Q. In which one of the following regions was Dhanyakataka, which flourished as a prominent Buddhist centre under the Mahasanghikas, located?

(a) Andhra
(b) Gandhara
(c) Kalinga
(d) Magadha

Answer: (a) Andhra

  • Amaravati (Andhra) is the site of ancient Dhanyakataka, an important town in the Deccan and the capital of the later Satavahanas, mentioned in many inscriptions. A large Buddhist establishment was located here. The six occupational periods ranged from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd/3rd century CE.
Dhanyakataka (as a Prominent Buddhist Centre)
  • Dhanyakataka, also known as Dharanikota, was an ancient city located in present-day Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It was an important Buddhist center during the ancient and medieval periods.
  • Dhanyakataka was founded in the 5th century BCE by the Satavahana dynasty. The Satavahanas were a powerful dynasty that ruled over much of South India from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE. Dhanyakataka was the capital of the Satavahanas from the 1st to the 3rd centuries CE.
  • Dhanyakataka was a major center of Buddhist learning and culture. The city was home to a number of monasteries and universities, including the Dharmagupta Vihara, which was one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India. Dhanyakataka was also a major center of Buddhist art and architecture. The city was home to a number of temples and stupas, including the Great Stupa at Amaravati, which is one of the most important Buddhist monuments in India.
  • Dhanyakataka declined in importance after the fall of the Satavahanas in the 3rd century CE. The city was sacked by the Pallavas in the 6th century CE and was eventually abandoned.
Prominent historic Buddhist sites
StateBuddhist sites
Andhra PradeshAmaravati
Pavurallakonda museum
Undavalli Caves
AssamNamphake in Dibrugarh
Surya Pahar in Goalpara
Hayagriva Madhava at Hajo
BiharKesaria stupa
Saptaparni Cave
Sujata Stupa
Vulture Peak
GoaLamgao caves
Rivona caves
GujaratVadnagar in Mehsana district
HaryanaAdi Badri, Haryana
Mounds: Agroha Mound, Sugh Ancient Mound
Pillars of Ashoka: (Hisar, Fatehabad Ashokan Pillar, Topra Kalan Edicts Museum)
Jammu and KashmirHarwan, near Mughal Shalimar Garden, dating from the fifth century
Parihaspore, 20 km northeast of Srinagar
Panderathan, near Srinagar
Madhya PradeshBagh Caves
, site of a large stupa built by Ashoka which also houses the relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana, the two chief disciples of the Buddha; reputedly the place from which Mahinda set out to proselytise Sri Lanka.
MaharashtraAjanta, site of intricate Buddhist cave paintings depicting Buddhism
karla caves site of intricate Buddhist cave paintings
Ellora, site of intricate Buddhist cave paintings
Deekshabhoomi, a new 20th century site associated with Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar
TripuraPilak, an archaeological site in the Santirbazar sub-division of South Tripura district
Uttar PradeshKosambi
Pāvā (Fazilnagar)

Q. With reference to ancient India, consider the following statements :

  1. The concept of Stupa is Buddhist in origin.
  2. Stupa was generally a repository of relics.
  3. Stupa was a votive and commemorative structure in Buddhist tradition.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
(d) None

Answer: (b) Only two

  • Stupa is a pre-Buddhist tumuli in which śramaṇas were buried in a seated position called chaitya. The term “stupa” comes from the Sanskrit word “stūpa,” which means “heap” or “pile.” Originally, stupas were simple mounds of earth or stones that served as commemorative markers for important events or burial sites.
  • One of the primary functions of a stupa is to serve as a repository of relics. Relics are objects associated with the Buddha, such as his physical remains, personal belongings, or items used by him. They are considered sacred and hold great spiritual significance in Buddhism.
  • Stupas are also associated with votive and commemorative purposes. Stupas are often built as acts of devotion and as offerings to the Buddha or other enlightened beings. Stupas are also constructed to commemorate significant events, individuals, or historical sites.
    • For example, stupas might be built to mark the birthplace, enlightenment site, or the site of the Buddha’s parinirvana (passing away).

