Reference book:

Ancient India: Important Previous Years’ Questions with Solutions for Mains 2017 [Exclusively for Test Series Enrolled Students]

1. Sources

(i)  Archaeological sources: Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments

(ii) Literary sources: Indigenous: Primary and secondary; poetry, scientific literature,

literature, literature in regional languages, religious literature.

(iii) Foreign accounts: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers.

“Ancient Indians had no taste for historiography; their scholars cared more for religious, spiritual and philosophical studies. Indian historiography is essentially an Islamic heritage.” Comment upon this statement with special reference to the contemporary writers and their works which help us in the reconstruction of history of the early medieval period of Indian history. 

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Discuss the changing approaches to the study of early Indian history. 

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“Reconstruction of Early Indian history is hardly possible without the help of inscriptions and coins.” Discuss. 

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In what ways are the accounts of the Graeco Romans and the Chinese helpful in reconstructing the social history of India? How far is their information corroborated by other Contemporary sources? 

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What light do early inscriptions and literature throw on the status of women in politico socio-economic spheres? 

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On the  basis  of  contemporary  sources  assess  the  nature  of  banking  and  usury  in ancient India. 

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Evaluate the ownership  of  land  in  ancient  India  on  the  basis  of  literary  and epigraphic sources. 

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“While using the  accounts  of  foreign  writers,  historians  must  distinguish  between statements  based  on  hearsay  and  those  grounded  in  perceptive  observations.” Elaborate with examples. 

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How far can the ancient Indian Sruti literature be used as historical sources? 

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2. Pre-history and Proto-history

(i)Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic);

Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic).

To what extent archaeological materials are useful in understanding the progress of Neolithic man in India? 

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In the  absence  of  a  written  script  Chalcolithic  pottery  gives  us  a  fascinating  insight into the culture and life styles of the people of those times. Comment critically. 

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3. Indus Valley Civilization

(i) Origin, date, extent, characteristics, decline, survival and significance,

art and architecture.

“On circumstantial evidence Indra stands convicted.” Explain, and discuss briefly different views about a sudden end of the Indus Valley civilization. How would you explain the presence of those elements in Indian culture and civilization which are found to have existed in the Indus Valley period?

OR

“The Indus Civilization had an abrupt end.” Discuss the statement and explain how the Indus Civilization could influence Indian culture in its later history. 

OR

“The Indus civilization did not have an abrupt appearance.” Discuss the statement. How does the Indus civilization stand, in view of its geographical expansion and chronology, in relations to the Vedic civilization? 

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Write a brief essay on: “The burial customs in the Indus Civilization.” 

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Write a short essay on: “The Religion of the Indus Civilization.” 

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“The continuity of the Indus Civilization into later ages was not confined to the religious and spiritual fields alone.” Analyse the statement. 

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Analyze the elements of urban civilization in the Harappan Culture. What factors were responsible for its decline? 

OR

Give an appraisal of town planning of the Indus cities and evaluate the various reasons for their decline. 

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Discuss salient features of the Indus Valley Civilization. Mention important places from where relics of civilization have been recovered so far. Examine causes of its decline. 

OR

Was India civilized before the advent of the Aryans? State briefly the extent and striking features of the earlier civilization, if any. 

OR

How do you account for the decline of the major cities of the Indus Valley Civilization? 

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Write a short essay on: “External trade of the Harappans.”

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Evaluate the significance  of  seals  and  sealings  in  the  reconstruction  of  socio-economic and religious life of the Harappan people. 

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Discuss the water  management  and  its  conservation  planning  in  the  Harappan (Indus-Saraswati) cities. 

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Do you think the Harappan civilization had a diversity of subsistence base? 

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The decline of Harappan civilization was caused by ecological degradation rather than external invasion. Discuss. 

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4. Megalithic Cultures
(i)  Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of 

community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry.

Discuss the  extent,  settlement  patterns  and  subsistence  economy  of  the  megalithic cultures. 

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In what  ways  can  the  Megalithic  culture  be  considered  a  foundational  phase  of  the history of peninsular India? 

