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BHIE-144 Solved Assignment Solution by Gyaniversity
Assignment Code: BHIE-144/ASST/TMA/2021-22
Course Code: BHIE-144
Assignment Name: Traditions of History Writing in India
Verification Status: Verified by Professor
Note: There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.
Assignment - I
Answer the following in about 500 words each.
Q1. Critically examine various kinds of ancient Indian inscriptions with special reference to Ashokan edicts. 20
Ans) The various kinds of ancient Indian inscriptions with special reference to Ashokan edicts are:
Ashokan Inscriptions (Rock Edicts)
The first person to decipher Ashoka's edicts was James Prinsep, a British antiquary and colonial administrator. The inscriptions of Ashoka are the earliest physical proof of Buddhism. They were placed in public areas and along trade routes so that as many people as possible might read them. More than religious discourses, they discuss people's moral responsibilities, how to live, Ashoka's desire to be a decent and benevolent ruler, and Ashoka's efforts to achieve this goal.
The edicts were inscribed on conveniently positioned rock surfaces and dispersed in regions of public settlement where people could easily read them during the first part of his reign and are known as major and minor rock edicts.
The inscriptions were mostly confined to the Ganges plain in the later part of his reign and were on well-polished monolithic pillars (from the sites of Chunar, near Varanasi), each edict surmounted with a finely sculpted animal capital requiring great technological expertise in cutting and engraving.
Throughout the empire, the inscriptions were penned in the Prakrit language (in Magadhi, a dialect of Prakrit used in Magadha) and inscribed in Brahmi script. However, they are written in Kharosthi script in the northwestern part of the country, and in Aramaic, Greek script, and Greek language in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The Buddhist Upasaka Dhamma inspired the majority of the inscriptions, which are all about dhamma. Nonviolence, mutual respect, and understanding between individuals of different sects and beliefs were central to Ashoka's dhamma. It featured the government's concern for the well-being of its citizens. Compassion, generosity, sincerity, purity, and gentleness were among the primary characteristics of dhamma. He urged people to treat slaves and servants with respect, compassion, and tolerance, to obey their parents, to be kind to friends and family, to respect and donate to Brahmanas and Shramanas, to care for all living beings, and to refrain from harming life.
Ashoka’s Major Rock Edicts
Minor Rock Edicts: Minor rock edicts are found on 15 rocks across the country and in Afghanistan also.
There are seven pillar edicts.
Spotted white sandstone (from Mathura) and buff-coloured sandstone and quartzite are both used (from Amaravati). They are typically composed of sandstone quarried in Chunar. They are practically identical in terms of shape and size.
All of the pillars are monoliths (stone carvings) with a well-polished surface.
They were discovered in Kandahar (Afghanistan), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan), Delhi, Vaishali, and Champaran (Bihar), Sarnath and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), and Sanchi (Bihar) (Madhya Pradesh).
Fragments of the same edict have been discovered in several locations.
Many of the pillars are up to 50 feet tall and weigh up to 50 tonnes.
They have no bases and a cylindrical shaft that tapers gently upwards to a height of 12-14 metres. The tip of the shaft is connected to the capital by a cylindrical bolt, and the capital is shaped like a bell (a stone carved in the shape of an inverted lotus).
The crowned animal is supported on a platform (abacus) on the top of the bell capital.
Elephants and lions, as well as wheels and lotuses, are depicted on the pillars, which are all important Buddhist symbols.
Topra, Rampurva, Nigali Sagar, Lauriya-Araraj, Lauriya Nandangarh, Sarnath, and Meerut have all discovered majestic pillar edicts. Feroz Shah Tughlaq moved two pillars to Delhi, one from Topra and the other from Meerut.
Q2. Analyse Barani’s idea of history. 20
Ans) Barani was well-versed in history. Barani explains what history teaches and what lessons may be derived from history in a simple and concise manner. He claims that past events have had a significant impact on future developments. Balban's attempt to solidify his rule by following a strategy of blood and iron ended in the dynasty's demise in seventeen years, he says. Barani was a true period historian. He talks on history's continuity and changes. What does a historian's job entail? He discusses the historian's profession. A historian's craft, he believes, differs significantly from that of a poet or fiction writer.
In his first and second editions, Barani did not change the introductory chapter (muqaddimah). As a thinker, philosopher, man of ideas, and critical historian, he is at his finest there. He examines the methods and goals of historical writing. He emphasises that while writing a historical narrative, a historian should not hide the bad acts of kings and nobility, nor should he pursue flattery. 'For Barani history was not a record, a chronicle, or a history; it was very certainly a science – the study of the social order – and its base was not religion or tradition but observation and experience,' says Mohammad Habib (2016: 316). Peter Hardy (1960: 20), praising Barani as a historian, praises Barani's Tarikh as a "vigorous and trenchant expression of a deliberate philosophy of history that takes Barani far out of the ranks of mere compilers of chronicles and annals."
