimage temples are the holiest centers, whereas for Muslims the tombs of saints pir are the most important. For Buddhists, many of them overseas visitors, the sites associated with the Buddha are crucial. Death and the Afterlife. While Muslims, Jews, and Christians pray that their individual souls will go to a paradise after death, Hindu ideas about the afterlife are very different.
Muslims, Jews, and Christians bury their dead in cemeteries, as do most Zoroastrians today. However, Zoroastrians are Women walk on a trail through drying chilies in the Bundi District of Rajasthan. Most Hindu communities have a fundamental belief in reincarnation. The basic idea is that one's soul can be reincarnated for an unknown number of rebirths and that what the soul is to be reincarnated into depends on the balance of one's sins and good deeds in past lives.
This belief provides the justification for the inequities of the caste system: One is born into a particular caste, whether high or low, as a result of the accumulated virtues or sins of one's soul in a previous life. One can never hope to move out of one's caste in this life but may do so in the next reincarnation.
Particularly evil individuals may be reincarnated as animals. Hindus normally cremate the dead on a pile of logs, but the very poor may resort to burial. Extremely saintly figures may be buried in a sitting position, as are members of the Lingayat sect.
Medicine and Health Care India has a tradition of medical healing, teaching, and research that goes back more than two thousand years to the two basic medical treatises written by Charaka and Sushruta. Today the country has four major medical systems as well as dozens of localized and tribal ones that depend on herbal treatments. The oldest of the four systems is still widely followed under the name of Ayurvedameaning "science of long life". It is highly developed, with its own hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical factories, and medical textbooks.
It depends primarily on non invasive herbal treatments. The diagnosis and treatment emphasize a holistic approach.
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Sidda is a distinct tradition that developed in south India and follows principles of physiology close to those of Ayurveda. Diagnosis depends on a careful reading of the pulse. Treatment is mostly herbal and psychological. A third medical tradition is called Unani. This system came to India with Muslim travelers and was developed under the patronage of the Mughals.
It emphasizes holistic diagnosis and treatment, but the theory of human physiology is distinct. All three of these systems attribute disease to an imbalance between underlying constituents. The fourth and most widely favored system is biomedicine, or scientific medicine. It has been used in the cities for three centuries and is practiced in the best hospitals and training colleges. India has about medical colleges. Public health is a major concern of every state government because of the continuing incidence of epidemic diseases, high rates of infant mortality, and the need for family planning usually sterilization to control the growth of the population.
The Arts and Humanities Support for the Arts. Historically, the arts flourished under the support of two main categories of patron: Over the last two centuries, the patronage of British residents and art collectors has become important. In independent India, a national art institute, the Lalit Kala Akademi, promotes the visual arts through lectures, prizes, exhibitions, and publications.
The government supports the Sahitya Akademi, which was set up in to promote excellence in literature; the National School of Drama ; and the Sangeet Natak Akademiwhich promotes dance. India has some of the earliest literature in the world, beginning with Sanskrit, which may be the oldest literature in any Indo-European language.
The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedaslong religious texts composed in an early form of Sanskrit some time late in the second century B.
It was followed by three other Vedasall liturgical in character, and then by the principal Upanishads during the eighth through fifth centuries B.
The first significant secular document in Sanskrit was a sophisticated grammar that fixed the structure of the language, probably in the fourth century B. Then, during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the text of the great epic Mahabharatathe world's longest poem, was established around B. Both epics incorporated material from extant folklore.
By roughly the third century B. It was soon to become the most influential body of literature in the eastern half of Asia and has remained so to the present day, especially in Chinese and Japanese translations. In that era the image of the social structure of India was codified by two books. During the late fourth century Kautilya, who is said to have been the prime minister Chanakya, wrote the Arthasastraa Treatise on the Goodwhich was rediscovered in Shortly thereafter came the compilation of Manu's Laws Manusmrti.
This treatise on religious law and social obligation described in detail a society, possibly a utopian one, in which there were four caste blocks, the varnaeach of which had its own occupation, status, and religious duties.
This book continued to exercise an immeasurable influence on Indian society for the next two thousand years and the varna model is still a popular image of Hindu caste society. While its history is shrouded, it set the stage for an outpouring of medieval poetry in Tamil, a Dravidian language. Some of this work was devotional, but much was secular in its appeal, including the first known work of Indian women writers.
The most famous example of this poetry was the Purananuruan anthology of four hundred poems praising Tamil rulers. Equally important, the Kural was a collection of moral maxims compiled by Tiruvalluvar in perhaps the third and fourth centuries. It has been likened to a Tamil Koran.
At about the same time, there was a flowering of Sanskrit drama in the northerly parts of India. In the fourth or fifth century lived the greatest Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa.
The best known plays that have survived from this era are Shakuntala and The Little Clay Cartthe former written by Kalidasa and the latter a comedy also perhaps written by him. During the Middle Ages, science and philosophy flourished in Sanskrit texts. Perhaps the best known, if the least scientific, work was the Kama Sutra or a treatise on love by Vatsyayana, who wrote it in a legal style of Sanskrit in about the third century.
The Middle Ages witnessed an outpouring of religious and philosophical literature not just in Sanskrit, which was still the prime liturgical and scholarly language, but also in a number of regional languages. Logic, metaphysics, devotional poetry, and commentary developed over the centuries. In the period — there appeared an important new philosophical literature in Karnataka, beginning with the Kavirajamarga.
