historiography | Aster Classes

Historiography Chapter 2 : Indian Tradition

Complete the sentence by choosing a correct option.

1._____________was the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India. 

  • Alexander Cunningham 
  •  William Jones 
  • John Marshall
  • Friedrich Max Muller

_______________translated the Sanskrit text of ‘Hitopadesh’. 

  • James Mill 
  • Friedrich max Muller 
  •  Mountstuart Elphinstone 
  • Sir John Marshall

_______________translated the Sanskrit text of ‘Hitopadesh’. 

  • James Mill 
  • Friedrich max Muller 
  •  Mountstuart Elphinstone 
  • Sir John Marshall

Identify the wrong pair in the following, correct it and rewrite.

‘Who were the Shudras’ – Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar 

‘Stri-Purush Tulana’ – Feminist writing 

‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ –  Marxist History  

Grant Duff – Colonial History


The correct pair is ‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Explanation – Nationalist historiography led to the movement by the Indian people against the British rule. Related to this, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar wrote the book called ‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ which explains in detail about the revolt of 1857 which Indians fought against Britishers.

Explain the following with its reason. 

1.Writing of the regional history received a momentum. 


The writings of Indian historians who were trained in the British educational system show an inclination to restore the pride in the ancient glory of India and the self- esteem of the Indian readers.

The nationalistic historiography helped in the triggering of the independence movement of the Indian people against the British.

In this aspect, the book, ‘The Indian War of Independence, 1857’, written by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is of great importance.

Also, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, who criticised the prejudiced history of ancient India written by British Officers, inspired the nationalistic writings in Maharashtra.

Thus, nationalistic historiography provided momentum to the writing of regional histories, which drew the attention of historians to the geographic conditions and history of south Indian regions.

2.Bakhar is an important type of historical documents.


Bakhar is a historical document of the medieval period.

It is important because it contains the history of kings, battles, great men, historical events and many more.

It is considered to be a part of Marathi literature and is of various types, examples- Sabhasad Bakhar, Panipatachi Bakhar, etc.

Answer the following in 25-30 words. 

1.Which things are included in the descriptions by Emperor Babur in his autobiography ?


Emperor Babur wrote his autobiography titled ‘Tuzuk-i-babari’ in which he gives us details about the battles he fought during his reign.

Also, he included what he observed during his journey to various cities and regions like the customs, traditions, local economy, etc.

2.What is the contribution of Svatantryaveer Savarkar to nationalistic historiography?


Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, also known as ‘Svatantrya veer Savarkar’ contributed greatly to nationalistic historiography by writing about the regional history which is based on the struggle of the Indians against the British rule of the particular region.

Because of this, historians started taking into consideration the history of south India and other geographical locations.

Write detailed answer to the following question : 

1.What is Marxist History? 


The Marxist theory is the school of historiography which considers the effect that occurs from the particular social event and its significance in the society.

The Marxist writings include the need for the means and the modes of production and industrial relations.

In India, the Marxist writings include the caste system as the main theme, and the changes happened in the caste system.

The Indian scholars who adopted a Marxist method of writing history are – Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, Ram Sharan Sharma, SA Dange, etc. Comrade Dange wrote the book titled ‘Primitive communism to slavery’ which considers the Marxist method of writing history.

2.What is the contribution of Itihasacharya V.K. Rajwade to historiography  ?


Itihasacharya V.K. Rajwade wrote history on various topics in Marathi. He also compiled, edited and wrote various scholarly works. He contributed to historiography through various means such as:-

(i) He suggested that the individual should write his own history.

(ii) According to him, history should include all the aspects of the past human societies.

(iii) History should be collected from the various sources which should be authentic in nature.

Complete the Following Chart.

1.Complete the following chart.

James Mill ‘The History of British India’ 
James Grant Duff_____________
_______________‘The History of India’ 
S.A. Dange _____________
_______________‘Who were the Shudras’


James Mill ‘The History of British India’ 
James Grant DuffA History of Mahrattas
Mount Stuart Elphinstone‘The History of India’ 
S.A. Dange “Primitive Communism to Slavery”
Dr . BR Ambedkar‘Who were the Shudras’

Complete the following concept chart . 


