History and Sources

Was Hinduism ever identified with any political regimes?

Several important royal dynasties that identified themselves with Hindu tradition ruled various parts of India and southeast Asia over a span of about two thousand years. In some cases the dynasties bolstered their claims to political legitimacy by appealing to the concept of divine kingship. A series of fairly short-lived early Hindu dynasties, the Nanda (362-322 B.C.E.), Maurya (322-185 B.C.E.), and Shunga (185-73 B.C.E.), evidently faltered as a result of their failure to keep priestly members of the royal court happy with the balance of power. The Gupta dynasty (320-647 C.E.) was the first major success story, taking control over the northern two-thirds of India. Promoting devotion to Vishnu especially, the Guptas oversaw what some call a renaissance of Hindu culture. After the fall of the Guptas, several Hindu dynasties ruled various segments of central and southern India. Among the most important were the Tamil kingdoms of the south—especially the Pallavas (c. 250-750 C.E.), Chalukyas (450-1189 C.E.), and the Cholas (minor power from 100 C.E., expanded 800-1300 C.E.)—all of which were major patrons of religious art and architecture.


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