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Friends, Welcome to Mains Marathon Optional Initiative. We had posted History Mains Marathon Optional Test-1 and its solutions few days back.



All Mains Marathon Optional Questions are updated in this page.


Following are the suggested answers of Test-2 Questions:


Q1. “Geographical location of Magadha favoured its rise”. Do you agree? Give other factors for Magadhan rise if any. Ans.: The emergence of Magadhan Empire was the most significant development in 4th century BC. The process of political evolution that commenced in the later Vedic period culminated in the emergence of an extensive empire by middle of 4th century BC. The rise of Magadha was associated with the developments in various fronts but geographical location favoured the most in success of Magadhan Empire. The geographical location of Magadha ensured that its economy was most developed. The disposal of immense resources e.g.alluvial flood plains, presence of perennial rivers and occurrence of iron mines in their geographical area of control made Magadhan to have comparative advantage over their contemporaries. The climate of Magadhan region was conducive for agricultural activities. These favorable factors such as fertile land and availability of plenty of water resources ensured that agricultural was most developed in the region. The surplus in agriculture also allowed the state to collect huge amount of revenue from peasants. The revenue thus conceived was required to support the large standing army and elaborate administration. Availability of iron and minerals helped in development of industries and craft. Trade and commerce was also developed in Magadha region because most important trade routes of north india were passing through their territory.E.g.Port of Tamralipti. Thus the revenue earned from the tolls was also significant. The availability of huge economic resources prepared the ground for emergence of Magadha as a powerful empire. The geographical location also provided for the politico-military strength because the capitals of Magadhan empires enjoyed natural defense. Rajgriha was surrounded by five hills and Patliputra was surrounded by rivers. The natural defense allowed them to invest their time into offensive military campaigns. The availability of iron mines allowed Magadhan to use iron weapons. Availability of forests made them available the timber required for chariots. The use of elephants by Magadhan was also because of the favorable geographical location as elephants were available only in forests of eastern India. The location of Magadha was also outside the realm of holy Aryavratai.e. the core region of Brahmanical culture. Because of this the influence of Brahmanical ideas and institutions were less in Magadhan region. The Magadhan empire could raise large army because the members of any Varna could be recruited in army. This was possible only with absence of Varnashram Dharma. The pragmatic outlook was dominant because of lesser influence of Brahmanical society. This pragmatic approach made Magadhan to invest their time and energy in success in this world. But the role of Magadhan rulers in its success is also equally important. Magadhan rulers such as Bimbisara, Ajatshatru, Shishunaga, Mahapadma Nanda and Chandragupta Maurya also contributed immensely to the success of Magadhan imperialism.Bimbisaracommenced the process of rise of Magadha. He entered into matrimonial relations with five prominent dynasties of that time. The capture of Anga was important as it attached the port of Tamralipti to Magadha. Ajatshatru defeated the Vajji confederacy and continued the aggressive expansionist policy further. Shishunag conquered the Avanti region and Mahapadma Nanda extended the boundries of Magadha up to Punjab in North West. He also conquered the central india. Chandragupta Maurya extended the boundries of Magadha uptoHindukush Mountains and Makran coast. He conquered Kashmir valley. In southern direction the boundries are extended up to Karnataka though the literary references suggest that the Mauryan army reached up to Madurai. Emperor Ashoka completed the process of military conquest by annexing Kalinga through war. He carried out the consolidation of Magadhan empire by spreading the massage of Dhamma.


Q2. On the basis of archaeological evidences determine the geographical extent of Mauryan Empire. Ans.: Mauryan Empire was the first great empire in the history of indian subcontinent. It was founded by Chandragupta Maurya by overthrowing Nanda dynasty with the help of Chanakya. Almost whole of Indian subcontinent was within their empire. Various archaeological sources help us to determine the extent of Mauryan Empire. The XIIIth major rock edict of Ashoka and its geographical location helps in understanding the territorial extent of great Mauryanempire. It has been found from Manasera andShahbajgarhi in modern Pakistan. These locations confirm that the MauryanEmpire was extended up to Pakistan in North West direction. Its occurrence at Kalsi, Junagarh and sopara, Errigudi shows the extension of MauryanEmpire in north, west and southern directions respectively. The XIII th major rock edict contains references to Kalinga conquest by Emperor Ashok signifying Orissa as part of this Magadhan empire. The mention of Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Satyaputras living on southern border signifies the Mauryan Empire touched the Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in south. The references for the tribes of Nabhas, Gandharas and Kambojas living in Magadhan empire are important. Contemporary sources confirm their location in Afganistan thus signifying the extent till Afganistan. The major rock edicts at Dhauli and Jougada confirm the Mauryan empire extending uptoorrisa coast. The minor rock edicts in Nittur, Brahmagiri and Maski indicate the extent upto Karnataka. Likewise the minor rock edict in Sharekuna (Afganistan) leads the extent till Kandahar. Ashokan pillar edict at Lumbini indicate Terai region of Nepal as part of Mauryan Empire. According to Junagarh inscription of Rudradaman, Sudarshanlake was built by provincial governor of Ashoka. This indicates Saurashtra region in Mauryan fold. 14th century inscription near mysore informs mysore as part of mauryan empire. Copper plate inscription at Mahasthan in Bogre district of Bangladesh informs Bangladesh was part of Mauryan Empire. These archaeological sources help us determine the extent of MauryanEmpire.


