70 Days WAR Plan

Day#1 Static Flash Cards Ancient & Medieval History [70 Days WAR Plan]

Barabar caves; Kaniska; Silappadikaram; Manimekalai; ‘Uttarapatha’; ‘Dakshinapatha’; Rigvedic period; Tirthankara; ’Pavarana’; Ajanta Painting; Bagh Paintings; Aihole inscription; Mehrgarh;
By IT's Core Team
March 22, 2019



Mauryan Emperor Ashoka built Barabar Hills for whom?

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  • The Barabar Hills are well known for the rock cut temples dating back to 200 B.C. These were built by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka for the Ajivika sages.

Barabar caves:

  • The oldest examples of Mauryan rock-cut architecture in India are the Barabar caves, located in the Barabar hills, in Jehanabad District of Bihar.
  • There are four caves in Barabar dating back to reign of Asoka (273-232 BC) and his grandson Dasaratha, initially for the Ajeevika sect i.e. Lomas Rishi cave, Sudama cave, Karan Chaupar and Visva Zopri.
  • Barabar caves are situated in the twin hills of Barabar and Nagarjuni.
  • The caves were used by ascetics from the Ajivika sect, founded by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and of Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara of Jainism.
  • The Barabar caves consist of two chambers, carved out of granite, with a highly polished internal surface.
  • Barabar caves are divided in three types and Nagarjuna is one of them. Other two are Hut caves and caves of Pandavas. Nagarjuna caves are situated on Nagarjuna hill which can further be divided into two: Sudama Cave and Chaupar Cave.
  • The Barabar caves are open from one side while closed from three sides. Most of them are in the shape of a cottage or hut.

There are four caves in the Barabar Caves:

  1. Lomas Rishi
  • Lomas Rishi is one of the oldest rock-cut chambers in India.
  • The façade of this cave resembles wooden constructions of earlier time. The interiors of the cave consist of rectangular chambers. The glass like polish adds beauty to the cave.
  • The façade of this cave became a constant feature in the later Chaityas and is known as the Chaitya Arch. It also continued as a decorative motif in later temples.
  • The cave contains inscription from later times – 7th – 8th century AD referring to kings Sarddulavarman and his son Anantarvarman, Maukhari dynasty. The inscription mentions, that Anantarvarman placed an image of Lord Krishna in the cave.
  1. Sudama Cave
  • The cave is named “Nigoha-Kubha” that is the “banyan tree cave”.
  • This cave known for the bow shaped arches and has Asokan inscriptions.
  • This cave has the most amazing polishment, and it feels as if the cave has been layered with a sheet of glass.
  1. Visva Zopri
  • Entrance in the cave is simple, square cut. Walls of cave are not polished. This cave also has two chambers – both have approximately cubical form and are connected through a doorway.
  1. Karan Chaupar
  • It has a single rectangular room with polished surfaces, contains inscription dating back to Maurya era.



The pre-historic grain producing site of Mehrgarh is located in the Bhal region of modern Gujarat. Right OR Wrong?

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Right Statement:

  • Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site located near the Bolan Pass (which is one of the most important routes into Iran) on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan, to the west of the Indus River valley.

More about Mehrgarh:

  • Mehrgarh is the earliest known Neolithic site in the northwest Indian subcontinent, with early evidence of farming (wheat and barley), herding (cattle, sheep, and goats) and metallurgy.
  • The site is located on the principal route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
  • Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Mehrgarh was probably one of the places where women and men learnt to grow barley and wheat, and rear sheep and goats for the first time in this area.
  • It is one of the earliest villages that we know about. The settlement was established with simple mud buildings and most of them had four internal subdivisions.
  • Numerous burials have been found.
  • The oldest known example of the lost-wax technique comes from a 6,000-year-old wheelshaped copper amulet found at Mehrgarh.
  • The oldest ceramic figurines in South Asia were found at Mehrgarh. They occur in all phases of the settlement and were prevalent even before pottery appears.
  • Mostly figurines of terracotta and clay have been found along with those of stone mostly consisting of females which points to deities related to fertility rites and male figurines were also found with turbans on the heads.



