In fact, neither sacrifices (Ista dharma) nor Purta dharma could ennoble a person. It was ultimately the values of life which could ennoble the person's life and character. That is why stress was laid on the mental attitude in comparison to the largeness of the benefactions. Skandha purana which seems to have been written after the classical period said it clearly that the amount of benefactions alone was immaterial as far as merit was concerned.
There are a number of grants (Daulatpura and Barah plates of Pratihara Bhoja I. Pratabgarb inscription of Pratihara Mahendra part II, Udaipur inscription of Guhila Aparajita, Chatsu inscription of Guhila Baladitya. A Bengal Asiatic Society plate of Vinayaka-paladeva, Una, grant of Balvaramna etc.) which record gifts of land made to Brahmanas and owner of the temples. It was believed that it would bring good to the person hereafter. Sometimes these grants were made for the good of one's parents also.
This stress on charity or dana seems to be legacy of the Pauranic period. Mandor pillars of 'Danleela' and other statutes of 'Balrama', etc. depict Vaishnavite themes and belief of early period in Rajasthan. Skanda Purana says that dhyana (meditation) was prescribed for Krta-yuga yajna (sacrifice) for Treta yuga, conduct for Dvapara and dana (charity) for kaliyuga.
Giving dana to Brahmanas was considered to be of great value, but Skanda Parana mentions it quite explicitly that charity given to the illiterate fool though a Brahmana is as useless as a seed sown in barren land, milk milked in a broken vessel and an oblation poured on ashes.
The Jainas did not attach much value to them. The Jain work Brhat-Katha Kosha mentions the ten gifts given by an amatya to Brahamanas, Tapasvins and Kalachakra Kapalins and then declares them to be useless stating that the gifts that deserved the name of dana were giving food (Ahara dana), freedom from fear (Abhaya dana), religious teaching (Sastra dana) and medicines (Ausadha dana). But surprisingly enough it mentions that lands, fields, cash, cows, food, etc. given with faith to Jina brought merit to living beings.
It shows that Jainas who formerly stressed right knowledge, vision and conduct alone were now stressing the importance of Purta dharma. Sadhus in ancient India did not have many needs but in Rajput time, the holder of the temples of all sects amassed great wealth taking advantage of the value attached to the Purta dharma.
Great value was also attached to the pilgrimages. In a sacrificial religion, there is no importance of specific places but with Buddhism and Jainism the association of places with Buddha and Mahaveer made them sacred. Asoka was the first man who, started dharma yatra in place of Viharayatra, Hindus also did not lag behind. They had a number of Rishis and Mahapurshas and the places associated with them became centers of attraction.
Together with it, they also attached religious importance to the number of rivers and mountains which had a natural beauty of their own. Thus, the Pauranikas created a new value for visiting these centers of pilgrimage. The pilgrimages had their social and economic value. They provided an opportunity to meet the people of the different parts of India, to exchange thoughts and to distribute some parts of their possessions to the needy. Skanda Purana lays down that only that pilgrim secured merit who had full control over his senses and whose actions were pure.
Different Religions and Sects
In Rajput period, different religions and sects were in existence. Their philosophies were different and the way of living of their preachers were also varied. Hindus live in Marwar region since the "Sanatan Dharma" or "Vedic Dharma" was developed. It is also called "Brahmin Dharma" as it is based on Brahmin literature.
Brahmins developed a science of Jyotish or astronomy which could depict the past, present and future of people. In seventh century A.D., Brahmgupta of Bhinmal composed "Brahmasphuta Siddhanta" and "Karan Khand Khadyak", works on mathematics and astronomy.
A figure of Sun (wearing deities dress and shoes), at the outer panel of Varah-Shyam temple of Bhinmal, indicates the effect of Parasi style Sun worship in Marwar area in that period. This statue must be of Kushan period who ruled over this area between 1st and 2nd century.
People who believed in the Principals of Mahaveer Swami organised themselves in a separate religion which was known as "Jain Dharma". This religion had a deep impact over Marwar region. Jain muni Udyotan Suri was a great Jain writer of 8th century who wrote "Kuvalyamala" in Jalore fort.
