Q. 1. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
The System of Varnas
This is Al-Biruni’s account of the system of Varnas. The highest caste are the Brahmanas. As per Hindu mythological books, they are created from the head of the Brahman and as the Brahman is only another name for the force called nature and the head is the highest part of the body. The Brahmanas are the choice part of the whole genus. Therefore, the Hindus consider them as the very best of mankind. The next caste are the Kshatriyas who were created from the shoulders and hands of Brahman. Their degree is not much lower than that of the Brahmana. After them, follow the Vaishyas who were created from the thigh of Brahman, the Shudra who were created from his feet....Between the latter two classes, there is not much difference. However, these classes differ from each other they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings.
(i) Why Brahmanas were considered superior?
(ii) How did Al-Biruni disapprove the notion of caste pollution?
(iii) Who lived together yet segregated? What impact did they have on the society?
Ans. (i) Brahmanas and their superior status:
(a) They were considered as the highest caste.
(b) The normative Sanskrit texts of the Hindus described that they were created from the head of Brahman.
(c) The Brahman is only another name for the force called nature, and the head is the highest part of the body, the Brahman are the source of the whole genus. Therefore, the Hindus consider them as the very best of mankind.
(d) Any other relevant point.
(ii) Al-Biruni disapproved the notion of caste pollution:
(a) He considered every caste as equal.
(b) Explanation of caste hierarchy was against the law of nature.
(c) He considered this system as social pollution as it was based on social apprehension.
(d) Any other relevant point
(iii) (a) They lived together yet segregated. Brahmanas and Kshatriyas had strong bonding as Brahmanas were the teacher to the Kshtriyas, whereas, Vaishyas were the merchant class and Shudras were considered as untouchables who were discriminated by all the Vedas.
(b) First three classes followed the Vedic rituals and Brahmanical practices, there was no great distance.
(c) However, all the classes differed from each other.
(d) They all lived in the same towns and villages and mixed together for providing services.
(e) Shudras were ill-treated and were not allowed to mix in the society.
(f) Any other relevant point
Q. 2. “Ibn Battuta found Delhi as a city of exciting opportunities.” Support your answer with evidences given by him.
Ans. The description of Ibn Battuta is quite helpful in understanding the life styles of Indian cities. It is very clear and extensive and it seems as if the true picture emerges before our eyes.
(i) He stated that Indian cities had many exciting opportunities and was useful for those who had the drive, skill and resources.
(ii) The Indian cities were densely populated, prosperous and crowded streets. The markets were bright and colourful dealing in a variety of goods.
(iii) Ibn Battuta mentioned Delhi as a vast city and heavily populated. Another big city was Daultabad in Maharashtra which challenged Delhi in its size.
(iv) Markets were not only for trading but also for cultural and social activities. Most of the bazaars had a mosque and temple and also had a fixed public place for public performance by dancers, musicians and singers.
(v) Many towns derived their wealth through the appropriation of surplus from villages.
(vi) According to Ibn Battuta, Indian agriculture was very productive. The land was fertile and two crops were simultaneously cultivated by farmers.
(vii) The goods of India were in great demand in both West Asia and South-east Asia. So, artisans and merchants earned good money. Cotton and muslin clothes were in great demand.
(viii) He also noted that the subcontinent was well integrated with inter-Asian networks of trade and commerce.
Q. 3. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given at the end of it:
Travelling with the Mughal army
Bernier often travelled with the army. This was an excerpt from his description of the army’s march to Kashmir:
I am expected to keep two good Turkman horses, and I also take a powerful Persian camel and driver, a groom for my horses, a cook and a servant to go before my horses with a flask of water in his hand, as per the custom of the country. I am also provided with every useful article, such as moderate sized tent, a carpet, a portable bed made of four very strong but light canes, a pillow, a mattress, round leather tablecloths used at meals, few napkins of dyed cloth, three small bags with culinary utensils which are all placed in a large bag, and this bag is again carried in a very capacious and strong double sack or net made of leather things. This double sack likewise contains the provisions, lines and wearing apparel, both of master and servants. I have taken care to lay in a stock of excellent rice for five or six days’ consumption of sweet biscuits flavoured with anise (a herb) of limes and sugar bag with its small iron hook for the purpose of suspending and draining dahi or curd; nothing being considered so refreshing in this country as lemonade and dahi.
(i) Who was Bernier? Give his brief introduction.
(ii) What was the purpose and preparations associated with of his travel? Describe briefly.
(iii) What things would you like to take while going on travel and why? Explain.
Ans. (i) Bernier was a French doctor, a political philosopher and a historian.
(a) He loved travelling and produced a rich account of his visit to India during the Mughal times.
(b) He dedicated his writings to the King of France (Louise XIV).
(c) His works were published in French and were translated into English, Dutch, German and Italian. (Any two points)
(ii) (a) The purpose of Bernier was to know about the details of the places where army went around India.
(b) A Turkman, two horses, Persian camel with trained driver, groom for horses, a cook and a servant to go before his horses with a flask of water.
(iii) At the discretion of checker or evaluator give marks according to the list given by a student and its usages.
Q. 4. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow: The Child Sati This was perhaps one of the most poignant descriptions by Bernier: At Lahore, I saw a most beautiful young widow sacrificed, who is 12, as per my approximation. 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 of 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, lest she should run away, and in the situation, the innocent creature was burnt alive. I found it difficult to repress my felling and to prevent their bursting forth onto clamourous and unavailing rage....
(i) Why did Bernier consider the treatment as a crucial marker of the difference between Western and Eastern societies?
(ii) What role did the Indian patriarchal society play towards this social evil?
(iii) Compare the condition of the women of that era with today’s situation.
Ans. (i) Bernier considered this treatment as a crucial marker of difference between Western and Eastern societies:
(a) In the Western societies, women took part in administration but in the Eastern societies, women were exploited boldly.
(b) Women enjoyed rights in the Western society while no rights were given to them in the Eastern society.
(c) Women received education in the West but in the Eastern society, there was no education and many social evils like sati, purdah system and child marriage existed.
(d) Eastern societies are male centric while Western societies are free from gender bias.
(ii) (a) It was male dominated society where women had no rights and were ill-treated, discriminated and confined to the house.
(b) Social inequalities were prominent and thus led to these social evils.
(iii) Comparison of condition of women:
(a) In medieval era, women had no rights but today sati and slavery have been abolished
(b) Today ’s women are well educated and assertive.
(c) In this era, there is women empowerment.
(d) She has economic, social and political rights.
Q. 5. Explain Bernier ’s understanding of land ownership during Mughal period.
Ans. (i) As per Bernier, the main difference between Mughal India and Europe was the lack of private property in land in Mughal India. He was a firm believer in the virtues of private property and felt that crown ownership of land was harmful for both the state and the people.
(ii) In all his descriptions, he criticised the control of state over all the land. He considered it responsible for the miserable conditions of the Indian agriculture and the farmers.
(iii) Bernier thought that in Mughal Empire, the emperor owned all the land and distributed it among the nobles and this had disastrous consequences over the economy and society.
(iv) As the ownership of land rested with the crown, the land owners could not pass on their land to their children. Thus, they were adverse to long-term investment to sustain an increase in production. The crown ownership of land also prevented the emergence of an improved class of landlords as in the Western Europe that improved the land. It ruined the agriculture and increased oppression of the peasant. It brought a continuous decline in the living standard of all sections of society, except the aristocracy.
(v) Bernier saw the Mughal Empire as its king was the king of beggars and barbarians, its cities and towns were ruined and contaminated with “ill air” and its fields overspread with bushes and full of “pestilential marishes” and it was mainly because of crown ownership of land.