Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 5 Through the Eyes of Travellers

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Kerala Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 5 Through the Eyes of Travellers (Perceptions of Society)

Question 1.
The book of AIBiruni.

Question 2.
Ibn Battuta’s home country.

Question 3.
What does Ulak mean?
Horse Post (Mail)

Question 4.
The traveller who argued that in India there was no private land ownership.


Question 5.
The person who talked about Oriental Despotism:

Question 6.
The language in which Bemierwrote his book:

Question 7.
The scholar who wrote Rihla and made it into book form:
Ibn Juzayy

Question 8.
Travellers had different aims. Mention any four.

  1. Look for a  job
  2. Escape from natural disaster
  3. Merchants, traders, soldiers, pilgrims, priests.
  4. Spirit of adventure

Question 9.
Mention the names of three travellers that visited. India between the 11th and 17th centuries.

  1. Al-Biruni came to India from Uzbekistan in the 11thcentury.
  2. Ibn Battuta came from Morocco in the 14th century.
  3. Francois Bemierfrom France came in the 17th century.

Question 10.
Where did Al-Biruni live? How did he reach Gazni?
AI-Biruni was born at Khwarisnr in Uzbekistan. Khwarism was an important centre of knowledge and so he got the best education possible. He was a linguist – a scholar in many languages. He knew Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit. He was not familiar with Greek. But he had read the books of Plato and other Greek philosophers through Arabic translations.

In 1017 Sultan Mahmud Gazni attacked Khwarism. He made many people prisoners and took them to Gazni. Al-Biruni was one of them. Although he came to Gazni as a prisoner, he began to like the place. He entered the services of Mahmud Gazni and remained in Gazni until he died at the age of 70.


Question 11.
What were the two special features of Al-Biruni’s writing?
Since he was a linguist, he was able to compare many languages and make correct translations. He translated many Sanskrit books. He translated the Sanskrit grammar book by Patanjali into Arabic. He translated the books of Euclid, the Greek Mathematician, into Sanskrit for use by his Brahmin friends.

Question 12.
Al-Biruni himself has specified the reasons behind his writing. What are they?

  1. As a help to those who wanted to discuss religious issues with Hindus.
  2. As a storehouse for those who like to live with Hindus.

Question 13.
Ibn Battuta was a fearless traveller. Do you agree with this statement? Justify your answer.
In those days travels were risky. There were robbers everywhere. Battuta himself was attacked by robbers a number of times. He gave preference to travel with his friends in a caravan. But this did not protect him from robbers. When he was going from Multan to Delhi, his caravan was attacked by robbers. Many of his co-travellers were killed. Ibn Battuta was severely wounded.

Ibn Battuta was an Enthusiastic and determined traveller: Difficulties along the way and the attacks from robbers did not stop him. Before he returned to Morocco, he travelled extensively in North Africa, West Asia, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and China. It is believed that he reached even China.

Question 14.
Ai-Biruni faced some problems in understanding and writing about India. Point them out.
Al-Biruni was conscious of the problems involved in understanding strange countries. He has mentioned three things that proved difficult:

  1. The first problem was language – Sanskrit was quite different from Arabic and Persian languages. It was not easy to translate the concepts from one language into another.
  2. The second problem was the differences in religions and rituals.
  3. The third problem was the secluded people who were interested only in their things. They looked at foreigners with suspicion and were not willing to mingle with them freely.


Question 15.
What was the attitude of Al-Biruni to the Varna System? Give his arguments against untouchability.
Al-Biruni accepted the Class distinctions as put forward by Brahmins. But he did not approve of the untouchability practised by them. He said that things that were impure would always try to get back their purity and succeed. For example, the sun purifies the air. The salt in sea-water prevents it from getting polluted. Without this natural purification, life would be impossible on this earth. He argued that untouchability is against natural laws.

The ideas of Al-Biruni exercised a powerful influence in the study of Sanskrit books. The rules regarding Varna System were formulated favouring the Brahmins. In real life, Varna was not so strict. For example, the antyaja (who were born outside the Varna System) were expected to work for the agriculturists and zamindars for small wages. Although they were socially suppressed, they were included in the economic activities.

Question 16.
Ibn Battuta has said that in India there was an excellent transport and communication system. Justify.
The country had taken special measures to encourage traders. Along most trade routes, there were guest houses and inns. The postal system in India surprised Ityi Battuta. This helped the merchants to send their goods to distant places and also to repay-their debts. The postal system was efficient. From Sindhi it took only a few days for goods to reach Delhi. The news sent by the spies would reach the Sultan in just five days.

