NCERT Class 7 History Chapter 9 - The Making of Regional Cultures Notes

Chapter 9 - The Making of Regional Cultures Notes

1. The Chera kingdom of Mahodayapuram was established in the ninth century in the south-western part of the peninsula, part of present-day Kerala. It is likely that Malayalam was spoken in this area. The rulers introduced the Malayalam language and script in their inscriptions.

2. The first literary works in Malayalam, dated to about the twelfth century, are directly indebted to Sanskrit.

3. A fourteenth-century text, the Lilatilakam, dealing with grammar and poetics, was composed in Manipravalam - literally, “diamonds and corals” referring to the two languages, Sanskrit and the regional language.

4. In other regions, regional cultures grew around religious traditions. The best example of this process is the cult of Jagannatha (literally, lord of the world, a name for Vishnu) at Puri, Orissa.

5. In the twelfth century, one of the most important rulers of the Ganga dynasty, Anantavarman, decided to erect a temple for Purushottama Jagannatha at Puri.

6. In 1230, king Anangabhima III dedicated his kingdom to the deity and proclaimed himself as the “deputy” of the god.

7. As the temple gained in importance as a centre of pilgrimage, its authority in social and political matters also increased. All those who conquered Orissa, such as the Mughals, the Marathas and the English East India Company, attempted to gain control over the temple. They felt that this would make their rule acceptable to the local people.

8. In the nineteenth century, the region that constitutes most of present-day Rajasthan, was called Rajputana by the British.

9. These cultural traditions were closely linked with the ideals and aspirations of rulers. From about the eighth century, most of the present-day state of Rajasthan was ruled by various Rajput families. Prithviraj was one such ruler. These rulers cherished the ideal of the hero who fought valiantly, often choosing death on the battlefield rather than face defeat.

10. Stories about Rajput heroes were recorded in poems and songs, which were recited by specially trained minstrels. These preserved the memories of heroes and were expected to inspire others to follow their example. Ordinary people were also attracted by these stories - which often depicted dramatic situations, and a range of strong emotions - loyalty, friendship, love, valour, anger, etc.

11. The term kathak is derived from katha, a word used in Sanskrit and other languages for story. The kathaks were originally a caste of story-tellers in temples of north India, who embellished their performances with gestures and songs. Kathak began evolving into a distinct mode of dance in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with the spread of the bhakti movement.

12. The legends of Radha - Krishna were enacted in folk plays called Rasa Lila, which combined folk dance with the basic gestures of the kathak story-tellers.

13. Under the Mughal emperors and their nobles, Kathak was performed in the court, where it acquired its present features and developed into a form of dance with a distinctive style.

14. Kathak developed in two traditions (gharanas) one in the courts of Rajasthan (Jaipur) and the other in Lucknow. Under the patronage of Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, it grew into a ajor art form.

15. By the third quarter of the nineteenth century it was firmly established as a dance form not only in these two regions, but in the adjoining areas of present-day Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Emphasis was laid on intricate and rapid footwork, elaborate costumes, as well as on the enactment of stories.

16. Kathak, like several other cultural practices, was viewed with disfavour by most British administrators in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, it survived and continued to be performed by courtesans, and was recognised as one of six “classical” forms of dance in the country after independence.

17. Classical dance forms recognised are:
• Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu)
• Kathakali (Kerala)
• Odissi (Odisha)
• Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh)
• Manipuri (Manipur)

18. Miniatures are small-sized paintings, generally done in water colour on cloth or paper. The earliest miniatures were on palm leaves or wood. Some of the most beautiful of these, found in western India, were used to illustrate Jaina texts.

19. The Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan patronised highly skilled painters who primarily illustrated manuscripts containing historical accounts and poetry. These were generally painted in brilliant colours and portrayed court scenes, scenes of battle or hunting, and other aspects of social life. They were often exchanged as gifts and were viewed only by an exclusive few - the emperor and his close associates.

20. With the decline of the Mughal Empire, many painters moved out to the courts of the emerging regional states. As a result, Mughal artistic tastes influenced the regional courts of the Deccan and the Rajput courts of Rajasthan.

21. Another region that attracted miniature paintings was the Himalayan foothills around the modern-day state of Himachal Pradesh. By the late seventeenth century this region had developed a bold and intense style of miniature painting called Basohli. The most popular text to be painted here was Bhanudatta’s Rasamanjari. Nadir Shah’s invasion and the conquest of Delhi in 1739 resulted in the migration of Mughal artists to the hills to escape the uncertainties of the plains.

