Chapter 4 – Summary of Medieval India: Life of People under Delhi Sultanate (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Developments in the field of religion, folk art and language in India during the medieval times have been important milestones in the evolution of the composite culture of India.

Life of People under Delhi Sultanate

When the Muslim invaders came to India they decided to make it their home. They intermarried and took to the culture of the Indians. There was a mutual exchange in ideas and customs.

Ideas and Customs


  • The Indian society was divided into four major groups.
  • They were the aristocrats, the priests, the town՚s people and the peasants.


  • The aristocrats included the sultan and his relatives, nobility and the landholders. There were also the Hindu rajas, chiefs, Hindu merchants and bankers.
  • They concentrated all the wealth as well as the power in their hands. Needless to say that they were a group of very powerful people.
  • The sultan outmatched everyone in this. He has to do it so as to maintain his superiority and his status. Even the nobility imitated his style and showed off their wealth.

The Priests

  • The Priests were another important class of people in the society. Among the Hindus, they were the Brahmans and Ulemas among the Muslims.
  • They were given grants of tax-free land for their maintenance and were often very powerful.
  • The Ulemas wielded great influence on the Muslim sultans and often influenced their policies.
  • Sometimes the priests were not interested in religious affairs but were interested in worldly affairs.

The Town People

  • In the town lived the wealthy merchants, traders and artisans. The nobility, the officers and the soldiers also stayed in the towns that were the administrative and military centres.
  • Places where the Sufi and Bhakti saints lived and places which housed important temples and mosques had become pilgrim centres.

The Peasants

  • The Peasants, of course, lived in the villages and were often the worst off. They paid huge taxes to the state as land revenge.
  • The caste system was very rigid and intercaste marriages and intercaste dining was totally prohibited.


  • Trade was flourishing and many new towns came up to encourage trade. Some communities like the Banias, Marwaris and Multanis made their special vocation.
  • Delhi was the centre for the incoming as well as outgoing goods. There was rice from the East, sugar from kanuj, wheat from the Doab and silks from the south.

Religious Condition

  • When Islam came to India, Hinduism was in vogue. But by this time Hinduism had degenerated itself.
  • The people, especially the lower classes were ill-treated. Islam was opposite of what was in practise among the Hindus.
  • The coming of Islam did not bring in many changes in the political structure of the country.
  • Both the movements were based on the fact that God was supreme, all were equal for him and Bhakti or devotion to Him was the way to achieve salivation.

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