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History of medieval india

History of medieval india

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History of Medieval India

Subhadeep Mitra 11/29/2010

History of Medieval India
Executive Summary

The classical age was acknowledged for the development of the artistic, educational, military and scientific exploits which after its beginning continued to leave its mark over the preceding generations. Significant achievements in these fields marked the importance and enhanced its reputation in the whole history of the Classical age. Religion underwent a synthesis and major sectarian deities, image worshipping and devotionalism and temples gained grounds. Religious life became more enriched with music, classical dances, and religious literary works and so on. Subjects like grammar, astronomy and other scientific fields were dealt in an advanced manner with specialization being done on them. Classical age in India is also revered for its contributions in the field of mathematics and astronomy, as being the first to replace the roman system with the Indian numeral system. `Decimal` system is again one such invention of this era. Charaka and Sushruta were the two exponents who excelled in the medical field. Indians also excelled in pharmacopoeia, bone setting, caesarean section and skin grafting procedures. Followed by the Classical age was Gujara-Pratihara. They were followed by Pala Dynasty then by Rastakuta Empire, then Islam and finally the Mughals. The country witnessed a drastic change in culture & civilization, trade patterns, society and technology.


History of Medieval India

Table of Contents

Classical Age in India-Overview ..............................................................................................................4 Gujara Pratihara Empire ........................................................................................................................... 4 Pala Empire...............................................................................................................................................6 Rashtrakuta Empire .................................................................................................................................. 8 Islam Dynasty ........................................................................................................................................... 8 Mughal Dynasty...................................................................................................................................... 11 Conclusion ..............................................................................................................................................14 References...............................................................................................................................................15


History of Medieval India
Classical Age in India-Overview

The classical age was acknowledged for the development of the artistic, educational, military and scientific exploits which after its beginning continued to leave its mark over the preceding generations. Significant achievements in these fields marked the importance and enhanced its reputation in the whole history of the Classical age. Religion underwent a synthesis and major sectarian deities, image worshipping and devotionalism and temples gained grounds. Religious life became more enriched with music, classical dances, and religious literary works and so on. Subjects like grammar, astronomy and other scientific fields were dealt in an advanced manner with specialization being done on them. Classical age in India is also revered for its contributions in the field of mathematics and astronomy, as being the first to replace the roman system with the Indian numeral system. `Decimal` system is again one such invention of this era. Charaka and Sushruta were the two exponents who excelled in the medical field. Indians also excelled in pharmacopoeia, bone setting, caesarean section and skin grafting procedures. Gupta and Vardhan empires are both the pioneers and the nurturers of the Indian tradition under whom the classical age gained prominence and it excelled in various major fields. The Gupta rulers were versatile monarchs who built a large empire and even ruled it efficiently. They also consolidated the large northern India under one political banner, which was remarkable. They encouraged the development of trade and commerce, which multiplied the wealth of the country. Internal security was of high standard which allowed the smooth functioning of trade relations, maintenance of law and order and growth in the religious, cultural and economic prosperity of the people. They were the patrons of Gandhara School, which was in an indianised form, and aristocrats reserved a room as picture galleries known as `Chitrashala`. The Vardhan dynasty reached its zenith during the rule of Harshavardhana who was a great patron of art and also a scholar. He united different parts of India like Punjab, Bengal, Haryana and Orissa under his domain. Though a very young monarch in the beginning he very soon after his ascension transferred his capital from Thanesar to Kannauj and united both of them. Gujara Pratihara Empire
The Gurjara Pratihara Empire formed an Indian dynasty that ruled much of Northern India from the 6th to the 11th centuries. At its peak of prosperity and power (c. 836–910), it rivaled or even exceeded the Gupta Empire in the extent of its territory.The Gurjara Pratihara king in the tenth century was entitled as Maharajadhiraja of Aryavarta. People known as Gurjar Parihars claim descendant from Gurjar Pratihars. Gurjar is the name of a race. According to Georgian scholars, they came to India from Georgia of present Russia whereas some historians hold the view that Gurjars were local people of India who lived in obscurity before their rise on the political stage. Some scholars state that Gurjars received this epithet when some Chiefs of this community served as attendant (Pratihara) at a sacrifice performed by a Rashtrakuta monarch at Ujjain. Pratihara records


