About the Book
Book 1: Early Medieval
Economy : 8th to 13th Century
Book 2: Society and
Culture : 8th to 13th Century
Book 3: Indian Polity
in its Regional Variation : 8th to 13th Century
Establishment of Delhi Sultanate
Indian Polity : The Sultanate
Economy of Delhi Sultanate
Book 7: The
Regional Powers : 13th to 15th Century
Society and Culture : 13th to 15th Century
Book 1: Early Medieval Economy : 8th to 13th
Writings on the history of early India during
the last few decades (since the early 1950s) have opened up a great many issues
bearing on the economic structure of India since the beginning of Christian era
in general and the post-Gupta centuries in particular. Broadly, the
understanding of five centuries (8th - 13th) under discussion.' in terms of
feudalism has been the most dominant strain of these writings. That feudalism
is not simply a dispersal of "political" power but represents a total
break in the socio-economic and ideological ethos of the people is now being
widely recognised. In view of the fact that changed land relationships
constitute the cornerstone of this new ethos, a detailed study of agrarian
economy becomes absolutely indispensable:
Unit 1 of this Block discusses the agrarian economy.
Here you will study about the expansion of cultivated area, agrarian
settlements and rights in land. Technological improvements helped in increasing
the agricultural production. This in turn, led to the commercial exchange in
surplus agricultural produce and other craft production. Rural tensions also
emerged in the society. Besides, the Unit also discusses the characteristics
of' early medieval agrarian economy.
In Unit 2 of this Block we discuss about the
urban settlements. The period between 8th to 12th centuries witnessed the third
phase of urban growth. However, the process of urban growth did not have a
uniform pattern for the whole of India. In this Unit we mention the factors
that contributed towards the emergence of towns. The Unit also discusses the
variations in different regions and the different types of towns.
Unit 3 of this Block will familiarise you with
the trading and commercial activities of the period. For the convenience of
study the whole period has been divided in two phases, The first phase (c. A.D.
is marked by relative decline of trade, metallic currency and urban
centres. The second phase witnesses a revival in the above stated spheres. You
will also learn about the commodities that were traded through land and maritime
routes and how the trading activities helped in the revival of towns.
The fourth and last Unit of this Block
familiarises you with the commercial practices and the persons involved in
them. You will come to know how from an ordinary position during phase one (c.
A.D. 700-900), merchants emerged as the most powerful social groups in phase
two (c. A.D. 900-1300). We also discuss the role and functions of merchant
guilds in north and south India. At the end of the Unit we will also provide
you a brief discussion on the relationship between merchants and artisans.
Book 2: Society and Culture : 8th to 13th Century
For decades, nay almost a century, we have been
swayed by the colonialist and imperialist notion about the Indian society being
static through the millennia. This was just not true. This Block seeks to show
that like any sensitive organism, Indian society and culture during the five
hundred years under survey (8th-13t~ century) were extremely vibrant and
responsive to changes taking place in the realms of economy, polity and ideas.
The first Block in this course had surveyed the economic developments during
the same time span. Here, in this Block, the impact of these developments on
the socio-cultural patterns and ideological frame forms the main theme.
Broadly, the Block attempts to outline interactions between changing land
rights and their consequent economic development on the one hand and the
manifestations of socio-cultural and ideological changes on the other. These
have been worked out in the following three Units:
Unit 5 demolishes the myth of an unchanging
social organisation with the help of copious literary and epigraphic material. It highlights leading features
of the new social ethos such as the changing position of vaisbyas and sbudras, rise of a
new literate class, multiplication of castes, weakening of the vama order,
emergence of feudal ranks and increasing social tensions.
Unit 6 deals with the problem of ideology.
Concerned with the complexities of defining it, the Unit takes note of various
dimensions of ideology. Making adequate references to landmark contributions on
varied aspects, the discussion revolves around the nature, role and functions
of ideology. As a complement to the heoretical debate, specific religious
developments in India through the millennia, but specially in the post-Gupta
centuries, have been delineated with the objective of showing their
potentialities to act as ideology. The overall thrust underlines the need to
study ideology in its capacity to sway masses.
