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Ancient history and art & culture

29 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2017

    13. Highlight the importance of new objective that got added to the vision of Indian independence since the twenties of the last century. (2017)

    The ‘twenties of the last century’ was the watershed moment for the Indian national movement. With emergence of new scenarios and actors the movement became a true mass movement.

    This decade started on the backdrop of Russian Revolution and emergence of communism as an alternative to Imperialism which presented a new ray of hope for the colonies undergoing struggle for independence. With the rise of socialists and communists in India, the issues of peasants and workers became an important objective of Indian independence.

    Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and with some initial experiments on limited scale in Champaran, Kheda and Ahmedabad, finally in the early twenties he was all set to take the leadership of Indian National Movement and this changed the vision of Indian independence.

    • Starting with Non Cooperation Movement in the early twenties, he led Civil Disobedience Movement in early thirties and finally Quit India in early forties. In these years, Indian national movement transformed from the movement of few middle class elites, to a mass movement.
    • The objectives of Independence became Swaraj and Sarvodaya where the fruit of independence was to be tasted by the last man standing in the row and not mere the transfer of power from one set of white elites to another Indian elites.
    • After twenties the goal of political independence was gradually broadened by the constructive programmes where the issues of untouchability and Hindu- Muslim unity were also considered as important goals.
    • Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy was shaped during Karachi resolution of 1931.

    Hence the vision of Indian independence was broadened in scale and scope after the twenties of last century.

  • 2018

    13. Why indentured labour was taken by British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there? (2018)

    Indentured labour was a system of bonded labour that was instituted following the abolition of slavery throughout British Empire in 1833 as newly free men and women refused to work for low wages on sugar, tea plantations and rail construction projects in British colonies of West Indies, Fiji, Mauritius and Ceylon.

    • In 19th century people were recruited as indentured labor from regions like Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Central India and dry districts of Tamil Nadu as these regions experienced many changes such as -
    • Decline of cottage industries, rising land rents and clearing of land for mines and plantations.
    • All this affected lives of poor as they failed to pay their rents and became deeply indebted – forcing them to migrate in search of work to escape poverty and famine.
    • India’s large population provided the British Empire with a steady source of work force. Thus, British exploited both the vulnerability and readily available large population.

    Once placed in British colonies, festivals such as Muharram, Holi served as a placental link to preserve their cultural Identity.

    • In Trinidad, the annual Muharram procession was transformed in to carnival ‘Hosay’ for Imam Hossain drawing a large crowd.
    • The protest religion of RASTAFARIANISM popularized by Bob Marley reflects social and cultural links with Indian migrants to Carribean.
    • Chutney music became popular in Trinidad.
    • Bollywood kept alive the cultural identity among indentured labor.
    • A rigid caste system of Indian society melted as indentured people identified more with ‘Indianness’, promoting fraternal feeling.
    • Initiatives such as ’Know India Programme’ are conscious efforts by Government of India to ensure a continuum of new generations with Indian ethos.

    However, the Sri Lankan 13th Amendment to constitution is reminder that the quest to preserve their culture continues in some places. By and large, indentured labour have been able to retain their cultural heritage and renew their links with India both as potent act of resistance and a powerful affirmation of their distinctness.

  • 2022

    13. Discuss the significance of the lion and bull figures in Indian mythology, art and architecture.

    Since the advent of humans, animals have also been a complimentary companion on earth. The traces of human animal relationship traces back to the paintings of the upper paleolithic period, around 12,000 year ago.

    Two amongst the important animals who have been a significant part of human life are “Lion” & “Bull”. From the stone age period to Modern India, traces have been found of their presence in various aspects, which could be understood in an elaborate way, as stated below.


    • Vehicle of Goddess Durga:
      • Lion is the 'vahana' or vehicle of Maa Durga. The animal also represents the power of Maa Durga.
    • Nandi Bull of Shiva:
      • Nandi, which means “giving delight” or “giving joy” is the sacred bull of the Hindu god Shiva.


    • Sculpture:
      • National Emblem of India:
        • It is an adoption of Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.
        • There are four lions, standing back to back, an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion separated by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus.
          • The Bull depicts the Zodiac sign of Taurus.
          • The Lion shows the attainment of enlightenment.
      • Indus Valley Bronze Bull:
        • The bronze bull of Indus Valley Civilisation signifies the presence of Bronze in the Indus Valley Civilization i.e. Bronze Age Civilization.
      • Bull in Tamil Nadu Rockart:
        • Rock art discoveries in Tamil Nadu have depicted prehistoric men capturing bulls and attempting to tame them.


    • Mauryan Pillar:
      • The top portion of the pillar was carved with capital figures like the bull, the lion, the elephant, etc.
      • The Mauryan symbolism of the lions indicate “the power of a universal emperor (chakravarti) who dedicated all his resources to the victory of dharma”.
    • Sanchi Stupa:
      • Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh is the most famous of the Ashokan stupas.
      • Rock engraving of Lion with wings and Bull has been found in the torana of the stupa.

    From traces in ancient India to significance in the national symbol of the country, lion and bull have been a witness of the phases of development and changes of the land of India.

  • 2017

    12. Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy. (2017)

    When the Britishers took over, traditional Indian artisans ruled the world and supplied about a quarter of all manufactured goods produced in the world as famously quoted by Peter, the Great that ‘commerce of India was the commerce of world!’

    Nationalist economists proposed that with the beginning of British rule in mid-eighteenth century, the process of deindustrialization started for the traditional artisanal industry. The various reasons for that were:

    • The traditional artisanal industry lost its many patrons, like rulers, zamindars etc. after the coming of colonial rule.
    • The colonial rule flooded Indian market with cheaper manufactured goods against which Indian handicrafts lost the competition.
    • The colonial rule also opened Indian markets with zero import tax which went in favour of British manufactured goods. Moreover, Indian goods were severely restricted in foreign markets due to various regulations and taxes leading to loss of market.
    • The artisans also suffered at the hands of colonial power by having to agree to exploitative terms. The English carried on the put-out system of manufacture where the artisan was supplied with the materials and the finished product was brought at a low price. The English also procured raw cotton from peasants, at a low price and sold it at exorbitant rates to the artisans. Thus, the artisan suffered both as a buyer and a seller.
    • With the advent of railways in mid-nineteenth century onwards the process of deindustrialization was further fastened by colonial economic and commercial penetration into the hinterlands of India.

    This not only eroded the prosperous income base for millions of Indian artisans but eroded the labour productivity of Indian agriculture due to crowding and the twin pillars of traditional Indian rural economy were completely crumbled.

    Thus, in a short span of just 200 years (1757-1947) the entire rural economy which was self-sustained and prosperous for ages was completely crippled.

  • 2019

    12. Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s.


    Britain never wanted to leave India but the promise to the Indian National Congress of independence in return of Indian resources and army during World War Two; the post war financial and political exhaustion; change in political power at the centre (Labour Party) whose ideology favoured the Congress party; increasing global pressure and the inability to crush Indian leaders’ will and efforts finally led to the Indian independence. However, Britain did succeed in making the process of transfer of power so complicated and hard that India still suffers from them.