This was Jain A farmer leans under the burden of a harvest as it is carried to the top of a building in Zanskar Valley, Ladakh. At the end of the twelfth century Lilavati was written by Nemichandra, the first novel in that language. It was followed by other allegorical novels, as well as Kesiraja's grammar of medieval Kannada.
Aroundanother Dravidian literature, in Telugu, made its debut with the grammarian Nannaya Bhatta and the poet Nannichoda.
At about that time the Malayalam language became differentiated from Tamil. A century later the oldest known manuscript was written in Bengali. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Mukundaraj became the first man to write poetry in Marathi.
Early in the fifteenth century two poets brought Bengali literature into prominence: Chandidas and Vidyapati, with the latter writing in Sanskrit as well as Bengali. Contemporary with them were two Telugu poets, Srinatha and Potana, as well as the best-loved Hindi poet, Kabir — Kabir wrote in a medieval regional language closely related to Sanskrit.
Although Kabir was a low-caste Hindu, he drew inspiration from Sufism and criticized the caste system, ritualism, and idolatry. He was followed in by the first important Muslim poet of India, Mohamed of Jais who wrote the allegorical poem Padmavat in Hindi.
Contemporary with Kabir was one of the greatest of woman poets, the Rajput Mirabai, who wrote in both Hindi and Gujarati. A century before her, Manichand had written an important historical novel in Gujarati.
In the Hindi version of the Ramayana ,by Tulsidas, appeared it was to be a forerunner of numerous versions of the Ramayana in regional languages. At that time there was a strong Persian cultural influence in some parts of the country.
One ruler of the Muslim province of Golconda later Hyderabad was Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, a poet who wrote in both Persian and Urdu, which was a new form of Hindi containing many Persian words and written in an Arabic script. Inthe Adi Granththe canonical text of the Sikh religion, was established in Punjabi.
Thirty years later there appeared, also in northwestern India, a book in Urdu prose, the Sab Ras of Vajhi. In more southern parts of the subcontinent the middle of the seventeenth century also saw the writing of the Kannada poem Rajasekharaby Sadakshara Deva, the works of the Gujarati storyteller Premanand —and the influential Marathi poems of Tukaram — With the arrival of the printing press in south India, Tamil literature underwent a renaissance.
His lengthy diary has been published in Tamil, French, and English. Another outstanding Tamil poet and bard was Tyagaraja. By the time of Nazir, the British hegemony in India was well established, and along with it went the spread of regional printing presses, the opening of the first modern universities, and the increasing influence of European literary forms, especially in the English language.
This influence is evident even in writers who published in their native languages. Bengal in particular experienced a great literary and intellectual renaissance in both English and Bengali, including the novels of Bankim Chandra Chatterji and India's first Nobel Prize Winner, the poet and dramatist Rabindranath Tagore.
A parallel literary renaissance occurred in Hindi at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the first novels by Premchand.
Tamil also began to produce novels with an English influence. The twentieth century saw a continuation of this modernization, fueled by the ease of publication and the increasing size of the reading public. An unexpected development during that century was the emergence of numerous world-class and prizewinning novelists writing in English, and often not residing in India. India has a multiplicity of visual arts extending back over four thousand years. Early painting has not survived, but urban architecture and some small sculptures have.
Most of the thousands of stamp seals that have been found are masterpieces of glyphic art, showing the large animals of northwestern India in miniature relief. The main visual arts arose in the context of religious worship. Sanskrit handbooks still survive stipulating the rules for the production of Hindu religious statues, temples, and paintings.
Distinctive regional styles of temple architecture are a feature of the landscape and a clear marker of the presence of Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Hinduism in each part of the country.
Marriage in Hinduism
Within the Hindu temples there is a great variety of images of the deities, some skilfully carved in stone, some cast in bronze or silver, and some modeled in terra-cotta or wood. Painting was an ancient accomplishment, although the climate has not been conducive to preservation. One can still see second and third-century wall paintings and monumental Buddhist sculptures in caves in Ajanta Madhya Pradesh.
Despite Islamic prohibitions on the representation of the human face, painting and drawing flourished under the Moghul emperors. Realistic portraits, historical scenes, and botanical and zoological subjects were evoked with a sensitive line and a subtle pallet of colors during that period.
Painting in oils dates back two centuries, to the time when the first European portrait painters began to work in India. Today there are many professional graphic artists, some inspired by old Indian traditions and some by modern abstract expressionism. Art schools, public exhibitions, and coffee-table books are the means of reaching their public today, while religious patronage has practically evaporated. India has the largest film industry in the world.
Infeature films were certified by the Board of Censors. Although television came to even rural India more than twenty years ago, the cinema remains the major popular visual art form. InIndia had 12, cinemas, with an attendance of ninety to one hundred million weekly. Radios are widespread, primarily as a source of light music, but not as a major source of information.
The antecedent of all these institutions was the Survey of Indiawhich did the first scientific mapmaking of the subcontinent. There has been an annual Indian Science Congress, a national conference, which began as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in With independence, an overarching bureaucratic organization came into being, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as an Atomic Energy Commission and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
To avoid centralization of these organizations in and around Delhi and Bombay, regional institutes of technology were set up in a number of large cities. The government also supports four national academies: A Historical Companion ,