Answers: Mains Marathon History Optional Test 1 – UPSC Mains 2017 History Optional Initiative


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

All Mains Marathon Optional Questions are updated in this page.

Following are the suggested answers to the Questions:

Q1. Distinguish the ancient Indian cultures on the basis of pottery remains. Ans: Various archaeological findings help us in regenerating the past. The ancient indian cultures which emerged after the indus valley civilization could be distinguished on the basis of distinctive pottery remains. OCHRE COLOURED POTTERY CULTURE The ochre coloured pottery sites are generally located on river banks. The sites are small in size and mounds have a low height at many sites. E.g.; Bahadarabad, Bisauli, Rajpur etc. This indicates a relatively short duration of the settlements. The pottery is made of medium grained clay, under fired and has a wash of ochre. Hence sites associated with this ware are ascribed to ochre coloured pottery culture. Archaeological remains recovered at Atranjikhera and related to Ochre coloured pottery indicate that rice, barley, gram and kesari were grown. Some scholars believe that this culture represents a degenerated form of late Harappan pottery. On the basis of thermoluminiscence the culture has been ascribed to 2000 BC to 1500 BC. BLACK AND RED WARE CULTURE With some regional variation it has a wide distribution. It occurs from Rupar in north to Adichannalur in south. From Amra and Lakhabhwal in west to PanduRajarDhibi in the east. It covers a vast time span from 2400 BC to early centuries of Christian era. The pottery is black colour inside and near ream on outside and red colour, over the rest of body. Colour combination is believed to be produced by inverted firing. Pottery is mostly wheel turned though some pots are also handmade. Bowls with spouts and dish on stand have been discovered at Ahar and Gilund. PAINTED GREY WARE CULTURE (1000 BC-600 BC) The concentration of Painted grey ware sites is in Indo-Gangeticdivide, Sutlej basin and the upper Ganga plains. Settlements are located along river. The pottery is wheel made, out of well lavigated clay, has a thin core. Variety of objects made out of copper, iron, glass and bone were found in excavations. Presence of beads with semi-precious stones of Agate, Jasper, Carnelian, Chalcedony etc. suggest the trade and exchange relations with other regions in absence of these semi-precious stones in the Painted grey ware region. NORTHERN BLACK POLISHED WARE (600 BC- 200 BC) This ware was first discovered at Taxila, is characterized by its black lustre. Nearly 1500 Northern Black Polished ware sites have been discovered. They expand from Taxilla and Udgram in North West to Tamluk in east Bengal and Amravati in South. The pottery is based on high technique, wheel turned out of fine clay. Pottery is not painted in general. Saucers and bowls are the main forms of pottery. Discovery of this pottery with burnt bricks, punch marked coins evidences the urban structures. The sites are associated with discovery of large number of iron objects both weapons and tools.

Q2. Developement from Mesolithic to Neolithic was revolutionary.Explain. Ans: Domestication of plants and animals hhas been considered as one of the main characteristic feature of neolithic stage of culture. The term neolithic revolution was coined by V.Gordon Childe. The term revolution refers to large scale, sudden or fundamental changes. Many such fundamental changes were witnessed during neolithic age in the living pattern, economic life and technological know-how. The neolithic phase was marked by the emergence of village communities based on sedentary life. The economy of the neolithic stage was based on agriculture. Thus the mesolithic pastoral economy has been replaced by the agriculture. The agricultural technology improved. The neolithic phase involving domestication of plants and animals led to greater control over nature by exploitation of natural resources. During the neolithic period the invention of wheel made the communication easier. These changes prepared the foundations for the emergence of cultures and civilisations in India during later periods. Because of these fundamental changes, development from mesolithic to neolithic was revolutionary