History of Medieval India
mention that their ancestor, Laxmana, acted as door keeper (pratihara) to his brother Ramachandra during exile so they came to known as Pratihara. Rulers of the dynasty

Gurjar pratihar rulers (650-1036 AD)
Dadda I-II-III (650 - 750)

Nagabhata I

(750 - 780)


(780 - 800)

Nagabhata II

(800 - 833)


(833 - 836)

Mihir Bhoja the Great

(836 - 890)

Mahendrapala I

(890 - 910)

Bhoj II

(910 - 913)

Mahipala I

(913 - 944)

Mahendrapala II

(944 - 948)


(948 - 954)


(954 - 955)

Mahipala II

(955 - 956)

Vijaypala II

(956 - 960)


(960 - 1018)


(1018 - 1027)

Jasapala (Yashpala)

(1024 - 1036)


History of Medieval India
Legacy of the Empire

Pointing out the importance of the Gurjara Pratihara empire in the history of India, Dr. R.C. Majumdar has observed, "the Gurjara Pratihara Empire which continued in full glory for nearly a century, was the last great empire in Northern India before the Muslim conquest. This honour is accorded to the empire of Harsha by many historians of repute, but without any real justification, for the Pratihara empire was probably larger, certainly not less in extent, rivalled the Gupta Empire and brought political unity and its attendant blessings upon a large part of Northern India. But its chief credit lies in its succecessful resistance to the foreign invasions from the west, from the days of Junaid. This was frankly recognised by the Arab writers themselves. Now there can be little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Muslims beyond the confines of Sindh, their first conquest for nearly three hundred years. In the light of later events this might be regarded as the "Chief contribution of the Gurjara Pratiharas to the history of India".

Pala Empire • • • • • Capital : Pataliputra, Gaur Languages : Pali, Sanskrit, Prakrit Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism Government : Monarchy King Historical Area : Middle Ages

The Pala Empire was a Buddhist dynasty as well as one of the major middle kingdoms of India that ruled from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The Palas were often described by opponents as the Lords of Gauda. The name Pala means protector and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs. The Palas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. After Shashanka's reign, Bengal was shrouded in obscurity and was shattered by repeated invasions. The social and political structure of Bengal was devastated. According to Taranatha: Every single Brahman, every Kshatriya, every Elite became all powerful in their areas and surrounding regions. Disgusted at the situation the desperate people of Bengal made a bold move which marked a glorious period in the history of the sub-continent. They elected Gopala, a popular military leader, as their king by a democratic election which was probably the only democratic election in medieval India. The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala and Devapala. Dharmapala extended the empire into the northern parts 6

History of Medieval India
of the Indian Subcontinent. This triggered once again the power struggle for the control of the subcontinent. Devapala, successor of Dharmapala, expanded the empire to cover much of South Asia and beyond. His empire stretched from Assam and Utkala in the east, Kamboja (modern day Afghanistan) in the north-west and Deccan in the south. Pala Administration Pala rule was Monarchial. King or Monarch was the centre of all power. Pala kings would adopt Imperial titles like Parameshwar, Paramvattaraka, Maharajadhiraja. Pala kings appointed Prime Ministers. The Line of Garga served as the Prime Ministers of the Palas for 100 years. Garga | Darvapani | Someshwar | Kedarmisra| Vatt Guravmisra Pala Empire was divided into separate Vuktis (Provinces), Vuktis into Vishaya (Divisions) and Mandala Districts. Smaller units were Khandala, Bhaga, Avritti, Chaturaka, and Pattaka. Administration covered widespread area from the grass root level to the imperial court. The Pala copperplates mention following administrative posts:Raja, Rajanyaka, Rajanaka, Ranaka, Samanta andMahasamanta (Vassalkings), Mahasandhivigrahika (Foreign minister), Duta (Head ambassador), Rajasthaniya (Deputy), Aggaraksa (Chief guard), Sasthadhikrta (Tax collector), Chauroddharanika (Police tax), Shaulkaka (Trade tax), Dashaparadhika (Collector of penalties. Agricultural posts like Gavadhakshya (Head of dairy farms), Chhagadhyakshya (Head of goat farms), Meshadyakshya (Head of sheep farms), Mahishadyakshya (Head of Buffalo farms). Economic Life The main source of income during the Pala period was agriculture products of the land granted to them. Rice, sugarcane, mango, bamboo were the most important agricultural products. During the Pala period paddy production became the chief source of economy for Bengal. Mineral resources were abundant during the Pala period. Iron ore was available in plenty. Using this iron ore they used to make double edged sword. Silk industry was booming at that point of time. They used to trade with countries like Ceylon, Arabia, Persia and China. Other industries like gold smithy produced gold and silver ornaments and plates. Trade was done using copper coins.