History (ilm-i Tarikh) is one of the 'transmitted realms of knowledge,' according to Barani (al-ulum al-naqaliya; manqulat). Manqulat (knowledge based on human reason (aql) takes precedence over maqulat (al-ulum alaqaliya; rational disciplines of knowledge – mathematics, medicine, philosophy, logic, and astronomy) according to Barani. The 'affairs of the world cannot be known through reason (aql),' he claims. It 'leads to scepticism about the true method of religion and the community'. For Barani, history was inextricably linked to manqulat. Barani has so extensively relied on Quranic exegesis (tafsir), hadis (sayings and deeds of the Prophet), Islamic law (fiqh), and the ways of the shaikhs in the formation of historical notions (tariqat-i mashaikh). He considered history and hadis to be twins.
The critiques/praise of the chain of narrators were particularly crucial in this environment, according to Barani. How and under what circumstances a particular hadis was related during the process of establishing its truth is all part of history. 'It is primarily knowledge of history that enables Muslims to understand the conduct of the Prophet and his companions,' according to Barani. 'History was useful to Barani first and foremost because it is the method of profiting from...principally the prophets (anbiya) and sultans (salatin), whose acts are recorded in the celestial chronicles...' 'Barani characterises the Quran as a historical document, and the Quran did play a key role in the creation of Islamic historiography,' says Barani.
Assignment - II
Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.
Q3. How Buddhist biographies narrate the Buddhist view of the past? Elaborate. 10
Ans) The Buddhist perspective on the past was communicated through another type of text: the Buddha's biographies. These could also serve as personalised narratives that highlight his points. Partially biographies of major figures in Buddhist history, such as Ashoka, were included. The biographical genre, according to Romila Thapar, needs the subject to be presented in a historical manner for the narrative to be viable. In the Northern tradition, biographies were popular. This could be due to the fact that Buddhism did not have a close link with royalty in northwestern India, and there were no rival Buddhist sects fighting for prominence. The writing of such biographies became popular at the turn of the Common Era and in the early centuries CE.
The fact that the Buddha was a historical figure influenced and aided the composition of his biography. Not only was Canonical writing concerned with the Buddha's biography, but non-canonical literature arose around these subjects around the turn of the Common Era. We have avadanas, which commemorate the Buddha's great actions and stories, as well as those of the bodhisattvas and other prominent figures, and depict them as historical events. The Buddhavadana is the oldest type of writing in this genre. It describes the historical Buddha's splendour, as well as the paccekabuddhas, or those who were enlightened but did not announce the doctrine, as well as notable Theras and Theris (monks and nuns). The avadanas have a set format. They begin with a previous devotee's love of a previous Buddha. The Buddha foretells the devotee's reincarnation and the devotee's discovery of the Buddha. The avadanas had elements of biography, but they were not the same as the caritas (biographies).
Q4. Discuss briefly the main ideas of colonial historiography with special reference to J.S. Mill. 10
Ans) Hinduism, according to James Mill, is an incoherent and irrational system of belief governed entirely by Brahmans and written in a language of "unparalleled ambiguity." The Vedas, ancient Hindu holy books, were 'all ambiguity and obscurity, incoherence, contradiction, and confusion,' according to him. They are "among the most grandiose of all types of talk devoid of ideas."
A rude mind's daring proclivity to guess where it doesn't know has never manifested itself in a more wonderful and absurd shape'. The Hindu ideas are "in the highest degree absurd, mean, and degrading," he wrote, and no people, no matter how rude or ignorant, who have been so far advanced as to leave us memorials of their thoughts in writing, have ever drawn a more gross and disgusting picture of the universe than what is presented in Hindu writings. There is no consistency, wisdom, or beauty in the conception of it: everything is chaos, caprice, passion, competition, portents, prodigies, violence, and ugliness. India's History, by James Mill
Mill criticises the ancient Indians even in the realm of literature, where they were held in high respect. Mahabharata and Ramayana, he claims, are not just grandiose and unnatural... However, they are less ingenious, more grotesque, and lack anything that can arouse compassion, elicit sympathy, or excel in administration, vengeance, or fear... They're overly verbose and vapid. They are frequently frivolous and juvenile, to the point where individuals who are only familiar with European poetry may not comprehend the form in which they are created... They have flaws, inflation, metaphors... obscurity, tautology, repetition-verbosity, confusion, and incoherence....' (S. C. Mittal, 1995, vol. 1, pp. 24-25)
James Mill set an extremist tone in this way, attempting to degrade Indian civilisation and culture. Despite the fact that his opinions on Indian civilisation were not often shared by other colonial historians, he was well-liked by the broad British public.