Q3. Give an account of geographical knowledge of Aryans on the basis of Vedic literature. Ans : Arrival of Vedic Aryans in indian subcontinent inaugurated the Vedic age in indian history. The references found in Vedic literature indicate that the Aryans entered india from North West direction and gradually moved towords East across the northern plains. Names of various rivers and mountains found in Vedic literature helped in understanding the geographical area known to Vedic Aryans. The reference of SaptSaindhava region in Rig Vedic samhitagives the area of settlement of Aryans. This reference confirms that the modern Punjab region was inhabited by Aryans after entering India. According to Rig Vedic samhita, Bramhavarta was the core region of Vedic culture during the early Vedic age. It was land between river Satluj and Yamuna. River Saraswati was mentioned 72 times in Rig Veda, river Yamuna is mentioned twice and river Ganga only once. This indicates that saraswati valley was the core region occupied by early Vedic Aryans. They were just aware of river Ganga and they knew about river Yamuna. The references of soma plant and its procurement from mujawantadwip in Himalayas show that the Aryans were aware of Himalayas. The word samudra is mentioned in rig Vedic samhita but Aryans were not aware of seas during early Vedic period. The word has been used in the context of huge amount of water seen by them in rivers of northern plains. Tiger is not mentioned in Rig Vedic samhita, this indicate that the early Vedic Aryans didn’t enter into forests of eastern india where tigers are found. Later Vedic expansion of Aryans into northern plains was mentioned in Satapathabrahman. According to this, the foress were cleared with the help of god fire upto river Sadanira(Gandak) flowing through Bihar. Satapathabrahman contains references of eastern and western sea. This clearly confirms that the Vedic Aryans were aware of seas during later Vedic period. Satapathabrahman mentions river Sadanira as boundary between the states of Kosala and Videha. These kingdoms were located in modern Bihar. Atharvaveda contains references of people of eastern india living in Bengal, Bihar and Orrisa region. These references suggest that Aryans were aware of entire eastern india during later Vedic age. Kaushitaki Upanishad contains references of southern mountains, identified as vindhyas. Attriyabrahman contains references of fivefold geographical division of indiaie. Udichya, Prachya, Pratichya, Dhruva Madhya Maandis, Dakshinpatha These references confirm that the Vedic Aryans were aware of entire Indian mainland during later Vedic age

Q4. How archaeological evidences provide for religious beliefs in Chalcolithic period? Ans : Chalcolithic period is the period of copper and stone. Chalcolithic people were primarily rural communities spread over a wide area in those parts of country where hilly land and rivers are available. Most of the sites are located at brown black soil, semi-arid areas. Harappans used bronze and attained civilization. Predominance of female goddess suggest that the mother goddess was chief deity. Status of male gods was low because only few evidences of male gods have been found. Presence of pipal tree on seals of Harappa, occurances of fire alters and structures such as great bath are indicative of nature worship. Depiction of bulls, serpants on seals are indicative of animal and serpant worship. Amulets were also used by the harappans. This indicates the magical elements were also present in Harappa religion. The chalcolithic cultures after the indus valley civilization emerged.e.g. Malwa culture, Jorwe culture. The excavations at various sites throw light on religious outlook of people and their religious practices. Excavations rarely give any indications of male deity. Three male figurines of clay discovered from Inamgaon give some indication of male gods. Female figures of clay both baked and unbaked have been discovered. The headless female figure from Newasa and terracotta female figure from Inamgaon also suggest that people worshipped mother goddess. The excavations throw light on various practices of disposal of dead. Burial was a common custom. Burying of dead in north south orientation has been revealed by excavations. In jorwe culture, the dead was buried in the precincts of house besides cutting the feet before the burial. This shows a peculiar outlook of people. The dead were buried with various objects like personal ornaments. This shows the belief with respect to life after death.

Q5. Primary sources are more reliable than secondary sources. Do you agree? Ans: The sources of early indian history can be classified into primary and secondary sources based on their relationship with information provided by them. While both have their respective advantages, they suffer from certain drawbacks also. The primary sources are contemporary to the information provided by them whereas secondary sources provide information about a different time period. E.g. :Arthashastra is a primary source of mauryan age because it was composed by Kautilya who lived during mauryan period. Mudrarakshasa is a secondary source of mauryan period because it was composed by Vishakhadatta in 6th century A.D. but contains information of mauryan age. Primary sources contain first-hand information. The information provided by the secondary source is drawn from other sources. The writer of secondary source was not personally present when the event described by him took place. Primary sources provide for more detailed description of events when compared with secondary sources. But, primary sources cover a short period of time comparatively to secondary sources. Moreover a particular literary source could be primary as well as secondary simultaneously because some portions of book could deal with developments eyewitnessed by another while some other components could deal with former periods. Possibility of alteration in original information is negligible in primary sources but they could suffer from personal bias of writer. Secondary sources can suffer from limitation of important information missing out but are free from personal bias of writer. Most archaeological sources are of primary category and majority of literary sources fall under secondary source category. For historical interpretation both primary and secondary sources play a vital role.

