The period of the Gupta rule is the brightest feature in Indian history. In fact the period from 320 A.D. to 480 A.D. is known as the 'Golden Age' of Indian culture. This period has also been called 'the Hindu Renaissance' or the revival of Brahmanism in India. During this period, India had peace, progress and prosperity. There was an all-round progress in art, architecture, literature and science. Also, after the Ashokan zeal for Buddhist expansion had faded, the Brahmanism revived in the Gupta period. The main features of this period are given below:
During the Gupta rule, the old Brahmanical religion of the Vedas was put into the new mould of Hinduism as we know it today. The Gupta kings were Brahmarnical Hindus and were, therefore, great patrons of this religion. During this revival of Hinduism, the old gods of the Vedic period like Surya, Varuna and Indra receded into the background and new gods such as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh came to the fore-front. Lord Vishnu was worshipped by many names such as Vasudeva, Janardhan and Gobind. Legends on Vishnu were compiled in Vishnu Purana. The cult of Vishnu was known as Vaishnavism. A code of law called Vishnu Smriti was also compiled, during this period. The later Gupta rulers worshipped Shiva was also known by innumerable names such as Pashupati, Rudra, Mahadeva and Shambhu. Legends on Shiva were compiled in Shiva Purana. The cult of Shiva was known as Shaivism. The worshippers of Shiva were found in great numbers in southern parts of India while the worshippers of Vishnu were mostly found in the north. Lord Brahma was the paternal figure, worshipped equally by both the Vaishnavas and the Shaivas, though independent temples were rarely built for this god, who was responsible for the task of creation.
Gradually, the position of supremacy in religion, which was held by Buddhism now recovered by Hinduism. In this period Bhagwad Gita became the source of inspiration. The Bhakti cult or the devotion to one's personal god with love and surrender, assumed great importance. The Bhakti cult gave importance to devotion rather than to knowledge. The cult became very popular in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Gupta emperors were followers of Hinduism but they never persecuted those who followed Buddhism and Jainism. They respected Buddhism and Jainism and employed learned scholars from these two religions.
The Gupta rulers were patrons of Brahmanism. They worshipped Lord Vishnu and other Hindu gods. They built innumerable temples in their honour and gave grants to Vedic scholars. Great achievements were made in the fields of art, architecture, science and literature during the Gupta period.
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