Q3. Rise of imperial Guptas added a glorious chapter to the Indian history. Critically examine. Ans: Gupta period was the age of political unity and integrity. After a gap of more than 500 years, centralized political system was established. Entire north india was brought together under one head. Gupta age was the age of great emperors eg. Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Kumargupta I and Skandgupta .They were not only great administrators but also great military conquerors. Gupta age was the age of efficient and effective administration. Though the administration was centralized but the top heavy character was absent. Elements of decentralization were clearly visible. The guilds enjoyed very high degree of autonomy and local representatives participated in the district administration. The civil and criminal laws were codified for the first time during gupta period. The progress in economy, art and architecture, science and technology during this age was remarkable. Literary progress was also high. The gupta period represents the classical age of Sanskrit language. During gupta period Indian culture spread to south east asia as well as central asia. The cultural influence of Indians increased enormously during this period. Socio religious life witnessed remarkable progress because the condition of Shudras was far better when compared with previous age.Vaishnavism emerged as a liberal and progressive religion followed by vast majority of Indian population during this period But, the level of progress was not without the limitations. The level of centralization was witnessed in north india only because the peninsular india was under indirect control. The benefits of effective and efficient management were limited to north India only. Elements of economic decline were clearly visible during latter half of Gupta age. The proto feudal tendencies increased in the form of land grants. Numbers of social evils like practice of Sati and Devdasi system were prevalent during this age. Condition of untouchable was pathetic. The progress in the art and architecture was limited to the religious architecture only. Secular architecture was almost completely absent. Literary progress was limited only to Sanskrit which was the language of common masses and there was no significant progress in Prakrit literature.


  • Q4. Ancient Indian achievements in literature, science and technology reached zenith during the Gupta period. Discuss. Ans: The srutiliterature of Vedic period constitutes the religious literature of Sanskrit language. The literature was without written form in this period. From 600 BC to 300 BC Vedanga literature was developed. This also constitutes the religious philosophies. During this period Sanskrit grammer was developed by efforts of Panini in his book Ashtadyayi. During Mauryan period the Sanskrit literature in form of Kautilya’s Arthashatra touched upon various aspects of administration. But the Gupta period shows the emergence of various forms of literature in Sanskrit language. Various forms e.g. drama, plays, poetry, religious and philosophy emerged. Contribution of scholars e.g.Kalidasa, Bhasa, Shudraka, Vishnu Shastri and Bhairavi contributed to Sanskrit literature significantly. The Vedas and epics received final form during Gupta period. The scientific literature by Aryabhatta, Varahamihir, Susruta was developed in Sanskrit and was a significant development. But gupta period could not produce any literature significantly in languages other than Sanskrit. The literature of Pali was started with adoption of Pali by Buddhism. InMauryan period the Buddhist tripitakas constitute the pali literature in religious sphere. Milindpanho represent the Pali literature during post Mauryan period. The development of Prakrit language was associated with Jainism. Jaina religious text during 600 BC- 300 BC was in Prakrit. During the Gupta period the loosing relevance of Pali and Prakrit cause decline in literature of languages other than Sanskrit. The Guptaperiod also witnessed the developments in science and technology. The iron pillar of Mehrauli and copper statue of Buddha of this period shows developments in metallurgy during this period. These developments represent the zenith in metallurgy during ancient Indian history. The iron pillar of Mehrauli is still without rust formation. The science was contributed by the improvements in color technology. The colors used in the paintings of Ajanta are examples of this development. During this period Banaras emerged as a center for medical science. Sushruta also contributed to the surgery in medical sciences. In the fields of astronomy contributions from Aryabhatta, Bramhagupta and Varahmihir are significant and represent the zenith. In mathematics also Bramhagupta and Arybhatta contributed. The invention of zero, trigonometry and surds formed the base of future developments in mathematics.


