Devotional Paths to Divine

When we’re ill or sad. We pray! When we want to score good marks even after studying so much. We pray! All of us pray for various reasons, some to different gods, some to a supreme god. But where did the idea of gods or divine enlightenment originate from? When did we our gods decide to differentiate and have their own religions? Let us travel down the devotional paths to the divine and answer these questions.

The Idea of a Supreme God

Do you believe in the idea of a supreme god or supreme power? Can you feel some energy when you visit a temple or church? The idea of a supreme god looking over us is active in various communities. Idol worship and other forms of preaching are believed to be a comforting practice to relax our mind and soul. In India, the path to Godly fondness took years to establish and expand. Let us analyze the development of eternity in the nation, which is now quite prominent among the booming population.

Road to Devotion in India

In India, the idea of God and a supreme power over all humans has been persistent since ages. The presence of various religions preaching their own Gods is very much evident. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians etc., all have put their faith in a deity who looks over them.

Looking back into the past, there have been incidents that have reshaped devotional paths to the divine in India.

  • Well before the start of the 7th century, Jain, Buddhist and other faiths present in the Indian sub-continent assumed they are all equal and hold the right to live and stay free.
  • Right before the establishment of empires, the masses worshipped diverse gods and goddesses. However, as kingdoms expanded into empires, the ideology of birth and rebirth, together with karma became broadly accepted.
  • In the 7th century, the idea of human beings not standing equal, even at birth started to spread. Furthermore, social privileges are confined to higher caste also emerged as one of the prominent beliefs.
  • A large number of people didn’t believe this idea and moved towards Buddhism or Jainism. Here the road to salvation was paved through personal effort.
  • During this phase, other people preached the idea of supreme god. Under this, salvation can be achieved through dedication to a single God.
  • Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga were regarded as supreme deities, with their legends and myths gaining importance among Puranic stories.
  • Later, the Puranas introduced the systems of worship among local cults. They also mentioned that all devotees can seek blessings of gods, irrespective of their caste.

Road to Devotion in India

Bhakti and Philosophy

Devotion did become strong with the enhancement of human emotions and mind. This is where the relationship between philosophy and bhakti came into the limelight. Below mentioned are the main personalities who helped strengthen devotional paths and the idea of supreme God.

Shankara

In the eighth century, Shankara was born in Kerala and was known to be a very persuasive thinker of India. He was a supporter of Advaita (the principle of the oneness of human soul as well as the Supreme Soul). Shankara counselled people to sacrifice worldly things since it is Maya or illusion. He motivated them to move on the path of knowledge as it was the only path to salvation.

Ramanuja

Ramanuja was born in Tamil Nadu during the eleventh century. He was known as a highly prejudiced philosopher of the Alvars. According to him, the path of salvation was only through powerful dedication to Lord Vishnu. Further, he proposed the theory of Vishishadvaita. After this ideology, a new custom of bhakti was introduced in northern India. 

New Religious Arrangements in North India | The Idea of a Supreme God

In the later years, many different movements were launched in North India. This was because people from diverse castes and religions jammed at holy places to gain knowledge from pastors of new religions.

Personalities such as Guru Nanak and Kabir prohibited all mainstream religions. However, people like Tulsidas and Surdas acknowledged existing beliefs and worked to make them available to all. It was noticed that Tulsidas believed God as Rama and collected the Ramcharitramanaswritten in Awadhi. On the other hand, Surdas was a strong follower of Krishna. He expressed his devotion my composing Sursagara, Sahitya Lahari and Surasaravali.

Islam

Islam is seen as a sternly monotheistic religion that believes in offering to a single God. Moreover, the rejection of idol worship and abiding collective devotion to God is part of Islam. As time advanced, Muslim scholars established a holy law termed as Shariat. This was formed when the Sufis rejected the proposal.  Their desire was to amalgamate with God in the form of a lover who looks for unity with his cherished.

The Idea of a Supreme God Question For You

Q. What was the reason that many teachers rejected prominent religious beliefs?

Ans. A large number of teachers actively rejected prominent religious beliefs since it created divergence in the society. They preached about creating a division based on religion or caste. In specific, teachings which supported the upper caste people, led to the suffering of lower caste people. On a broader picture, the concept of all human beings not standing equal was growing. This alarmed the various teachers to work in harmony for the abolishment of such beliefs and promote unity.

