Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase / India History

Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase / India History-In this Article we Published the details about “what changes come into the society, religion, etc”. this is the last topic of the Ancient history if you want to read about the detailed ancient history you can visit our website portal “INDIA GK“, where we have completed the all topics related to the ancient history.

Social And Economic Changes

The central factor that ultimately transformed the Ancient Indian society into medieval society was the practice of land grants. This practice came into being because of serious crisis that affected the ancient social order. Contemporary Puranic texts complain of a situation in which Varnas or social classes discarded the functions assigned to them. This led to the origin of Varna-Sankar or intermixing of social classes. The crucial step to meet the situation was to grant land to priests and officials in lieu of salaries and numeration.

Rise of the Landlords

  • From the 8th Century onwards Samanta, Ranak, Rautta (Rajput) etc class of people grew in power. Some were government officers, who were not paid in cash but by assignings to them revenue bearing villages. Thus, the growth of feudalism can be traced from this period onwards.
  • The hereditary chiefs gradually began to assume many of the functions of the government. They assumed the right to sublet their lands to the followers without the prior permission of the ruler, thus increasing the number of people, who drew sustenance from land without working on it themselves.

New Agrarian Economy

  • This period noticed an important change in the agrarian economy. The landed beneficiaries could not cultivate lands by themselves, nor could they collect revenues by themselves.
  • The actual cultivation was entrusted to peasants or share croppers, who were attached to the land but did not legally own it. Frequent seizures of power and land grants gave rise to several categories of landed people formerly, all things in society were according to the Varnas, but now they also came to be determined according to the landed possessions of a person.

Decline of Trade

  • From AD 6th Century onwards, there was a sharp decline in trade. This decline of trade led to the decay of towns. In Northern India, from 8th Century onwards, there was a period of stagnation and even of decline, The main reason for this was the setback of trade and commerce,
  • The decline in trade and commerce was due to the collapse in the West of the Roman Empire with which India had flourishing and profitable trade.
  • The rise of Islam leading to the collapse of old empires, such as Sassanid (Iranian) Empire, also affected India’s foreign trade. As a result, there was a remarkable paucity of new gold coins in the North India between the AD 8th and 10th Century.

Cultural Developments

  • In about 6th to 7th Centuries started the formation of cultural units which later came to be known as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa. Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan etc. The identity of various cultural groups is recognised by both foreign and Indian sources. The Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang mentions several nationalities. The Jaina books of the late 8th Century notice the existence of 18 major people or nationalities. It describes the physical features of 16. It produces samples of their language and says something about their character. Vishakhadatta, an author of about AD 9th Century speaks of different regions inhabited by people, different in customs, clothing and language.
  • The AD 6th and 7th Centuries are equally important in the history of Sanskrit literature. Sanskrit continued to be used by the ruling class from about AD 2nd Century onwards. As the rulers came to live in pomp or splendour, the style of their language became verbose and ornate. The ornate style in Sanskrit prose and poetry became common from the AD 7th Century. The best example of verbiage in prose is found in the writings of Bana.
  • From the AD 7th Century, a remarkable development takes place in the linguistic history of India. Buddhist writings from Eastern India show the faint beginning of Bengali, Assamese, Maithili, Oriya and Hindi. Similarly, the Jaina Prakrit works of the same period show the beginning of Gujarati and Rajasthani. In the South, Tamil was the oldest language but Kannada came to grow at about this time. Telugu and Malayalam developed much later. It seems that each region develop its own language on account of its isolation from other.. Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase

Regional Scripts

  • Regional Scripts became more prominent in the AD 7th Century and later. From the Mauryas to Guptas, although the script underwent changes, more or less same script continued to obtain throughout the greater part of the country. But from AD 7th Century every region came to have its own script and hence one cannot read post Gupta inscriptions found in different parts of the country unless he has the knowledge of regional scripts. Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase

Religious Developments

  • We also notice some religious changes in the Post Gupta times. Hindu divinities came to be arranged according to their grades in the hierarchy. Just as society was divided into unequal classes based on ritual landed property, military power etc so, the divinities were also divided into unequal ranks.
  • Vishnu, Shiva and Durga appeared supreme deities, presiding over many other Gods and Goddesses, who were placed in lower positions as retainers and attendants. We find the practice of worshipping Brahma, Ganapati, Vishnu, Shakti and Shiva. They were called Panchadeva. The chief God Shiva or some other deity was installed in the main temple, around which 4 subsidiary shrines were erected to house the other four deities. Such temples were known as Panchayatana.
  • From the AD 7th Century onwards, the bhakti cult spread throughout the country, and especially in South. Bhakti meant that people made all kinds of offerings to the God in return for which they received the Prasada or the favour of God. It meant that devotees completely surrendered to the God.
  • The most remarkable development in the religious field in India from about AD 6th Century was the spread of Tantricism. Tantricism admitted both women and Shudras into its ranks and laid great stress on the use of magic rituals. Which were intended to satisfy material desires of the devotees for physical possessions and to cure day-to-day diseases and injuries.