Unit 7, the last one in this Block, takes a
panoramic view of the making of Indian cultural traditions. The most arresting
feature of these traditions is shown to be the emergence of the tendency of
regionalism. This trend finds its manifestations in practically all components
of culture. The growth of temple architecture, and other arts such as stone
sculptures, metal images, paintings and terracottas; developments in the realms
of education and learning, the rise of regional languages, scripts, eras, etc.
and the new trends in religion-all are indicative of the impact of changes
taking place in the material life of the people in the post-Gupta centuries.
Also, these cultural manifestations underline the regional streak.
Book 3: Indian Polity in its Regional Variation : 8th to 13th
Five centuries encompassed between the eighth
and the thirteenth centuries saw phenomenal changes in the/life style of the
people of India. Their urges, aspirations accomplishments and no less
deprivations were delineated in Block I of this course. The impact of these
developments on the socio-cultural patterns and ideological frame formed the
theme of the second Block. Since, polity cannot be studied in isolation from
the questions as to how the power structure established its control over
diverse socio-economic groups and how it mobilised, developed and distributed
its resources so as to sustain its political control, this Block becomes a
logical corollary to the preceding one.
The relations of power envisage relations at
other levels in some form or the other. In conventional studies oil. Indian
polity there has been a great stress on the genealogy and chronology of ruling
dynasties. Changes in polity are mostly conceived as changes represented by
dynastic shifts. In view of the inadequacy of this framework, recent studies on
the polity have attempted to view the ancient and medieval polity from the
perspective of possible processes which were in operation. There is marked
emphasis now on themes such as state formation, structure of polity, nature of
power and political control, etc. Owing to the fact, that regional political
formations in various parts of India have not been studied fully, the
generalizations at sub-continental level require further precision. This Block
seeks to attempt that in the following five Units.
Unit 8 would enlighten you about the components
of Indian polity through major political developments across major regions of
the sub-continent. It also focuses on the nature of regional polity.
Unit 9 familiarises you with the nature of
polity in northern and eastern India in the light of theoretical debate
initiated in the preceding Unit. The overall reconstruction of the power
structure in the region shows the limitations of the so-called centralised
monarchies and argues for studying the distribution of administrative and
fiscal powers in the light of new pattern of landholding. It concludes with the
characterization of the polity under reference in terms of feudalism."
Unit 10 of this Block provides you with examples
of fresh spurt in the emergence of local states in Western and Central India.
Unlike Northern and Eastern India (Unit 9), the region discussed in this Unit,
shows some influence of 'lineage' at least in some parts of the region.
However, the commonality of the essential material basis, viz. the nature of
landholding, brings Western and Central India closer to the regional polity
discussed in the preceding Unit.
The next Unit (No. 11) you will find to be
complementary to Unit 10.
with the historical genesis of state society in the third century B.C. the Unit
throws light on important strands in the political structure in the Deccan
during the centuries covered in this Block. It attempts to show the operation
of such factors as lineage and land-rights in the rise of states. The nature of
the integration of numerous power levels has also been highlighted.
Finally, the 12th and the last Unit of this
Block acquaints you with ,yet another regional variation of political set-up in
early medieval India, Concerned with South India, this Unit shows the
evolution of Tamil macro-region as a regional state with distinctive
politico-cultural features between the days of the Pallavas (Sixth Century) and
those of the Cholas (Thirteenth Century). The different tiers of administration
have been identified with a focus on their social and economic bases. The
nature of resource mobilisation and apparatus to regulate it have also been
outlined. You will also notice suggestions about the ideological support of the
South Indian polity.
Acknowledgement : We are thankful to the Archaeological Survey of India
for permitting us to use photographs from their journal Indian Archaeology-A Survey.
Book 4: Establishment of Delhi Sultanate
You have read in Block 3 about the new
political system in the wake of disintegration of the Gujara-Pratihara polity
prior to Turkish invasions. The present Block is connected with the question of
the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. It contains three Units. The first
recapitulates a part of Block 3 relating to the political and socio-economic
condition of India on the eve of the Turkish advent. Then it offers you some
geographical glimpses of the Turkish advent. Then it offers you some
geographical glimpses of the region (Central Asia) inhabited by the Turks as
well as the Mongols. This unit also dwells upon the nature of nomadism and
tribal structure of the Turks and the Mongols. It further informs you how the
migratory movements brought them to the frontiers of India. Which eventually
led to confrontation with Indian states.
