How the interaction between Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism resulted into the synthesis of Indian Culture in ancient India? Discuss with suitable examples while limiting your answer to only visual art forms.

Published: November 9, 2017

In context with visual art forms, the depictions of semidivine spirits (Yakshas, Gandharvas and Kinnara) were quite popular at the advent of Buddhism and Jainism; and were gradually assimilated in these religions. Gandharvas are often depicted in flying postures in motifs related to all three religions. Yakshas hold important place in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In later times, Gauatam Buddha was incorporated as ninth Avatar of Lord Vishnu and his depiction in Mahayana images was very much similar to that of a Hindu God. This process was facilitated by the similarities in the ideas of Upanishads and Mahayana Buddhism. At some places such as Ajanta, the images of all these three religious were painted and have shown profound interaction between them. At Ellora, the Jain cave Indra Sabha features an Indra as one of the 64 deities who live in the heavenly world in Jain cosmology, with Indra being the king of the first Jain heaven called the Saudharmakalpa and the chief architect of the celestial assembly hall in Jain texts such as the Adipurana.
The early medieval India was a time of constant and active interaction between Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism and this interaction led to synthesis of an Indian culture which later imbibed elements from Islam and thus evolved into a composite culture of India. While Buddhism and Jainism appeared to have emerged from Hinduism; the latter would influence the former in many ways; and vice versa. For all practical purposes, both Buddhism and Jainism were almost absorbed into Hinduism and they adopted symbol and image worship and other distinctive features as common elements between the three religions

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