Aihole inscription mentions about the defeat of which ruler of Ancient India?

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  • The Aihole inscription mentions about the defeat of Harshavardhana by Pulikeshi II.

About the Aihole inscription:

  • Aihole in Karnataka was the first capital of Chalukyas where they built numerous temples dating back to the 6th century CE.
  • Many inscriptions found at Aihole, but the inscription which found at Meguti Temple popularly known as Aihole inscription, which has the significance in the history of India, witnessed for the many historical events of Chalukyas.
  • The Aihole inscription was written by the Ravikirti, court poet of Chalukya King, Pulakeshi II who reigned from 610 to 642 CE.
  • The inscription written in Sanskrit and it is in Kannada script.
  • There is a mention about the defeat of Harshavardhana by Pulikeshi II.
  • There is a mention about the victory of Chalukyas on Pallavas, also mentioned about the shifting of the capital from Aihole to Badami by Pulikeshi. There is mention about the poet Kalidasa.



Gupta period of ancient India witnessed only two known examples of Cave Paintings. One of these is Paintings of Bagh Caves. Where is the other surviving example of Gupta Paintings? 

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  • Ajanta Caves

Enrich Your Learning:

  • Gupta period is called the Golden Age of India. Paintings in Gupta period have been the testaments of artistic excellence that prevailed during the ancient era.
  • Painting as an art reached its perfection in Gupta period. Cave paintings are to be found in the Bagh Caves in Madhya Pradesh and the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra.
  • The Gupta period is generally regarded as a classic peak of North Indian art (magnificent and creative architecture, sculpture, and painting) for all the major religious groups.
  • The paintings of Gupta period mirror the influence of the Buddhist art. Besides Buddhism, a streak of Hinduism can also be traced in the wall paintings from Gupta Empire.
  • The paintings of Gupta period were of a secular nature.

Ajanta Painting (1st century BCE – 7th century CE):

  • The Ajanta caves were begun around the 2nd century BCE. and were continued until the 7th century.
  • Ajanta paintings now in Maharashtra lies in the Western Ghats which marks the boundary of the Deccan land separating it from that of Khandesh along the valley of the river Tapti. An outstanding feature of Ajanta art is that it combines architecture, sculpture, and painting in its variety of expression.
  • The paintings in the cave of Ajanta in the state of Maharashtra and the paintings in the cave of Bagh in the state of Madhya Pradesh symbolize the Gupta style painting.
  • The cave paintings of the Gupta period commonly highlighted the life of Buddha and various stories from the Jataka tales. As such, there was some religious aspect attached to the painting style of the Gupta period.

Bagh Paintings:

  • Bagh Caves are in Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of river Baghani.
  • There were originally 9 caves cut in the lofty hills but only 4 of them are destroyed.
  • The paintings in these caves were engraved in the time period of 500 AD to 700 AD.



In Ancient India, Buddhist monasteries used to be held a Ceremony called ’Pavarana’. What is the ’Pavarana’?

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  • Pavarana is a Buddhist holy day celebrated on Aashvin full moon of the lunar month.
  • It marks the end of the 3 lunar months of Varsha (rainy season), sometimes called “Buddhist Lent”.
  • On this day, each monk (bhikkhu) must come before the community of monks (Sangha) and atone for an offense he may have committed during the Varsha (rainy season/Monsoon).

Enrich Your Learning:

  • In India, where Buddhism began, there is a three-month-long rainy season. According to the Vinaya, in the time of the Buddha, once during this rainy season, a group of normally wandering monks sought shelter by co-habitating in a residence.
  • To minimize potential inter-personal strife while co-habitating, the monks agreed to remain silent for the entire three months and agreed upon a non-verbal means for sharing alms.
  • After this rains retreat, when the Buddha learned of the monks’ silence, he described such a measure as “foolish.”
  • Instead, the Buddha instituted the Pavarana Ceremony as a means for dealing with potential conflict and breaches of disciplinary rules (Patimokkha) during the Varsha (rainy season/Monsoon).
  • The Buddha said that, when the Bhikkhus have finished their Varsha (rainy season) residence, hold Pavarana with each other in these three ways: by what [offence] has been seen, or by what has been heard, or by what is suspected. Hence it will result that you live in accord with each other, that you atone for the offences (you have committed), and that you keep the rules of discipline before your eyes.



