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  • 12 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture

    Day 29

    Question 1: Discuss the two famous martial art of India developed in ancient times. (150 Words)

    Question 2: Discuss the development of science and technology in the Gupta Age. (150 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Introduce ancient India’s culture of sports and martial art.
    • Discuss the two famous martial arts of ancient India.
    • Conclude suitably.


    From very ancient times India is blessed with numerous sports and Martial arts. These games were developed simultaneously with the development of science and technology in ancient times. These are the prominent games which had combined physical exercise, techniques and spirit of games and brought a healthy sport and self-defense technique.

    Martial art literally means ‘arts associated with the waging of war’. A number of martial arts in the country are closely related to dance, yoga and performing arts.


    Some of the art forms were banned during the British rule, including Kalaripayattu and Silambam, but they resurfaced and gained popularity post-independence. Some of the popular and prevalent types of martial arts in India are discussed below:

    • Kalaripayattu: One of the oldest martial arts in India, Kalaripayattu, practiced in southern India, originated in the state of Kerala in the 4th century A. D. According to legends, sage Parasurama, who built temples and introduced martial arts, started Kalaripayattu.
    • This art form includes mock duels (armed and unarmed combat) and physical exercises. Not accompanied by any drumming or song, the most important aspect is the style of fighting. Kalaripayattu’s most important key is footwork; it also includes kicks, strikes and weapon-based practice.
    • Even women practice this art. Unniyarcha, a legendary heroine, won many battles using this martial art. Even though Kalaripayattu is used as a means of unarmed self-defence and a way to achieve physical fitness today, it is still rooted in the traditional rituals and ceremonies. Kalaripayattu includes a number of techniques and aspects.
    • Some of them are: Uzhichil or the massage with Gingli oil, Fighting with Otta (an ‘S’ shaped stick), Maipayattu or body exercises, Puliyankam or sword fight, Verumkai or bare-handed fight, AngaThari or use of metal weapons and sticks of Kolthari.


    • Silambam, a kind of staff fencing, is a modern and scientific martial art of Tamil Nadu. The kings which ruled in Tamil Nadu, including Pandya, Chola and Chera, had promoted it during their reign.
    • Its reference can be found in a Tamil literature known as Silappadikaram, which dates back to 2nd century A.D. The silambam bamboo staff was one of the most popular trading items with the traders and visitors from Rome, Greece and Egypt.
    • This was one of the highly organized and popular games of the state since the first century A.D. The record of its origin can be traced to divine sources, for example Lord Murugan (in Tamil mythology) and sage Agastya are credited with the creation of Silambam.
    • There are four different kinds of staves used in this art. The first, called ‘torch silambam’, has lighted balls of cloth at one end of the staff, second produces a sonorous swishing sound, the third is a nonelastic staff that gives clattering sounds and the fourth is quite short yet powerful staff.
    • As far as the dress is concerned, the players wear langots of different colors, turbans, sleeveless vests, canvas shoes, and chest guard and use wickerwork shields. There are different kinds of techniques that are used in Silambam including swift movements of the foot, use of both hands to wield staff, use of thrust, cut, chop and sweep to achieve mastery and development of force, momentum and precision at different levels of the body (head, shoulder, hip and leg level).
    • There are three ways to win at Silambam contest.
      • The first involves dispossessing a player of his staff.
      • The second requires counting of the number of ‘touches’ (that are indicated by the number of markings on the body of the opponent) made by one contestant on the other.
      • The third is by judging the skill shown by each contestant in protecting money pouch that is either kept at or between contestant’s feet.
    • The contestant who succeeds in marking the forehead of his opponent wins the contest.


    Indian culture of martial arts and sports is widely praised globally in various forms like sports, dance or techniques of self-defence. To preserve and celebrate the culture of such sport and preserve the knowledge, Indian govt organizing various events and facilitate the provisions in such regards like four indigenous martial art forms like Kalaripayattu of Kerala, Mallakhamb of Central India, Gatka of Punjab and Thang-ta of Manipur included in Khelo India Youth Games.

    Answer 2


    • Introduce about the Gupta Age.
    • Discuss the development of science and technology in the Gupta Age.
    • Conclude suitably.


    The Gupta Empire stretched across northern, central and parts of southern India between 320 and 550 CE. The period is noted for its achievements in the arts, architecture, sciences, religion, and philosophy. This age refers to the term golden age of Indian history which signifies remarkable progress witnessed in different spheres of human life like polity, economy, culture, society etc.