Q6. Bring out the elements of change and continuity between early Vedic and later Vedic political life Ans: References found in Rig Vedic samhitas throw light on politico-administrative life in india during early Vedic period. Early Vedic polity was tribal in nature. Vedic Aryans were living in small tribal groups, each such group was having their own politico-administrative system. The nomadic character of Vedic Aryans led to lack of territorial identity. Thus the concept of state was absent during early Vedic period. Rig Vedic samhita informs about the existence of tribal assembalies e.g. Sabha, Samiti, Vidhata, Gana and Parishad. These tribal assemblies indicate the presence of democratic elements in the political system of early Vedic period. Both men and women used to participate in the meetings of Sabha and Samiti. This indicate the liberal nature of polity. Egalitarian character was evidenced by absence of sharp divisions among people on the basis of their political status. Monarchy was the most common form of government though republican political systems also existed during early Vedic period. King was head of tribe. The office of king emerged to be hereditary. The law of primogeniture also emerged gradually because ‘Yuvraja’ is mentioned in Rig Vedic samhita. The powers and functions of king were limited in nature and his main responsibility was to lead members of tribe during offensive and defensive battles. The bureaucratic system was in early stage of development because only three functionaries of state find mention eg:-Purohit, Senani, Gramini. Family was the smallest unit of political life. Father was the head of family. Village was the next higher administrative unit. Gramini was its head. A no. of villages together formed Vis. It was headed by Vispati. Jana was the highest political unit during early Vedic age. It was headed by Janesya. He was equivalent to the king. King was the highest court of justice. He decided the disputes on the basis of customs and traditions. Codified legal system was absent. There was absence of regular standing army in early Vedic period. All adult male members of village were mobilized under the leadership of gramini during wars and battles. Cattle lifting was the most common cause of war. There was also absence of a regular taxation system. During the later Vedic period tribal character of polity diminished because of population growth and assimilation of tribes. The nomadic character of early Vedic period was substituted with settled life. The sedentary life led to emergence of concept of state based on territorial identity. The democratic elements were still present in political system but when compared to early Vedic period democratic character of polity had diminished to some extent because the women were not allowed to participate in meetings of Sabha and Samiti. The political system was still egalitarian in outlook because there was no rigid political classification on the basis of birth. The differences like nobility and common people were absent. Institution of monarchy evolved further during later Vedic period. The power and prestige of king increased enormously. The sacrifices like Rajasuya, Vajapeya, Ashwamedha emerged during this age. The kingship was completely hereditary and law of primogeniture was firmly established. The concept of divine monarchy emerged during this period. In Atharvaveda, king parikshit was mentioned as ‘Ardha Deva’. Rashtra emerged as the highest political unit, it replaced Jana of early Vedic period. The judicial legal system remained the same. Character of wars and battles changed as wars were fought for territorial expansion. Regular taxation system emerged during later Vedic age. Bali became a regular tax. It was collected by Balisadhaka. Numerous other taxes eg: Bhaga,Bhoga were collected from people.

Q7. Harappan civilization was established by foreign immigrants.Critically evaluate. Ans: There has been much controversy among scholars regarding the race to which the people belonged. The evidences associated with the early stage of civilization are limited and these limited evidances have been interpreted differently by different scholers. According to theory of foreign origin, propounded by historians like Sir John Marshall, R.E. Mortimer Wheeler and V. Gordon Childe, Harappan civilization was established by a group of foreign immigrants from Mesopotamia. These foreign immigrants were already having the knowledge of urban life, the much older Mesopotamian civilization support this view. Also the civilization reached the mature phase within a short span of 500 years. Such rapid rise was possible only if the makers of civilistion were having prior knowledge of urban life. The supporters of foreign origin theory have emphasized the similarities between Harappa civilization and Mesopotamian civilization. According to these scholars similarities such as urban civilization, use of seals, use of pictographic script, use of bronze,use of burnt bricks by boh the civilisations suggest commom origin. But the closer examination of both the civilisations reveals that these similarities were superficial. There were deep fundamental differences between them. Though both the civilisations were urban, Harappan cities were planned unlike the unplanned cities of Mesopotamia. The material used for seal manufacturing and their designs were different. Harappan seals were quadrilateral in design and were made of steatite. The Mesopotamian seals were cylindrical in design and were made of clay. The pictographic script in both the cases was different. Harappan script had 396 signs and is yet to be deciphered. The Mesopotamian script had 900 plus signs and has been deciphered. The potteries of both the civilisations are different from one another. Harappans used burnt bricks on much large scale than Mesopotamian civilization. The quality of bronze used by Harappans was of inferior quality. These deep rooted fundamental differences reveal that both civilisationscan not be the work of same group.