Purpose of HistoriographyDescriptions of the Battle fought by BaburHistory Of kashmirThe reigh of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja
Ziauddin BaraniEmperor BaburkalhanaKrishnaji Anant Sabhasad
Tarikh I Phiruz-ShahiTuzuk – i – BabariRajtaranginiSabhasad Bakhar           

Explain the following concept. 

1.Orientalist historiography. 


Orientalist school of historiography includes the thoughts of the Europeans who showed interest in the civilisations, and the countries of the east as they encouraged and respected their history too. These scholars came to be known as the Orientalist.

Their focus was on Sanskrit literature, Vedic culture, and traditions.

They found the similarities between the Sanskrit and the European languages which helped them in formulating the belief that ancient language is the mother of all the Indo-European languages.

The notable Orientalist is Friedrich Max Muller who expressed his interest in Sanskrit literature and translated the Sanskrit text of ‘Hitopadesh.’

2.Nationalistic historiography. 


Nationalist historiography is one of the schools of historiography which includes all those historical writings which are related to India’s war of independence, and the related events.

These are the writings of the Indian historians who wrote about the nationalistic movement held in different parts of India.

They wanted to reveal the ancient history and the golden era of India.

They opposed those British scholars who wrote about the history of ancient India in a biased manner and for avoiding the objective truth of the historical events.

Some of the notable scholars under Nationalistic historiography are Mahadev Govind Ranade, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Radha Kumud Mukherjee and many more.

3. Subaltern history. 


The term subaltern means ‘bottommost ranks.’

It was Antonio Gramsci who considered important that history should also include the bottommost rank of the society.

Thus, subaltern school of historiography came into existence.

Subaltern history became an important academic school of historiography after Ranjit Guha included this concept in his writings.

Before this, this idea of including bottommost ranks in the history was taken into consideration by the scholars like Mahatma Phule.

The term ‘shudras’ or the ‘atishudras’ is used for the bottommost rank. The writings of the BR Ambedkar also consider the subaltern school of historiography in his book entitled ‘who were called the shudras’ and ‘The Untouchables.’


1.1 Tradition of Historiography 

1 Tradition of Historiography We have learnt about the historical research method, critically examining the historical sources and writing the historical narrative. The writing of critical historical narrative is known as ‘Historiography’. A scholar who writes such a narrative is a historian.

The historian cannot include every past event in his narrative. The inclusion and interpretation of historical events by the historian often depends on the conceptual framework adopted by him.

His style of writing is determined by that conceptual framework. The tradition of writing historical narrative, that is historiography, was not prevalent in the ancient societies of the world.

However, that does not mean that they were not aware of the historical time or were not eager to know about it. Ancient people also felt the need of passing on the stories of the life and velour of the ancestors to the next generation.

Ancient communities all over the world used various means like cave paintings, story-telling, singing songs and ballads, etc. for this purpose. These traditional means are looked upon as the sources of history in modern historiography.

Q. 1. A. Choose the correct option from the given options and complete the sentences.

1. It may be said that _____________was the founder of modern historiography. (Voltaire, Rene Descartes, Leopold Ranke, Karl Marx)

b. __________ wrote the book entitled ‘Archaeology of Knowledge’. (Michel FoucaultKarl Marx, Voltaire)

Q. 1. B. Identify the wrong pair in the following corrects it and rewrite.

a. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – ‘Reason in History’ (right pair)
b. Leopold von Ranke – ‘The theory and Practice of History’  (right pair)
c. Herodotus – ‘The Histories’ (right pair)

d. Karl Marx – ‘Discourse on the Method; (wrong pair)

2. Explain the following concepts.



a.  According to Hegel, grasping the meaning of any event happens in terms of two direct opposites.
b. Human mind cannot understand the true nature of that event, without understanding the opposites, for example, True-False, Good-Bad, etc.
c. In order to understand the true nature of a thing one needs to know both true and false, similarly good and bad.
d. This method of analysis which is based on opposites is known as ‘Dialectics;. In this method a theory is proposed at the beginning, which is called, ‘Thesis’.

