TRADITIONS OF HISTORY WRITING IN INDIA
IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Explain embedded histories. Discuss how dana-stuti hymns, narasamsis and akhyans embody historical consciousness?
Ans. Early texts’ historical consciousness could be divided into two categories:
- The form was embedded. It had to be pry open because it was embedded in the texts’ overall structure. Origin stories, dana-stuti songs, and family trees of tribes with ancient ancestry are a few examples.
- Ritual writings were the main places they appeared. Their inclusion in ritual texts served the dual purposes of sanctifying them and preserving continuity.
Dana-Stuti Hymns: Dana-stuti hymns are found throughout the Rig Veda. Most of these hymns are in the Rig Veda’s seventh mandala. Kanvas brahmanas are their kin.
In later literature, the Kanvas were linked to Angirasas, who alongwith the Bhrgus kept past narratives.
We find regal eulogies on rulers’ excessive munificence in the Rig Veda. Next come gathas, narasamsis, and akhyanas.
The eulogising of gift-giving, according to Romila Thapar, is a record of what was supposed to have happened. The priest recounted the chief’s accomplishments and gifts.
The heroic deeds were wins against competing clans and chiefs or aryas and dasas battles. The priests’ chants praising the king’s kindness legitimised him.
The goal was to remember the raja’s actions so they could be used to secure the priests an equal or larger part of donations.
How did this material get into ceremonial texts? Thapar feels embedding prolonged the act. Their job was to get the past to approve the present.
The rajas were related to the older ones, legitimising them. Dakshina (sacrificial fees) came to symbolise the raja’s and priest’s favour.
Priests were given livestock, horses, camels, chariots, waggons, clothing, treasure chests, gold, dasis, etc. Later, older rajas were invoked for their magnificence.
For example, the rajasuya sacrifice began with a list of prior consecrated rajas, some of whom were yajamana in sacrifices. In later Brahmana literature, the older rajas were still invoked, though the language and practises had changed.
Gatha and Narasamsi: The gatha and narasamsi, which first appeared in the Rig Veda, have since developed into a floating mass of literature that attests to the presence of literary subgenres with a historical bent.
Both the gathas and the narasamsis were thought to have been written by ordinary humans and were not regarded as revelations of knowledge.
They were regarded as distinct from hymns. The references to royal eulogies, gathas, and narasamsis in the Rig Veda itself, in Pathak’s words, “clearly show the existence of an oral tradition of historical compositions which occasionally affected the fixed and written religious tradition.” IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Akhyanas: Rajas and heroes were honoured during the akhyanas. These tales or narratives were spoken aloud during sacrifice ceremonies.
They most likely existed at the time of the Rig Vedic culture. Despite being comparable to narasamsis, they had a different connotation.
They concentrated on questions of supremacy and sovereignty as part of the ritual. They were a hallmark of the rajasuya and ashvamedha sacrifice ceremonies.
The dana had already changed into dakshina at this point. Devasuram, which described the conflict between the Gods and demons, is one example of an akhyana.
The literature of the Brahmanas mentions it. Another instance was the priest reading the akhyana during the pariplava cycle of the ashvamedha sacrifice, which involved reading the stories for an entire year in cycles of ten days each.
The eulogies of the raja accounted for the majority of it. The horse sacrifices carried out by previous rajas are mentioned, and the “cycle consequently constituted a mechanism for remembering a history.
” Its intimate ties to the itihasa and purana are made clear by the fact that the eighth day of pariplava, the ten-day cycle of akhyanas, is set aside for itihasa and the ninth for purana. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
There developed a distinct class of literary men who were experts in akhyana literature.
Q. 2. How do bakhars help in understanding the past? Explain with examples.
Ans. Bakhars are prose historical narratives produced in the 16th century but mostly from the 17th to 19th centuries (Deshpande 2007: 20).
About 200 biographies, genealogy, and battle memoirs were written. Bakhars are greater literary than historical value.