  • With the emergence of Vishnu and Shiva as the most popular Gods and with people developing deep devotion, the Vedic religion was transformed into a more popular form, later came to be called Hinduism.
  • Very early a God named Vasudeva was widely worshipped, especially in Western India.
  • The inscription on the Besnagar column (2nd Century BC) shows that the cult of Vasudeva was receiving royal support. Soon, Vasudeva came to be identified with the Vedic God, Vishnu.
  • Narayana, a God of obscure origin mentioned in the Brahmana literature, was also identified with Vishnu, whose name was by now closely connected with that of Krishna. This gave rise to Bhagavatism or Vaishnavism.
  • The final form of Hinduism was largely the result of the influence from the Dravidian, South, where, on the basis of indigenous cults fertilised by Aryan influence, theistic schools had arisen, characterised by intense ecstatic piety.
  • It was this devotional religion, bhakti, propagated by many wandering preachers and hymn-singers, which had the greatest effect on Hinduism.
  • Vishnu is envisaged as resting in the primeval ocean, on the thousand-headed snake, shensha. In his sleep, a lotus grows from his navel, and in the lotus is born Brahma, who creates the world.
  • Once the world is created, Vishnu awakens to reign in the highest heaven. Vaikuntha. He rides the great eagle Garuda, generally shown with a half-human face.
  • Vishnu is generally thought of as wholly benevolent. The God works continuously for the welfare of the world, and has from time to time incarnated himself.

Ten Incarnations of Vishnu

Ten incarnations of the God have been recognised

Matsya (the fish)Varaha (the boar)
Vamana (the dwarf)Rama
Krishna (or Buddha as some have it) Parasurama
BalaramaKurma (the tortoise)
Narsimha (the man-lion)Kalkin (the destroyer-future incarnation).
Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase

Vaishnava Cults

  1. Bhagavata The cult, supposed to have been propounded by Vasudeva, a popular deified hero worshipped in Western India, reached its peak in the early Christian era. The Bhagavata, a theistic devotional cult, originated several centuries before the Christian era. The twelve Alvars spread Bhagavatism in Southern India.
  2. Pancharatras The Pancharatra, another Vaishnava cult, worshipped the deified sage Narayana, who was later identified as Vasudeva Krishna. According to tradition, the teachings of Pancharatra were first systematised by Sandilya in AD 100.
  3. Bhagavata and Pancharatra cults were later amalgamated into one cult known as the Pancharatra Agama.
  4. Vaikhanasas It was. a ritualistic Vaishnava cult founded by Vikhanas. Initially a part of the Taittiriya school of Yajurveda, the Vaikhanas cult later became an orthodox Vaishnava cult. The Vaikhanasa Sutra is the main text of this cult. The Vaikhanasa cult is based on the five fold conception of Vishnu
    (i) Brahmin
    (ii) Purusha
    (iii) Satya
    (iv) Achyuta and
    (v) Anirudha


  1. Saivism probably rose when a fertility deity, whose cult may have been kept alive in non-Brahminic circles from the days of the Harappan Civilisation, rose in prominence. This was Shiva, identified with the Rigvedie Rudra.
  2. In the Yajurveda, Shiva is referred to as Sankara or Shambhu. Shiva is usually worshipped in the form of linga (phallus). Saivism had four schools- Pasupata. Saiva, Kapalika, Kalamukha. With Shiva were associated certain other popular divinities, such as Skanda and Ganesha.
  3. At the end of the Gupta Period, Goddesses rose to prominence together with magical cults, religious sexuality, and a new form of animal sacrifice.

Saiva Cults

  1. Pasupata The earliest known Saiva cult, the Pasupata cult, was founded by Lakulisa, an incarnation of Shiva. Lakulisa is usually depicted naked and it hyshallic. A club (lakuta) was the special emblem of Lakulisa. Attaining eternal union with Shiva is the ultimate aim of the Pasupata cult. Pasupatasutra, attributed to Lakulisa, is the main text of the cult. The cult was very popular in Orissa and in Western India from the AD 7th to the 11th Centuries.
  2. Kapalika It is an extreme tantric cult, which flourished between the AD 10th and 13th Centuries. Probably an off-shoot of the Pasupata Movement, Kapalika cult had its centre in Karnataka. The cult died out by the 14th Century and merged with other Saivite orders like Aghoris and Kanphatas.
  3. The Kapalikas, the skull bearers, worshipped the terrifying aspects of Shiva, namely, Mahakala, Kapalabhrit and Bhairav. The Kapalikas ate meat, drank intoxicants, and practised ritual sexual union. Yoga was mandatory for the Kapalikas. The Kapalikas made human sacrifices to please Bhairav and his consort Chundika.
  4. Kalamukha The Kalamukha, the other extreme tantric cult, flourished in the Karnataka region between the 11th and the 13th Century. The Kalamukhas drank from cups made of human skull and smeared their bodies with the ashes of cremated corpses. HAI
  5. The teachings of both Kapalika and Kalamukha cults are similar.
  6. Aghori They were the successors of the Kapalika cult. They worshipped, besides Shiva, Goddesses Sitala and Kali. Cannibalism, animal sacrifices and cruel rites were performed. The Aghoris led a wandering life.
  7. Kanphata or Gorakhnathi The Kanphata or the Gorakhnath sect was propounded by Gorakhnath, a native of Eastern Bengal.
  1. Gorakhnath synthesised the Pasupata teachings with those of tantrism and yoga. Attaining eternal union with Shiva by means of yogic techniques is the ultimate aim of the sect.
  2. The Kanphatas or Gorakhnathis are characterised by their split ears (Kanphata-Kan means ear, and phata means split).
  3. The yogis practise ritual copulation in graveyards and sometimes cannibalism.
  4. The nine nathas and 84 siddhas play an important part in the sect.
  5. Suddhasaiva The Suddhasaiva sect was expounded by Srikanta Sevacharya, who upheld Ramanuja’s teachings. The sect is based on the vedantasara, which says liberation is attained by deep meditation on Shiva, who is identified with Brahmin-the self.
  6. Virasaiva or Lingayat Cult The Virasaiva, also called the Lingayat cult, was founded by Basava. The cult concentrated on the linga as the only true symbol of divinity. A model of the linga is presented to each Virasaiva devotee at the initiation for daily worship.
  7. According to the Virasaivas, one Shiva directly without the aid of priests. The devotees can are not cremated. The dead are buried in a sitting worship position facing North (unmarried people in a reclining position).