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5. Aryans and Vedic Period

(i)             Expansions of Aryans in India.

(ii)           Vedic Period: Religious and philosophic literature;

(iii)         Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period;

(iv)          Political, social and economical life;

(v)           Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.

Compare the economic, social and religious life of the Indus Valley (Harappan) people with that of the early Vedic people and discuss the relative chronology of the Indus and the early Vedic cultures. 

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Discuss briefly the development of religious ideas and rituals in the Vedic age. Do they show any parallelism with the religion of the Indus Civilization? 

OR

Examine the contribution of Vedic culture in the sphere of social institutions and religion. Was there any continuity between the Indus and the Vedic cultures in this respect? 

OR

Analyse the differences and similarities between Indus Valley and Vedic Cultures. 

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Write a short essay on: “Vedic literature” 

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Write a short essay on: “Vedic rituals” 

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Give a brief account of the social and economic conditions of the Later Vedic Aryans. 

OR

Describe the social life of the later Vedic people. How was it different from the Rig Vedic life? 

OR

Write a short essay on: “The formulation of social system in the later Vedic period.” 

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Write a short essay on: “Position of women in the Rig Vedic society” 

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What was the position of Varuna in the Vedic system of Gods? 

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Write a brief essay on: “The Vedic Gods of the terrestrial region.” 

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Evaluate the various approaches to the understanding of Vedic religion. 

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Examine the view that sacrifice was a ritual and a form of social exchange in Vedic India. 

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Evaluate the conceptual basis of the Vedic deities.

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Write a short essay on: “Democratic elements in the political system of the early Vedic period.” 

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Discuss the political pattern and the major religious ideas and rituals of the Vedic age.

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Evaluate various views  regarding  human  settlements  as  gleaned  from  the  Vedic sources. 

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Give an account of the geography of the Vedic texts and describe the social life during the Vedic times. 

OR

Discuss the geographical area known to the Rig Vedic people. Were they familiar with the sea? 

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Evaluate the contribution of the Puranas in disseminating secular knowledge among the masses in ancient India. 

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“The Varna concept may always have been largely a theoretical model and never an actual description of society.” Comment in the context of Ancient India. 

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“The Upanishadic principles embody the epitome of the Vedic thought.” Discuss. 

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“Archaeology knows of no Aryans; only literature knows of Aryans.” Examine critically. 

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6. Period of Mahajanapadas
(i)             Formation of States (Mahajanapada) : Republics and monarchies; Rise of urban

centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage;

(ii)           Spread of Jainism and Buddhism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas.

(iii)         Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.

What were the causes of the origin of the heterodox sects in the sixth century BC? 

OR

Write a short essay on: “The intellectual revolution in the Sixth Century B.C.”

OR

“The Sixth century B.C. was a period of religious and economic unrest in India.” Comment. 

OR

How far is it correct to say that changes in the post-Vedic economy gave birth to new religious movements in India?

OR

Discuss the social & economic factors for the rise of Buddhism. How far was it influenced by Upnisadic thought?

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Give an account of the republics in the pre-Maurya period. Discuss the factors which contributed to their decline. 

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What role did iron play in changing their political and economic life? 

OR

Evaluate the introduction of iron technology in the development of human history of ancient India. 

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7. Mauryan Empire

(i)             Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthashastra;

(ii)           Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration; Economy; Art,

architecture and sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature.

(iii)         Disintegration of the empire;

(iv)          Sungas and Kanvas.

 

Write a brief essay on: “Similarities and differences between the Maurya columns and Achaemenian pillars.” 

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Write a short essay on: “Mauryan municipal administration.” 

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Write a short essay on: “The architectural and artistic features of the great stupa at Sanchi” 

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Examine sources of information for Mauryan dynasty. Throw light on historical significance of Ashoka’s inscriptions. 

OR

Discuss the comparative merit of the Arthasastra, the Indica and Ashokan Inscriptions as sources for the administration, socio-economic conditions and religious life in the Mauryan period. 

