*    Introduction 
(i)    The changes in the world is a very common phenomenon. History records all the changes that takes place around us. 
(ii)    This chapter deals with the objective and an overview of the major events which took place in Indian subcontinent during the shift from ancient to medieval period and the various sources and methodology adopted by the historians to interpreted the               history.

*    Overview
    Map I 

 

1.    Map 1 was made in 1154 CE be the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi. The section reproduced here is a detail of the Indian subcontinent from his larger map of the world
      Map II 

 

2.    Map II was made in the 1720s by a French cartographer. The two maps are quite different even though they are of the same area.
      (a) In a Al-Idrisi’s map, south India is where we would except to find north India and Sri Lanka is the island at the top.
      (b) Map II was made nearly 600 years after Map 1, during which time information about the subcontinent has changed considerably.
      (c) Map II seems more familiar to us and the coastal areas in particular are surprisingly detailed.
      (d) Map II was used by European sailors and merchants on their voyages.
3.    When historians read documents, maps and texts from the past they have to be sensitive to the different historical backgrounds - the contexts - in which information about the past was produced.

*    New and Old Terminologies 

1.    If the context in which information is produced changes with time, Historical records exists in a variety of languages which have changed considerably over the years.
2.    Medieval Persian, for example, is different from modern Persian. The difference is not just with regard to grammar and vocabulary; the meanings of words also change over time.
      (a) The term ‘Hindustan’ today we understand it as “India”, the modern nation-state.
       (b) Minhaj-i Siraj, a chronicler who wrote in Persian, by Hindustan he meant the areas of Punjab, Haryana and the lands between the Ganga and Yamuna.
3.    The fourteenth-century poet Amir Khusrau used the word “Hind” or Hindustan as the idea of a geographical and cultural entity like “India” did exist, the term “Hindustan” did not carry the political and national meanings which we associated with it today.
4.    Historians today have to be careful about the terms they use because they meant different things in the past.
5.    Simple term like ‘foreigner”. It is used today to mean someone who is not an Indian.
(i)    In the medieval period a “foreigner” was any stranger who appeared say in a given village, someone who was not a part of that society or culture.

*    Historians and their Sources 
     Historians use different types of sources to learn about the past depending upon the period of their study and the nature of their investigation.
(i)    The sources used by historians for the study are coins, inscription, architecture and textual records for information.
(ii)    But there is also considerable discontinuity.
(iii)    The number and variety of textual records increased dramatically during this period.
(iv)    They slowly displaced other types of available information.
(v)    Through this period paper gradually became cheaper and more widely available.
(vi)    People used it to write holy texts, chronicles of rulers, letters and teachings of saints, petitions and judicial records, and for registers of accounts and taxes. 
(vii)    Manuscripts were collected by wealthy people, rulers, monasteries and temples.
(viii)    They were placed in libraries and archives.
(ix)    These manuscripts and documents provide a lot of detailed information of historians but they are also difficult to use, because the scribes introduced small changes in it.    
(x)    As a result historians have to read different manuscript versions of the same text to read different manuscript versions of the same text to guess what the author had originally written.

     On occasion authors revised their chronicles at different times. The fourteenth-century chronicles Ziauddin Barani wrote his chronicle first in 1356 and another version two years later.

                           “Glossary”

(i)    Cartographer    :    A person who makes maps.
(ii)    Archives        :    A place where documents and manuscripts are stored.

*    New Social and Political Groups 
(i)    The study of the thousand years between 700 and 1750 is a huge challenge to historians largely because of the scale and variety of developments that occurred over the period.
(ii)    At different moments in this period new technologies made their appearance - like the Persian wheel in irrigation, the spinning wheel in weaving, and firearms in combat.