Marathi prose with Regarding its etymological origin, there are numerous hypotheses. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
According to some, the word “bakhar” is a metathesis of the Arabic word “khabar,” which means “information,” and its origin may have been in the Perso-Arabic intelligence bulletins known as “akhbars” from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
According to S. N. Joshi, the word bakhar comes at the end of most texts, suggesting that it may have been derived from the Persian word khair or bakhair, which is used as a closing salutation in letters to convey that “everything is fine.”
A different group of academics, however, contends that the translation of bakhar should be akhyayika (story), as opposed to khabar as vaarta or news.
Its origins are ancient Puranic akhyayikas, which were regarded as literature or imaginative tales based on real-life people and events.
The point that is highlighted is that a writing can simultaneously recount historical events while also having literary worth (Deshpande 2007: 21).
Sumit Guha’s research on the social roots of bakhars from the 17th century on reveals that factual tales detailing local events and information originated through bureaucratic authority in a dual setting.
First, the Maratha administration collected information on tax rates and administrative arrangements after conquering frontier zones in the 1650s. This prompted hereditary officials to write detailed histories and memos.
Second, historical narratives helped settle legal conflicts over patrimonies in mediaeval Maharashtra (Guha 2004a: 1084-2004). Antiquity became sacrosanct in announcing the kingdom’s rights.
The narratives drew on family lists, ancestor actions, ancestral contributions, etc. Families wrote them to negotiate land and office grants with the Maratha administration. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
The tales placed land gifts and deeds in the context of well-known events to rebut opponents’ claims.
An early case from 1610 indicated that the term bakhar is used in the proceedings to mean simply a statement of fact (in this case, the location of the boundary) (Guha 2019: 84).
The local assembly that met in 1610 to resolve the boundary dispute between two villages of Pune district exemplifies this.
Islamic scholars and officials, Brahman bureaucrats, merchants, local gentry of various faiths, and substantial peasants were all present to resolve an issue. Most proceedings were held, in the open or in public places.
People of many classes would thus periodically gather to hear, debate, and renew local knowledge and common sense. Some of them stood forth as witnesses, plaintiffs, or respondents.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
In a largely non-literate society, such meetings were important in shaping and transmitting local and regional history.
The historiographic practise of writing bakhar involved drawing on different texts like older bakhars, administrative documents, public testimonies, Puranic knowledge, popular commemorative tradition of powadas which suggests that it was an exercise in producing inter-texuality (Deshpande 2007: 66).
Bakhars acknowledged the existence of multiple perspectives on the past.
Even though some narratives focussed on the idea of centralised and idealised political authority, they were organised along multiple locations of power.
In contrast, the interpretation of Maratha history in the colonial period aimed to produce a truthful and unitary narrative of the past since history and literature were deemed as different disciplines and the boundaries between historical and fictional narrative remained unclear (Deshpande 2007: 204-6).
Q. 3. What kind of historical consciousness is revealed through Sangam poems?
Ans. Tamil society is not an exception to Indian society’s reputation for its historical legacy. For many decades, the Tamil people have kept legends about their culture and history alive. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Giving ancient events a shady past based solely on literary evidence is still a common practise.
The historical and archaeological research conducted is used to demonstrate the extensive antiquity of Tamil civilization.
The diverse topics in the Sangam literature provide compelling proof of historical communal memory.
Poems that directly or indirectly reflect historical tradition for a modern audience have a place in the collective memory of the past.
The memory is selective, and tales of modern society do not necessarily reflect the entirety of the past. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Only those events are assigned prominence that society will remember or those it wants future generations to remember.
Both types of classical poetry have historical precedents as well as modern accounts of historical facts.
Tolkappiyam, the extant ancient Tamil grammar book, makes 240 references to earlier works without mentioning the works’ titles, demonstrates the existence of a precedent and established rules prior to the codification of grammar rules.
Although the Sangam works are regarded as the expressions of the bards who had praised the worldly exploits of the kings or the love situations (Puram and Akam), they have also, whether consciously or unconsciously, recorded historical events that have occurred in the past or episodes from their own times.
