Medieval India

Learning Goals:

Medieval India: The period between 8th and 18th century CE in the Indian subcontinent is referred to as the Medieval Period in the Indian History. Many historians divide the period into 'early medieval period' (up to 13th century) and 'late medieval period' (beyond 13th century). This period witnessed many dramatic changes in the Indian subcontinent.

Indian Maps

Over a period of time, the map of an area made by a person differs significantly from that made by another person. This is because of the changes in the information about that region. For example, consider the following maps:

indian map arab cartographer

Ref: NCERT Text Book

indian map french cartographer

Ref: NCERT Text Book

Another reason for difference in the maps of two distinct periods is the difference in the science of cartography. When documents, maps and texts from the past are read by historians, they have to keep in mind the differences in the historical backgrounds and the contexts in which the information about the past was produced. Hence maps and documents cannot be interpreted in absolute and independent terms.

New and old terminologies

Information changes over a period of time;

Meanings of Hindustan

The term ‘Hindustan’ is interpreted differently by different people, which are as follows:

Present Context: Today, this term refers to what we know as ‘India’, the modern nation-state.

Thirteenth Century: In this period, when this term was used by Mihaj-i-Siraj, a chronicler who wrote in Persian, it included;

Sixteenth Century: This term was used by Babar to describe the geography, culture and fauna of the inhabitants of the subcontinent.

Fourteenth Century: The term ‘Hind’ used in this period by the poet Amir Khusrau was somewhat similar to the way it was used in the sixteenth century.

The term ‘Hindustan’ did not carry the political and national meaning that we associate with it today in spite of the existence of a geographical and cultural entity like ‘India’.

Meanings of 'foreigner'

Present Context: In the present times, the term ‘foreigner’ means a person who is not an Indian.

Medieval Period: In this period, the term ‘foreigner’ meant a stranger who appeared in a given village, i.e. a person who was not a part of that society or culture. Thus a city dweller would consider a forest dweller as ‘foreigner’ whereas two farmers of the same village even if they belonged to different castes, religion etc.; were not foreigners to each other.

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