Class 12 history chapter 5 notes, Through the eyes of travellers notes

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Through the eyes of travellers Notes: Class 12 history chapter 5 notes

ClassClass 12
ChapterChapter 5
Chapter NameThrough the eyes of travellers
CategoryHistory Notes

Class 12 history chapter 5 notes, Through the eyes of travellers notes In this chapter we will learn in detail about Accounts of Travellers, Al-Biruni, Ibn Battuta, Francois Bernier, Other European Travellers, Women: Slaves, Sati and Labourers etc.

Purpose of traveling by different people : –

🔹 Women and men have travelled in search of work, to escape from natural disasters, as traders, merchants, soldiers, priests, pilgrims, or driven by a sense of adventure. we have practically no accounts of travel left by women, though we know that they travelled.

🔹 Whenever people travel to a different place, they come across a different world in terms of physical environment, customs, languages, beliefs and practices of people.

Problems faced in traveling in ancient times : –

  • long time
  • Lack of facilities
  • Fear of pirates
  • natural disasters
  • diseases
  • Fear of losing the way

Contribution of account of travellers in building the history of 10th to 17th century : –

🔹 Information about the affairs of the court.

🔹 Information about religious issues architectural features and monuments.

🔹 Information about the popular customs, folklore and traditions of their own land.

🔹 Information about the faiths, language and behaviour of the Person of any perlicular place.

🔹 Information about social life.

Main travelers visiting India : –

🔹 In this chapter, we will focus mainly on the travel accounts of three men who Came in India from 10th century to 17th century : –

🔸 Al-Biruni, who came from Uzbekistan in the eleventh century, wrote a book called Kitab-ul-Hind which was in Arabic language.

🔸 Ibn Battuta, who came from Morocco, in the fourteenth century, wrote a book called Rihla which was in Arabic language.

🔸 François Bernier, who came to France in the seventeenth century, wrote a book titled Travels in the Mughal Empire which was in French.

Other travelers who visited India : –

🔹 Following the footsteps of Alberuni and Ibn Battuta, many writers traveled to India between 1400 AD and 1800 AD. The Among the best known of these writers include :

  • Abdur Razzaq Samarqandi who visited south India in the 1440s,
  • Mahmud Wali Balkhi, who travelled very widely in the 1620s, and
  • Shaikh Ali Hazin, who came to north India in the 1740s.

Briefly about Al-Biruni ( in short points ) : –

🔹 Al-Biruni was born in 973, in Khwarizm (present day Uzbekistan).

🔹 He was a learnt man and well versed in several languages such as Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit.

🔹 He has learnt the Arabic translation of Greeks philosophers like Plato.

🔹 Mahamud of Ghazni invaded Khwarizm in 1017 and brought Al-Biruni with him to Ghazni.

🔹 Mahmud Ghazni assigned Al-Biruni the title of Shah-e-Khwarizm

🔹 Al-Biruni spent years in the company of Brahmana priests and scholars, learning Sanskrit, and studying religious and philosophical texts.

Al-Biruni : –

🔹 He was born in 973 CE, in Khwarizm in present day Uzbekistan which was an important centre of learning. He got the best education and was well versed in many languages like Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit. He did not know Greek but read the works of Plato and other Greek philosophers in Arabic translations.

🔹 He arrived in Ghazni as a hostage, but gradually developed a liking for the city, where he spent the rest of his life until his death at the age of 70.

How did Al-Biruni come to India? ( Al-Biruni’s journey ) : –

🔹 when Sultan Mahmud invaded Khwarizm in 1017 CE, he took several scholars and poets back to his capital, Ghazni; Al-Biruni was one of them. It was in Ghazni that Al-Biruni developed an interest in India.

🔹 Al-Biruni spent years in the company of Brahmana priests and scholars, learning Sanskrit, and studying religious and philosophical texts. While his itinerary is not clear, it is likely that he travelled widely in the Punjab and parts of northern India.

Kitab-ul-Hind ( in short points ) : –

🔹 The accounts of Al-Biruni came to be called Kitab-ul-Hind.

🔹 The Kitab-ul-Hind was written in Arabic language and was divided into 80 chapters.

🔹 It dealt with subjects such as religion and philosophy, festivals, astronomy, alchemy, manners and customs, social life, weights and measures, iconography, laws and metrology.

🔹 Al-Biruni has adopted a mathematical approach.

🔹 He begins each chapter with a question followed up with a description and comparison of cultures.

🔹 Scholars viewed this method is result of his mathematical orientation.

Kitab-ul-Hind : –

🔹 Al-Biruni wrote Kitab-ul-Hind in Arabic in simple and easy language. It is 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.

Features of Al-Biruni’s writing work in Kitab-ul-Hind : –

🔹 Al-Biruni’s style of writing was different. 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.

🔹 Al-Biruni was familiar with translations and adaptations of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit texts into Arabic – these ranged from fables to works on astronomy and medicine.

🔹 Some present-day scholars have argued that this almost geometric structure, remarkable for its precision and predictability, owed much to his mathematical orientation.