Colonialism and the City – The Story of an Imperial Capital

The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically is Colonialism. Almost every country in the world became a colony of Britain, including India. Interesting, huh? Let’s find out more in the below section.

Colonialism and the City: Colonialism is taking over a less powerful country and using its resources and wealth for the benefits of the powerful country. The cities like Delhi and Calcutta were capital of many other superpowers ruling India. To know more about Colonialism and different colonies explore the article further!

Colonialism

Colonialism started in the countries like Spain, Portugal, Britain, Russia, France during the 15th century to 1914. It occurs when a country or a nation takes control of other lands, regions, or territories outside its borders by turning them into colonies. Therefore, there was an increase in exploitation. There are different types of colonialism and they are as follows

  • Settler colonialism: motivation like religious, political or economical believes formed groups of settlers
  • Exploitation colonialism: usually consist of salves and focus is on the exploitation of labour, resources and population
  • Surrogate colonialism: settlement done by power as all the settlers doesn’t belong to the same ethnic group.
  • Internal colonialism: notion of uneven structural power between areas of a state.

Therefore, these are the types of colonies in colonialism. Colonialisation started in 1498 in India. India was under the rule of British for 200 years. Hence India was exploited, especially exploited for spices and other agricultural products.

Colonialism and the City

Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were the presidency cities during the British rule in India. Therefore, these three states became the centre of British rule. All the trading routes were declining when the centres move to the presidency states of India. Hence the local trader and the markets collapsed due to the regional power. Thus giving rise to de-urbanisation.

Delhi the capital of India is the capital of many mighty empires and was commonly known as Delhi Sultanate.  “The city of God Indra” during the Mahabharata era is current Delhi. Great emperor like King Ashoka, King Kumar Gupta also has developed significant structures in this city. Therefore, Delhi has an abundance of significant infrastructure.

Delhi had about 15 settlements on its land and numerous transformations. the settlements on this land were as follows Indraprastha, Surajkund, Lalkot, Siri, Tughulqabad, Jahapanana, Ferozabad, Dinpanah, Shahjahanabad, New Delhi. Since Delhi is a home of many settlements hence it is the capital of our country.

Colonialism and the City 1

Colonialism and the City Solved Examples for You

Question: In which year Delhi became the capital of India?

  1. 1990
  2. 1910
  3. 1911
  4. 1917

Solution: 1911. After the annulment of Partition of Bengal in 1911, the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. A Grand darbar was organised in Delhi. George V attended the Delhi Durbar in 1911. Hence 1911 is the answer.

Question: Which one of the following was the summer capital of the Government of India from the year 1865 to 1939?

  1. Ooty
  2. Shimla
  3. Banglore
  4. Delhi

Solution: Shimla. Shimla is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh which is located in Northern India. Shimla was built by British after they won the Gurkha War. The city, blessed with scenic beauty, acted as summer capital to the British government in India during the years 1865 to 1939. Hence Shimla is the answer.

Question: The Home Rule Movement was started by

  1. Mrs Annie Besant
  2. Mahatma Gandhi
  3. G.K. Gokhale
  4. MA Jinnah

Solution: Mrs Annie Besant. In September 1915, Annie Besant launched the Home Rule League, modelling demands for India on Irish models. She clearly gave a signal of fighting for a change. For the first time, India saw a political party that was to work all year round, unlike the Congress which croaked once a year. The result was that she was able to mobilize the demonstrations and organize demonstrations, public meetings and agitations. Hence Mrs Annie Besant is the answer.

Clothing A Social History

Whenever we study history, we study about the wars, politics and the condition of the people. But even Clothing holds an essential part in history. Let’s find out more about the cloth and clothing, a social history.

Clothing: You know the buildings, books, temples and the education system do have a history. But, did you ever wonder that the clothing that you wear also is backed by an interesting history? No, right? In this chapter, we will see how clothing transformed over the years, starting from the colonial rule. Let’s find out more about Clothing.

Sumptuary Laws in France

From about 1294 to the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the people of France strictly followed ‘sumptuary laws’. These tried to control the behaviour of the social inferiors, preventing them from wearing certain clothes. They were also barred from censuring certain foods and beverages and hunting game in certain areas.

