Who was considered a ‘‘foreigner’’ in the past?
During the past times, especially during the medieval period, a foreigner was the person who was not the part of a particular society or culture (say in a given village.) Hence, a city-dweller regarded a forest-dweller as a ‘‘foreigner’’. But, two farmers of a village were not foreigners to one another, even if they belonged to different religions, occupational groups or castes.
List some of the technological changes associated with this period.
This period saw many technological changes which exerted a great impact on the coming ages. During this age, technologies such as the Persian wheel in irrigation, the spinning wheel in weaving, etc., were seen. Due to these changes, a number of new inventions came into being after this age in the form of the Industrial Revolution.
What were some of the major religious developments during this period?
There were major religious developments which came during this age and these were:
(i) Many important changes took place in Hinduism and these were the worshipping of new gods and goddesses and construction of new and large temples by different kings. This increased importance of Brahmans and priests who became the most important group of the society.
(ii) The idea of Bhakti emerged during this age, which should personal love for god that followers developed without the help of any rituals or priests.
(iii) Many new religions like Islam and Zoroastrianism came to India either by invaders or through traders. They brought the teachings of Islam in the 7th century and then accepted the sovereignty of one God, Allah.
In what ways has the meaning of the term ‘‘Hindustan’’ changed over the centuries?
Actually, the term “Hindustan” is used for present-day India. In different time periods, the
meaning of this word was given in the following ways:
(i) In the 13th century, this term was used by a chronicler, Minhaj-i-Siraj for the areas of Punjab, Haryana and the area between Ganga and Yamuna. In other words, he used this term in a political way that the areas were a part of dominions of the Delhi Sultanate. It never made south India a part of it.
(ii) In the early 16th century, the word “Hindustan” was used by Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of India, to explain the geography, fauna and culture of the people of the subcontinent. There was no political sense related to it.
(iii) In the same way, in the 14th century, the great poet Amir Khusrau used the term ‘Hind’ for the geographical and cultural unit of India. His meaning was also not related to any political or national sense.
How were the affairs of jatis regulated?
Jati or caste is an endogamous group which keeps certain restrictions on its members regarding social relations, eating habits, marriage, etc. In the past, no one was allowed to keep relations with members of other castes. In actual sense, only four castes or varnas exist—Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, but thousands of sub-castes also existed during that time. Every jati or caste has framed its own rules to regulate the behaviour of its members. A jati panchayat was an assembly of the elders of a single jati that enforced these rules on its members. Many villages were governed by one chieftain who was generally the eldest person of many jati panchayats. Together, they formed one small unit of the state.
What does the term pan-regional empire mean?
During the medieval age, there was a conflict between the different ruling states. But, there were some occasional dynasties which were able to build a big and large empire like the Cholas, the Khaljis, the Tughluqs, the Mughals, etc. These were known as ‘pan-regional’ empires which spanned in diverse regions. All of these empires were not equally stable and successful.
What are the difficulties historians face in using manuscripts?
Historians have to face many difficulties in using manuscripts and these difficulties are
(i) Historians face difficulties in using manuscripts because they have been written in different languages which have seen many changes over the long period of time. Not only grammar and vocabulary, but also the meanings of the words have changed with the passage of time.
(ii) Historians are facing difficulties because the meanings of different terms were different in ancient times or medieval ages but now their meanings have changed.
(iii) There is a discontinuity in the textual records that offer information. With the availability of paper, it became easier and cheaper for people to write about the present state but, a lot of difference still exists in the dates given in different manuscripts.
(iv) When original texts were copied, small changes in a sentence or words were done. Since the original manuscripts were not available in those days, many changes have appeared over time. Guesses about the original writing were done by historians which have brought prejudices in defining history.
How do historians divide the past into periods? Do they face any problem in doing so?
Historians have divided past into three periods, i.e., ancient, medieval and modern. The ancient period begins from the start of human history till 8th century C.E., The medieval period begins from 8th century to 18th century and the modern period starts from 18th century upto the present day. Historians are facing hardships in marking the ages of these parts because different periods are different in every country. For example, medieval period extends from 500 C.E. to 1500 C.E. in Europe whereas in India, it ranges from 8th century C.E. to 18th century C.E. This is the main reason why historians are facing difficulties in marking it.
Compare either Map 1 or Map 2 with the present-day map of the subcontinent, listing as many similarities and differences as you can find
Map 1: Made by Arab geographer al-Idrisi in 1154 C.E.
Map 2: Made by a French cartographer in 1720 C.E.
There are certain similarities and differences between these two maps and present-day map of the subcontinent and these are given below:
(i) Both these maps and present-day maps are of the same area.
(ii) In all the three maps, Sri Lanka is an island, yet there is a difference in its location.
(iii) We can see some familiar names in all the three maps like Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh.
(i) The first difference between these maps is that in Map 1, South India is kept in the area where we expect to see north India.
(ii) Sri Lanka is at the top in Map 1 but in the modern map, it is at the bottom of the map.
(iii) Map 2 is more familiar to us as compared to Map I and we can see the same type of boundaries in modern maps. Map 2 gives more details as compared to Map 1 and this was used by European sailors and merchants.
Find out where records are kept in your village or city. Who writes these records? Is there an archive? Who manages it? What kinds of documents are stored there? Who are the people who use it?
Historical records exist in a variety of languages which have changed considerably over the years. Manuscripts were collected by wealthy people, rulers, monasteries and temples. Place where these records/ manuscripts are stored these days are all national and state governments which have archives where they keep all their old official records and transactions.
Look at the areas in the interior of the subcontinent on the map. Are they as detailed as those on the coast? Follow the course of the River Ganga and see how it is shown. Why do you think there is a difference in the level of detail and accuracy between the coastal and inland areas in this map?
(i) Details shown inland are not so detailed as on the coast.
(ii) The course of river Ganga is not correctly shown.There is a difference because there were voyages along the coasts and the travellers studied coastal areas themselves.On the other hand, they did not go inland. Hence, the details of inland depended upon their estimation, and not on their studies.
Can you think of any other words whose meanings change in different contexts?
Word—Rule (Law), Rule (Lines); Word—Fair (Appearance), Fair (Just)
Compare the following:
(1) In the middle of the thirteenth century a scholar wanted to copy a book. But he did not have enough paper. So he washed the writing off a manuscript he did not want, dried the paper and used it.
(2) A century later, if you bought some food in the market you could be lucky and have the shopkeeper wrap it for you in some paper. When was paper more expensive and easily available—in the thirteenth or the fourteenth century?
Paper was expensive during the 13th century. Paper was abundantly available after the 14th century.
Of the technological, economic, social and cultural changes described in this section, which do you think were most significant in the town or village in which you live?
(i) In Towns—Services are the secondary occupation
(ii) In Villages—Agriculture
Why do you think rulers made such claims?
Rulers made such claims because they wanted to show others, that they had control over large
(i) They were the real rulers of the country.
(ii) No other ruler could fight them.
(iii) They were supreme.
Did you notice that the names by which languages are known have changed over time?
Yes, most of the languages have changed over time.
Do you remember what Amir Khusrau had to say regarding Sanskrit, knowledge and Brahmans?
(i) About Sanskrit, Amir Khusrau stated that it did not belong to any religion and that it
was an old language.
(ii) No one except the Brahmans can speak and understand it which implied that the Brahmans were the scholars of that language.