HISTORY OF INDIA II
IGNOU BHIC 103 Solved Free Assignment
BHIC 103 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. How different are the Gupta and Post-Gupta centuries from the Post-Mouryan period in the context of economy and trade? Discuss.
Ans. There was a decline in the trade and urban settlements from the Gupta period onward and the economy became predominantly agrarian.
The important element was the system of land grants which grew in number in the Gupta and especially in the post-Gupta period.
Landgrants were made to the brahmanas, temples, and monasteries on a large scale by kings, chiefs, members of the post-Gupta period saw not only the revenues from the donated land were transferred to the done but rights over mines and minerals were also granted.
The donated villages or the donated lands were exempted from the interference of soldiers and royal officials. In the Mauryan period also, the state officials were paid in cash and were being paid by grants of land or of revenue.
The large number of grants enjoyed by landed intermediaries led to the emergence of a self-sufficient closed village community.
The condition of the actual tillers of the soil declined. The cultivators were tied to the land and were made to the donee along with the land.
The artisans and merchants also tied down to their habitations to serve the local clientele and masters.
The scholars also explain the rapid ruralization of economy in terms of the decline in craft, commerce and urban centres.
The decline in trade and urbanization is one of the important features of the economy of the post-Gupta period. Both internal and external trade suffered.
The inflow of Roman gold coins into India stopped after the early centuries of the Common Era and the onslaught of the Hunas ushered in the death of remaining contacts with Central Asia and Western Asia.
Some other factors that led to the decline of the trading activities are the decentralization of political authority, dispersal of power among local chiefs and religious landgrantees and rise of intermediary landlords who imposed high taxes, served to dampen the enthusiasm of traders and merchants.
Frequent political wars also discouraged commercial activities during this phase.
There was not very intense relation in terms of trade with Southeast Asia and China. The evidences indicate that the trade with Southeast Asia was of a robust kind and with China was also not very impressive and the Indian delegations to China registered a declining trend from the sixth century onwards.
The internal trade also suffered. Another important reason for the weakening of trade and commerce was the breakdown of the various linkages between coastal towns and interior towns and also between villages and towns.
There was a rise in self-sufficient units dominated by landed intermediaries which had an adverse effect on trade.
The trade in basic necessities such as salt, iron implements and in luxury products and precious stones, ivory and horses continued.
The large scale, organized trade was replaced by itinerant petty traders, pedlars and trickle trade.
The decline of commerce from the 6th to the 9th century CE was evident in the near absence of coins in both north and south India (Sharma, 1987).
The period between 600-1000 CE also witnessed high quality coinage of precious metals was replaced by cowry shells as the principal medium of exchange.
There was a decline in the percentage of gold content in Gupta coins as compared to the earlier Kushana coins.
There was absence of metallic currency in most parts of northern India, Bengal, Odisha, Central India and Deccan.
The decline in the volume of coinage is linked to the fact that the authorities were forced to issue land grants in lieu of cash payments leading to increasing ruralization of the economy.
The scholars and the evidences also tell us about the cities and towns that flourished in the early historical period. The Huien Tsang’s account also tell us about the deurbanization and depopulation.
Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita (6th-century) prophesized about the destruction of towns and cities and a few Puranas associated this period with the onset of the Kali Yuga.
Archaeological excavations reveal decay of some of the important towns such as Pataliputra, Vaishali, Kashi.
Some other reasons for the decay of the urban trade centres are the decline in long distance trade, the fall in the use of the metallic money, the onslaught of Hunas.
The Huna invasions affected the overland routes connecting northern India with the north-western parts of India and western and Central Asia.
Some of the archaeological evidences that can be summed up in the following points are as follows:
The habitational deposits of the fourth-sixth centuries at many urban centers are thinner as compared to those of the earlier centuries.
The period also witnessed poor remains and lesser material remains.
The Gupta layers at many sites indicate the reuse of bricks, raw materials from earlier deposits.
The spatial spread of the once flourishing sites witnessed contraction.
