areas, as in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the followers of the same faith took to
temple construction in a big way to enhance their social prestige.
Temple Reform Movements The monastic organisations gradually began
considering ‘the temples as their property, relaxed the ascetic discipline and
also probably insisted on the privileges of castes and sub-castes’. These
engendered protest movements in several areas. The Jaina Vidhi-Chaitya
movement or the movement for reformed temples directed against the
chaitya-vasins in western India and the Virasaiva movement with its new
priesthood of the jangamas, originated as such movements.
Assimilation of Tantrism by Different Religions The most important
factor which enormously influenced the contents of religions in the early
medieval period was Tantricism. How different sects came to assimilate
Tantricism which contained both non-Brahminic and non-indigenous
elements is not yet quite clear. However, with an accent on japa, sabda and
mantra, Tantra covered not only the various sects of Saivism and systems of
Buddhism, but of Vaishnavism and Jainism as well. The transformation of
Jaina yakshinis into independent cults of worship associated with Tantric
practices is perhaps the best elucidation of the range of Tantric influence on
the religions of early medieval India.
Subjugation of Heterodoxy by Vedantic Thought In philosophy, the
debates of the earlier period passed on to a new phase with the subjugation of
heterodoxy by Vedantic thought. The phase coincided with the decline of
Buddhism. Vedanta, through Shankara, its greatest exponent, brought even
the other deviant Brahminical thinking to task. But the sectarian character of
early medieval religion soon took over and Vedanta came to provide the
‘philosophical basis and background’ of various contemporary creeds. If
Vedantic Brahman was to the Srivaishnava identical with Vishnu, with equal
conviction did the Saiva identify Brahman with Shiva, whom he worshipped.
Divinities and Priests
Dominance of Divinity The medieval cultural milieu included divinity and
humanity; drew no sharp line between them; and contained various kinds of
beings that moved back and forth between them and lived ambiguously at
their conjuncture. Royal genealogies typically had celestial ancestries