    Q5. Discuss the significance of land grants in development of Indian society in ancient times. Ans.: The central factor that ultimately transformed the ancient Indian society into medieval society was the practice of land grants. The practice originated in the background of serious crisis that affected the ancient social order. In Varna based society the taxes collected from Vaishyas enabled the kings to pay salaries to officials and soldiers, rewarding the priest and purchase of luxury goods and articles from merchants and traders. But in 3rd-4th C AD puranic texts complain the situation in which varnas or social classes discarded the functions allocated to them. They refused to pay taxes and render labour services. This led to Varnasamkara or intermixture of social classes. The Varna barriers were attacked because the producing masses were oppressed with heavy taxes and were denied protection by the kings. This state of affairs is known as Kaliyuga in puranic passages of 3rd and 4th century AD. The emergence of system of land grants deprived the community of its right to grant land. The king usurped this power and obliged the leading members of community by granting them land grants. This further intensified the unequal distribution of resources. For the sake of increased revenue demands the land grants were given in tribal areas. The brahmanas were made in charge of these land grants thus autonomous tribes were put into Brahmanical fold. The land grants brought to Hindu fold many aboriginal peasants who came to be ranked as Shudras. The Shudras therefore began to be called as peasants and agriculturist in early medieval times when the protofeudal seeds of land grants were taking shape into a feudal system. The land grants in developed areas depreciated the position of independent Vaishya peasants. Hence Vaishyas and Shudras came closer to each other from Guptatime’sonwards, socially and economically. The most significant consequences of land grants was the emergence of class of landlords living on the produce of peasants. This eventually led to feudal society. The position of women of landed and warrior class deteriorated. The practice of sati became common practice in Rajasthan. The system of codification of laws was also associated with triumphant Brahmanism which was due to land grants made to the temples. The stricter laws emerged with growth of Brahmanicalspread into new areas and they inflicted many social disabilities on lower Varnas and untouchables.


    Q6. Explain the factors responsible for the 2nd urbanization in India. Ans.: 6th century BC witnessed the remarkable progress in Indian subcontinent with the rise of urban centers. After 1750 BC the emergence of urban centers during 6th century BC was the phase of 2nd urbanization in indian subcontinent. The cities like Ahicchatra, Kausambi, Champa and vaishali emerged during this age. Once commenced this process continued to gain momentum. This was facilitated by economic, political, socio-cultural and religious factors. By the 6th century BC the agricultural development reached the phase of attainment of surplus. By this period Vedic Aryans occupied the vast fertile plains of Ganges where the water was in plenty and climate was suitable for the agriculture. Adoption of agricultural know-how in the form of wet paddy cultivation contributed to agricultural progress. The availability of agricultural surplus prepared the material base for the emergence of urban centers. Art and crafts flourished because of increasing use of iron and improvement in demand. Trade and commerce was benefitted by the monetization of currency by introduction of punch marked coins, knowledge of script and emergence of guilds. The gradual increase in the population contributed to the transformation of villages into towns and cities. Emergence of Mahajanpadas also contributed to process of urbanization because the capitals of Mahajanpadas were the flourishing urban centers. Mahajanpadas resulted into political unification and uniform administration over an extensive geographical area. These factors helped in the growth of trade and commerce. The rulers of Mahajanapadas supported trade and commerce activities. They patronized artisans and craftsmen in their capitals. Intellectual revolution of 6th century BC resulted in emergence of 62 different heterodox sects. Buddhism and Jainism were among them. The ideas and philosophies put forward by the founders of heterodox sects transformed not only religion but also society, culture and economy as well. They put forward a positive philosophy e.g. Ahimsa which was in consonance with needs of economy.


    Q7. Emergence of heterodox sects was the result of multiple factors working together. Comment. Ans.: Emergence of heterodox sects in 6th century BC was responsible for transformation not only in religious but also in societal, cultural and economic spheres. In post Vedic times society was divided into four Varnasi.e.Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Varna system emerged to be based on birth during later Vedic period. Higher the Varna the more privileged and purer a person was. Varna divided society seems to have generated tensions naturally. The ideas and practices of Brahmanical religion were not in tune with needs and aspirations of common masses. The discontent generated by the evils of Brahmanical order was responsible for the emergence of heterodox sects. Role of priestly class in Brahmanical religion was indisputable because magical power was attached to hymns. The rituals and ceremonies in Brahmanical religion were costly. Huge donations and other expenditures were required. The emphasis on the sacrifice of animals was also cause of concern. Agricultural economy based on iron ploughshare and animal husbandry could not flourish in the Vedic practice of sacrifices. The Brahmanical religion was beyond reach, understanding and aspirations of people. The emergence of urban centers facilitated the art and crafts. The artisans and traders wanted to invest their resources in the growth of economy. But, Brahmanical religion was demanding wasteful expenditure of resources in rituals and ceremonies. Monetization of economy during the period facilitated trade and commerce which added to importance of Vaishyas. In Brahmanical society Vaishyas were ranked 3rd. Naturally they looked for some religion which would improve their position. The Brahmanical order failed to appreciate the need of urban life because Brahmans condemned the practice of moneylending and group eating houses or public eateries. The dissatisfaction of these different sections of population with Brahmanical order paved the way for emergence of 62 heterodox sects in 6th C. BC