    Cabinet Mission

    • Sir Stafford Cripps was responsible for drafting the Cabinet Mission Plan, which proposed a complicated system for India with three tiers- the provinces, provincial groupings and the centre. The centre’s power was confined to foreign affairs, defence, currency and communication only.
    • Three major groups of provinces: Group A, to include the Hindu-majority provinces; Group B, containing the Muslim-majority provinces (western Pakistan); and Group C, to include the Muslim-majority Bengal (eastern Pakistan).
    • Even though both Nehru and Jinnah eventually refused to accept it, Lord Wavell authorised a cabinet with Nehru as the Interim Prime Minister which enraged Jinnah who in turn resorted to direct action of sparking riots and massacres.


    • In July, 1947 the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act which provided for the demarcation of India and Pakistan by midnight of August 14–15, 1947, in just one month. Two Nations Theory was an important factor here and fuelled communalism.
    • The task of demarcating the boundaries was given to a British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe who had never visited the country before and was clueless about the social and political consequences of his decision. Two boundary commissions were set up for it.
    • During partition, there was a large-scale communal violence and forced migration of people, probably the biggest in history.

    Autonomy to Princely States

    • The British paramountcy on the princely states and all the existing treaties of Britain with the princely states before the independence ended in 1947.
    • As princely states were not a part of the British India, they became independent and had the option to either merge with India or with Pakistan or to stay independent.
    • Even after the efforts of Lord Mountbatten, Nehru and Patel, few princely states like Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad posed some serious challenges in the already troubled times.


    It was hard to let go of the main resource supplier and the market consumer but when the odds were not in favour of Britain, it gave independence to India but made sure to create some contentious issues while leaving India. A lot of current day problems like issue of enclaves with Bangladesh (later resolved through The Constitution 100th Amendment Act, 2015), the migration issue, Kashmir issue between India-Pakistan etc. have their roots in the complications created by the British imperial power during the 1940s.

  • 2020

    12. Persian literary sources of medieval India reflect the spirit of the age. Comment.

    With the arrival of Mughals, Turks and Afghans,the Islamic and Indian culture interacted and influenced each other. During the medieval period, Persian was the most popular language and it replaced Sanskrit in those parts where the Muslims ruled.

    Persian littérateurs and literary sources reflecting the spirit of the age:

    • Amir Khusrau is credited with prominent workslike Panch Ganj, Matla-ul-Anwar, Shirin wa Khuarav, Laila wa Majnun, Aina-i-Sikandari and Hasht Bihisht.
      • He, for the first time, made use of Hindi words and idioms and wrote on Indian themes.
      • In his ghazals, he employed alternate hem-stitches in Persian and Hindi.
    • Shams Siraj Afif wrote Takih-Firoz Shahi which is of immense value to understand the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq (14th century).
      • Afif has given a detailed account of the policies of Firoz.
      • The book talks about irrigation tax (1/10 of produce) paid by the cultivators who used waters from canals constructed by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
      • Firoz had a great liking forthe laying out of gardens, which he took great painsto decorate. He formed 1,200 gardens in the vicinity of Dehli.
    • Khawaja Najm-ud-Din Hasan wrote Fawaid-ul-Faud which records a conversation with the great saint Nizamud-Din Aulia.
      • This work is considered a valuable document on Sufi philosophy because it containsthe discourses of Nizamud-Din Aulia in chronological order.
    • Abu’l Fazl is credited with writing Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari, the masterpieces depicting the Mughal era.
      • Akbarnama is embedded with miniature paintings. Itis an importantsource to study Mughalstyle paintings. For example: “Emperor Akbar on Elephant Hunt” and “Ran Bagha crossing the River Jumna”. Paintings are also a source to understand the prevalent dress and fashion style.
      • Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari provide a holistic picture of the policies adopted by Akbar for religious and social tolerance. For example, Akbar, with his Sulh-e Kul, wastrying to calm down the tension and drive the society into peace and harmony.
      • Ain-i-Akbari also describesthe administrative system of the Empire as well as containsthe famous “Account of the Hindu Sciences”. It also deals with Akbar’s household, army, the revenues and the geography of the empire.
    • Dara Shikoh, son of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, has been credited with translating many Hindu scriptures from Sanskrit to Persian.
      • Sirr-i-Akbar is the Persian translation of Upanishads which he completed in 1657.
      • Dara tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions. He also translated Bhagavad Gita into the Persian language.

    With the coming of the Muslimsto the subcontinent, Persian, an Aryan tongue and sister language of Sanskrit, came to India, which isthe confluence of diverse faiths, languages and cultures and which has a tradition of adopting and blending and then producing a composite cultural unity in diversity.

  • 2022

    12. Discuss the main contributions of Gupta period and Chola period to Indian heritage and culture.

    The Golden Period in Indian history, was established by Chandragupta I as the Gupta Dynasty in the 3rd Century AD.

    Chola dynasty was established as one of the longest ruling dynasties in the southern regions of India by Vijayalaya in 9th century.

    Both Gupta and Chola Rulers have contributed to Indian Culture & Heritage in the following ways:

    Category Gupta Period (300-600 AD) Chola Period (900-1300 AD)
    • Brick temples were started to be made during the Gupta period.
    • Dashavatara temple in Deogarh has the presence of a curvilinear tall rekha-deol (or rekha-prasada) type shikhara (Nagara Style).
    • Square temples emerged in Gupta Period such as Vishnu and Varaha temples at Eran in Vidisha.
    • Chola rulers continued temple construction on the lines of Pallava architecture with variations, which came to be known as Dravidian architecture.
    • Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and Gangaikondacholapuram temple are such examples.
    • A new school called Sarnath School emerged. Cream colored sandstone was used in it.
      • At Sarnath, Buddha is shown standing, seated and in other positions as well.
    • Goddess Ganga from Besnagar and Apsaras from Gwalior were also found.
    • Bronze Nataraja of Chola period indicates sound of creation, destruction, benediction and path of salvation etc.
    • Sculpture of Sembiyan Mahadevi, a 10th century AD chola queen was found.
    • 9th century AD Kalyanasundara murti represents the Panigrahana (ceremony of marriage).
    Cave Architecture
    • Junagrah caves: They have a citadel called ‘uparakot’ apart from a lower prayer hall.
    • Nashik Caves: Primarily Hinyana Buddhist caves and Buddha is shown in form of symbols, there are 23 such caves and are termed as ‘Pandav Leni’.
    • Ajanta Cave: These are 29 Rock-cut cave belonging to Hinayana and Mahayana period.
    • Other examples: Udaigiri Caves, Bagh Caves, Ellora Caves etc.
    No significant cave development took place during chola’s rule.
    • Ajanta Paintings: It depicts events from Buddha’s life in the form of Jataka tales.
      • They are drawn in continuity without using separate frames and they are essentially two dimensional.
      • Dying Princess is one the most prominent examples.
    • Ellora Cave Paintings: It has influences from three religions – Jaina, Buddhism and Hinduism.
    • Brihadeshwara temple houses paintings of Hindu deities that were made during Chola period.
    • The paintings show narrations and aspects related to Lord Shiva, Shiva in Kailash, Shiva as Tripurantaka etc.