Q. With reference to ancient South India, Korkai, Poompuhar and Muchiri were well known as

(a) capital cities
(b) ports
(c) centres of iron-and-steel making
(d) shrines of Jain Tirthankaras

Answer: (b) ports

  • The premier Chola port was Puhar (also known as Kaveripumpattinam and Poompuhar), the major Pandya port was Korkai, while Tondi and Muchiri were the important ports in the Chera kingdom.
    • Korkai was an ancient port city located in the present-day Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. It was an important port in the Chera kingdom and served as a major trade center for the region.
      • Korkai was known for its exports of pearls, spices, and textiles.
      • It was also a major center for Buddhist and Jain learning.
    • Poompuhar, also known as Kaveripattinam, was an ancient port city located on the banks of the river Kaveri in present-day Tamil Nadu.
      • It was a flourishing trading center during the Sangam period and played a vital role in maritime trade, especially in the export of goods like pearls, spices, and textiles.
      • Poompuhar was also a major center of Tamil culture and literature.
    • Muchiri, also known as Muziris, was an ancient port town located in the present-day state of Kerala. It was a significant trading center in the Indian Ocean trade network during the ancient and medieval periods.
      • Muchiri was known for its exports of pepper, cardamom, and other spices.
      • It was also a major center for Hindu and Jain learning.
Sangam Age Ports
  • Naura (Cannanore),
  • Tyndis (Tondi),
  • Muzuris (Musiri, Cranganore),
  • Nelcynda (Kerala),
  • Balita (Varkalai),
  • Comari,
  • Colchi,
  • Puhar (Kaverippattinam),
  • Saliyur,
  • Poduca (Arikamedu)
  • Sopatma (Markanam)
  • Argaru (Uraiyur) –> [Tiruchirapalli city in Tamil Nadu]
  • Arikamedu (near Pondicherry)

Must Read: Ports of Ancient India

Q. Which one of the following explains the practice of ‘Vattakirutal’ as mentioned in Sangam poems?

(a) Kings employing women body guards
(b) Learned persons assembling in royal courts to discuss religious and philosophical matters
(c) Young girls keeping watch over agricultural fields and driving away birds and animals
(d) A king defeated in a battle committing ritual suicide by starving himself to death

Answer: (d) A king defeated in a battle committing ritual suicide by starving himself to death

  • Sangam poems are pervaded with a warrior ethic. The goal of the hero of the puram poems was pukal (glory, fame) and a heroic death was greatly valued
  • It was believed that the spirit of a warrior who died in battle dwelt in paradise. A poem in the Purananuru suggests that the bodies of warriors who did not die in battle were cut with swords before the funerary rites, to simulate death in battle. 
  • Practice of Vattakirutal:
    • Vattakirutal was a Tamil ritual of fasting till death, especially widespread during the Sangam age. The Tamil kings, in order to save their honour, and prestige, were prepared to meet their death facing North (‘Vatakkiruttal’) and never would they turn their back in battle. It was a Tamil martial. This was either done alone or as a group with the supporters of the captured king.
    • Vatakkiruttal was a practice in which a defeated king committed ritual suicide by starving himself to death, accompanied by those who had been close to him during his lifetime. This was done to avoid the humiliation of being captured by the enemy and to preserve one’s honour and prestige.
    • The practice of Vattakirutal is mentioned in a number of Sangam poems, which are a collection of Tamil poems dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE. These poems describe the heroic deeds of Tamil kings and warriors, and they often mention the practice of Vattakirutal as a way for defeated kings to die with honour.
Natukkal or Virakkal
  • The ancient Tamils had great respect for the heroes who died on the battle field.
  • The hero stones were created to commemorate heroes who sacrificed their lives in war. These hero stones were known as Natukkal or Virakkal.
  • The institution of virakkal or nadukul (hero-stone), which was a practice of erecting monuments for the dead soldiers and worshiping them, was prevalent in Sangam Age.
Kavalmaram or Kadimaram
  • During the Sangam Age a tutelary tree called Kadimaram or Kavalmaram was planted by the rulers at a central place in the town and they took great care to protect the tree.
  • Under the institution of Kavalmaram or Kadimaram, each ruler had a great tree in his palace as a symbol of power.