    Q8. Discuss the developments in architecture during the post Mauryan period. How far they were influenced by religious developments? Ans. The five centuries of post Mauryan period constitute a phase of remarkable progress in the field of art and architecture. The progress was the result of court patronage as well as private efforts. The Sunga rulers in North, satvahanas, vakatakas and Ikshwakus in peninsular India patronized art and architectural activities. The rock cut architecture was the main feature of post Mauryan period. Large numbers of beautiful caves were cut out of hills in western and eastern India. The caves of Ajanta were associated with Buddhism. The caves at Ellora were associated with Buddhist, Jaina and Hindu religions. The caves at Karle, Nasik are also associated with Buddhism. The caves of western India belong to Buddhism and caves of eastern India belong to Jainism. Large number of temples, halls and places of residence of monks were cut out of solid rocks during this period. The caves which were used for prayer and worship and meditation were known as Chaityas. These are associated with Buddhism. The period witnessed development in architecture of stupas in form of rail enclosure on all four sides to demarcate it as a holy spot. The railingswere provided on the four sides by four gateways called Toranas.


    Q9. How far the colonial views of considering post Mauryan age as Dark Age is justified? Give reasons. Ans.: The period between 200 BC- 300 AD constitute one of the most important periods of Indian history. The period was marked by elements of change and continuity and has been interpreted by various historians quite differently. The concept of Dark Age was developed by colonial historians to justify the establishment of colonial British rule in India. The concept of white man’s burden and providential mission of white men were used to justify the colonial rule over uncivilized and barbaric native people. To achieve this objective certain periods of Indian history have been termed as dark ages. The post Mauryan age was the period of political fragmentation of India. India was invaded by numerous foreign groups e.g. Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushans etc. There was absence of highly organized, strong and efficient centralized administration of Mauryan rulers. Social rigidity was also of very high order and evils like untouchability and child marriage commenced during this period. But in spite of the fact that north India underwent political fragmentation the post Mauryan age was the age of remarkable developments in politico administrative life. Satvahana kingdom emerged during this period. They ruled over extensive territory. For the first time the state formation took place in Tamil land. The Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas emerged. Sangam literature provides details about their administrative and political set up. Though the period witnessed invasions, the invaders gradually absorbed Indian culture. They ruled over extensive territories and Indian rule controlled the parts of central Asia for the first time. The rulers of Chola kingdom invaded Sri Lanka during this period. In the field of art and architecture also this period saw remarkable progress. The stupa architecture was developed. Numerous schools of art like Gandhara, Mathura and Amravati emerged during this period. The economy was flourished by external trade and could be evidenced by Pliny’s remark that Romehas been drained of its riches by Indian trade. The economy also saw the increased monetization. The gold coins were issued during this period on large amount. The Indian culture reached beyond its frontiers. Buddhism reached up toAfghanistan and central Asia. Though some negative aspects were witnessed in social life but everything was not negative here as well because close interaction with outside world resulted in cultural assimilation. This liberal and progressive assimilatory culture was clearly visible in coastal towns and cities.


    Q10. How far the teachings of Jainism are relevant in 21st century? Discuss the contemporary significance of Jainism. Ans.: Jaina teachings put forward by Vardhaman Mahavira in 6th century BC have great relevance in contemporary periods when the every dimension of human life has undergone rapid degeneration. The causes of degeneration like falsehood, distrust among people etc. could be curbed by adopting to the teachings of Vardhaman Mahavira. The five jewels of Jainism i.e.Satya, Ahimsa, Astheya, aparigraha and Bramhacharya could be able to solve many problems of society today. Truthful conduct is the solution for the evils like corruption, bribery and misuse of public resources. Greed is the root cause of most of the evils prevailing in world. Scams, misappropriation of public resources and unjust exploitation of natural resources are outcome of human greed. The demon of greed could be wiped out by following Jaina philosophy of Aparigraha. The problems of terrorism, extremism and wars result in deaths and devastation all around world. The idea of Ahimsa could curb the menace of violence. Jaina philosophy put forward highest form of compassion because even non-living things are supposed to have soul. The high ideals of compassion could be useful in regenerating the empathy towards the rapidly reducing wild fauna. Jainism believes in simplicity of life and only Jaina teachings show right path to people lost in extreme materialism. Also, the three jewels of right knowledge, right conduct and right belief must be pursued by everybody to ensure sustainable development and to lead a balanced life.