Objects like stone beads, shell objects, ivory and glass objects are very scantily found in post-fifth century deposits. 6. The pottery of this phase is ordinary to coarse, with no or little ornamentation.
Many urban sites show a sterile layer in the habitation deposit belonging to the 6th-8th century CE periods tell us about the desertion of urban centers in this period hence large scale urban decay.
The changes in the concerned period are also indicated by de-urbanization in the period and are noticed in the meaning of certain terms.
The term Sreni which was earlier referred for guilds came to mean caste and nigama came to mean village.
Post- Gupta literature such as Kuttanimatam of Damodaragupta (7th century) is mainly talking about the life in the countryside.
According to R.S. Sharma, in his book Indian Feudalism (1965), there was decline in the volume of trade with the Roman Empire after 300 CE.
It is believed that the feudalization of Indian economy was the result of the decline of long-distance trade between the 4th and the 12th centuries CE.
There was decline in the commercial activities in two stages, first from 700 to 900 CE and then from 900 to 1300 CE.
The first phase saw the decline of internal trade that was connected to the paucity of coins and also there was decline in India’s long-distance trade with Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire.
The severe scarcity of metallic currency in India also led to the consequent fall in the in-flow of precious metals from foreign countries and in turn, led to an increased use of land grants as an alternative means of payment by kings.
Q. 2. How do various types of architecture in ancient India exhibit the genius of India and engineering skill?
Ans. Architecture: The architecture of the post-Mauryan period can be divided into four categories:
Cave architecture for monks of different religions
Royal Shrines of Kushanas
Free-standing Sunga pillars.
Stupa: Stupa comes from the root stu which means to worship and praise. In Buddhism it refers to a mound where the relics of the Buddha, his disciples and famous monks are encased.
The Mauryan emperor Ashoka redistributed the Buddha’s relics and built several stupas enshrining them. The buildings consisted of a hemispherical mound made of bricks enshrining the relics.
There was a chhatri at the top within a small railing known as harmika. The stupa was surrounded by a railing known as vedica.
The space enclosed by it was meant for circumambulation. Many stupas were also enlarged and modified under the patronage of different royal dynasties, traders and artisans during the period and the hemi-spherical dome was enlarged.
There was an additional terrace medhi on this dome that was built for an additional round of circumam-bulation.
It was provided with a lintel gateway (torana/toranadvara) and was decorated beautifully with reliefs of Buddhist motifs and iconography placed at cardinal positions of the vedica.
Rock Cut Architecture: This type of architecture involved converting a cave into a building. The artisans were inspired by contemporary buildings which meant adding elements like pillars, etc.
This period saw the excavation of many caves in the Western and Eastern Ghats for religious mendicants. These were built for Buddhist monks and consisted of two kinds of buildings:
(i) Caityas (prayer halls): Which was designed as a large apse-shaped pillared hall. At its centre, a stupa (in case of Hinayana sect) or an image of the Buddha (in case of Mahayana sect) was placed. Its entrance was designed as pillared veranda/porch.
(ii) Viharas (living quarters): The general design of a vihara is quite simple and consisted of a main hall surrounded by small rooms/cells for monks. Its entrance may or may not have a veranda.
Susan Huntington divides these caves into following three sub-phases:
(i) c.100-70 BCE-Bhaja, Kondave, Pitalkhora and Ajanta cave no. 10.
(ii) c. 100-200 CE- Bedsa.
(iii) c. 200-300 CE- Karli and Kanheri.
Royal Shrines of Kushanas: One of the important customs of the Kushanas was the cult involving the worship of dead rulers; the implication being that any dissent and revolt against the emperor would mean revolt against God.
The special shrines were set up for this purpose. The throne has lions supporting it and possibly derived from the Mauryan idea of royalty.
The inscription tells us that it was the statue of Vima Kadphises. Kanishka’s statue is another example.
Sunga Pillars: Heliodorus pillar at Besnagar near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh is the best specimen of a Sunga pillar which was commissioned by Heliodorus, Greek ambassador to the Sungas, around 113 BCE.
