Study MaterialsImportant QuestionsImportant Questions – Class 12 History Chapter 6 Bhakti-Sufi Traditions

Important Questions – Class 12 History Chapter 6 Bhakti-Sufi Traditions

Chapter 6 Bhakti-Sufi Traditions (Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts)

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    2 Marks Questions

    Question 1.
    Point out one similarity and dissimilarity between Lingayats and Nayanars. (HOTS; Delhi 2016)
    Similarity Both Lingayats and Nayanars protested against caste system and the dominance of Brahmanas.
    The Alvars were devotees of Vishnu, whereas the Nayanars were devotees of Shiva.

    Question 2.
    Point out any two similarities between the philosophy of Kabir and Guru Nanak Dev. (Delhi Z016)
    Two similarities between philosophy of Kabir and Guru Nanak Dev are:

    • Both Kabir and Guru Nanak Dev advocated a form of Nirguna Bhakti.
    • Both Kabir and Guru Nanak Dev rejected idol worship, also rejected sacrifices and ritual baths.

    Question 3.
    Point out one difference and one similarity between Be-Shari’a and Ba-Shari’a Sufi traditions. (HOTS; Delhi 2016)
    Difference The Ba-Shari’a traditions followed Shari’a i.e. the Islamic law.
    However, the Be-Shari’a were not bound by it.
    Similarity They both ignored rituals and observed extreme forms of asceticism.

    Question 4.
    Mention any two sources to know about Bhakti and Sufi traditions from 8th century to 18th century. (All India 2016)
    Sources are as follows:

    • Textual sources were available to know about Bhakti and Sufi traditions from 8th century to 18th century. These textual sources included composition attributed to poet saints. Most of them expressed themselves orally in regional languages used by common man.
    • Historians also got information from the biographies of saints written by their followers.

    Question 5.
    How did Karaikkal Ammaiyar become the greatest figure of Nayanar tradition? Explain. (All India 2016)
    Karaikkal Ammaiyar was a Shiva devotee. In order to achieve her aim, she chose the path of extreme asceticism. Her composition was a challenge to society’s patriarchal standards, and it was passed down through the Nayanar tradition. As a result, she became the most important character in Nayanar’s philosophy.

    Question 6.
    Name the major anthology compiled by the Alvars which is also described as the Tamil Veda. How did various chiefdoms in the Tamil region help them in the early first millennium CE? (Delhi 2015)
    The Tamil Veda is also known as Nalayira Divyaprabandham, which was compiled by the Alvars. In the early first millennium CE, the Tamil region had several prominent chiefdoms. Rulers such as the Pallavas, Pandyas, and Cholas supported Brahmanical and bhakti traditions by granting land and building temples. Shiva temples in Chidambaram, Thanjavur, and Gangaikonda Cholapuram were patronised by Chola rulers.

    Question 7.
    The Lingayats disapproved certain practices of the Dharmashashtras. Give two examples. (All India 2015)
    Mention the two ideas of Brahmanical system challenged by the Lingayats. (Delhi 2012)
    Followers of Basavanna were known as Virashaivas or Lingayats. They challenged the Brahmanical system in the following ways:

    • They challenged the idea of caste and the ‘pollution’ attributed to certain groups by Brahmanas.
    • They questioned the theory of rebirth.

    Question 8.
    ‘The Message of Guru Nanak Devji was based on divinity’. Mention any two aspects of it. (All India 2015)
    The message of Guru Nanak Devji was based on divinity. Two aspects of it are:

    1. Absolute or ‘rab’ had no gender or form.
    2. He proposed a simple way to connect to the divine by remembering and repeating the divine name.

    Question 9.
    Kabir Bijak and Kabir Granthavali are the two distinct but overlapping traditions. How are they preserved? (All India 2015)
    Both the traditions are preserved in the following ways:

    • The Kabir Bijak is preserved by the Kabir panth (the path or sect of Kabir) in Varanasi and elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh.
    • The’Kabir Granthavali is associated with the Dadupanth in Rajasthan.

    Question 10.
    By the 11th century, Sufism evolved into a well-developed movement. Give two examples. (Delhi 2014)
    By the eleventh century, Sufism evolved into a well-developed movement in the following ways:

    • It developed a body of literature on Quranic studies and Sufi practices.
    • The Sufis began to organise communities around the hospice or Khanqah and it was controlled by a teaching master known as Shaikh, Pir or Murshid.

