Questions on Sources of Information
- The Harappan inscriptions have not yet been deciphered. They seem to have been written in a pictographic script in which ideas and objects were expressed in the form of pictures. The style is Boustrephedon : right to left and back again left to right and then right to left and so on.
- Prakrit served as the Lingua Franca of the country in the third century B.C.
- Asoka’s inscriptions were written in the Prakrit Sanskrit became prominent in the Gupta period in the fourth century A.D.
- In India inscriptions were written on birch bark and palm leaves, but in Central Asia, where the Prakrit language which had spread from India, manuscripts were also written on sheep leather and wooden tablets. They have been preserved in the dry sands of Central Asia
- Material Remains :
- Megaliths: Burial structures found in South India. The dead were buried along with dead, their tools, weapons, pottery and other belongings in the graves, which were encircled by big pieces of stone. These structures are called megaliths
- Paper came to be used in India much later, in the Fourteenth century.
- Coins were used for the first time in Kushana times. We get the largest number of coins in post Maurya These were made of lead, potin, copper, bronze, silver and gold. The Guptas issued the largest number of gold coins. .
- Inscriptions: The study of inscriptions is called epigraphy and the study of the old writing used in inscriptions and other old records is called
- Inscriptions began to be composed in regional languages in the ninth and tenth centuries.
- Ashokan inscriptions were engraved in the Brahmi Script, which was written from right to left. The Brahmi script prevailed in the whole country, except for the ninth-western part. Greek and Aramaic and Kharoshti (ass lipped )scripts were employed in writing Asokan inscriptions in Brahmi continued to be the main script till the end of Gupta times.
- Asokan inscriptions were first deciphered in 1837 by James Prinsep, a civil servant in the East India Company in Bengal.
- Vedic , Epic and other religious Literature
- The Rig Veda may be assigned to Circa 1500-1000 B.C. but collections of the Atharva Veda, Yajur Veda, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads belong roughly to 1000-500 B.C. The Rigveda mainly contains prayers, while the later Vedic texts mainly comprise not only prayers but also rituals, magic and mythological The Upanishads contain philosophical speculations
- Epics: The Mahabharata is older in age and possibly reflects the state of affairs from the 10th century B.C. to the 4th Century A.D. Originally it consisted of 8800 verses and was called Jaya Samhita or the collection dealing with victory. These grew to 24000 verses and came to be known as Bharata, named after one of the earliest Vedic tribes. The final compilation brought the verses to 100,000 which came to be known as the Mahabharata or the Satasahasri It contains narrative, descriptive and didactic material. The main narrative which relates to the Kaurava Pandava conflict may belong to later Vedic times.
- The Ramayana originally consisted of 12000 verses, which later grew to 24000.. As a whole the text seems to have been composed later than the Mahabharata.
- In post-Vedic times we have a large corpus of ritual literature. Big public sacrifices meant for princes and men of substance belonging to the three higher varnas are laid down in the Srautasutras, which provide for several pompous royal coronation ceremonies.. Domestic rituals connected with birth, naming, sacred thread investiture, marriage, funerals etc. are laid down in the Both the Srautasutras and the Grihyasutras belong to Circa 600-300 B.C.
- The Sulvasutras, prescribe various kinds of measurements for the construction of sacrificial altars. They mark the beginnings of geometry and mathematics
- The earliest Buddhist texts were written in the Pali language, which was spoken in Magadha or south Bihar
- Stories relating to the previous births of Gautama Buddha are contained in the Jataka stories . It was believed that before he was finally born as Gautama, the Buddha passed through more than 550 births, in many cases in the form of animals. Each birth story is called a Jataka which is a folk These Jatakas throw invaluable light on social and economic conditions ranging from the fifth to the second century B.C. They also make incidental references to political events in the age of the Buddha.
- The Jaina texts were written in Prakrit and were finally compiled in the sixth century A.D. in Valabhi in Gujarat.