Pala art and Sculpture The most brilliant side of the Pala Empire was the excellence of its art and sculptures. Palas created a distinctive form of Buddhist art known as the "Pala School of Sculptural Art." The gigantic structures of Vikramshila Vihar, Odantpuri Vihar, and Jagaddal Vihar were masterpieces of the Palas. The Nalanda 7

History of Medieval India
University which is considered one of the first great universities in recorded history, reached its height under the patronage of the Palas.

Rashtrakuta Empire • • • •

Capital Language(s) Religion Government

: : : :

Manyakheta Kannada, Sanskrit Hindu, Jain Monarchy King

Islam Dynasty

The main ISLAM dynasties during medieval India were.  Slave dynasty (1206-90)    Khalji dynasty (1290-1320) Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413) Sayyid dynasty (1414-51)

 Lodi dynasty(1451-1526). Impact on Property The Arabs conquered Sindh in 712 AD and ruled it as a province of the Caliphate. By the 9th Century AD, provincial governors established independent rule and struck their own coins. However, it was with the emergence of Turkish Sultans of Delhi in the 12th Century that a decisive break was made with the past and the existing motifs were gradually replaced by Islamic devices, largely calligraphy. The unit of account came to be consolidated and was referred to as the 'tanka' with the 'jittals' as the smaller value coins. With the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526 AD) came the attempt at standardisation. This period was marked by a considerable expansion of the money economy. Coins were struck in gold, silver and copper. In the monetary system, the equation between gold and silver was probably at 1:10. The Khilji rulers issued coins 8