The poems reveal historical occurrences as-well-as modern cultural narratives. The accounts of the present day take precedence over those of the past. This Unit discusses these two aspects of historical consciousness.
(a) A description of the historical past, including discussion of the monarchs legendary ancestry and references to historical occurrences like invasions and Vedic sacrifices.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
(b) Historical accounts that detail developments and occasions as observed by minstrels, poets, and bard.
In the case of Puram songs, these storylines are typically intertwined in the poetry directly, while in the case of Akam songs, indirectly.
Q. 4. Discuss Firishta’s concept of history?
Ans. Firishta cites the story of Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud and his astrologer Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (d. 1050), brought down by Mulla Ishaq Sirhindi, to develop principles for excellent ruler-courtier behaviour.
Al-‘indecent’ Biruni’s behaviour towards the sultan, whom he frankly informs that the sultan’s planned acts were purposefully deceiving, is the story’s punchline.
As the sultan is used to flattery and praise instead of criticism, he imprisons the astrologer and explains his conduct by saying, ‘The perfect sage should also grasp dispositions: Emperors are like children, and thus one must talk appropriately to their character.’IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
The stories of Sultan Mahmud and al-Biruni and Sultan Firuz’s open court serve a deeper purpose.
In contrast to the Ghaznavid paradigm of an irascible ruler unaccustomed to criticism, the Bahmani Sultan is a knowledgeable and responsible king who values truth over sugarcoating.
The historian Firishta seeks to advise the ruler and his courtiers at the court of Ibrahim Adil Shah II on courtly behaviour: Rulers should be fair in their dealings with dignitaries, and courtiers should refrain from criticising their Sultan if he is not as fair as Shah Firuz in the story.
Historians often used Persian poetry, plain speech, and aphorisms to clarify moral issues.
In history books like Firishta’s History, instructions about moral behaviour were frequently conveyed as stories about righteous rulers (or individuals in general) and wicked and unrighteous kings. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Firishta does not merely regurgitate what his sources say, but gathers knowledge about events and kings according to his own narrative, blending it with non-Indian epic works such as Firdawsi’s Shahnama written in Iran around 1000 and the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Q. 5. Write a note on nature of nationalists writings. Do you agree that nationalists’ writings emerged to counter colonial historiography?
Ans. Nationalist historical literature depict Indians’ endeavours to portray India’s tradition and culture accurately. Since the late 19th century, nationalists have used historical source analysis to debunk the colonial narrative.
Indians appreciated British historical studies and ideas, but also questioned the Eurocentric perspective and created a rival narrative of India’s past based on ancient Indian scriptures and other historical sources. Pride in national glory helps rebuild national self-esteem.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Nationalist writings showed imperialist bias in history texts and helped develop public opinion against colonial rulers’ dividing strategy.
Nationalist historiography fueled the independence struggle by analysing imperialism’s economic effects. Swami Vivekananda lectured to young men in Alwar about creating history.
Swami Vivekananda’s words suggest the need to recreate India by highlighting its magnificent tradition via rigorous research, inspiring pride among Indians, and developing a true national spirit.
This demonstrates that Indian intellectuals wanted to relook at India’s past through its great classical books to comprehend the genuine spirit of Indian civilisation. Nationalist historians wanted to correct historical distortions.
Nationalist history had to challenge imperialist historiography and reverse the dividing trend in writing history from the early 20th century.
Rabindra Nath Tagore’s note embodied the project’s spirit. ‘To know my country in truth, one must travel to that age when she realised her soul and transcended her physical boundaries, when she revealed her being in a radiant magnanimity that illumined the Easter horizon, making her recognised as their own by those in alien shore who were awakened into a great surprise of life…’ (Forward to JGS, 1934).
We’ll introduce some nationalist historians in later sections. Nationalist historians wrote colonial Indian history with a nationalist perspective. Their approach and attitude helped establish national identity.