22. They found ready patrons which led to the founding of the Kangra School of painting. By the mid eighteenth century the Kangra artists developed a style which breathed a new spirit into miniature painting. The source of inspiration was the Vaishnavite traditions. Soft colours including cool blues and greens, and a lyrical treatment of themes distinguished Kangra painting.

23. Ordinary women and men painted as well - on pots, walls, floors, cloth - works of art that have occasionally survived, unlike the miniatures that were carefully preserved in palaces for centuries.

24. Bengali is said to have been derived from Sanskrit but early Sanskrit texts derived it. From the fourth-third centuries BCE, commercial ties developed between Bengal and Magadha which may have led to the growing influence of Sanskrit. During the fourth century, the Gupta rulers established political control over north Bengal and began to settle Brahmanas in this area. Thus, the linguistic and cultural influence from the mid-Ganga valley became stronger.

25. In the seventh century, the Chinese traveller Xuan Zang observed that languages related to Sanskrit were in use all over Bengal. From the eighth century, Bengal became the centre of a regional kingdom under the Palas. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Bengal was ruled by Sultans. In 1586, when Akbar conquered Bengal, it formed the nucleus of the Bengal Suba, While Persian was the language of administration, Bengali developed as a regional language.

26. By the 15th century, the Bengali group of dialects came to be united by a common literary language based on the spoken language of the western part of the region, now known as West Bengal. Thus, although Bengali is derived from Sanskrit, it passed through several stages of evolution. A wide range of non-Sanskrit words, derived from tribal languages, Persian and European language, have become part of modem Bengali.

27. Early Bengali literature may be divided into two categories – one indebted to Sanskrit and the other independent of it. The first includes translations of the Sanskrit epics, the Mangalakavyas (literally auspicious poems, dealing with local deities) and bhakti literature such as the biographies of Chaitanyadeva, the leader of the Vaishnava bhakti movement.

28. The second includes Nath literature such as the songs of Maynamati and Gopichandra, stories concerning the worship of Dharma Thakur, and fairy tales, folk tales and ballads.

29. The texts belonging to the first category are easier to date, as several manuscripts have been found indicating that they were composed between the late fifteenth and mid-eighteenth centuries. Those belonging to the second category circulated orally and cannot be precisely dated. They were particularly popular in eastern Bengal, where the influence of Brahmanas was relatively weak.

30. From the sixteenth century, people began to migrate in large numbers from the less fertile western Bengal to the forested and marshy areas of south-eastern Bengal. As they moved eastwards, they cleared forests and brought the land under rice cultivation.

31. This coincided with the establishment of Mughal control over Bengal with their capital in the heart of the eastern delta at Dhaka. Officials and functionaries received land and often set up mosques that served as centres for religious transformation in these areas.

32. The early settlers sought some order and assurance in the unstable conditions of the new settlements. These were provided by community leaders, who also functioned as teachers and adjudicators and were sometimes ascribed with supernatural powers. People referred to them with affection and respect as pirs.

33. This term included saints or Sufis and other religious personalities, daring colonisers and deified soldiers, various Hindu and Buddhist deities and even animistic spirits. The cult of pirs became very popular and their shrines can be found everywhere in Bengal.

34. Animism means attribution of living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.

35. Temples and other religious structures were often built by individuals or groups who were becoming powerful - to both demonstrate their power and proclaim their piety.

36. The temples began to copy the double-roofed (dochala) or four-roofed (chauchala) structure of the thatched huts. This led to the evolution of the typical Bengali style in temple architecture.

37. In the comparatively more complex four-roofed structure, four triangular roofs placed on the four walls move up to converge on a curved line or a point. Temples were usually built on a square platform. The interior was relatively plain, but the outer walls of many temples were decorated with paintings, ornamental tiles or terracotta tablets. In some temples, particularly in Vishnupur in the Bankura district of West Bengal, such decorations reached a high degree of excellence.

38. Bengal is a riverine plain which produces plenty of rice and fish.

39. Fishing has always been an important occupation and Bengali literature contains several references to fish. Terracotta plaques on the walls of temples and viharas (Buddhist monasteries) depict scenes of fish being dressed and taken to the market in baskets.

40. Brahmanas were not allowed to eat non vegetarian food, but the popularity of fish in the local diet made the Brahmanical authorities relax this prohibition for the Bengal Brahmanas. The Brihaddharma Purana, a thirteenth - century Sanskrit text from Bengal, permitted the local Brahmanas to eat certain varieties of fish.

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