Detailed, Step-by-Step NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 5 Through the Eyes of Travellers: Perceptions of Society Questions and Answers were solved by Expert Teachers as per NCERT (CBSE) Book guidelines covering each topic in chapter to ensure complete preparation.
Through the Eyes of Travellers: Perceptions of Society NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 5
Through the Eyes of Travellers: Perceptions of Society Questions and Answers Class 12 History Chapter 5
Write an essay on ‘Kitab-ul-Hind.’
Explain the structure adopted by Al-Biruni in each chapter of his works.(C.B.S.E. 2009 (D))
State any two features of ‘Kitab-ul-Hind.’ (C.B.S.E. 2019 (O.D.))
Kitab-ul-Hind is a work of Al-Biruni written in Arabic. Its language is simple and lucid. It is a detailed epic which is divided in 80 chapters which include subjects like religion and philosophy, astronomy, festivals, manners and customs, alchemy, weights and measures, social life, iconography laws and metrology.
Al-Biruni used a distinctive structure in each chapter. It starts with a question, then there is some description based on Sanskritic traditions and in the end it has the comparison with other cultures. Some modern day philosophers suggest that he was more inclined towards Mathematics. That may be the reason why his book is, almost geometric structure, remarkable for its precision and predictability.
Compare and contrast the perspectives from which Ibn-Battuta and Bernier wrote accounts of their travels in India.
Ibn-Battuta and Bernier have written the account of their travels from different perspectives. Ibn-Battuta described everything that impressed and excited him because of its novelty. On the other hand, Francois Bernier had a different intellectual tradition. He wrote about whatever he saw in India. But he compared and contrasted it with the situation in Europe in general and France in particular.
He focussed on situations which seemed depressing to him. He wanted to influence the policy makers and the intelligentsia. He wanted them to take the right decisions. In fact Bernier wanted to pin-point the weaknesses of the Indian society. He considered the Mughal India inferior to the European society. On the other hand, Ibn-Battuta recorded his observations about new cultures, peoples, beliefs and values.
Discuss the picture of urban centres that emerges from Bernier’s account.
According to Bernier, about 15% population lived in the towns in the seventeenth century. This percentage was quite higher than the proportion of urban population in Western Europe during the same period. Inspite of this, Bernier described the Mughal cities as ‘camp towns’. He meant to say that the Mughal cities owed their existence to the imperial camp. He believed that the cities emerged when the imperial court moved in and they declined when this court moved out. In other words, the Mughal cities lacked strong social and economic foundations. They were dependent on the imperial patronage.
The Mughal times had all kinds of towns, such as manufacturing towns, trading towns, port towns, pilgrimage towns and sacred centres. Their existence depended on the prosperity of merchant communities and professional classes. In fact the merchants were a strong community. They were called the Mahajans. Their chief was called the Seth or the Nagarseth. There were a few other groups like the physicians, teachers, lawyers, painters, architects, musicians and calligraphers. A few of them enjoyed the imperial patronage. Some others lived by serving other patrons. A few others served the common people in the crowded markets.
Analyse the evidence for slavery provided by Ibn-Battuta.’
Explain Ibn-Battuta’s description about the slaves in India. (C.B.S.E. 2010 (D))
According to Ibn-Battuta, slaves like any other commodity, were openly sold in the markets. They were also regularly exchanged as gifts.
- When Ibn-Battuta reached Sindh, he purchased horses, camels and slaves. He wanted to offer them as gifts to Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
- When Ibn-Battuta reached Multan, he presented not -only raisins and almonds to the governor but also a slave and a horse.
- There were some female slaves in the service of the Sultan. They were experts in music and dance. Ibn-Battuta enjoyed their performance at the wedding of the sister of Sultan.
- The Sultan also employed female slaves to keep a watch on his nobles.
- The slaves were also engaged for domestic work. They carried men and women on palanquins or dola but were given low wages.
- Most families kept one or two slaves.
What were the elements of the practice of Sati that drew the attention of Bernier ?
The following elements of the practice of Sati drew the attention of Bernier :
- It was a cruel practice in which the widow was made to sit on the pyre of her husband alive.
- The widow was an unwilling victim of the Sati- practice. She was forced to be a Sati.
- The people had no sympathy even for the child-widows.
- The cries of the woman going to he a Sati, did not move anyone.
- The Brahmans and the elderly women of the house participated in this practice or process.
Discuss Al-Biruni’s understanding of caste system.
Al-Biruni had explained the caste system in India. He also looked for similar systems in other societies of the world. He stated that the ancient Persia had the following four social categories :
- Knights and Princes
- Monks, fire priests and lawyers
- Scientists, Astronomers and physicians
- Peasants and Artisans.
So Al-Biruni suggested that the social divisions were not unique to India. He also stated that in Islam, all people were considered equal.
Disapproval of the Notion of Pollution : Though Al-Biruni accepted the Brahmanical description of caste system yet he did not accept its notion of pollution. He believed that everything that is impure attempts to regain its original condition of purity. The Sun cleanses the air. The salt in the sea prevents the water from being polluted. Without this natural arrangement, according to Al-Biruni, life on earth would not have been possible. In fact, Al-Biruni considered the notion of social pollution as contrary to the laws of nature.