    Q11. Differentiate between the theory of salvation of Jainism and Buddhism. Ans. Jainism and Buddhism emerged during 6th century BC were part of intellectual revolution of that period. These heterodox sects represented the diversions from Brahmanical ideas. The concept of salvation was different from Brahmanical concept and they differed amongst themselves also. Buddhism doesn’t believe in existence of soul. Buddha clearly proclaimed that nothing like soul exists. The Jainism whereas believes in concept of soul. Buddhism believes in concept of karma. He emphasized that karmas of one life affect the next. This impact of one life on next was explained by doctrine of conditioned coproduction. According to Jainism the bad deeds attach to soul and this bondage is responsible for the cycle of life and death. The idea of salvation is known as nirvana in Buddhism. Nirvana could be achieved by a person during his lifetime itself. It refer to cessation of link between present birth and next. Once the person attains nirvana the person doesn’t return to this world. A person who attains nirvana during lifetime attains Mahaparinirvana at death. Buddhism believes in path of knowledge. According to Buddha, once a person acquire true knowledge by developing faith in four noble truths and lead a balanced life in accordance with eight fold path and ten teachings, Nirvana is attained. According to Mahavira, salvation is only possible through path of karma or action. Mahavira believed that ordinary layman could not acquire knowledge because true knowledge is possible only to enlightened beings. The cycle of birth and death could be ended only by liberating soul from bondage. The inflow of karmas towards soul could be stopped by having faith in three jewels and following five vows. The already accumulated karmas can be removed by soul by leading a life of ascetic. The concept of salvation is also known as Nirvana in Jaina philosophy.


    Q12. Delineate the elements of classicism during Gupta period. Ans.: The Gupta period could be characterized as classical age as the period witnessed the zenith in the various fields. Gupta age was classical age for Sanskrit literature because the most remarkable progress made in Sanskrit language and literature during this period. Various great scholars lived in the Gupta court e.g. Kalidasa, Bhasa, Shudraka,Vishnu Sharma and Bhairavi etc. Kalidasa was the greatest scholar of Sanskrit scholar. He wrote plays, epics and poems in Sanskrit language. Swapnavasawadatta by Bhasa, Kirtiarjuniyam by Bhairavi, Mricchakatikam by Shudraka and Amarkosh by Amarsimha were all written in Sanskrit language. The Vedas and epics got a final shape during Gupta age. The scientific literature e.g. aaryabhatiam by Aryabhatta, Brihadsamhita by varahmihir and Sushrutsamhita by Sushruta were also written in Sanskrit language. The age also witnessed the developments in science and technology. The iron pillar of Mehrauli and copper statue of Buddha of this period shows developments in metallurgy during this period. These developments represent the zenith in metallurgy during ancient indian history. The iron pillar of Mehrauli is still without rust formation. The science was contributed by the improvements in color technology. The colors used in the paintings of Ajanta are examples of this development. During this period Banaras emerged as a center for medical science. Sushruta also contributed to the surgery in medical sciences. In the fields of astronomy contributions from Aryabhatta, Bramhagupta and Varahmihir are significant and represent the zenith. In mathematics also Bramhagupta and Arybhatta contributed. The invention of zero, trigonometry and surds formed the base of future developments in mathematics. Progress in the field of temple architecture also reveals the classical character of Gupta age. The period witnessed the beginning of and the development of elements of standard architectural forms and distinct style of temple architecture. The development in sculpture represented by the carved and decorated doorways and pillars show the characters of classicism. Sarnath School of sculpture emerged during this period. The Vatsayana’s Kamasura regard paintings as one of sixty four art forms which were practiced during this period. The paintings of this period represent the high aesthetic standard and exhibit high technical skills. Introduction of concept of three dimension indicates attempt to make figure stand out of flat surface. The paintings of this age found in Ajanta caves and Bagh Caves support the classical character of this period. The progress in economic level was also of highest level during Gupta period because till the middle of 5th century AD all-round economic development was witnessed during this period. The high level of development in various fields during Gupta age and their influence and inspiration made Gupta age as classical age