Why do the Digambaras sect of Jainism reject all possibilities of any Tirthankara being women? Do Svetambara sect hold the same view?

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The Digambara Jain sect believes that women cannot achieve liberation without being reborn as men first while the Svetambara sect disagrees upon this.

Reasons behind such ideology:

  1. Nakedness
  • Digambara Jains hold this view because they believe that nakedness is an essential element of the road to liberation.
  • Mahavira himself, whose life shows Jains the way to liberation, set an example of total nudity that Digambaras believe monks should follow. Since women are not allowed to be naked in public they cannot achieve liberation directly, and so are seen as second-class citizens.
  • Naked women would feel ashamed of being naked and the feeling of shame would hinder their progress to liberation.
  1. Ahimsa and women
  • Digambaras also believe that women are inherently harmful. This comes partly from a belief that menstrual blood kills micro-organisms living in the female body. The killing of the microorganisms is said to show that a female body is less non-violent than a male body – although that idea doesn’t have any scientific support and isn’t found in modern Jain thinking.
  1. Attachment
  • Another argument is that because a woman’s nature is to care for children and other dependants, she will find it much more difficult to break free from these earthly attachments, and unless she does this, she cannot achieve liberation.

The above stand on the “Liberation” for woman in Jainism is not accepted by shvethambar sect. They believe that Woman can also attain moksha. They do justify this fact by stating that, Mallinath (19th thirthankar) was female.



During the Rigvedic period, monarchy was the accepted form of government. Right OR Wrong?

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  • From the evidence of Rig Vedic texts, it appears that monarchy was the prevalent form of government, although the concept of republics was also known.

Enrich Your Learning:

  • The Vedic Civilization flourished along the river Saraswati, in a region that now consists of the modern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab. Later, they moved into Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • Aryans were semi-nomadic pastoral people around the Caspian Sea in Central Asia.
  • The holy book of Iran ‘Zend Avesta’ indicates entry of Aryans to India via Iran.
  • The Sindhu, identical with the Indus, is the river par excellence of the Rigvedic Aryans and is repeatedly mentioned, so also are its five tributaries – the Vitasta (Jhelum), Asikni (Chenab), Parushni (Ravi), Vipasa (Beas) and the Sutudri (Sutlej).
  • Similarly, Dirsadvati (Chantang) is named, but the Sarasvati, now lost in the sands of Rajasthan, was first of the Rigvedic river as its banks witnessed the development of Vedic rituals and cult of sacrifices.The Yamuna is twice mentioned and the Ganga only once.

Political organization of the early vedic period:

  • The lowest unit of administration was the family or kul and its chief was known as Grihapati or Kulapati.
  • A group of families or kuls constituted a village which in the Rig Vedic days were called Grama. The village officer was called Gramini. Villages were headed by Gramini who used to represent village in Sabha and Samiti.
  • Several villages formed a district or canton which was called the Vis. The head of the vis was named as Vispati.
  • Several districts formed a Jana or people, which was like a big political unit or the Rastra. The Rastra or the State or the Jana was ruled by a head named as the Rajan or the king.
  • There were four councils, namely Sabha, Samiti, Vidhata and Gana, of which women were allowed to attend only two, Sabha and Vidhata.



In Post-Mauryan period, which factors were responsible for growth of trade and commerce? 

