Model Question and Answers for APSC | Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India.
Ans : Accounts from foreign travellers play an important role in determining Indian history, especially during medieval and ancient India. Their account has been able to throw light on various aspects such as administration and common practices, during their visit.
1. Socio-economic conditions in India - For example, Fa-Hien mentions the Chandalas (untouchables) living outside the village.
2. Existing political conditions - For example, Hsuan Tsang’s account shows that during Harsha’s reign (7th Century AD), Pataliputra was in a state of decline and on the other hand, Prayag and Kannauj in the doab had emerged important.
3. Nature of Buddhist doctrines, rituals, and monastic institutions in India - For example - Hsuan Tsang and I-tsing provided vivid accounts of Nalanda.
1. Al Beruni (AD 973 – 1048) – Mahmud of Ghazni. Culture of Indians especially the Hindus.
2. Abdur Razzaq – Vijaynagar Empire. His description of trade-in Vijayanagara has been at the centre of appreciation. He also describes the architecture and glory of the city of Hampi.
3. Arab travellers such as the merchants - Sulayman, Abu Zaid, etc. provided vivid accounts of Indian culture and science.
4. Abu Zaid noted that there was no system of purdah (veiling) in upper-class women in early medieval India.
Chinese and Arab travellers provide information about the socioeconomic condition through their description of trade contacts and the wealth which was exclusively derived from the trade with India. They provide enriching narratives highlighting the diversity of our past.