Ibn Battuta has said that there were two types of posts in India -the horse post and the footmen post. Horse post was called ‘uluq’. Royal horses were posted every 4 miles and his helped in making communication fast. The footmen-post was called ‘dawa’. ‘Dawa’ means 1/3 of a mile. Within a mile, there were 3 camps for the footmen.


Question 17.
There were serious differences between the observations of Ibn Battuta and Bernier. What are they?

Ibn Battuta Bernier
1) He was attracted by the newness, and strangeness of things. 1) Gave more importance to negative things.
2) He wrote about all the things that interested and impressed him. 2) He was more interested in the contrasts he found between the things in Europe, especially his country, France, and here.

Question 18.
How do you look at the observation of Bernier Wlfo thought that the Oriental world is inferior and worse than the Western world? Justify your answer with examples.
Bernier presented India on the model of the binary opposition. This way India was presented as directly opposite to Europe. He also presented the differences between India and Europe on a comparative scale. India was at the lowest rung of the ladder. In short, Bernier felt that India was inferior and worse than the. Western countries.

Question 19.
How did the words Hindu, Hindustan and Hindavi come into existence?
The word Hindu came from an old Persian word. In the 6-5 centuries BC, this word was used to indicate the region lying east of the River Sindhu.

The Arabs continued using this expression. They called this region Al-Hind and the people ‘Hindi’. Later, the Turks started calling the people Hindu and their land as Hindustan and their language Hindavi. None of these was indicative of any religion. The word Hindu was used to indicate somebody’s religion much later.

Question 20.
Why did Bernier think that the royal ownership of land is highly destructive?
He thought like that because:

  1. Landowners could not pass on their land to their heirs.
  2. They were not interested in maintaining or improving the land.
  3. It prevented the landowners who wanted to bring prosperity to their land from taking positive steps and make long term investments.
  4. It caused destruction of agriculture.
  5. It led to the suppression of farmers.
  6. It adversely affected the living standards of people.


Question 21.
What is the opinion of Bernier about the Middle Class? Can you agree with his argument?
Bernier says that there was no Middle Class in India. There were only 2 classes – the poor and the rich. The poor were the majority and they were suppressed by the ruling minority. There were too poor and too rich people, but there was no middle state. Bernier did not have a good impression about the Mughal Empire. He assessed the Mughal King as follows:

  1. The king was the king of beggars and uncultured people.
  2. The Mughal cities and towns were in a state of ruin and the air there was polluted.
  3. The fields were full of bushes and marshlands which caused diseases.

Question 22.
How did Bernier assess the Mughal Empire?
Bernier said that the sole reason for the bad condition in the country was the royal ownership of the land. But modem historians do not agree with him. There is no indication in the Mughal documents that the land belonged to the lung. For example, Abdul Fasal, who was a scholar and historian during the reign of Akbar, said the land taxes were a reward for the sovereignty (supreme authority) of the king.

The king charged taxes from his subjects in return for the protection given to them. It was not taxes for the land owned by the ruler. Land tax was often high. That might be reason why the Europeans travellers thought that all the land belonged to the king. In fact, it was neither tax nor land tax. It was a tax on the crops.

Question 23.
Do you think the description of the cities by Bernier was an oversimplification of things? Why?
In the 17th century, 15% of Indians lived in cities. This was more in proportion than the people living in cities in Western Europe. In spite of that the Mughal cities were called camp towns by Bernier. Camp Towns are those that depend on the capital city for existence. During the Mughal rule, the capital was often shifted. Bernier says that when the capital was moved to a new city, it developed fast, but when the capital was moved from there, the city got ruined. Cities did not have strong social and economic bases. They relied on royal protection.

There is some kind of contradiction in what Bernier says about cities. He says the manufacturing sector was in ruin. But he says there were large scale exports of products. Bernier’s is an oversimplification of things. At that time there were manufacturing cities, trade cities, port cities, holy cities, and pilgrimage centres. Their existence shows the prosperity of the trading and working communities.

Among the merchant and trading communities, there were strong bonds, often blood relations. They had organized themselves into organizations based on caste and profession. In Western India, these trading communities were called Mahajans. Their top leader was Seth. The topmost one in the city was called nagarseth.

In the city, there were doctors (Hakim, Vaidyas), teachers (Pandits, Mullah), advocates (Vakil), Artists, Musicians and calligraphers. Some of them were working for the king. But most of them worked for the people in bazars and markets.


