UPSC CIVIL SERVICES RESULT 2015-2016

INDIA –THROUGH THE EYES OF TRAVELLERS- NCERT HISTORY NOTE-CLASS 12


   INDIA –THROUGH THE EYES OF TRAVELLERS
   PART -1 AL-BIRUNI




Women and men have travelled in search of work,to escape from natural disaster as 
    ,merchants,soldiers,priests,pilgrims
 or driven by sense of 
    adventure.Then in new land  they note carefully all the activities which were taken from granted by indigenous writers and people for whom these were routine matters not worthy of being recorded .It is this difference in perspective that makes the accounts of travllers interesting .

In this topic we are going to discuss about some notable travellers 

AL-BIRUNI AND THE KITAB-UL-HIND

          ABOUT  AL-BIRUNI


AL-BIRUNI,kitab-ul-hind


Full name-Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni

Born-4/5 September 973 Khwarezm, Samanid Empire (modern-day Uzbekistan)

Died-13 December 1048 (aged 75)Ghazni, Ghaznavid Empire (modern-day Afghanistan)

Notable ideas-Founder of Indology, geodesy

Main interests-Physics, anthropology, comparative sociology, astronomy, astrology, chemistry, history, geography, mathematics, medicine, psychology, philosophy, theology


ABOUT  AL-BIRUNI

  • AL-BIRUNI was born in 973 in Khwarizm(Uzbekistan)
  • AL-BIRUNI received the best education available at that time .
  • He arrived in Ghazni as hostage in 1017 when Sultan Mahmud invaded Khwarizm.In ghazni he spent the rest of his life until his death at the age of 70
  • In ghazni Al-Biruni developed interest in India .Sanskrit works on astronomy,medicines and mathematics had been translated in a Arabic , from 8th  century onwards .
  • When the Punjab became part of the Ghaznavid empire AL-BIRUNI developed social contacts with local people,priest,scholars  and spent years in learning Sanskrit  studying religious and philosophical texts and create an environment of mutual trust and understanding.
  • AL Biruni was familiar with the translations and adaptations of Sanskrit,pali and Prakrit texts into Arabic-these ranged from  fabies to works on astronomy and medicine.
  • AL-BIRUNI was well versed in several languages:Syriac,
Arabic,Persian,Hebrew and Sanskrit.










    THE KITAB-UL-HIND


    ABOUT 
    KITAB-UL-HIND


    THE KITAB-UL-HIND


    Al-Biruni's book "Kitab al-Hind" provides a detailed account of Indian life, religions, languages, and cultures and includes many observations on geography. He stated that the Indus valley must be considered as an ancient sea basin filled with alluvials. In this book, he mentions two books Patanjal and Sakaya. He translated these two Sanskrit books into Arabic. The former book deals with after death accounts, and the latter with the creation of things and their types. Abu-al-Fadal's book "Aein-i-Akbari," written six centuries later during the reign of Akbar, was influenced by Al-Biruni's book.
    KITAB-UL-HIND was written by AL-BIRUNI in Arabic language KITAB-UL-HIND is simple and lucid and a voluminous text divided into 80 chapters on subjects such as Philosophy and religion,manners,alchemy,social life,custom,weight and measures,laws, metrology ,iconolography and astronomy.


    Style of writing of AL-Biruni –Generally Al Biruni adopted a distinctive structure in each chapter beginning with a question,following this up with a description based on Sanskritic traditions and concluding with comparision with other cultures.

    For whom AL-Biruni wrote –As THE KITAB-UL-HIND was in Arabic language Al Biruni probably intended his work peoples living along the frontiers of the subcontinent.

    AL-BIRUNI –OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO UNDERSTANDING
    Each traveller adopted distinct strategies to understand  what they  observed .
    AL BIRUNI discussed several barriers that he felt hinder understanding .

    First barrier -Language  According to him Sanskrit was different from Arabic and Persian that ideas and concepts could not be easily translated from one language into another.

    Second barrier -The differences in religious beliefs and practices.

    Third Barrier-The self- absorption ( preoccupation with oneself ) 
    consequent insularity of the local people.


    Al-BIRUNI’S DESCRIPTION OF THE CASTE SYSTEM IN INDIA


    AL-BIRUNI AND THE KITAB-UL-HIND

    AL-BIRUNI tried to explain the caste system by looking for parallels 
    in other societies.
    • He attempted to suggest that social divisions were not unique to India.
    • The conception of social pollution ,intrinsic to the caste system was according to him contrary to the laws of nature.
    • AL-BIRUNI’S description of the caste system was deeply influenced by his study of normative Sanskrit texts which laid down the rules governing the system from the point of view of the Brahmanas.






    This is Al-Biruni's account of the system of varnas

    The highest caste are the Brahmana, of whom the books of the Hindus tell us that they were created from the head of Brahman. And as the Brahman is only another name for the force called nature, and the head is the highest part of the ... body, the Brahmana are the choice part of the whole genus. Therefore the Hindus consider them as the very best of mankind. The next caste are the Kshatriya, who were created, as they say, from the shoulders and hands of Brahman. Their degree is not much below that of the Brahmana. After them follow the Vaishya, who were created from  the thigh of Brahman. The Shudra, who were created from his feet . . .
     Between the latter two classes there is no very great distance. Much, however, as these classes differ from each other, they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings.

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