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Class 12 History Chapter 6 Through The Eyes Travellers
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Through The Eyes Travellers
Chapter – 6
PART – II
Very Short Answer Type Questions
Q.1. How did Al-Biruni describe Sanskrit as a language with an enormous range?
Ans : Al-Biruni described Sanskrit as follows: If you want to conquer this difficulty (i.e. to learn Sanskrit), you will not find it easy, because the language is of an enormous range, both in words and inflections, something like the Arabic, calling one and the same thing by various names, both original and derivative, and using one and the same word for a variety of subjects, which, in order to be properly understood, must be distinguished from each other by various qualifying epithets.
Q.2. If Al-Biruni lived in the twenty-first century, which are the areas of the world where he could have been easily understood, if he still knew the same languages?
Ans: Al-Biruni could have been easily understand in Morocco, Arabian countries, Pakistan, India, Cyclone and Central as well as Western Asian Countries.
Q.3. Mention two objectives or writings by AI-Biruni in India.
Ans : According to Al-Biruni, he wrote his historical work as a help to those who want to discuss religious questions with them (the Hindus) and as a repertory of information to those who want to associate with them.
Q.4. What is Rihla?
Ans : Ibn Battuta’s book of travels, called Rihla, written in Arabic, provides extremely rich and interesting details about the social and cultural life in the subcontinent in the fourteenth century.
Q.5. What did travellers write about ?
Ans: a) Some travellers wrote about life at the court while others focused on religious matters.
b) Others described historical monuments and cities. For example the most vivid description of Vijayanagara has been written by Abdul Razzaq Samarqand, a diplomat from Herat.
Q.6. Name the different social classes who lived in the cities.
Ans : a) Merchant communities existed in numbers in the cities. In Western India they were called Mahajans and their chief, the sheth. Other urban groups were the professional classes such as physicians (hakim or vaid) teachers, painters, musicians architects etc.
b) Some of these professionals depended on imperial patronage while öthers served ordinary people in crowded markets.
Q.7. Which Brahmanical texts did Al-Biruni depend on to understand Indian society?
Ans : a) He depended on the Vedas, the Puranas and the Bhagavad Gita.
b) He also read Patanjali’s Mahabhasya and the Manusmriti.
Q.8. The term bird ‘leaves his nest’ applies to which traveller ?
Ans : The term applies to Ibn Battuta, a traveller from Tangier/ Morocco, who left his home at a young age of 22 years. He returned home in 1354 about 30 years after he set out.
Q.9. Give the name of two Indian traveller’s who through their work tried to confront the image of India created by European travellers (e.g. Bernier)
Ans : Indians like Shaikh, Alamuddin and Mirza Abu Talil who visited Europe after 1750 confronted the image that Europeans had of their society by producing their own version of matters.
Q.10. Who was Jean-Baptiste Tavernier?
Ans : Jean Baptiste Tavernier was a French jeweller. He had visited India six times. He was especially impressed by the trade activities in India. He compared India with Iran and Ottoman Empire.
B. Textual Questions & Answers:
Q.1. Write a note on the Kitab-ul-Hind.
Ans : Al-Biruni’s Kitab-ul-Hind, was written in Arabic. It is simple and lucid. It is a voluminous text, divided into 80 chapters on subjects such as religion and philosophy, festivals, astronomy, alchemy, manners and customs, social life, weights and measures, iconography, laws and metrology. Generally (though not always), Al-Biruni adopted a distinctive structure in each chapter, beginning with a question, following this up with a description based on Sanskritic traditions, and concluding with a comparison with other cultures. Some present day scholars have argued that this almost geometric structure, remarkable for its precision and predictability, owed much to his mathematical orientation.
Q.2. Compare and contrast the perspectives from which Ibn Battuta and Bernier wrote their accounts of their travels in India.
Ans: Ibn Battuta’s objective was more simpler. He sought to write a narrative which could give details, information and anecdotes of the countries he visited. In particular, he highlighted anything that was unfamiliar and different e.g., description of the India coconut and pan which was completely unknown to his countrymen. This was done to arouse interest and ensure that the reader was impressed by his account of distant lands. While Ibn Battuta choose to describe everything that impressed and excited him because of its novelty, Francois Bernier belonged to a different intellectual tradition.
Barrier was more concerned with comparing and contrasting what he saw in India with Europe particularly France. In particular he focused on those situations which he considered depressing and showed India in a bad light. While comparing Mughal India with contemporary Europe he emphasized the superiority of the latter. His representation where India is presented as the inverse of Europe. He also perceived differences hierarchically so that India appeared inferior to the western world.
Q.3. Discuss the picture of urban centres that emerges from Bernier’s account.
Ans: Bernier’s is one of the important European travellers who visited India in the 17th century. He described what he saw in India as a bleak situation in comparison to developments in Europe. Bernier described Mughal cities as ‘Camp towns’ that did not have viable social economic foundations but were dependent on imperial patronage. They come into existence when imperial court moved in and rapidly declined when it moved out. He left manufactures were everywhere in decline. Artisans had no incentive to improve the quality since profits were appropriated by the state. As in the case of landownership (i.e. no private property) Bernier was drawing on oversimplified picture.
