Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Note on the Indian Dark Age

Poster of the 1952 movie 

Anand Math

Like the Europeans, the Indians too had their Dark Age, which extended from the tenth century (the rise of the Ghurid dynasty) to the eighteenth century (the decline of the Mughal dynasty). The Islamic rulers had conquered a significant part of India, but their face was always turned towards the Arabian desert. They did not assimilate with the Hindus; they did not become Indianized; they never overcame their nomadic and militaristic character. 

In this Dark Age of eight hundred years, the Hindus became disconnected from their ancient philosophy, culture, and political systems. Many of India’s important temples and universities were destroyed. This resulted in the Hindu mind becoming barren. The Hindus lost their political and creative instinct, and their religious zeal. They withdrew from the public arena—the fields of politics and culture—and retreated into politically ineffective and socially fractured cults. 

A significant section of the population became skeptical about the philosophy,  practices, and political potential of Hinduism and they converted to Islam.  

Hindu renaissance began in the middle of the nineteenth century, and it had a decisive impact on Indian literature, philosophy, education, and art. Western and Hindu scholars investigated the ancient Hindu texts and came up with new commentaries. Most Hindus had little knowledge of their Vedic and Upanishadic past—a series of essays and books published in this period led to historical and cultural awakening. The philosophy of aggressive Hinduism developed by Pandit Sasadhar Tarkachuramani, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, and others became very popular.

In the twenty-first century, the Hindu renaissance is more than 160 years old (taking 1860 as the beginning), but it is still in progress.

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