Edition Wadsworth Publishing essay

The development of Indian art and literature is very closed to religion. Hinduism religion had a great influence on Indian painting, sculpture, architecture and literature. Indian paintings featuring Hindu gods, Hindu goddesses and religious plots. Indian sculpture shows gods and religious iconic images. Early Indian literature describes cosmogony and religious history of the region. Today we know several series depicting the life of Lord Krishna, many bronze statuettes like “Nataraj” (The Dancing Shiva). The Nataraj sculpture is not only an adornment.

It is an important symbol showing how Shiva is linked to the cosmos (represented by the arch of flames). The gestures of the dance represent Shiva’s five activities: creation (symbolized by the drum), protection (by the “fear not” hand gesture), destruction (by the fire), embodiment (by the foot planted on the ground), and release (by the foot held left). With outside cultural and religious influences they brought new subjects for Indian art. The influence of Buddhism and Jainism we see in the frescos in Ellora and the Ajanta caves (e. g. Bodhisattva with a Lotus in Hand etc).

Indian cave and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism. Literary heritage of ancient Indian includes many religious scriptures and epic poems. There are Vedas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata etc. They have a great importance for all future development of Indian literary tradition. For example the Ramayana influenced on later Sanskrit poetry. In the plays and poetry by Sanskrit poet Kalidas the plot is based on Hindu mythology and philosophy. Indian art is product of the ancient culture.

Many indigenous and outside influences shaped features of Indian art. But the religious aspects of Indian art are the most important ones. Indian art tradition was born in the complex cultural relationships where religion plays even more important role than in Western civilization. And in all genres of art we see fruitful and cheerful influence of traditional Indian religion.

References: World History, by Duiker W. J. and Jackson J. S. Vol. 1 Fourth Edition Wadsworth Publishing; 4 edition 2003 47-49, 52-58, 250-252 pp.