According to the ‘sumptuary laws’, only royalty could wear expensive materials like ermine and fur, or silk, velvet, and brocade. Other classes were asked to stay away from anything associated with the aristocracy. The French Revolution ended these distinctions. From now on, both men and women began wearing clothing that was loose and comfortable.

Clothing used as a Notion of Beauty

The end of sumptuary laws did not end all differences in the social strata. The poor could not dress like the rich, nor eat the same food. But, there were no restrictions on clothing now.

Styles of clothing emphasized differences between men and women. In Victorian England, women were groomed from childhood to be docile and dutiful. The notion of an ideal woman implied someone who could bear pain and suffering. Men were hailed to be serious, strong, independent and aggressive.

Norms of clothing reflected these ideals. From childhood, girls were tightly laced up and dressed in stays. The effort was to restrict the growth of their bodies, contain them within small moulds. Even slightly older, girls had to wear tight-fitting corsets.

Women’s Reaction to these Norms

Not everyone accepted these values. By the 1830s, women in England began agitating for democratic rights. As the suffrage movement developed, many began campaigning for dress reform. Women’s magazines described how tight dresses and corsets caused deformities and lines among young girls. Doctors reported that many women were regularly complaining of actual weakness, felt languid, and fainted frequently. Corsets then became necessary to hold up the weakened spine.

Success of Reforms

However, the reformers did not immediately succeed in changing social values. They had to face ridicule and hostility. By the end of the ninetieth century, things started changing. Ideals of beauty and styles of clothing underwent major transformations.

New Times

Introduction of new materials and technologies changed a lot in the clothing segment. The world wars and the new working conditions for women also contributed to the changes.

New Materials

After 1600, trade with India brought cheap, beautiful and easy – to – maintain Indian chintzes within the reach of many Europeans who could now increase the size of their wardrobes. Britain began the mass manufacture of cotton textiles. This became more accessible to a wider section of people in Europe. By the early twentieth century, artificial fibres made clothes cheaper still and easier to wash and maintain.

Effect of Wars on Clothing |Clothing A Social History

Changes in women’s clothing came about due to the two World Wars. Many European women stopped wearing jewellery and luxurious clothes. There was a rise in the number of women workers. They wore a working uniform. By the twentieth century, new schools for children emphasized the importance of plain clothing. As women took to sports, they had to wear clothes that did not hamper movement.

Transformations in Colonial India

The colonial period saw significant changes in male and female clothing in India. A section of the society wore western clothes. Another section wore traditional clothes. Both the groups had different notions.

Transformations in Colonial India

British Rule and Dress Codes in India

In different cultures, specific items of clothing often convey meanings. This frequently leads to misunderstanding and conflict. Styles of clothing in British India changed through such conflicts. When European traders first began frequenting India, they were distinguished from the Indian ‘turban wearers’ as the ‘hat wearers’.  The turban in India not only protected from the heat but was a sign of respectability. Thus, Indian did not want to remove the turbans.

In the Western tradition, one had to remove the hat before social superiors as a sign of respect. This cultural difference created misunderstanding. Wearing of shoes created another conflict. In 1824-1828, Governor-General Amherst insisted that Indians take their shoes off as a sign of respect when they appeared before him. The Indians did not follow this.

Why did Men dressed differently than Women?

Men had to go out to work and interact with their western bosses and native subordinates. Hence, these men would wear western clothes to please their western bosses and carry favour with them. The women had not to go to work. Therefore, they did not need any new dresses.

Process of Designing the National Dress

By the late nineteenth century, Indians began devising cultural symbols that would express the unity of the nation. There are a few significant movements that encouraged the spirit of nationalism amongst Indians.

The Swadeshi Movement | Clothing A Social History

The Industrial Revolution in Britain mechanized the spinning and weaving and greatly increased the demand for raw materials such as cotton and indigo. Hence, this changed India’s status in the world economy. In the middle of the 20th century, large numbers of people began boycotting British or mill-made cloth and adopting khadi, even bough it was coarser, more expensive and difficult to obtain.

The Swadeshi movement developed in reaction to this measure. People were urged to boycott British goods of all kind and start their own industries for the manufacture of goods such as matchboxes and cigarettes. Though many people called to the cause of nationalism at this time, it was almost impossible to compete with cheap British goods that had flooded the market. The experiment with Swadeshi gave Mahatma Gandhi important ideas about using cloth as a symbolic weapon against British rule.