History of Medieval India
in abundance with grandiloquent titles (Ala-ud-din Khilji struck coins assuming the title 'Sikandar al Sani', the second Alexander) as well as honorific epithets for mints (the Delhi mint bore titles 'Hazrat Dar-alKhilafat, etc.). The coins of the Tughlaqs (1320-1412 AD) were superior in design and execution to those of the Khiljis. Muhammed bin Tughlaq (1325-1351 AD), took personal interest in his coinage, however, his monetary experiments were a failure and the cause of much misery. The first experiment was to make his coinage reflect the gold/silver price ratio prevailing in the free market. When this experiment failed the old gold and silver coins of about 11 grams were reintroduced. The next experiment was inspired by Chinese paper currency which had spurred the development of trade and commerce. Tughlaq attempted to establish a fiduciary system of coinage between 1329 to 1332 AD. He attempted to issue tokens of brass and copper. These tokens bore the legends such as : 'Sealed as a tanka of fifty ganis' together with appeals such as 'He who obeys the Sultan, obeys the Compassionate'. Mass forgeries rendered the experiment a total disaster and Tughlaq, to his credit, redeemed all tokens, forged or genuine, in specie. It may be noted that the experiments of Tughlaq were genuine experiments: while they were forced on the populace, they were not dictated by a bankrupt treasury. Gold coins were issued in very large numbers during the reign of Muhammed bin Tughlaq, thereafter gold coins became scarce. By the time of the Lodhis, coins were struck almost exclusively of copper and billon. In the provinces, the Bengal Sultans, the Jaunpur Sultans, the Bahamanis of the Deccan, the Sultans of Malwa, the Sultans of Gujarat, etc. struck coins. In the South,however, the Vijayanagar Empire evolved coinage of different metrology and design which was to remain as a standard in the region and influence coin design up to the 19th Century Social Impact of Islam Although as a religious faith, Islam is commonly believed to provide for the "equality" of all believers, the Quran and the Hadith bith justify the second-class or third class treatment of non-believers and infidels. thta is why there is considerable evidence that most Hindus experienced considerable downward mobility as a consequene of the Islamic invasions. Only those social groupings that actively collaborated with the alien rulers were able to maintain their wealth and status (or in some cases, move up the ladder). The general bias towards trade, and the trend towards higher taxes on the peasantry led to far greater concentrations of wealth amongst the social elite. Not only did the distance between rich and poor widen with the arrival of the Islamic invaders, Islamic rulers did not contribute in any meaningful way to breaking down the caste system. Hence, it would be wrong to exaggerate the "egalitarian" character of Islam versus the "discriminatory and sedentary " character of caste-driven Hinduism. As some historians have pointed out - those who earned their living by "unclean tasks" (such as corpse-handling, tanning/leather work, or janitorial work) were often treated with disdain by both the Islamic and Hindu elite. The majority of the Islamic conquerors and ruling dynasties refrained from close social interaction and marriage with the local artisans and working castes just as much as did Brahmins or Kshatriyas. It 9

History of Medieval India
would also be wrong to argue that caste rigidity was uniformly enforced in 'Hindu' India. Many of India's greatest ruling dynasties sprang from lower castes or socially "inferior" mixed castes. The Nandas were shudras, the Mauryas hailed from a mixed caste, and Harsha was a Vaishya. The Rajputs were of Central Asian stock and became accepted as Kshatriya after they had established their power. And just like the Muslims, the Kalingas of Orissa allowed anyone to join their armies and rise to the top by demonstrating their skills in battle. Moreover the Vaishnava and Bhakti movements had already been popularizing the notion that spiritual devotion superceded caste in terms of gaining salvation. Hence, Islam did not offer anything that was substantially new or more radical to the majority of India's Hindus and this is why the majority did not convert to Islam. Just as the impact of Islam varied considerably, it would be wrong to generalize about pre-Islamic India. Caste rigidity and Brahminical conservatism were not uniform or allprevalent features of the sub-continent. Had Islam offered a truly radical alternative to the Indian masses, a much greater proportion of the Indian population would have converted. IMPACT ON TRADE Islam's impact was the most notable in the expansion of trade. The first contact of Muslims with India, was the Arab attack on a nest of pirates near modern-day Bombay, to safeguard their trade in the Arabian Sea. Around the same time many Arabs settled at Indian ports, giving rise to small Muslim communities. the growth of these communities was not only due to conversion, but also the fact that many Hindu kings of south India (such as those from Cholas) hired Muslims as mercenaries. While southern India was already in trade with Arabs/Muslims, northern India found new opportunities. As the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of Asia were subjugated by Islam, and as Islam spread through Africa - it became a highly centralizing force that facilitated in the creation of a common legal system that allowed letters of credit issued in say Egypt or Tunisia to be honoured in India or Indonesia. In order to cement their rule, Muslim rulers initially promoted a system in which there was a revolving door between the clergy, the administrative nobility and the mercantile classes. The travels of explorer Muhammad IbnAbdullah Ibn-Batuta were eased because of this system. He served as an Imam in Delhi, as a judicial official in the Maldives, and as an envoy and trader in the Malabar. There was never a contradiction in any of his positions because each of these roles complemented the other. Islam created a compact under which political power, law and religion became fused in a manner so as to safeguard the interests of the mercantile class. This led world trade to expand to the maximum extent possible in the medieval world. Sher Shah Suri took initiatives in improvement of trade by abolishing all taxes which hindered progress of free trade. He built large networks of roads and constructed Grand Trunk Road (1540–1544), which connected Calcutta to Kabul, of which parts of it are still in use today. 10