Q8. Harappan civilization has ended but not culture. Explain the presence of Harappan elements in Indian culture. Ans: The great civilization of Harappa was based on the delicate balance of relations between the cities, towns and villages, rulers, peasants and nomads. Once the fragile balance was disturbed the civilization came to an end but the culture survived and got expressed into various later cultures. The multi ethnic character of Harappan culture continued into later stages without any interruption because the racial groups living in Harappan cities remained an integral part of indian life. The multi class character of social life also continued into later ages. The means of entertainment used by harappans in the form of toys and game of chess were also used throughout later periods of indian history. Most elements of Harappa religion continued into later stages and can be seen even nature worship, phallus worship, practice of burying etc. The idea of mother goddess of Harappa continued in later period in the form of Durga, Kali, Laxmi etc. Male god of Harappa was having many elements common with god shiva of later periods. Concept of life after death remains integral part of indian religion and philosophy throughout the history. The agricultural knowledge of Harappan people continued throughout the later periods because crops like barley, cotton,wheat and rice were cultivated by Aryans as well as during post Harappa period. The knowledge of pottery making, bead making and toy making spread during later periods. The knowledge of carts and boats also continued. The metals known to Harappans were used throughout the subcontinent during later periods. The urban institutions and their centralized character could be seen in the polities of later times eg. Mauryan administration, Gupta administration.The modern municipal institutions are performing similar functions and centralized administration is an important feature of indian political system.

Q9. First urbanization in the Indian context was based on strong economic foundation. Explain. Ans: Harappan civilization represents 1st urbanization in india. Settlement pattern of many excavated sites suggest existence of urban pattern. Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Dhoulavira etc. are some representative sites of Harappan civilization. The archaeological evidences discovered from Harappan settlements throw light on the nature and character of economic life of this great civilization. These evidences clearly confirm that the subsistence pattern of Harappan civilization was quite diverse. The fine balance involving diverse economic activities was the source of strength of this great civilization. Harappans practiced agriculture. The level of agricultural development was quite high. Harappans produced huge amount of surplus to support extensive urban population involved in secondary and tertiary economic activities. Harappans were aware of technique of crop rotation. Flood irrigation was practiced by constructing dams. Double cropping was also practiced by them as indicated by evidence found at Banawali. The quantum of agricultural surplus with harappans can be comprehended on the basis of discovery of graneries at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Evidences suggest that industries and craft were highly developed in Harappan civilization. The production was carried out in almost every settlement. Some settlements assumed form of specialized craft centres. Eg: Chanhudaro was Centre of bead making and toy making activities. Sukkur was the Centre of stone cutting Industry. Harappans manufactured and exported the ivory goods. Metal working was another important craft. Harappans were aware of most of the metals e.g. Copper, Tin, Silver, Gold etc. They knew the technique of bronze making by mixing tin and copper in definite proportions. Pottery was another important craft. They produced red ware and black and red ware potteries based on potter’s wheel. Harappans also manufactured carts and boats to transport goods. Seal making was also important craft. More than 2500 seals have been discovered during excavations. These seals are example of highly advanced craft because in spite of being small in size, the level of refinement is very high. Trade and commerce was the main feature of Harappan life. Harappans practiced local, inter regional and external trade. Monetization of economy was absent. The coins were not used by Harappans, they practiced barter trade. Harappans used land as well as sea routes for trade and commerce. Sea trade was also highly developed. Settlements like Lothal were port cities. According to Mesopotamian records Dilmun and Makan were the intermediate trading stations between Harappan civilization and Mesopotamian civilization. Balance of external trade was favorable to Harappans because they exported primary goods and manufactured items. Gold, Silver, Tin and semi-precious stones made parts of their imports.

Q10. Give account of changing attitude towards women during early Vedic and later Vedic period. Ans: The nomadic character of early Vedic period shifted to the sedentary life in later Vedic period and it also reflected in the attitudes towards women during that period. The status of women in early Vedic period was high in society. It was almost equal to their male counter parts. Mother of sons was highly respected. Birth of daughter was not desired but once born she was treated with honor and kindness. The women enjoyed political, economic and religious rights. They participated in the meetings of Sabha and Samiti. Some of the crafts e.g. spinning and weaving were practiced only by women. Some of the religious ceremonies were considered incomplete without the participation of wife. Women received education in gurukulas. Some of the women known as Bramhavadini, remain involved in learning for their entire life. Some of the women eg: Apala and Ghosa were so highly educated that they composed hymns of Rig veda. The social status of women was high during later Vedic age as well but some elements of decline were clearly visible. The birth of a daughter was considered a curse. The importance attached to land during later Vedic period could be responsible for this change. Women were no longer allowed to participate in meetings of Sabha and Samiti. We find clear attempts to establish gender hierarchy by differentiating between men and women and ensuring the subordination of the latter to the former are also discernible in the ritual context. This suggests a growing tendency to stratify society along gender lines.