OR

Critically examine the sources for the study of Mauryan dynasty. How are they useful in understanding the Mauryan administration? 

OR

Discuss critically the relative importance of the different source for the history of the Mauryan period.

OR

Write a short essay on: “Inscriptions of Ashoka” 

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Write a short essay on: “Mauryan court art as an alien grafting” 

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Write a short essay on: “The Maurya policy of regulating and controlling economic activities.” 

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Determine the extent of the Mauryan empire. 

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Examine the role of adhyaksha in the Mauryan administration. 

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Examine the administrative system of the Mauryas and discuss briefly the causes of disintegration of the Mauryan Empire. 

OR

Examine the nature of the Mauryan State. Bring out the features of their administrative system. 

OR

Do you think that the economic factors were alone responsible for the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire? 

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Discuss different  interpretations  of  historians  about  the  nature  of  Asoka’s  ‘Dhamma’. Did his principle of ‘Dhamma-vijaya’ render the Mauryan Empire militaristically weak? 

OR

Discuss the nature of Ashoka’s Dhamma. Was it responsible for the downfall of his empire? 

OR

Write a short essay on: “Contents of Asoka’s dhamma and reasons for Asoka’s keenness to propagate dhamma.” 

OR

Analyze Ashoka’s policy of Dhamma and account for its failure. 

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8. Post – Mauryan Period (Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas)
(i) Contact with outside world; growth of urban centres, economy, coinage,

development of religions, Mahayana, social conditions, art, architecture, culture,

literature and science.

Write a short essay on “Indian participation in the silk trade through Central Asia.” 

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Write a short essay on: “Origins, chronology, characteristics and geographical spread of Gandhara art.” 

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Furnish a critical and comparative account of various schools of art in the Post -Mauryan period (c. 200 B.C. – c. 300 A.D.) 

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Write a brief essay on: “Buddhist writing in Sanskrit in the post-Maurya period.” 

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“The centuries between c. 200 B.C. and c. A.D. 300 constitute a landmark in the socio-religious history of India.” Analyses the proposition. 

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How justified are we in characterizing the post-Mauryan five centuries as the ‘Dark Period’ of Indian History? Give reasons in support of your answer. 

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Examine the significance of the deities depicted on coins of the Kushanas. 

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Explain as to  how  the  early  Buddhist  Stupa  art,  while  using  folk  motifs  and narratives  and  common  cultural  symbols,  succeeded  in  transforming  these  themes  for expounding the Buddhist ideals. 

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9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India
(i)             Kharavela,

(ii)           The Satavahanas,

(iii)         Tamil States of the Sangam Age;

(iv)          Administration, economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds and urban centres;

Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture

Discuss the military activities of Kharavela of Kalinga. Do you think that his reign is significant for military expeditions alone? 

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Assess the role of guilds and trade organizations in the development of early Indian economy. 

OR

Trace the role of guilds and trade organizations in the development of early Indian economy. 

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Examine the role of guilds in the economic life of ancient India. 

OR

Write a short essay on: “The role of guilds in the economic life of India from c. 200 B.C. to c. A.D. 300.” 

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Justify Pliny’s statement  the  Rome  was  being  drained  out  of  its  gold  by  India  during  the first century of the Christian era. 

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“Not only does ancient Tamil literature furnish an accurate picture of widely disparate classes; it also describes the social condition of Tamil country as it was.” Discuss. 

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10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
(i) Polity and administration, Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants,

Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women, Education

and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific

literature, art and architecture.

Polity and administration

Write a short essay on: “The significance of the policy of matrimonial alliances for the expansion and consolidation of the Gupta Empire.” 

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Write a short essay on: “Skandagupta’s war with the Hunas” 

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Examine the information of Fa Hien about the political, religious, social and economic conditions of India. Make a comparative study of his account with that of Yuan Chawang. 

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What are the salient features of the administrative system of the Guptas? 

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Describe the expansion of the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta. 

OR

Describe the expansion of the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta with the help of the Allahabad pillar inscription. 