The second Unit deals with the course of the
establishment of the Turkish power in the form of Delhi Sultanate. It also
examines the causes of the Turkish success in India
The third Unit proposes to describe the
territorial expansion of the new kingdom and the processes of its
Book 5: Indian Polity : The Sultanate
You have learnt in Block 4 about the growth of the
Delhi Sultanate through conquests by the Turks, and also the initial processes
of consolidation. However, to continue to hold on to the conquests for long is
a complex problem, especially when the conquerors were aliens and not
conversant with traditions of the government of the conquered territories. It
was natural, then, that in sortie areas of the art of governance, previous
practices were not substantially disturbed - at least in the early decades of
the Turkish rule while in others, institutions from the Islamic East were
introduced. The story of this mix is sought to be told in these three Units of
our present Block.
Unit 16 deals with the administrative set up,
including the personnel and their functions. Since the conquerors were Muslims,
consequently they, as rulers, had to relate their sovereignty to the Khalija (Caliph) for validity. And yet, the basic nature of
the Delhi Sultanate was never theological. This assertion finds substantiation
when you read the working of the central and the provincial administration. We
stress that you must take special notice of the revenue system and the
institution of iqta, the two
forming the backbone of the Sultanate.
In Unit 17, you will study the organization of
the ruling class where the iqta system
played a pivotal role. You will also realize that the ruling class was not
something monolithic: dormant and explicit dissensions and rivalries that
frequently emerged were due to the groups of nobles organised largely on racial
and tribal lines. That is why you will see the varying composition of the
ruling class under the different Sultans.
The third Unit (no. 18) seeks to examine the
problems, crisis and decline of the Delhi Sultanate. Relations between the
Sultans and nobles were not always smooth. Pressure tactics of the nobles
emasculated the powers of the Sultan. Many regional states arose as a result of
rebellions of the governors who for their own personal and tribal
aggrandizement weakened the central government leading to the overthrow of the
Delhi Sultanate by Babur.
Book 6: Economy of Delhi Sultanate
In Block 4 and 5, you have read about political
and administrative history of the Delhi Sultanate. Now, in this Block no. 6,
you are being introduced to the economy of the Sultanate. Some facts that you
read in Block 5 will be repeated here, with a different emphasis.
You will learn from Unit 19 matters relating to
"State and Economy". It deals with the revenue resources and the ways
in which these resources were distributed. Naturally, then, this section looks
at the institutions of iqta and khalisa afresh. Land grants, too, are taken
note of. The next section takes up the question of land-revenue and its
extraction. During this exercise, the agrarian measures of Alauddin Khalji and
Muhammad Tughluq are taken especial care of. Other sections study the market
control and price regulations under Alauddin Khalji, currency system, Muhammad
Tughluq's 'token currency', slavery and slave trade.
Unit 20 introduces you to the agrarian
structure. Themes like agrarian production, irrigation and its impact, and
peasant economy are discussed. You will once again read about the rural
Glimpses of urban economy and commerce are
offered in Unit 21. This tells you about growth of towns, urban manufactures
and organisation of production. Other sections in this Unit describe inland
trade, foreign trade (seaborne and overland) and means of transport of goods.
One section identifies the personnel of trade, that is, the groups of
mercantile classes and their functions.
In Unit 22, you are introduced to technology
and crafts, bath indigenous and foreign, - that existed in the Delhi Sultanate.
We have chosen a few of these - agricultural and textile technology, building
construction, papermaking and bookbinding, military technology, tin coating,
glass manufacture, shipbuilding and distillation and fermentation.
Book 7: The Regional Powers : 13th to 15th Century
As you have been Blocks 4, 5 and 6 were largely
concerned with the political, administrative and economic aspect of the Delhi
Sultanate. The present Block (no. 7) describes the emergence of regional
kingdoms in India as a result of the weakening of the Central power located at
All the Units in this Block are related to the evolution
of regional powers in different parts of India-each Unit dealing with one part
of the country. Thus, Unit 23 takes care of Central and Eastern India, Unit 24
of or the and Western India and Unit 26 of South India and the Deccan. In
between, Unit 25 explains the nature of the regional kingdoms in north India as
a whole, and also describes briefly their administration and economy.