History of Medieval India
Islam and the spread of technology With the growth of international trade also came the spread of manufacturing technology and a more advanced urban culture. Local inventions and regional technologies became more easily globalized. This was of profound importance to those parts of the world that had lagged in terms of technological development. On the other hand, for a nation like India which had had a rich intellectual tradition of its own, and was already a relatively advanced civilization, this may have been of lesser import. Nevertheless, no country has a lock on technology, and to the extent that the arrival of Islam was concomitant with the adoption of new technologies it helped India too. The use of ceramic tiles in construction was inspired by architectural traditions prevalent in Iraq, Iran, and in Central Asia. Rajasthan's blue pottery was an adaptation of Chinese pottery which was imported in large quantities by the Mughal rulers. There is also the example of Sultan Abidin (1420-70) sending Kashmiri artisans to Samarqand to learn book-binding and paper making.But regardless of whether the Islamic rulers introduced new technology or not, there is considerable evidence that many Islamic rulers developed Karkhanas - i.e. small factories during their reign. Of even greater significance is how new towns that specialized in a particular category of manufactured goods emerged throughout the country. Khurja and Siwan became renowned for pottery, Moradabad for brass ware, Mirzapur for carpets, Firozabad for glass wares, Farrukhabad for printing, Sahranpur and Nagina for wood-carving, Bidar and Lucknow for bidriware, Srinagar for papier-mache, Benaras for jewelry and textiles, and so on.In part this came about because even Babar (who held India in great disdain) was compelled to acknowledge the great variety of artisan skills that were available in India.

Mughal Dynasty

• • • • • •

Capital: Agra; Delhi; Fatehpur Sikri Language: Persian Religion: Sunni Islam Govt.: Absolute monarchy Currency: Rupee Succeeded by: Hindu Maratha Empire 11

History of Medieval India

The Mughal Empire or Mogul (also Moghul) Empire in former English usage was an Indian imperial power that ruled a large portion of the Indian subcontinent. It began in 1526, invaded and ruled most of India by the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and ended in the mid-19th century. The Mughal Emperors were descendants of the Timurids, and at the height of their power around 1700, they controlled most of the Indian Subcontinent—extending from Bengal in the east to Balochistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 150 million, over a territory of over 3.2 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles). The "classic period" of the Empire started in 1556 with the accession of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, better known as Akbar the Great. It ended with the death and defeat of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 by the rising Hindu Maratha Empire, although the dynasty continued for another 150 years. During this period, the Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions. All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period which was characterised by the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and architectural results. Following 1725 the empire declined rapidly, weakened by wars of succession, agrarian crises fueling local revolts, the growth of religious intolerance, the rise of the Maratha, Durrani, and Sikh empires and finally British colonialism. The last king, Bahadur Zafar Shah II, whose rule was restricted to the city of Delhi, was imprisoned and exiled by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The name Mughal is derived from the original homelands of the Timurids, the Central Asian steppes once conquered by Genghis Khan and hence known as Moghulistan, "Land of Mongols". Although early Mughals spoke the Chagatai language and maintained Turko-Mongol practices, they were essentially Persianized. They transferred the Persian literature and culture to India, thus forming the base for the Indo-Persian culture. A major Mughal contribution to the Indian subcontinent was their unique architecture. Many monuments were built by the Muslim emperors, especially Shahjahan, during the Mughal era including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Taj Mahal, which is known to be one of the finer examples of Mughal architecture. Other World Heritage Sites includes the Humayun's Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri, Red Fort, Agra Fort, and Lahore Fort.


