NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 6 Bhakti – Sufi Traditions

Q. Who was Baba Guru Nanak? List some of his beliefs and faiths concerning the religion.

Ans. Baba Guru Nanak was born in the year 1469 in a village called Nankana Sahib which was situated on the river Ravi predominantly in Pakistan. He received training in accountancy and also learned Persian. Guru Nanak was married at a young age. However, most of his time was passed with the Sufis and Bhaktas. He was an extensive traveller.
Some of the beliefs of Guru Nanak are as follows:

  1. He was an advocate of Nirguna Bhakti and promoted the abstract worship of God.
  2. He was opposed to the ritualistic practices of the religion such as sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, etc.
  3. He gave the idea that to reach the divine, one must take and repeat the name of divine.
  4. He composed hymns that came to be known as “Shabad” in Punjabi. Baba Nanak used to sing these compositions in several ragas and his disciples used to play rabab.
  5. Baba Guru Nanak organised a community for his followers. Rules were set for congregational worship and he also started the concept of collective recitation of prayers.

Q. Who was Mira bai? Discuss her devotional character and ideas about God.

Ans. Mira bai was a Rajput princess from Merta in Marwar. She was married against her wishes to the Prince of Sisodia clan of Mewar in Rajasthan. After her marriage, she did not adopt the traditional role of a wife and defied her husband.

  1. Mira bai fall into the bhakti of Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and projected him as her lover.
  2. She was tried to be poisoned by her in-laws but managed to save herself by escaping.
  3. She started living as a wandering saint and composed songs characterised by an intense feeling of emotion.
  4. She became the most renowned women poet of the Bhakti tradition.
  5. Mirabai became the epitome of love and devotion to God and is remembered for her selfless love for God.

Q. Explain with examples what historians mean by the integration of cults.

Ans. During the medieval period the education became accessible to the women as well as Shudras due to the accessibility of the Puranic literature in simple Sanskrit language. The spreading of the Bhakti movement also led to the undermining of the supremacy of the Brahamanas. There was rise of devotional form of worship. There was routine worship of the deities in the temples and also the devotees showed ecstatic adoration towards God.

This period also saw the revival of the traditional cults. One example can be seen of Lord Jagannath who is considered as the form of Vishnu.

Q. To what extent do you think the architecture of mosques in the subcontinent reflects a combination of universal ideals and local traditions?

Ans. The Mosque build in India shows the unique blend of the diversity of the universal faith of Islam with unique local practices. Some features of the Mosque are:

  1. The orientation of almost every Mosque was towards Mecca.
  2. The roofs of the Mosque and their building materials were however different according to the place.

Q. What were the similarities and differences between the be-shari‘a and ba-shari‘a sufi traditions?

Ans. Sharia is the Islamic law that contains the tenets of the Islamic religion. The origin of the Sharia is traced to the holy book of Quran, Hadis and teachings of the Prophet. The medieval age saw the rise of a great social movement that came to be known as the Sufi movement. There were Sufis who renounce the worldly pleasures and adopted the path of asceticism. These Sufis also neglected the Sharia and came to be known as the be-sharia. 

Onthe otherhands there were Sufis who criticised the extravagant lifestyle of the Kings and other nobles but did not condemn the Sharia. These class of Sufis came to be known as the be-sharia.

Q. Discuss the ways in which the Alvars, Nayanars and Virashaivas expressed critiques of the caste system.

Ans. The authority of the Brahamanas over religious matters kept several sections like women and Shudras away from religious practices. However, the rise of the poet-saints led to the accommodation of every section of the society in religious practices. The ordinary people got close to these poet-saints due to their liberal religious attitude. The poet-saints made the religion easy to preach. The bhaktas belonged to diverse social backgrounds including artisans, cultivators, and castes that were considered untouchables. Their compositions were sometimes claimed as important as the Vedas.

Q. Describe the major teachings of either Kabir or Baba Guru Nanak, and the ways in which these have been transmitted.

Ans. Kabir is one of the most famous saints in the history of India. He is said to be raised by a poor Muslim weaving family. It is also said that Kabir entered the path of Bhakti due to the inspiration from his guru Ramananda. Some of the features of his religious ideology were:

  1. He has talked about the idea of Ultimate Reality on several occasions. He has compared the Ultimate Reality with Allah or God.
  2. His poems have diverse meanings and several conflicting ideas are expressed in his poems.
  3. Some of his poems that were based on Islamic ideas supported monotheism and opposed the polytheism and idol worship practices of the Hindus.
  4. He said that the union with God is possible by exhibiting love for him.
  5. The legacy of Kabir in the Bhakti traditions and history of India is significant and unmatchable.

Baba Guru Nanak was born in the year 1469 in a village called Nankana Sahib which is situated on the river Ravi predominantly in Pakistan. He received training in accountancy and also learned Persian. Guru Nanak was married at a young age. However, most of his time was passed with the Sufis and Bhaktas. He was an extensive traveller.

