HISTORY OF INDIA FROM C. 300 C.E. TO 1206
IGNOU BHIC 132 Solved Free Assignment
BHIC 132 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Discuss the achievements of samudragupta on the basis of Prayagraj inscription.
Ans. The Allahabad pillar, Prayagaprasasti inscription enumerates the people and countries that were conquered by Samudragupta and also that Chandragupta-I declared his son Samudragupta as his successor.
Though Samudragupta was not the eldest son, yet Chandragupta made him his successor due to his ability and power of character.
As per one interpretation, the brothers of Samudragupta revolted and replaced Kacha, the eldest brother. However, he died in the war of succession.
Another view mentions that their coins were issued by Samudragupta in the memory of his brother. A third view mentions Kacha as the initial name of Samudragupta and the later name was adopted only after the conquest of south.
Samudragupta had an aggressive policy of conquests in order to expand Gupta kingdom.
He allowed the defeated kings to rule over their regions in order to tackle the problems relating to effective control of the distant areas.
The campaigns launched by Samudragupta are given in the Prayagaprasasti of Harisena.
Samudragupta carried his victorious campaign of Aryavarta in north India and defeated Achyuta, Nagasena and Kota-Kulaja. As per Prayagaprasasti, twelve rulers from dakshinapantha or south India were defeated by Samudragupta.
Samudragupta captured Dakshinapantha kings and then released them (moksha). Virasen was the army commander in the famous Southern campaign of Samudragupta.
In case of Aryavata kings of North India, he not only defeated them but also annexed their territories integrating them into the Gupta Empire.
Many other kingdoms accepted the sovereignty of Samudragupta, offered daughters in marriage and requested to independently administer their areas.
The script on Ashoka Pillar of Allahabad contains the political condition of the nation and the success of Samudragupta, describing him as the hero of hundred battles.
Samudragupta performed Asvamedha Yajna to claim imperial title and struck gold coins of yupa type to commemorate the occasion.
He also granted permission to Buddhist king of Ceylon, Meghavarman to build a monastery at Bodh Gaya. He was a great patron of art and poets like Harisena and Vasubandhu were in his court.
Though a follower of the Brahmanical religion but was tolerant towards other faiths. The empire of Samudragupta included areas of Chhattisgarh and Odissa along eastern coast plus Vinganpat in south and even farther areas.
He expanded it to cover
Brahmaputra in east, till Narmada in south and uptil Himalaya and Kashmir in north and during the mid 4th century, regions of most fertile land and population were under his empire.
He released many currencies showing his merits and karma. Apart from being a great winner, warrior and musician, he was a successful administrator as well.
He not only founded a huge empire, rather organized it and established strong centralized administrative mechanism.
He initiated knight system to run his huge empire. He placed the distant areas of the empire to his knights to carry out work as his representatives.
His main commander was known as Mahabaladhikrit and the Chief Justice was called Mahadandnayak. Even long after the death of Samudragupta, there was peace and law and order in the kingdom.
Q. 2. Discuss the nature of conflicts amongst the powers of South India. What role did the minor kings play in it?
Ans. The Sangam period was about to close in Tamil Nadu and Kerala by the end of the 3rd century.
Thereafter, the earliest period belonged to the Pallavas. The Kanchi region was not under their effective control and they were pushed north by a tribes called Kalabhras.
Since the end of the Sangam period to the mid-sixth century A.D., Tamilnadu and Kerala were mainly dominated by Kalabhras who were against the Brahmanical institutions and favoured Buddhism and Jainism.
They ended the rule of the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas. The Chalukyas of Badami, the Pallavas of Kanchi, and the Pandyas of Madura mainly dominated the political scenario of the Deccan and South India starting from the mid-sixth century A.D.
There were frequent fights between the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas, and between Pandyas and the Pallavas during this period.
Pulakesin-II defeated Mahendravarman and occupied the northern part of Pallava kingdom. He also defeated the Banas (feudatories of Pallavas) in a different campaign and threatened Kanchi.
He was defeated in battles by Narasimhavarman-I, who had succeeded Mahend-ravarman and then the former attacked the Chalukyas and captured Badami.
Vikramidaditya-I, son of Pulkesin-II drove out the Pallavas, formed an alliance with the Pandyas and repeatedly attacked into Pallava territory. One of his successors, Vikramaditya-II, overrun and looted Kanchi thrice.
The Pallavas had to engage in battles with the Pandyas too, not just because because they were situated between Chalukyas and Pandyas but because they were the most prosperous.
Always the Chalukyas attacked the Pallavas and the later drove them back into their territory except once when Narasimhavarman-I raided into Chalukyan kingdom and occupied its capital.
Pallava Paramesvaravarman-I again attacked Chalukyan kingdom wanting to get rid of the Chalukyan forces occupying his kingdom by diverting their attention.