Q5. Explain the idea of history writing as discussed by nationalist historians. 10
Ans) The above-mentioned writings of nationalist historians show that they strove to build India as a great country, in contrast to the colonial image of India, particularly as expressed by John Stuart Mill. The goal of colonial historiography was to show how British control in India aided in the removal of superstition and backwardness, as well as the cultural modernization of Indians. Indian civilisation is older than Western civilisation, according to nationalist history texts. Ancient Indian culture was heavily influenced by democratic ideas and scientific knowledge.
They attempted to demonstrate India's old civilisation's beautiful legacy and sense of cultural oneness. Since the late nineteenth century in India, the rising nationalist movement has had a significant influence on the nationalist mission of history writing. At the same time, nationalist intellectuals contributed to the liberation struggle by bringing attention to India's illustrious past and its influence in neighbouring South-east Asian countries. Four famous historians have been chosen to explain the tradition of nationalist writings. R. G. Bhandarkar, K. P. Jayaswal, Radha Kumud Mukherji, and R. C. Majumdar have all made significant contributions to the writing of history from a nationalist perspective.
Assignment - III
Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.
Q6. Amuktamalyada as a historical source 6
Ans) The Amuktamalyada not only sheds insight on Krishnadevaraya's campaigns, but also on the character and pattern of the Vijayanagara monarchs' genealogy and their significance. It also represents the Vijayanagara emperors' religious outlook and highlights the literary and cultural surroundings of the time. In several disciplines of traditional science, a massive evolution is being brought to bear on everyday life. As the poet journeys from kitchen to battlefield, from courtesan quarters to temple and royal seat, extraordinary reality and sweeping imagination come into play. We perceive a new base for kingship and the political order within this literary arena. The inherent contradictions and tensions of kingship are brought to the fore by this new concept of politics.
Q7. Bakhar 6
Ans) Bakhars are literary historical narratives that date back to the sixteenth century, but the majority of them were written between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. About 200 of these narratives were written as biographies of great monarchs, genealogies of prominent families, or descriptions of significant conflicts. Bakhars are noted in Marathi for describing the prose genre as having literary worth rather than historical relevance. Bakhars are essential in the development of Maratha polity since they document many key events. Even if they appear to be eulogies dedicated by a loyalist to a monarch, some serve as biographies of great Maratha rulers. For the building of a common glorious past, dynastic identity was thus fused with and built on regional pride.
Q8. Sufi Hagiographies 6
Ans) The majority of sufi hagiographies were written in verse in various vernacular languages, but the majority of bhakti hagiographies were written in prose and Persian. The Pushtimargi vaishnava devotees' varta scriptures were composed in prose in the Braj language. In northern India, the Mughal period was a golden age for the production of bhakti and sufi hagiographies. Many religious fraternities, groups, and saint-cults flourished throughout the 16 and seventeenth centuries, indicating a thriving religious culture. Sants, sufis, nathpanthis, shaktas, and vaishnavas interacted with one other in a competitive, mutual appropriation, and negotiation-based interaction.
Q9. Genealogical traditions of western India. 6
Ans) While the Bhats/Charans have a genealogical heritage centred on Rajputs, the kulgranthas of Bengal have a tradition centred on caste-based elitism. Similarly, in Kumaun, there is a genealogical tradition that strives to establish the high rank of specific Brahmin clans in the local society. Pedigrees are documented by the pandas at the pilgrim centres in their books or bahis, which are a little different from these but also track lineages at the centre. They are concerned with keeping an account of their yajmans and demonstrating their validity as hereditary pandas. Aside from that, we've talked about the documents produced by the corporate houses, which shed light on the origins of these families, as well as their economic and political relationships.
Q10. Subaltern Writings on India. 6
Ans) Dalit literature has questioned established literature and methods, particularly in Hindi literature, as a subaltern discourse. It chronicles Dalit societal realities and establishes an alternative literary culture. Dalits are defined as uncivilised in the current concept, and their self are assigned a sense of impurity and degradation. Soumya Nair claims that subaltern literature is mostly a grievance literature that develops the oppressed's social identity. Declarations of cultural and political identities are primarily seen as a part of Subaltern literature's struggle. The majority of Dalit writers claim that mainstream literary narratives are hierarchical and attempt to reinforce upper caste rule.
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