    Question 11.
    Who were Alvars and Nayanars?
    Mention the support they got from the Chola rulers. (All India 2014)
    Alvars:Alvars were devotees of Vishnu who engrossed themselves in his worship.
    Nayanars Nayanars were Shiva’s worshippers. During the sixth century CE, they founded the Bhakti Movement.

    Chola rulers have backed you up. The Chola emperors provided land grants to Alvars and Nayanars for the construction of magnificent temples with stone and metal sculptures to reproduce the visions of these popular saints who have sung in the people’s tongues.

    Question 12.
    Explain the meaning of Sufi Silsila. (All India 2012)
    Around the 12th century, Sufi Silsila flourished in several parts of the Islamic world. Silsila literally meant “chain,” implying a constant bond between teacher and learner. It might be traced down to the prophet Muhammad in an uninterrupted spiritual heritage. Spiritual power and blessings were transmitted to worshippers through this conduit. Taking an oath of allegiance, donning a patched robe, and shaving the hair were all part of the initiation procedures.

    Question 13.
    Why do thousands of devotees visit dargahs of Muslim saint? (Delhi 2008)
    Pilgrimage, called Ziyarat to the tombs of Sufi saints is very common all over the Muslim world. For more than seven centuries people of various creeds, classes and social backgrounds have travelled to the dargahs of the five great chisthi saints and expressed their devotions. This practice is an occasion for seeking the sufi’s spiritual grace (barakat).


    4 Marks Questions

    Question 14.
    Explain the features of Islamic religion which contributed to its spread through the sub-continent. Delhi 2013
    The development of Islam was not restricted to ruling aristocrats, actually it spread far and wide, through the sub-continent, amongst various social strata i.e. peasants, artisans, warriors, merchants, etc.

    All those who adopted Islam accepted the five pillars of this religion. These are:

    1. There is one God, Allah and Prophet Muhammad is his messenger (Shahada).
    2. Offering prayers five times a day (namaz/salat).
    3. Giving alms (Zakat).
    4. Fasting during the month of Ramzan (Sawm).
    5. Performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

    The universal features were often overlaid with diversities in practice derived from affiliations (Sunni, Shia) and local customary practices to convert from different social backgrounds. For example, Arab Muslim traders adopted local customs such, as matriliny and matrilocal residence. There was also difference in the architecture of mosque due to the change of regions.

    Question 15.
    “The Lingayats challenged the idea of caste and the ‘pollution’ attributed to certain groups by Brahmanas,” Critically examine the statement. (HOTS; Compartment 2013)

    Under the guidance of Basavanna, the Lingayats or Virshaivas emerged in Karnataka in the 12th century. They worshipped Shiva as a linga, and a miniature linga in a silver box was customarily worn on a loop over their left shoulder.

    They believed that when a devotee died, he or she would be merged with Shiva and would no longer be in this world. They questioned certain key concepts found in our dharmashastras.
    The Lingayats questioned caste and the ‘pollution’ that Brahmanas assigned to particular populations. They didn’t believe in reincarnation. They did not adhere to the Brahmanas’ varna system in our society. These attracted a sizable number of supporters from the society’s outcasts.

    Moreover, the Lingayats encouraged certain practices like post-puberty marriage and the remarriage of widows. Our dharmashastras disapproved these practices. Even the Lingayats did not practise funerary rites such as cremation, prescribed in the dharmashastras. They ceremonially buried their dead.

    In this way the lingayats rejected the caste system and other practices followed in our society given by the Brahmanical scriptures.

    Question 16.
    Mention any two universal architectural features of Mosque. (Delhi 2010)
    Mosque is regarded as the basis of Islamic religious life. It has an open compound and pillars on all sides. The roof stands on all these pillars. In the middle of the compound, there is a pond, which is artificially made. Here, devotees can take bath or wash themselves before offering Namaz.
    Some special architectural features of Mosque are:

    • Mosque has orientation towards Mecca. It makes evident in the placement of the milirab (prayer niche) and the minbar (pulpit).
    • Mosque blends a universal faith with local traditions. In Kerala, we find the shikhara like roof and in Bangladesh, we find dome like roof. In Kashmir we find the Shah Hamadan mosque which is the best example of Kashmiri wooden architecture, decorated with paper mache.