    The development of Medicine, architecture, science and technology in Gupta era were as follows:

    Aryabhatta in around 499 AD wrote Aryabhattiya in which the concepts of mathematics as well as astronomy were explicitly mentioned. The book had four sections:

    • Method of denoting big decimal numbers by alphabets
    • Number theory, geometry, trigonometry
    • Bijaganita, and
    • Astronomy

    Astronomy was also called khagol shastra in those days. Khagol was the famous astronomical laboratory in Nalanda where Aryabhatta studied.

    • In the Aryabhata's book, the aims of studying astronomy were: To get the accuracy of Calendars, to know about the climate and rainfall patterns, navigation, to look at the horoscope, to have the knowledge about the tides and stars.
    • This helped in crossing deserts and seas by indicating the direction during night times. Aryabhatta in his book stated that the earth is round and rotates on its own axis. He formulated the area of a triangle and discovered algebra.
    • It also defines, method of determining the true position of the planets, movement of the Sun and the Moon and the calculation of the eclipses.

    In the field of geology, hydrology and ecology, the contribution of Varahamihira cannot be forgotten. He lived in the Gupta period and was among the nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya.

    • His predictions were so accurate that king Vikramaditya awarded him with the title of “Varaha”. He claimed that presence of termites (Deemak) and plants could indicate the presence of water in that particular area. A list of six animals and thirty-six plants was given by him who could indicate the presence of water.
    • The earth cloud theory was also propounded by him in his book Brihat Samhita. He related earthquake to the influence of plants, behaviour of animals, underground water, undersea activities and the unusual cloud formation. He also made contributions in Astrology or Jyotish shastra.

    In India, Chemistry was called Rasayan Shastra, Rasatantra, Rasa Vidya and Rasakriya, all of which means science of liquids. Chemical laboratories were called Rasakriya Shala and chemist was referred to as rasadanya.

    • Indians in the Persian army used weapons tipped with iron. The best evidence of Indian metallurgy is Iron pillar of Mehrauli in Delhi.


    • Charak Samhita mainly deals with use of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes. In a way, it mainly deals with Ayurveda as a science having the following components: Kaya Chikitsa (General Medicine) Kaumara-Bhrtya (Paediatrics) Shalya Chikitsa (Surgery) Salakya Tantra (Ophthalmology/ENT), etc.
      • In Charak Samhita, extensive note on digestion, metabolism and immune system is written.
      • Charaka emphasises that the functioning of a human body depends on three Doshas: 1. Bile, 2. Phlegm and 3. Wind.
      • Charaka in his book has put more emphasis on prevention rather than cure. Genetics also finds a mention in Charaka Samhita.
    • Sushruta Samhita deals with practical problems of Surgery and Obstetrics. Sushruta studied anatomy in great detail with the aid of a human dead body.
      • His forte was mainly:
        • Rhinoplasty (plastic surgery)
        • Ophthalmology (ejection of Cataract)
      • Surgery was termed as Sastrakarma during those times. The book Sushruta Samhita records in detail the steps to be taken for the performance of a surgery. In this field, one of the greatest contributions of Shushruta was Rhinoplasty which means restoration of a mutilated nose through plastic surgery.
      • The translation of the two books also took place in Arabic language. Even the Greeks were influenced by the Indian medicines during the Indo-Greek rule in India in 180 BC-10 AD.
    • Music: The first reference to musical theory and dance was discussed in Bharata’s Natyashastra written and compiled between 200 BC and 200 AD. The first work that clarified and elaborated on the subject of musicology and dance was Bharata’s Natyashastra.
      • Bharata Muni describes dance as the ‘complete art’ encompassing within its scope all other forms of art – music, sculpture, poetry and drama.
      • In the Natyasastra, Bharata has divided the swaras into twenty-two notes scale.
      • In Natyasastra, Bharata argues that different moods evoked by the notes are Madhyam evokes humorous instincts; Pancham will evoke erotic feelings; Shadja notes would evoke heroic feelings and last the wrathful instincts are evoked by Rishabh notes.


    The development of science and technology in the Gupta era praised in several successive kingdoms and the practical evidence of the era is shown by the monuments like temples and pillar of Mehrauli.

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