From the inscription, the pillar is identified as Garuda-dhvaja installed to showcase his devotion to Bhagavata cult.
This cult is considered a predecessor of Vishnu cult. The inscription is the first known inscription in India related to Vaishnavism.
The pillar is different from Mauryan lion-capitals in many ways. The size is half and the the shaft does not have a smooth appearance and there is slight decoration in the form of garland and geese motifs.
The capital consists of a reverse lotus with its leaves visible. There was a garuda sculpture at the top.
A banyan tree-shaped capital has also been found which means that many more pillars may have been erected in and around the region of Vidisha but they have not survived.
Q. 3. Describe the emergence of Kingdom in the Deccan and South in the Post-Gupta period.
Ans. The South of India, also called as Dakhina became Dakkan of medieval times, from which the term Deccan is derived. The historians and geographers have differentiated the Deccan proper from the rest of south India.
The Deccan consists of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, and as far as the double deltas of Godavari and Krishna.
Using this distinction, we shall speak of Deccan and south India as two regions south of the Vindhyas while the term ‘southern India’ will stand for both the regions and as distinct from northern India’Vidarbha (Maharashtra): The Vatakas soon dominated the Maharashtra plateau and began as minor kings from the last quarter of the 3rd century CE, but rapidly gained power and extended their sway over most of Maharashtra and adjoining parts of Madhya Pradesh.
The two lines of Vakataka kings ruling in different areas included the main line that ruled from eastern Maharashtra (the Vidarbha region), and another was a collateral branch called the Basin branch of Vakatakas that ruled in southern Maharashtra.
Pravarasena-I of the main line was the most famous Vakataka king, who alone had the title of Samrat among the Vakatakas.
Karnataka: A small kingdom was carved out by the Chutus in the coastal strip of northern Karnataka (North Kanara) who ruled till about the mid-4th century CE when they were supplanted by Kadambas.
Mayurasarman discovered this kingdom who was an expert in guerrilla warfare and compelled the Pallavas of Kanchi to recognize his sovereignty.
Eastern Deccan: The fertile Krishna-Godavari delta (Andhra Delta) in the east was the most disturbed region in the post- Satavahana Deccan where the Satavahanas were succeeded by the Ikshvakus who were in control of this region from 225 CE.
The copper-plate inscriptions tells us about the kings of Brihatphalayana gotra followed by those of Salankayana gotra, and the Allahabad Pillar Inscription (Prayagraj-prashasti) praises Samudragupta and tell us about half a dozen kingdoms in this area about 350 CE.
The kingdoms of Vengi and Kurala, with capitals at Pishtapura and Avamukta of Devarashtra, and so on are included in this.
South Karnataka: There arose a dynasty in South Karnataka at the beginning of the 5th century CE. The kings of this dynasty were called Gangas or Western Gangas to distinguish them from the Eastern Ganges of Odisha.
For the next 600 years, the Western Gangas ruled over south Karnataka and this long association made the area came to be called Gangavadi.
Gangavadi is an isolated territory surrounded by mountains and is relatively less agriculturally prosperous. These factors allowed the Gangas to rule without much interference from outsiders for such a long time.
This period tells about the early history of Pallavas. The copper-plate charters that were issued from Kanchi also tell us about the history of the period.
Pallava rule was traditionally lined with the Kanchi region (Palar river valley) or Tondaimandalam (Tondai is Tamil for Pallava).
It seems that during this period the Kanchi region was not under their effective control as they had been pushed north by mountainous tribes called Kalabhras.
From the end of the Sangam period to the mid-6thcentury CE, Kalabhras sominated the Tamilnadu and Kerala but there are not many evidence s about them.
The scanty evidence also tell us that they were against Brahmanical institutions and favourably disposed towards Buddhism and Jainism, that they put an end to the rule of the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas of the Sangam age, and that they were non-agricultural hill tribes who caused great havoc among settled agricultural population.
The Kalabhra threat appeared to have extended to the borders of Chalukyas kingdom which emerged in north Karnataka, for they too claim to have defeated them. This period is known as the ‘Kalabhra Interregnum’.