    8 Marks Questions

    Question 17.
    Identify the relationship between the Sufis and the state from the eighth to the eighteenth century. All India 2017

    The Chishti tradition was known for its austerity, which included keeping a distance from worldly authority. This was not, however, a position in which one was completely cut off from political authority.
    The sufis took subsidies and donations from the political elites without asking for them. In reply, the Sultans established benevolent trusts (auqaf) to endow hospices and donated tax-free property (inam).

    The Chishtis received both financial and in-kind donations. Rather than accumulating donations, they opted to spend it all on immediate needs including food, clothing, living quarters, and religious rituals (such as sama). All of this increased the shaikhs’ moral authority, which attracted individuals from all walks of life.

    Further, their piety and scholarship, and people’s belief in their miraculous powers made sufis popular among the masses, whose support kings wished to secure.

    Kings did not simply need to demonstrate their association with sufis; they also required legitimation from them. When the Turks set up the Delhi Sultanate, they resisted the insistence of the ulama on imposing shari’a as state law because they anticipated opposition from their subjects, the majority of whom were non-Muslims. The Sultans wanted their tombs to be in the vicinity of sufi shrines and hospices.

    However, there were times when the Sultans and the Sufis clashed. Both wanted specific rites, like as prostration and foot kissing, to be performed in order to demonstrate their power. High-sounding titles were occasionally used to address the sufi shaikh. Nizamuddin Auliya’s disciples, for example, called him as Sultan-ul-Mashaikh (literally, Sultan amongst Shaikhs).

    Other sufis affiliated with the state included the Suhrawardi under the Delhi Sultans and the Naqshbandi under the Mughals. Their modes of affiliation, however, were not the same as the Chishtis’. Sufis accepted courtly positions in some situations.

    Question 18.
    Identify the relationship of the Alvars and Nayanars of Tamil Nadu with the state from the eighth to the eighteenth century. (All India 2017)
    The realtionship of the Alvars and Nayanars of Tamil Nadu with the state is discussed below:

    • Some of the earliest bhakti movements were led by the Alvars (literally, those who were immersed in devotion to Vishnu) and Nayanars (who were devotees of Shiva).
    • They preached their message in Tamil. During their travel they identified certain shrines as abodes of their chosen deities. And these were developed as centres of pilgrimage.
    • One of the major themes in Tamil bhakti hymns was the poet’s opposition to Buddhism and Jainism. The main reason for this opposition was competition between members of other religious traditions for royal patronage.
    • The Chola rulers (ninth to thirteenth centuries) supported Brahmanical and Bhakti traditions, making land grants and constructing temples for Vishnu and Shiva.
    • The Chola rulers constructed many Shiva temples e.g. Chidambram, Thanjavur and
      Gangaikandacholapuram. They done this to proclaim their own power and status.
    • This was also the period when some of the most spectacular representations of Shiva in bronze scuplture were produced.
    • Both Nayanars and Alvars were revered (admire) by the Vellala peasants. Not surprisingly rulers tried to win their support as well.

    Thus, are can say that the Chola rulers had intimate relations with the both Alvars and Nayanars as they had much honour and status in the society.

    Question 19.
    Explain the teachings of Kabir. How did he describe the ultimate reality through his poems? (Delhi 2010)
    Explain the significance of Kabir’s poems and the traditions he drew to describe the ultimate reality. (All India 2009)
    The historians tried to reconstruct Kabir’s life and timings through a study of compositions attributed to him and later hagiographies.

    Verses ascribed to Kabir have been compiled in three distinct traditions, viz, Kabir Bijak, Kabir Granthavali and Adi Granth Sahib. All these compilations were made long after the death of Kabir. Kabir’s poems have survived in several languages and dialects.

    The significance of Kabir’s poems is as follows:

    Source of Inspiration:
    Kabir’s poems have been a source of inspiration to those who questioned rigid and unrooted social institutions, ideas and practices in search of God.
    Taken from both Hinduism and Islam:
    The significance of Kabir’s poem also lies in the fact that his teachings were inspired by both Hinduism and Islam which sometimes expressed diverse and conflicting ideas. For instance, some poems imbibed Islamic ideas and used monotheism and attacked Hindu polytheism and idol worship while others used the Sufi concept of zikr and ishq to express the Hindu practice of nam-simaran i.e. remembrance of God’s name.
    Kabir’s ideas crystallised through dialogue and debate and his legacy was claimed by several groups. The traditions, he drew to describe ultimate reality through his poems are:
    Islamic Traditions:
    He described the ultimate reality as Allah, Khuda, Hazrat and Pir.
    Vedantic Tradition:
    He used the terms Alakh (Unseen), Nirakar (Formless), Brahman, Atman, etc to describe the ultimate reality.
    Yogic Tradition:
    Other terms with mystical connotations such as shabda (sound) or Shunya (emptiness) were drawn from yogic tradition.