Their work is best understood in the context of colonial rule. Through writings referencing India’s old civilization, they inspired Indian intelligentsia to understand the country’s intrinsic unity.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Q. 6. Language of inscriptions as markers of change.
Ans. A historian can identify a historical trajectory by studying the language of inscriptions. Language change is not an isolated phenomena, according to Thapar (2013: 320-21), but rather is linked to other historical occurrences.
Since there was no universal usage of a single language, understanding who speaks which language and for what purposes is fundamental to comprehending societies from the past.
It’s amazing to see how early Indian inscriptions reflect this. Prakrit, a widely utilised and diverse vernacular language of Old Indo-Aryan, is used exclusively up to the early Christian era, while Sanskrit was also used for other things, including in Vedic ceremonies. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Prakrit continued to be widely spoken, but later, about the turn of the first millennium AD10, Sanskrit began to be utilised in inscriptions, coinciding with it becoming the court language.
The conversational tone of the edicts wouldn’t have been acceptable in Sanskrit because the audience would have been primarily Prakrit-speaking, according to Thapar (2013: 324), who makes reference to Ashokan inscriptions.
The king’s mention that his officers were to read the edicts wherever people gathered and desired to hear what he had to say makes this clear.
Although state officials, Buddhist monks, traders, and some other people are known to be literate in Prakrit, there were other places where literacy was insufficient for people to read the edicts.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Dialect variations between regions indicate that the language is frequently used. Most likely, the edicts were written in Magadhi Prakrit, which was widely used in Pataliputra, the capital, and local scribes and engravers added local dialect usage.
Prakrit was used in some Ashokan edicts written in Aramaic, indicating that Prakrit speakers lived in that region.
Greek translations of the Major Rock Edicts from Prakrit confirm the existence of a Greek-speaking community, which is further supported by a bilingual Ashokan Aramaic-Greek inscription.
Q. 7. Paumacariyam.
Ans. The Paumacariyam was written in Prakrit in the first century CE. The Jaina text asserts that the other two versions of the Ramayana lack historicity, and Romila Thapar interprets this claim as acknowledging a historical tradition.
Since “they reflect the social beliefs of a particular sector of society at a period in time,” she claims that each rendition is making a historical statement (Thapar 2013: 212).
Bimbisara, the ruler of Rajagrha, is mentioned in the scripture. As a close contemporary of Mahavira, Bimbisara alludes to the historical veracity of the characters. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
By portraying the rakshasas as not being demons and claiming historical accuracy for its version of the tale, the Paumacariyam tries to recast the narrative.
All characters are devoted Jainas, and the Vindhyan range is the main setting. The first section of the text includes the rakshasa and vanara vidyadharas’ respective genealogies.
The four listed descent groups are essential, but the vidyadharas are the most significant. They are known as vidyadharas because they are the keepers of knowledge.
One of the vidyadharas by the name of Meghavahana escapes to Lanka as a result of certain events. He creates the Rakshasavamsa there.
Another vidyadhara prince is banished to Vanaradvipa, where he founds the kingdom of Kiskindha. Rakshasavamsa and the vanaravamsa are connected.
Q. 8. Abul Fazl’s idea of history.
Ans. Abul Fazl followed Akbar’s historical approach. Akbar wanted his achievements and name immortalised. In Timurid tradition, he asked prior political figures to write memoirs. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Gulbadan Begum (Humayunnama), Bayazid Bayat (Tazkira-i Humayun wa Akbar), Jauhar Aftabchi (Tazkirat-ul Waqiat), and Abbas Khan Sarwani (Tarikh-i Sher Shahi; Tuhfat-i Akbarshahi) wrote memoirs.
Tarikh-i Alfi, Akbar’s millennium project, included instructions. Akbar asked a team of scholars to compile the history, using Rihlat (Ilahi) years and simple language to illustrate the Sultans’ rise to power.
Abul Fazl’s history-writing instructions seem to have been changed. Realizing the difficulty of producing a text by multiple academics, he gave Abul Fazl the job. Abul Fazl had a secretariat to compile and gather statistics.
