Q. 1. Name the book authored by Al-Biruni. Why did he disapprove the notion of the Indian caste system? Give one reason.
Ans. Al-Biruni’s creation was Kitab-ul-Hind also known as Tahrik-e-Hind and it was written in Arabic language. He disapproved the notion of the Indian caste system. He accepted the Brahmanical description of caste system and his views were deeply influenced by his study of Sanskrit books and the views of Brahmanas. He did not accept the notion of pollution and said that state of impurity does not stay forever. His views were against the caste system as God considers everyone equally.
Q. 2. Examine the causes that made Al-Biruni visit India.
Why did Al-Biruni develop interest in India? Give reasons.
Ans. When Al-Biruni creation was Ghazni as a hostage, he disliked it but slowly he developed a liking for the city and it was in Ghazni that he developed an interest in India, which was not unusual. He had read Arabic translation of Indian work. Sanskrit works on astronomy, mathematics and medicine had been translated into Arabic eighth century onwards. He came to Punjab when it was part of Ghazni, contacted with the local population on creating an environment of mutual trust and understanding. Al-Biruni spent his time with the Brahmana priests and scholars learning Sanskrit and studying religious and philosophical texts.
Q. 3. The concept of social pollution in India due to the caste system was contrary to law of nature. Explain Al-Biruni’s description of caste system.
Ans. Al-Biruni described the caste system in the following manner:
(i) Al-Biruni compared caste system in India to social system in other places and said it was not unique in India.
(ii) Accepted Brahmanical description of the caste system in detail.
(iii) Disapproved the notion of pollution and called it contrary to the law of nature.
(iv) He observed that in real the different Varnas lived together and mixed with each other in towns and villages.
(v) He noted that in ancient Persia, four categories were recognised i.e. Knights and princes, monks, priests, and lawyers, physicians, astronomers, artisans and scientists.
(vi) In Islam, all men were considered equal differing only in their piety.
Q. 4. State the inherent problems faced by Al-Biruni in understanding Indian social and Brahmanical practices. Mention any two sources that provided the support.
Ans. Problems faced by Al-Biruni in understanding India:
(i) He could not understand Sanskrit language.
(ii) He found it difficult to translate Sanskrit into Arabic and Persian.
(iii) He could not understand the difference in religious beliefs and practices.
(iv) Self-absorption of Brahmanas in local population
(v) Insularity of local population
(vi) Al-Biruni found it difficult to understand the caste system
(Any two points)
He depended on Brahmanical works like
(iii) Bhagvad Gita
(v) Writings of Patanjali
(v) He also made his own observations
Detailed Answer: The inherent problems faced by Al-Biruni in the tasks of understanding Indian social and Brahmanical practices were:
(i) He was well known of the problems himself. He mentioned many hindrances that he felt obstructed understanding. He did not understand Sanskrit language. He felt that Sanskrit was so different from Persian and Arabic that concept and ideas could not be easily translated from one language to another.
The two sources that provided support are:
(i) To understand the Indian society, Al-Biruni depended on the works of Brahmans, the Vedas, the Puranas and the Bhagvad Gita.
(ii) He also mentioned the work of Patanjali and Manusmriti.
Q. 5 Name the book authored by Ibn Battuta. Why did he find Indian cities full of exciting opportunities? Give one reason.
Ans. Ibn Battuta’s book–Rihla:
(i) Ibn Battuta found cities in the subcontinent full of exciting opportunities, resources and skills.
(ii) These were densely populated and prosperous, except for the occasional disruptions caused by wars and invasions.
(iii) Most cities had crowded streets, bright and colourful markets were stacked with a wide variety of goods.
(iv) Ibn Battuta described Delhi and Daulatabad as vast cities, with a great population, the largest in India.
(v) Any other relevant point.
Q. 6. Mention any two characteristics of the cities in the Indian subcontinent as described by Ibn Battuta.
Ans. (i) The cities were densely populated and prosperous.
(ii) Most cities had crowded streets, bright and colourful markets that were stacked with many varieties of goods.
Q. 7. Give two examples to show that Indian cotton textiles were in great demand in West and South Asia.
Ans. According to Ibn Battuta, Indian cotton cloth and fine muslin silks were in high demand in West and South-east Asia. He also mentioned that muslin cloth was expensive and could be used by the rich people only.
Q. 8. “Ibn Battuta found cities in the Indian subcontinent full of exciting opportunities.” Explain the statement with reference to the city of Delhi.
Ans. Ibn Battuta found cities in the subcontinent full of exciting opportunities :
(i) According to him the city of Delhi covered a wide area and had a large population.
(ii) The rampart round the city was without parallel. The breadth of its wall was eleven cubits, and inside it were houses for the night sentry and gate-keepers.