Q11. The Neolithic settlements of Nal, Quetta, Zhob, Kulli eventually led to the 1st urbanization in Indian context- Give views. Ans: Harappan civilization represents 1st urbanization in india. The presence of evidences from mature phase of civilization are numerous but there is lack of information regarding the early phase of Harappan civilization. This paucity of information has led to a debate about the origin of Harappan civilization. Scholars like Sir John Marshal, R E Mortimer Wheeler and V.Gordon Childe suggest that the Harappan civilization was authored by the Mesopotamian immigrants. These scholars relied on the similarities such as use of bronze, seals, pictographic script, burnt bricks and urban nature of settlements to justify their claim. But deeper examinations regarding these similarities show that these similarities are superficial. The fundamental differences such as planned nature of Harappan civilization and unplanned Mesopotamian cities, octagonal steatite seal of Harappa and rectangular clay seal of Mesopotamia, 396 lettered undeciphered script of Harappa and deciphered script of Mesopotamia reveal that both the civilisations could not be work of same group. Scholars like T.N. Ramachandran, K.N.Shastri, A.D.Pusalkar and S.R.Rao support the view that the authors of Harappan civilization were Aryans. They try to justify the theory by emphasizing the geographical area occupied by the Vedic Aryans and Harappans was common. At some settlements like Bhagwanpura(Haryana) evidences of both have been discovered. But the theory could not be accepted as Vedic culture and Harappan civilization were fundamentally different in character, Harappan being urban and Vedic being rural.. The scholars like M.R. Mughal, G.F. Dales, Raymond and BidgetAlchin, A.N.Ghosh, Stuart Pigget and Walter A. Fairserves have discovered antecedent cultures and communities of great Harappan civilization in north western parts of indian subcontinent. The evidences gathered by these archaeologists have revealed that the origin of Harappan civilization was outcome of a long drawn out process of gradual evolution spanning across more than 3000 years. According to these scholars a larger background of Harappan civilization was created by the small communities of Zhob, Kulli and Quetta etc. that flourished in modern Afghanistan in 6th millennium BC. The process of gradual evolution transformed some of these communities into big villages. Eg: Mehargarh was a flourishing town in 5th millennium BC. The Indus valley region provided people from, semi-arid and resource deficient, Baluchistan, an extensive floodplain with perennial source of water and better climate for agriculture. This favourable climate paved the way for rapid socio economic progress and by the middle of 4th millennium BC towns eg: Amri, Kotdiji emerged in Indus region. These towns marked the beginning of proto Harappan phase as some of the features of urban phase started becoming visible. The process of gradual evolution resulted in the attainment of state of agricultural surplus by 2800 BC. Availability of agricultural surplus gave boost to arts and crafts and trade and commerce thus providing material foundations of Harappan civilization.

Q12. Without iron, transformation from Rig Vedic period to later Vedic period and further was not possible. Critically evaluate. Ans: Iron metallurgy was invented by Vedic Aryans in around 11th century BC. The effect of knowledge of iron technology on life during later Vedic age has been explained quite differently by different historians. Historians such as Prof.R.S.Sharma emphasized that knowledge of iron metallurgy transformed agricultural system. The iron ploughshare enabled deeper ploughing and this in turn facilitated cultivation of sugarcane and wet paddy. These new crops and techniques increased production significantly and by 6th c BC Vedic Aryans started producing surplus. But recent historical researches have indicated that iron did not play any significant role in agricultural progress during later Vedic age, as only one iron ploughshare has been discovered at Jakhera in Uttar Pradesh during excavations of settlements belonging to this age. According to research carried out by historians like N.R.Roy and D.K.Chakravarti, hardwood was used to make ploughshare during later Vedic age. They concluded that soil in Gangatic valley was quite soft and deeper ploughing was possible with wooden ploughshare. The clearing of forests was carried out by fire and not with the help of iron axes as was emphasized earlier. According to SatapathaBramhana forests were cleared up to river Sadanira with the help of fire. Mahabharata also informs that Khandavavana was cleared with help of fire to establish the capital city of Indraprastha. The knowledge of wet paddy cultivation was adopted by Vedic Aryans from local people when they moved into eastern parts of Gangetic valley. The people of Koldihawa were practicing it since 6th millennium BC. This adoption of indigenous knowledge and expansion of agriculture due to movement of Vedic Aryans into eastern India were responsible for remarkable increase in agricultural production and attainment of status of surplus. But the knowledge of iron played important role in development of arts and craft because a number of new crafts emerged during later Vedic period. The knowledge proved significant in political life because the use of iron weapons greatly influenced the military strength of rulers. Kings having access to iron mines used iron weapons on a large scale. This enabled them to pursue policy of territorial expansion. This eventually led to rise of mahajanapadas by 6th century BC.

