JAC Board Class 7 Social Science Notes History Chapter 9 The Making of Regional Cultures
→ Today regional cultures are often the product of complex processes of intermixing of local traditions and cultures with the ideas from the other parts of the subcontinent. Some of the traditions appear to be specific to some regions or areas, others seem to be similar across regions and yet others derive from older practices in a specific region but take a new form in other regions.
→ The Cheras and the Development of Malayalam:
- In the ninth century, the Chera kingdom of Mahodayapuram was established in the south-western part of the peninsula which is now a part of present-day Kerala and Malayalam was spoken and used in this area. In official records in the subcontinent, this one is the earliest examples of the use of a regional language.
- But at the same time, the Cheras also drew upon Sanskritic traditions. Around the twelfth century, the first literary works in Malayalam are directly bounded to Sanskrit. A fourteenth-century text, named as the Lilatilakam was composed in Manipravalam means ‘diamonds and corals’ referring to the two languages which were Sanskrit and the regional language.
→ Rulers and Religious Traditions: The Jagannatha Cult:
- Regional cultures grew around religious traditions in other regions. One of the best instance of this process is the cult of Jagannatha which means lord of the world, a name for Vishnu at Puri, Orissa (now Odisha).
- Till date, the local tribal people make the wooden image of the deity which suggests that the deity was originally a local god.
- One of the major rulers of the Ganga Dynasty, Anantavarman, decided to erect a temple for Purushottama Jagannatha at Puri in the twelfth century. In 1230, King Anangabhima III dedicated his kingdom to the deity and announced officially himself as the ‘deputy’ of the god.
- Those who conquered Orissa (now Odisha) such as the Mughals, the Marathas and the English East India Company, they attempted to gain control over the temple. They thought that this would make their rule admissible to the local people as its authority in social and political matters also increased.
→ The Rajputs and Traditions of Heroism:
- The Rajputs are often acknowledged as contributing to the distinctive culture of Rajasthan. From about eighth century, the Rajput rulers cherished the ideal of the hero who fought heroically and often choosing death on the battlefield rather than to face defeat.
- Many stories and narratives about Rajput heroes were recorded in the form of poems and songs which were recited by specially trained minstrels.
- Women are also portrayed as following their heroic husbands in both life and death, there are many tales about the practice of sati or the immolation of widows on the funeral pyre of their husbands.
→ Beyond Regional Frontiers: The Story of Kathak
- One of the dance form is Kathak which is now associated with several parts of north India. The word kathak is derived from katha which means a word used in Sanskrit and other languages for story.
- In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with the growth of the bhakti movement, Kathak began to evolve into a distinct mode of dance. Radha-Krishna tales were enacted in folk plays called rasa lila where folk dance combined with the basic gestures of the kathak story-narrators.
- Kathak was performed in the court under the Mughal emperors and their nobles where it developed in a form of dance with a distinctive style.
- Kathak developed in two traditions or gharanas— one in the courts of Rajasthan (Jaipur) and the other in Lucknow. Under the assistance and support of Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh it grew into one of the major art form.
- After the independence, Kathak was recognized as one of the six classical dances of India. The other classical dances are Kathakali, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi.
→ Painting for Patrons: The Tradition of Miniatures
- Another tradition that developed in different ways was that of miniature painting. In earlier days, miniatures were beautifully painted on palm leaves or wood found in western India which were used to illustrate Jaina texts.
- Most of the miniatures were exchanged as gifts and were viewed only by the exclusive people, the emperor and his close associates.
- Mughal artistic tastes had an impact on the regional courts of the Deccan and the Rajput courts of Rajasthan. But, they retained and developed their distinctive characteristics. Also the themes from mythology and poetry were described at centres such as Mewar, Jodhpur, Bundi, Kota and Kishangarh.
- In the late seventeenth century, another region that attracted miniature paintings was the Himalayan foothills and had developed a bold and intense style of miniature painting called Basohli. The most popular painting was Bhanudatta’s Rasamanjari.
- In the mid-eighteenth century, the Kangra artists developed a style in miniature painting. The source of creativity and innovation was the Vaishnavite traditions. Kangra painting was different from others as they used soft colours including cool blues and greens, and a lyrical treatment of themes.
- Also ordinary and simple women and men painted on pots, walls, floors, cloth and their works of art have occasionally survived, unlike the miniatures that were carefully preserved in palaces for centuries.
→ A Closer Look: Bengal – The Growth of a Regional Language
- By the third-fourth centuries BCE, commercial ties began to develop between
Bengal and Magadha (south Bihar) which may have led to the growing influence of Sanskrit.
- The verbal and cultural influence from the mid-Ganga valley became stronger during fourth century. The Chinese traveller Xuan Zang in the seventh century marked that languages related to Sanskrit were in use all over Bengal.
- Bengal became the centre of a regional kingdom under the Palas in the eighth century. When Akbar conquered Bengal in 1586, it formed the nucleus of the Bengal suba. Bengali developed as a regional language, while Persian was the language of administration.
- By the fifteenth century, the Bengali group of dialects became united by a common literary language based on the spoken language of the western part of the region which is now known as West Bengal. Though Bengali is derived from Sanskrit, it passed through several stages of evolution. It includes a wide range of non-Sanskrit words which derived from a variety of sources such as tribal languages, Persian, and European languages all become a part of modem Bengali.
- The early Bengali literature may be divided into two categories—one indebted to Sanskrit and the other independent of it. The first consists of translations of the Sanskrit epics, the Mangalakavyas means auspicious poems which deals with local deities and bhakti literature such as the biographies of Chaitanyadeva, the leader of the Vaishnava bhakti movement.
- And, the second one consists of Nath literature such as the songs of Maynamati and Gopichandra and stories of Dharma Thakur, fairy tales, folk tales and ballads.
→ Pirs and Temples:
- There were community leaders who also performed and served as teachers and adjudicators and were sometimes attributed with supernatural powers. These people were referred as pirs who also get affection and respect.
- These also included saints or Sufis and other religious personalities, brave colonisers and deified soldiers, varied Hindu and Buddhist deities and even animistic spirits. Thus, the cult of pirs became very popular and their shrines can be found everywhere in Bengal.
- In Bengal, most of the modest brick and terracotta temples were built with the support of different Tow’ social groups, such as the Kolu (oil pressers) and the Kansari (bell metal workers). Many families belonging to these social groups got benefits with the coming of the European trading companies which created new economic opportunities.
- Their social and economic position were improving and hence, they proclaimed their status through the construction of temples. The temples began to copy the double- roofed means dochala or four-roofed means chauchala structure of the thatched huts. This led to the evolution of the typical Bengali style in temple architecture.
- In some of the temples particularly in Vishnupur in the Bankura district of West Bengal, decorations reached a high degree of excellence. As the interior was comparatively plain but the outer walls of many temples were decorated with paintings, ornamental tiles or terracotta tablets.
→ Fish as Food:
- Since, Bengal is a riverine plain hence it produces plenty of rice and fish. One of the most important occupation was fishing and Bengali literature contains several references to fish. Apart from this, terracotta plaques on the walls of temples and viharas (Buddhist monasteries) depicts the scenes of fish being dressed and taken to the market in baskets.
- From a thirteenth century Sanskrit text from Bengal, the Brihaddharma Purana permitted the local Brahmanas to eat certain varieties of fish.