Ancient History Classroom Test

  Aug 31, 2020

Ancient History Classroom Test

Main Examination Pattern


Q1. What are the distinct aspects of Amaravati school of art? Discuss its importance.
Ans.: The Amravathi school of art flourished in Deccan during the times of Sathavahanas and reached its culmination under Ikshvakus with its main centres. Amravathi and Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh.
The distinct aspect of the art, it was the most beautiful, decorative and expressive of the three art forms. The costly white lime stone used as material naturally made the art look beautiful. Extensive use of decorative motifs like flowers and creepers made the art decorative and the symbolic expressions used, the way inner emotions depicted and treated the art is highly expressive.
Though theme wise it is predominantly Buddhist, it is equally known for reflecting society particularly customs like sati etc.
Its importance wise, the art reached its perfection under Ikshvakhs who built the earliest temples in India. In other words, the Amaravathi art became the basis for Hindu temple art. The early images of Hindu gods and Goddesses were being moulded on the basis of the images of the Buddha, precisely it was why the Hindu temple art was called the product of Buddhist art.
Q2. Discuss the evolution of rock cut cave temple architecture in Ancient India.
Ans.:  The rock cut cave temple architecture made its beginnings from the times of Mauryas. The earliest cave temples built during this period were Sudhama and Lomasa at Barabar dedicated to AJ vikas by Ashoka. Except for their high polished interiors they do not represent any conscious attempt towards architectural perfection.
In the Mauryan times the Buddhist Chaityas dominated cave temple architecture. The Karle, Kanheri and Nashik Chaityas, the Guntupalli Chaitya and the Ajanta and Ellora caves preceeded the cave temple architecture. On their part the Jains were responsible for Kandagiri, Kumaragiri cave temples of Orissa, Indragiri and Chandragiri cave temples at Sravanabelagola in Karnataka.
Under the Guptas the cave temples found were Udaigiri, Bagh caves, Mandagiri and some of the Ajanta caves (16, 17, 19) of these in Bagh caves we find the extension of Ajanta cave painting tradition.
In South India under Pallavas, Sittannavasal caves in Tamilnadu and Bairavakonda caves in Andhra Pradesh were the classic examples of the cave temple architecture. The Vishnukundins contemporaries of pallavas made the cave temple architecture completely Hindu with Vishnava temples at Undavalli.
Under Rastrakutas, the cave temple architecture had seen its culmination with Kailashnath temple at Ellora called engineering marvel built by Krishna I.

Q3. “In its form and content the Vedic literature is secular and universal”. Discuss the statement with special reference to Bhagavath Geeta.
Ans.: The entire mass of Vedic Literature is divided into Sruti (4 Vedas) and Smruti (Bramhana, Aranyaka, Upanishads, 6 Vedangas and 4 Upavedas).
The Srutis (Vedas) in the form and content are secular and universal for the reasons that they dealt with knowledge (Gnana). The descriptions they made are symbolic, not pertaining to one religion more so Hinduism. For that matter there is no word called Hindu in Vedas.
Similarly, the Smrutis prescribe rituals and ceremonies meant for the well being of mankind. More so Upanishads, the Vedsanta deals with metaphysical ideas like Atman, and transmigration. The concept Vasudaiva Kutumbam (universal family) is part of Bramho Upanishad. The vedangas meant for understanding the subject with branches like Etimology, Grammer etc. which arfe secular. The 4 upavedas are meant for making man’s life safe and secured with subject like Medicine, Music, Archery and Sculpture.
The Epics Mababharath and Ramayan are meant for giving purushardhas (Dharma, Ardha, Kama and Moksha) which are secular and Universal in form & content.
Bhagavad Gita composed by Ved Vyas is more like self-contained guide to life. Its philosophical part deals with day to day life of individual in society and associated problems and practical solutions. The Nishkama Karma (selfless Act) performing duty without expectations is indeed secular and universal in its content.
The question whether they are secular and universal are not is due to identifying them with Hinduism as a religion that too with Bramhan’s as a community.
Q4. What are the Mauryan art forms? In what way they differ with the Guptas?
Ans.:  It was the first imperial art in India. for the first time in ancient India, we find an organized art on a large scale and sudden transformation from wood to stone.
It can be divided into two sections.

  1. Court Art – Represented by Pillars and their Capitals.
  2. Popular Art – Represented by caves, stupas, sculptures and terracotta figurines.

The architectural aspects can be seen from the ruins of Patliputra and the Stupas. Since most of the buildings at Patliputra had been built in wood hardly anything remains toady. We are told by Megasthense that it had 640 towers and 64 gates. Ashoka had been credited for making hundreds of Stupas including the one at Sanchi. The high skill of engineering and art of polishing can be seen in the Pillars.
The pillars are generally divided into four parts; the shaft, the capital, the abacus and the crowning animal.
The Lauriya Nandagarh Pillar is the most outstanding of all the pillars. Their capitals mainly consist of animal figures like Bull, Lion, Elephant etc. The pillars were built of black and grey spotted sand stones procured from Chunar and Mathura.
The Mauryan art had Achaemenian (Iranian) and Hellenistic (Greek) influences. The chief centers of production were Taxila and Sarnath. The Seven Caves at Barabar and Nagarjuni Hills show the art of polishing.
The sculptural zenith can be seen in the Parkham Yaksha and Didargang Yakshni (kept in the Mathura Museum and Patna Museum respectively). The elephant sculpture at Dhauli is another landmark of Mauryan sculpture. The elephant at Dhauli represents Ashoka Piyadassi addressing to the people of Kalinga. The terracotta figurines of Mauryan age have been found in north India from Taxila to Patliputra. Mother Goddess is depicted in a large number of terracotta.
The Mauryan art differs with the Gupta art form in theme, form and content. Theme wise Mauryan art was by and large secular where as the Guptan art religious that too Bramhanical.
In form we find the foreign influence in the Mauryan art forms like that of Achaemedian (Iranian) and Hellenistic (Greek) traditions particularly in pillars, whereas Guptan art was quite native.
In content we have no evidence of temple architecture at all under Mauryas. Whereas Guptan were the first to build temples in Nagara style in the North India. Guptan sculpture is known for majestic Raja Varaha (Royal boar) the sign of Bramhanical deity Vishnu. Moreover, paintings are not to be seen in the Mauryan art whereas Guptas continued the painting tradition at Bagh Caves.
Q5. How do you characterize Ajanta painting tradition?
Ans. The Ajanta mural paintings are the world’s oldest surviving paintings. The painting tradition started with the Sathavahanas and continued to flourish under Guptas, Vakatakas, Western Chalukyas and Rastrakutas.
The main theme of the paintings was Mahayana Buddhism, particularly the Jataka stories.
The Painters exhibited remarkable technical perfection, giving Three-Dimensional and even Fourth Dimensional effect. The paintings are especially known for perfect lining and carving.
The Paintings worth mentioning were Padmapani, the Dying Princess and the Jataka Story of Mahajanaka.
The art also throws light on contemporary dress practices and political developments. In cave no.1 we find Pulakesin II receiving the Persian ambassador.