Q. 4. Write an essay on the Bhakti movement.
Ans. An important landmark in the cultural history of medieval India was the silent revolution in society brought about by a galaxy of socio-religious reformers, a revolution known as the Bhakti Movement.
This movement was responsible for many rites and rituals associated with the worship of God by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of Indian subcontinent.
For example, Kirtan at a Hindu Temple, Qawaali at a Dargah (by Muslims), and singing of Gurbani at a Gurdwara are all derived from the Bhakti movement of medieval India (800-1700).
The leader of this Hindu revivalist movement was Shankaracharya, a great thinker and a distinguished philosopher.
And this movement was propounded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Namadeva, Tukaram, Jayadeva. The movement’s major achievement was its abolition of idol worship.
The leader of the bhakti movement focusing on the Lord as Rama was Ramananda. Very little is known about him, but he is believed to have lived in the first half of the 15th century.
He taught that Lord Rama is the supreme Lord, and that salvation could be attained only through love for and devotion to him, and through the repetition of his sacred name.
Main Features of the Bhakti Movement
- Unity of God or one God though known by different names.
- Bhakti, intense love and devotion, the only way to salvation.
- Repetition of the True Name.
- Condemnation of rituals, ceremonies and blind faith.
- Rejection of idol worship by many saints.
- Open-mindedness about deciding religious matters.
- No distinction of different castes, higher or low
- Need of a guru for guidance advocated by some.
- Preaching’s through local or regional languages and travelling from place to place for spreading the religious message.
Q. 5. Describe the various forms of organization of craft production in north India during the 6-13th centuries.
Ans. The townspeople of the Middle Ages were free. Some engaged in commerce and formed groups known as merchant guilds.
The majority, however, were small merchant-craftsmen, organized in craft guilds as masters (of highest accomplishment and status), journeymen (at a middle level), and apprentices (beginners).
The medieval master was typically many things at once: a skilled workman himself; a foreman, supervising journeymen and apprentices; an employer; a buyer of raw or semifinished materials; and a seller of finished products.
Because medieval craftsmen employed simple hand tools, a workman’s own skill determined the quantity and quality of his output.
Apprentices and journeymen underwent long periods of learning under the guidance of a more experienced workman.
When he could produce a “masterpiece” that met the approval of the guild masters, the craftsman would gain full admission into the guild.
Craft guilds were organized through regulations. By controlling conditions of entrance into a craft, guilds limited the labour supply.
By defining wages, hours, tools, and techniques, they regulated both working conditions and the production process.
Quality standards and prices were also set. Monopolistic in nature, the guilds, either singly or in combination, sought complete control over their own local markets.
In order to attain and protect their monopoly, the guilds acquired a political voice and in some locations achieved the right to elect a number of their own members to the town council.
In some towns, such as Liège, Utrecht, and Cologne, guilds achieved complete political control.
The 32 craft guilds in Liège, for example, so dominated the town after 1384 that they named the town council and governors and required all important civic decisions to be approved by a majority vote of their membership.
Craft guilds reached their peak prosperity in the 14th century. Specialties had become so differentiated that larger towns typically had more than 100 guilds.
In northern Europe, for example, at the beginning of the period, carpenters built houses and made furniture.
In time, furniture making became a new craft, that of joinery, and the joiners broke from the carpenters to establish their own guilds.
The wood-carvers and turners (who specialized in furniture turned on a lathe) founded guilds also. Those who painted and gilded furniture and wood carvings were also represented by a separate guild.
This era of intense specialization was marked by a countermovement toward amalgamation of different crafts – a tendency that reflected the growth of the market and the desire of enterprising masters to expand their trading abilities.
This came at the expense of the handicraft function. As craft differentiation proliferated, numerous crafts wound up producing the same or similar articles.
This stimulated competitive forces among craftsmen who needed to assure themselves of raw materials and a market.
Because of this, masters were tempted to employ members of other crafts, and conflicts inevitably arose.
The same widening of the market led to differentiation of classes within a craft. As the trading function grew more important, those who remained craftsmen fell into a condition of dependence upon the traders.
