Class 7 Notes History Chapter 1 ‘Tracing Changes Through a Thousand Years’: The notes cover the whole chapter following headings given in the chapter ‘Tracing Changes Through a Thousand Years’ along with important key points: So, enjoy a free learning with great notes on this site! 😊
I. New and Old Terminologies
- Language and Meanings Evolving with Time:
- The context in which information is produced affects language and meanings.
- Historical records exist in various languages that have undergone significant changes over the years.
- Medieval Persian differs from modern Persian not only in grammar and vocabulary but also in the meanings of words.
- Evolution of the Term “Hindustan”:
- The term “Hindustan” has evolved in its meaning over time.
- In the thirteenth century, Minhaj-i-Siraj used “Hindustan” to refer to the areas of Punjab, Haryana, and lands between the Ganga and Yamuna, which were part of the dominions of the Delhi Sultan.
- Babur, in the early sixteenth century, used “Hindustan” to describe the geography, fauna, and culture of the entire subcontinent.
- The term “Hindustan” never included South India, and its scope varied with the extent of the Sultanate.
- Shifting Political and National Meanings:
- The term “Hindustan” did not carry the political and national meanings associated with it today.
- Historians must be cautious when using terms that had different connotations in the past.
- The idea of a geographical and cultural entity like “India” existed, but “Hindustan” held a distinct meaning separate from the modern nation-state.
- Evolution of the Term “Foreigner”
- The term “foreigner” has undergone changes in its meaning over time.
- Today, it refers to someone who is not an Indian.
- In the medieval period, a “foreigner” referred to any stranger who appeared in a particular village, someone who was not part of the local society or culture.
- Terms like “pardesi” in Hindi and “ajnabi” in Persian were used to describe such individuals.
- Perceptions of “Foreigners” in Different Contexts
- In medieval times, a forest-dweller might have been considered a “foreigner” by city-dwellers, but two peasants living in the same village were not foreigners to each other.
- The term “foreigner” was based on social and cultural differences rather than religious or caste backgrounds.
- The meaning of “foreigner” varied depending on the social context and the relationship between individuals.
II. Historians and their Sources
- Historians use different sources to study the past.
- The sources used depend on the period and the nature of the investigation.
- Here, we will learn about the period from roughly 700 to 1750.
1. Continuity and Discontinuity in Sources:
- Historians in this period still relied on coins, inscriptions, architecture, and textual records.
- However, the number and variety of textual records increased dramatically during this period, slowly displacing other types of available information.
- Paper gradually became cheaper and more widely available, leading to the writing of holy texts, chronicles of rulers, letters and teachings of saints, petitions, judicial records, and registers of accounts and taxes.
- Manuscripts were collected by wealthy people, rulers, monasteries, and temples and placed in libraries and archives.
- Manuscripts and documents provide a lot of detailed information but are difficult to use.
2. Challenges of Manuscript Copying:
- Manuscripts were copied by hand, leading to small but significant differences in copies.
- Scribes introduced small changes to manuscripts as they copied them, leading to substantial differences in manuscripts of the same text.
- Historians rarely find the original manuscript of the author today and are dependent on copies made by later scribes.
- Historians have to read different manuscript versions of the same text to guess what the author had originally written.
3. Revisions of Chronicles:
- On occasion, authors revised their chronicles at different times, leading to different versions of the same text.
- Ziyauddin Barani wrote his chronicle first in 1356 and another version two years later.
- Historians did not know about the existence of the first version until the 1960s, and it remained lost in large library collections.
III. New Social and Political Groups in India (700-1750)
The period between 700 and 1750 witnessed a wide range of developments in India, including the emergence of new technologies, foods, and political groups. The period was marked by significant economic, political, social, and cultural changes.
1. Technological and Culinary Innovations:
- The period between 700 and 1750 presents a significant challenge to historians due to the vast array of developments that occurred.
- New technologies such as the Persian wheel in irrigation, the spinning wheel in weaving, and firearms in combat made their appearance during different periods of this time.
- New foods and beverages like potatoes, corn, chillies, tea, and coffee arrived in India, brought along with people who introduced other ideas.
2. Great Mobility:
- This was a period of great mobility, with groups of people traveling long distances in search of opportunities.
- The subcontinent held immense wealth and possibilities for people to carve a fortune.
3. Emergence of New Political Groups:
- The Rajputs:
- The Rajputs, derived from “Rajaputra,” meaning the son of a ruler, were a significant group during this era.
- Initially referring to warriors with Kshatriya caste status, the term encompassed rulers, chieftains, soldiers, and commanders across the subcontinent.
- Rajputs were admired for their chivalric code of conduct, which emphasized extreme valor and unwavering loyalty.
- Other Prominent Groups:
- Various other groups, such as the Marathas, Sikhs, Jats, Ahoms, and Kayasthas, capitalized on the opportunities of the time and gained political importance.
4. Clearing of Forests and Emergence of Peasant Groups:
- There was a gradual clearing of forests and the extension of agriculture, which was faster and more complete in some areas than others.
- Changes in their habitat forced many forest-dwellers to migrate, while others became peasants.
- These new peasant groups gradually began to be influenced by regional markets, chieftains, priests, monasteries, and temples.
5. Emergence of Jatis:
- Peasant groups became part of large, complex societies and were required to pay taxes and offer goods and services to local lords.