    The significant contribution by both of the dynasties have shaped India’s culture and heritage into a rich and prosperous shape with Gupta’s cave being in a good shape even after 1500 years and Nataraja sculpture by Chola’s being worshiped at various temples of modern India.

  • 2018

    11. The Bhakti movement received a remarkable re-orientation with the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Discuss. (2018)

    Indian social set-up during the medieval period was based on Brahmanism characterized by rigid caste division, rituals and methods of prayer. Bhakti Movement was a reformative movement characterized by intense devotion or love for God. The movement focused to reform Indian society which was shadowed by Brahmanical dominance.

    Bhakti Movement started from South India in the form of Vaishnavite and Shaivaite sect, commonly known as Alvars and Nayanars respectively. Early 16th century was marked by rise of Bhakti Saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Eastern India. He was a Vaishanavit Saint and an ardent follower of Lord Krishna. According to his followers, he was an incarnation of Lord Krishna.

    Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu preached love, compassion, and non-violence. Though he was a Brahmin, he condemned caste system and emphasized on equality for all. According to him true worship lay in love and devotion. Bhakti Movement is known to transcend the practice of strict rituals and religious practices. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is known to have revolutionized and re-oriented Bhakti Movement, giving it impetus through simplicity in teachings, propagating Bhakti ideas through his disciples, instructing them to write books, and overall making it a mass movement

    The very first mandate by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to his disciples was to go to each house and ask people to chant ‘Hari Bol’. By this, he propagated amongst people the practice of ‘Nama Simaran’ as a mode of devotion and love for God. Further, he propagated his message of ‘Hari Bol’ through ‘Sankirtan Mandali’. In these Mandalies, devotees used to chant, sing and dance. Through Sankirtan, chanting of Hari Bol and combined dance and chant, Mahaprabhu brought people from different caste, creed, religion and sex together.

    The message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Gaudiya School of thought is now propagated through ISKCON Movement across the world. It has participation of devotees from around the world. In other words it can be said that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu not only revolutionized Bhakti movement but also universalized it.

  • 2019

    11. Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian Phase. Elaborate.

    Gandhian Phase in Indian freedom struggle is undoubtedly remarkable because of the perspective Gandhiji provided to the masses and the way he guided the freedom fighters with the means of truth and non-violence.

    But there were numerous other simultaneous factors which further strengthened Gandhi’s efforts and contributed to the nationalist movement.

    Voices which strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement:

    • Khilafat Movement (1919-22) was launched by the Indian Muslims to pressurise the British government to preserve the authority of Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam. Gandhi and Congress leaders viewed it as an opportunity for cementing Hindu-Muslim unity and bringing the Muslims in the National Movement although this event is said to have brought the issue of religion in the freedom struggle.
    • The ideological differences between the Swarajists and the No-Changers within the congress led to serious changes and contribution. No-changers continued their constructive programme of spinning, temperance, Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchability etc whereas Swarajists won the election of Central Legislative Assembly in november 1923 filling the political void while the national movement was regaining its strength.
    • Marxism and other socialist ideas spread rapidly in 1927 under J.L. Nehru and S.C. Bose’s leadership. The left wing did not confine its concern to freedom struggle only but raised the question of internal class oppression by the capitalists and landlords. It strengthened the voices of the marginalised and poor of the country and connected them to the movements.
    • Revolutionaries like R.P. Bismil, C.S. Azad and Bhagat Singh among others took the responsibilities of informing people about a necessary revolution to uproot British Empire. The Terrorist Movement in Bengal led by Surya Sen is notable because of the role of revolutionary women who participated.
    • Students and peasant parties got involved and propagated Marxist and communist ideas while remaining an integral part of the national movement and the Congress. In 1928, Bardoli Satyagraha occurred under the leadership of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel bringing forward farmers’ concerns.
    • There was rapid growth of trade unionism under the leadership of All India Trade Union Congress and many strikes took place during 1928 like Kharagpur, Jamshedpur and Bombay Textile Mill strike is the most important. The traders and workers contributed to the struggle for independence.
    • Women from all over India were not left alone. They came forward and equally contributed to the national movement. Kasturba Gandhi, VIjay Laxmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali, Bhikaji Cama are some of the most prominent who assumed leadership at different fronts.

    Even the Business class participated by giving financial assistance and rejecting imported goods Every class, section, age group, political ideology emerged, came forward and contributed to the national movement. Even though it weakened the movement to some extent by the fragmentation and the internal ideological differences, it mainly made the movement strong by diversifying it and adding alternative perspectives to it. This multidimensional nature of the movement is one of the reasons for its success in 1947 when finally all the unheard voices till then were heard.

  • 2020

    11. Indian philosophy and tradition played a significantrole in conceiving and shaping the monuments and their art in India. Discuss.

    Indian philosophy refers to philosophical traditions which developed in the Indian subcontinent. It generally includes Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Philosophy, among others.

    Art is one of the cultural activities of man through which he reaches his ideas, values, feelings, aspirations and reactions to life. Hence the influence of philosophy on monuments and their art is inextricable.

    The Monuments and their arts, from Asoka’s Pillars to Chola’s Brihadeshwara temple have been influenced by the contemporary and prominent philosophy and traditions. The early monuments have been dominated by Buddhism and Jainism while Hinduism began to influence from the Gupta period.

    • The Asokan Pillar, the Stupas have been influenced by the Buddhist philosophies depicting teachings, stories, symbols associated with Buddhism. The Chakra of Sarnath’s pillar symbolises Dharmachakrapravartana and the Chattra of stupas embodies the Three Jewels of Buddhism.
    • The ascetics belonging to Ajivika, Jainism, Buddhism required places for meditation. Rock-cut caves like Lomas Rishi, Ajanta or Ellora were carved out to provide a place of solitude for the monks and sages.
    • Engravings, paintings, or sculptures of theses caves depict the teachings of these philosophies. For example, the ceilings of Ajanta caves have paintings showing the life cycles of Buddha, Ellora caves contain images of 24 Jinas.
    • The works at the Jain temples include, in addition to the Jinas, carvings of gods and goddesses, yaksa, yakshi and human devotees. The cells of Jain viharas are small and plain, designed to observe rigorous asceticism by Jain monks.
    • From the Gupta period onwards, Hindu temple architecture began to evolve. Constructed mainly in three distinctive styles, Nagara, Vesara, and Dravida, the architecture and walls of Hindu temples are influenced and embellished with sculptures influenced from Hindu epics and mythologies.
    • The Khajuraho temple’s territory is laid out in three triangles that converge to form a pentagon to reflects the Hindu symbolism for three realms or trilokinatha, and five cosmic substances or panchbhuteshvara.
    • The Monolithic temples like Kailasha (8th century CE) at Ellora or Group of monuments at Mamallapuram (7th–8th century CE) have beep influenced by Hindu religion and mythology, telling stories from Shivapurana, Mahabharata, etc.

