History - Class 7

Our Past - II

Chapter 1: Tracing Changes Through A Thousand Years

Intext Questions:

Question:  Look at the areas in the interior of the subcontinent on Map 2 of the textbook. Are they as detailed as those on the coast? Follow the course of the River Ganga and see how it is shown. Why do you think there is a difference in the level of detail and accuracy between the coastal and inland areas in this map?


  1. No, the areas in the interior of the subcontinent on Map 2 are not as detailed as those on the coast.
  2. The European sailors and merchants who used this map did not go to the inland places of the subcontinent as much as they interacted with the coastal areas.
  3. Therefore, the level of detail and accuracy of coastal areas is better than the inland areas, on the map.

Question:  Can you think of any other words whose meanings change in different contexts?


  1. Hindustan: Minhaj-i-Siraj, a chronicler who wrote in Persian, he meant the areas of Punjab, Haryana and the lands between the Ganga and Yamuna. He used the term in a political sense for lands that were a part of the dominions of the Delhi Sultan. In the early sixteenth century Babur used Hindustan to describe the geography, the fauna and the culture of the inhabitants of the subcontinent.
  2. Clue: Centuries ago, a clue (or clew) was a ball of yarn. Think about threading your way through a maze and you’ll see how we got from yarn to key bits of evidence that help us solve things.
  3. Myriad: If you had a myriad of things 600 years ago, it meant that you specifically had 10,000 of them — not just a lot
  4. Naughty: Long ago, if you were naughty, you had naught or nothing. Then it came to mean evil or immoral, and now you are just badly behaved.
  5. Nice: This word used to mean “silly, foolish, simple.” Far from the compliment it is today!
  6. Silly: Meanwhile, silly went in the opposite direction: in its earliest uses, it referred to things worthy or blessed; from there it came to refer to the weak and vulnerable, and more recently to those who are foolish.

Question:  When was paper more expensive and easily available? in the thirteenth or the fourteenth century?

Answer: Paper was more expensive in thirteenth century and easily available in fourteenth century.

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Question: Of the technological, economic, social and cultural changes described in this section, which do you think were most significant in the town or village in which you live?

Answer: Economic, Social changes are rampant in the town I am living due to technological advancement in changing times. Education has changed many lives and brought many people above the social ladder.

Question: Why do you think rulers made such claims?

Answer: Rulers have made such claims to show their power. They protected their kingdom with their courage and power. The rulers wanted to conquer and save the land so that they could do their work like agriculture, construction of buildings and factories and many more. They also govern the area that they have won in war. Such claim helped the rulers to have their hegemony on other land and increase their ruling territory.

Question: Did you notice that the names by which languages are known have changed over time?

Answer: Yes, most of the languages have changed over time.
In 1318 the poet Amir Khusrau noted that there was a different language in every region of this land.
Sindhi: Presently,It is the official language of the Pakistani province of Sindh.
Lahori: Now it has been replaced by Urdu language.
Kashmiri: Now It is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dvarsamudri (in southern Karnataka): Currently Kannada is the official language of Karnataka.
Telangani (in Andhra Pradesh): Now it has become Telugu.
Gujari (in Gujarat): It is Gujarathi now.
Ma‘bari (in Tamil Nadu): Now Tamil is an official language of Tamil Nadu.
Gauri, (in Bengal) : Bengali is an official language of West Bengal
Awadhi (in eastern Uttar Pradesh):It is primarily spoken in the Awadh region of present-day Uttar Pradesh, India.
Hindawi (in the area around Delhi): Now Hindi,Punjabi and Englishis being used in areas around Delhi.

Question: What was the duration of rule of the Khilji and Mughal dynasties?

Answer: The Khilji dynasty was a Turko-Afghan dynasty which ruled on the Delhi sultanate, covering large parts of the Indian subcontinent for nearly three decades between 1290 and 1320.
Muslim dynasty of Turkic-Mongol origin that ruled most of northern India from the early 16th to the mid-18th century.

Question: Find out whether and for how long your state was part of these pan-regional empires?

Answer: Pan regional Empire is a nation which influences other regions, actions completely or partially. My state Andhra Pradesh is part of pan regional empires like Mauryan empire, Rashtrakutas, Vijayanagara empire, and Mughal empire for about 2000 years.

Question: Do you remember what Amir Khusrau had to say regarding Sanskrit, knowledge, and Brahmanas?

Answer: Yes.

  1. About Sanskrit, Amir Khusrau said, that it did not belong to any region and it was an old language.
  2. No one except the Brahmanas knows it. It means Brahmanas were the scholars of Sanskrit.


Question: You are a historian. Choose one of the themes mentioned in this chapter, such as economic, social or political history, and discuss why you think it would be interesting to find out the history of that theme.

Answer: I would choose social and political history. It would be interesting to find out the history of social and political changes because:

  1. This period saw emergence of new foods and beverages.
  2. New technologies appeared.
  3. It was period of mobility when people travelled long distances.
  4. Extension of agriculture brought social changes.
  5. Important changes occurred in religion.
  6. Politically different groups became important.


Question 1: Who was considered a ‘foreigner’ in the past?

Answer: In the past, a person who was a stranger or who was not a part of the society or culture was considered to be a ‘foreigner’.

  1. In Hindi, a foreigner is termed as pardesi.
  2. In Persian, a foreigner is called ajnabi.

Question 2: State whether true or false:

(a) We do not find inscriptions for the period after 700.

(b) The Marathas asserted their political importance during this period.

(c) Forest-dwellers were sometimes pushed out of their lands with the spread of agricultural settlements.

(d) Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban controlled Assam, Manipur and Kashmir.


(a) False; Historians rely on coins, inscriptions, architecture and textual records for information for the study of period from 700 to 1750.