Q13. Analyze the elements of urban civilization in Harappan culture. Ans: Harappan civilization was one of the oldest and one of the most extensive civilization in the world. The archaeological evidence discovered from Harappan settlement have provided detailed information about politico administrative, socio cultural, economic and religious life of this great civilization. Harappan civilization was indigenous civilization. It was the outcome of a long drawn out process spanning over 3000 years. Harappan civilization was urban civilization. Evidences suggest that level of urbanization was very high. The cities were laid out in a planned manner in accordance with grid pattern/ chessboard pattern. The urban character of Harappan settlements is revealed by their population size, nature of economic activities and presence of administrative institutions. Predominance of secondary and tertiary economic activities was also a feature of urban Harappan civilization. Harappan civilization belonged to great tradition because evidences suggest that most of harappans knew how to read and write. Pictographic script was used by harappans. Harappan civilization was multi ethnic civilization. Medeterranean or Dravidian race was dominant. Proto australoids, mongoloids and alpine people also lived in cities of Harappan civilization. Various social groups lived in Harappan settlement. While some settlers were rich and lived in big houses some others were poor and lived in small houses. The items of common use found in graves also reveal the social classification. Harappan civilization was peaceful civilization. Weapons ie. Swords and shields have not been found during excavations, so far only one sword has been discovered. The socio cultural life of Harappan civilization was highly evolved because Harappans lived in a stable society. They used formal means of entertainment eg : toys etc. presence of urban institutions on the lines of modern municipalities is also revealed by archaeological eviences. Without such urban institutions the features like planned layout of cities, regular cleaning of drainage, construction and maintenance of public buildings eg : ports and graneries would have been difficult. Presence of centralized administration was important feature of Harappan civilization. It is revealed by use of same script, same types of seals and similar system of weights and measures throughout the geographical spread of this civilization. Harappan civilization was extensive civilization with an covered area about 1.3 million Sq.Km. It was 20 times bigger than Egyptian civilization and 12 times greater than combined areas of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization. It was proto istoric civilization because the script is yet to be deciphered. Entire knowledge about this civilization is drawn from archaeological evidences. The socio cultural outlook of harappans was cosmopolitan because Harappans adopted many elements from their contemporary civilizations. Materialistic outlook was also predominant among Harappans. Evidences suggest that Harappans invested their time and energy in the accumulation of wealth rather than wasting it in spiritual or philosophical activities. The scientific knowledge of civilization was highly advanced. They knew technique of making bronze by mixing tin and copper in definite proportions. They used boats for river navigation and sea trade. Their knowledge of civil engineering was also quite high. The Harappan civilization was a secular civilization because the evidences clearly suggest that the religion did not play a prominent role in public life. It was essentially a private affair. Civilization was a long lasting one. Even after its decline some of its essential elements continued to survive in later ages.