    The Indian philosophy and traditions have been a predominant factorinfluencing the architecture and interiors of the monuments. But, the monuments were not solely shaped by philosophies and they have incorporated activities such as trade or cultural interaction.

  • 2016

    5. Highlight the difference in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom. (2016)

    Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose were both legendary personalities, gigantic in their political moral and ethical stature. Both played crucial roles in the freedom movement. They were both internationalists and humanists as well as secular in their approach and anti-social in their outlook. In spite of their common thought process, there were glaring differences in their approach. They are as follows:

    • Subhash Chandra Bose was a radical socialist meaning that he wanted to change the existing socio-economic situation whereas Gandhi was a conservative.
    • The young members, of INC including Bose demanded complete self-rule without any compromise while the senior members were okay with dominion status for India within British rule.
    • Bose had a strong revolutionary urge to achieve freedom while Gandhi believed in passive resistance.
    • Bose proposed the idea of complete Independence from the British rule. He wanted Swaraj based on all out struggle. Gandhi on the other hand believed in the concept of Struggle-Truce-Struggle. Gandhi was in favour of trusteeship theory and aspired village to be self-sustained economy.
    • Bose was a strong supporter of Fascism which was obvious in his strong belief that India needed a political system which was a mix of fascism and communism. Gandhi on the other hand was an anti fascist who did not propagate any such extreme political system.
    • Bose was open to the idea of taking foreign assistance to achieve freedom as seen in the formation of Indian national Association while Gandhi was completely against any such idea.

    Despite their ideological defferences both Gandhi and Bose spoke highly of each other. There were occasions when Bose praised Gandhi for his success in involvement of women in freedom struggle. Even Gandhi while differing from Bose’s extreme methods had utmost admiration for his unique effort for India’s freedom, mainly his struggle for freedom from outside India. Cue must be taken from these two great leaders’ tolerance and respect towards each other even after serious difference of opinion.

  • 2016

    4. Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase. (2016)

    The freedom struggle in India symbolized a cauldron in which various sections of society contributed according to their potential to create a flavor of nationalism. In this context the role of women is very significant. The role of women in national movement evolved through various stages during which they were awarded different roles. Initially stages, the literati portrayed Indian women as ‘Mother’ and linked it to ‘Bharat Mata’ (in Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya’s Anand Nath). The reform movements of 19th century presented the image of Ideal mother, Ideal wife and Ideal sister.

    Women’s active participation in mass movements began with the Swadeshi Movement in 1905 and only grew in later movements. Gandhiji accorded special role to women in NCM and CDM. He glorified their strength despite accepting their biological and social limitations. During Gandhian struggles the image of women changed from motherhood to sisterhood. To inspire confidence in them, Gandhiji presented examples of Sita and Damayanti. Some of women leaders during Gandhian struggle are as follows:

    • Anusuya Ben — Accompanied gandhiji in his tours and actively participated in 1918 Ahmedabad Textile milk strikes.
    • Sarojini Naidu — Led the raid on Dharasana salt works during civil movement following gandhiji arrest along with his son Manilal.
    • Mridula Sarabai — A Gandhian who worked with Vanara Sena (Organised by Indira Gandhi).
    • Besant — Helped Gandhiji organised Rowlatt Satyagrahs through Home Rule Leagues.

    In addition to these Gandhian leaders, women also participated in freedom struggle in other capacities:

    • Revolutionary Extremists — Kalpana Dutta (Chittagong Armoury raid), Bina Das/shot Bengal governor point blank, Durga Bhabhi/member of HSRA) etc.
    • Women during Quit India Movement — Usha Mehta (Congress Radio), Sucheta Kriplani/Underground movement) etc.
    • Indian National Army’s Rani Jhansi regiment led by Lakshmi Swaminadhan (Sehgal).

  • 2017

    3. Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century? (2017)

    The moderates were not against the British rule per se and had strong belief in sense of justice and goodness of the British rule. They pursued the policy of gradualism and constitutionalism. Constitutional reforms, administrative re-organisation and protection of civil rights were high on agenda and methods of prayers, petition and protest were followed.

    Moderates met limited success in later stages due to various reasons–

    • The political jargons used by the moderates were alien to uneducated masses. There was also lack of political faith in the masses. Thus people largely remained aloof.
    • It was gradually realised that the British didn’t concede to any of the major demands of the moderates.
    • Indian Council Act 1892 was criticised. Moves such as further amplification of repressive laws under IPC and reduction in number of members in Calcutta Corporation didn’t go down well with progressive elements in INC.  
    • Political ideologies of the moderates were blamed to be inefficient. Methods followed by moderates were described as political mendicancy. The result was emergence of a more militant school of thought.

    However, the role of moderates can also not be negated. They were first to create national awakening among Indians and prepared a solid ground for mass oriented national movement at later stages that followed.

  • 2016

    3. Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India. (2016)

    The Revolt of 1857 gave a severe jolt to the British administration in India and made its re-organization inevitable. The Government of India’s structure and policies underwent significant changes after the Revolt.

    Changes in Administration: By the Act of Parliament of 1858, the power to govern India was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown. The authority over India was now to be exercised by a Secretary of State for India aided by a Council.

    The Indian Council Act of 1861 enlarged the Governor’s Council for the purpose of making laws, which was known as the Imperial Legislative Council.

    Provincial Administration: The British had divided India for administrative convenience into provinces, three of which- Bengal, Bombay and Madras-were known as Presidencies. The Presidencies were administered by a Governor and his Executive Council of three, who were appointed by the Crown.

    Changes in the army: The domination of the army by its European branch was carefully guaranteed. The proportion of Europeans to Indians in the army was raised. The crucial branches of artillery, tanks and armored corps were put exclusively in European hands. The Indians were strictly excluded from the higher posts.

    Divide and Rule: Immediately after the revolt they suppressed Muslims, confiscated their lands and property on a large scale, and declared Hindus to be their favorite. After 1870, this policy was reversed and an attempt was made to turn Muslims against the nationalist movement. The Government cleverly used the attraction of government service to create a split between the educated Hindus and Muslims.

    Relations with Princely States: Loyalty of Princely States was now rewarded with the announcement that their right to adopt heirs would be respected and the integrity of their territories guaranteed against future annexation.

    The officials became hostile to the educated Indians when the latter began to organise a nationalist movement among the people and founded the Indian National Congress.

    The lands of most of the talukdars of Awadh were restored to them. The zamindars and landlords were now hailed as the traditional and ‘natural’ leaders of the Indian people. Their interest and privilege were protected and they, in turn, became the firm supporters of British rule in India.

    Hence, in essence, uprising in 1857 was an important mark from which the British government started consolidating its hold over India, with an aim of having long lasting empire.

