3 Solved Questions with Answers
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.
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.
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.