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  • The most important feature of the post-Mauryan period was the growth of trade and commerce, both internally as well as externally.
  • One of the most important elements in the society was the village community. To a certain extent the village community was independent of outside control as far as its internal affairs were concerned.
  • In spite of preponderance of villages, some towns, big and small, came into existence. The emergence of towns made some impact on both the social and economic life.
  • Monetization of economy was a significant feature of the post Mauryan period.
  • The Indo- Greek rulers issued gold coins. Menander was the last Indo-Greek king to issue gold coins.
  • Central Asian contacts also brought to India new methods of making coins. This new format became the model for the subsequent coinage in India.
  • There were two major internal land routes in ancient India. First was known as ‘Uttarapatha’ which connected northern and eastern parts of India with the northwestern fringes of the present day Pakistan and further beyond that. The second land route was known as ‘Dakshinapatha’ had connected the peninsular India with the western and northern parts of India.
  • The best account of Indo-Roman trade is given in the book called ‘Periplus of the Erythrean Sea’ which was written in the first century AD by an anonymous author.
  • Main requirements of these Romans were the Indian products such as spices, per- fumes, jewels, ivory and fine textiles, i.e. muslin. Spices were exported from India to the Roman empire included pepper, also called ‘yavanapriya’ because of its high popularity among the Romans.
  • Against this import Romans exported gold and silver to India. This indicates an enormous drain of gold from the Roman empire towards India.
  • There was constant trade in silk between India and China. This silk route passed through Afghanistan and Iran. Wine, luxury goods and gold and silver coins were sent to Rome.
  • India forged trade relations with Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Burma and China India brought spices from the territories of East Indies and exported it to European countries. The Chinese silk too found its way to Europe via India as the Parthian rulers of Iran had put obstacles in their way.



Who were the authors of famous Sangam texts “Manimekhalai” and “Silappadikaram”?

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  • Silappadikaram was written by Ilango Adigal (grandson of Karikala, the great Chola King) in the second century A.D.
  • Manimekalai was written by Buddhist poet Sithalai Sathanar during the 5th century.

More about Silappadikaram and Manimekalai:

  • Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are called the ‘twin epics’ because they form a continuous story narrating the story of a single family – Kovalan (the rich merchant prince of Puhar), Kannagi (Kovalan’s chaste wife), Madhavi (the dancer) with whom Kovalan lived in wedlock and Manimekalai, the child of this wedlock.


  • Silappadikaram was written by Ilango Adigal in the second century A.D. It is a tragic story of a merchant, Kovalan of Puhar who falls in love with a dancer Madhavi, neglecting his own wife, Kannagi, who in the end revenges the death of her husband at the hands of the Pandyan King and becomes a goddess.


  • Manimekalai was written by Sathanar mainly to propound the Buddhist doctrine among Tamils.
  • The Sangam age also witnessed the industrial activities on a large scale. Manimekalai mentions the collaboration of architects from Maharashtra, blacksmiths from Malwa, carpenters from Greece and Rome and jewellers from Magadha with their counterparts of the Tamil region.
  • The term Saivism is mentioned in Manimekalai.
  • The main aim of this epic seems to be to expound the excellence of the Buddhist religion through the medium of the travails of Manimekalai consequent on the loss of the city of Puhar when the sea eroded into the coast.
  • This epic is the only important ancient work which gives glimpse of the development of the fine arts in the Sangam age.

The earliest script that the Tamils used was the Brahmi script. It was only from the late ancient and early medieval period, that they started evolving a new angular script, called the Grantha script, from which the modern Tamil is derived.



Kaniska was chiefly remembered as a great patron of Jainism. Right OR Wrong?

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Right Statement:

  • Kaniska was chiefly remembered as a great patron of Buddhism.

About Kanishka:

  • Kanishka was a king of the Kushana Empire in South Asia. He was famous for his military, political and spiritual achievements.
  • Kanishka was tolerant towards all the religions.
  • He is remembered for his association with Buddhism. He himself was a Buddhist convert, and convened the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir. This council in Kashmir marked the beginning of Mahayana cult of Buddhism.
  • He patronized both the Gandhara School of Greco-Buddhist Art and the Mathura School of Hindu Art.
  • A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Karakoram and facilitating the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China.
  • During his reign, contacts with the Roman Empire via the Silk Road led to a significant increase in trade and the exchange of ideas.
  • Perhaps the most remarkable example of the fusion of Eastern and Western influences in his reign was the Gandhara school of art, in which Classical Greco-Roman lines are seen in images of the Buddha.
70 Days Prelims Flash Cards 2019

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