- Secular Literature
- The law-books called the Dharmasutras and Smritis, which together with their commentaries are called Dharmasastras were compiled in 500-200 B.C. and the principal Smritis were codified in the first six centuries of the Christian era. They lay down the duties for different varnas well as for kings and their officials. They prescribe the rules according to which property is to be held, sold and They also prescribe punishments for persons guilty of theft, assault, murder, adultery etc.
- The Arthasastra of Its earliest portions reflect the state of society and economy in the age of the Mauryas. It provides rich material for the study of ancient Indian polity and economy.
- The earliest Tamil texts found in the corpus of the Sangam This was produced over a period of three to four centuries by poets who assembled in colleges patronised by kings. Since such a literary assembly was called Sangam, the whole literature is known as the Sangam literature. The compilation of the corpus is attributed to the first four Christian centuries, although final compilations may have been completed by the sixth century. The Sangam literature is a very major source of our information for the social , economic and political life of the people living in deltaic Tamil Nadu in the early Christian centuries. What it says about trade and commerce is attested by foreign accounts and archaeological finds
- Alexander’s invasion not mentioned in Indian sources, and it is entirely on the basis of the Greek sources that we have to reconstruct the history of his Indian exploits. The Greek visitors mention Sandrokottas, a contemporary of Alexander the Great who invaded India in 324 C. Prince Sandrokottas is identified with Chandragupta Maurya, whose date of accession is fixed at 322 B.C. This identification has served as the sheet-anchor in ancient Indian chronology. Alexander’s campaign in the Punjab and Sind formed the subject mater of a number of Greek and Roman works by Quintus Curtius, Diodoros, Siculus, Arrian, Plutarch, and others.
- Megasthenes ambassador of Seleukos to the court of Chandragupta Maurya. His book Indika is lost and is preserved only in fragments, They provide valuable information about the system of Maurya administration and the social classes and economic activities in the Mauryan period.
- The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and Ptolemy’s geography, both written in Greek, provide valuable data for the study of ancient geography and commerce. The date ascribed to the first ranges between A.D. 80 and 115, while the second is attributed to about D. 150. Pliny’s Naturalis Historia belongs to the first century A.D. and written in Latin tells us about trade between India and Italy.
- Fa-hien. I tsing and Hsuan Tsang. All Chinese travelers. They were Buddhist monks and came to this country to visit the Buddhist shrines and to study Buddhism. The first came in the beginning of the fifth century A.D., and the second and third in the second quarter of the seventh century A.D. Fa-hien describes the social religious and economic conditions of India in the age of the Guptas, and Hsuan Tsang presents a similar account of India in the age of Harsa.
- No regular histories in the scientific sense written in ancient India.. We have a sort of history in the Puranas, which are encyclopaedic in content, and provide dynastic history up to the beginning of the Gupta rule. Statements about events are made in future tense, although they were written much before the events had happened.
- The Puranas speak of four ages called Krita, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. each succeeding age is depicted as worse than the preceding, and as one age slides into the other moral values and social institutions suffer degeneration..
- The Puranas, eighteen in number, are said to have been recited by the Suta Lomaharsana and his son Ugrasravas. Normally they deal with five set subjects :
- a. Sarga : primary creation
- b. Pratisarga : Recreation after periodical dissolution of the universe
- Vamsa : Genealogies of gods and risis
- Manvantara : Groups of mahaynas `great ages’ in a Kalpa, in each of which the first father of mankind was Manu.
- Vamsanucharita : Historices of old dynasties of kings.
- Of these, the last topic alone is important for the purpose of history, but it is found only in the Matsya, Vayu, Vishnu, Brahmanda, Bhagavata, and Bhavisya
- Sandhyakara Nandi’s Ramacharita narrates the story of conflict between the Kaivarta peasants and the Pala prince Ramapala, resulting in the latter’s
- Bilhana’s Vikramankadevacharita recounts the achievements of his patron, Vikramaditya VI (1076-1127), the Chalukya king of Kalyan.