Solved Example

Q1. Why couldn’t everyone wear Khadi?

Sol: Mahatma Gandhi’s dream was to clothe the whole nation in khadi. Though he succeeded using khadi as a source to inspire the Indian people but there were many different opinions. Some of the reasons why everyone couldn’t wear Khadi include:

The British machine-made clothes were much cheaper as compared to khadi. The wealthy Parsi’s of western India did not want to give up their western clothes. The caste system in India was very rigid and western dress style was for all. Hence, many people adopted it for self-respect and equality.

Civilising the Native Educating the Nation

The Britishers came to India and harassed the Indians, but they also introduced modern education. They tried to civilize the Indians. Let’s find out more about Civilising the Native, Educating the Nation.

Civilising the Native Educating the Nation: We talk about the British exploitation of our nation quite often. But, would you believe if we say that Britishers introduced proper education in India? Unbelievable, right? However, there is a twist! British felt that they had a cultural mission. They had to ‘civilise the natives’. They wanted to change their customs and values.  That is how the whole education system from the British started. In this chapter, let us look at deeper depths into this story and find out more about Civilising the Native, Educating the Nation. 

Britishers and Indian Education

In 1783, the East India Company appointed William Jones as a junior judge at the Supreme Court. He started studying ancient Indians texts on law, philosophy, and politics etc. He also concentrated on morality, arithmetic, medicine and other sciences.

The British set up a Madrasa in Calcutta in 1781. This promoted the study of Arabic, Persian and Islamic law. In 1791, the Hindu College was established in Benaras. The motive was to encourage the study of ancient Sanskrit texts. This would be useful for the administration of the country.

Critics

In the early 19th century, many British officials criticized the Orientalist version of learning. James Mill also attacked the Orientalists. According to him, the aim of education ought to teach what was useful and practical. So, Indians should be made familiar with the scientific and technical advances that the West had made.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, another critic of Orientalists, saw India as an uncivilized country that needed to be civilized. Macaulay emphasized the need to teach the English language. Following Macaulay’s minute, the English Education Act of 1835 was introduced. They made English as the medium of instruction for higher education. They stopped the promotion of Oriental institutions.

Education for Commerce

In 1854, the British sent Wood’s Despatch, an educational dispatch, to India. He outlines the educational policy to be followed in India. It emphasized on the practical benefits of the system of European learning.

Wood’s Despatch argued that European learning would improve the moral character of Indians and make them truthful and honest. Thus, there would be more civil servants to the company who could be trusted upon.

Local School Routine

In the 1830s, William Adam, a Scottish missionary toured the district of Bengal and Bihar. He gave a report on the progress of education in vernacular schools. According to him, the system of education was flexible and local schools were known as pathshalas. There were no fixed fee, no printed books, no separate school building.

The schools had no benches or chairs, no blackboards, no system of separate classes. In addition to this, they also lacked roll-call registers, annual examinations, and regular time-table. Teaching process was oral and the guru decided what to teach, in accordance with the needs of the students. Therefore, the British wanted to change this whole system of native education in India. They thought of introducing new routines and rules in Indian education.

New Routines, New Rules

After 1854, the company improved the system of vernacular education. Therefore, they introduced an order within the system, imposing routines. They also established rules and ensured regular inspections.  The Company appointed a number of government pundits each in charge of looking after four to five schools. Hence, the government supported those Pathshalas which accepted the new rules.

New Routines New Rules

National Agenda

Some Indians were impressed with the development in Europe. They felt it was good for the nation. They felt that western education would help to modernize India.  Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore reacted against western education.

Mahatma Gandhi’s View  

  • According to Mahatma Gandhi, “English Education has enslaved us”. He urged that colonial education creates a sense of inferiority in the minds of Indians.
  • It was sinful and it enslaved Indians. He also believed that it cast an evil spell on them.
  • Mahatma Gandhi wanted an education that could help Indians to recover their sense of dignity and self-respect. He saw Indian languages to be the medium of teaching. Indian languages could also develop a person’s mind and soul.