Some of the beliefs of Guru Nanak are:

  1. He was an advocate of Nirguna Bhakti and promoted the abstract worship of God.
  2. He was opposed to the ritualistic practices of the religion such as sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, etc.
  3. He gave the idea that to reach the Divine one must take and repeat the name of divine.
  4. He composed hymns that came to be known as “Shabad” in Punjabi. Baba Nanak used to sing these compositions in several ragas and his disciples used to play rabab.
  5. Baba Guru Nanak organised his followers into a community. Rules were set for congregational worship and started the concept of collective recitation of prayers.

Q. Discuss the major beliefs and practices that characterised Sufism

Ans. The Sufi saints maintained the principle of austerity and remained away from the political powers. However, they were not completely isolated from the political affiliations:

  1. The Sufis readily accepted donations and grants from the ruling classes of the society.
  2. The Sultans used to set up charitable trusts as endowments for the hospices established by the Sufi saints. They also used to grant lands to the Sufis.
  3. The Sufis used to receive donations in cash and kind which they utilised immediately for maintaining stocks of food, clothes, etc. in their centres.
  4. Shaikhs has great influence over the ruling elites which used to visit their centres of learning frequently.
  5. Shaikhs became successful in gaining legitimacy from the ruling elites as well as the common sections of the society.

Q. Examine how and why rulers tried to establish connections with the traditions of the Nayanars and the sufis.

Ans. The Mughals followed a tolerant religious policy in India:

  1. They made grants and endowments to religious groups of Hindus, Christians, Jews and other communities.
  2. They gave respect to the religious leaders of the other communities on several occasions with few exceptions.

Apart from Mughals Hindu rulers also gave patronage to the Alvars and Nayanars as these sects had high legitimacy from the common sections of the society. To gain the trust of the common people often the rulers had to show their respect to the saints. Apart from this these saints also accepted the authority of the rulers.

Q. Analyse, with illustrations, why bhakti and sufi thinkers adopted a variety of languages in which to express their opinions.

Ans. The Sufi saints and Bhakti saints used to converse in the local languages with their disciples.

  1. Chisthi silsila used the language of Hindavi which was said to be the language of the people.
  2. SomeSufis likeBabaFaridmade compositions in the local languages that were incorporated in several religious texts.
  3. Local languages was used for conversation due to the reason that it established a direct contact between the people and the saints. The common people felt close to the teachings of the saints.

Q. Read the following source carefully and answer the questions that follow :

A Demon ?
This is an excerpt from a poem by Karaikkal Ammaiyar in which she describes herself : The female Pey (demoness) with … bulging veins, protruding eyes, white teeth and shrunken stomach, red haired and jutting teeth lengthy shins extending till the ankles, shouts and wails while wandering in the forest, this is the forest of Alankatu, which is the home of our father (Shiva) who dances … with his matted hair thrown in all eight directions, and with cool limbs.

(i) Analyse how Karaikkal Ammaiyar had depicted herself different from the traditional nature of beauty.

Ans. She shed off her worldly beauty to attain the absolute devotion to Lord Shiva. She described herself as protecting eyes, shrunken stomach, jutting teeth and lengthy shine.

(ii) Analyse how this composition of Ammaiyar pose a challenge to patriarchal norms.

Ans.  1. The defied patriarchal norms taking fearful image.
2. She rejected socially validated beauty.

(iii) Analyse any two aspects of renunciation of her social obligations.

Ans. 1. Great devotion to Lord Shiva and adopted path of extreme asceticism.
2. The incompatibility between virtues of womens’ virtuosity.

Q. Name the major anthological composition of the Alvars which is described as the Tamil Veda.

Ans. The Nalayira Divya prabhandham is also described as the Tamil Veda.

Q. Fill in the blank :
Verses of Kabir are compiled in the Kabir Bijak, the Kabir Granthawali and _______.

Ans. The Adi Granth Sahib 

Q. Who was the preceptor of Meera Bai ?

Ans. Guru Raidas or Ravidas

Q. Name the woman devotee of Nayanar tradition who adopted the path of extreme asceticism in order to attain her goal.

Ans. Karaikkal Ammaiyar, a woman devotee of the Nayanar tradition or Lord Shiva, adopted the path of extreme asceticism in order to attain her goal.

Q. Name the woman devotee of Alvar tradition whose compositions are widely sung.

Ans. Andal, a woman devotee of the Alvar tradition was famous for her compositions which are widely sung even today.

Q. Describe the main teachings of Baba Guru Nanak.

Ans. Teaching of Baba Guru Nanak :

  1. He firmly repudiated the external practices of the religions he saw around him. He rejected sacrifices, ritual bath, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of
    both Hindu and Muslims.
  2. He organised his followers into a community.
  3. He set up rules for congregational worship (sangat) involving collective recitation. For Baba Nanak, the absolute or Rab had no gender form.
  4. He proposed a simple way to connect to the Divine by remembering and repeating the Divine’s Name through hymns called shabad.