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.
Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India.
Ans: India has always been the dream destination for people who want to explore one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Since time immemorial, India has received several keen travellers who came here and fell in love with its traditions and colours.
These travellers often left a description of what they observed here. Such authoritative accounts are often used to reconstruct ancient and medieval Indian history. Some of the most famous among them came from China and parts of Arabia.
The importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India
- Unbiased account: These accounts provided an outsider’s perspective on contemporary issues. Thus, Fa Hien’s account of life in the 5th century Gupta empire was devoid of any biases
- Cultural diplomacy in part: Such accounts were taken by the travellers to their home countries, which enabled a better understanding of India, and consequently the establishment of better diplomatic relations.
- Religious history: Accounts by Chinese travellers (Fe Hein, Hien Tsang and I-tsing) constitute an important element of Buddhist monastic doctrines, traditions and It explains the rise of Buddhism and the subsequent decline in India.
- Spread of science and technology: Accounts by Arab travellers, went a long way in the improvement of trade relations as well as the development of science and mathematics.
- History of medieval Deccan: One of the earliest mentions of the Vijaynagar empire in India comes through Abdul Razzak, the Persian traveller who visited it around 1440. His accounts of the Hampi marketplace, its architecture and grandeur have left a lot of corpus of history for later historians to work on.
- Post-classical history of Eastern India: Arab merchant Sulaiman visited Bengal during the time of the Pala Empire, and referred to a kingdom named 'Ruhma' and attested to their military He also visited the court of “Amoghavarsha” of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.
- Accounts of ordinary people: Contrary to the works commissioned by the court which were more focussed on portraying the monarchs in good light, the accounts of foreign travellers focussed on the lives of ordinary people. Al Beruni’s ‘Kitab-al-Hind’ and Ibn Battuta’s ‘Rihala’ are excellent examples.