Pandyas fought repeatedly with the Pallavas for the control of the Kaveri delta because they realized that if they wanted to be rich and powerful, they must control the rich Kaveri delta.
By early ninth century A.D. they got control of the area.
Minor kings were also got engaged in the conflicts of regional kingdoms as allies of one or the other power.
Before attacking Narasimhavarman-I, Pulakesin-II had to subdue Banas (allies of the Pallavas).
Also, Pallava general Udayachandra was engaged in battles with Sabara king Udayana and Nishada chieftain Prithvivyaghra who sided with the Chalukyas.
Although, these allies were not worthy of attention because each small kingdom by itself was insignificant but taken together, they were a political force to reckon with in the Deccan and south India.
During fourth century to ninth century A.D., no king was able to establish hold in this area and political disunity was the norm despite the efforts of many kings, mainly because of the broken geography of southern India.
The kingdom of the Chalukyas of Lata was came up as a result of the Pallava-Chalukya conflict.
There was a great confusion and disorder in the Chalukya kingdom because of the occupation of Badami by Narasimhavarman and the death of Pulakesin-II.
In order to restore unity and to drive out the Chalukyas, Vikramaditya-I was immensely helped by his brother Jayasimhavarman for which the former rewarded the later by giving him south Gujarat.
Q. 3. Write an essay on the social structure of post Gupta period.
Ans. The Brahmanas: Many castes emerged among the brahmanas. Those Brahmanas who came in contact with the aboriginals or those who did not fully avoid physical labour remained degraded in the eyes of the srotriya agrahara brahmanas who were not doing any manual labour.
Also, due to migration of brahmanas to various regions for the enjoying land grants
also speeded up the process of caste and sub-caste formation within the varna.
Immigrant brahmanas retained their identity which provided the basis for differentiation.
Many tribes when transformed into castes continued their tribal priests and their recognition as degraded brahmanas.
Brahmanas who stood close to political power, formed a different section and their eminent position led to the formation of different ranks within the brahmana varna.
The Kshatriyas: There was a proliferation of the kshatriyas caste due to the emergence of new ruling houses from among the local tribes and also from the incorporation of foreign ethnic groups, having political power, in the society.
Some of the foreign ethnic groups were included in the varna system as second class kshatriyas.
Due to the norm that the kshatriyas alone could rule, forced ruling houses to seek kshatriya hood with brahmanical support in order to have popular acceptance for their rule.
From fifth-sixth centuries, many tribal chiefs were transformed into Hinduised rajas with approval of the brahmanas whom they patronized and by performing Vedic sacrifices and with this, kshatriya castes multiplied.
The Pallavas and Chalukyas of peninsular India, Palas of Bengal and Bihar, etc. had tribal origins and thereafter most Rajputs also emerged from a tribal/ pastoral base.
Kayasthas: The kayastha community came up due to the need for employing scribes or record keepers in connection with matters relating to land grants to brahmanas etc., which involved complex administrative functions such as draft assignment of land, keeping details of land transfer, items of revenue, etc.
Record maintenance of individual plots became necessary for settling partition disputes and land records were needed to be maintained with complete details.
This difficult work was done by writers who were known as kayastha, karana, karanika, pustapala, chitragupta, etc. Gradually, record keepers as a community were known as Kayasthas.
Initially, educated upper Varna members were working as Kayasthas but later, scribes from different varnas began to limit their social interaction to members of their profession and started practising community endogamy (marrying within community) and family exogamy (marrying outside a community) by which castes were formed within Kayasthas.
The Sudras: Different groups from various communities and regions expanded the base of the sudra varna and petty peasant castes, rich peasants. share-croppers and artisanal castes having unequal access to economic power, were included in the sudra varna during the Gupta and post-Gupta period.
The Untouchables: Around the 3rd century A.D. onwards, untouchability practice intensified with rising number of untouchables.
During the Gupta and post Gupta period, many new castes were included as untouchables and hunters, some groups of artisans, backward agriculturists, etc. untouchables.
By the first millennium fishermen, butchers, executioners and scavengers appear as untouchables.
Detailed account of the social disabilities imposed on them has been given by Kalidasa, Varahamihira, Fahsien, Bana and others. There also emerged a caste hierarchy among the untouchables.
Although the reasons for such rapid growth of untouchables during this period are difficult to be listed, yet, brahmanical and Buddhist sources explain that most untouchable castes were originally backward tribes which due to their backwardness and resistance to assimilation and brahmanization were pushed to the position of untouchables.
The untouch-ables normally did not have land, they remained outside villages, could not become peasants, performed menial jobs and were available during peak periods of agricultural activity, thus providing which the society required but remained socially condemned.
