Chapter 4 – Medieval India: Political Background, Cultural Development and Bhakti Movement (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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The rulers of Delhi, who ruled from 1200 - 90, were Mamluk Turks. They were followed by the khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyids and Lodis, who ruled northern India from Delhi till 1526. All these rulers were called Sultans.

Political Background

  • In 1526 the Delhi Sultans were replaced by the Mughals, who initially ruled from Agra and later from Delhi till 1707.
  • The Mughal rule continued only nominally till 1857when the dynasty ended.
  • The Mughals did not ask for ant investiture but continued to send presents to the Khalifas. They also got the khutba read in their own names.
  • Mughal emperor Akbar who ruled from 1556 - 1605 was great ruler in the history of India.
  • He made a sincere effort to foster harmony among his subjects by discouraging racial, religious and cultural biases.
  • Akbar՚s policy of liberalism and tolerance was continued by his successors, Jahangir and shah Jahan. However the policy was abandoned by Aurangzeb.
  • Aurangzeb՚s short sighted policies and endless wars in different parts of the country resulted in the disintegration of the Mughal empire.
  • Economically India was still the biggest exporter in the world and had great wealth, but it was left far behind in the process of modernisation.

Cultural Development

  • Cultural Development in the field of art and architecture that the rulers of this period took a keen interest.
  • The composite cultural characteristic of the medieval period is amply witnessed in these fields.
  • A new style of architecture known as the Indo-Islamic style was born out of this fusion.
Features of Indo-Islamic Architecture

Bhakti Movement

  • The Sufis were not only popular religions teacher of the time. There were also the Bhakti saints.
  • Their teaching were similar to those of the Sufis but they had been teaching for a long time.
  • They were popular among the artisans, craftsmen and traders in the towns. The people in the villages also flocked to listen to them.
  • The Sufi and Bhakti saints had many thoughts and practices in common. Their essential belief was in the need to unite God.
  • They laid stress on love or devotion as the basis of the relationship with God. To achieve all this a Guru or a Pir was needed.
  • The Bhakti movement was long known in the south the idea of preaching Bhakti through hymns and stories was traditionally done by the Alvars and the Nayannars of the Tamil devotional cult.

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