(b) True

(c) True

(d) False; Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-1287) ruled a vast empire that stretched from Bengal (Gauda) in the east to Ghazni (Gajjana) in Afghanistan in the west and included all of south India (Dravida).

Question 3: Fill in the blanks:

  1. Archives are places where …………… are kept.
  2. …………… was a fourteenth-century chronicler.
  3. …………, ……… , …………, and ……… were some of the new crops introduced into the subcontinent during this period.


  1. manuscripts/documents/records
  2. Ziauddin Barani
  3. Potatoes, corn, chillies, tea, and coffee.

Question 4: List some of the technological changes associated with this period.

Answer:  The new technologies that made their appearance during this period were-

  1. The Persian wheel in irrigation
  2. The spinning wheel in weaving
  3. The firearms in Combat.

Question 5: What were some of the major religious developments during this period?

Answer: Some of the major religious developments during this period include:

(i) Worship of new deities.

(ii) Building of new temples by the royalty.

(iii) Increasing importance of Brahmanas; the priests, as dominant groups in society.

(iv) The emergence of the idea of bhakti among people.

(v) Appearance of many new religions like Islam.

(vi) Teachings of the holy Quran were brought by the merchants and the migrants in India.

Let’s Understand:

Question 6:  In what ways has the meaning of the term “Hindustan” changed over the centuries?

Answer: The meaning of the term ‘Hindustan’ has changed over the past centuries in the following different ways:

(i) In the 13th century, the term ‘Hindustan’ was used for the first time by Minhaj-i Siraj, a thirteenth century Persian chronicler. With this term, he meant the areas of Punjab, Haryana and the lands between the Ganga and Yamuna.

(ii) During the 14th century, the term ‘Hind’ was used by Amir Khusrau to refer to the culture and people of the Indus river.

(iii) During the early 16th century, Babar used the term ‘Hindustan’ to describe the culture, geography and fauna of the inhabitants of the sub-continent.

Thus, earlier, the term "Hindustan" was used to represent the geographical and cultural entity but it did not carry the political and national meanings which we associate with it today.

Question 7: How were the affairs of Jatis regulated?

Answer: People belonging to Jatis (the sub-castes) were ranked on the basis of occupations and backgrounds. The affairs of Jatis were regulated in the following ways:

  • They framed their own rules and regulations in order to control the conduct of their members.
  • These rules and regulations were enforced by an assembly of elders from the jati, known as the ‘jati panchayat’.
  • The jatis were also required to follow the rules of their villages, which were governed by a chieftain.

Question 8: What does the term pan-regional empire mean?

Answer: During the medieval period, there was enormous diversity among the distinctive regions of the subcontinent.

Each region had its own geographical dimensions, own language, and cultural characteristics.

These regions were associated with specific ruling dynasties.

There was a considerable conflict between these states.

Therefore, the empires that ruled or controlled such diverse regions, were called the pan-regional empires.

For example, dynasties like the Cholas, Khaljis, Tughluq, and Mughals were able to build the pan-regional empire


Question 9: What are the difficulties historians face in using manuscripts?

Answer: Manuscripts in the early days were handwritten. Writers used palm leaves as paper for writing manuscripts. The historians used to copy down those manuscripts. Different historians presented their version in their own way as many of the words or sentences were beyond their understanding. So they copied what they understood. Later it was difficult to recognize which one was the original manuscript. Historians interpreted the facts as per the manuscripts which they got. Hence we find a number of facts with different illustrations in history.

Question 10: How do historians divide the past into periods? Do they face any problem in doing so?

Answer: Yes, the historians face a lot of problems because economic and social factors do not exist in a stasis, they have a tendency to change constantly. In the period from 700 to 1750, Indian history witnessed a considerable change. After all, the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries were quite different from the eighth or the eleventh. Therefore, describing the entire period as one historical unit is not without its problems. Moreover, the “medieval” period is often contrasted with the ‘modern’ period. The term ‘modernity’ implies a sense of material and intellectual progress. This further implies that there was no progress before, which is not true. This seems to suggest that the medieval period was lacking in any change whatsoever. But we know that this was not the case.

Let’s do:

Question 11: Compare either Map 1 or Map 2 with the present-day map of the subcontinent, listing as many similarities and differences as you can find.

Answer: Comparison of either map.1 or map.2 with present day map of the sub-continent.

  1. Made in 1154 CE (Christian Era) by geographer Al-Idrisi
  2. The section reproduced is a detail of the Indian subcontinent from larger map.
  3. In this map South India was at that place where north India is at present and Sri Lanka is the Island at the top.
  4. Place names are marked in Arabic.
  5. - Kanauj in UP is spelt as Qanauj.

  1. Made 600 years later in 1720s by French cartographer.
  2. This map is more familiar to us.
  3. - Coastal areas are surprisingly detailed.
    - Other inland areas are distorted.

  4. Used by sailors and merchants of Europe when they were on their voyage.
  5. Science of map making (cartography) differed in the two periods.
  6. Methods of information giving also differed.
  1. Present day map of the subcontinent is more clear.
  2. It has been made to scale projection and direction.

Question 12: Find out where records are kept in your village or city. Who writes these records? Is there an archive? Who manages it? What kinds of documents are stored there? Who are the people who use it?


  1. Most records are kept by government-owned libraries, archives, museums, etc.
  2. The scribes appointed by the state or the central government writes these records. For example, Gazetteer of India.
  3. The state or Central government manages it.
  4. The documents related to the everyday functioning of assemblies, parliament, important acts, visitors, wars elections’, etc. are stored there.
  5. Historians, political analysts, journalists, researchers, anthropologists, etc. use these records. important acts, visitors, wars elections, etc. are stored there.