Medieval India (6th-16th Century AD)

Figure 1.--Sambandar was a Saiva poet-saint of Tamil Nadu (7th century AD). He belonged to a Brahmin family. According the Hindu tradition Sambandar had a vision of Shiva at age of 3 years. So he is always depicted as a toddler. This bronze statuette from Tamil Nadu (southast India) is dated to the 12th century, perhapd from the Chola Empire. We notice high caste Hindu children at this age just like the stayette today.

Medieval India witnessed the high point of Hindu civilization on the Indian sub-continent, followed by a succession of Muslim conquests before the arival of the Europeans at the beginning of the modern era. The dates are not well defined. Medieval India was divide along a north-south axis. The Chola dominated the south and the Rajputs in the north. The most important dynasty during the medieval period rose in southern India away from the Indus Valley and Ganges rivers in the north, where civilization first appeared during the ancient era. The Cholas unlike other major dynasties (the Chalukyas, the Pallavas, the Pandyas or the Rashtrakutas) were a native dynasty rather than an invading force. The Deccan region was in chaos. The Deccan Plateau comprises much of southern Asia. The Cholas reduced the Pallavas to the status of minor vassals. The Rashtrakutas had declined, but a resurgent branch of the Chalukya family (the later Chalukyas) became an imortant regionalpower in the western Deccan. The Deccan region was contested by the later Chalukyas, the Yadavas in Devagiri (northern Deccan around Aurangabad), the Kakatiyas of Warangal (Andhra Pradesh) and the Hoysalas of Dorasamudra (Mysore). It was Cholas whould ultimately emerge as unchallenged authorities in the south (900-1100 AD). The Hoysala Empire emerged as the lastbgreat southern empire (10th-14th centuries). The Hoysala were hill people from the western Ghats. As the Chalukyas and Kalachuri kingdoms exausted themselves in constant warfare, the Hoysala gained control of present day Karnataka and parts of the Kaveri River delta in Tamil country (12th century). The Hoysala expanded into modern Karnataka, minor parts of Tamil Nadu and parts of Deccan India. The Hoysala era was important period in the development of Indian art, architecture, and religion. The Empire left largebnumbers of stone temples which survice today. After the death of Harsha the Rajputs rose in northern India. The Rajput period in the north was as in medieval Europe was an age of chivalry and feudalism. The Rajputs constantly warred with each other which impaired their ability to resist Muslim invaders. The Rajputs were thus unable to resist Turkic invaders from Afghanistan from gaining a hold on nothern India where they established the Delhi Sultanate an Islam (13th century). While important empires arose during the medieval era, none suceeded in unifying the subcontinent. This is like the situation in urop, but unlike China wher the Han Chinese unified the country. After the medieval era, the Moguhls came very close to unifying Indiabut ultimatly failed. So it was that only under the British Raj was the subcontinnt unified. Any in modern India today it is the English language and English parlimentary democracy are the only common bonds holding the country together. An element of cultural unification ocurred during the medieval era. Buddhism was effectively destroyed by Hindus, before the Islamic invasions. The Muslim rulers futher supressed Buddhism and introduced a new religious division--Islam.


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Created: 2:34 AM 1/12/2014
Last updated: 2:34 AM 1/12/2014