Problem faced by Al-Biruni to understanding the Indian society : –

🔹 Al-Biruni discussed about the problems in understanding the local practices. These problems were:

  • His first problem was Sanskrit. He said that Sanskrit was so different from Arabic and Persian that ideas and concepts could not be easily translated from one language into another.
  • The second barrier he identified was the difference in religious beliefs and practices.
  • The self-absorption and consequent insularity of the local population according to him, constituted the third barrier.

🔹 Despite these problems, Al-Biruni depended almost exclusively on the works of Brahmanas, often citing passages from the Vedas, the Puranas, the Bhagavad Gita, the works of Patanjali, the Manusmriti, etc., to provide an understanding of Indian society.

Al-Biruni’s description of the caste system : –

🔹 Al-Biruni tried to explain caste system by comparing it with similar systems in other societies. According to him, there were four social categories in India and four social categories were also recognized in ancient Persia. In other words, he wanted to show that social divisions were not unique to India.

🔹 ancient Persia four social categories were recognised. These were:

  • knights and princes
  • monks, fire-priests and lawyers
  • physicians, astronomers and other scientists
  • peasants and artisans

🔹 Caste-system in India four :

  • Brahmin,
  • Kshatriya,
  • Vaishya,
  • Shudra.

Al-Biruni’s veiw on Social pollution ( notion of pollution ) : –

🔹 Al-Biruni accepted the Brahminical description of the caste system but he rejected the notion of pollution. Here pollution refers to the practice of untouchability and discrimination against lower caste people by upper caste people.

🔹 According to Al-Biruni, everything that is polluted will try to regain its original condition of purity. Like The sun cleanses the air, and the salt in the sea prevents the water from becoming polluted. If it were not so, insisted Al-Biruni, life on earth would have been impossible.

🔹According to Al-Biruni the concept of social pollution which is intrinsic to the caste system is against the laws of nature.

Al-Biruni’s Account on Varna System : –

🔹 As per Al-Biruni account of the system of varnas, Alberuni tells that according to Hindu books,

  • the Brahmin caste created from the head of Brahman.
  • Kshatriya were born from shoulders and hands of Brahman,
  • Vaishya from the thigh of Brahman and
  • Shudras from feet of Brahman.

🔹 According to Al-Biruni, these classes though differ from cach other, but they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings.

Hindu : –

🔸 Meaning : The term “Hindu” was derived from an Old Persian word, used c. sixth-fifth centuries BCE, to refer to the region east of the river Sindhu (Indus).

🔸 History : The Arabs continued the Persian usage and called this region “al-Hind” and its people “Hindi”. Later the Turks referred to the people east of the Indus as “Hindu”, their land as “Hindustan”, and their language as “Hindavi”. None of these expressions indicated the religious identity of the people. It was much later that the term developed religious connotations.

Ibn Battuta : –

🔹 He was born in Tangier, a city in Morocco, into one of the most respectable and educated families. His family was known for their expertise in Islamic religious law or sharia. Ibn Battuta received literary and scholastic education when he was very young.

🔹 Ibn Battuta considered experience gained through travels to be a more important source of knowledge than books.

🔹 Ibn Battuta was an inveterate (habitual) traveller. He spent a great part of his life travelling through North Africa, West Asia and parts of central Asia, the Indian subcontinent and China.

( RIHLA ) Texts written by Ibn Battuta : –

🔹 Ibn Battuta’s book of travels, called Rihla was written in Arabic. It has extremely rich and interesting information about the social and cultural life in the subcontinent in the 14th century.

Ibn Battuta’s Travel to India : –

🔹 Ibn Battuta reached Sind in 1333 CE, by travelling overland through Central Asia. He was attracted by the reputation of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Sultan of Delhi, for his generous patron of arts and letters. Hence, he moved for Delhi, passing through Multan and Uch.

🔹 The Sultan was impressed by his scholarship and appointed him as qazi or judge of Delhi. Later due to misunderstanding between Sultan and Ibn Battuta, he was thrown into prison. When this misunderstanding was cleared, he was restored to imperial service by the Sultan.

Ibn Battuta’s Travel to China : –

🔹 Ibn Battuta was ordered in 1342 CE by Sultan to travel to China as the Sultan’s representative to the Mongol ruler. Ibn Battuta stayed in Malabar, Maldives, and Sri Lanka reached China.

🔹 He travelled extensively in China, went to Beijing, but did not stay long and decided to return home in 1347 CE.

🔹 His account is often compared with that of Marco Polo, who visited China (and also India) from his home base in Venice in the late thirteenth century.

Analysis of Ibn Battuta’s Travel : –

🔹 Ibn Battuta recorded his observations about new cultures, people, beliefs, values, etc. In 14th century, travelling was more difficult and dangerous than present times.

🔹 According to Ibn Battuta, it took forty days to travel from Multan to Delhi, about fifty days from Sind to Delhi, about forty days from Daulatabad to Delhi and about ten days from Gwalior to Delhi.

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