Annales School


a. At the onset of the twentieth century a new school of historiography arose in France, which is known as ‘Annales School’.
b. The Annales School was started by French historians.

c. Annales School gave a new direction to history writing. It was reorganized now that history is not only about political events, kings, great leaders and accordingly politics, diplomacy and wars but also about the climate, local people, agriculture, trade, technology, means of communication, social divisions and their collective psychology, etc. In the historical times

3. Explain the following with its reason.

Historical research was driven to focus in depth on various aspects of women’s life.


a. The Feminist historiography emphasized not only on the inclusion of women in history but also on the rethinking of the male dominated perspective of history.
b. It drove historical research to focus in depth on various aspects of women’s life such as their employment, their role in trade union, institutions working for their cause, their family life, etc.
c. In the historical writings after 1990 women were portrayed as an independent social class.

Foucault called his method ‘the archaeology of knowledge’


a. The French historian of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault brought forth a new concept in historiography. He, in his book, ‘Archaeology of knowledge’, 
b. He argued that the prevailing practice of arranging historical events in a chronological order is not right. 
c. He drew attention to the fact that archaeology does not strive to reach the ultimate historical truth but attempts to explain various transition in the past.
d. Foucault felt that explaining transitions in history is more important. Hence he called his method, ‘the archaeology of knowledge’.

4. Answer the following in 25-30 words.

What is historiography?


a. Critically examining the historical sources and writing the historical narrative. 
b. The writing of critical historical narrative is known as ‘Historiography’.
c. A scholar who writes such a narrative is a historian

What did Rene Descartes insisted upon?


a. Rane Discartes was the foremost among scholars who insisted on verifying the reliability of historical documents by critically examining them.
b. Among the rules given by him in his book, ‘Discourse on the method’, the following is supposed to have a great impact on the scientific method of research.
c. Never to accept anything for true till all grounds of doubt are excluded.

Why is Voltaire said to be the founder of modern historiography?

a. Voltaire’s original name was Francois – Marie Arouet. He was French.
b. He opined that along with objective truth and chronology of historical events considering social traditions, trade, economy, agriculture, etc. was also equally important in historiography.
c. It gave rise to the thought that understanding all aspects of human life is important for history writing.
d. Thus, it is said that Voltaire was the founder of modern historiography.

5. Complete the concept chart.



6. Answer the following in detail.

Explain Karl Marx’s ‘Class Theory’.


a. In the latter half of the nineteenth century a new school of thought arose keeping in view the new thesis formulated by Karl Marx.
b. ‘Das Kapital’, a treatise written by him is the most referred book all over the world.
c. According to Karl Marx, history was not about abstract ideas; it was about living people. Human relationships are shaped by the fundamental needs of people and the ownership as well as nature of prevalent means of production to meet those needs.
d. The accessibility of these means to different strata of the society many not be equal.
e. This inequality causes a division of the society into classes, leading to class struggle.
f. As the class that owns the means of production economically exploits the rest of the classes

What are the four characteristics of modern historiography?


Four main characteristics of modern historiography are as follows:-
a. Its method is based on scientific principles. It begins with the formation of relevant questions.
b. These questions are anthropocentric. It means that these questions are about the deeds of the members of ancient human societies of a particular period. History does not suggest any interrelation between the Divine and human deeds.
c. Answers to these questions are supported by reliable evidence.
d. History presents a graph of mankind’s journey with the help of past human deeds.
e. ‘History’ is originally a Greek term. Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century used it first for his book entitled, ‘The Histories’.

What is feminist historiography?


a. Feminist historiography means the restructuring of the history from the perspective of women. The writing of simone de Beauvoir, helped in establishing  the fundamentals of feminism.
b. The Feminist historiography emphasized not only on the inclusion of women in history but also on the rethinking of the male dominated perspective of history.
c. It drove historical research to focus in depth on various aspects of women’s life such as their employment, their role in trade union, institutions working for their cause, their family life, etc.
d. In the historical writings after 1990 women were portrayed as an independent social class.

