India has been, from as early as 3000 B.C.E., defined by Hinduism. The system of belief that today is called Hinduism had for thousands of years no such name. The belief system emerged from the Indian landscape much like Greek philosophy emerged from the diverse city states of the Greek peninsula. The southern region of India, the area that became the Vijayanagara empire during the fourteenth to sixteenth century C.E., had been a strong hold for Hinduism since the earliest years.
Throughout the onslaught of invading armies of Muslims, Mughals, and Christians, the Hinduism of southern India remained strong and resilient. Even after Muslim sultanates defeated the armies of the Vijayanagara empire in the 1560s C.E., devastating the royal city and sacred sites, Hinduism remained the strongest religion of the Indian continent.
Why the Vijayanagara empire, possessed for such military power, vigorous economy, powerful religious traditions, and natural defensive features, fell to the Muslim sultanates after only two centuries is puzzling. The Battle of Talikota, in which the Muslim sultanates demolished the armies of Vijayanagar, may hold the key to explaining the fall.
The rulers of the Vijayanagara empire, seated in the capital city of Vijayanagara, had become complacent and over confident. They had mistreated their Muslim neighbors who finally joined a league against them. Although out numbering the Muslim army 150,000 to 110,000, the Vijayanagar empire fell in a short, intense battle. The Muslim calvary, and younger leaders, proved superior to the Vijayanagar foot soldier based army with elderly generals. Overconfidence and arrogance may have been the reason for the down fall of the Vijayanagar empire and the sack of Vijayanagara.
The people of the Vijayanagara empire sought to stage a revival and reestablishment of the dynasty. That effort failed. Still, although the Vijayanagara empire never reestablished, Hinduism thrived. In that regard, Hinduism appears to have the same resilience as its child, Buddhism. Although India has been by and large ruled by Muslims and Christians for much of its history, and Buddhism as well as Jainism became powerful, Hinduism is today the religion of 80 percent of the people of India. Buddhism and Hinduism both emphasize teachings that can be incorporated into other religions like Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism. Yet both Hinduism and Buddhism have an integrity of their own.