- Social and economic disparities among peasants emerged as some had more productive land, owned cattle, or engaged in artisanal work alongside farming.
- As society became more differentiated, people were grouped into jatis or sub-castes and ranked based on their backgrounds and occupations and the resources controlled by their members.
- Jati rankings were not fixed permanently and varied according to power and influence, both within and across different regions.
6. Regulation and Governance:
- Jatis established their own rules and regulations to govern their members, enforced by assemblies of elders known as jati panchayats.
- However, jatis were also subject to village rules and governance, often led by a chieftain.
- Villages and chieftains were part of larger state structures, representing only a small unit within the broader political landscape.
These points provide a descriptive overview of the new social and political groups, as well as the significant changes and dynamics during the period from 700 to 1750.
IV. Region and Empire
- Large States and Pan-Regional Empires:
- Cholas, Tughluqs, and Mughals were powerful large states.
- These states encompassed multiple regions.
- The Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban claimed to rule a vast empire.
- The empire stretched from Bengal to Ghazni and included all of south India.
- People from various regions fled before the armies of these rulers.
- Exaggerated Claims of Conquests:
- Historians view the claims of control over different parts of the subcontinent as exaggerated.
- The reasons behind rulers making such claims are explored.
- Sanskrit prashasti praising Ghiyasuddin Balban provides an example of such claims.
- Distinct Geographical Dimensions and Cultural Characteristics:
- By 700, regions already possessed distinct geographical dimensions.
- Each region had its own language and cultural characteristics.
- More details about these regions and their characteristics are discussed in Chapter 7.
- Conflict between Regional States:
- There was considerable conflict between regional states.
- Dynasties like the Cholas, Khaljis, Tughluqs, and Mughals were able to build pan-regional empires.
- Not all these empires were equally stable or successful.
- Re-emergence of Regional States:
- The decline of the Mughal Empire in the eighteenth century led to the re-emergence of regional states.
- Years of imperial, pan-regional rule had changed the character of the regions.
- Legacies of Ruling States:
- The regions were left with the legacies of the big and small states that had ruled over them.
- Distinct and shared traditions emerged in governance, the economy, elite cultures, and language.
- Impact of Pan-Regional Forces:
- Between 700 and 1750, regions experienced the impact of pan-regional forces of integration.
- Despite the influence, the regions maintained their distinctiveness.
V. Old and New Religions:
1. Collective Belief and the Social Order:
- People’s belief in the divine was often collective rather than deeply personal.
- Religion, as a collective belief in supernatural agency, was closely connected to the social and economic organization of local communities.
- As the social worlds of these groups changed, so did their beliefs.
2. Changes in Hinduism:
- Significant developments occurred in Hinduism during this period.
- Worship of new deities and the construction of temples by royalty became prominent.
- The Brahmanas (priests) gained importance and dominance in society, supported by their knowledge of Sanskrit texts.
- The emergence of the idea of bhakti, the devotion to a loving and personal deity without the aid of priests or elaborate rituals, was a major development.
3. Introduction of New Religions:
- New religions appeared in the Indian subcontinent during this time.
- Merchants and migrants introduced the teachings of the holy Quran to India in the seventh century.
- Islam, with the belief in the sovereignty of Allah, spread among those who accepted Him without regard to social background.
- Many rulers became patrons of Islam, supporting the ulama (learned theologians and jurists).
- Interpretations of Islam varied among its followers, including differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims, as well as variations in law, theology, and mystic traditions.
VI. Thinking about Time and Historical Periods
1. Time as more than mere hours and years:
- Historians view time as more than a simple measure of hours, days, or years.
- Time reflects changes in social and economic organization, as well as the persistence and transformation of ideas and beliefs.
2. Dividing the past into periods:
- Historians divide the past into large segments or periods that possess shared characteristics.
- This division helps in studying and understanding the progression of time.
3. Outdated periodization of Indian history:
- In the mid-nineteenth century, British historians divided Indian history into three periods based solely on the religion of rulers: “Hindu,” “Muslim,” and “British.”
- This division neglected other significant developments in the economy, society, and culture, and overlooked the rich diversity of the subcontinent.
- Modern historians do not follow this periodization anymore and focus on economic and social factors instead.
4. Introduction to medieval history:
- Previous history studies (in class 6) included early societies such as hunter-gatherers, early farmers, town and village dwellers, and early empires and kingdoms.
- The upcoming studies (in class 7) will focus on the “medieval” period.
- The medieval period covers the spread of peasant societies, the rise of regional and imperial state formations, the development of Hinduism and Islam as major religions, and the arrival of European trading companies.
5. Challenges with describing the medieval period:
- Describing the entire medieval period as one historical unit has its problems.
- The period lasted for a thousand years and witnessed significant changes.
- The contrast between “medieval” and “modern” suggests a lack of change during the medieval period, but this is not accurate.
6. Transformation and prosperity during a thousand years:
- Over the course of a thousand years, the societies of the Indian subcontinent underwent frequent transformations.
- Economies in several regions reached levels of prosperity that attracted the interest of European trading companies.
8. The importance of recognizing change and continuity:
- While reading, it is essential to observe signs of change and understand historical processes at work.
- Comparisons with previous studies can help identify changes and continuities.
- Observing changes and continuities in the world around us further enhances our understanding of history.