That part of the world

sapta sindhwa [hafta hindwa], madra des, uttarapath, nirdukha, sukhbhumi


pre 1500 bc – harrapa, mohenjadaru – highly urbanized; 1000 me/w, 700 n/s


indoaryan – vedic Hinduism; Vedas written, mahabharata scene; use of iron

rig veda 10/11 cent bc, upanisad, six sastras, purana by 300 ad

believed in various gods and raksasas > trinity> ritualistic brahminism

500 bc protest against brahminism due upanisad but mainly due jaina, budha


326 bc alexander’s invasion upto beas


mauryas rule 321-189 bc; chandragupta – jain, ashok turned budhhist; kautilya


indo greek, saka, kushan [kanishka] for 5 cent, lot of budhist works written 1-4 cent ad

jainas sprinkling because lack of royal patronage.


guptas around 2 cent; golden hindu period


huns come in 500 ad bodha persecuted;

vardhanas till 647 ad; harsa shaivite turned budhhist


710 mohd bin qasim sindh, arab traders malabar; by 950 sindh and Kabul mostly muslim, shankaracharya stared his reform late 8/early 9th cent.


Mahmud ghazni 7 attacks; jawalamukhi, mathura, somnath destroyed; Punjab conquered qutabuddin aibak destroyed 27 hindu/jain temples; stones in qutab minar evidence; dynasties like ghoris, slaves, khiljis, tughlaqs

1398 timur invasion – bhatnir 10,000 hindus killed 1 hr, delhi 100,000 taken prisoners by soldiers, mostly killed; tughlaqs weakened but survived 50 yrs. Punjab suffered most


lodhis start 1451 – bahlol; 1489 – sikander [mother hindu]; 1517 – ibrahim

grewal: secular, caste panchayats; Punjab saw peace till babur; no recorded persecution; jaziya not insisted; Hindus learnt farsi, got jobs; pilgrimage tax allowed by cannon.

Bannerjee: suffering, uncertainty & anxiety; delhi cut off from ports for 1 cent so no cash; temples destroyed; hindus not allowed shave head/face; bodhan Brahmin; only ride donkeys; kabir in chains thrown in ganga; no justice for non Muslims – 2nd class citizens


lodhi govt: weak center more engaged E & S, W left alone; nominal sultan & wazir; provinces assignees – kept troops, collected revenue, tyrannical, corrupt, extortionists.

Officials diwan; siqdar, amin, qanungo, fotedar [maliks]; muqaddam [chowdhury] Upper caste hindus muqaddams – almost hereditary. Unsympathetic, corrupt, selfish.


Islam with concept of God, prophet, quran, sharia, open, egalitarian, simple worship & theology against discrimination,

immigrant muslims rich and powerful; converted mostly same vocation as before

Mullahs orthodox; worldly; pool for scholars, qazis; influential, harsh, vain, formalistic; behavior of mullah, sheikh, qazi;

Sufis – influence of yoga, vernacular, hindwi music- chishtis, suhrawardi, qadri, naqashbandi silsila

Lived in poverty & abstinence; lower self, nafs, must be annihilated; meditate; free heart of evil; dhikr; khanqah life and langar; denials; ascetic

Qalandar wandering darvesh; magic & occult powers; opposed khanqa living. Sheikhzadas, pirzadas became hereditory


Hindu Brahmins caste & form bound; learnt farsi, got jobs; hypocritical; extortionist

Jogis recluse, ascetic, hated women, warrior beggars, tantric, but rejected caste, idols, temples, mosques, pilgrimage

Bhagats salvation thru loving bhakti; caste, rituals, pilgrimages not critical,

Saktas worship goddesses, believe in tantra

Sant belief in non-incarnated God, formless, immanent, no caste, liberal social approach.

Town morphology separatist, elitist and discriminatory.

Conversions thru official/domestic/battle slavery, induced, tribal group, Sufis, forced


Rulers umbrellas, elephants, ornaments, court jesters, jangan faqirs kept matted hair, chains tied to feet and ringing bells

Babur wrote: no good looks, social graces, horses, dogs, handicrafts, grapes, musk melons, cold water, ice, food, cooking, hot baths, candles, torches —-

 All round decline – hypocrisy, corruption, ritualism or asceticism, inequality, discrimination, caste system strong, neel vastra pehr, decadent intellectual life, acute poverty, greed, chicanery


verse I – righteousness, modesty gone, qazis, Brahmins role to satan

verse II – strong mauling weak and divine response; sins of rulers visit poor

verse III – rulers forgot their role, lost in pleasure look at women suffering

verse IV – wealth collected thru sin or occult charms did not help, what had to happen did happen for all the sin and moral decline


What seems to be the message of Nanak in the Babarvani compositions?

  • Righteousness – any claimants
  • Factors that seem to have made that society to become vulnerable
  • Nanak’s anguish at suffering of the innocents – envision a worse case scenario
  • Divine responsibility, intervention, miracle? Why & on which side?

How would you classify the social milieu in Punjab of the times? Could it be viewed as some kind of a melting pot? If not what were constraining factors? Discuss in the light of earlier history and historical developments since then.

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