  • 2018

    3. Throw light on the significance of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times. (2018)

    Gandhian thoughts underline the most humane way to resolve many of the problems that plague our times, as can be ascertained from the list given below:

    Gandhian Thoughts



    The ideal of non-violence needs to guide the approach of individuals as well as nations and world-organizations, as violence initiates a vicious circle of repression and injustice.


    The moral framework of resistance which marked satyagraha is especially pertinent in the times when to be quiet or to collaborative seem to be the only dominant choice in face of any injustice.


    In the age of markets laden with products based on generating and gratifying instinct of social approval and when public-imagination is becoming increasingly vulnerable to demagogues, the idea of Swaraj which had economic, social, spiritual and political connotations continues to be significant.

    Eliminating Untouchability

    Caste disrimination has still not ceased to be a feature of Indian-public life. Gandhian ideal of social consciousness to eliminate it needs to be taken forward.

    Women Emancipation

    With glass-ceiling still far from being shattered in the public sphere, the Gandhian thought of women emancipation continues to hold relevance.

    Gandhian thoughts about compassion, punctuality and sanitation are the other ideals that continue to hold value in our times marked by strife, procrastination in public and private lives and casual attitude towards hygiene.

    Ultimately, all ideals and thoughts of the Mahatma were reached by him via a process of life long experimentation with truths and this makes Gandhian thoughts most significant in what is also being called by a few as post-truth era.

  • 2019

    3. Examine the linkages between the nineteenth century’s Indian Renaissance and the emergence of national identity.

    Nineteenth century witnessed significant changes in Indian polity and society consequent to the expansion and consolidation of British imperialism in India which made Indians realise that their interests were sacrificed in order to promote the interests of the British authority.

    The impact of modern western culture and consciousness of defeat by a foreign power gave birth to a new awakening. The modern educational systems familiarised the educated classes with the ideas of equality, liberty and nationalism. They were impressed by modern science and the doctrines of reason and humanism. Thoughtful Indians who were product of modern education began to look for the strengths and weaknesses of their society aimed at giving back to the nation its lost identity.

    This new cultural project, which partly manifested itself through the social and religious reforms was encoded in the phrase ‘Indian Renaissance’. It marked a period of transition in values, transformation in social sensibilities and rebirth in cultural creativity.

    A defining feature of the movement was an inquiry into the past and an assessment of the traditions to overcome contemporary problems. Ram Mohan Roy’s use of Hindu scriptures in his debate with his opponents on Sati, or Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s widow remarriage campaign, or Narayana Guru’s advocacy of universalism sought to eliminate social obscurantism, religious superstition and irrational rituals. The common feature that they all shared was the urge to transform the existing social and cultural conditions, ranging from irrational religious practices and rituals to the oppressive state of women’s lives.

    Renaissance ‘purified’ and ‘rediscovered’ an Indian civilisation that was conformant with the European ideals of rationalism, empiricism, monotheism and individualism. It was meant to show that Indian civilisation was by no means inferior to that of the West, rather in one sense, in its spiritual accomplishments it was even superior to it.

    Evidence of this search for a superior national culture could be found in the development of patriotic regional literature, in the evolution of new art forms, in the search for purer forms of classical music and in the construction of new ideals of womanhood. The literary movement led by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Tagore, Iqbal and Subramaniya Bharati provided leadership with imagination and fervor.

    The movement, thus, not only talked of beauty and nationalism but also revealed to its followers India in terms of its spirit, its philosophy, its arts, its poetry, its music and its myriad ways of life. The sense of pride in the spiritual essence of Indian civilisation, as opposed to the material culture of the West, motivated Indians to confront the colonial state in a newly emerging public space. This, in other words, provided the ideological foundation of modern Indian nationalism that developed in the late nineteenth century.

  • 2017

    2. Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity? (2017)

    The first half of the eighteenth century witnessed decline and disintegration of the mighty Mughal Empire and rise of virtually independent regional powers. Lack of strong central authority and emergence of regional power weakened the political structure that led to rise of foreign power.

    Factors that could be considered to play potent role in fragmented polity were–

    • The Mughal court saw a host of weak emperors in succession, emperors who were incapable to command the glorious empire and would rather indulge in wasteful extravagance of pomp and show. Courtrooms became kingmaker’s ground for treachery and war of succession became recurrent.
    • A number of powerful kingdoms such as Bengal, Avadh, Hyderabad and Mysore arose and became virtually independent from the Mughal Empire. 
    • The weakened Mughal Empire was challenged by Marathas time and again. Marathas captured vast swathes of territory in northern and central India.
    • The remaining illusion of continued domination of Mughal power was shattered by Nadir Shah’s (Shah of Persia) invasion of India in 1739.
    • Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali also made frequent inroads into Punjab and finally took over Delhi in 1756-57. Marathas, who were considered as only contender to fill the power vacuum in Delhi, were defeated by Abdali's forces in the Third Battle of Panipat (1761). The war didn’t decide who will rule India but who would not.

    After these series of events, the Mughal Empire ceased to exist as an all-India empire in practice. The British took advantage of the entire situation. They defeated the forces of Bengal in Battle of Plassey and finally combined forces of Bengal, Awadh and Mughal were crushed in Battle of Buxar.

  • 2016

    2. Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss. (2016)

    Krishnadeva Raya who ruled the kingdom of Vijayanagara was one of the greatest statesmen which medieval South India had produced. Called variously as ‘Kannadaraya’, ‘Sri Karnata Mahisa’ and ‘Kannada Rajya Ramaramana’, his rule saw all round prosperity of South India, culturally and materialistically.

    Krishnadeva Raya was a great patron of literature and was known as Abhinava Bhoja. Himself being a scholar, he wrote the Telugu work Amuktamalyada and a Sanskrit play, Jambavati Kalyana.

    • He had eight great scholars called Ashtadiggajas in his court. They included Allasani Peddana often described as the Andhra-kavitapitamaha. His famous work was Manucharitamu; another famous poet was Nandi Thimmanna, the author of Parijathapaharanamu.
    • Other eminent literary luminaries were Tenali Ramakrishna, Kumara Dhurjati and Rama Raja Bhushana.
    • He asked the Kannada poet Thimmanna to complete the Kannada Mahabharatha started by Kumara Vyasa.
    • Telugu poet Peddanna was personally honoured by him for his proficiency in Telugu and Sanskrit and Krishnadevaraya himself gave a helping hand to lift the palanquin in which the poets book 'Manucharitamu' was placd and taken in a procession.

    It is said whenever Krishna-devaraya met the poet while riding on his elephant, he gave him a lift. According to Nidatavolu Venkata Rao, the reign of Krishnadevaraya is a glorious chapter in the South Indian literary history. The imperial court had representatives of Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil poets, who contributed largely to their respective literatures.

  • 2018

    2. Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India. (2018)

    Reconstruction of Indian history of the ancient and medieval era is a daunting task owing to lack of chronological records, and subjectivity in the interpretation of archaeological and literary sources.

    In this context, accounts of foreign travellers, who were eye witnesses to the events that occurred at that time, become an important source to corroborate other sources of history.

