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Bhakti-Sufi Traditions

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Class 10 Class 12

Read the following excerpt carefully and answer the questions that follow:
                                        The Pilgrimage of the Mughal Princess Jahanara, 1643

The following is an excerpt from Jahanara’s biography of Shaikh Muinuddin Chisti, titled Munis al Arwah (The Confident of Spirits):
After praising the one God…. this lowly faqira (humble soul) Jahanara… went from the capital Agra in the company of my great father (Emperor Shah Jahan) towards the pure region of incomparable Ajmer… I was committed to this idea, that every day in every station I would perform two cycles of optional prayer…
For several days…. I did not sleep on a leopard skin at night, I did not extent my feet in the direction of the blessed sanctuary of the revered saving master, and I did not turn my back towards him. I passed the days beneath the trees.

On Thursday, the fourth of the blessed month of Ramzan, I attained the happiness of pilgrimage to the illuminated and the perfumed tomb… With an hour of daylight remaining, I went to the holy sanctuary and rubbed my pale face with the dust of that threshold. From the doorway to the blessed tomb I went barefoot, kissing the ground. Having entered the dome, I went around the light-filled tomb of my master seven times ….Finally, with my own hand I put the finest quality of itar on the perfumed tomb of the revered one, and having taken off the rose scarf that I had on my head, I placed it on the top of the blessed tomb.

(16.1) Give the meaning of Ziyarat.

(16.2) How did Jahanara show her devotion to Shaikh Muinuddin Chisti ? Give examples.

(16.3) Why was dargah of Khwaja Muinuddin popular amongst devotees ?

(16.1) Ziyarat means Pilgrimage.

(16.2) Jahanara devotions:

(i) she did not sleep on a leopard skin at night

(ii) she did not extend her feet in the direction of the blessed sanctuary

(iii) she did not turn her back towards him

(iv) she rubbed her pale face with the dust of that holy sanctuary threshold

(16.3) It was popular because of the austerity and piety of its Shaikh, the greatness of his spiritual successors, and the patronage of royal visitors.


Point out one similarity and one dissimilarity between Lingayats and Nayanars.

Similarity between lingayats and Nayanars –

i. Both opposed the caste system

ii. Both worshipped lord Shiva

Dissimilarity –

i. Nayanars were not confined to any particular region while the lingayats were popular in Karnataka

ii. Nayanars worshipped Shiva in both an idol and linga form whereas Lingayats worshipped only the linga form


'By the eleventh century Sufism evolved into a well-developed movement.' Give any two examples.

The examples:

 (i) The Sufis began to organise communities around the hospices or Khanqah controlled by a teaching master known as shaikh, pir or murshid.

(ii) Sufi silsilas began to crystallise in different parts of the Islamic world, it was through this channel that spiritual power and blessings were transmitted to devotees.


Read the ‘value-based’ passage given below and answer the questions that follow:

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned and exiled to Calcutta on the plea that the region was being misgoverned. The British government also wrongly assumed that Wajid Ali Shah was an unpopular ruler. On the contrary, he was widely loved, and when he left his beloved Lucknow, there were many who followed him all the way to Kanpur singing songs of lament. The widespread sense of grief and loss at the Nawab’s exile was recorded by many contemporary observers. One of them wrote: “The life was gone out of the body, and the body of this town had been left lifeless … there was no street or market and house which did not wail out the cry of agony in separation of Jan-i-Alam.” One folk song bemoaned that “the honourable English came and took the country’’

(Angrez Bahadur ain, mulk lai linho).


(a) Why did people bemoan and show an emotional upheaval at? Explain.

(b) What human values are revealed in the above passage?

(a) People bemoaned and showed the emotional upheaval due to:

(i) Allegation of misrule and maladministration on Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

(ii) Removal of Nawab.

(iii) Dissolution of court and culture.

(b) Human values revealed in the passage:

(i) Affection

(ii) Respect


Explain the features of Islamic religion which contributed to its spread through the sub-continent. 

The features of Islamic religion which contributed to its spread through the sub-continent:

(i) The developments that followed the coming of Islam were not confined to ruling elites; in fact they permeated far and wide, through the subcontinent, amongst different social strata – peasants, artisans, warriors, merchants, to name a few.

(ii) All those who adopted Islam accepted, in principle, the five “pillars” of the faith: that there is one God, Allah, and Prophet Muhammad is his messenger (shahada);

(iii) Offering prayers five times a day (namaz/salat); giving alms (zakat); fasting during the month of Ramzan (sawm); and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).

(iv) However, these universal features were often overlaid with diversities in practice derived from sectarian affiliations (Sunni, Shi‘a), and the influence of local customary practices of converts from different social milieus.

(v) Elsewhere, Arab Muslim traders who settled along the Malabar Coast (Kerala) adopted the local language, Malayalam. They also adopted local customs such as matriliny and matrilocalh residence.