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,