There was a major change was taking place in the social structure of the four varnas by which a large part of sudras were rising in social and economic status by associating with agriculture and some sections of vaisyas at the lower end were descending to the level of the sudras, creating a change in the relative positions of the two lower varnas.
The sudras came up as tenants, share-croppers and cultivators. Hiuen Tsang has also mentioned agriculture to be the duty of the sudras.
With the Indian foreign trade in the post-Mauryan times, the vaisyas were identified with urban occupations and towns but in the post-Gupta period, they suffered economic losses and social degradation.
Due to which many vaisyas shifted to agriculture and the lower strata of the vaisyas, the free peasant landholders till the Gupta period were reduced to a state of dependence. Due to this, the distinction between the vaisyas and the sudras got blurred and in some writing of the later period, both of them were clubbed together.
With the decline of urban centres, many groups of artisans/craftsmen lost status and many were regarded as untouchables. Further by the turn of the millennium, weavers, tailors, barbers, shoemakers, washermen and few others were rendered untouchables.
Though some of these groups were having a high social position during the Gupta period, but during this period, they lost their position.
Q. 4. Explain the emergence of Rajputs during the early medieval period.
Ans. The word Rajput means son of a king and it includes a cluster of castes, kin bodies and local groups who share the social status and ideology of genealogical descent originating from the Indian subcontinent.
The term Rajput acquired its present meaning only in the 16th century but it describes the lineages that came up in northern India during the period from 6th century onwards.
In the 11th century, the term Rajaputra meant a non-hereditary designation for royal officials but with the passage of time, the Rajputs emerged as a social class which included people from different ethnic and geographical backgrounds.
Thus, the focus in the study of early medieval polity has moved away from the dynastic history of ‘Rajput’ kingdoms to the analysis of the factors which led to the emergence of state structure comprising of local ruling clans.
The formation of ruling lineages is regarded as a ‘process’ which emerged and was strengthened by the alleged ascription of Kshatriya status by these ruling clans.
The Rajput ruling lineages gained at the expense of the tribal groups. Various traditions mentioned either in the inscriptions or the heroic poems refer to the migration of Guhilas from Gujarat to Rajasthan and depict them as the successors of the tribal chiefdom of the Bhils.
The improved agricultural techniques encouraged settlement of new territories and the gradual transformation from tribalism to state polity.
An important feature of this period was the process of social mobility within Varna hierarchy. The Gurjaras of Gujarat were feudatories of the Valabhi king.
The Cahahamana genealogy refers to the term Samanta which proves that they were feudatories of Gurjara Pratiharas and the term naradeva or nrpa (king) indicates their transformation to autonomous status.
The above examples illustrate how the Rajputisation process took place within the prevailing graded state structure
An important characteristic of Rajput polity was the distribution of land among the Rajput clans which led to the emergence of large estates.
It appears that military prowess was an important factor which helped these clans in becoming ruling powers.
The Rajput ruling clans got proliferated either through segmentation (sub-divided into sub-clan) or through assimilation with the local elements.
The land assignments were an important feature of the polity under the Pratiharas and their feudatories. Land was bestowed upon the Brahmins and temples by the Pratihara kings.
These grants were virtually held in perpetuity. However, these grants did not clarify the exact nature of economic and administrative privileges and these led to the emergence of landed intermediaries between the ruling group and the peasants.
Religious endowments were commonly prevalent in the territories of feudatories of Pratiharas. The religious grantees were given the responsibility of maintaining law and order and collection of revenue.
The territories held by feudatories and Mahasamantas were administered by them through their sub- feudatories.
Q. 5. Outline the main features of tripartite struggle between the Gurjara-Pratiharas, Palas and Rastrakutas.
Ans. The struggle for control over Kannauj and for establishing control over northern India among these three dynasties is known as the tripartite struggle in Indian history.
Both Dharmpala, the Pala king and Pratihara king, Vatsaraja clashed against each other for Kannauj.
Though the Rahtrakutas won under the reign of Dhruv in the beginning of the struggle, the death of Dhruva brought about chaos in the Rashtrakuta kingdom.
Dhruva’s son Govinda III was busy in a struggle against an alliance of twelve kings of south India. Within a meantime, Dharmpala took advantage of this and seized almost all important states of north India.
He managed to capture Kannauj and place his own nominee on the throne. In the assembly at Kannauj in the presence of vassal kings, he consecrated himself as the overlord of the whole of northern India.
But this situation did not last for long and the Pratiharas managed to recover under the leadership of Nagabhatta, the son and successor of Vatsaraja.
Nagabhatta emerged victorious and along with Kannauj, he successfully conquered several territories, including a large portion of the territories under the control of Dharmpala.
Now, Dharmpala took the help of the Rashtrakuta king, Govinda III, to control the advances of Nagabhatta.
Govinda III undertook a military expedition to north India to defeat Nagabhatta. However, even after establishing an empire that stretched from south to north Govinda III was unable to sustain due to internal conflicts within the empire.