In fact during the 17th century about 15% of the population lived in towns. This was an average higher than the proportion of Urban population in western Europe in the same period. There were all kinds of towns, manufacturing, trading, port, sacred and pilgrimage towns. Their existence is indicative of prosperity of merchant communities and professional classes. Merchants had inter, and intra national trade links, and were often organised into caste-cum-occupational traders. These groups were called as mahajans and their chief Sheth called nagarsheth. Other Urban groups included professional classes such as physicians (Hakim), teachers (mullahs or pandits), Lawyers (Wakil) painters, artists, musicians etc. Not all depended on imperial patronage. Many made their living by serving other patrons, while still others served ordinary people in bazaars.
While presenting Indian Urban centres as camp towns, society marked by declining living standards, under the grip of tyrannical ruling aristocracy, Bernier’s own descriptions, historians understand hint of a more complex social reality- to the existence of a prosperous merchant community engaged in long distance exchange. He conceded Indian carpets, brocades, embroideries, various silk and cotton goods were in great demand and vast quantities of world precious metals flowed into India. Thus India was home to many flourishing populated Urban centres.
Q.4. Analyse the evidence for slavery provided by Ibn Battuta.
Ans : According to Ibn- Battuta, slaves like any other commodity, were openly sold in the markets. They were also regularly exchanged as gifts.
When Ibn-Battuta reached Sindh, he purchased horses, camels and slaves. He wanted to offer them as gifts to Sultan Muhammad bin Taughlaq. When Ibn-Battuta reached Multan, he presented not only raisins and almonds to the governor but also a alive and horse. There were some female slaves in the service of the Sultan. They were experts in music and dance. Ibn- Battuta enjoyed their performance at the wedding of the sister of Sultan.
The Sultan also employed female slaves to keep a watch on his nobles. The slaves were also engaged for domestic work. They carried men and women on palanquins or dola. But they were given low wages and most families keep one or two slaves.
Q.5. What were the elements of the practice of sati that drew the attention of Bernier ?
Ans: Contemporary European travellers and writers often highlighted the treatment of women as a crucial market of difference between western and eastern societies. Not surprisingly, Bernier chose the practice of sati for detailed description. He noted that while some women seemed to embrace death cheerfully, others were forced to die.
Here we are quoting the description given by Bernier about the child sati at the time of his visit to India. According to several historians this is perhaps one of the most poignant descriptions by Bernier. At Lahore, I saw a most beautiful young widow sacrificed, who could not, I think, have been more than twelve years of age. The poor little creature appeared more dead than alive when she approached the dreadful pit, the agony of her mind cannot be described, she trembled and wept bitterly, but three or four of the Brahmanas, assisted by an old woman who held her under the arm, forced the unwilling victim towards the fatal spot, seated her on the wood, tied her hands and feet, best she should run away, and in that situation the innocent creature was burnt alive.
I found it difficult to repress my feelings and to prevent their bursting forth into clamorous and unavailing rage.
Write a Short Essay on the Following
Q.6. Discuss Al- Biruni’s understanding of the caste system.
Ans : Al-Biruni’s description of the caste system was influenced by his study of Sanskrit texts. Thus the highest caste were the Brahmans as they were created from the head of the Brahmans. The Kshatriyas were the next caste created from the shoulders and hands of the Brahman. The Vaishyas and Shudras were created from the things and feet of the Brahman respectively.
He sought to understand the Indian caste system by looking for parallels in other societies. Nothing that ancient Persian society was divided into four categories he realized that social division was not unique to India. But despite accepting the caste system he was against the notion of pollution. He believed that according to the laws of nature anything which becomes impure ultimately becomes pure again, e.g. the sun clears the air.
The concept of social pollution is the bedrock of the caste system. Thus the caste system was according to him contrary to the laws of nature. However Al-Biruni failed to realize that the caste system was not as rigid as portrayed in the Sanskrit texts. For example the untouchables were expected to provide inexpensive labour to peasants and Zamindars. Thus though they were socially oppressed they formed a vital cog in the economic network.
Q.7. Do you think Ibn Battuta’s account is useful in arriving at an understanding of life in contemporary urban centres ? Give reasons for your answer ?
Ans: Ibn Battuta is one of the important foreign traveller who visited India in the pre-Mughal period (14 century) and his account throws light on society under the reign of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq. One of the most important description is of contemporary urban centres. This is important as he was a globe trotter, who had travelled widely and only included those things in his text that were unfamiliar or impressive-He found urban centres as full of opportunities for those with resources, skill and motivation.
They were densely populated and prosperous. They had crowded streets, bright markets and stacked with wide variety of goods. Delhi according to him was the largest town in India and Daulatabad rivalled Delhi in size. This description helps in understanding that there were important urban centres in India during this period. This is true as 13th and 14th centuries saw rise and growth of several towns and cities in India. His description of urban centres point to the growth of fortified cities with elaborate architecture, ramparts, stables, markets, cemetery (For example description of Delhi) Ibn Battuta’s account shows prosperity of towns.