    Q13. The indigenous and original contribution to creation of Mauryan pillars is undeniable. Comment Ans: Emperor Ashoka erected large number of pillars during his reign. These pillars are finest examples of Mauryan art and architecture. Both Achaemenian period pillars and Ashokan pillars show some similarities. Both the pillars were made of stones. The bell shaped portion was also part of both these pillars. Both had the polished finish and capitals were placed on top of the pillars. But the differences represent the indigenous character of Ashokan pillars. The shaft of Ashokan pillars were monolithic whereas the shaft of Persian pillars were made of number of pieces joined together. The shaft of Ashokan pillars was smooth on outer surface whereas Achaemenian pillars were engraved with grooves. The shaft of Ashokan pillars was tapered from bottom to top whereas the shaft of Persian pillar was having uniform radius from bottom to top. The Ashokan pillars were used to inscribe edicts whereas Persian pillars were used to support the roof. Ashokan pillars were independent structures whereas the Persian pillars were part of palaces. Ashokan pillars were dug into earth without any base unlike the Persian pillars which had bell shaped base. As Persian pillars were far older than Mauryan pillars the historians argue that they were blind imitation of Persian pillars. But, the differences confirm that they cannot be linked to same source of origin.


    Q14. Decline of Mauryan Empire was the result of decline in military strength due to Ashokan policy of Dhamma. Give views. Ans.: Decline of great Mauryan Empire marked the end of age characterized by highly centralized administration and political unity of continent scale. The disintegration of Mauryan Empire has been explained by different scholars. According to H.P.Shatri, the decline of Mauryan rule was the consequence of Brahmanical reaction against Mauryan rulers because Ashoka embraced Buddhism by leaving shaivism. Violent rituals and ceremonies, earlier patronized by state, were prohibited by him. Prohibition of ceremonies adversely affected the interest of Brahmans. The policy of Ashokan Dhamma also neglected the Brahmans. Thus PushyamitraSunga of Brahmanical origin killed last Mauryan ruler Brihdrata to restore the glory of Brahmans. But neither Ashoka nor any other Mauryan ruler were anti Brahmins. The information provided by Ashokan inscriptions clearly reveal that Ashoka was concerned about welfare of brahmanas. Absence of any revolt by non-Brahman soldiers when Brihdrata was killed indicates the discontent was not limited to Brahmans only. According to H.C.Roychaudhary, the pacifist outlook of Ashoka destroyed Mauryan Empire because Ashoka abandoned the policy of wars and battles after war of Kalinga. Mauryan army remained idle for long time and decline of military power resulted in disintegration of Mauryan Empire. The weaknesses of Mauryan army would have been a factor of disintegration but Ashoka was not responsible towards it.

  • He was a pragmatic ruler; he did not abandon the army or reduced its strength. According to D.D.Kausambi, economic weaknesses were responsible for disintegration of Mauryan Empire. The literary and archaeological evidences reveal economic weaknesses. The coins issued by later Mauryan rulers contain a high percentage of impurity. According to Patanjali later Mauryan rulers encouraged the selling of idles of various gods and goddesses to fill their treasury. Though the economic crisis was important factor in disintegration, Ashoka was not responsible for it as suggested by some historians. As suggested that the huge expenditures on promotion of Buddhism, welfare activities and construction works exhausted Mauryan treasury which led the state into deep economic crisis. But there was no economic crisis when Ashoka died. The failure of later Mauryan rulers to create new avenues of state income and their continued rising expenses led to economic crisis. According to RomilaThapar, Mauryan Empire got disintegrated because of lack of feeling of nationalism among people, weaknesses of Mauryan bureaucracy and top heavy character of Mauryan political system. The revolts during the reign of Bindusara were result of discontent caused by exploitation of people by Mauryan bureaucracy. Such revolts would have increased when weak rulers set on throne. The limitations of Mauryan political system also played an important role in disintegration of empire. The empire was vast, it could not be consolidated effectively. The difficulty in communication was bound to bring challenges for a empire of continental proportion. The weaknesses of military strength also played role in disintegration of military state. Emergence of powerful entities in periphery started the process of disintegration with decrease in central control over empire.

  • Independent entities such as Satvahanas and Kanvas declared their independence. Foreign invasions proved to be immediate factor responsible for disintegration of Mauryan Empire. Invasion of Indo-Greeks defeated the Mauryan forces and by 187 BC almost whole of north western region was lost to Indo-Greeks.


    Q15. Modern municipal governments show the elements of city administration of Patliputra. Comment. Ans.: Patliputra was the capital of Mauryan empire. It enjoyed a place of special significance during Mauryan age. References found in Arthashastra of Kautilya and Indica of Megasthenesthrows light on nature and character of Patliputra city. The references from both these sources show elements of similarity with modern municipal governments. According to Arthashastra, city of Patliputra was divided into number of blocs and wards. Sthanika was the head of block administration and Gopa was the head of ward administration. Each ward comprised 10-40 families. Nagaraka was the head of city administration. The nagaraka resembles the Mayor in modern day setting. The officers also performed the function like registration of births and death, maintenance of record of income and expenditure of people as well as record of their professions. According to Megasthenes, the administration of Patliputra was looked after by a council of 30 members. This council was divided into six committees of five members each. Each of these committees looked after a particular aspect of city administration. The committees with special functions regarding city administration also represent the similarities with modern day municipal administration.