Eventually, merchant guilds – originally representatives of traders only – absorbed the craft guilds.
The craft guilds also suffered a breakdown in structure. Because the masters sought to retain the profits of the growing market for themselves, they made it increasingly difficult for journeymen to enter their class, preferring instead to employ them as wage workers.
Apprentices similarly had little hope of rising to mastership. Thus, the master-journeyman-apprentice relationship gave way to an employer-employee arrangement, with the master performing the functions of merchant while his employees did craftwork.
Conditions for development of the early industrial system rose out of the disintegration of this craft-guild system.
The excluded journeymen eventually became a class of free labourers who practiced their craft for wages outside the town walls-and outside the limitations of the guild regulations.
Q. 6. Indo-Greeks.
Ans. The Greeks had settled in Bactria (Bahlika) which is present day northern Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Diodotus I overthrew the Seleucid Empire which was formed in Bactria and the adjoining areas of Parthia.
The geographical location of Bactria connecting West Asia and Central Asia on the one hand and with South Asia, on the other, held the clue to the rise of the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom.
After that, the Bactrians extended their control into other areas as well, for instance, south of the Hindukush. They lost their hold over Bactria but continued to rule over parts of north-west India in c. 145 BCE.
The Bactrian Greeks who controlled the north-west India between the 2nd century BCE and the early 1st century CE are known as the Indo-Greeks or Indo-Bactrians.
The coins also tell us about the history of Indo-Greeks and were dynastic issues and acted as markers of the sovereign authority of the ruler.
Q. 7. Urbanization in 200 BCE-300 CE.
Ans. The expansion in the agrarian field of the period under review led to the production of surplus which helped the non- producers like craftsmen and traders to devote themselves to trade and commerce.
Taxila was a famous city in the north-west. The remains of this city have been excavated from three mounds, namely Bhir, Sirkap and Sirsukh.
The city saw the urbanization from the period of the Indo-Greeks but it was the Indo-Parthian rulers who fortified the city with walls.
The marks of urbanization are reflected from the well-made roads and planned houses which reflect Greek and Hellenistic influences.
A new road was built by 200 BCE at Ahichchhatra and at the Lichchhavi kingdom of Vaishali in north-east Bihar the fortification wall was rebuilt at least thrice between 200 BCE to 200 CE.
Other places where marks of urbanization can be seen are at Sisupalgarh in Odisha. There was a remarkable large and embellished gateway to the early historic city of Sisupalgarh.
Q. 8. Culture under the Guptas.
Ans. The Gupta period has often been called as the “Golden Age” because of its cultural heritage. This is because of the great accomplishments in the field of art and architecture, language and literature.
The Gupta age is therefore important and noteworthy departure from previous historical periods. The Gupta art represents ancient Indian art at its best.
From the vantage point of architecture, the Gupta period reflects creative enthusiasm and deep sense and awareness of beauty.
The Gupta temple- building activity depicts the evolution from the earlier tradition of rockcut shrines which now reached a whole new level.
The Gupta period is associated with the formative phase of temple construction in India, but it was a significant phase that continued to influence temple-building activity right up to the medieval period.
The “Classical Sanskrit” also developed during the Guptas. Sanskrit was widely patronized by Gupta rulers, making it the official language of their court.
The inscriptions are written in Sanskrit. The language saw its revival under the Guptas and became a widespread language in entire north India during the Gupta period.
The Buddhist scholars, particularly those of Mahayana Buddhism, began composing their scriptures in Sanskrit. Sanskrit was used by the great poets, dramatists, grammarians and playwrights of the period.
The epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are believed to have been compiled and given their final form around 4th-5th century CE.
Kalidasa was the great Sanskrit writer-poet who wrote dramas like: Abhijnana-Shakuntalam, Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvashiyam and poetic works such as: Raghuvamsham, Kumarasambhavam and Meghadutam which show the excellent literary standards achieved during the Gupta period.