    Question 20.
    Explain how the biography of the saint poetess Mirabai has been primarily constructed. How did she defy the norms of society? (HOTS; All India 2010)
    Reconstruction of Mirabai’s: Biography The reconstruction of biographies of Mirabai has been done from the bhajans composed by herself (transmitted orally for centuries).
    Royal affiliations of Mirabai From the bhajans it has been reconstructed that she was a Rajput princess from Merta in Marwar. She was married to a prince of the Sisodia clan of Mewar, Rajasthan, which had been done against her wishes so she defied her husband. She even refused to submit to the traditional role of wife and mother.

    Recognition of Krishna as lover: She recognised Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu, as her lover. Because of her behaviour, her in-laws once tried to poison her, but she managed to escape the in-laws home and preferred to live as a wandering saint and composing the songs of bhakti and love for the Krishna. Her compositions are known for intense expression of her emotion.

    Defiance of social barriers: Mirabai is mentioned in some stories as a disciple of Raidas, a leather maker. It implies that she was unaware of the caste system’s and society’s ties. She renounced all the comforts of her husband’s palace and donned the saffron garment of the renouncer or the white robe of the widow for her passionate love of Krishna.

    Mirabai, a popular source of inspiration, is today recognised as such rather than drawing a sect or a group of followers. She and her songs are still famous among the poor and ‘low caste’ people of Gujarat and Rajasthan.


    Source-Based Questions

    Question 21.
    The One Lord:
    Here is a composition attributed to Kabir Tell me, brother, how can there be No one lord of the world but two?
    Who led you so astray?
    God is called by many names.
    Names like Allah, Ram, Karim, Keshav, Hari and Hazrat. Gold may be shaped into rings and bangles. Isn’t it gold all the same? Distinctions are only in words that we invent.

    Kabir says they are both mistaken. Neither can find the only Ram. One kills the goat, the other cows. They waste their lives in disputation.

    1. Name any two scriptures, in which verses, ascribed to Kabir, have been complied.
    2. How did Kabir describe the ‘Ultimate Reality’?
    3. Explain the arguments give by Kabir against the lords of the world of different communities.
    4. Do you agree with Kabir? Give your own views as well. Delhi 2012

    1. The two scriptures in which verses of Kabir are found are:
    (a) Kabir Bijak
    (b) Kabir Granthavali

    2. Kabir described the ‘Ultimate Reality’ by drawing the ranges of traditions such as from Islam, he had drawn the Ultimate Reality as Allah, Khuda, Hazrat and Pir. Several terms from the vedantic traditions, such as Alakh, Nirakar, Brahmana, Atman were also taken.

    3. Kabir used monotheism and iconoclasm to attack Hindu polytheism and idol worship and said God is one. God is the ultimate reality and one lord of the world, although he is known by several names.

    4. Yes, I agree with Kabir’s view. The God is only one inspite of having several names. We the people of different religions worship him differently, but God is the ultimate reality and he is one.

    Question 22.
    A Church in Khambat:
    This is an excerpt from a farman (imperial order) issued by Akbar in 1598. Whereas it reached our eminent and holy notice that the padris (fathers) of the Holy Society of Jesus wish to build a house of prayer (Church) in the city of Kambayat (Khambat, in Gujarat); therefore an exalted mandate… is being issued… that the dignitaries of the city of Kambayat should in no case stand in their way but should allow them to build a Church so that they may engage themselves in their own worship. It is necessary that the order of the Emperor should be obeyed in every way.

    1. What did the padris want to do?
    2. How did Akbar ensure that their desire was fulfilled?
    3. Who guided the Muslim rulers?
    4. How was the situation complicated in the sub-continent and how did the rulers adopt to this situation?
      (Delhi 200B)

    1. The padris (fathers) of the Holy Society of Jesus wanted to build a house of prayer i.e. church in the city of Khambat, in Gujarat.

    2. Akbar issued an exalted mandate. It contained that the dignitaries of the city of Khambat should not create any hindrance to the making of churches. But they should allow the padris to build a church, so that they would follow their own religion.

    3.Theoretically, Muslim rulers were to be guided by the ulama. The ulaina were expected to ensure that they ruled according to the Shari’a.

