Explain with examples what historians mean by the integration of cults.

During the period from 8th to 18th century in India, we come across a wide range of gods and goddesses in sculpture and texts, at one level this indicates the extended worship of major deities – Vishnu and Shiva and mother goddess, each of whom was visualised in a variety of forms.

In this complex situation, an attempt was made for the integration of various cults, which included two processes:

1. Process of dissemination Brahmanical ideas – This is exemplified by the composition, compilation and preservation of puranic texts in simple Sanskrit verse, clearly meant to be accessible to Shudras and Women, who were generally excluded from Vedic learning.

2. Process of Brahmanas accepting and reworking the practices of other Social categories – It was done through a system of continuous dialogue between what Sociologist have described as the “Great Sanskritic” Puranic traditions and “Little Traditions”.


a. One of the most striking examples of this process is evident at Puri, Orisa, where the Principal deity was identified as JAGANNATH a form of Vishnu.

b. In another instance, worship of the mother goddess, which was simply in the form of a stone smeared with Ochre was also incorporated within the Puranic framework they were identified with the wife of principal male deities – with Laxmi (wife of Vishnu) or Parvati (wife of Shiva).

c. In another instance, a local deity whose image was made of wood by local tribal was also indentified as Vishnu.