The last two Units 27 and 28 concentrate on the
establishment and functioning of the Vijaynagar Empire and the Bahmani kingdom
The treatment of themes in all these U nits is
by and large similar: they discuss the processes of the emergence of regional
kingdoms, their territorial expansion, their relations with neighbouring states
as well as with the Delhi Sultanate, and their administrative set-up.
At the end, you will find two important
questions taken up for discussion: first, what were the factors that led to the
formation of regional powers; and secondly, what were the reasons for the
failure of the regional states to acquire a 'Pan-India' or an Imperial
character. Since these questions do not form a part of any Unit, they have been
presented separately. You may consider them as appendices to the Units. You
must read them either before you study the regular Units, or after you have
equipped yourself with some ba ic facts with the help of the contents in the
Units of this Block.
Book 8: Society and Culture : 13th to 15th Century
You have already read how with the coming of
the Turks a new political, administrative and economic structure emerged.
Besides, you have also seen how the decline in the Sultanate power led to the
emergence of regional states, In this Block (No. 8), we are going to discuss
the society and culture during the 13th-15th centuries.
Units 29 and 30 cover the socio-religious
movements that emerged during this period. In Unit 29, we have highlighted the
factors for the rise of the bhakti movement, its characteristic features,
various bhakti cults, their saints, etc.
Besides, we 'have also taken note of how various other thoughts
influenced the bhakti currents with special reference to Islam.
Unit 30 is also written on the same lines
covering the Muslim religious movement: sufism. You will learn about salient
features of sufism, its-growth in the Islamic world and also in India; various
sufi silsilahs that flourished in India - with special reference to the
Chishtis and Suhrawardis; the impact of the sufi movement on Indian society and
the role of sufism in bringing about cultural synthesis in India.
Units 31 and 32 cover the art and architecture
during the 13th-15th centuries. The' theme of the Sultanate art and
architecture is covered in Unit 31 while Unit 32 relates to the developments of
art and architecture in regional kingdoms. In these Units, an account has been
given of structural forms, evolution of architectural features, certain public
buildings and' monuments, painting, calligraphy, manuscript illustration and
Unit 33 deals with the development of language
and literature during the 13th-15th centuries. In this Unit, the focus is on
Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Hindi, Awadhi and
Tamil languages and literature.
The last Unit (No. 34) is on the lifestyle of
the various groups and classes that is nobles, ulema, merchants, artisans and
peasants, etc. Position of women in the contemporary society is touched upon.
The ways and means for pastime and 'entertainment have also been studied
Block 1 Early Medieval Economy: 8th - 13th Century
Trade and Commerce
Trading Communities and Organisations
Some Useful Books For This Block
Block 2 Society And Culture: 8th-13th Century
Development of Regional Cultural Traditions
Some Useful Books for This Block
Block 3 Indian Polity In Its Regional Variations: 8th
To 13th Century
Nature of Regional Politics
Northern and Eastern India
Western and Central India
Establishment of Delhi Sultanate
Rise of Turks and Mongols in Central Asia
Establishment and Consolidation
Territorial Expansion 35
Some Useful Books for this Block
Block 5 Indian Polity: The Sultanate
Administration of the Sultanate
Formation of the Sultanate Ruling Class
Problem, Crisis and Decline
Block 6 Economy of Delhi Sultanate
State and Economy
Rise of Urban Economy Trade and Commerce
Technology and Crafts
Block 7 The Regional Powers: 13th-15th Century
Central and Eastern India
Northern and Western India
State, Administration and Economy in North
Regional Powers in South India and Deccan
The Vijay nagar Empire
Block 8 Society And Culture: 13th-To 15th Century
Socio-Religious Movement: Bhakti Movement
Socio-Religious Movement: Sufi Movement
Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate
Art and Architecture of Regional States
Language and Literature
Lifestyle and Popular Cultures
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