    Q16. Give an account for FaHein’s description of India. Ans: Fahien was the chines traveller who visited india during the reign of Chandragupta II. His main object of coming to india was to get Buddhist books of disciplines which had become practically unknown in china. He had given a very pleasing picture of country with some very intimate details. According to Fahien the government was very much enlightened and efficient, people were numerous and happy. The king governed without decapitation or other corporal punishments. Criminals were simply fined, lightly or heavily, according to the circumstances in each case. Even in the cases of repeated attempts at wicked rebellions they only had their right hand cut off. It was the custom of kings, elders and gentry to build shrines, give land, houses and gardens with men and bullocks for cultivation. Binding title deeds were written out and subsequent kings also regarded these title deeds. The revenue of government was mainly derived from rents of crown lands. The royal officers were paid fixed salaries and there was no occasion for them to live on people. The king’s bodyguards and attendants all had salaries. According to him, throughout the country people did not killed any living creature nor drank intoxicating liquor nor ate garlic or onions. The only exceptions were Chandalas. Fahien tells that Chandalas lived separately from other people. They had to warn their approach while entering into city so that the other people might not be polluted by their contact with them. Charitable institutions were numerous. People built homes of charity where shelter with bed and food and drinks were offered to travellers and wandering monks. Fahien tells that rich peoples had instituted free hospitals where all poor or helpless patients, orphans, widows and cripples used to go. On religious life Fahien tells that the pagodas were built in honor of Sariputta, Moggalan and Anandaand also in honour of Abhidhamma, Vinaya and the Suttas. Since the time of Buddhas nirvana kings, chief men and householders have raised viharas for the monks and provided for their support by endowing them with fields, houses, gardens, servants and cattle. The grants of land were guaranteed by copper plates and were hand down from reign to reign. No one had the authority to cancel these copper plate grants. Fahien was very much impressed by the city of Patliputra and also palace of Ashoka. The palace according to him was built by spirits who piled up stones, constructed walls and gates, carved designs, engraved and inlaid after no human fashion. Fahien describes the monasteries as center of education where students and inquirers from all quarters came for learning. Fahien tells the holy city of Gaya was empty and desolate. The places around Bodhgaya were surrounded by jungles. The thickly populated area of foothills of mountains in 5th c. BC was now sparsely inhabited.


    Q17. How far the teachings of Buddhism are analogues to the Upanishadic philosophy? Ans.: The Upanishadic thought represent the climax of Vedic knowledge. A closer examination of Upanishadic philosophy and teachings of Gautama Buddha bring to light number of similarities. These similarities indicate the influence of Upanishadic ideas on Buddhism. The Upanishads contains the first reaction against the domination of Brahmans. The extreme significance attached to priestly class in Brahmana literature was condemned by Upanishads. Buddhism also strongly condemns priestly domination in religious life. Upanishads rejected the relevance of rituals and ceremonies. According to Mundaka Upanishad, rituals and ceremonies are like broken boards which cannot ferry a person across the ocean of life. Buddhism also condemned the rituals and sacrifices. The crux of Upanishadic philosophy is non-violence. Gautama Buddha also preached the massage of Ahimsa to humanity. Upanishads believed in efficacy of path of knowledge to attain salvation. Gautama Buddha also believed in efficacy of knowledge. But there were some novel elements in Buddhism which separate both philosophies apart from each other. Upanishads believed in existence of god. Bramha is considered supreme deity. Buddhism neither accepted nor rejected the existence of god. Gautama Buddha remained silent when asked about god. The concept of transmigration of soul and existence of soul are the core ideas of Upanishadic philosophy. But Buddhism denied the existence of soul. Although both believed in idea of salvation but the meanings of salvation are different. In Upanishadic philosophy, salvation is known as Moksha. It can only be achieved after death, when a person attains salvation his soul gets merged into Bramha. In Buddhist philosophy, salvation is known as Nirvana. It can be attained by a person during lifetime itself. On death the person attains Mahaparinirvana. The concept of four noble truths and eight fold path and ten teachings were new to Buddhist philosophy. The doctrine of conditioned coproduction put forward by Gautama Buddha was novel to Buddhist philosophy.