- The best example of the earliest historical writing is provided by the Rajatarangini or “The Stream of Kings” written by Kalhana in the twelfth century. It is a string of biographies of the Kings of Kashmir, and can be considered to be the first work which possesses several traits of history as it is understood in our times. It is the only work in Sanskrit, which can be described as a near approach to history It was begun in 1148 D. and is based on writings of previous chroniclers as well as royal charters and laudatory inscriptions.
- Bana’s Harshacharita, Sandhyakaranandi’s Ramcharita, Padmagupta’s Navasahasankacharita, Bilhana’s Vikramadevacharita and Jayaratha’s Prithviraja-Vijaya are other important `histories’ But these works preserve very little historical matter, and are more of literary pieces, being full of elaboration, metaphor, and imagery.
- There are two Ceylonese chronicles, the Dipavamsa (fourth century A.D.) and the Mahavamsa (sixth century D
- Foreign Writings : The earliest reference to India is made by Herodotus who describes the political connections of North-western India with the Achaemenian empire in the fifth century B.C.
- Like the Greek and Roman works, Chinese literature is also of great help in reconstructing ancient Indian History. We have the excellent narratives of Fa-hian (399-414 A.D.) Huien Tsang (629-45 A.D.) and I-tsing (673-95 A.D.
- Then come the authors from West Asia. Alberuni, a man of versatile intellectual and a scholar of Sanskrit, wrote in 1030 D. the Tahrik-i-Hind. Al Beruni accompanied Mahmud Gahzni
- COINS: Like the inscriptions, they corroborate the information derived from literature and often modify and amplify it.
- Coins are almost our sole evidence with regard to the Indo-Scythian and Indo-Bacterian Kings. Coins shed remarkable light on the existence of Ganas (autonomous communities) in ancient India, and also on the religious predilections of certain monarchs (e.g., of Kanishka).
- MONUMENTS The temples, stupas, and monasteries vividly depict the artistic achievements and religious devotion of the people and the princes ..
- The remains of monuments in foreign lands open to us a rather unknown chapter of India’s ancient glory. Shrines, dedicated to Siva, on the Deng plateau (Java), and the vast panorama of bas-reliefs on the walls in the colossal temples at Boro-Bodur and Pramabanam (central Java), as also the remarkable ruins at Angkor Vat and Angkor Thom (Kambuja), reveal the hand of Indians, and show that they had migrated to the Far East and spread their power and culture the
- Assertion A : The Gandhara School of Art bears the mark of Hellenistic influence.1998
Reason R : Hinayana form was influenced by that art.
(a) Both A and Rare true and R is the correct explanation of A
(b) Both A and R are true but R is NOT the correct explanation of A
(c) A is true but R is false
(d) A is false but R is true
2. Which one of the following ancient Indian records is the earliest royal order to preserve food-grains to be utilised during the crises in the country ?1998
(a) Sohagaura Copper-plate
(b) Rummindei pillar-edict of Asoka
(d) Mehrauli Pillar inscription of Chandra
3. Consider the following
- Tughlaquabad fort. 2. Lodi Garden
3. Qutab Minar. 4.Fatehpur Sikri.
The correct chronological order in which they were built is
(a) 3, 1, 4, 2 (b) 3, 1, 2, 4
(c) 1, 3, 2, 4 (d) 1, 3, 4, 2
4. Which of the following pairs are correctly matched?
1. Mrichchakatikam Shudraka
- Buddhacharita Vasuvandhu
- Mudrarakshasha Vishakhadatta
- Hurshacharita Banabhatta
Select the correct answer using the codes given below
(a)1, 2, 3 and 4 (b)1, 3 and 4 © 1 and 4 (d) 2 and 3
5. What is the correct chronological order in which the following appeared in India ?1998
1. Gold coins. 3. Iron plough.
2. Punch-marked silver coins. 4. Urban culture.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below
(a) 3, 4, 1, 2 (b) 3, 4, 2, 1 (c) 4, 3, 1, 2 (d) 4, 3, 2, 1