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Monday, February 19, 2018
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Cultural Heritage

 
Hindu civilization and culture reached its apogee in the territory of Uttar Pradesh. Some scholars are of the view that the Rig Veda was composed in the Gangetic valley. But even if this be not true, it is generally accepted that a substantial portion of the Vedic literature had its origin here in its many hermitages, which were seats of learning. Some of the big names in Hindu sacred literature, such as Yajnavalkya, Vashishtha, Vishwamitra, Valmiki, Attriyea, Bharadwaja, Kapil and Vyas lived in these sylvan retreats of Uttar Pradesh and inspired millions through the ages. Uttar Pradesh's greatest gifts to humanity are the two epics, 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata'. From the epic age, the territory of Uttar Pradesh being watered by several fresh streams of culture, the two most significant being those generated by the teachings of the Buddha and Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar. Manifestations of these are to be found in a mass of literature and numerous relics of art and architecture which form part of the precious cultural heritage of the country. Brahmanical culture eclipsed by the more virile and vigorous Buddhism. Culture in all its manifestations served the ends of religion. The fountainheads of Brahmanical culture were centered at holy places as Kashi, Ayodhya, Prayag, Mathura and the Himalayan hermitages. Mathura has proved to be a veritable store-house of buried ancient art, both of the Brahmanical and Buddhist varieties and Kashi, which has withstood the ravages of times, of living Hindu art.

There was an efflorescence of Buddhist art during the reign of Ashoka and of Hindu art during the Golden Age of the Guptas. The invasion by the Greeks a little earlier and during this period supplied the necessary leaven for art and literature to flourish. Secular literature was not neglected and included poetry, drama, lyric, prose, romance and fables. There are several writers whose work have earned distinction and renown. Some of them are Asvaghosha of Ayodhya of Buddha Charita fame, Harishena, the author of the Allahabad Prasasti, Vakapatiraja of Kannauj and Bhavabhuti in Vashovarman's court and Bana Bhatta, the court-poet of Emperor Harsha and author of Kadambari. By the beginning of the seventh century AD, Hinduism had revived sufficiently to cripple Buddhism. Hindu temples outnumbered Buddhist monasteries in an increasing proportion. Shankaracharya further weakened this dying institutions, but the death-blow was dealt by the early Muslim who razed their monasteries - the last ditch positions which the Buddhist held against resurgent Hinduism. Buddhism ceased to be an effective instrument of culture in the country after this. Then began the dark Middle Ages for Hindu culture. Vandalism was let loose on the land by the fanatical Muslim rulers. Art and culture came to a grinding halt. Some compulsory contacts had to be maintained between the attacker and the attacked through a spoken word. The result was the development of Hindu and the birth of Urdu as Hindustani or rekhta. Music found its votaries among Muslims. Muslim building activity led to a synthesis of architecture which is styled as Indo-Saracen. New industries, arts and crafts, came up including shawl-making, inlay work, brocade, muslin, carpet-weaving, paper-making etc. 


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