(iii)    New foods and beverages arrived in the subcontinent - potatoes, corn, chillies, tea and coffee. 
(iv)     All these innovations - new technologies and crops - came along with people, who brought other ideas with them as well.
(v)    This was also a period of great mobility. Groups of people travelled along distances in search of opportunity.
(vi)   One group of people who became important in this period where the Rajputs, a name derived from “Rajputra”, the son of a ruler.
         Between the eight and fourteenth centuries the term was applied more generally to a group of warriors who claimed Kshatriya caste status.
(vii)    The term included not just rulers and chieftains but also soldiers and commanders who served in the armies of different monarchs all over the subcontinent.
(viii)    A chivalric code of conduct - extreme valour and a great sense of loyalty - were the qualities attributed to Rajputs by their poets and bards.
(ix)    Other groups of people such as the Marathas, Sikhs, Jats, Ahoms and Kayasthas (a caste of scribes and secretaries) also used the opportunities of the age to become politically important.
(x)    Throughout this period there was a gradual clearing of forests and the extensions of agriculture, a change faster and more complete in some areas than in others.
(xi)    Changes in their habitat forced many forest-dwellers to migrate. Others started tilling the land and became peasants.
(xii)    These new peasant groups gradually began to be influenced by regional markets, chieftains, priests, monasteries and temples. 
(xiii)    They became part of large complex societies, and were required to pay taxes and offer goods and services to local lords.
(xiv)    As a result, significant economic and social differences more productive land, others also kept cattle, and some combined artisanal work with agricultural activity during the lean season.
(xv)    As society became more differentiated, people were grouped into jatis or sub-castes and ranked on the basis of their backgrounds and their occupations. 
        (a) Ranks were not fixed permanently, and varied according to the power, influence and resources controlled by members of the jati. The status of the same jati could vary from area to area.
        (b) Jatis framed their own rules and regulations to manage the conduct of their members.
       (c) These regulations were enforced by an assembly to elders, described in some areas as the jati panchayat. 
       (d) But jatis were also required to follow the rules of their villages.
      (e) Several villages were governed by a chieftain. Together they were only one small unit of a state.

*    Region and Empire 
(i)    Large states like those of the Cholas, Tughlaqs or Mughals encompassed many regions.
(ii)   Sanskrit prashasti praising the Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-1287) explained that he was the ruler of a vast empire that stretched from Bengal (Guada) in the east to Ghazni (Gajjana) in Afghanistan in the west and included all of south India            (Dravida).
(iii)   People of different regions Gauda, Andhra, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat - apparently fled before his armies.
(iv)   Historians regard these as exaggerated claims of conquest.
(v)    At the same time, they try to understand why rulers kept claiming to have control over different parts of the subcontinent.

Language and Region    
(i)    By 700 many regions already possessed distinct geographical dimensions and their own language and cultural characteristics.
(ii)    They were also associated with specific ruling dynasties. 
(iii)    There was considerable conflict between these states.
(iv)    Occasionally dynasties like the Cholas, Khaljis, Tughlaqs and Mughals were able to build an empire that was pan-regional-spanning diverse regions.
(v)    Not all these empires were equally stable or successful.
(vi)    When the Mughal Empire declined in the eighteenth century, it led to the re-emergence of regional states.

*    Old and New Religions
(i)    People’s belief in the divine was sometimes deeply personal, but more usually it was collective.
(ii)    It was during this period that important changes occurred in what we call Hinduism today. These included the worship of new deities, the construction of temples by royalty and the growing importance of Brahmanas, the priests, as dominant groups in              society.
(iii)   Their knowledge of Sanskrit texts earned the Brahmanas a lot of respect in society. Their dominant position was consolidated by the support of their patrons - new rulers were searching for prestige.
(iv)    One of the major developments of this period was the emergence of the idea of bhakti - of a loving, personal deity that devotees could reach without the aid of priests or elaborate rituals.
(v)    Merchants are migrants who first brought the teachings of the holy Quran of India in the seventh century. Muslims regard the Quran as their holy book and accept the sovereignty of the one God, Allah, Whose love, mercy and bound embrace all those            who believe in him, without regard to social background.
(vi)   There were the Shia Muslims who believed that the Prophet Muhammad’s son in law, Ali, was the legislative  leader of the Muslim community.
(vii)   Sunni Muslims who accepted the authority of the early leaders (Khalifas) of the community, and the succeeding Khalifas.
(viii)   There were other important difference between the various schools of law (Hanafi and Shariyat mainly in India) and in theology and mystic traditions.

*   Thinking about Time and Historical Periods
     Historians do not see time just as a passing of hours days or years - as clock or a calendar.

(i)    In the middle of the nineteenth century British historians divided the history of Indian three period “Hindu”, “Muslim” and “British”. 
(ii)    This division was based on the idea that the religion of rulers was the only important historical change, and that were no other significant developments - in the economy society or culture.
(iii)    Such a division also ignored the rich diversity of the subcontinent.
(iv)    Few historians follow this periodisation today. Most look to economic and social factors to characterise the major elements of different moments of the past.
(v)    The histories you read last year included a wide range of early societies-hunter-gatherers, early empires and kingdoms.

 

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