    Q.18 Discuss the elements of change and continuity in the political life between Mauryan and Gupta period. Ans.: The Empire of Mauryan rulers and imperial Guptas represent the empire covering over Indian subcontinent. The references from Arthashatra and Ashokan pillars give information about the political life during the Mauryan period. References from Nitisara of kamandaka and works of Kalidasa throw light on the political setup of Guptas. The political systems of Mauryan and Gupta periods show some similarities. Both had monarchial political system. King was head of state. Concept of divine monarchy was followed in both. Monarchy was hereditary. In both political systems the law of primogeniture was followed to decide the issue of succession. During Mauryan period the war of succession also decided the issue of succession. During Gupta period the merit of sons was also taken into account. Elements of centralization were present in both of these systems. The elements of decentralization could be visible in village administration and autonomous institutions of guilds. Mauryan Empire was an example of universal state because its political boundaries extended up to natural frontiers. Population was following different religions and speaking different languages. The Gupta period represents the triumphant Brahmanism. Both the political systems were showing elements of bureaucratic state. Numbers of officials were appointed to look after various functions. According to Arthashatra, the officials during Mauryan period were appointed after examination of personality. Tirtha formed the highest category of officials. Provincial administration was also developed during both periods. During Mauryan times the provinces were headed by Kumara or Aryaputra. Pradeshika was the head of district administration and village was the smallest unit of administration. During Gupta periods, the empire was divided into provinces known as Avani or Bhukti. Uparika or Gopta was the head of provincial administration. The provincial administrators were transferred once in five year. The districts were known as Vishayas and Vishayapati or kumaramatyas was the head of district administration. Participation of local representative elements in district administration was an important feature of Gupta political system. The council of district elders assisted Vishayapati in running administration. Judicial and legal administration was developed during both ages and it was highly developed during Gupta period. Mauryan political system is an example of police state. The collection of revenue and protection of citizens is primary objective of police state. Except for the policy of Dhamma of Ashoka there were no explicit measures for welfare of people. Elements of welfare state were present in Gupta polity because Gupta rulers initiated number of steps to support men of learning, religion, poor, needy and educational institutions etc. Kumargupta I established Nalanda University and donated 100 villages for its uptake. Gupta rulers issued land grants to Brahmanical temples and senior military commanders. These powerful landed elements represented the proto feudal outlook of Gupta polity.


    Q19. 6th century BC was the age of economic unrest. Comment. Ans.: During the 6th c BC capacity of agriculture not only to sustain agriculturist but also populations engaged in other secondary and tertiary activities was vital. Food producing economy was immeasurably strengthened by use of iron ploughshare and practice of paddy transplantation. This added the earning capacity of peasants and revenue for the state. Greater use of iron and increased demand resulted in the growth of art and crafts. Trade and commerce received an impetus due to monetization of economy. For the 1st time in Indian subcontinent punch marked coins were issued. The newly developed script was used for maintaining records. The period also witnessed the emergence of guild system for the development of crafts. The various guilds were responsible for production of high quality crafts in good numbers. Thus they favoured the growth of trade. These economic changes during 6th century BC were responsible for transformation of rural post Vedic economy into urban economy. Large urban centers emerged in India because of these economic changes.


    Q20. “Ashokan Dhamma was comprehensive in nature. It touched every sphere of human life“. Analyze the features of AshokanDhamma on the basis of above statement. Ans.: Ashokan Dhamma was welfare oriented in its approach. It was propounded for the all-round progress and development of citizens. Simplicity of ideas and principles was another essential feature of Asoka’s Dhamma. It was free from any complex rituals and ceremonies. Ashokan Dhamma was essentially an ethical moral concept because it was a code of conduct propounded for a balanced life of citizens. Ashokan Dhamma was egalitarian and non-discriminatory in character because every person was treated equal. It could be followed by anybody without any difficulty. Ashokan Dhamma was liberal and progressive because its objective was to free the people from clutches of superstitions and negative forms of behaviors. Ashokan Dhamma was cosmopolitan in nature. Its appeal was universal because any person living anywhere in the world and following any religion could practice it. It did not violate the virtues of any society or culture. Ashokan Dhamma was nonviolent in nature. It emphasized that living beings should not be harmed. Nonviolence was put forward as one of the finest virtues. Dhamma was based on doctrine of peaceful coexistence. It emphasized the virtue of tolerance so that conflicts could be eliminated and happiness could be ensured to every section of population. Dhamma was a holistic concept. It was comprehensive in nature because it touched upon every sphere of human life eg economic, social, religious etc. Dhamma was dominated by imperialistic outlook because with the help of principles of Dhamma, Ashoka wanted to maintain peace and stability in his extensive empire.

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