Abudhara Battisi deals with the disturbed condition of the area around Abu and the consequent effect on the society of that age. It also records the degenerated condition of Jaina monasteries, monks and nuns.
Similarly, pupils of Buddha were also organised in an another separate religion, which was known as "Bodhh Darma". Huetsang visited Bhinmal in 641 A.D. He described about a Boddh Vihar of Bhinmal town in which 100 Boddh Bhikshu were living.
After invasions of Arabs, Muhammadans also started to live in this region since eighth century and onwards. They continued enjoying their rituals, customs and festivals which they were celebrating in Arab countries. When East India Company had a political alliance with Maharaja Mansingh of Marwar in 1818 A.D., Christians also came to this land who continued celebrating their rituals, customs and festivals as they were celebrating in Europe. Now in Marwar area followers of all these religions celebrate their rituals, customs and festivals throughout the year.
Kapalikas lived naked in the burial grounds but in spite of that held fast to the common values of life. Linga Purana defends their nudity by saying "All are born naked, gods, munis as well as men. If a man is dressed and yet had not his sense organs under control, he is naked. If these be under his control, he is (really) dressed. It is not the absence of garments that constitutes nudity.
Forgiveness, forbearance ahinsa, lack of attachment, i.e., Vairagya and feeling alike whether one is shown respect or insulted, these are the real covering. Some of the Saivas known as Somasidhanties took the philosophy of Advaita to absurd extremity. They said as ultimate reality is one hence there is no sin in eating and drinking anything or cohabiting with any person. But such interpretations of philosophy of Advaita were not appreciated by the society and they are very rarely heard of in the literature of that period.
Some of the persons among the Shaktas also took Advaita to that absurd extremity but literature of this period had no appreciation for such practices. We believe that the values enunciated from the Rigaveda to pauranik period had fast hold on the rulers, leaders of thought, vaisyas and the artisans.
Bhatt Jagajiwan, the court poet of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Marwar (18th century A.D.) informs us that 'Varnashrama' system of old was respected in Marwar of those days. The rulers worshipped Vishnu, Shiva and Krishna. He says that the ascetic sects of Sanyasis, yogis, etc., were respected and entertained in Jodhpur.
Ramcharitra by Udaibhan, copied in V. S. 1790 by Motirama. It is in Rajasthani prose and relates the story of Rama and Sita. It is an attempt to popularise the story of the Ramayana in the local dialect. Kabir-ki-Parchi by Anantdas deals with the life of Kabir and shows that lively interest was taken by the writer to propagate Kabir's teaching among the common men. It is an important work on a phase of the Bhakti movement in Rajasthan.
Anandvilas of V.S. 1733, composed by Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur deals with the philosophy of life in the form of a dialogue between Sankara and Jeeva (life).
Triyavinod by Murli Kavi in verses, dated V.S. 1736 draws a picture of the society which was, according to him, perverted. The people belonging to four Varnas had given up their duties as prescribed in the Shastras, and took up professions which were not befitting to their dignity. By his (poet's) time, it appears, a class of Sudras known as gola, chakar, das and dasi had come into prominence. This class began to exercise a great influence in the royal household. The manuscript is highly informative as it gives a pen picture of the society which had undergone a great change during our period.
Jalandharji-ro-Guna by Sevag Dolatrama, copied by Chenrama in V.S. 1862, throws light on the construction of monasteries dedicated to the Nath sect. It also makes passing references to the teachers of the Nath sect. Its accounts of Jalore and the gardens and reservoirs of Jodhpur are highly informative.
In 1931, there were 85.3 percent Hindus, 9.5 percent Muhammadans, 2.7 percent Jains, 2 percent Tribal religion and 0.5 percent Sikhs found in Marwar. There were a few Buddhists, Christian, Parses and Jews also resided in Marwar.
Hindus were further divided in many sects like, Sanatan Dharmi, Ramasnehi, Ramanuji, Ramanandi, Dadu Panthi, Nath Panthi, Kabir Panthi, Arya Samaji etc. Jains were devided in Swetamber, Digamber, Baistola, Terapanthi and Muhammadans were devided in Sunni, Shiya and Ahali Hadis. This division still prevails in marwar.