He found Indian agriculture very productive because fertility of the soil allowed farmers to cultivate two crops a year. His account enables historians to deduce town and village link. Battuta reflects on the growth of trade during this period, and noted the subcontinent was well- integrated with inter Asian network of trade and commerce. He also gives up important items of trade in both West Asia and South-east Asia e.g., Indian textiles, particularly cotton cloth, fine Muslim, silks, brocade and satin.
Q.8. Discuss the extent to which Bernier’s account enables historians to reconstruct contemporary rural society.
Ans: The assessment of Bernier about the rural society of India was not correct. It was misleading and far from truth. But there is also some truth in his descriptions which is evident from the followings
examples:- Bernier has stated that in the Mughal Empire, the emperor owned all the land and distributed it among his nobles. It had a disastrous impact on the Indian economy and society. Bernier did not consider the system of the crown ownership of land as good. Because of this, the land- holders could not pass on their land to their children. They could also not make any long-term investments. As there was no private property in land, there was not an improved class of landlords. This system ruined the whole agriculture. It also led to the oppression of the peasants. It also lowered the living standards of all sections of society. The Bernier’s view of Indian society had the following features-
It had impoverished people. The rich people constituted a small minority. It had only the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. It had no middle class. The Mughal king was the king of beggars and barbarians. All the cities and towns were ruined. They had contaminated air. Thus, Bernier’s descriptions of the Indian rural society brought out many social and economic differences. There were big Zamindars. There were also landless labourers who were despised as the untouchables.
Q.9. Read this excerpt from Bernier :
Numerous are the instances of handsome pieces of workmanship made by persons destitute of tools, and who can scarcely be said to have received institution instruction from a master. Sometimes they imitate so perfectly articles of European manufacture that the difference between the original and copy can hardly be discerned. Among other things, the Indians make excellent muskets, and fowling pieces, and such beautiful gold ornaments that it may be doubted if the exquisite workmanship of those articles can be exceeded by any European goldsmith. I have often admired the beauty, softness, and delicacy of their paintings.
List the crafts mentioned in the passage, Compare these with the description of artisanal activity in the chapter.
Ans : List of the name of the crafts mentioned in the passage- Potter, Painters, Blacksmith, Carpenters and Goldsmith.
Cooperation of crafts referred in the passage with the description of artisanal activity in the chapter-
In the chapter boat manufacturing and terracotta sculpture and temple architecture has been mentioned. Art of painting has been referred related with 18th century that painting has depicted travellers gathered around a camp fire. A seventeenth century painting depicting Bernier in European clothes. And a painting depicting tavernier in Indian clothes. Art of carpet manufacturing has been referred. Art of dance, music and calligraphy singing have been referred in the chapter.
Crafts of manufacturing textile particulars cotton cloth, five muslins, sicken cloth have been referred in this chapter. Work of goldsmith and article made of gold such as spoon studied with emeralds and rubies as an example of the dexterity of Mughal artisans have also referred in this chapter. The imperial karkhanas and workshops (in which several kinds of artistic work was also done) have been referred in the chapter. In these karn khas embroiderers have been described (who were employed by the emperor in the imperial workshops).
In these workshops goldsmith, painters varnishers in lacquer work, joiners, turners, tailors, shoemakers, silken weavers and fine Muslims manufactures have been referred at great artisan of that time.
Q.10. On an outline map of the world mark the countries visited by Ibn Battuta. What are the seas that he may have crossed ?
Ans : Ibn Battuta : Morocco Macca, Seria, Irque, Persian, Yaman. Oman, Sind (India) Delhi, Uch, China, Malabar India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Sumatra (Indonesia)
Name of seas : North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic ocean, Indian Ocean, Red sea, Arabic Sea, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, East China Sea.
C. Passage Based Question & Answers :
Read the following extract and answer the question based on it.
THE BIRD LEAVES ITS NEST
This is an excerpt from the Rihila: My departure from Tangier, my birthplace, took place on Thursday …. I set out alone, having neither fellow -traveller…. nor caravan whose party.
I might join, but swayed by an overmastering impulse within me and a desire long-cherished in my bosom to visit these illustrious sanctuaries. So I braced my resolution to quit all my dear ones, female and male, and forsook my home as birds forsake their nests…. My age at that time was twenty two years.
Ibn Battuta returned home in 1354, about 30 years after he had set out.
a) Who Ibn Battuda? Which book did he write? Where was he born?
Ans: Battuta was born in Tangier. He was a Moroccan traveller who travelled extensively through Africa and Asia. He complied his observations into his travelogue called Rihla.
b) What were his relations with Muhammad Bin Tughlak?
Ans: The sultan was impressed by his scholarship and appointed him to the post of Qazi or judge. Due to a misunderstanding he was thrown into prison. Later he was restored to imperial service and was sent to china as the Sultan’s representative.
c) How did Ibn Battuta describe Indian cities?
Ans: Ibn Battuta wrote that Indian cities were densely populated and very prosperous.
Streets were crowded, markets were bright and colourful and had a variety of goods.
The markets were the hub of social and cultural activities and economic transactions.
Most of them had both a mosque and a temple.
Some of them had spaces marked for public performances by dancers, musicians and singers.
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