    4. The situation in the sub-continent became complicated, as there were enough population outside Islam. So the category of Zimmi meaning protected was developed by the Muslim rulers for Jews, Christians, Hindus and other non-Muslims who lived under Muslim leadership.

    They all had to pay a tax called ‘Jizya’ and gained the right to be protected by the Muslim leaders. In India, Mughal rulers regarded themselves as emperor of not just Muslims but of all peoples. Several Mughal rulers like Akbar and Aurangzeb gave land endowments and granted tax exemption to other, religious institutions and expressed respect and devotion towards non-Muslim religious leaders.


    Value Based Questions

    Question 23.

    1. Explain the teachings of Guru Nanak.
    2. Did he wish to establish a new religion? Delhi 2009

    1. We can understand his message which were spelt out in his teachings and hymns called Shabad in Punjabi. The teachings of Baba Guru Nanak are as follows

    • Nanak repudiated the external practices of the existing religions.
    • He advocated the specific form of bhakti i.e. Nirguna bhakti.
    • He rejected the sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
    • According to him, the absolute or ‘rab’ had no gender or any specific form.
    • There is only a simple way to connect to the divine by remembering and repeating the divine name.
    • He sang his compositions in various ragas while his disciple, Mardana played the rabab.

    2. Guru Nanak Dev did not wish to establish a new religion. He organised his followers into a community. He set up rules for congregational worship (sangat) involving collective recitation. He appointed his disciple Angad as the preceptor (guru) after him. After the death of Guru Nanak Dev, his followers consolidated their own practices and distinguished themselves from both Hindus and Muslims. The practice of selecting Guru was followed for nearly 200 years by his followers.

    Question 24.
    Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow. Historians who have tried to understand these developments suggest that there were at least two processes at work. One was a process of disseminating Brahmanical ideas. This is exemplified by the composition, compilation and preservation of Puranic texts in simple Sanskrit verse, explicitly meant to be accessible to women and Shudras, who were generally excluded from Vedic learning. At the same time, there was a second process at work that of the Brahmanas accepting and reworking the beliefs and practices of these and other social categories. In fact, many beliefs and practices were shaped through a continuous dialogue between what sociologists have described as “great” Sanskritic Puranic traditions and “little” traditions throughout the land.

    1. Why were shudras and women excluded from vedic learning in vedic period?
    2. According to historians what was the second process of integration of cults?

    1. In Vedic period women and Shudras were generally excluded from Vedic learning because women was treated like a thing which was kept at home only and not allowed to go outside and get education. Thus, prohibited from learning Vedas.
    In the same way due to Varna system Shudras treated as the lowest caste and were consider to do only polluted jobs. Thus, prohibited to learn Vedas.

    2. In the second process of integration of cults the Brahmanas accept and rework on the beliefs and practies of women and Shudras and other social categories.

    Question 25.
    Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow.
    Some historians suggest that the Alvars and Nayanars initiated a movement of protest against the caste system and the dominance of Brahmanas or atleast attempted to reform the system. To some extent this is corroborated by the fact that Bhaktas hailed from diverse social backgrounds ranging from Brahmanas to artisans and cultivators and even from castes considered “untouchable”.

    The importance of the traditions of the Alvars and Nayanars was sometimes indicated by the claim that their compositions were as important as the Vedas. For instance, one of the major anthologies of compositions by the Alvars, the Nalayira Divyaprabandham, was frequently described as the Tamil Veda, thus claiming that the text was as significant as the four Vedas in Sanskrit that were cherished by the Brahmanas.

    1. What was the attitude of Alvars and Nayanars towards caste system?
    2. Give an example which indicates that the composition of Alvars was as significant as Vedas of Brahmanas?

    1. According to some scholars both Alvars and Nayanars were opposed to caste system made by the Brahmanas. In this regard, they initiated a movement to protest against the caste system and the dominance of Brahmanas or at least attempted to reform the system. By these efforts, people from various social backgrounds joined the movement, ranging from Brahmanas to artisans and cultivators and even from the castes considered ‘untouchable’.

    2. The importance of the traditions of the Alvars and Nayanars was sometimes indicated by the claim that their compositions were as important as the Vedas. For instance, one of the major anthologies of compositions by the Alvars, the Nalayira Divyaprabandham, was frequently described as the Tamil Veda, thus claiming that the text was as significant as the four Vedas in Sanskrit that were cherished by the Brahmanas:

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