NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 4 Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings

Q. Were the ideas of the Upanishadic thinkers different from those of the fatalists and materialists? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans. There is not much difference between the ideas of the Upanishadic thinkers and fatalists and materialists. We can see this through following points:

  1. Ahimsa of non-violence was the idea of the Jain and Buddhist philosophers. However this ideology was even supported by the Hindu religion.
  2. Upanishads believes and teaches karma, which held an important position in Buddhism as well as Jainism.
  3. Fatalists and materialists believe that human beings are made of earth, water, sky, air and fire.

Q. Summarise the central teachings of Jainism.

Ans. The main ideology of Jainism is that they consider the entire world as animated: they consider that even the non-living things like stone or water have life. Some of their other philosophies are:

  1. The Jain philosophy promotes the idea of non-injury to living beings especially human beings, animals, plants, insects, etc.
  2. They also propagate the idea of ahimsa i.e. non violence. They are completely against acts of violence.
  3. They believe that the cycle of the birth and rebirth of an individual is based on his karma.
  4. They emphasised practising asceticism and penance to free oneself from the cycle of karma.
  5. They also believed that to achieve salvation it is important to adopt monastic traditions.

Q. Discuss the role of the begums of Bhopal in preserving the stupa at Sanchi.

Ans. There are several reasons due to why Sanchi Stupa managed to survive:

  1. The Nawab of Bhopal Shahjehan Begum and her successor Sultan Jehan Begum allocated a large number of funds for the preservation of the funds.
  2. They funded the museums that were built near the site and also a guesthouse. The activities like the publication of volumes on the site were also funded by them.

Q. Read this short inscription and answer: 

In the year 33 of the maharaja Huvishka (aKushana ruler), in the first month of the hot season on the eighth day, a Bodhisatta was set up at Madhuvanaka by the bhikkhuni Dhanavati, the sister’s daughter of the bhikkhuni Buddhamita, who knows the Tipitaka, the female pupil of the bhikkhu Bala, who knows the Tipitaka, together with her father and mother.

(i) How did Dhanavati date her inscription?

Ans.Dhanavati dated her inscription in a way that she placed the inscription at Madhuvanka in the first month of the hot season on the eighth day in the year 33 of the Maharaja Huvishka.

(ii) Why do you think she installed an image of the Bodhisatta?

Ans. She installed the image of the Bodhisattas to display the growing popularity of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism and the status of Bodhisattas in the religion.

(iii) Who were the relatives she mentioned?

Ans. She has mentioned the name of her mother’s sister “Buddhamita.” She was a Bhikkuni.

(iv) What Buddhist text did she know?

Ans. She knew the Buddhist texts “Tipitaka.”

(v) From whom did she learn this text?

Ans. She learned this text from the Buddhamita.

Q. Why do you think women and men joined the sangha?

Ans. There were a plethora of reasons due to which men and women joined the Sangha:

  1. They wanted to follow the path of righteousness and non-violence.
  2. They wanted to renounce the worldly pleasures.
  3. Some of them wanted to become the priests and teachers of Buddhism.
  4. The environment of Sangha was very peaceful that inspired large number of people to become a part of it.

Q. To what extent does knowledge of Buddhist literature help in understanding the sculpture at Sanchi?

Ans. Buddhist literature have played a prominent role in understanding the sculpture at Sanchi:

  1. The scene at the Northern gateway of the Stupa was decoded by the historians on the basis of the Buddhist literature.
  2. The art historians also acquired familiarity with the biographies of the Buddha to understand the meaning of the different symbols used in the Buddhist tradition.

Q. Discuss the development in sculpture and architecture associated with the rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism.

Ans. As the Stupas became the religious sites of Buddhism, a similar number of temples were constructed to house the Hindu deities. The Shaivite and Vaisnavite movements led to the spread of worship of Shiva and Vishnu. Some of the features of the temples constructed for the Hindu deities are:

  1. The earliest constructed temple used to have small square rooms, that came to be known as the garbagriha. This garbagriha used to house the principal deity.
  2. These garbagrihas used to have a single doorway from which the worshipper used to enter and offer his prayers to the deity.
  3. A tall structure known as the Shikhara was constructed over the principal shrine. This Shikhara gave a royal look to the temple.
  4. The walls of the temple was generally decorated with sculptures to enhance the beauty of the structure.

Q. Discuss how and why stupas were built.

Ans. The word stupa is originated from the Sanskrit word “Heap.” Some of the architectural features of the Stupas are:

  1. The initial structure of the Stupas was in the shape of semi-circular mound of earth which came to be known as anda.
  2. Later this simple structure of the stupa evolved and become complex which balances round and square structures.
  3. Above the structure of anda was another structure known as harmika. Harmika was a structure in the shape of the balcony that became the symbol of representation of the abode of God.
  4. From the Harmika, a mast like structure arises which came to be known as the yashti.
  5. The yashti was surrounded by a chhatri or umbrella.
  6. There was also the presence of railing around the mound. Its purpose was to separate the sacred space from the secular world. The major purpose of the construction of the Stupas was to put the relics of the Buddha and other Buddhist monks. These sites turned into religious sites of Buddhism.

The major purpose of the construction of the Stupas was to put the relics of the Buddha and other Buddhist monks. These sites turned into religious sites of Buddhism.

Q. Read the following source carefully and answer the questions that follow:

Ans. The Therigatha This unique Buddhist text, part of the Sutta Pitaka, is a collection of verses composed by bhikkhunis. It provides an insight into women’s
social and spiritual experiences. Punna, a dasi or slave woman, went to the river each morning to fetch water for her master’s household. There she would daily see a Brahamana performing bathing rituals. One morning she spoke to him. The following are verses composed by Punna, recording her conversation with the Brahamana: I am a water carrier : Even in the cold I have always gone down to the water frightened of punishment Or the angry words of high class women. So what are you afraid of Brahamana, That makes you go down to the water (Though) your limbs shake with the bitter cold ? The Brahamana replied : I am doing good to prevent evil; anyone young or old who had done something bad is freed by washing in water. Punna said : Whoever told you You are freed from evil by  ashing in the water ? In that case all the frogs and turtles Would go to heaven, and so would the water snakes and crocodiles ! (Instead) Don’t do that thing, the  ear of which leads you to the water, Stop now Brahmana ! Save your skin from the cold… anyone young or old who had done something bad is freed by washing in water. Punna said : Whoever told you You are freed from evil by washing in the water ? In that case all the frogs and turtles Would go to heaven, and so would the water snakes and crocodiles !