In these circumstances, Dharmpala again managed to gain the upper hand and recovered his empire to a large extent.
Q. 6. The changing political scenorio in North India.
Ans. Early medieval India began after the end of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century, covering the Late Classical Age of Hinduism, collapse of the Harsha Empire in 7th century CE, the beginning of Imperial Kannauj ending in the 13th century with the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in Northern India and the end of the Later Cholas in Southern India.
During the period from the fifth century to the 13th century, Erauta sacrifices declined and traditions of Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism expanded in the royal courts.
During this period, some of India’s finest arts were developed along with the development of the main spiritual and philosophical systems in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
From the 8th to the 10th century, the Gurjara Pratiharas of Malwa, the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan contested for control of northern India.
Q. 7. The Pallava-Pandya conflicts.
Ans. There were frequent wars between the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas, and between Pandyas and the Pallavas during this period.
It started with the raid of Chalukyas Pulakesin-II who defeated Mahendra- varman and occupied the northern part of Pallava kingdom. He also defeated the Banas, the feudatories of the pallavas.
But he was defeated in by Narasimhavarman- I who had succeeded Mahendra- varman.
Narasimhavarman then attacked the Chalukyas, captured Badami and probably killed Pulakesin-II and the son of the later, Vikramaditya-I drove out the Pallavas, formed an alliance with the Pandyas and repeatedly raided into Pallava territory.
His successor, Vikramaditya-II overrun and looted Kanchi thrice. The Pallavas had to engage in battles with the Pandyas too. They were the target of attack because they were the most prosperous of all.
Pandyas fought repeatedly with the Pallavas for the control of the Kaveri delta. The Vaigai river valley of Pandyan kingdom was agriculturally poor and therefore, the Pandyas realised that they would have to control the rich Kaveri delta.
They were able to get control ofthis are by the early ninth century A.D.
Q. 8. Brahmadeya and Nagaram.
Ans. The category of brahmanas who were landholders in the agricultural tracts and those were granted tax free land constitute Brahmadeyas.
Nagaram comprised of traders who carried out trading and exchange activities in the pockets which had developed into commercial centres on account of the spurt in craft production and other activities carried out by artisans.
The Nadu was the smallest unit of revenue administration and was involved in the collection of tax and assessment.
The agricultural villages were clubbed together with a Taniyur. The body which looked after the work of administration was the Mulparusai.
The temple lands, cattle and other resources were taken care of by Sabha and its committees who supervised the temple functionaries and maintained a record of revenue collected and expenses incurred.
In the later phase of the Chola period, the Brahmadeya lost its importance and Nagaram settlement was a tract where traders and others (including artisans) lived.
The representative body of traders was known as Nagarattar and their committee was referred to as Nagaravariyam.
Q. 9. Emergence of Bhakti.
Ans. Religious practices had undergone significant changes during the period between 300 AD and 1206 AD.
During the pre-Gupta period, Buddhism also spread out of India, reached at the height of its glory and large scale Buddhist centers were constructed.
With the rising practice of land grants, puja organization grew and the puja was linked with the doctrine of bhakti or complete self-surrender of the individual to his God.
Major North Indian religions like Brahmanism, Jainism and Buddhism
reached the South.
The kings favoured Vedic rituals and theistic cults became rooted among people. The wave of religious enthusiasm peaked in the early seventh century.
The devotional theistic cults became stronger in the south and these were also recognized by royal patrons who supported Vaishnavism and Saivism.
With increasing patronage, the Bhakti movement became part of the establishment and all trances of dissent were removed in the tenth century A.D.
Bhakti was influenced by the Tamil devotionalism due joining of the local tribal cults and northern theistic schools.
Q. 10. Plunder of Mathura and Somnath by Mahmud.
Ans. Mahmud of Ghazni was the son of Sabuktigin, the founder of Ghazni dynasty and he ruled the Ghaznavid Empire from 997 C.E. onwards.
In this period, he made Ghazni the wealthy capital of an large empire including the areas of modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, most of Iran and parts of north-west India.
He changed the nature of sub-continental politics, religion, and culture by establishing Muslim rule on a large part of the Indian sub-continent. He invaded India 17 times during the period between 1000 and 1026.
He attacked Multan and Punjab and also looted the temples of Nagarkot, Thanesar, Mathura and Kannauj. In AD 1025, Mahmud he attacked the Somnath temple in Saurashtra and looted its wealth.
Muhammad Ghori attacked India to fulfill his expansionist ambitions. His main interest was in establishing a permanent empire in India and not merely looting its wealth.
His campaigns were well organised and after conquering any territory, he left a general behind to govern it in his absence.
His invasions led to the establishment of a permanent establishment of the Turkish Sultanate in this region.