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Discuss the  provincial  and  district  administrative  units  of  the  Gupta  Empire  with  the designations and functions of the officers. 

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Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants, Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women

How far do the coins of the Gupta’s provide clues regarding trends in economy, polity, religion and arts? Discuss them in the light of corroborating evidence from archaeology and literature. 

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Examine the development of religion, literature and fine arts under the Guptas. 

OR

“The Gupta period stands at the center of Indian history.” Discuss the development of arts and literature in that Gupta period in the light of this statement. 

OR

Discuss the conditions of economic life in the age of the Guptas. 

OR

Write a short essay on “The economic prosperity in the Gupta period.” 

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Write a short essay on: “Origins and meaning of the samanta system.” 

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What were  the  privileges  granted  to  the  donees  in  land-grant  charters  of  early  India? How far were these charters responsible for integration or disintegration socio-political milieu? 

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Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture

Write a short essay on: “Nalanda Mahavihara” 

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Highlight the achievements of the Gupta period in the field of literature, science and technology. 

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Vardhanas

Critically examine the sources of information for the study of Harshavardhan and discuss his religious policy. 

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Harsha is described as ‘the lord of the whole of north India’. Determine the extent of his empire and discuss his political relations with Sasanka, Bhaskaravarman and Pulakesin II. 

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Write a short essay on “The Maukharis paving the way for the glory of Harshavardhana” 

OR

Who were the Maukharis? Discuss their political relations with the Later Guptas of Magadha. 

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Give an account of the Society in Northern and Central India since the death of Harsha to the Muslim conquest of North India. 

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“Harshvardhan was himself great, but he has been made greater by Ban and Yuan Chiang.” Critically examine the statement. 

OR

“Harsha owes his greatness largely not to any real achievements but to formulate descriptions by two famous men.” Discuss.

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11. Regional States during Gupta Era
(i)             The Kadambas, Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami;

(ii)           Polity and Administration, Trade guilds, Literature; growth of Vaishnava and

Saiva religions.

(iii)         Tamil Bhakti movement, Shankaracharya; Vedanta; Institutions of temple and

temple architecture; Palas,

(iv)          Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Polity and administration; Cultural aspects.

(v)           Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni,

(vi)          The Chalukyas of Kalyana, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pandyas;

(vii)        Polity and Administration; local Government; Growth of art and architecture,

religious sects, Institution of temple and Mathas, Agraharas, education and literature,

economy and society.

Polity and administration

Discuss critically the main aspects of polity and society under the Pallavas.

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Give an account of the struggle for supremacy in South India between the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas. 

OR

Trace briefly the history of the struggle between the Chalukyas and the Pailavas. Analyze its causes and bring out its importance. 

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Give an account of the rise of the Chalukyas of Vatapi and their struggle with other rulers. Write a note on their patronage of arts. 

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How could the local self-government under the Cholas adjust with their centralized administration structure? 

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Art and architecture

Trace the origin and development of the political authority of the Chalukyas of Badami and discuss their contribution to religion and architecture. 

OR

What was the contribution of the Chalukyas of Badami to Indian architecture? 

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Assess the achievements of the Pallavas in administration and art. 

OR

Write a short essay on: “The contributions of the Pallavas to Indian architecture.” 

OR

Evaluate the importance of the contributions of the Pallavas in the history of the development of art and administration in South India. 

OR

Who were the Pallavas? Review briefly their contribution to art and administration.

OR

Discuss the contribution of the Pallavas to South Indian art. Was this art wholly indigenous?  

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Bring out the regional variations in the early South Indian Temple’s architectural styles. 

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Assess Ellora as a unique art centre of the different cultural streams. 

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How far is it true to say that the strength and vigour of Indian history during c. A.D. 500-750 lay in the south of the Vindhyas? 

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Arab conquest of Sind

Write a short essay on: “Historical significance of the advent of the Arabs in India” 

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12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History
(i)  Languages and texts, major stages in the evolution of art and architecture, major

philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics.

Assess the educational  system  in  early  India  and  identify  important  educational institutions of the period. 

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