Tagore’s ‘Abode of Peace’:  

  • Rabindranath Tagore started the Shantiniketan in 1901. According to him, a natural environment encourages creative learning.
  • Therefore,  he set up his school 100 kilometers away from Calcutta in a rural setting.
  • He emphasized the need to teach Science and technology at Shantiniketan along with art, music, and dance. Hence, the syllabus was vast and covered all of the above subjects.

Solved Examples for You

Q1. Give Mahatma Gandhi’s views on Modern Education.

Sol.

  • According to Mahatma Gandhi, “English Education has enslaved us”. He urged that colonial education creates a sense of inferiority in the minds of Indians. It was sinful and it enslaved Indians. He believed it cast an evil spell on them.
  • Mahatma Gandhi wanted an education that could help Indians to recover their sense of dignity and self-respect. He saw Indian languages to be the medium of teaching. Indian languages could also develop a person’s mind and soul.

Buildings, Paintings and Books

India is famous for its ancient architecture, artwork, and literature. One of the examples of the marvellous architecture is one of the seven wonders of the world, i.e. The Taj Mahal. Let’s find out more about Buildings, Paintings and Books.

Buildings, Paintings and Books

Are you interested in art and architecture? Do you marvel today’s amazing buildings and temples? Maybe you are not aware of the ancient architecture! They were a hundred times more beautiful and enticing. In this chapter, we will know more about the ancient buildings, architecture, art, and books. You will surely love the creativity that existed back then when there was no technology! It was simply the love of art! Let’s find out more about Buildings, Paintings, and Books. 

History of Indian Buildings and Architecture

History of Indian Buildings and Architecture

About 1500 years ago, writing and painting saw a major development in India. The famous Amravati Stupa is around two thousand years old. However, at present, its remains can be seen in Amravati, Maharashtra. Garbhagriha is what made up Hindu temple. This refers to the inner sanctum where deities were kept. Usually, single pieces of rocks were carved into many temples. The rocks were cut by the use of stone cutters.

More About Indian Temples

Indian Temples

Construction of temples was an expensive activity. Kings and queens used to spend money out of their treasury to pay craftsmen. Other donators like merchants, farmers, perfumes etc. brought gifts for temples. Those gifts were decorators. They helped in decorating the premises of the temples.

An association of Ivory workers made the Gateway of Sanchi Stupa. The walls of the cave had many colorful and attractive paintings. These paintings were done by colors made from plants and minerals. There is, however, no information about the original artists.

Buildings Paintings and Books

Ancient Books

The narration of heroic men and women was a common part of many epics. It consists of stories of Gods and Goddesses. Silappadikaram is a famous Tamil epic composed by llango. Kalidasa is written in Sanskrit. Ved Vyasa wrote Mahabharata in Sanskrit around 1500 years ago. It is a story about a war fought between cousins – Kauravas and Pandavas.

Ancient Paintings

In Indian art, Ancient Indian Paintings have a very long tradition and history. The earliest Indian paintings were the rock paintings of pre-historic times, the petroglyphs as found in places like Bhimbetka rock shelters, some of the Stone Age rock paintings found among the Bhimbetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old. The painting history mainly consists of three categories i.e. mural painting, miniature painting, and painting on other removable media (fabrics, papers, wood, scrolls, etc).

Solved Examples for You

Q1. Bhagavad-Gita is a part of which epic?

  1. Mahabharata
  2. Ramayana
  3. Shiv Katha
  4. Vedas

Sol. The correct answer is the option ”a”. Bhagavad-Gita is a part of Mahabharata

Q2. Explain the structure of a temple.

Sol. The Garbagriha was the most important part of a Hindu temple. This place had the idol of the main deity. The priests performed at this place and the devotees worshipped at this place. Garbagriha had a tower built on top of it. This marked the place as sacred. This tower was called the shikhara. Many temples had a big hall; called the mandapam. A large number of people could assemble in this hall.

Q3. Explain the structure of a stupa.

Sol. The stupa has a small box at the center. The box may contain the bodily remains of Buddha or his followers. It may also contain precious stones or coins. These could be from Buddha or his followers. A layer of soil covered the box. Mud bricks or baked bricks further covered it. Carved stone slabs covered them as well.

A pradakshina path, around the stupa was used by the devotees to encircle the stupa in a clockwise direction. This is a way of showing respect and devotion. The pradakshina path is usually surrounded by railings. A gateway was also built at the entrance. Beautiful carvings decorate the railings and the gateway.