Q. With reference to ancient Indian History, consider the following pairs :

Literary work : Author

  1. Devichandragupta : Bilhana
  2. Hammira-Mahakauya : Nayachandra Suri
  3. Milinda-panha : Nagarjuna
  4. Nitiuakyamrita : Somadeva Suri

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) Only three
(d) All four

Answer: (b) Only two

  • Devichandragupta was written by Viśākhadatta. Viśākhadatta was a Sanskrit playwright who lived in the 6th century CE. He is best known for his two plays, Mudrārākṣasa and Devichandraguptam.
  • Bilhana was a Kashmiri poet who lived in the 12th century CE. He is best known for his two epics, Vikramārkacarita and Chaurangī.
  • Hammira-Mahakavya was written by Nayachandra Suri. Nayachandra Suri was a Kashmiri poet who lived in the 12th century CE. He is best known for his epic poem, Hammira-Mahakavya, which tells the story of Hammira, the last Hindu ruler of the kingdom of Anhilwada Patan.
  • Milinda-panha was written by Nāgasena. Nāgasena was a Buddhist monk who lived in the 1st century CE. He is best known for his dialogue with the Greek king Menander I, which is recorded in the text Milinda-panha.
  • Nagarjuna was a Buddhist philosopher who lived in the 2nd century CE. He is best known for his Madhyamaka school of thought.
  • Nitivakyamrita was written by Somadeva Suri. Somadeva Suri was a Kashmiri scholar who lived in the 12th century CE. He is best known for his encyclopedic work, Nitivakyamrita, which is a collection of wise sayings and advice on a variety of topics.

Q. “Souls are not only the property ‘of animal and plant life, but also of rocks, running water and many other natural objects not looked ‘on as living by other religious sects.”

The above statement reflects one of the core beliefs of which one of the following religious sects of ancient India?

(a) Buddhism
(b) Jainism
(c) Shaivism
(d) Vaishnavism

Answer: (b) Jainism

  • The central tenet of Jainism is non-violence. No other religion lays as much emphasis on non-violence as Jainism.
  • As Jainism placed great emphasis on non-violence, strict observers of the faith wear a muslin cloth around their mouth and nose so that they would not inhale small insects even by mistake. To avoid trampling on ants and other insects, Jain monks used feathers to sweep the path before walking.
  • Jains could not practise agriculture or other crafts that involve killing or injury to living organisms. Hence, they took to trading and money-lending and excelled in it. As a result, they were closely associated with urbanisation.

Q. Consider the following pairs :

Site – Well known for

  1. Besnagar: Shaivite cave shrine
  2. Bhaja: Buddhist cave shrine
  3. Sittanavasal: Jain cave shrine

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
(d) None

Answer: (b) Only two

  • Besnagar also known as Vidisha is a town located in modern Madhya Pradesh. On the outskirts of Besnagar (Vidisha), stands the quaint Heliodorus Pillar dedicated to the God Vishnu, set up by a Greek named Heliodorus who is said to have adopted Hinduism and became a disciple of Lord Vishnu. Today, the pillar is worshipped by the locals as “Khamba Baba” and so the Besnagar site is well known for Vaishnavite sect not Shaivite sect.
  • Bhaja Caves is a group of 22 rock cut caves built during the 2nd century BC. This cave is also known as Bhaje caves and is located in Pune district, near Lonavala, Maharashtra. The Caves belong to the Hinayana Buddhism sect in Maharashtra. The cave consists of numerous stupas and the most prominent excavation is chaitya griha- cave XII.
  • Sithannavasal caves located in Pudukottai District of modern Tamil Nadu belong to Jainism. In ancient days the Jain Monks used to live in caves and hillocks so as to perform their ascetic life. They polished the hill for the purpose of poojas and penance in the open shelter.

Must Read: Cave Architecture