Question 24.
Ibn Battuta says there was distinction even among slaves. Based on this statement, assess the situation of the women slaves in the country.
Battuta’s descriptions make it clear that there were discriminations even among slaves. Under the Sultan many women slaves served. Some of them were experts in dance and music. Once, Battuta had an opportunity to enjoy their performance, during the wedding celebrations of the Sultan’s sister.

Women slaves also worked as spies of the Sultan. The Sultan employed them to secretly observe the activities of his nobles. Slaves, both men and women, were generally employed for household work. Ibn Battuta says that to carry palanquins slaves were used. The price of women slaves bought for domestic work was very little. Most families could afford one or two of them.

European travellers often spoke highly of the behaviour shown to women. They did that to show the differences between the treatment given here to women and the treatment of women in European countries. Bemierwrote extensively about the practice of Sati. Bemierpoints out that all women did not observe Sati in the same manner. Some jumped into the pyre happily. But some had to be forced into the pyre.

Question 25.
“The descriptions of Bernier influenced Western theorists.” Examine the validity of this statement.
Since the time of the writings of Bernier, they have influenced Western theorists. These descriptions were used by the French Philosopher Montesquieu to develop his concept of Oriental Despotism. This theory argues that the Eastern (Oriental) Kings had full authority over their subjects. The subjects often lived in poverty. All land belonged to the ruler. There . was no private property. Except the King and the lords, all lived difficult lives.

This concept was further developed by Karl Marx in the 19th century. The concept he developed is called Asiatic Production Process. Marx argued that even before colonization, in India and in other parts of Asia, the ruling class acquired the profits coming from extra production. This helped in developing village communities that had self-governing powers and were considered equals.

But these communities, in spite of their autonomous status, were supervised by the Centre. Till the extra profits flowed into their hands, the rulers respected the autonomous village communities. Marx considered the system of production in Asia as stunted and unfit for growth.


Question 26.
Bernier attitude was a comparison between the East and the West. Prepare an essay containing is views and descriptions about India.
Things to be considered:

  1. The non-progressive East
  2. Problem of land ownership
  3. Middle Class
  4. Village Communities
  5. Mughal Nation
  6. Cities
  7. Sati

Ibn Battuta and Bemierwrote their travel notes with their different views. Ibn Battuta was attracted by the newness and strangeness of things. He wrote about all the things that interested and impressed him. But Bernier’s descriptions were quite different. He gave more importance to negative things. He was interested in the contrasts he found between the things in Europe, especially in his country, France, and here, he wanted to influence the rulers to take just decisions.

Bernier presented India on the model of the binary opposition. This way India was presented as directly opposite to Europe. He also presented the differences between India and Europe on a comparative scale. India was at the lowest rung of the ladder. In short, Bernier felt that India was inferior and worse than the Western countries.

Bernier talked about land ownership in India. There was no private ownership of land here. The land here belonged to the king. The king divided the land among his lords. This was not good as people did not take an interest in developing the land and invest in the land for long term purposes.

Bernier says that there was no Middle Class in India. There were only 2 classes – the poor and the rich. The poor were the majority and they were suppressed by the ruling minority. There were too poor and too rich people, but there was no middle state. Bernier did not have a good impression about the Mughal Empire and its rulers.

The village communities were poor. They were often mistreated by the cruel landlords. Since there was no private land, people were not willing to work hard. Taxes were heavy. On the whole life in the village was unpleasant.

Bernier thought that the Mughal rulers were more interested in their comfort and luxury. They were not much worried about the welfare of the subjects. To Bernier Indian cities were Camp Towns. But his views are contracted by modem historians Bemier himself wrote to say that there were large scale exports from the country. Naturally from camp towns, they could not have exported a lot of things. For that, they would need manufacturing cities, trade cities and port cities. One touching description in Bernier’s writing is the description of Sati.

The widow in his description was a girl of about 12. He witnessed this piteous incident J in Lahore. This is what he wrote: “In Lahore, I saw a girl of 12 giving up her life in the pyre of her husband. She came to the pyre like a dead person. She was trembling with fear. She was crying piteously. I can’t describe the pain she must have been experiencing then. With the help of an old woman, 4 Brahmins performed the rituals. That woman forced the girl to sit on the pyre. To prevent her from running away her hands and legs were tied. That poor girl was burnt alive.”

We must admit that Bernier was often prejudiced against the East. But his descriptions offer us valuable information about the society and its ways of life at the time of his visit to India.

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