Explain Leopold von Ranke’s perspective of history?


a. Historiography of the nineteenth century was greatly influenced by the thoughts of Leopold Von Ranke of Berlin University; he spoke about the critical method of historical research.
b. He put emphasis on the utmost importance of information gathered through original documents.
c. He also stated that all types of documents associated with a historical event need to be examined with greatest care.
d. He believed that with this method it was possible to reach the historical truth.
e. He criticized imaginative narration of history.
f. Collection of his articles is published in two books, entitled ‘The Theory and Practice of History’ and ‘The Secret of World History’.


Obtain detailed information on your favorite subject and write its history. For example :

History of Pen

Ancient Egyptians had developed writing on papyrus scrolls when scribes used thin reed brushes or reed pens from the Juncus maritimus or sea rush. In his book A History of Writing, Steven Roger Fischer suggests that on the basis of finds at Saqqara, the reed pen might well have been used for writing on parchment as long ago as the First Dynasty or about 3000 BC. There is a specific reference to quills in the writings of St. Isidore of Seville in the 7th century. Quill pens were still widely used in the eighteenth century, and were used to write and sign the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

A copper nib was found in the ruins of Pompeii, showing that metal nibs were used in the year 79. There is also a reference to ‘a silver pen to carry ink in’, in Samuel Pepys’ diary for August 1663. ‘New invented’ metal pens are advertised in The Times in 1792. A metal pen point was patented in 1803, but the patent was not commercially exploited.

History of Printing technology 

The discovery of printing technology was an important discovery which helped the spread of knowledge far and wide. It is believed that printing technology evolved during the second century C.E. in China. Wooden blocks were used for printing on both, cloth as well as paper. This was known as wood-block printing. Several transitions took place during the evolution of printing technology from the wood-block style till today’s digital printing. 
During the period from 1040 to 1048 C.E., a Chinese man named Bi- Sheng developed type characters for the first time from hardened clay, creating the first movable type.

However, Wang Zhen carved a more durable type from wood around 1298. This improved the printing technology. 
Further, a German inventor, Johann Gutenberg developed the first – known modern printing press in the 1430s. The first book printed with the help of this technology was the Bible. Soon this technology spread throughout Europe. 

It reached India along with the Europeans. In India, printing started first in Goa, when Portuguese used it for the printing of religious books to spread their religion. They started a printing press in Goa and soon this technology spread throughout the country.

In the pre-independence period, this technology was used by political leaders for printing of newspapers for educating the masses, social awakening, freedom struggle as well as philosophical discussions. The advent of modern technology led to the introduction of coloured printing in the 20th and 21st century. The printing technology helped to increase literacy even in rural places.


The computer as we know it today had its beginning with a 19th century English mathematics professor named Charles Babbage.

He designed the Analytical Engine and it was this design that the basic framework of the computers of today are based on.

Generally speaking, computers can be classified into three generations. Each generation lasted for a certain period of time, and each gave us either a new and improved computer or an improvement to the existing computer.

First generation: 1937 – 1946 – In 1937 the first electronic digital computer was built by Dr. John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). In 1943 an electronic computer name the Colossus was built for the military. Other developments continued until in 1946 the first general– purpose digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built. It is said that this computer weighed 30 tons, and had 18,000 vacuum tubes which was used for processing. When this computer was turned on for the first time lights dim in sections of Philadelphia. Computers of this generation could only perform single task, and they had no operating system.

Second generation: 1947 – 1962 – This generation of computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes which were more reliable. In 1951 the first computer for commercial use was introduced to the public; the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1). In 1953 the International Business Machine (IBM) 650 and 700 series computers made their mark in the computer world. During this generation of computers over 100 computer programming languages were developed, computers had memory and operating systems. Storage media such as tape and disk were in use also were printers for output.
Third generation: 1963 – present – The invention of the integrated circuit brought us the third generation of computers. With this invention computers became smaller, more powerful more reliable and they are able to run many different programs at the same time. In1980 Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-Dos) was born and in 1981 IBM introduced the personal computer (PC) for home and office use. Three years later Apple gave us the Macintosh computer with its icon driven interface and the 90s gave us the Windows operating system.
As a result of the various improvements to the development of the computer we have seen the computer being used in all areas of life. It is a very useful tool that will continue to experience new development as time passes.


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