Tracing Changes Through A Thousand Years (Class 7 History Chapter 1 Notes)

India Map 1600 AD
Indiae Orientalis/Wikimedia
The early British historians divided Indian history into three periods: “Hindu”, “Muslim” and “British” on the idea of the religion of rulers. However, India's history is much more complex than that. The modern historians has taken a different route and they focus on economic and social factors and have divided Indian history into ancient, medieval and modern periods.

The Medieval Period
  1. The Medieval Period refers to era between 8th and 18th century (roughly 700 AD to 1750 AD).
  2. It can be divided into the Early Medieval Period (8th to 12th Century) and the Later Medieval Period (13th to 18th Century).
  3. India and the whole world has seen a wide range of political, social, economic and cultural changes during this period.

Terminologies
  1. If we look at the maps of the ancient times, we might came across different but similar sounding terms. However, there are some completely different terms used to describe the region. Maps were not always reliable, but they eventually matured during the Medieval Period.
  2. On another hand, words and their meanings have evolved over the time. For example, the word "videsi" earlier used to mean stranger, but now it means a foreigner.
  3. India was earlier known by several names such as Jambudweep, Bharatvarsha, Aryavarta, Sapta-Sindhu and Inde. It was Arabs who called it Hind, a corruption of word Sindhu or Sindh. Later it again evolved into India.

Sources of History
  1. The sources of history can be divided into two categories - literary and archaeological.
  2. Literary Sources - Religious literature, Stories, Folklores, Traveller's account and other writings.
  3. Archaeological Sources - Pottery, Weapon, Ornaments, Coins, Buildings, Inscription and sculptures.

Problems Faced by Historians
  1. However, there are several problems faced by historians while intrepreting the sources. These are
  2. There were no printing machine.
  3. No common language. Languages were still developing.
  4. The material used for inscription has corroded with time.
  5. Difficulty in understanding the handwriting.

Highlights of the Medieval Period in India
Growth of Settlements, Trade and Technology.
  1. The settlement grew in size as population grew. This led to growth in trade, agriculture and technology.
  2. Tribal population started mixing with general population.
  3. More people from Persia, Arab, China and other distant lands started coming to India.
  4. New technologies such as Persian wheel in irrigation, the spinning wheel in weaving, and firearms in combat appeared.
  5. New foods and beverages arrived in India – potatoes, corn, chillies, tea and coffee.

Political Development

  1. In north and western parts of India, Rajputs emerged.
  2. In other parts of country, Marathas, Sikhs and Jats became politically important.
  3. In South, Cholas, Gurjara-Parihara, Palas and Rashtrakutas gained significance.
  4. From 12th century onward, Turks, Afghans and Mughals entered India from the west.
  5. In the Later Medieval Period, India caught the attention of European Powers such as British, Dutch, Portuguese and Danes.

Social Development
  1. In society, division among people increased.
  2. The Jati Pratha (Class Discrimination), superstition and complex beliefs grew.
  3. Castes (Jatis) were dessiminated into sub-castes (upjatis).
  4. Each caste has different position and power from place to place.
  5. Each caste has its own set of rules and regulations.
  6. Each caste were headed by their panchayat heads.

Religious Developments
  1. Brahmanism evolved into Hinduism.
  2. The status of Brahmins rose over time. They were considered intermediatries between man and god.
  3. They started gaining control over the society by controlling the knowledge.
  4. The religious conflicts also cropped up with enterance of Islam and Christianity in India.
  5. The rise of Bhakti and Sufi movements. The saints and sufis came together to resolve these religious conflicts.

Cultural Developments

  1. One can see immense change in cultural aspects of a normal person.
  2. There was emergence of new dance and music forms such as Kathak and Qawwalis.
  3. The Indin architecture saw a huge change.
  4. Languages such as Urdu and Persian gained popularity.