Q14. Indus Valley Civilization did not have an abrupt end. Give views. Ans: After flourishing for more than 1000 years the great Harappan civilization declined during the opening centuries of 2nd millennium BC. The decline of indus valley civilization has been explained by different historians differently. Scholars like R.E.Mortimer Wheeler, Stuart Pigget and V.Gordon Childe put forward theory of sudden decline. According to this theory the civilization was invaded by Vedic Aryans. The Aryans with advanced weapons and chariots attacked peace loving harappans. This resulted in sudden decline of Harappan civilization. The recent historical researches have confirmed beyond doubt that most of the settlements of Harappan civilization located in north-western region had declined by 1750 BC. The Vedic Aryans did not enter India before 1500 BC. Because of the time gap present between the decline of Harappans and advent of Aryans, the theory of sudden decline cannot be accepted as reason for decline of Harappan civilization. According to Sir John marshal, E. mackey, S.R.Rao, the civilization was destroyed by floods. The supporters of this theory explain the settlement located on the river banks were prone to flooding. According to M.R.Sahni and B.L.Rice the civilization was destroyed by inundation. According to D.P.Aggarwal and R.K.Sood the civilization was destroyed by increase in aridity. According to G.F.Dales and H.T.Lambrick change in the course of rivers was responsible for the decline of Harappan civilization. According to R.L.Paike the civilization was destroyed by a massive earthquake. The Harappan settlement was an extensive settlement. Decline of such extensive civilization could not be outcomeof a single factor. Scholars like M.Aural Stein, Walter A.Fairservis, Raymond and BidgetAlchin, A.N.Ghosh and Dr. Rafiq Mughal have revealed that the Harappan civilization was destroyed by ecological imbalance or climate change.

Q15. Explain sacrifice as ritual and form of social exchange during Vedic period. Ans: Sacrifice formed the crux of Vedic religion because entire religious activities were revolving around it. The sacrifices were performed at every important occasions of life. the performance of sacrifice required a definite procedure to be followed. Specific steps were to be performed by priest and householder. That is why sacrifice was ritual during the Vedic age. The sacrifice was also an important institution through which social exchange took place during Vedic age. The householder or king for whom the sacrifice was to be performed gave gifts to the priests. In this way, the resources used to move from producer class to non-producer priestly class. A part of these resources was used by priest to buy the necessities to perform sacrifice. In this way the resource circulation took place in market. Other part of gift was retained by priest to meet his family needs. When these needs were purchased, the resources entered market. The king used to collect resources through taxes and a part of these resources were circulated among people when sacrifices were performed. This exchange was the basis of health of Vedic economy.

Q16. Critically compare archaeological and literary sources as sources of Indian history. Ans: Literary sources provide extremely valuable information about early Indian history. Though they are important in reconstruction of early Indian history, they are not without limitations. No literary source of any kind is available for pre Vedic age. Because of this no information of any kind is available from literary sources about more than 99% of the phase of human life in India. Literary sources are prone to interpolations and extrapolations. Most literary sources are of religious category, secular literary sources are few in number. Because of this, very limited information is available about politico- administrative-socio- economic and cultural life. The literary sources suffer from the personal bias of writer. Most writers lived in court under the patronage of king. Such writers cannot be expected to provide truthful details objectively. The literary sources lack chronological details. Most of these sources are in the form of stories where writer did not describe events chronologically.

  • At times it is difficult to ascertain the exact time period of literary source. Some historians believe that Kalidas belong to Mauryan age and kautilya was from Gupta period. Language of literary sources is quite vague at times. Puranas are written in future tense. As a result the historians have interpreted these vague sources quite differently. Literary sources do not provide continuous information for different periods. For some periods e.g.: post Mauryan age very few literary sources are available because of this holistic picture of early Indian history cannot be created with help of literary sources. Archaeological sources are collected through excavations and explorations. These sources are available in plenty in the form of pottery, tools, coins etc. The quantum of archaeological sources is immense. Thus these sources are difficult to preserve and store for later periods. Archaeological excavations are costly and time consuming because of this it takes long time to understand the pattern of life of a particular time period with the help of archaeological sources. Eg; Harappan civilization and its excavations going on since 1921.

    Q17. Explain the ancient plays and dramas as source of ancient Indian history. Ans: The ancient Indian history get a new dimension from the point of view of ancient plays and dramas. The plays and dramas meant for the public viewing give a closer look of society and its practices. The Mahabhasya of patanjali contains the earliest references to drama. It is regarded as highest achievement of Sanskrit literature. Its development thus symbolizes the prosperity of state. Kalidasa was one of the greatest Sanskrit dramatist. His three romantic plays eg. Malvikagnimitra, Vikramorvasiyam and Abhijatshakuntalam are famous. These throw a light on the society and political aspects of the context. The indian emperor Harsha was credited with the plays eg :Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda. The drama Mudrarakshasa by Vishakhadatta throw light on the political life during the Mauryan period. The development in Dramas also shows the changes in society. The use of new techniques like Nepathye shows the significance of influence of Indo-Greeks on Indian drama. The use of Sanskrit in the plays of post gupta period shows the advent of brahmanical religion. The assigning of different languages to different characters based on status in ancient dramas signifies the presence of social stratification. Dramas being closely associated with common people could be used to study their lives in ancient period.