(iii) There were twenty eight gates of this city and of these, the Budaun darwaza was the greatest, inside the Mandwi darwaza there was a grain market, adjacent to the Gul darwaza there was an orchard.
(iv) The city of Delhi had a fine cemetery in which graves had domes over them.
(v) The city was densely populated and prosperous.
(vi) The cities had crowded streets, bright and colourful markets that were stacked with a wide variety of goods.
(vii) The bazaars were the hubs of social and cultural activities. Most bazaars had a mosque and a temple, public performances by dancers, musicians and singers.
(viii) The towns derived a significant portion of their wealth through the appropriation of surplus from villages.
(ix) Music in the market (Tarababad).
(x) A unique system of communication (uluq and dawa).
(xi) The coconut and the paan.
Q. 9. India had a unique system of communication during fourteenth century. Examine the statement of Ibn Battuta.
Ans. In India, the postal system was divided into two. The horse post called ...Uluq... was run by royal horses stationed at a distance of every four miles. The foot post had three stations per mile and it was called Dawa. The state took special measures to encourage merchants. Almost all trade routes were well supplied with inns and guesthouses. Ibn Battuta was also amazed by the efficiency of the postal system, which allowed merchants to not only send information and remit credit across long distances, but also to dispatch goods required at short notice. The postal system was so efficient that while it took 50 days to reach Delhi from Sind, the news reports of spies would reach the Sultan through the postal system in just five days.
Q. 10. Why were the eighteenth and nineteenth century western theorists influenced by the Bernier’s description of landownership?
Ans. Bernier’s views influenced the western theorists
(i) The French philosopher Montesquieu used this account to develop the idea of oriental despotism, according to which rulers in Asia enjoyed absolute authority over their subjects, who were kept in conditions of subjugation and poverty, arguing that all land belong to the king and that private property was non-existent.
(ii) The concept of the Asiatic mode of production by Karl Marx argued that in India before colonialism, surplus was appropriated by the state.
Q. 11. Examine why Bernier was against the idea of crown ownership of land in Mughal India.
Ans. Bernier felt that Mughal India had crown ownership of land. He regarded crown ownership of land that was harmful for both the state and the people. The land owners could not pass their land to their children and also could not make long-term investment to increase production. It also brought a decline in the living standard of the society, which is why Bernier considered crown ownership of land as disastrous.
Q. 12. How did Bernier described a complex social reality of the artisans under the Mughal? Give one reason.
Ans. (i) Artisans had no encouragement to make their production better because profit was taken away by the state.
(ii) Manufactures were in decline. He also noticed the existence of a prosperous merchant community engaged in a long distance trade.
Q. 13. Mention Bernier ’s views about private property and crown ownership of land.
Ans. According to Bernier, owing the crown ownership of land, landholders could not pass on their land to their children. So, they were averse to any longterm investment in the subsistence and expansion of production.
Q. 14. “Bernier ’s description of imperial land ownership influenced western theorists, French philosopher Montesquieu and German Karl Marx.” Justify with suitable arguments.
Ans. Bernier’s description influenced Montesquieu and Karl Marx’s theories:
(i) (a) According to Bernier, there was no private property in India in land form under the Mughals.
(b) The emperor, owned all the land in the empire.
(c) The absence of private property prevented the rise of improving landlords in India and it ruined agriculture.
(d) The Mughal King was a king of beggars and barbarians.
(ii) (a) The French philosopher Montesquieu used Bernier’s account to develop the idea of oriental despotism.
(b) The rulers in Asia (the Orient or the East) enjoyed absolute authority over their subjects.
(c) The subjects were kept in conditions of subjugation and poverty.
(d) All land belonged to the king.
(e) Private property was non-existent.
(iii) (a) Karl Marx was influenced by Bernier and Montesquieu.
(b) He developed the concept of the Asiatic mode of production.
(c) He argued that in India (and other Asian countries), before colonialism, surplus was appropriated by the state.
(d) This led to the emergence of a society that was composed of a large number of autonomous and (internally) egalitarian village communities.
(e) The imperial court, presided over these village communities, respecting their autonomy as long as the flow of surplus was unimpeded.
(f) This was regarded as a stagnant system.
Q. 15. Explain how the accounts of Ibn Battuta and Bernier provide us with tantalizing glimpses of the life of Indian women during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Ans. Contemporary European travellers and writers often highlighted the treatment of women as a major difference between the western and eastern societies, which is why Bernier specifically mentioned in detail about the inhuman practice of Sati. He noticed that while some women embrace death cheerfully, others were forced to die. Ibn Battuta mentions that female slaves were captured in raids and expeditions.Life of women was circled around other things as well. Their labour was important in both agriculture and non-agriculture production. Women were engaged in commercial activities also so, it was hardly seen that women were confined to their homes.