    Chinese Accounts

    Accounts of Fa-hien, Hsuan Tsang, and I-tsing have proved to be a valuable source of information on the Gupta period and the years following the end of Gupta rule. They provided vital information about:

    • Socio-economic conditions in India - For example, Fa-hien mentions about the Chandalas (untouchables) living outside the village. This shows that untouchablility was prevalent in the society as early as 5th Century AD.
    • Existing political conditions - For example, Hsuan Tsang’s account shows that during Harsha’s reign (7th Century AD), Pataliputra was in a state of decline and on the other hand, Prayag and Kannauj in the doab had emerged important.
    • Nature of Buddhist doctrines, rituals, and monastic institutions in India - For example - Hsuan Tsang and I-tsing provided vivid accounts of Nalanda.

    Arab Accounts

    • Arab travellers such as the merchants - Sulayman, Abu Zaid, etc. provided vivid accounts on Indian culture and science, which are valuable sources for the study of early medieval Indian history.
    • Abu Zaid noted that most Indian princes while holding court, allowed their women to be seen unveiled – highlighting that there was no system of purdah (veiling) in upper class women in early medieval India.
    • Arab travellers also provide information about the socio-economic condition through their description of trade contacts and the wealth which was exclusively derived from the trade with India.
    • Arab travellers of the period like Al-Beruni and Ibn Battuta had direct personal contacts with the people of Indian subcontinent which enabled them to give detailed first hand information in their accounts about the economic, social and other activities of the people.

    Though there are issues associated with the reliability of the accounts provided by these travellers owing to their personal biases, still they are key sources for finding out the missing links in the reconstruction of Indian history.

  • 2019

    2. The 1857 Uprising was the culmination of the recurrent big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British Rule. Elucidate.


    • “The Indian Rebellion was not one movement, … it was many.” C.A. Bayly brings to our notice what Eric Stokes has written in his book ‘The peasant armed: the Indian Revolt of 1857’.
    • During the first century of British rule, there were a series of uprisings which Kathleen Gough has called “restorative rebellions’’ as they were started by disaffected local rulers, Mughal officials or dispossessed zamindars.
    • The century before 1857 witnessed more than 40 major rebellions apart from hundreds of minor ones. However, these were local in character and effects & isolated from each other because each rebellion had a different motive.

    Peasant Uprisings

    • The Faqir and Sanyasi Rebellions, Bengal & Bihar (1770-1820s): These were widely recurrent confrontations with almost 50,000 participants involved at the height of insurgency.
    • The Revolt of Raja Chait Singh, Awadh (1778-81): Primary goal was to restore the existing agrarian relations and it kept recurring till 1830s.
    • Polygar Rebellions, Andhra Pradesh (1799-1805): Polygars (feudal lords appointed as military chiefs) were joined by peasants against Company’s tactics and the rebellion reached a big scale before it was oppressed.
    • Paika Rebellion, Odisha (1817): An armed rebellion under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu against the Company’s rule. 
    • Fairazi Movement, Eastern Bengal (1838-1848): First ever no-tax campaign led by Shariatullah Khan and Dadu Mian. It was local in nature and kept on recurring till 1870s.

    Tribal Uprisings

    • Bhil Uprisings, Khandesh (present day Maharashtra & Gujarat), (1818-31): Bhils rebelled against the British occupation of Khandesh but were crushed in 1819 but the situation remained unsettled till 1831.
    • Kol Uprising, Chhota Nagpur & Singhbhum region, Bihar & Orissa (1831-32): Plunder and arson were the chief mode with negligible killings but had a major impact in the region.
    • Santhal Uprising, Eastern India (1855-56): The most effective tribal movement which spread rapidly covering areas of Bihar, Orissa and Bengal against British infiltrating policies.


    The century long economic exploitation, political subjugation, discriminatory policies, religious interference and suppression of uprisings finally culminated in the revolt of 1857 giving a platform to the discontented leaders of the earlier rebellions to raise voices against the Company.

  • 2020

    2. Pala period is the most significant phase in the history of Buddhism in India. Enumerate.

    The Pala dynasty, founded by Gopala, ruled the regions of Bengal and Bihar from the 8th century until the end of the 11th century. The Pala kings were Buddhists and adopted initiative and policies which helped in the enrichment of Buddhism.

    • Religious tolerance: Most of the subjects of the Palas were Hindus but they followed an approach of religious tolerance. This allowed for a peaceful exchange of ideas between the faiths and was a major factor why Hindu Tantrism made its way into Buddhism, giving rise to the Vajrayana philosophy.
    • Architecture: Various mahaviharas, Stupas, chaityas, temples and forts were constructed by the Palas. Built by Dharmapala, Somapuramahavihara at Paharpuris one ofthe largest Buddhist viharasin the Indian subcontinent.
    • Sculpture: During this period, most ofthe sculptures ofstones and bronze drew theirinspiration fromBuddhism. The finestsculpturesinclude two standingAvalokiteshwara imagesfromNalanda; Buddha seated inBhumisparsha Mudra and images of Avalokiteshwara seated in Ardhaparyanka. Crowned Buddhas, instead of the earlier bareheaded ascetic figures, also began to appear in Pala times.
    • Paintings: The Mahayana cult of Buddhismhad developed its Tantrayana-Vajrayana aspects. The Palaminiatures are in a sense visual expression of these cults. Example: Miniatures on text Astasahasrika-prajnaparamita.
    • Universities: During the Pala period, universities became the centre of Buddhist studies. The Palas founded and funded universities like Vikramshila and Odantipur to promote Buddhism, in and outside India. Scholars from all over the world came to these universities to learn the tenets of Buddhism. Many Buddhist teachers from the Pala kingdom travelled to Southeast Asia to spread the faith. For example, Atisha preached in Sumatra.
    • Foreign policy: The Palasforged relationships with different culturesto promote new trade routes. The empire enjoyed good connections with Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Devapala even granted five villages at the request of the Shailendra king of Java for the upkeep of the matha established at Nalanda for the scholars of that country.

    The Pala dynasty created the environment to thrive and discuss Buddhist philosophies without prejudice. But, importantly, it also facilitated the spread of these ideas around the world, leaving a legacy that isstill visible today.

  • 2021

    2. Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj.

    When the British came to India, they introduced the English language as well as certain Western ideas. This led to the development of new Indian middle-class intelligentsia, where people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Dayanand Saraswati, etc. spread the ideals of liberty, social and economic equality, democracy and justice.

    Brahmo Samaj and Raja Ram Mohan Roy:

    • Raja Ram Mohan Roy is known as the father of Modern India’s Renaissance and a tireless social reformer who inaugurated the age of enlightenment and liberal reformist modernisation in India.
    • He founded Brahmo Sabha in 1828, whose main aim was the worship of the eternal God. However, it was against priesthood, rituals and sacrifices.
    • The greatest achievement in the field of social reform was the abolition of Sati in 1829.
    • He advocated the abolition of polygamy and wanted women to be educated and given the right to inherit property.
    • This led to the emergence of rationalism and enlightenment in India which indirectly contributed to the nationalist movement.
    • It was the forerunner of all social, religious and political movements of modern India.