Six School of Philosophy

By the beginning of the Christian era, six schools of philosophy developed in India. All these schools have atleast two doctrines in common. These were

  • Vedanta means the end of the Veda or the goal of the Veda. The Brahmasutra of Badrayana compiled in the 2nd Century BC formed it’s basic text commentaries were written later by Shankaracharya in the on which AD 9th Century and Ramanuj in the AD 12th Century. The fundamental tent of this school is tat tvam asi, which means thou art that signifying the identity of the individual soul with Brahma, which is the universal soul.
  • Mimansa It is concerned with the partical side of Vedic religion as found in the Brahmanas and the literature on ritual. According to Mimansa, Vedas contain the eternal truth. It mainly discusses the scared ceremonies and the rewards gained from their performance.
  • Nyaya It’s a school of analysis and was developed as a system of logic Nyaya was founded by Akshapada, literally the eye footed. The tenants of this system were set forth in the Nyayasutra of Gotama. Gotama recognised four forms of true knowledge-perception, inference, analogy and credible testimony. This school influenced Indian scholars, who took to systematic thinking and reasoning.
  • Vaiseshika The school derives it’s name from the world Visesha (particularly). The founder of this school is Uulukakanda. Initially, it was based on the concept that everything in this world (except time, space, consciousness, mind, soul) is composed of various combinations of atoms, which remain after a material object has been reduced to it’s smallest part. It marked the beginning of physics in India, When the Vaiseshika school merged with Nyaya system, it became theistic through the introduction of the concept of God.
  • Sankhya It literally means count founded by Kapila. It admits of two entities Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (spirit), which are without beginning and end but essentially different. This system talks of the mutual relation between these two entities. Initially, the Sankhya system was atheistic, however, under the influence of the yoga system with which it coalesced, it became theistic.
  • Yoga system is complementary to Sankhya system. It’s founder was Patanjali. According to yoga school, a person can attain salvation through meditation and physical application. Practice of control over pleasure, senses and bodily organs is central to this system. The above six systems of philosophy are idealistic in nature and promote the notion of attaining salvation. But within these six system, sankhya and vaisheshika systems also promote the materialist view of life.
  • Materialistic ideas also appear in the doctrines of Ajivikas, a heterodox sect in the time of the Buddha. But, it was Charvaka, who was the main expounder of the materialistic philosophy. This philosophy came to be known as the Lokayata, which means the ideas derived from the common people. It underlined the importance of intimate contact with the world (loka) and showed lack of belief in the other world. He denied the existence of God and was opposed to the quest for spiritual salvation. He accepted the reality of only those things, which could be experienced by human senses and organs.


Kali Samvat3102 BCAryabhatta AD 560
Buddha Samvat3076 BCVedanga Jotisha
Mahavira Samvat527 BCMahavira
Vikram/krit/Malav58 BCVikramaditya
Shaka SamvatAD 78Kanishka
KalchuriAD 248Ashira Ruler
Gupta/VallabhiAD 319Chandra Gupta 1
MaukhariAD 550Ishaan Verma
HarshaAD 606Harshavardhana
KaulamAD 825In Malabar
NevadiAD 879In Nepal
Chalukya Vikram SamvatAD 1076Vikramaditya 6th
LaxmanAD 1120Lakhsman Sen
Illahi SamvatAD 1583Akbar
Chandra/HijraAD 1626 Or 28Shah Jahan
Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase


DynastiesBy RulersCapitals
IkshavaakusShrishanta MulakNagarjuna Konda
GuptaShri GuptaPatailputra
HunasTormaanShakal or Syalkot
PallavasSimhavarman 4Kanchi
ChalukyaJaisingh SiddharajaVatapi/Badami
RashtrakutaDanti DurgaManya Khait
GurjaraHarish ChandraGujarat
Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase
Transformation of the Ancient

Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase

2 thoughts on “Transformation of the Ancient Phase to Medieval Phase / India History

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