History of Medieval India
The palaces, tombs, and forts built by the dynasty stands today in Delhi, Aurangabad, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Jaipur, Lahore, Kabul, Sheikhupura, and many other cities of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. With few memories of Central Asia, Babur's descendents absorbed traits and customs of the Indian Subcontinent, and became more or less naturalised. TRADE Trade in Mughal India was quite large and diversified and included huge number of people. New trade routes to Arab and Turkic lands were opened. The chief Imports were gold, ivory, raw silks, horses, perfumes, precious stones. The main exports included spices, opium, textiles, indigo. One of the most significant industry was that one of the Cotton cloth making industry, along with shipbuilding, iron & steel. Foreign trade was a significant part of the economy. The customs duty was very low (3.5%) during that period. Active trade also existed on and along the Ganga river and Yamuna river upto the city of Agra. Pepper was one of the most important articles of trade and commerce on the western coast. SOCIETY The Indian economy remained as prosperous under the Mughal as it was, because of the creation of a road system and a uniform currency, together with the unification of the country. Manufactured goods and peasant-grown cash crops were sold throughout the world. Key industries included shipbuilding (the Indian shipbuilding industry was as advanced as the European, and Indians sold ships to European firms), textiles, and steel. The Mughals maintained a small fleet, which merely carried pilgrims to Mecca, imported a few Arab horses in Surat. Debal in Sindh was mostly autonomous. The Mughals also maintained various river fleets of Dhows, which transported soldiers over rivers and fought rebels. Among its admirals were Yahya Saleh, Munnawar Khan, and Muhammad Saleh Kamboh. The Mughals also protected the Siddis of Janjira. Its sailors were renowned and often voyaged to China and the East African Swahili Coast, together with some Mughal subjects carrying out private-sector trade. Cities and towns boomed under the Mughals; however, for the most part, they were military and political centres, not manufacturing or commerce centres. Only those guilds which produced goods for the bureaucracy made goods in the towns; most industry was based in rural areas. The Mughals also built Maktabs in every province under their authority, where youth were taught the Quran and Islamic lawsuch as the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri in their indigenous languages. The nobility was a heterogeneous body; while it primarily consisted of Rajput aristocrats and foreigners from Muslim countries, people of all castes and nationalities could gain a title from the emperor. The middle class of openly affluent traders consisted of a few wealthy merchants living in the coastal towns; the bulk of the merchants pretended to be poor to avoid taxation. The bulk of the people were poor. The 13

History of Medieval India
standard of living of the poor was as low as, or somewhat higher than, the standard of living of the Indian poor under the British Raj; whatever benefits the British brought with canals and modern industry were neutralized by rising population growth, high taxes, and the collapse of traditional industry in the nineteenth century. TECHNOLOGY Fathullah Shirazi (c. 1582), a Persian-Indian polymath and mechanical engineer who worked for Akbar the Great in the Mughal Empire, developed a volley gun. Considered one of the most remarkable feats in metallurgy, the seamless globe was invented in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in 998 AH (1589–90 CE), and twenty other such globes were later produced in Lahore and Kashmir during the Mughal Empire. Before they were rediscovered in the 1980s, it was believed by modern metallurgists to be technically impossible to produce metal globes without any seams, even with modern technology. Another famous series of seamless celestial globes was produced using a lost-wax casting method in the Mughal Empire in 1070 AH (1659–1960 CE) by Muhammad Salih ahtawi with Arabic and Persian inscriptions. It is considered a major feat in metallurgy. These Mughal metallurgists pioneered the method of wax casting while producing these seamless globes. Conclusion

The medieval history of India is largely dominated by incidents of foreign rule and invasion due to lack of stability in Indian rulers. The country witnessed a drastic change in culture & civilization, trade patterns, society and technology. During the classical period of Indian history India have been estimated to have the largest economy of the ancient and medieval world, controlling between one third and one fourth of the world's wealth up to the 18th century.


History of Medieval India

References • • • • http://www.wikipwdia.org/History_of_India http://www.indianchild.com/gupta_empire.htm http://www.indianetzone.com/5/the_classical_age.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquest_in_the_Indian_subcontinent#Impact_of_Islam_and_ Muslims_in_Indiahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_India • http://india_resource.tripod.com/islam.html


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