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NCERT Summary: Traders, Kings & Pilgrims - Notes | Study Social Studies (SST) Class 6 - Class 6

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Trade and Traders

  • Traders may have carried them from the places where they were made, to sell them at other places.
  • Traders carried many of these goods to Rome in ships, across the sea, and by land in caravans.
  • Traders explored several sea routes. 
    • Some of these followed the coasts. 
    • Others were across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, where sailors took advantage of the monsoon winds to cross the seas more quickly.

New kingdoms along the coasts

  • Chiefs and kings who controlled the river valleys and the coasts became rich and powerful.
  • The Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas became powerful in south India around 2300 years ago.
  • These three chiefs had two centres of power: one inland, and one on the coast.
  • Of these six cities, two were very important: 
    • Puhar or Kaveripattinam, the port of the Cholas.
    • Madurai, the capital of the Pandyas.
  • These chiefs demanded and received gifts from the people and also went on military expeditions.
  • Many poets compositions are found in the Sangam collection composed poems in praise of chiefs.

Satavahanas 

  • Around 200 years later a dynasty known as the Satavahanas became powerful in western India.
    • The most important ruler of the Satavahanas was Gautamiputra Shri Satakarni.
  • Satavahana rulers were known as lords of the dakshinapatha, literally the route leading to the south.

The Story of Silk Route

  • The rich, glossy colours of silk and smooth texture, make it a highly valued fabric in most societies. 

Process of Making silk

  • Raw silk has to be extracted from the cocoons of silk worms, spun into thread and then woven into cloth.
  • Techniques of making silk were first invented in China around 7000 years ago.
  • Some people from China who went to distant lands on foot, horseback, and on camels, carried silk with them.
    • The paths they followed came to be known as the Silk Route.
  • Some kings tried to control large portions of the route because they could benefit from taxes, tributes and gifts that were brought by traders travelling along the route.

The Kushanas

  • The best-known of the rulers who controlled the Silk Route were the Kushanas, who ruled over central Asia and north-west India.
    • Two major centres of power of Kushanas were Peshawar and Mathura.
    • The Kushanas were amongst the earliest rulers of the subcontinent to issue gold which coins were used by traders along the Silk Route.

The spread of Buddhism

  • The most famous Kushana ruler was Kanishka, who organised a Buddhist council, where scholars met and discussed matters.
  • Ashvaghosha, a poet who composed a biography of the Buddha, the Buddhacharita, lived in his court.
  • During this period, a new form of Buddhism, known as Mahayana Buddhism developed .
  • Mahayana Buddhism had two distinct features:
    • It included creation of statues of the Buddha in places like Taxila and Mathura.
    • Belief in Bodhisattvas or people who attained enlightenment also gained ground and spread in places like Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan.
  • The older form of Buddhism, known as Theravada Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia including Indonesia.

The quest of the pilgrims

  • Pilgrims are men and women who undertake journeys to holy places in order to offer worship.
  • The best-known of these are the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims:
    • Fa Xian, who came to the subcontinent about 1600 years ago.
    • Xuan Zang who came around 1400 years ago.
    • I-Qing, who came about 50 years after Xuan Zang.
  • Each of these pilgrims left an account of his journey.

The beginning of Bhakti

  • During this time, worship of certain deities, which became a central feature of later Hinduism, gained in importance. 
    • These deities included Shiva, Vishnu, and goddesses such as Durga.
  • These deities were worshipped through Bhakti which is generally understood as a person’s devotion to his or her chosen deity.
  • The idea of Bhakti is present in the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred book of the Hindus, which is included in the Mahabharata.
  • Those who followed the system of Bhakti emphasised devotion and individual worship of a god or goddess, rather than the performance of elaborate sacrifices.
  • According to this system of belief, if a devotee worships the chosen deity with a pure heart, the deity will appear in the form in which he or she may desire.
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