Akbar, who disliked the Hijri era, didn’t urge Abul Fazl use it. The restriction’s simplicity wasn’t emphasised either. Abul Fazl brags about avoiding ‘ornate verbosity’ His assertion about language simplicity is dubious.
In his zeal to portray Akbar as a great man and ideal ruler, Abul Fazl ignores reason, moderation, and restraint. Abul Fazl wrote history using Mongol, Timurid, and Indian traditions. Abul Fazl chose to elaborate Mongol phrases.
This contradicted Akbar’s request for simplicity in Tarikh-i Alfi. The original idea is often lost. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Abul Fazl found Persian historiography, which emphasised court and camp, insufficient, therefore he turned to Arabic historiography, which emphasised people.
He strove to unite and continue Indian tradition while connecting it to Iran, Transoxiana, and Turkey.
He broadened the scope of history by analysing politico-socio-economic and cultural processes.
According to him, history is the chronological recounting of events, and a historian does this well.
He saw history as “global events in chronological order” (Rizvi 1975: 225). His writing is a landmark in mediaeval Indian history (Mukhia 2017: 88).
Q 9. Labour Histories.
Ans. New tendencies are emerging in labour history. At the turn of the 20th century, academicians, trade unionists, and nationalists resisted the capitalist and colonial ties creating Indian society. IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
Many of them were involved in working-class, nationalist, and union activities. At this period in India’s history, neither capitalist relations nor the working class were well- defined.
This group wanted to comprehend this inchoate stage of social relations. Early labour texts were a mix of worker reports, participant-observer comments, and historical chronicles.
Dewan Chaman Lall’s Coolie: The Story of Labor and Capital in India was like this. Union leaders also penned accounts.
Official colonial assessments contested the trade union leaders’ biassed portrayal of labour conditions and history.
Vera Anstey’s articles in this genre focus on limited labour mobility in India, the difficulty of securing appropriate labour supply or inadequate labour productivity, and the living and working conditions of workers.
With the 1930s downturn came more reports and publications about working-class conditions. S.G. Panadikar and Radhakamal Mukherjee wrote on the working class. In this time, labour history writings lacked historical context.
Further, labour studies were dominated by European categories of thought and largely ignored South Asian economies and precapitalist interactions.
This was notably true in Marxist works like those of Rajni Palme Dutt, a Marxist professor and prominent CPGB functionary.
Later books on labour also borrowed and used Marxist concepts wholesale. This led to neglect of non-union workers’ situations.
Q. 10. Ranajit Guha.
Ans. Ranajit Guha began Subaltern Studies. From the start, he criticised other Indian history trends.IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
In the prologue to the first book of Subaltern Studies, he said, “The historiography of Indian nationalism has long been dominated by elitism-colonialist elitism and bourgeois-nationalist elitism.”
He said colonial and nationalist historiographies were similar. Most importantly, they neglected mass politics.
Even leftist historians denied people’s agency. All three trends seized people’s politics for themselves.
Thus, colonial, nationalist, and Marxist discourses were regarded an appropriation that excluded the rebel as the conscious subject of his own history (cited in Upadhyay 2016: 549).
Guha argues in Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency (1983) that all historical discourses on peasant insurgency were power discourses.
It represented the past as linear and secular rather than cyclical and legendary, and its raison d’être was state interests.
The same rationale applies to the state discourse. By making state security the core issue of peasant uprising, it fused it to colonialism.
The peasant was denied historical acknowledgement even for his own goal (Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency, p. 3).
According to Guha, these aristocratic discourses were so focused on secular and statist notions that they were “reluctant to deal with the religious element in rebel consciousness.” IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Free Assignment
According to history, insurgent consciousness was expressed in religious terms, and ‘insurgency…is a religious consciousness’ (Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency, pp. 38, 34).
These aristocratic historical narratives rejected the peasant rebels’ true ideology to impose their own.