spreading Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Travelling extensively,
they settled in strategic places under dynastic patronage. They cooperated
with local and regional allies to translate and interpret ideas and rituals into
local vernaculars. They merged rustic and cosmopolitan elements. Competing
royal patrons backed competing religious specialists, often at the same time.
Innovative Adaptations to Suit Local Societies In this lively world of
cultural politics, brahmins defined Hindu orthodoxy in local terms. Their
success relied on innovative adaptations to evolving social environments.
They were active in two distinct arenas: one was inside the state itself; the
other, outside the state, in local society, particularly in rural society. Brahmin
rituals and Sanskrit texts acquired great influence in medieval dynasties. The
importance of Sanskrit prose, Puranic deities and divine genealogy in the
inscriptions’ prasastis suggests a sweeping royal agreement across India that
brahmins brought to medieval governance a powerful symbolic technology.
Bilingualism of Sanskrit Cosmopolitanism and Vernaculars Most
inscriptions are bilingual documents that represent the two-tier cultural space
in which medieval dynasties worked. Brahmin Sanskrit cosmopolitanism met
vernacular languages in the inscriptions. Many early medieval Sanskrit
prasastis report the royal conduct of Vedic rituals, while vernacular texts in
many inscriptions record a rulers’ financial support for brahmin settlements,
Vedic learning, temple building, and temple rituals. There were several ways
to sponsor Hindu culture and they all centred on temple precincts where most
inscriptions appear and most Hindu identities were initially formed. The
spiritual powers of brahmins merged with those of the gods that became
central figures in medieval life.
Geopolitics of Religion
Patronage Patterns in Different Cultural Regions Brahmins were among
many cultural activists who competed with one another to organise the
operation of spiritual power, and they all needed mundane local patronage to
flourish. Patterns of financial support from ruling dynasties, merchants, and
landed elites had a major impact on the changing religious content of
different cultural regions.