The System of Four Varnas. Al-Biruni has also given an account of the system of Varnas in the Indian society. According to him, the following varnas were found: Brahmans. They belonged to the highest caste. They were created from the head of Brahma. So the Hindus consider them as the very best of mankind.
Kshatriyas. They were also very important but below the Brahmans. They were created from the shoulders and hands of Brahma.
Vaishyas. They came at the third position as they were created from the thigh of Brahma. Fourth Varna. They stand at the bottom of social hierarchy. They were created from the feet of Brahma. There is not a big difference between the Vaishyas and Fourth varna.
Thus, we see that Al-Biruni’s description of caste system was deeply influenced by his study of normative Sanskrit Books. In fact the caste system was based on the rules framed by the Brahmans. But in real life, this system was not very rigid.
Do you think Ibn-Battuta’s account is useful in arriving at an understanding of life in contemporary urban centres ? Give reasons for your answer.
Explain the observations of in Battuta about Indian cities with special reference to Delhi and its rampart round the city.
(C.B.S.E. 2009 (O.D.))
Explain the observations of Ibn Battuta about the cities of India, with special reference to Delhi. (C.B.S.E. 2010 (O.D.))
“Ibn-Battuta found Delhi as a city full of exciting opportunities.” Support your answer with evidences given by him. (C.B.S.E. 2013 (D))
“Ibn-Battuta found cities in the Indian subcontinent full of exciting opportunities.” Explain the statement I with reference to the city of Delhi.(C.B.S.E. 2018)
There is no doubt that the description of Ibn- Battuta is quite helpful in understanding the lifestyle of the Indian cities. His description is quite clear and extensive. It seems as if the true picture emerges before our eyes.
(i) Ibn-Battuta stated that Indian cities had many exciting opportunities. They were useful for those who had the necessary drive, skill and resources.
(ii) The Indian cities were densely populated. They were also prosperous and had crowded streets. They had bright and colourful markets trading in a variety of goods. They were occasionally disturbed because of wars or invasions.
(iii) According to Ibn-Battuta, Delhi was a vast city. It had a lot of population and was the largest city in India. Another big city was Daultabad in Maharashtra which challenged Delhi in size.
(iv) The markets and bazaars of the Indian cities were not only the places of the economic transactions but also the centres of social and cultural activities. Most of the bazaars had a mosque and a temple. They also had fixed places for public performances by dancers, musicians and singers.
(v) Ibn-Battuta found that many towns derived their wealth and prosperity through the appropriation of surplus from villages.
(vi) According to Ibn-Battuta, Indian agriculture was very productive. The farmers cultivated two crops a year because the land was very fertile.
(vii) The goods of India were in great demand in both West Asia and South-east Asia. So artisans and merchants earned huge profits. The sub-continent was well-integrated with inter-Asia networks of trade and commerce.
Discuss the extent to which Bernier’s account enables historians to reconstruct contemporary rural society.
The assessment of Bernier about the rural society of India was not correct. It was misleading and far from truth. But there is also some truth in his descriptions which is evident .from the following examples:
(i) Bernier stated that in the Mughal Empire, the emperor owned all the land and distributed it among his nobles. This had a disastrous impact on the Indian economy and society.
(ii) Bernier did not consider the system of the crown ownership of land good. Because of this, the land-holders could not pass on their land to their children. They could also not make any long-term investments. As there was no private property in land, there was not an improved class of landlords. This system ruined the whole of agriculture. It also led to the oppression of the peasants and lowered the living standards of all sections of society.
(iii) Bernier’s view of Indian society had the following features:
- It had impoverished people. The rich people constituted a small minority.
- It had only the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. It had no middle class.
- The Mughal king was the king of beggars and barbarians.
- All the cities and towns were ruined. They had contaminated air.
Thus, Bernier’s descriptions of the Indian rural society brought out many social and economic differences. There’were big Zamindars as well as landless labourers who were despised as the untouchables.
Read this excerpt from Bernier.
“Numerous are the instances of handsome pieces of workmanship made by persons destitute of tools, and who can scarcely be said to have received instruction from a master. Sometimes they imitate so perfectly articles of European menufacture that the difference between the original and copy can hardly be discerned. Among other things, the Indians made excellent muskets, and fowling pieces, and such beautiful gold ornaments that it may be doubted if the exquisite workmanship of those articles can be exceeded by any European goldsmith. I have often admired the beauty,. softness, and delicacy of their paintings.” List the crafts mentioned in the passage. Compare those with the descriptions of artisanal activity in the chapter.
This excerpt mentioned the crafts of making muskets and fowling pieces and making beautiful gold ornaments. Indian artisans made them with great efficiency and delicacy. These products were so beautiful that even Bernier was amazed to see these products. He wrote that he doubted whether these articles can be exceeded by any European goldsmith.
Comparison : Other artisanal activities described in the chapter are given below:
Artisans engaged in manufacturing carpets, brocades, embroideries, gold and silver goods, making shoes, carpentery, tailoring, painting, goldsmiths, varnishers, joiners, turners, manufactures of silk, brocade and fine muslins were the few artisanal activities described in this chapter. All these activities took place in royal Karkhanas. These artisans used to come every morning to the Karkhanas where they remained for the whole day. In the evening, they returned to their homes