    Young Bengal and Henry Lui Vivian Derozio:

    • Derozio joined the Hindu College of Calcutta as a teacher.
    • He promoted radical ideas through his teaching and by organising an association for debate and discussions on literature, philosophy, history and science.
    • He inspired his followers and students to question all authority.
    • Derozio and his famous followers, known as Young Bengal, were fiery patriots.
    • They cherished the ideals of the French Revolution (1789) and the liberal thinking of Britain.

    Apart from attacking social evils like bigotry, superstition, untouchability, purdah system, sati, child marriage, social inequalities and illiteracy, the social and religious reform movements also helped in dealing with the racism perpetuated by the colonial rule. This eventually led to the development of nationalism against the British Government.

  • 2017

    1. How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of the Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times? (2017)

    Gupta coins are among the most remarkably detailed coins from ancient India featuring exquisite artistic details. They stand out from coins crafted during the reign of other dynasties on following counts:

    • Achievement of remarkable craftsmanship was evident by the finesse of the variety of images carved on both faces of the coin and its smooth and even wedges.
    • Detailed carvings ranged from Chandragupta riding a horse to Samudragupta playing a Veena and the Goddess Lakshmi to a sacrificial horse for Ashvamedha ceremony and so on.
    • Apart from these detailed images, there were inscriptions as well, often adding details of the image inscribed on the coin.
    • Also, most of the important kings of Gupta dynasty are now believed to have had multiple coin-types during the course of their reign, in which older designs were dropped and newer motifs were adopted.
    • Scholars have pointed out that such designs were made possible by use of clay-molds by skilled mint-masters.

    In the post-Gupta period, not only the quality of gold coins fell, but also the numbers of gold coins being issued dropped drastically. Due to systemic economic distresses, town-based artisans producing good quality coins were forced to migrate to the countryside causing a decline of craft production and a decay of townships. Without urban centres and foreign trade, and with increasing decentralisation of political power which had resulted from the urban to rural migration of artisans, the excellence of Gupta numismatic art could not be sustained or recreated in the times that followed.

  • 2016

    1. Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate. (2016)

    After the death of the Buddha, Stupas were raised in his honor. The relics of the Buddha were distributed to different kingdoms and Stupas were erected over them. The Buddhist Stupa transcends its predecessor, the burial mound, by shifting the emphasis from a particular relic to a higher transcendental actuality as realized by the Buddha, i.e. the Buddha's enlightenment.

    • The Jataka stories were depicted on the torans of Stupas. The Jataka stories are a method of teaching Buddhists the lessons of karma, samsara and dharma. The overall structure of the Jataka Tales is about the cycle of samsara that the Buddha had to experience before reaching enlightenment.
    • The main structure of the Great Stupa consisted of a flattened hemispherical dome, called an anda, placed atop a cylindrical base. Anda, literally an egg, alluded not only to the shape, but to its deeper significance as a symbol of latent creative power.
    • The anda was also intended as an architectural replica of the infinite dome of heaven, representing the cycle of death and rebirth.
    • The harmika, located at the summit of the anda, symbolized the zenith beyond life and death (nirvana). Its resemblance to a sacrificial altar was of particular significance for the attainment of nirvana required the sacrifice of the self and the world (what was below needed to be sacrificed to reach the top).
    • The parasol was always a distinguishing feature that implied royalty and dignity; it symbolized the sacred Tree of Life or enlightenment.
    • The three elements of the chattra at Sanchi represented the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the Law), and the Sangha (the community of monks).
    • Vedikas were repeated around the stupa and on the terrace on which the anda rested (medhi level). They served to demarcate the boundary of the sacred precinct with the secular world.

    In this way Buddhist stupa-art successfully expounds Buddhist ideals.

  • 2018

    1. Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (2018)

    India has a vast basket of diverse art and cultural heritage which need institutional support and encouragement to address areas critical for their survival and preservation.

    We need to preserve our art heritage because of the following reasons.

    • Presently, many Indian art forms are on the verge of extinction such as Manjusha painting of Bihar, traditional art of Puppetry, Parsi embroidery, Naga craft, Dhokra handicraft, etc., which need protection and preservation.
    • India has a unique identity in the world for its art and culture which represents Indian civilization on world platform and if it vanishes the uniqueness of India will get affected.
    • For many tribal communities, art and craft is the source of income.
    • This is also the source of attraction for tourism which contributes to economic development of the country.
    • Art heritage also represents “unity in diversity” of India and builds a bridge between people living abroad to get connected with their native country.
    • Art and culture is also a part of soft power in world politics.

    Government has started many initiatives to preserve the rich art heritage of the country, such as, Scheme for Conservation of Wall Painting (1996-97), Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat programe, Tribal haats, GI tag to the local products, e-haat, etc. Apart from strict implementation of such programmes, Government should provide financial assistance to strengthen regional and local museums, preserve art heritage through virtual media, and promote local paintings on products like wallet, mobile cover, pillow cover, etc.

  • 2019

    1. Highlight the Central Asian and Greco-Bactrian elements in Gandhara art.

    Gandhara art is a style of Buddhist visual art that developed between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. The region came under the political influence of a variety of kingdoms which resulted in the emergence of a mixed school of art. The sculptural tradition in Gandhara had the confluence of Bactria, Parthia and the local Gandhara tradition. However, the real patrons of this school of art were the Scythians and the Kushanas, particularly Kanishka.

    Features of Gandhara art borrowed from Greco-Bactria:

    • The Gandhara school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religion and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues. Its significance lies in the fact that until then Buddha was not represented in a human-like figure.
    • Wavy hair in a top knot, sometimes a moustache on the face, urna (a dot or third eye) between the eyebrows, elongated earlobes, garment with thick pleats usually covering both shoulders, and muscular formation of the body are other resembling features.
    • Other motifs and techniques that Gandhara school incorporated from classical Roman art, include vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs.
    • The images having physiognomic features depicting symbolic expression such as of calmness, sharp outlines, smooth surface, expressive images etc. are the centre point of attraction.

    Gandhara art not only assimilated the features of Hellenistic art but also borrowed many West Asiatic and Central Asiatic features such as:

    • Disc-shaped attribute behind the head of Buddha was associated with solar deities of ancient Persian and Greek art.
    • Figures with conical and pointed caps on their heads resemble the Scythian caps of similar design.
    • The regular depiction of fire worship in the Gandhara art, a trait which was probably derived from Iranian sources.

    The foreign elements imbibed in the Gandhara art not only placed it on a high pedestal of artistic achievements but also made possible the naturalistic depiction of the human form for the first time in the Indian art history.

  • 2020

    1. The rock-cut architecture represents one of the most importantsources of our knowledge of early Indian art and history. Discuss.

    Rock-cut architecture is the art of moulding a structure by chiselling it out of solid natural rock. Some conspicuous rock-cut structures of ancient India include Chaityas, Viharas, temples, etc.