    Q18. Lack of innovation caused the decline of Indus valley Civilization.Do you agree? Ans: The Indus valley civilization was the most extensive civilization which spread over 1.3 million Sq.Km. The civilization flourished for nearly 1000 years but eventually came to an end. Among the reasons for decline many contesting views surface. Inherent weaknesses in civilization, particularly the conservatism of Harappan people considered to be one of the factors in decline. They lacked broad vision and foresightedness, did not keep pace with time and on the whole remained stagnant. They lacked plasticity, their development lagged behind the changing times and in long run they could not meet the rising demands and finally could not cope up with the changed circumstances. No technological advancement took place; weapons remained stereotyped i.e. flat edged and easily bent. Sharp edged weapons were not developed, this shows ignorance of defense. The stagnation in agricultural technology and subsequent disruption of delicate balance of economy caused the loss of trading activities. Thus the very basis of civilization could not support it hence forward. But the extensive civilization like Harappa could not be subject to one reason for its decline. Although the lack in technological dimensions was one of the probable reason, it could not be the only reason. The recent historical arguments regarding inundations of Harappan cities, shifting of Indus, increased aridity and drying up of Ghaggar also explain the causes for decline of civilization. These causes acting independently caused the reduction in economic activities of Harappans. The increasing population of the civilization posed the challenges to the scarce resources of area. The gradual deterioration of town planning and living standard was a reflection of the depleting substance base of Harappans. The process of decline was completed by the raids and attacks of surrounding communities.

    Q19. Delineate the importance given to hygiene given by Harappan settlers on the basis of archaeological findings. Ans: The Harappan civilization marked the emergence of 1st civilization in Indian subcontinent. The archaeological evidences suggest the settlers had a high civic sense regarding hygiene. The water management of Harappan cities was advanced. The drainages were covered. The drains had man hole for cleaning purposes. The waste material found near man hole suggests that these drains were regularly cleaned. Harappans were the first to use flush toilets. Almost every house had these type of toilets. The outlets from these toilets were connected to the drains which are generally found at the back of house. The Harappan roads were wide and clean. The absence of any debris around the roads signifies their regular cleanliness. The Harappans also had graveyards. They were located away from the habitation. This indicates the health concern of Harappans.

    Q20. Describe the social life of later Vedic period. How it was different from early Vedic period. Ans: The transformation from early Vedic to later Vedic period also had their influences on social life of inhabitants. During early Vedic period the society was tribal in character. The social life was egalitarian in character because the sharp and rigid social divisions were absent. Social mobility of very high order was prevalent because anybody could change his varna status by changing the profession. During early Vedic age, Family was the primary unit of society. The system of joint family was followed. The family was patriarchal, patrilocal, and patrilineal. The social stratification on the basis of Varna was evolved. The first reference of fourfold Varna system was found in Purushsukta Hymn from 10th mandala of Rig Vedic Samhita. This indicates that fourfold Varna system was yet to be firmly established during early Vedic age. The Varna status of an individual was based on profession. A person could change his Varna status easily by changing the profession. Institution of marriage was in highly developed state. Marriage was considered sacrosanct. Concept of divorce was absent, dowry was absent. The women enjoyed political, economic and religious rights. Slavery was prevalent and women slaves were used for household activities. During later Vedic times the tribal character of society diminished due to assimilation and population growth of tribes. Egalitarian character of society was diminished because the social status had begun to be linked with profession as well as birth. The degree of social mobility got reduced because the change in social status was not as early as was during early Vedic age. The varna system evolved further and the four fold Varna system got firmly established. The social status of an individual had begun to be linked with birth as well as profession. The social status of women was high during later Vedic age but elements of decline were clearly visible. The birth of daughter was considered a curse. Women were no longer allowed to participate in democratic assemblies eg: sabha and samiti. Gotra system emerged during the later Vedic period. The identity of gotra was used during matrimonial relations. 1st reference to gotra system was found in Atharva Veda. Ashrama system also emerged during later Vedic period. The entire lifespan was divided in four phases of 25 years each ie. Bramhacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, Sanyasa.

    Note: If you are interested in taking up any Optional Subject, kindly send an email to (Aspirants who have appeared in mains before are preferred. Kindly send your Marksheet if possible).

    Print Friendly and PDF