27 Dec 2022
GS Paper 1
Question 1: Examine the role that the Pala Dynasty played in the flourishing of Buddhism in early medieval India. (150 Words)
Question 2: It is assumed that Rajputs used war ground to showcase their powers. What were the organisation of Rajput Society? Discuss why Rajputs lost their political powers to the Afghan and Turkish invaders?
- Introduce the reign of Pala Dynasty.
- Discuss the contribution of Palas in patronizing Buddhist religion.
- Conclude suitably.
- Pala is a Sanskrit word which means "protector". It was added to the names of the emperors, giving rise to the name "Pala" to the empire.
- The Pala dynasty ruled from 8th century to 12th century CE in the regions comprising Bihar and Bengal.
- After the fall of the Gauda kingdom of ancient Bengal, there was no central authority, which led to recurring wars between petty chieftains. So, in 750 CE, a group of chiefs met and decided on a “Kshatriya chief” named Gopala to be their ruler. Gopala I was succeeded by his son.
Pala’s Contribution to Buddhism:
- Pala rulers had patronised Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism) and were followers of Buddhism.
- They preserved manuscripts related to Buddhism by evolving miniature paintings in manuscript, usually performed to maintain Buddhist text (done on Palm leaves).
- Gopala, the founder of Pala Dynasty, revived Nalanda university & also formed Vikramashila, Jagaddella monestry, both were highest learning centre of Buddhist philosophy.
- Somapura mahavihara at Paharpur, a creation of Dharmapala is one of the largest Buddhist vihara in Indian sub-continent.
- Pala architecture of temples and palace were influenced by the Buddhist Stupas (Anda design) and called Bamboo or Bangla Roof.
- Pala revived the glory of Buddhist religious place like Gaya and other places that were destroyed by Shashanka of Gauda.
- Pala's permission to king Sailendra of Java, for building Monastery in Gaya also contributed to Buddhist culture. It promoted Buddhist belief even outside India.
- Pala supported Buddhism when it was attacked by the Bhagwatism and Bhaktism of Hindu Religion & later by Islamic Invaders.
- Pala patronized various Buddhist writer and scholars like Harisbhadra.
In the medieval era, the Palas were the only prominent period when Buddhist got royal Patronage and survived
- Introduce briefly about the Rajputs and their dynasties.
- Discuss the organisation of Rajput Society and also mention why Rajputs lost their political powers to the Afghan and Turkish invaders.
- Conclude suitably.
- With the break-up of the Pratihara empire, a number of Rajput states came into existence in north India. The most important of these were the Gahadavalas of Kanauj, the Paramaras of Malwa, and the Chauhans of Ajmer.
- There were other smaller dynasties in different parts of the country, such as the Kalachuris in the area around modern Jabalpur, the Chandellas in Bundelkhand, the Chalukyas of Gujarat, the Tomars of Delhi, etc.
- Rajputs were recognized by their love for fighting, bravery and individual heroism. It motivates them to fight among themselves not to kill the opponents but to showcase their personal skills, heroism and the power of clan.
- They usually let their opponent free after the defeat. They have proper rule of war like any other sport in India. Because of this it is said that Rajput were taking wars as a sport.
- The basis of Rajput society was the clan. Every clan traced its descent from a common ancestor. The clans generally dominated a compact territory.
- Attachment to land, family and honour (maan) was a characteristic of the Rajputs. Each Rajput state was supposed to be ruled over by the rana or rawat in conjunction with his chiefs who were generally his blood brothers.
- Though their fiefs were supposed to be held at the pleasure of the ruler, the Rajput notion of sanctity of land did not permit their resumption by the ruler, except in special circumstances, such as rebellion, absence of an heir, etc.
- The sense of brotherhood and egalitarianism which prevailed among the Rajputs.
- Few traits made it difficult to maintain discipline among them. Feuds which continued for several generations were another weakness of the Rajputs. They had tendency to form exclusive groups, each claiming superiority over the others.
- They were not prepared to extend the sense of brotherhood to non-Rajputs.
- The Rajputs treated war as a sport. This and struggle for land and cattle led to continuous warfare among the various Rajput states.
- The ideal ruler was one who led out his armies after celebrating the Dussehra festival to invade the territories of his neighbours.
- The people, both in the villages and in the cities, suffered the most from this policy.
- The Rajput rulers stood forth as protectors of the privileges of the Brahmans and of the caste system.
- The Rajput rulers also patronized arts and letters. Many books and plays were written in Sanskrit during the period under their partonage.
- Vastupala, the famous minister of the Chalukyan ruler Bhima in Gujarat, was a writer and a patron of scholars and the builder of the beautiful Jain temple at Mt. Abu. Ujjain and Dhara, the capitals of the Paramara rulers, were famous centres for Sanskrit learning.
- Many works were written in Apabhramsha and Prakrit which represented the languages of the region. The Jain scholars made significant contributions in this direction, like Hemachandra who wrote both in Sanskrit and Apabhramsha.
Causes of the Defeat of Rajputs
It is stated as an axiom that a country is conquered by another only when it suffers from social and political weaknesses, or economically and militarily backward compared to its neighbours.
- Their habit of freeing opponents after their defeat and rule bound fighting of war was negatively used by the non-Rajput rulers and striked back to kill and conquer the Rajput. E.g., Muhammad Ghori of Ghur against Prithviraj Chauhan.
- The weakness of the Indians was social and organizational. The growth of feudalism, i.e., rise of the local landed elements and chiefs had weakened the administrative structure and military organisation of the Indian states.
- The rulers had to depend more on the various chiefs who rarely acted in coordination, and quickly dispersed to their areas after battle.
- The tribal structure of the Turks, and the growth of the igta and khalisa systems, enabled the Turks to maintain large standing armies which could be kept in the field for a long time.
- Also, the Indians were not accustomed to move as an organized body of horsemen which could cover long distances and fight and maneuver.
- Rajputs had not large bodies of mounted archers, or heavily armed cavalary. The Turkish bows could shoot arrows to a longer distance.
- Turks had horses which were swifter and sturdier than the horses imported into India.
- The social and organizational structure of the Turks also gave them many advantages.
- The grant was not hereditary and was held at the pleasure of the sultan who could transfer him to any place.
- Many of the Turkish officers were slaves, who had been trained for warfare, and grew in the Sultan's service, and on whom the Sultan could place total trust.
- While the Turks were imbued with the 'ghazi' spirit, the Rajputs considered retreat in battle to be a dishonour. It had provided a strategic advantage to the Turks.
- The Rajputs did put up spirited and prolonged resistance and defeated the Turkish armies a number of times. But the Rajputs lacked 'strategic vision'.
- Once the outer bastions of India- Kabul and Lahore, had fallen to the Turks, no concerted attempt was made by the Rajputs to recover them.
- Little effort was made to push the Ghaznavids out of the Punjab.
- Rajputs paid little attention to developments outside, specially to Central Asia which had often played a key-role in shaping the history of India.
Internal rifts, strike, and low technological development in warfare among Rajputs brought not only hardship for the local people but also bring the invasions from the neighbors like Turks and Afghans and led to establishment of the Delhi sultanate for decades.