    Rock-cut architectures: Emblem of Indian art

    • The Mesolithic period saw the first use and modifications. The overhanging rocks of natural caves were embellished with petroglyphs or rock-cut designs. Example: Bhimbetka.
    • In the 3rd century BCE, rock-cut caves were constructed by the Mauryans for the Avijika and Jain ascetics in the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills of Bihar. The caves are known for the bow-shaped arches.
    • The Gupta and Vakataka period (3rd century CE - 6th century CE) was perhaps the golden age for rock-cut architecture. During this period, the designs of rock-cut architectures became more elaborate and aesthetics more pronounced. A profuse variety of decorative sculpture, intricately carved columns and carved reliefs mark the rock-cut architecture of the period. Example: Ajanta Caves.
    • The Pallava architects started the carving of rock for the creation of monolithic copies of structural temples. Example: Panch Ratha of Mamallapuram, the five structures shaped as rathas or chariots chiselled out of a large block of stone of granite dates back to the 7th century.
    • The Kailash temple, constructed by Rashtrakutas at Ellora, provides a singular example, excavated from the top down rather than by the usual practice of carving into the scarp of a hillside.

    Historical significance

    • The rock-cut architectures are mostly religious but also reflect an important connection between religion, commerce, and society. The stories represented on the cave walls or through sculptures are valuable sources of historical information.
    • Buddhist monks created their cave hermitages near trade routes. The Buddhist missionaries employed the caves as shrines and shelters conforming to the religious concepts of asceticism. Traders often travelled the trade routes in the company of the Buddhist missionaries.
    • The architecture also reflects the changing realities of the subcontinent. The themes of rock-cut architectures changed as Buddhism weakened in the face of a renewed Hinduism during the 6th-8th century CE.
    • The Buddhiststories were replaced by Hindu Gods and mythologies. Many cave temples, developed under the patronisation of southern Indian Hindu kings were dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses.

    Rock-cut architectures occupy a very important place in Indian history. Their significance has been rightly underlined as many rock-cutstructures have been incorporated in the UNESCO world heritage list. Example: Ajanta caves, Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, etc.

  • 2021

    1. Evaluate the nature of Bhakti Literature and its contribution to Indian culture.

    Originally began in South India in the 9th century with Shankaracharya, the Bhakti Literature spread over all parts of India and by the 16th century and became a great spiritual force to reckon with, especially after the great wave made by Kabir, Nanak and Shri Chaitanya.

    Nature of Bhakti Literature:

    • Bhakti and Sufi supported each other. Various recitation of sufi saints found place in Sikhs’ religious canons.
    • Spread of Bhakti cult due to adoption of vernacular languages which was easy to be understood by masses.
    • It preached for removal of sectarianism and casteism. The Bhakti literature called for inclusion of castes and out-castes.

    Contribution of Bhakti Literature:

    • The Bhakti literature promoted the growth of vernacular language in different parts of the country.
      • Bengali was used by Chaitanya and by the poet Chandidas, who wrote extensively on the theme of the love of Radha and Krishna.
      • Shankaradeva popularised the use of the Assamese in the Brahmaputra valley in the 15th He used an entirely new medium to spread his ideas.
      • Marathi reached its apogee at the hands of saints like Eknath and Tukaram.
      • Other prominent saints like Kabir, Nanak, and Tulsidas contributed enormously to regional literature and language with their captivating verses and spiritual exposition.
    • Emergence of a new cultural tradition with the influence of Bhakti and sufism. Also emergence of new sects like Sikhism, Kabir panth etc.
    • Post-Vedanta ideas were explored by Madhvacharya through his Dvaitadvaita, by Ramanujacharya in his Vishishta Advaita etc.
    • As a literary movement, it liberated poetry from singing the praises of kings and introduced spiritual themes. From a style point of view, it introduced simple and accessible styles like vachanas (in Kannada), saakhis, dohas and other forms in various languages and ended the hegemony of Sanskrit metrical forms.

    The ideas of Bhakti Movement continued to permeate the cultural ethos of the society through the enormous body of literature left by them. The congruence in their ideas not only saved us from the likely internecine conflicts but also built the spirit of tolerance.

  • 2022

    1. How will you explain that Medieval Indian temple sculptures represent the social life of those days?

    A sculpture is not only ornamental. To depict the politics, culture, history, religion, rituals, and memorial homages of the area, sculpture is utilized in a variety of circumstances. The work changes across time and space since it is a tactile creative form that exists in the same space as its audience. Sculptural forms, whether bronze busts, spectacular statues, or sophisticated stone carvings, represent accurate images and ideas from ancient cultures.

    • One of the most prevalent messages is that a sculpture communicates about a civilization’s belief in certain forms of religion.
    • During the early phase of Buddhism, Buddha is depicted symbolically through footprints, stupas, lotus throne, chakra etc. This indicates either simple worship or paying respect or at times depicts historicizations of life events.
      • The Jataka stories also became equally important for sculptural decorations.
      • The motif of the chakra becomes significant as a representation of the Dhammachakra in the entire Buddhist art.
      • The wheel represents the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. In the center of the wheel are three swirls that represent the three jewels of Buddhism, which are the Buddha (or the teacher), the Dharma (teachings of Buddha), and the sangha (the community).
      • The Dharmachakra takes the form of a wheel to represent the completeness of the Dharma.
    • The sculptures, carved panels, and open pavilion style temples of Gurjara-Pratihara are well-known.
    • The most significant advancement in their temple-building style occurred at Khajuraho, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
      • The design, structure, and placement of the building's components are symbolic and represent the core Hindu values.
    • The most important places in Rajasthan where sculptural activity continued to be in progress were Vasantgarh, Devangarh, Palta, Osian, Dilwara, Chittor, Mandor etc.
    • The Gurjara Pratiharas had a vast kingdom that embraced the territory of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh. Their rule in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries saw a great cultural renaissance.
      • Mahishasuramardini in relief, Girigovardhana panel, Arjuna's penance or the Descent of the Ganga, Trivikrama Vishnu, Gajalakshmi and Anatasayanam are the few prominent sculptures which represent the faith and belief of the society.
    • The sculptural tradition in Gandhara had the confluence of Bactria, Parthia and the local Gandhara tradition which reveals the structure and tradition of the society.
    • The local sculptural tradition at Mathura became so strong that the tradition spread to other parts of northern India.
      • The best example in this regard is the stupa sculptures found at Sanghol in the Punjab.
    • Images of Vaishnava (mainly Vishnu and his various forms) and Shaiva (mainly the lingas and mukhalingas) faiths are also found at Mathura. It represents the religious belief of society.
    • The Chola sculptures started bronze casting sometime about the middle of the tenth century A.D. of the numerous bronze images, the Nataraja image in its various forms holds the first place.

    Typical life scenarios are shown in sculpture. Nearly all of the sculptures and paintings are motivated by the activities taking place in the immediate vicinity. All works of art, including sculptures, eventually aim to convey a message. Sculptures are created by artists to convey ideas, religious views, historical figures, and even heroic mythical tales.

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