Also, Varahamihira wrote Brihat Samhita that deals with scientific subjects like astronomy and botany. Aryabhattiyam: a famous work on geometry, algebra, arithmetic and trigonometry was written by Aryabhatta.
In the medical field, the notable creations on medicine include: Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita was done in this period. This period witnessed an all-round progress in literature.
Q. 9. The rise of Chalukyan, Pallavan and Pandyan Kingdoms.
Ans. The Chalukyas: The Chalukyas became the ruling power with Pulakesin-I who laid the foundations of his kingdom by making the hill near Badami in Bijapur district of Karnataka into a strong fortress in 543-44 CE and performed a horse sacrifice.
The successors of Pulakesin-I overthrew the Kadambas and annexed their kingdom gradually and subjugated the Mauryas of Konkan (the coastal strip of Maharashtra).
With the undertaking of Pulakesin-II the Chalukyas became the paramount power in Deccan as the Western Gangas and Alupas in the south and the Latas, Malavas and Gurjaras in the north offered their submission to him.
The army of Pulakesin-II checked the forces of Harshavardhana on the banks of the Narmada.
Vishnukundins of Andhra delta was also defeated by Pulakesin-II but he was not satisfied demanding just offers of submission as the Krishna- Godavari delta with almost one million acres of rich arable land was too valuable a possession.
He sent his younger brother Vishnuvardhana to consolidate the conquest and take over the area. In 631 CE Vishnuvardhana was allowed to form his own kingdom.
This led to the beginning of the line of the Chalukyas of Vengi or Eastern Chalukyas who remained in control of the area for more than 500 years.
The Pallavas: Simhavishnu began the Pallavas rule about the middle of the 6thcentury CE by ending the Kalabhra Interregnum in Tondaimandalam (Kanchi region) and extended his kingdom southward up to the Kaveri delta.
I succeeded him who annexed territories in the north up to river Krishna. The Pallava kings also secured submission from the neighbouring chieftains and kings, and thus reached the zone of influence of the Chalukyas of Badami, and of the Pandyas.
The Pandyas also had to accept their overlordship briefly and by the middle of the 7th century CE, the Pallavas had set up a powerful regional kingdom in south India.
Their power began to weaken from the mid-8th century when the Chalukyas were being replaced by the Rashtrakutas in Deccan.
The Pallava rule ended by the early 10thcentury CE when Aparajata was defeated by Aditya Chola-I.
The Pandyas: The Pandyas came into rule with king Kadungon towards the close of the 6th century CE when he suppressed the Kalabhras.
They ruled in the southernmost districts of Tamilnadu, with the Vaigai river basin as the heartland of the kingdom and tried to extend their sway over the Kaveri delta in north and Chera country (Kerala) in south-west.
Q. 10. Sangam Poems.
Ans. The three literary schools (sangam) are mentioned in Tamil literature which met at Madurai. Of these, the first was attended by Gods and legendary sages, but all its works have perished and the second, there survives only the early Tamil grammar, Tolkappiyam.
The poets of the third Sangam, on the other hand, wrote the “Eight Anthologies” (Ettutogai), which are the greatest testament of ancient Tamil literature.
There are two groups in which the poetry in Tamil literature was divided:
- “internal” (agam) which dealt with love and
- “external” (puram), which dealt with the praise of kings.
The five regions (tinai) were:
- the hills (kurinji)
- the dry lands (palai)
- the jungle and woodland (mullai)
- the cultivated plains (marudam); and
- the coast (neytal).
There was modification in the style of the poetry under the influence of Sanskrit, and Tamil poets took to writing long poems which they called by the Sanskrit name kavya.
The earliest and greatest of these is “The Jewelled Anklet” (Silappadikaram), which is very different from Sanskrit poetry.
A third Tamil “epic” is the Sivaga-Sindamani which narrates the exploits of the hero Sivaga or Jivaka, who excelled in every art from archery to the curing of snake-bite, and who wins a new bride only to become a Jaina monk after his many victories.
The author was a Jaina named Tiruttakkadevar whose work is ‘fantastic’ and lacks any contact with real life and is said to be influenced by courtly Sanskrit.